Cultures > Illyrians



The Illyrians were a group of Indo-European tribes who inhabited the western Balkans during the Hellenistic period. Their history during this era is characterized by interactions with neighboring Greek states, Macedonia, and later, Rome. Here is an overview of the Illyrians in the Hellenistic period:

Geography and Society

Political Landscape

  1. Interactions with Macedonia:

    • Conflict and Alliances: The Illyrians had a tumultuous relationship with their Macedonian neighbors. At times, they allied with Macedonian kings, while at other times, they engaged in conflicts.
    • Philip II and Alexander the Great: Philip II of Macedon (father of Alexander the Great) fought several campaigns against the Illyrians, subjugating many of their tribes. Alexander the Great also dealt with Illyrian revolts early in his reign, securing his northern borders before embarking on his Persian campaign.
  2. Illyrian Kingdoms:

    • King Bardylis: One of the most notable Illyrian kings, Bardylis, established a powerful kingdom in the 4th century BCE, which posed a significant threat to Macedon until Philip II defeated him.
    • Queen Teuta: In the 3rd century BCE, Queen Teuta of the Ardiaei ruled over an expansive and powerful Illyrian state. Her aggressive piracy in the Adriatic Sea brought her into conflict with Rome.

Conflict with Rome

  1. Illyrian Wars:

    • First Illyrian War (229-228 BCE): Rome intervened in Illyria primarily to curb piracy, which was affecting Roman trade routes. The conflict resulted in the defeat of Queen Teuta and the establishment of Roman protectorates over parts of Illyria.
    • Second Illyrian War (220-219 BCE): This war was triggered by continued Illyrian piracy under King Demetrius of Pharos. Rome again emerged victorious, further tightening its control over the region.
  2. Integration into the Roman Empire:

    • Third Illyrian War (168-167 BCE): The final major conflict between Rome and Illyria culminated in the defeat of King Gentius. Following this, Illyria was fully integrated into the Roman Republic as a province.
    • Roman Influence: The Roman conquest brought significant changes to Illyrian society, including Roman law, infrastructure, and cultural influences.

Cultural and Economic Aspects


The Illyrians during the Hellenistic period were a dynamic and influential group, interacting with major powers like Macedonia and Rome. Their eventual subjugation by Rome marked the end of their independence but also integrated them into the broader cultural and political landscape of the ancient Mediterranean world.


Hellenistic Cultures

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