ILLYRIANS AND NORTH-WEST GREEKS,
540-360 B.C., Volume 6, chapter 9d, N.G.L. HAMMOND
‘’The North-West Greeks occupied a large area, extending in the west from the Gulf of Ambracia to the Gulf of Oricum and in the east to an imaginary line from the upper Achelous valley to the upper Erigon valley.
Their country was well-watered, mountainous and rich in pasture and forests and they engaged extensively in transhumant pasturalism. Their way of life differed little from that of the southern Illyrian tribes, and they too were organised in tribal groups (ethne) which were made up of constituent small tribes (phylai). The main groups from the south to the north were called Thesproti, Athamanes, Molossi, Atintanes, Chaones, Parauaei, Orestae, Elimiotae, Lyncestae and Pelagones’’. (see CAH III. 3, 271).
That the Epirotic tribes and the Macedonian tribes spoke Greek in the fifth century b.C., and indeed much earlier, has been argued in CAH III.3, 284. The conclusive evidence is in the decrees of the Molossian state c. 369 B.C., which are entirely Greek in language, onomastics and tribal forms. The names of the persons were given to them in the fifth century, presumably by Greek grandparents, and the names of the tribes had no doubt a very long history. Moreover, as the Molossian state can have formed only out of tribes of common language, it follows that the Thesprotian tribes spoke Greek, as three such tribes were members of the Molossian state. At the end of the sixth century, when the Orestae and their neighbours were ‘’Molossian’’ tribes, they too must have spoken Greek to join that state. Finally, if the Amymni of one decree are the same as the Amymones, a Chaonian tribe it follows that the Chaonian group spoke Greek, as we should indeed infer from the fact that the Greek-speaking Thesprotians accepted Chaonian command in 429 b.C., and that the Greek-speaking Epirote League later accepted the Chaonians as members. Nor was this Greek speech derived from the Corinthians and Corinthian colonists; for the dialect of the inscriptions was not Corinthian Doric (indeed even the alphabet was not Corinthian). It was evidently their own traditional Greek, probably West Greek, as some recorded inquiries at Dodona seem to show’’.