A city, ca. 30 km W of Tirana, founded in 627 B.C. by Corinth and
Kerkyra. The name Dyrrachion is found on coins; in the Roman period it was prevalent
(changed to Dyrrachium). Since the modern city is built over the ancient town,
it is primarily on the basis of inscriptions and occasional finds that some idea
of its monuments has been formed.
Inscriptions offer evidence on the following monuments: an aqueduct constructed by Hadrian and restored by Alexander Severus (the inscription comes from Arapaj, a short distance from Durazzo: CIL III, 1-709); the Temple of Minerva; the Temple of Diana (CIL III, 1-602), which is perhaps the one mentioned by Appian (BCiv. 2.60); the equestrian statue of L. Titinius Sulpicianus (CIL III, 1-605); the library (CIL m, 1-67). The last inscription mentions that for the dedication of the library 24 gladiators fought in pairs. The conjecture that there was an amphitheater in the city is confirmed by a passage from the Vita di Skanderbeg by Marino Barlezio: amphitheatrum mira arte ingenioque constructum.
As a result of occasional discoveries, the following data are available: a 3d c. mosaic pavement with the representation of a female head found at a depth of 5 m (the head, surrounded by garlands of vegetables and flowers, brings to mind those painted on Apulian vases); remains of houses covered by other layers, the lowest of which, of the Greek era, was found at a depth of 5 m.
Columns with Corinthian capitals and marble facing, discovered on the nearby hillside at Stani, belong probably to the Temple of Minerva or to the Capitolium. The necropolis is E of the hills that stand above the city. The Stele of Lepidia Salvia, a sarcophagus (now at Istanbul) with a scene of the Caledonian boar hunt, and numerous Roman tombs were found in the necropolis.
P. C. Sestieri, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.
Durrhachion, Eth. Durrhachios, Durrhachenos, Dyrrachinus. A city on
the coast of Illyricum in the Ionic gulf, which was known in Grecian history as
EPIDAMNUS (Epidamnos, Strab. vii. p. 316.)
It is doubtful under what circumstances the name was changed to that of DYRRHACHIUM under which it usually appears in the Latin writers. Some have affirmed that the Romans, considering the word Epidamnus to be of ill omen, called it Dyrrhachium from the ruggedness of its situation. (Plin. iii. 23; Pomp. Mela, ii. 3. § 12.) The latter word is, however, of Greek and not of Latin origin, and is used by the poet Euphorion of Chalcis. (Steph. B.) Strabo applied the name to the high and craggy peninsula upon which the town was built, as does also the poet Alexander. (Steph. B.) And as Dyrrhachium did not exactly occupy the site of ancient Epidamnus (Paus. vi. 10. § 2), it probably usurped the place of the earlier name from its natural features.
Epidamnus was founded on the isthmus of an outlying peninsula on the sea-coast of the Illyrian Taulantii, about 627 B.C., as is said (Euseb. Chron.), by the Corcyraeans, yet with some aid, and a portion of the settlers, from Corinth; the leader of the colony, Phaleus, belonging to the family of the Heraclidae, according to the usual practice, was taken from the mother-city Corinth. (Thuc. i. 24-26.) Hence the Corinthians acquired a right to interfere, which afterwards led to important practical consequences. Owing to its favourable position upon the Adriatic, and fertile territory, it soon acquired considerable wealth, and was thickly peopled.
The government was a close oligarchy; a single magistrate, similar to the Cosmopolis at Opus, was at the head of the administration. The chiefs of the tribes formed a kind of council, while the artisans and tradesmen in the town were looked upon as slaves belonging to the public. In process of time, probably a little before the Peloponnesian War, in. testine dissensions broke up this oligarchy. The original archon remained, but the phylarchs were replaced by a senate chosen on democratical principles. (Arist. Pol. ii. 4. § 13, iii. 11. § 1, iv, 33. § 8, v. 1. § 6, v. 3. § 4; Muller, Dor. vol. ii. p. 160, trans.; Grote, Greece, vol. iii. p. 546.) The government was liberal in the admission of resident aliens; but all individual dealing with the: neighbouring Illyrians was forbidden, and the traffic was carried on by means of an authorised selling agent, or Poletes. (Plut. Quaest. Graec. c. 29, p. 297; Aelian, V.H. xiii. 16.) The trade was not however confined to the inland tribes, but extended across from sea to sea, even before the construction of the Egnatian Way, and an Inscription (Boeckh, Corp. Inscr. No. 2056) proclaims the gratitude of Odessus in the Euxine sea towards a citizen of Epidamnnus.
The dispute respecting this city between Corinth and Corcyra was occasioned by a contest between the oligarchical exiles, who had been driven out by an internal sedition, and the Epidamnian democracy, in which the Corinthians supported the former. The history of this struggle has been fully given by Thucydides, in consequence of its intimate connection with the origin of the Peloponnesian War, but we are left in ignorance of its final issue. Nor is anything known of its further history till 312 B.C., when, by the assistance of the Corcyraeans, Glaucias, king of the Illyrians, made himself master of Epidamnus. (Diod. xix. 70, 78.) Some years afterwards it was surprised by a party of Illyrian pirates; the inhabitants, on recovering from their first alarm, fell upon their assailants, and succeeded in driving them from the walls. (Polyb. ii. 9.) Not long after, the Illyrians returned with a powerful fleet, and laid siege to the town; but fortunately for the city, the arrival of the Roman consul compelled the enemy to make a hasty retreat. Epidamnus from this time placed itself under the protection of the Romans, to whose cause it appears to have constantly adhered, both in the Illyrian and Macedonian wars. (Polyb. ii. 11; Liv. xxix. 12, xliv. 30.)
At a later period, Dyrrhachium, as it was then called, and a free state (Cic. ad Fam. xiv. 1), became the scene of the contest between Caesar and Pompeius. The latter moved from Thessalonica, and threw himself before Dyrrhachium; the Pompeians entrenched themselves on the right bank of the Apsus, so effectually that Caesar was obliged to take up his position on the left, and resolved to pass the winter under canvass. This led to a series of remarkable operations, the result of which was that the great captain, in spite of the consummate ability he displayed in the face of considerable superiority in numbers and position, was compelled to leave Dyrrhachium to Pompeius, and try the fortune of war upon a second field. (Caesar, B.C. iii. 42-76; Appian, B.C. ii. 61; Dion Cass. xli. 49; Lucan, vi. 29-63.) Dyrrhachium sided with M. Antonius during the last civil wars of the Republic, and was afterwards presented by Augustus to his soldiers (Dion Cass. ii. 4), when the Illyrian peasants learned the. rudiments of municipal law from the veterans of the empire. The inhabitants, whose patron deity was Venus (Catull. Carm. xxxiv. 11), were, if we may believe Plautus (Menaechm. act ii. sc. i. 30-40), a vicious and debauched race. The city itself, under the Lower Roman Empire, became the capital of the new province, Epirus Nova (Marquardt, Handbuch der Rom. Alt. p. 115), and is mentioned by the Byzantine historians as being still a considerable place in their time (Cedren. p. 703; Niceph. Callist. xvii. 3). Gibbon (Decline and Fall, vol. v. pp. 345-349; comp. Le Beau, Bas Empire, vol. xv. pp. 133-145) has told the story of the memorable siege, battle, and capture of Dyrrhachium,when the Norman Robert Guiscard defeated the Greeks and their emperor Alexius, A.D. 1081-1082. The modern Durazzo represents this place; the surrounding country is described as being highly attractive, though unhealthy. (Albanien, Rumelien, und die Oesterreichisch Montenegrische Granze, Jos. Muller, Prag. 1844, p. 62.) There are a great number of autonomous coins belonging to this city, none however under the name of Epidamnus, but always with the epigraph DUR, or more rarely DURA,-the type, as on the coins of Corcyra, a cow suckling a calf; on the reverse, the gardens of Alcinous. (Eckhel, vol. ii. p. 155.)
This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited June 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
The modern Durazzo, formerly called Epidamnus (Epidamnos); a town in Greek Illyria, on a peninsula in the Adriatic Sea. It was founded by the Corcyreans and received the name of Epidamnus; but since the Romans regarded this name as one of bad omen, reminding them of damnum, they changed it into Dyrrhachium. It was the usual place of landing for persons who crossed over from Brundisium, and was to that town what Calais is to Dover. Here commenced the great Via Egnatia. The place was one of much commerce, so that Catullus calls it taberna Hadriae, "the shop of the Adriatic." During the Civil Wars it was the headquarters of Pompey, who kept his military stores here. In A.D. 345 it was destroyed by an earthquake.
This text is cited Sep 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
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