The Parthini, Partini or Partheni were an Illyrian tribe that lived in the inlands of southern Illyria (modern Albania). They likely were located in the Shkumbin valley controlling the important route between the Adriatic Sea and Macedonia, which corresponded to the Via Egnatia of Roman times. Consequently, their neighbours to the west were the Taulantii and to the east the Dassaretii in the region of Lychnidus.[1]


The Parthini often appears in ancient accounts describing the Illyrian Wars and Macedonian Wars. Their name was written in Ancient Greek as Παρθῖνοι, Parthînoi, Παρθηνοι, Parthenoi, Παρθεηνᾶται Partheēnâtai and in Latin as Parthini or Partheni. They are mentioned by Livy, Caesar, Strabo vii.; Appian, Illyr. 1; Dion Cass. xli. 49; Cic. in Pis. 40; Pomp. Mela, ii. 3. § 11; Plin. iii. 26.[2]

According to a mythological tradition reported by Appian (2nd century AD), the Parthini were among the South-Illyrian tribes that took their names from the first generation of the descendants of Illyrius, the eponymous ancestor of all the Illyrian peoples.[3][4][5]


View of Shkumbin; it constituted an important route between the Adriatic Sea and Macedonia. The first part of the Via Egnatia retraced it as a land route.

The Parthini most likely inhabited the area between the hinterland of Dyrrhachium at the Tirana plane in the north, and the hinterland of Apollonia at the Apsus river (Seman) in the south.[2] Their territory likely included the Shkumbin valley, hence they controlled the important route between the Adriatic Sea and Macedonia, which corresponded to the Via Egnatia of Roman times.[1] Initially, the Parthini may have held the lands around Epidamnus-Dyrrhachium, but later they were probably pushed more inland by the Taulantii losing their coastal holdings.[6]

A walled city built in the 4th century BC at the latest has been found on the Gradishtë plateau near Belsh. It developed from an early 7th century BC hilltop settlement, and was located on the route leading from Apollonia along the Apsus river to the Shkumbin. Its ancient name is not known, but it can be assumed to have been the chief settlement of the Parthini. It existed until late antiquity, and was destroyed by the Slavic invasion.[7]

The Illyrian stronghold of Dimale was situated in the vicinity or within the territory of the Parthini.[8] Parthus was a settlement of the Parthini.[9]



See also: Illyrian language

The idiom spoken by the Parthini is included in the southern Illyrian onomastic province in modern linguistics.[10][11] The territory they inhabited belongs to the area that is considered in current scholarship as the linguistic core of Illyrian.[12]


See also: Illyrian religion

The Parthini worshiped a supreme god recognized through interpretatio romana as 'Jupiter Parthinus'.[13] It is attested in Latin epigraphic material as I(upiter) O(ptimus) M(aximus) Partinus.[14]


The Parthini are often mentioned in the course of the Roman wars in Illyria and Macedonia, 229 BCE, but as friends rather than foes of the Romans, having submitted at an early period to their arms. (Polyb. ii. 11; Livy xxix. 12.) After the death of Philip, king of Macedon, they appear to have been added to the dominions of Pleuratus, an Illyrian prince allied to the Romans. (Polyb. xviii. 30; Liv. xxx. 34, xliv. 30.) Their principal town was Parthus (Πάρθος, Steph. B. s. v.), which was taken by Caesar in the course of his campaign with Pompeius. (Caes. B.C. iii. 41.) The double-hilled Dimallum, the strongest among the Illyrian places, with two citadels on two heights, connected by a wall (Polyb. iii. 18, vii. 9), was within their territory. There is no indication, however, of its precise situation, which was probably between Lissus and Epidamnus. Livy mentions (xxix. 12) two other fortresses: Eugenium and Bargulum.


The ancient Via Egnatia in Librazhd, Albania. The first part of the road crossed Illyricum mainly in Parthinian territory.

Located in the inlands of southern Illyria, the Parthini controlled the important route between the Adriatic Sea and Macedonia, which corresponded to the Via Egnatia of Roman times.[1]

Ancient historical sources testify agricultural economy among the Parthini, who were attested to have cultivated corn in Roman times.[15] During the Great Roman Civil War the Parthini were obliged to deliver their corn supply for Pompey's troops. The situation changed with Caesar's arrival in Illyria. Once he had landed in Palaeste on the Ceraunian Mountains, the Illyrian communities, which were garrisoned by Pompey and the Senate, welcomed Caesar.[16]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Cabanes 2007, p. 579: "Parthini (Partini, Partheni, Παρθῖνοι/Parthînoi, Παρθεηνᾶται/Partheēnâtai). Illyrian tribe (Str. 7,7,8; App. Ill. 2) near → Dyrrhachium (App. B Civ. 5,320). It is likely that they lived in the Shkumbi valley (in modern Albania) and controlled the important link between → Ionios Kolpos and → Macedonia, equivalent to the later → via Egnatia. Their neighbours to the east were the Dassaretae (Dassaretia) in the region of the modern Ohrid, and to the west the Taulantii (Thuc. 1,24; Diod. Sic. 12,30-40)."
  2. ^ a b Jaupaj 2019, p. 70.
  3. ^ Papazoglu 1978, p. 213: "The tribes which took their names from the first generation of Illyrius' descendants belong mostly to the group of the so-called South-Illyrian tribes: the Taulantii, the Parthini, the Enchelei, the Dassaretii".
  4. ^ Šašel Kos 2004, p. 502.
  5. ^ Mesihović & Šačić 2015, pp. 23–24.
  6. ^ Stocker 2009, p. 217
  7. ^ Lippert & Matzinger 2021, p. 102.
  8. ^ Šašel Kos 2005, p. 406.
  9. ^ Šašel Kos 2005, p. 282.
  10. ^ Polomé 1983, p. 537: "The old kingdom of Illyria, south of Lissos, covered the territory of several tribes who shared a common language, apparently of Indo-European stock: the Taulantii, on the coast, south of Dyrrachium; the Parthini, north of this town; the Dassaretae, inland, near Lake Lychnidos and in the Drin valley; north of them were the Penestae; in the mountains, an older group, the Enchelei, lingered on." [footnote 84:] "In the oldest sources, the term 'Illyrian' appears to be restricted to the tribes of the Illyricum regnum (PAPAZOGLU, 1965). Linguistically, it can only legitimately be applied to the southeastern part of the expanded Roman Illyricum; the Delmatae and the Pannonii to the northwest mus have constituted an ethnically and linguistically distinct group (KATIČIĆ, 1968: 367-8)."
  11. ^ Šašel Kos 2002, p. 117: "The Illyrian peoples, mentioned in the sources in which the events concerning the Illyrian kingdom are narrated – to name the most outstanding – are the Taulantii, Atintani, Parthini, Enchelei, Penestae, Dassaretii, Ardiaei, Labeates, and the Daorsi. All of these peoples were conceivably more or less closely related in terms of culture, institutions and language. Many of them may have had their own kings, some of whom attained great power and actively took part in the struggle for power in the Hellenistic world. The name “Illyrian” must have carried enough prestige at the time of the rise of the Ardiaean dynasty within the Illyrian kingdom that it was imposed at a later date, when the Romans conquered Illyria and the rest of the Balkans, as the official name of the future provinces of Dalmatia and Pannonia."
  12. ^ Haebler 2002, p. 475: "To be cautious, only that language, which was spread along the south-eastern Adriatic coast northward and southward from Dyrrhachium (today Durrës) and inland to Lake Lychnidos (today Ohrid) in the settlement area of the Illyrian tribes of the Parthini, Taulanti, Dassaretae and Penestae, must be considered as Illyrian at present."
  13. ^ Miraj 1992, p. 145.
  14. ^ Ceka 2001, p. 5.
  15. ^ Shpuza 2009, p. 92.
  16. ^ Nicols 1992, p. 145.