Izvoare istorice despre Pelasgi

Pelasgians was a name applied by Greek writers to a prehistoric
people whose traces were believed to exist in Greek lands.

If the statements of ancient authorities are marshalled in order of
their date it will be seen that certain beliefs cannot be traced back
beyond the age of this or that author. Though this does not prove
that the beliefs themselves were not held earlier, it suggests
caution in assuming that they were. In the Homeric poems there are
Pelasgians among the allies of Troy: in the catalogue, Iliad, ii.
843, which is otherwise in strict geographical order, they stand
between the Hellespontine towns and the Thracians of south-east
Europe, i.e. on the Hellespontine border of Thrace.

Their town or district is called Larissa and is fertile, and they are
celebrated for their spearmanship. Their chiefs are Hippothous and
Pylaeus, sons of Lethus son of Teutamus. Iliad, x. 428-429,
their camping ground between the town of Troy and the sea; but this
obviously proves nothing about their habitat in time of peace.

Odyssey, xvii. 175-177, notes Pelasgians in Crete, together with
apparently indigenous and two immigrant peoples (Achaeans and
Dorians), but gives no indication to which class the Pelasgians
belong. In Lemnos (Iliad, Vii. 467; xiv. 230) there are no
Pelasgians, but a Minyan dynasty. Two other passages (Iliad, ii.
684; xvi. 233-235) apply the epithet "Pelasgic" to a district
Argos about Mt Othrys in south Thessaly, and to Zeus of Dodona. But
in neither case are actual Pelasgians mentioned; the Thessalian Argos
is the specific home of Hellenes and Achaeans, and Dodona is
inhabited by Perrhaebians and Aenianes (Iliad, ii. 750) who are
nowhere described as Pelasgian. It looks therefore as if "Pelasgian"
were here used connotatively, to mean either "formerly occupied by
Pelasgian" or simply "of immemorial age."

Hesiod expands the Homeric phrase and calls Dodona "seat of
Pelasgians" (fr. 225); he speaks also of a personal Pelasgus as
father of Lycaon, the culture-hero of Arcadia; and a later epic poet,
Asius, describes Pelasgus as the first man, whom the earth threw up
that there might be a race of men. Hecataeus makes Pelasgus king of
Thessaly (expounding Iliad, ~i. 681-684); Acusilaus applies this
Homeric passage to the Peloponnesian Argos, and engrafts the Hesiodic
Pelasgus, father of Lycaon, into a Peloponnesian genealogy.

Hellanicus a generation later repeats this blunder, and identifies
this Argive and Arcadian Pelasgus with the Thessalian Pelasgus of
Hecataeus. For Aeschylus (Supplices I, sqq.) Pelasgus is earthborn,
as in Asius, and rules a kingdom stretching from Argos to Dodona and
the Strymon; but in Prometheus 879, the "Pelasgian" land simply means
Argos. Sophocles takes the same view (Inac/jus, fr. 256) and for the
first time introduces the word "Tyrrhenian" into the story,
apparently as synonymous with Pelasgian.

Herodotus, like Homer, has a denotative as well as a connotative use.
He describes actual Pelasgians surviving and mutually intelligible
(a) at Placie and Scylace on the Asiatic shore of the Hellespont, and
(b) near Creston on the Strymon; in the latter area they
have "Tyrrhenian" neighbours. He alludes to other districts
Pelasgian peoples lived on under changed names; Samothrace and
Antandrus in Troas are probably instances of this. In Lemnos and
Imbros he describes a Pelasgian population who were only conquered by
Athens shortly before 500 BC, and in connection with this he tells a
story of earlier raids of these Pelasgians on Attica, and of a
temporary settlement there of Hellespontine Pelasgians, all dating
from a time "when the Athenians were first beginning to count as

Elsewhere "Pelasgian" in Herodotus connotes anything typical of, or
surviving from, the state of things in Greece before the coming of
the Hellenes. In this sense all Greece was once "Pelasgic"; the
clearest instances of Pelasgian survival in ritual and customs and
antiquities are in Arcadia, the "Ionian" districts of north-west
Peloponnese, and Attica, which have suffered least from
hellenization. In Athens itself the prehistoric wall of the citadel
and a plot of ground close below it were venerated in the 5th century
as "Pelasgian"; so too Thucydides (ii. 17). We may note that all
Herodotean examples of actual Pelasgi lie round, or near, the actual
Pelasgi of Homeric Thrace; that the most distant of these is
confirmed by the testimony of Thucydides (iv. 106) as to the
Pelasgian and Tyrrhenian population of the adjacent seaboard: also
that Thucydides adopts the same general Pelasgian theory of early
Greece, with the refinement that he regards the Pelasgian name as
originally specific, and as having come gradually into this generic

Ephorus, relying on Hesiodic tradition of an aboriginal Pelasgian
type in Arcadia, elaborated a theory of the Pelasgians as a warrior-
people spreading (like "Aryans") from a "Pelasgian home," and
annexing and colonizing all the parts of Greece where earlier writers
had found allusions to them, from Dodona to Crete and the Troad, and
even as far as Italy, where again their settlements had been
recognized as early as the time of Hellanicur, in close connection
once more with "Tyrrhenians."

The copious additional information given by later writers is all by
way either of interpretation of local legends in the light of
Ephorus's theory, or of explanation of the name "Pelasgoi"; as when
Philochorus expands a popular etymology "stork-folk" into a theory of
their seasonal migrations; or Apollodorus says that Homer calls Zeus
Pelasgian "because he is not far from every one of us,". The
connection with Tyrrhenians which began with Hellanicus, Herodotus
and Sophocles becomes confusion with them in the 3rd century, when
the Lemnian pirates and their Attic kinsmen are plainly styled
Tyrrhenians, and early fortress-walls in Italy (like those on the
Palatine in Rome) are quoted as "Arcadian" colonies.

Modern writers have either been content to restate or amplify the
view, ascribed above to Ephorus, that "Pelasgian" simply
means "prehistoric Greek," or have used the name Pelasgian at their
pleasure to denote some one element in the mixed population of the
Aegean-Thracian, Illyrian (Albanian) or Semitic. G. Sergi
(Origine e
diffusione della stirpe inedilerranea, Rome, 1895), followed by many
anthropologists, describes as "Pelasgian" one branch of the
Mediterranean or Eur-African race of mankind, and one group of types
of skull within that race. The character of the ancient citadel wall
at Athens, already mentioned, has given the name "Pelasgic masonry"
to all constructions of large unhewn blocks fitted roughly together
without mortar, from Asia Minor to Spain.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.