Nicopolis — or Actia Nicopolis — was an ancient city of Epirus
The name Epirus, from the Greek "Ήπειρος" meaning continent may refer to:-Geographical:* Epirus - a historical and geographical region of the southwestern Balkans, straddling modern Greece and Albania...

, founded 31 BC
31 BC
Year 31 BC was either a common year starting on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday or a leap year starting on Tuesday or Wednesday of the Julian calendar and a common year starting on Tuesday of the Proleptic Julian calendar...

 by Octavian in memory of his victory over Antony
Mark Antony
Marcus Antonius , known in English as Mark Antony, was a Roman politician and general. As a military commander and administrator, he was an important supporter and loyal friend of his mother's cousin Julius Caesar...

 and Cleopatra
Cleopatra VII of Egypt
Cleopatra VII Philopator was the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt.She was a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty, a family of Greek origin that ruled Egypt after Alexander the Great's death during the Hellenistic period...

 at Actium
Actium was the ancient name of a promontory of western Greece in northwestern Acarnania, at the mouth of the Sinus Ambracius opposite Nicopolis, built by Augustus on the north side of the strait....

 the previous year. It was later the capital of Epirus Vetus. It is on the west coast of Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....



In the aftermath of the battle of Actium in the Ambracian Gulf
Ambracian Gulf
The Ambracian Gulf, also known as the Gulf of Arta or the Gulf of Actium, and in some official documents as the Amvrakikos Gulf , is a gulf of the Ionian Sea in northwestern Greece. About long and wide, it is one of the largest enclosed gulfs in Greece...

 in 31 BC, Octavian himself founded Nicopolis, the city of victory, in 28 BC, symbolically representing his successful unification of the Roman Empire under one administration and, geographically, a major transportation and communications point linking the eastern and western halves of the Mediterranean.

On the spot where Octavian's own tent had been pitched he built a monument adorned with the beaks of the captured galleys; and in further celebration of his victory he instituted the so-called Aktian games in honor of Apollo Aktios.

The city proved highly successful, and it was considered the capital of southern Epirus and Akarnania. Among other things, it obtained the right to send five representatives to the Amphictyonic Council.

The new polis was given the territories of southern Epiros including Ambrakia, most of Akarnania, and western Aetolia
Aetolia is a mountainous region of Greece on the north coast of the Gulf of Corinth, forming the eastern part of the modern prefecture of Aetolia-Acarnania.-Geography:...

. Many inhabitants of the surrounding areas – Kassopaia
Kassopaia is a village and a former municipality on the island of Corfu, Ionian Islands, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Corfu, of which it is a municipal unit. It is located in the northeasternmost tip of the island of Corfu. It has a land area of...

, Ambrakia, parts of Akarnania (including Leukas, Palairos, Amphilochikon, Calydon
Calydon was an ancient Greek city in Aetolia, situated on the west bank of the river Evenus. According to Greek mythology, the city took its name from its founder Calydon, son of Aetolus. Close to the city stood Mount Zygos, the slopes of which provided the setting for the hunt of the Calydonian...

, and Lysimachia
Lysimachia (Thrace)
Lysimachia was an important Hellenistic Greek town on the north-western extremity of the Thracian Chersonese in what is now the European part of Turkey, not far from the bay of Melas .- History :...

) and western Aetolia – were forced to relocate to the new city.

The exact legal status of Nikopolis is the subject of some dispute, having the characteristics of civitas libera, civitas foederata, and as colonia, implying that Roman military veterans also settled there.

In 27 BC, Octavian implemented an Empire-wide administrative reform. Achaia – including Thessalia, Arkanania and the territory of what later became the province of Epirus – was detached from Macedonia
Macedonia (Roman province)
The Roman province of Macedonia was officially established in 146 BC, after the Roman general Quintus Caecilius Metellus defeated Andriscus of Macedon, the last Ancient King of Macedon in 148 BC, and after the four client republics established by Rome in the region were dissolved...

 and made into a province in its own right. The Imperial government assigned the administration of both Macedonia and Achaia to senatorial praetor-rank proconsules, with capitals at Thessalonica and Corinth
Corinth is a city and former municipality in Corinthia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Corinth, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit...

, respectively. Achaia included Euboea
Euboea is the second largest Greek island in area and population, after Crete. The narrow Euripus Strait separates it from Boeotia in mainland Greece. In general outline it is a long and narrow, seahorse-shaped island; it is about long, and varies in breadth from to...

, Attica
Attica is a historical region of Greece, containing Athens, the current capital of Greece. The historical region is centered on the Attic peninsula, which projects into the Aegean Sea...

, the Cyclades
The Cyclades is a Greek island group in the Aegean Sea, south-east of the mainland of Greece; and a former administrative prefecture of Greece. They are one of the island groups which constitute the Aegean archipelago. The name refers to the islands around the sacred island of Delos...

, Thessaly, Peloponnesos, Aitolia, Akarnania, the Ionian islands
Ionian Islands
The Ionian Islands are a group of islands in Greece. They are traditionally called the Heptanese, i.e...

, and the southern part of Epirus.

At that time, as a city in a senatorial province, Nicopolis began minting its own copper coins (until 268).

During the first five years or so of the city's foundation, local authorities supervised the construction of the city walls, the majority of the public buildings, including the odeion and the aqueduct. The city's south gate was connected by a road to the Ionian harbor Komaros (the modern Nikopolis-Mytikas road leading to the gulf of Mytikas).

In 18 AD, Germanicus
Germanicus Julius Caesar , commonly known as Germanicus, was a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and a prominent general of the early Roman Empire. He was born in Rome, Italia, and was named either Nero Claudius Drusus after his father or Tiberius Claudius Nero after his uncle...

, nephew and adopted son of Augustus, stopped over at Nicopolis on his way to Syria
Syria (Roman province)
Syria was a Roman province, annexed in 64 BC by Pompey, as a consequence of his military presence after pursuing victory in the Third Mithridatic War. It remained under Roman, and subsequently Byzantine, rule for seven centuries, until 637 when it fell to the Islamic conquests.- Principate :The...


In 30-31, the Roman consul Poppaeus Sabinus visited Nikopolis.

Around 63, the apostle Paul planned to spend the winter at Nicopolis where, in his Epistle to Titus
Epistle to Titus
The Epistle of Paul to Titus, usually referred to simply as Titus, is one of the three Pastoral Epistles , traditionally attributed to Saint Paul, and is part of the New Testament...

, he invited his co-worker Titus to join him from Crete. (Titus 3:12).

In 66, in the wake of a terror campaign and financial constraints in Rome, Emperor Nero
Nero , was Roman Emperor from 54 to 68, and the last in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius to become his heir and successor, and succeeded to the throne in 54 following Claudius' death....

 made a more modest trip to Greece in lieu of a planned great journey to the east. He visited Nicopolis during his tour of Greece to take part in the Aktian games.

In 67, while in Greece, Emperor Nero granted tax-exempt status to the cities of Achaia and in return he conferred administration of Sardinia
Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea . It is an autonomous region of Italy, and the nearest land masses are the French island of Corsica, the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Tunisia and the Spanish Balearic Islands.The name Sardinia is from the pre-Roman noun *sard[],...

 and Corsica
Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is located west of Italy, southeast of the French mainland, and north of the island of Sardinia....

 to the Senate.

Around 93, Emperor Domitian
Domitian was Roman Emperor from 81 to 96. Domitian was the third and last emperor of the Flavian dynasty.Domitian's youth and early career were largely spent in the shadow of his brother Titus, who gained military renown during the First Jewish-Roman War...

 (81-96) expelled philosophers from Rome, including the Stoic
STOIC was a variant of Forth.It started out at the MIT and Harvard Biomedical Engineering Centre in Boston, and was written in the mid 1970s by Jonathan Sachs...

 philosopher Epiktetos
Epiktetos was an Attic vase painter in the early red-figure style. Besides Oltos, he is the most important painter of the Pioneer Group. He was active between 520 and 490 BC...

, who went to Nicopolis where he died around AD 135
Year 135 was a common year starting on Friday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Lupercus and Atilianus...


Around 110, under Emperor Trajan
Trajan , was Roman Emperor from 98 to 117 AD. Born into a non-patrician family in the province of Hispania Baetica, in Spain Trajan rose to prominence during the reign of emperor Domitian. Serving as a legatus legionis in Hispania Tarraconensis, in Spain, in 89 Trajan supported the emperor against...

 (98-117), the Roman government carved out the province of Epiros from parts of Makedonia
Macedonia (Roman province)
The Roman province of Macedonia was officially established in 146 BC, after the Roman general Quintus Caecilius Metellus defeated Andriscus of Macedon, the last Ancient King of Macedon in 148 BC, and after the four client republics established by Rome in the region were dissolved...

 and Achaia
Achaea (Roman province)
Achaea, or Achaia, was a province of the Roman Empire, consisting of the Peloponnese, eastern Central Greece and parts of Thessaly. It bordered on the north by the provinces of Epirus vetus and Macedonia...

, making it a separate province in its own right. A procurator Augusti headquartered at Nicopolis governed Epirus. The new province of Epirus included Arkanania to the south as far as the Achelous, but not Apollonia
Apollonia (Illyria)
Apollonia was an ancient Greek city in Illyria, located on the right bank of the Aous river . Its ruins are situated in the Fier region, near the village of Pojani, in modern-day Albania...

 to the north, plus the Ionian islands – Kerkyra, Leukas, Ithaca
Ithaca or Ithaka is an island located in the Ionian Sea, in Greece, with an area of and a little more than three thousand inhabitants. It is also a separate regional unit of the Ionian Islands region, and the only municipality of the regional unit. It lies off the northeast coast of Kefalonia and...

, Cephalonia, and Zakynthos
Zakynthos , also Zante, the other form often used in English and in Italian , is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the third largest of the Ionian Islands. It is also a separate regional unit of the Ionian Islands region, and the only municipality of the regional unit. It covers an area of ...

. The reason for the reform was that the territory needed a stricter government to yield higher revenues. The new province was put under the control of an Imperial procurator, together with other special procuratores, including a procurator of the purple fisheries whose sphere of office, however, extended to Achaia and Thessalia. This administrative set up appears to have remained intact through the reforms of Emperor Septimius Severus
Septimius Severus
Septimius Severus , also known as Severus, was Roman Emperor from 193 to 211. Severus was born in Leptis Magna in the province of Africa. As a young man he advanced through the customary succession of offices under the reigns of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. Severus seized power after the death of...

 (193-211) and up until Emperor Diocletian
Diocletian |latinized]] upon his accession to Diocletian . c. 22 December 244  – 3 December 311), was a Roman Emperor from 284 to 305....


In 128, Emperor Hadrian
Hadrian , was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He is best known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. In Rome, he re-built the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. In addition to being emperor, Hadrian was a humanist and was philhellene in...

 (117-138) visited Nicopolis and Corinth.

Around this time the so-called western gate was constructed, several hundred meters north of the south gate, becoming the main gate of Nicopolis.

Around 180, the next mention of Nicopolis with respect to Church history is actually a bishop of Rome, Pope Eleutherius, who reigned from around 174-189. He was born in Nicopolis, according to the Liber Pontificalis, and served as a deacon
Deacon is a ministry in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions...

 in Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

. During his term in office as Bishop of Rome, the Church was involved in the Montanist controversy.

Around 193-198, Emperor Severus (193-211), based in Syria, campaigned in Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, with indirect consequences for Achaia and Epirus: to help pay for these campaigns, Emperor Severus apparently required several cities to mint special coins, including Nicopolis, Patrae, Epidaurus
Epidaurus was a small city in ancient Greece, at the Saronic Gulf. Two modern towns bear the name Epidavros : Palaia Epidavros and Nea Epidavros. Since 2010 they belong to the new municipality of Epidavros, part of the peripheral unit of Argolis...

, Apollonia, Thuria
Thuria, Messenia
Thouria is a village and a former municipality in Messenia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Kalamata, of which it is a municipal unit. Its population as of 2001 was 4,106....

, Plautilla
Plautilla was an early Christian saint, a Roman widow who was by some accounts baptized by Saint Peter and saw the martyrdom of Saint Paul.-Notes:...

, and the Thessalia koinon.

Later Roman and Byzantine Period

In 268, the Goths
The Goths were an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin whose two branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe....

 launched a combined land-sea invasion against the Roman Empire, assisted by Heruli
The Heruli were an East Germanic tribe who are famous for their naval exploits. Migrating from Northern Europe to the Black Sea in the third century They were part of the...

 sailors and other tribesmen. Their naval forces ravaged Byzantium
Byzantium was an ancient Greek city, founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 667 BC and named after their king Byzas . The name Byzantium is a Latinization of the original name Byzantion...

 and Chrysopolis, though the Imperial fleet successfully counter-attacked on the Propontis. Meanwhile the land forces overran Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

 and continued into Achaia as far south as Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

; the invading Goths and Heruli sacked Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

, crossed the isthmus, sacked and burned the lower part of Corinth, and advanced to Argos
Argos is a city and a former municipality in Argolis, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Argos-Mykines, of which it is a municipal unit. It is 11 kilometres from Nafplion, which was its historic harbour...

 and Sparta, ravaging the countryside along the way and burning the two cities. Here Imperial land and sea forces counter-attacked, and the invaders wandered their way through Boeotia
Boeotia, also spelled Beotia and Bœotia , is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of Central Greece. It was also a region of ancient Greece. Its capital is Livadeia, the second largest city being Thebes.-Geography:...

, Akarnania, Epiros, Macedonia, and Thrace on their way back to Moesia
Moesia was an ancient region and later Roman province situated in the Balkans, along the south bank of the Danube River. It included territories of modern-day Southern Serbia , Northern Republic of Macedonia, Northern Bulgaria, Romanian Dobrudja, Southern Moldova, and Budjak .-History:In ancient...


Not long after the catastrophe, the Athenians built a wall to enclose the Acropolis and a small area to the north. In Epiros, while the inhabitants of Nicopolis made hasty repairs to fortifications and managed to avert the danger, the leaders of Kerkyra organized their own army, crossed over into Epiros and defeated the Goths on land.

Nikopolis ceased to mint its own copper coins.

The Imperial army chased the Goths and their allies and defeated them at Naissus
Battle of Naissus
The Battle of Naissus was the defeat of a Gothic coalition by the Roman Empire under Emperor Gallienus near Naissus...


In 293, as part of Diocletian's reforms, the province of Epiros became known as Epirus Vetus (including Adrianopolis
Adrianópolis is a town and municipality in the state of Paraná in the Southern Region of Brazil.-References:...

, Phoiniki, Ogchismos, and Bouthroton as the most northerly major cities, and Akarnania and the islands of Kerkyra, Ithaca, and probably Leukas to the south). The capital was Nicopolis.

Meanwhile, the territory of northern Epiros (including, Apollonia, Byllis and Amantia on its southern borders) became known as Epirus Nova, capital at Dyrrachion. Both provinces, along with Makedonia, Thessalia and Achaia, are included in the dioceses of Moesia which also included four provinces in the northwest Balkans. The islands of Cephalonia, Zakynthos, and Kythira were included in the province of Achaia.

Both Epirus Vetus and Epirus Nova were governed by a praeses.

Writing around 300, one Arnobius of Numidia mentioned the existence of Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 communities in Achaia, Macedonia, and Epirus.

Writing around 330, the first great recorded Church historian Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea also called Eusebius Pamphili, was a Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist. He became the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine about the year 314. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon...

 mentions that bishops from Epiros attended the first Ecumenical Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

 in 325.

This implies that bishoprics and an episcopal administrative system had been set up some time before 325. Until the time of Constantine
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

, it is supposed that the bishopric of Nicopolis came under the jurisdiction of the metropolitan of Corinth, but with the administrative reforms under Emperor Diocletain and Constantine (306-337), Nicopolis itself became the metropolitan city of Epirus Vetus.

In 327, Emperor Constantine split the diocese of Moesia into Dacia and Macedonia. The two provinces of Epirus, along with the provinces of Macedonia, Thessaly, and Achaia, became part of the diocese of Macedonia (capital Thessalonica).

In 343, in the Acts of the Council of Serdica, we have for the first time mention of a bishop of Nicopolis, one Isidoros.

In 361, newly appointed Consul Claudius Mamertinus
Claudius Mamertinus
Claudius Mamertinus was an official in the Roman Empire. In late 361 he took part in the Chalcedon tribunal to condemn the ministers of Constantius II, and in 362, he was made consul as a reward by the new Emperor Julian; on January 1 of that year he delivered a panegyric in Constantinople by way...

 delivered a panegyric to the young Emperor Julian
Julian the Apostate
Julian "the Apostate" , commonly known as Julian, or also Julian the Philosopher, was Roman Emperor from 361 to 363 and a noted philosopher and Greek writer....

 (360-363), mentioning heavy taxation in Dalmatia
Dalmatia (Roman province)
Dalmatia was an ancient Roman province. Its name is probably derived from the name of an Illyrian tribe called the Dalmatae which lived in the area of the eastern Adriatic coast in Classical antiquity....

 and Epirus.

Based on the record of Julian's close ties with certain leading men from Epirus involved in the Empire-wide cultural circuit led by Libanios and Themistios, it appears that Christianity was not widespread in Epirus in the mid-Fourth Century, but after his death it spread far and wide in the region, judging from legislation issued by Valentinian
Valentinian I
Valentinian I , also known as Valentinian the Great, was Roman emperor from 364 to 375. Upon becoming emperor he made his brother Valens his co-emperor, giving him rule of the eastern provinces while Valentinian retained the west....

 in 371 and 372, trying to offset some of the negative effects its rapid spread, and the fact that there is no written record of the bishops of the cities of Epiros until the Fifth Century, except for the Bishop of Nicopolis in 343.

In 381, the Acts of the Council of Constantinople
First Council of Constantinople
The First Council of Constantinople is recognized as the Second Ecumenical Council by the Assyrian Church of the East, the Oriental Orthodox, the Eastern Orthodox, the Roman Catholics, the Old Catholics, and a number of other Western Christian groups. It was the first Ecumenical Council held in...

 – as well as the Third (431), and Fourth
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

 (451) Ecumenical Councils – recognized the see of Thessalonica as holding sixth place in the Church administrative hierarchy, after the five patriarchs. Among the sees of Illyricum
Praetorian prefecture of Illyricum
The praetorian prefecture of Illyricum was one of four praetorian prefectures into which the Late Roman Empire was divided.The administrative centre of the prefecture was Sirmium , and, after 379, Thessalonica...

, Thessalonica held the first position in the hierarchy, followed by Corinth and Nicopolis.

In 431, the Acts of the Third Ecumenical Council at Ephesus list the bishops of Epirus, including metropolitan Bishop St. Donatos of Nikopolis (c. 425-432).

The majority of the bishops from Epiros and Illyricum and other representatives sustained the Orthodox theological position of the Bishop Celestine I of Rome (422-432) and Bishop Cyril of Alexandria
Cyril of Alexandria
Cyril of Alexandria was the Patriarch of Alexandria from 412 to 444. He came to power when the city was at its height of influence and power within the Roman Empire. Cyril wrote extensively and was a leading protagonist in the Christological controversies of the later 4th and 5th centuries...

 against the Patriarch of Constantinople
Patriarch of Constantinople
The Ecumenical Patriarch is the Archbishop of Constantinople – New Rome – ranking as primus inter pares in the Eastern Orthodox communion, which is seen by followers as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church....

. During this time, Bishop Donatos of Nikopolis maintained a correspondence with Bishop Cyril of Alexandria concerning Nestorianism
Nestorianism is a Christological doctrine advanced by Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople from 428–431. The doctrine, which was informed by Nestorius's studies under Theodore of Mopsuestia at the School of Antioch, emphasizes the disunion between the human and divine natures of Jesus...


In 451, six Epirote bishops attended the Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

, including Bishop Attikos of Nikopolis. All these bishops without exception undersigned the Council’s decisions in favor of the Orthodox position of Dyophysitism, also backed by the bishop of Rome.

In 457-458 the bishops of Epirus then held a provincial synod to ratify the validity of the Fourth Ecumenical Council. We have a list of as many as nine bishops signing a letter written by Bishop Eugenios of Nikopolis to Bishop Leo
Pope Leo I
Pope Leo I was pope from September 29, 440 to his death.He was an Italian aristocrat, and is the first pope of the Catholic Church to have been called "the Great". He is perhaps best known for having met Attila the Hun in 452, persuading him to turn back from his invasion of Italy...

 of Rome.

This was also the time of Bishop Diadochos of Photiki
Diadochos of Photiki
Saint Diadochos of Photiki was a fifth century ascetic whose work is included in the Philokalia.Scholars have acknowledged his great influence on later Byzantine saints such as Maximos the Confessor, John Climacus, Symeon the New Theologian, and in general the Hesychast movement of the 14th century...

 (c. 450-458), a saint and Father of the Church. Not only was he the bishop of what was the major city of an Epiros sub-region called Thresprotia, he was also the author of important theological treatises, three of which are extant.

In combination with the notice of the correspondence between the bishop of Nikopolis and the bishop of Alexandria mentioned previously, from the writings of Diadochos we can infer that learned texts, along with amphorae, traveled between the eastern Mediterranean and Epirus in the 400s.

Diadochos’ texts also show us that both theoretical and practical ideas about theology and the organization of monastic life also spread from the eastern Mediterranean to Epiros. In fact, a reference in one of Diadochos’ own writings suggests he was also igoumenos of a monastery in Photiki and that Epiros in the 450s at least had both anachoritic and koinobitic monastic communities.

From around 460 in Nikopolis, construction of a series of six basilicas, beginning with the five-aisled metropolitan basilica B.

Artisans of Nikopolis decorated many of the city's basilicas with some high-quality mosaics, developing their own workshop, operating until the 550s, whose influence extended to the rest of Epirus and perhaps further afield in eastern Illyricum.

Basilica B was the largest of the Nicopolis basilicas and probably served as the metropolitan bishop’s main church. An inscription informs us that Bishop Alkison (491-516) sponsored some additions to the southern annex of Basilica B, possibly around 500.

In 474, Eastern Emperor Zeno
Zeno (emperor)
Zeno , originally named Tarasis, was Byzantine Emperor from 474 to 475 and again from 476 to 491. Domestic revolts and religious dissension plagued his reign, which nevertheless succeeded to some extent in foreign issues...

 (474-491) initiated peace negotiations with the Vandals
The Vandals were an East Germanic tribe that entered the late Roman Empire during the 5th century. The Vandals under king Genseric entered Africa in 429 and by 439 established a kingdom which included the Roman Africa province, besides the islands of Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearics....

. But during the negotiations, in order to strengthen their position, the Vandals again devastated the coast of Greece during which they captured Nicopolis and took prisoners who had to be ransomed to secure their release.

Evidently the walls of Nikopolis built in the time of Augustus were not for defensive purposes, or at least were not functioning in 474, since the Vandals took the city apparently without being equipped with siege weapons, in view of the fact that they failed to take the walled city of Tainaros. If this is true, then the so-called Justinian walls of Nikopolis, enclosing only one-sixth of the city founded by Augustus, were erected not before 474. In any case, the Nikopolis walls, probably built sometime in the 480s-510s period (like the walls of Dyrrachion), were made of bricks, mortar, and rubble.

The Vandals may also have raided Photiki and taken prisoners there. In any case, this raid and prisoner-taking probably had a devastating effect on the infrastructure of Nikopolis and the psychology of the citizens, affecting the city's social and economic life. It is probably directly related to the inhabitants' reduction of the city to one-sixth of its previous extension, confining it to the north-east section, the area where the citadel stood, and fortifying it with thick walls to provide better defence.

Around 500, as mentioned, Bishop Alkison of Nikopolis (491-516) supervised the addition of annexes to five-aisled metropolitan basilica B, which has taken his name.

Around 515, in Nikopolis, construction of the three-aisled basilica Δ, with fragments of floor mosaics.

In 516, all eight bishops of Vetus Epirus held a synod to elect Ioannis as successor to the martyred Bishop Alkison of Nikopolis. Bishop Ioannis of Nikopolis sent a deacon, Rufinus, with a letter to Pope Hormisdas
Pope Hormisdas
Pope Saint Hormisdas was Pope from July 20, 514 to 523. His papacy was dominated by the Acacian schism, started in 484 by Acacius of Constantinople's efforts to placate the Monophysites...

, reaffirming their steadfastness in the Orthodox faith. The synod appears to be the seventh local episcopal synod for Epirus Vetus.

In 551, King Totila
Totila, original name Baduila was King of the Ostrogoths from 541 to 552 AD. A skilled military and political leader, Totila reversed the tide of Gothic War, recovering by 543 almost all the territories in Italy that the Eastern Roman Empire had captured from his Kingdom in 540.A relative of...

 of the Ostrogoths, in response to reports of an east Roman military build-up in the eastern side of the Adriatic, sent a 300-strong fleet to Kerkyra. The Ostrogoths sacked it and nearby islands. They sacked the area around Dodoni inland and Kekyra and Nikopolis off the coasts, and captured several east Roman ships on their way to bringing supplies to Narses.

Around 555, according to Procopius
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

, Emperor Justinian (527-565) renovated the fortifications of Nikopolis, as part of his huge program involving the renewal of city fortifications and the erection of new defences.

Also the beginning of construction of the three-aisled Basilica Α decorated with an extensive series of extant floor mosaics. Bishop Doumetios I of Nikopolis also made some additions (the pastophoria) to Basilica B. Also construction of the three-aisled basilica Ε, near the southern harbor Magaronas.

Around 575, in Nikopolis, construction of the three-aisled basilica Γ and completion of Basilica Α under Bishop Doumetios II.

In 587, Slavic tribes invaded Thrace, Macedonia and Achaia, including Thessaly, Attica, Euboia, and Peloponnesos, as well as Epirus Vetus where the Slavic invasion seems to have reached as far as Euroia, but not Kassopi and Nikopolis.

In 625, a letter from Pope Honorius I
Pope Honorius I
Pope Honorius I was pope from 625 to 638.Honorius, according to the Liber Pontificalis, came from Campania and was the son of the consul Petronius. He became pope on October 27, 625, two days after the death of his predecessor, Boniface V...

 to Metropolitan Hypatios of Nikopolis was sent with reference to the difficult travel conditions, preventing the bishop from reaching Rome.

Medieval history

In the course of the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 Nikopolis was supplanted by the town of Preveza
Preveza is a town in the region of Epirus, northwestern Greece, located at the mouth of the Ambracian Gulf. It is the capital of the regional unit of Preveza, which is part of the region of Epirus. An immersed tunnel, completed in 2002 which runs between Preveza and Actium, connects the town...

. The ruins of Nikopolis, now known as Palaia Preveza ("Old Preveza") lie about 3 miles north of that city, on a small bay of the Gulf of Arta
Ambracian Gulf
The Ambracian Gulf, also known as the Gulf of Arta or the Gulf of Actium, and in some official documents as the Amvrakikos Gulf , is a gulf of the Ionian Sea in northwestern Greece. About long and wide, it is one of the largest enclosed gulfs in Greece...

 (Sinus Ambracius) at the narrowest part of the isthmus of the peninsula which separates the Gulf from the Ionian Sea
Ionian Sea
The Ionian Sea , is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Adriatic Sea. It is bounded by southern Italy including Calabria, Sicily and the Salento peninsula to the west, southern Albania to the north, and a large number of Greek islands, including Corfu, Zante, Kephalonia, Ithaka, and...

. Besides the Acropolis
Acropolis means "high city" in Greek, literally city on the extremity and is usually translated into English as Citadel . For purposes of defense, early people naturally chose elevated ground to build a new settlement, frequently a hill with precipitous sides...

, the most conspicuous features are two theatres (the larger with 77 rows of seats) and an aqueduct
An aqueduct is a water supply or navigable channel constructed to convey water. In modern engineering, the term is used for any system of pipes, ditches, canals, tunnels, and other structures used for this purpose....

 which brought water to the town from a distance of 27 miles. It continued under Roman and later Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 rule, experiencing three brief periods of Bulgarian
First Bulgarian Empire
The First Bulgarian Empire was a medieval Bulgarian state founded in the north-eastern Balkans in c. 680 by the Bulgars, uniting with seven South Slavic tribes...

 rule in the 10th century (in 920-922, 977-983, and 996-997).

In 1798 French Revolutionary troops, stationed in Preveza by Napoleon, dug into the graves and ruins of ancient Nicopolis and looted various treasures. These were later taken by the troops of Ali Pasha
Ali Pasha
Ali Pasha of Tepelena or of Yannina, surnamed Aslan, "the Lion", or the "Lion of Yannina", Ali Pashë Tepelena was an Ottoman Albanian ruler of the western part of Rumelia, the Ottoman Empire's European territory which was also called Pashalik of Yanina. His court was in Ioannina...

 who defeated the French and their Greek allies.

Various battles fought in this area, the latest one in 1912 when it was captured by the Greek Army during the First Balkan War
First Balkan War
The First Balkan War, which lasted from October 1912 to May 1913, pitted the Balkan League against the Ottoman Empire. The combined armies of the Balkan states overcame the numerically inferior and strategically disadvantaged Ottoman armies and achieved rapid success...

, were named "Battle of Nicopolis" rather than "Battle of Preveza".

See also

External links

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