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Epirus, in the western Balkans, was bordered by the Aetolian League to the south, Thessaly and Macedonia to the east, and Illyrian tribes to the north. Epirus had a far greater religious significance than might have been expected given its geographical remoteness, due to the shrine and oracle at Dodona - regarded as second only to the more famous oracle at Delphi. For a brief period, 280 - 275 B.C., the Epirote leader Pyrrhus managed to make Epirus the most powerful state in the Greek world, and his armies marched against Rome during an unsuccessful campaign in Italy. In 232 B.C. the tribes formed the Epirote League transforming the kingdom into a Republic. Over the next half century it was caught between the warring powers, Rome and Macedonia. In the Third Macedonian War, the Molossians split with the rest of Epirus and sided with the Macedonians. The outcome was disastrous; Molossia fell to Rome in 167 B.C., 150,000 of its inhabitants were enslaved and the region was so thoroughly plundered that it took 500 years to fully recover. Under Rome, the coastal regions of Epirus grew wealthy from trade routes, and construction of the Via Egnatia provided a further boost to prosperity.
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