The Albanian is a descendant of the ancient Pelasgians, a branch of whom found their way into Greece without maintaining any connection with the tree of their origin. His history is as old as that of his mountains.
He differs from -the other Balkan races in language, customs, and manners. He calls himself a Skipetar, or ' king of the mountains.' To be a true Skipetar is to be a free man, who looks with contempt on his neighbors, accepts no law, knows nothing but arms, and, if one attempts to overthrow his independence, swiftly retires to the impenetrable retreat of his mountains.
Only in the south, in Epirus, where no natural frontier exists, has his character been modified under the Greek influence. The Epirote of Argyrokastron or Delvino is a brother of the Epirote of Arta and of Janina; and like the latter he is beginning to trade, to cultivate the soil, and to feel the influence of the Greek civilization.
Everywhere else the Albanian race presents a single irreducible block, as difficult to get a hand on as the very rocks among which lies its home, and proud as the eagle with bristling plumage with which Scanderbeg, the hero of the war of independence against the Turks, decorated the flag of the Skipetar.
According to tradition, this eagle is the emblem of Pyrrhus, King of Epirus, who conquered Rome.
According to tradition, Pyrrhus, King of Epirus, was an Albanian by birth, jand his name was derived from the old Albanian word ciro or biro, which means 'brave fellow.' To those who asked him how he was able to conquer the Romans, he replied that the wings of his eaglets had given him the victory, and in commemoration of his triumph he added to the Albanian cloak, which hitherto had no sleeves, these wings fastened to the shoulders.