Hellenistic Land Battles 300–167 BCE

A History and Analysis of 130 Engagements


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About the Book

The Hellenistic Period (323–31 BCE) saw the Grecian phalanx—long dominant in Mediterranean warfare—challenged by legionary formations from the rising city-state of Rome. The Roman way of war would come to eclipse phalanx-based combat by the 160s yet this was not evident at the time. Rome suffered numerous defeats against the phalanxes of Pyrrhus and Hannibal, its overseas campaign against the brilliant Spartan mercenary Xanthippus met disaster, and several Roman victories over Hellenistic foes were not decisive. The story of combat in this pivotal era is not well documented. This book for the first time provides detailed tactical analyses for all 130 significant land engagements of Hellenistic armies 300–167 BCE.

About the Author(s)

Fred Eugene Ray, Jr., is the author of both books and articles on the subject of ancient Greek warfare. A retired geologist and oil industry executive, he lives in Bakersfield, California.

Bibliographic Details

Fred Eugene Ray, Jr.
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 234
Bibliographic Info: 21 photos, appendices, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8256-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4090-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction 3
1. Instruments of War: Last of the Successors (300–281 bce) 5
Grecian Warfare to the 3rd Century  5
New Contenders and Old Successors  10
2. Phalanx Versus Legion: Sicilian Tyrants and Pyrrhic Wars (280–275 bce) 21
Feuding Greeks and Carthage  21
Roman Warfare to the 3rd Century  24
Pyrrhus in the West  28
3. Gauls, Pyrrhus, Carthage and Rome: Gallic Invasions, Last of Pyrrhus and the First Punic/Mercenary War (279–237 bce) 40
Gauls and Greeks  40
Pyrrhus and Greece  49
The First Punic/Mercenary War  54
4. Sundered Realms: Achaean, Illyrian, Anatolian, Cleomenean and Syrian Wars (245–217 bce) 67
Achaean League and Illyrian Actions  67
Anatolia in Turmoil  71
Cleomenean War  74
Aratus’ Last Battle, Molon’s Revolt and the Fourth Syrian War  82
5. Phalanx Triumphant: The Second Punic War, Phase 1 (c. 236–211 bce) 88
Carthaginian Operations, 237–219  88
Northern Italy, 218–216  90
Italy, Sardinia and Iberia, 215–211  102
6. The Road to Zama: The Second Punic War, Phase 2 (210–202 bce) 112
Italy and Iberia, 210–205  112
Northern Italy and Africa, 204–202  121
7. Twilight of the Phalanx: Antiochus III, Philopoemen and the First/Second Macedonian Wars (214–196 bce) 131
Seleucia’s Frontiers  131
The First Macedonian War and Philopoemen’s Reforms  135
The Second Macedonian War  139
8. An End to the Greek Way of War: Seleucia in Decline and the Fall of Macedonia (195–167 bce) 148
The Wars Against Nabis and Antiochus  148
The Third Macedonian War  159
Hybridization of Hellenistic Warfare  166
Conclusions 169
Combat Formations—Revolution or Evolution?  169
Hoplites, Sarissaphoroi, Theurophoroi and Legionaries  171
Macedonian Cavalry Decline?  173
Phalanx or Legion?  174
Final Thoughts  176
Appendix 1: Roman Defeats at Allia (390 bce) and Caudium (321 bce) 179
Appendix 2: Hellenistic Land Battles/Keys to Victory (300–167 bce) 182
Appendix 3: Legion Versus Phlanx (280–168 bce) 186
Chapter Notes 187
Bibliography 219
Index 225

Book Reviews & Awards

“Hellenistic Land Battles is a workhorse of a book. It does double duty, serving as an easily thumbable reference for the period’s major land battles (though not all of them—the book omits some critical fights from the first 23 years of the period) and a primer on troop classes, kit, and combat roles. Even better, it advances some truly new and refreshing theories on how people organized to fight in this undeserved period… Ray is to be commended… A fresh and fascinating take on battle that fills a gap… A worthy contribution to the field for scholars and amateurs alike.”—Ancient Warfare