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From the Iliad to the Battle of Cynoscephalae: 1184 to 197 B.C.

By Guy Earle, M.A.


meis parentibus


To begin with, Id like to thank Dr. Kelly Tipps, my Roman history professor at USF, and Dr. John Noonan, who introduced me to Latin and ancient Greek. These two men instilled in me a love of the ancient world and its languages that continues to resonate each and every day. This course was initially supported by Dr. Kevin McCarthy, Robinson High Schools former principal who died suddenly and unexpectedly in 2003. Since then, the RHS administration has continued to support this academic venture, and it is with great thanks that I mention them now. Without their belief in the Classics Program, none of this would be possible. It goes without saying that if it were not for my family and friends, this book would never have happened. We are the culmination of our lifes experiences, and if it were not for the love and affection that my parents gave me, I would not have found the interest to pursue history and attain my degrees. It is to my mother and father, Ann and Ralph Earle, that I dedicate this book, to whatever end it might be, as a small gesture from me of all the encouragement that they have so lovingly given me throughout the years. For months I have sat at a computer, typing away page after page while my patient wife, Kelly, has looked on. She has, since my undergraduate days, been my proof reader, stopping me when my work has needed both clarity and clarification. I may know it, but she knows how I should say it. Also, Id like to thank David Dugay at Docusource Printing and Copying for helping turn my lectures and notes into something akin to a book. Docusource has worked with Robinsons Latin Honor Society in the past, and Im happy to continue the spirit of cooperation with this work. Lastly, I wish to express my sincere gratitude to all my 2011-12 classes, with a special emphasis to the Ancient Warfare class, which has kindly volunteered to be the first to proof these chapters in class. It is in no small part that this book has reached completion, and it is their encouragement and support that has kept my passion strong for this subject.


Seven years ago this class began under the broad course title History of Greece and Rome, but quickly certain topics within that curriculum began to take on a life of their own. Driven by student interest, and support from Robinson High Schools administration, the Ancient Warfare course was created in 2005 as a semester-long history elective. As the curriculum developed, a greater arc to the overall story became apparent, with a defined beginning and end to the subject matter. I believe, like the Roman historian Livy, that to tell the tale of a people or civilization is more than a mere collection of facts laid bare for analysis and debate; it is part myth, part history, with a defined theme that illustrates the greatness or deprivation of those who have come before us. I do not state impartiality in this work, which despite the best efforts of the best historians, is never fully achieved by anyone. My opinions are up front and clearly defined, and with the use of original sources I leave it up to the reader to make their own interpretations and judgments. Whenever possible I have tried to put the reader in direct contact with the primary sources. Again, like Livy or the Greek historian Polybius, I do not hide behind the guise of impartiality. I make no case to hide my disdain for the social eugenic practices of the Spartans, the betrayals that plagued the Greek city-states, or the arrogance and pride that brought about so much suffering in Roman history. But I do try to paint a picture that, above all the suffering that man has done to itself, humanity is something worth saving and preserving. If you finish this work and feel a connection or understanding to the people I write about, then my goal has been achieved. This book is the culmination of many years of curriculum development, with each chapter being one of the major lessons I cover throughout this semester-long course. In effect, this book is my Ancient Warfare class, and it is also myself, written in a style that I hope readers will find both comfortable and familiar. It is meant to stand on its own, but is primarily to be used as a text and resource for all those taking the class.


Map of the Eastern Mediterranean (University of Texas) Map of the Cyclades Islands (Wikipedia) Photo of Knossos, Crete (by author) Map of Theras tsunami (New York Times) Satellite photo of Santorini (National Geographic) Photo of Santorini and the caldera (by author) Map of Minoan and Mycenaean expansion (Stanford Archaeology) Illustration of the Trojan Horse (public domain) Homeric warriors on Greek pottery (photo by author/Tampa Museum of Art) Homeric chariot on Greek pottery (photo by author/Tampa Museum of Art) Illustration of Troy, levels I-IX ( Map of ancient Troy and coastline (from lecture-origin unknown) Photo of Henrich Schliemann (Wikipedia) Photo of Sophie Schliemann (Wikipedia) Photo of the walls of Troy (University of Texas) Map of empires and societies in 1400 B.C. (Rand McNally) Photo of Ares prepared for battle (Museo Archeologico Etrusco) Lithograph of Apollo and Artemis from Greek pottery (Frankfurtammain) Achilles killing Penthesilia on Greek pottery (British Museum) 2 3 4 4 5 5 6 7 8 10 11 12 12 12 13 14 17 17 18

Map of Greek colonies (University of Texas) Map of Greece (Utah State University) Photo of the Temple of Apollo, Delphi (by author) Map of the pre-Persian Empire (Wikipedia) Map of the Persian Empire in 490 BC (Wikipedia) Map of the Darius first invasion attempt (public domain) nd Map of Darius 2 expedition (public domain) Geographical map of Euboea (Wikipedia) Close-up map of Eretria and Marathon (public domain) Map of the Battle of Marathon (Wikipedia) Photo of the burial mound at Marathon ( Map of the First and Second Persian War (Ancient History Encyclopedia) Bust of Themistocles (Wikipedia) Detail of Persian Immortals (Wikipedia) Image of trireme (Wikipedia) Map of Thermopylae and Salamis movements (Wikipedia) 21 22 23 27 28 29 30 31 31 33 34 37 38 38 39 41

Image of Pericles (Wikipedia) Photo of the Parthenon on the Acropolis, Athens (by author) Photo of Piraeus from the Acropolis (by author) Map of Athens Long Walls (Wikipedia) Map of Greece at the start of the Peloponnesian War (Wikimedia Commons) Map of the Peloponnesus (Wikimedia) Map of Athenian attack on Syracuse, Sicily (Wikipedia) Image of Alcibiades (Wikipedia) Map of the Ten Thousands March (Ancient History Encyclopedia) Map of the Battle of Leuctra (Wikipedia) Map of Theban hegemony in Greece (Wikipedia) 45 46 46 47 48 48 49 50 52 54 56

Photo of single column of the Temple of Artemis ( Image of Herostratus (public domain) Photo of the Theatre of Ephesus (by author) Image of Olympias ( Map of Greece (Wikipedia) Image of Philip II ( syntagma formation (Wikimedia) Alexander and Buchephalus (Wikimedia) Bust of Aristotle (Wikimedia) Map showing the location of Chaeronea (Historyshots) Lion of Chaeronea ( Photo of the Theatre of Aegae ( Bust of Demosthenes of Athens (public domain) Philip IIs burial larnax (Wikimedia) 58 59 60 60 61 62 63 65 66 67 68 70 71 71

Map of Greece (Wikimedia) Painting of Alexander meeting Diogenes (1818 Nicolas Andre Monsiau) Timoclea pushing the Thracian captain down a well (1659 Elisabetta Sirani) Battle map of the Granicus River, 334 BC (Wikimedia Commons) Map of Alexanders route in Ionia ( Map of Miletus and the Meander River (Wikipedia) Modified map showing the detail of Miletus ( and author) Photo of Miletus to the northeast (by author) Photo of Miletus to the southwest (by author) Photo of the Temple of Apollo at Didyma (by author) Photo of the Myndus Gate at Halicarnassus ( Map of preliminary movements to Issus (Wikipedia) Battle map of Issus (Wikipedia) 72 73 74 77 79 80 81 82 82 83 84 86 87


Alexander mosaic from Pompeii (University of Texas) Map of the siege of Tyre ( Detailed map of the siege of Tyre (Wikipedia) Satellite map of Tyre (Google Earth) Map to Siwa, Egypt (Wikimedia) Coin of Alexander as Ammon (public domain)

89 90 91 91 92 93

Map of Persian Empire, detailing location of Gaugamela ( Battlefield image of Gaugamela (Discovery Channel) Battlefield map of Gaugamela (Wikipedia) Battlefield movements at Gaugamela (Wikipedia) Photo of the Ishtar Gate (Wikipedia) Map Babylon and Susa ( Photo of the ruins of Persepolis ( Photo of Darius IIIs tomb ( Map of Alexanders march ( Battlefield map of Hydaspes (Wikipedia) Map of the Gederosian Deserst ( Map of the Hellenistic world (Wikipedia) 94 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 106 108 111

Map of Aeneas journey to Italy (public domain) Map of Italy with Rome, Alba Longa and Lavinium (Wikipedia and author) Photo of Capitoline She-Wolf (by author) Map of the Seven Hills of Rome ( Map of Eturia (Wikicommons) Image of Roman fasces ( Photo of Lucius Junius Brutus in the Capitoline Museum (by author) The Bruti family tree (Wikipedia) Map of Eturia with Clusium and Rome (Wikicommons) 113 114 116 118 119 119 121 122 122

Map of Roman expansion (University of Texas) th Mediterranean Region 6 century BC (Wikipedia) Map of Italy, Sicily and Sardinia ( Bust of Pyrrhus of Epirus (Wikipedia) Early Roman armor (from lecture-origin unknown) Breakdown of the Roman legion (from lecture-origin unknown) Small map of Italy (Wikipedia) Lithograph of the Battle of Asculum (Wikipedia) Map of Pyrrhus invasion (Wikipedia) Satellite image of Sicily (Google Earth) Map of Pyrrhus invasion, showing Epirus (Wikipedia) Photo of the harbor at Messina, Sicily (by author) 126 127 128 129 129 131 132 134 135 136 137 138


Map of the Western Mediterranean in 264 BC (Ancient History Encyclopedia) Map of Southern Italy and Sicily (Google Earth) Illustration of ancient Carthage ( Drawing of a Roman Quinquereme ( Map of Messina and Rhegium (Google Earth) Map of Sicily ( Map of Sicily and the Battle of Ecnomus ( Detail of a Roman corvus ( Map of the Aegates Islands (Wikipedia) Detail of the Battle of Drepana (Wikipedia) Satellite image of Drepana (Google Earth) Image of chickens (from lecture-origin unknown) Coin of Hamilcar Barca ( Photo of Mt. Eyrx ( Map of northern Italy and troop movements (by author) Illustration of early Celtic armor (from lecture-origin unknown) 140 141 143 144 145 147 151 151 157 157 157 158 159 160 163 166

Map of Roman and Carthaginian territory in 218 BC (Wikipedia) Bust of Hannibal Barca (Wikipedia) Timeline graphic from 228-218 BC (author) Map of Hannibals March (Wikimedia) Illustration of Hannibals elephants crossing the Rhone (public domain) Map showing the Trebbia River (Wikipedia) Battlefield map of Trebbia (Wikipedia) Battlefield map of Trasimene, vertical (from lecture-origin unknown) Battlefield map of Trasimene, horizontal (Wikispaces) Ariel photo of Lake Trasimene (by author) Map of Italy and major engagements of the Second Punic War (Wikipedia) Battlefield map of Cannae (from lecture-origin unknown) Photo of Cannae (public domain) 169 171 172 174 176 179 181 184 186 186 189 191 193

Coin of Marcus Claudius Marcellus ( Illustration of an Archimedian crane ( Map of New Carthage (Google Earth) Map of Italy and battle locations (Wikipedia) Map showing Croton and Carthages positions (from lecture-origin unknown) Battlefield map of Zama (Wikipedia) 196 197 202 204 208 212


Map of the Mediterranean powers in 218 BC (Wikipedia) Coin of Philip V of Macedon (Wikipedia) Photo of Cynoscephalae ( Battlefield map of Cynoscephalae (Wikipedia) 215 216 217 221

Third Edition



CHAPTERS I MINOANS AND THE TROJAN WAR 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 The Bronze Age The Warriors of the Iliad The Iliad and Chariot Warfare .. Homer and Vergil Heinrich Schliemann . The Trojan War Role of the gods in the Iliad After the Iliad . 2 2 7 9 10 11 13 17 18


PERSIAN THREAT .. 1 The Dark Ages 2 Geography of Greece .. 3 The Oracle of Delphi 4 A New Sparta .. 5 Threat from the East .. 6 Ionian Revolt . 7 First Attempt . 8 The First Persian War .. 9 The Battle of Marathon . 10 The Second Persian War . 11 The Army of Xerxes 12 Thermopylae and Salamis . 13 Battle of Plataea 14 Aftermath ..

20 20 21 22 24 26 28 29 30 32 35 36 38 42 43


QUARRELSOME GREEKS . 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 The Delian League . Athens Golden Age . The Peloponnesian War Defeat of Athens . March of the Ten Thousand .. More Greek Troubles .. Battle of Leuctra .

44 44 45 47 51 51 52 53


PHILIP II AND ALEXANDER III . 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Artemis Absence . Achilles Fate .. Philip II .. Consolidation of Power . Buchephalus .. Education . The Battle of Chaeronea .. Family Trouble . Philips Assassination ..

58 58 60 62 64 64 66 67 69 70 72 72 75 75 76 79 83 84 86 87 92 94 94 99 103 104 104 105 106 108

ALEXANDERS MARCH: GRANICUS TO SIWA . 1 Captain-General of Greece 2 Alexanders Generals 3 Trojan Pilgrimage 4 Memnon of Rhodes and the Battle of the Granicus River . 5 Ionian Freedom 6 The Oracle of Didyma . 7 Fall of Halicarnassus . 8 The Gordium Knot . 9 The Battle of Issus . 10 On to Eygpt .


ALEXANDERS MARCH: GAUGAMELA TO DEATH 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Battle of Gaugamela Babylon, Susa and Persepolis Were Not Going Home? .. The Branchidae and Bessus Death of Cleitus .. Marriage to Roxane .. Homeward Bound .. The Gedrosian Desert ..


9 Inconsolable Grief . 10 Death in Babylon . 11 The Aftermath

109 110 111


RISE OF ROME . 1 2 3 4 5 Trojan Refugee . Romulus and Remus . Roman Regal Period . Revolution Gallic Sack of Rome ..

112 112 115 118 120 122


PYRRHUS OF EPIRUS AND DEFENSIVE IMPERIALISM 1 2 3 4 5 6 Enter Pyrrhus, Stage Right The Roman army of the Middle Republic .. First Engagement: Heraclea .. The Battle of Asculum . On to Sicily The Battle of Beneventum

126 126 129 132 133 135 137


FIRST PUNIC WAR AND THE BATTLE OF TELAMON .. 1 Tension in the Strait .. 2 Carthages Origin . 3 Harbors and Walls .. 4 The Quinquereme .. 5 Messina and Rhegium . 6 Battle of Agrigentum 7 Polybius . 8 Mercenaries and Shipwrecks . 9 Battle of Ecnomus . 10 Regulus Folly . 11 The War Drags On .. 12 Sacred Chickens 13 Hamilcar Barca .. 14 Battle of the Aegates Islands .. 15 The Cost of War 16 Gallic Troubles Again 17 Battle of Telamon ..

140 140 141 143 144 145 146 148 149 150 152 154 156 159 160 161 162 164


THE SECOND PUNIC WAR: INVASION TO CANNAE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Swear to Baal .. The Siege of Saguntum .. You Decide, Fabius Hannibals March .. Skirmish at the Ticinnus River .. Battle of the River Trebbia .. Disaster at Lake Trasimene . Roman Panic . The Battle of Cannae ..

168 168 172 173 175 178 179 183 187 189


THE SECOND PUNIC WAR: SCIPIO RISING 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A Schoolboys Debate . The Sword of Rome .. Archimedes Disaster in Spain . Scipio Rising .. Dont Lose Your Head . Scipios Bold Plan Prelude to Battle . The Battle of Zama

194 194 196 197 199 200 203 206 207 211


BATTLE OF CYNOSCEPHALAE 1 Revenge 2 Titus Quinctius Flaminius . 3 A Clash of Armies ..

214 214 216 218


224 228


Greek and Roman Timelines

All dates are B.C.
Roman Greek
1450 1250 1184 1100 800 776 540 508 490 480 404 371 336 331 323 Eruption of Thera Collapse of Minoan civilization Fall of Troy Collapse of Mycenaean power End of Greek Dark Age First Olympic Games Ionia conquered by Persia Athens becomes a democracy First Persian War Second Persian War End of the Peloponnesian War Battle of Leuctra Alexander becomes king of Macedon Battle of Gaugamela Death of Alexander the Great 275 241 Pyrrhus of Epirus defeated in Italy End of the First Punic War; Rome gains Sicily 218 Hannibal crosses the Alps; Second Punic War 202 Battle of Zama; Rome wins the Second Punic War 197 Battle of Cynoscephalae Middle Republic 390 Rome sacked by the Gauls Early Republic 509 753 Romulus founds Rome on the Palatine Hill Regal Period The last king is expelled from Rome; beginning of the Roman Republic


Chapter I
Minoans and the Trojan War 1. The Bronze Age
The ancient world was a very empty place. With a population of roughly 27 million, equal to that of both Florida and Georgia in 2011, the world of the Bronze Age (3,200 to 600 BC) saw most of humanity living near or within cities, and in the shadow of their protective walls. Two thousand years before the birth of Christ and the rise of the Roman Empire, the Egyptians looked upon pyramids that were already centuries old, while in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) cities continued to flourish along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers as they had for millennia. The advent of writing and agriculture were milestones of the Bronze Age, and brought tremendous prosperity to some cities, enabling them to subjugate their neighbors. The knowledge of how to blend copper and tin to make bronze allowed man to create not only more advanced agricultural tools than they had in the past, but also even deadlier weapons. On the eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea, on the southern edge of the Aegean Sea, is the large island of Crete. During the Bronze Age it was home to a people who

were later named after the fabled King Minosthe Minoans. The Minoans ruled over Crete and its surrounding waters from approximately 2700 to 1450 BC, and were advanced in many ways, including art and architecture. They had such novelties as indoor plumbing and sewers two thousand years before the Romans would ever carve their first aqueduct or enjoy their sumptuous bath houses. Crete is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean behind Corsica, Cyprus, Sardina and the largest island, Sicily, which straddles the waterway between the toe of Italy and North Africa. Just north of Crete are a group of about 220 islands, still known today as the Cyclades, which progressively fell under Minoan influence by 1600 BC.

The Cyclades Islands are in red.

The island of Crete measures 160 miles long and 38 wide, and is fairly mountainous with a few good harbors. Since Minoan times Crete has produced two staples of ancient agriculture: grapes and olives. From such a geographic position, the Minoans commanded a flourishing sea trading network between Greece, Asia Minor, and the eastern shores of the Mediterranean all the way south to Egypt. The Minoans, echoing Britain so many centuries later, relied on their fleet for protection from foreign invaders. Their civilization, however, seems to have met its demise not by man, but by nature.

Ruins of the Minoan palace of Knossos, Crete.

Around 1450 BC the volcanic island of Thera1, located just 70 miles north of Crete, exploded with one of the most powerful eruptions in mankinds history. The Minoan inhabitants of Thera did not know that the island was a volcano, which blew up with the force of 50,000 Hiroshima bombs. It expelled a column of ash and debris 23 miles up into the sky, which has been found as far away as China. After the initial explosion, the Aegean Sea rushed into the abyss created by the cataclysmic eruption. Now a second explosion, fueled by the millions of metric tons of water coming in contact with the exposed molten bedrock of the seabed, caused a gigantic tsunami to explode outward to the northeast and southwest of the island. While some Greek cities saw a mild tidal surge, other towns, such as those along the western
Expansion of tsunami waves.

coast of Asia Minor2, saw waves that were hundreds of feet tall. The effect was devastating to the Minoan navy and a catastrophic blow to their society.

1 2

Thera is now called Santorini, and is a popular island with tourists visiting Greece. The western coast of Asia Minor was called Ionia, and is now part of modern day Turkey.

Theras geography was perfect as a naval base, as it had an almost rectangular harbor in the center of the island; measuring 8 miles by 4 miles. The island wassadlythe Minoans most important naval base. The structure of the island has led some to believe that, given the advanced nature of Minoan culture, the geography of the island, and the climactic event of the eruption, that Thera was the origin of the Atlantis myth.3 Nearby Minoan coastal towns, and the Minoan navy, were all but destroyed in one crushing blow of nature. Knossos, the capital of the Minoans, was higher up in the hills of central Crete than some of the port cities. As such, it remained safe from the deadly tsunami when it rushed across the southern Aegean from Thera. However, many coastal of Crete were destroyed, along with other islands of the Cyclades. Minoan civilization continued to limp along for two centuries after the tragic eruption, but its ultimate fate was sealed that one horrific day. As the Minoans fell from power, the Mycenaean Greeks4 encroached and invaded the weakened Minoan society, eventually destroying the remains of their once proud civilization by 1200 BC.

A view of Thera (Santorini) today, with the caldera of the volcano (center).

3 4

Plato recounted the myth that an advanced society fell into the sea in the course of one day and night. Mycenae was the Achaeans most powerful city-state, for which their culture was named.

Questions and Reflection

1. 2. 3. What is the name of the sea between Greece and Ionia? What are the two main islands of the Minoans discussed, and what was their importance? What are the years that comprise the Bronze Age?

Reflection Essay 1. How do you believe Cretes geographical position impacted their ability to trade with other peoples?

The Trojan Horse is dragged into the city.

2. The Warriors of the Iliad

There is hardly anyone that has not heard of the Trojan War or the poet Homer and his works, the Iliad and the Odyssey. His epic poems were based around a real war, and the people who fought against Troythe Mycenaeans. As the Minoan civilization was waning in the 13th and 12th centuries BC, the Mycenaean Greeks were rising to greatness. The Mycenaean Greek world was that of the Bronze Age; bronze being a mixture of both copper and tin. More durable than stone and able to hold an edge, Bronze Age weapons would remain the metal of choice until the Iron Age. However, bronze weapons were still in use for centuries after the introduction of iron. This was because iron was initially expensive and was more difficult to produce, due to its higher smelting point than copper and tin. The weapons of a Mycenaean soldier were his shield, called a hoplon, which had a single handle in the middle5 and perhaps straps, so it could be thrown on a warriors back. He also used bronze body armor, usually of single plate and fastened along the shoulders and side. In

The addition of a second handle, near the rim of the shield, is called an Argive shield, and was developed th in the 7 century BC in the city of Argos.

addition, he would have greaves to protect the shins of his legs, and a bronze helmet with a tall, horse hair crest that would bob back and forth in order to inspire terror. A spear, made of ash wood and roughly 6-8 long, would be his primary weapon. A sword would be used in case he lost or broke his spear.6 It was customary during the Bronze Age that these weapons were provided by the user, not by the city-state to which he had his allegiance. Thus, many weapons ended up being passed down from father to son over generations. This custom had two important results. First, there was very little deviation of military equipment over many centuries. Second, it was normal for the victor to strip his fallen opponent of his armor as a mark of personal glory. There are multiple instances in the Iliad when warriors fight over the corpse of a fallen soldier, with the sole purpose of robbing the dead man of his prized armor. As for a warriors hoplon, it was circular in shape, a massive three feet in diameter, covered in bronze or hides, and weighed upwards of 30 pounds. It was curved in a parabola shape, which eased the burden of carrying it and afforded superior protection due to its immense size. The hoplon was painted with many diverse images, usually meant to inspire terror, such as a Gorgon or some other mythological creature.7
Homeric warriors on Greek Pottery

This was the equipment that the Mycenaean soldier, called an Achaean by Homer, wore when he went into battle. However, they were not technically Greek. The later Greeks of Classical Age were a blending of the Mycenaeans and a people who eventually would conquer them, the Dorians. In effect, the warriors of the Iliad could be considered proto-Greek.

Oddly enough, it is very common in the Iliad to see heroes using rocks to smash the bones of their opponent with such violence that death is immediate and shocking. 7 Medusa was one of three Gorgons, depicted with bulging eyes, and a swollen tongue in a grotesque gesture of death.

The time of the Iliad is known as the Heroic Age, where soldiers fought for their king, and for the glory victorious battle.8 Sometimes two opposing armies would have the best warrior of each side fight in single, man-to-man combat, with the result deciding the outcome of the battle. It was the habit of warriors of the Heroic Age to excel in bravery and glory, not necessarily for the glory of their city-state, but for themselves, their king, and the gods. Also, the language of the Iliad is heavy on metaphors of nature in order to add descriptive narrative, since warriors in the ancient world were farmers before they took up arms. Using descriptive elements, such as stalks of wheat in a field, was a way to represent the vastness of an approaching army. Before DVDs and Blu-Ray, this was a way for an ancient audience to visualize the spectacle of battle. In fact, the Iliad was not even written down during the time of the war, but was actually memorized and sung in verseall 15,000 lines of it. Nearly 500 years after the war, Homer wrote the account that we have today. It is believed, due to the graphic account of the battle wounds, that the original author was likely some kind of battlefield medic.

Questions and Reflection

4. 5. 6. 7. What is the composition of bronze? What is the name of a Greek shield? In the Heroic Age, to whom did a warrior owe his allegiance? What is the Homeric word for the Greeks?

Reflection Essay 2. How would reciting the war in verse form actually be a better way to preserve it than a written account?

3. The Iliad and Chariot Warfare

While the 2004 movie Troy may be a decent reflection of the Iliad, it shows very little of a weapon of war often described by Homer: the chariot. The Achaean9 chariots typically had three or four horses, a driver, and a warrior, who would dismount for battle. These were not the typical Hollywood movie chariot, which are usually bulky and of heavy construction, but were light for both speed during combat and running over enemies during battle.
8 9

The warriors of this age typically have superhuman abilities, and claim divine ancestry. From this point on, when referencing the Iliad, the Mycenaean Greeks will be called Achaeans, following Homeric terminology.

A Homeric chariot and warrior

4. Homer and Vergil

As it was mentioned before, Homer was responsible for putting the epic poem of the Iliad into a written account at some point in the 9th to 7th centuries BC.10 The Iliad starts near the end of the Trojan War, during a period when the mighty Greek warrior, Achilles, has decided to no longer fight due to a quarrel with the Achaean leader, High King Agamemnon. Fuming, Achilles is content to stand by and watch the war from the sidelines (Books I-XVI). Its only when Achilles beloved friend, Patroclus, is killed in battle that his rage explodes in fury upon the Trojans and he re-enters the war effort (Books XVII-XXIV). The Iliad, however, does not end with the sack of Troy, but with the burial of Hector, the eldest Trojan prince and chief defender of the city. Other details of the war are told by Odysseus in flashbacks within Homers other work, the Odyssey, as the hero makes his 10-year journey home. Roughly 1,200 years later, the story of Troys fall was continued by the Roman author, Publius Vergilius Maro, whom we call Vergil. His epic poem, called the Aeneid, was a Roman attempt to combine elements of both the Iliad and the Odyssey into one work, and fill in gaps of

Following Herodotus dating method, we can assume th at Homer wrote the Iliad in 840 BC. At that time, the Greek world was finally leaving their Dark Age after the Dorian invasion, and emerging into the Classical Age. The Mycenaean dominance of Greece and the Aegean ended within a century after the fall of Troy.


the Trojan War left by Homer. It was written to explain the origin of the Roman people, who wereafter allTrojan refugees who fled the city after the sack by the Achaeans. In fact, the Roman word for Troy was Ilium, from which the Iliad gets its name.

5. Heinrich Schliemann
It was generally assumed that the story of the Trojan War was a work of ancient fiction, until the archaeological site of Troy itself was found in 1871 by Heinrich Schliemann. A wealthy German businessman and amateur archaeologist, Schliemann used geographical descriptions in the Iliad to locate a hill in Turkey called Hisarlik and begin excavations. Brutal by modern archaeological standards, the excavation of Troy yielded multiple layers of the citys construction through nine different time periods.


Previous page: Troy VI (Homers Troy) is highlighted and expanded, showing the acropolis and high walls. Recent archaeological evidence suggests a surrounding city in the open plain surrounding the acropolis, which is consistent with the account in the Iliad. Right: The plain continues to the shore beyond where the Achaean Greeks made their camp. In the intervening centuries the bay has silted up to its present coastline.

Schliemann could read the Iliad in the original Greek, and was concerned with finding the riches of Troy as well as uncovering the citys history. Spotting the glint of gold one afternoon, Schliemann dismissed his workers and found a jewelry hoard buried in a section of the wall. Taking the jewels, he dressed his wife, Sophie, in them and called her his Helen. Archaeological excavations still continue on the site to this day, as well as it being a tourist destination for the modern country of Turkey.


The walls of Troy VI.

Questions and Reflection

8. 9. 10. 11. What was the role of the chariot in Homeric warfare? Why did Vergil write the Aeneid? How many levels of Troy exist? What year was Troy first excavated?

Reflection Essay 3. If Heinrich Schliemann was alive today, how would his excavation of Troy be different than in 1871?

6. The Trojan War

As populations grew with the creation of cities in the 3rd millennium BC, and early societies became more agrarian, warfare emerged in its more recognizable form. The increased wealth and population, in connection with trade with other cities, prompted the rise of citystates. These were cities that had their own armies, government and religion. While some ancient city-states might have had similar cultures, they were fiercely independent, especially


those found in Greece. To be a citizen of an ancient city-state usually came with the citizenship requirement that you had to own land, and therefore had something worth defending if an enemy approached. Cities constructed walls around the edges of their settlements for protection, first out of earth and wood, and then with stone. Soldiers came at their kings command with shield, spear and helmet, to defend a city-states population against aggressors, and later, to expand the power of these early city-states. Farmers had settlements near cities, where they sought refuge in time of attack. To live without allegiance to a city-state, was to invite danger and isolation. The ancient world was a very empty place by modern standards, and it was only the power of a city-state that could offer complete protection.

Regions of power in 1400 B.C.

As you can see from the map above, dated roughly 200 years before the Trojan War (and 100 years after the eruption of Thera) , Egypt controlled the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, up through modern day Israel and Lebanon, while powerful kingdoms existed in both Mesopotamia and central Turkey. The Mycenaeans were on the verge of taking over the Minoans, while in the northeast corner of the Aegean Sea, on the northern coast of Ionia, was the powerful city-state of Troy.


At the beginning of the Iliad we already find the Achaeans at war with the Trojans and their allies. The story begins in medias res (into the middle of things) in the tenth year of the ten-year war. In fact, the whole story of the Iliad lasts but a couple weeks and is nothing more than a momentary window into the course of the conflict. High King Agamemnon, king of the powerful Achaean city-state of Mycenae, led the Greek alliance against Troy. According to Homer, he brought 1,000 ships filled with 50,000 soldiers in order to avenge the abduction of his brothers wife, Helen. King Menalaus of Sparta, Agamemnons brother, wanted his wife back. With goddess Aphrodites influence, she had run off with Prince Paris of Troy. The back-story of Paris, Helen and her abduction is not told in the Iliad, because it was a story already familiar to the audience of the Heroic Age. The Iliad does, however, focus on the key moment when Achilles wrath explodes and the Trojans lose their key defender of the city, Hector. Again, the Iliad is a brief, but important glimpse into the Trojan War. It is not, however, a history of the war from start to finish. Here is a breakdown of the 24 books of the Iliad:

Book I: Explanation of Achilles wrath. Book II: Achaeans assemble for battle. Book III: Paris and Menalaus single combat. Book IV: Breaking of battle true. Book V: Diomedes and the gods fight. Book VI: Hector with his wife and son. Book VII: Hector vs. Ajax; burial of the dead. Book VIII: Zeus command; Trojans at the camp. Book IX: Achilles rejects the offer to return. Book X: Achaeans sneak into the Trojan camp. Book XI: Achaeans attack falters. Book XII: The Trojans counter-attack hard. Book XIII: Poseidon helps the Achaeans; Hector assaults the gates of the Achaean camp. Book XIV: Hera seduces Zeus; counter-attack. Book XV: Zeus is angry; Achaean ships burn. Book XVI: Death of Sarpedon and Patroclus. Book XVII: Battle over Patroclus body.


Book XVIII: Achilles despair. Book XIX: Achilles decides to rejoin. Book XX: Gods fight with men. Achilles slaughter and battle with Aeneas. Book XXI: Achilles fights; gods fight gods. Book XXII: Death of Hector by Achilles Book XXIII: Funeral for Patroclus Book XXIV: Reconciliation of Achilles and Priam; burial of Hector.

It might seem strange that the story of the Iliad doesnt end with the proverbial Death Star blowing up in the final moment, but instead it is a heros choice and realization. Achilles was told by his mother, Thetis, that he had to choose between nostos ( homecoming) and kleos (( glory). Achilles chose glory over being able to come home in his desire for eternal fame. In Book XXIV the true importance of nostos and kleos is realized by Achilles. He is confronted with this epiphany when aged King Priam of Troy sneaks into the Achaean camp, specifically into Achilles tent, and begs to have Hectors body returned.11 King Priam asked for his own sons nostos and burial, and this realization brings both Priam and Achilles to tears. It is under Achilles personal promise of protection from all his fellow Achaeans that he allows Priam to take his son back to Troy for a proper burial. Funeral games and a peace accord were pledged for thirteen days for Hectors funeral. It is in this mutual pause of the war that Achilles buries his beloved comrade, Patroclus. The last line of the Iliad is a poignant one, And this was the way they buried Hector, the Tamer of Horses. In essence, the story of the Iliad, the most well known epic poem of warfare in the history of the world, is about the importance of family over ones personal glory.


Previously, in Book XXII Achilles killed Hector and dragged his body back to the Achaean camp behind his chariot.


7. Role of the gods in the Iliad

The role of the gods and how they were seen to the ancient Greeks is worth mentioning, especially in context to the Iliad. When we see the Greek gods and goddesses in movies or any other visual form, they are usually portrayed in some manner to differentiate them from mortals. They are shown in a larger scale, glowing in a golden hue, or always surrounded by cloudsthink of Sir Lawrence Olivier as Zeus in the original Clash of the Titans. This is done so a modern audience can recognize that they are, in fact, gods. However, none of these visual qualities were employed by the ancients. Gods and goddesses were the same size as mortals, looked like them, and acted like them; the only distinction was their weapons or armor. In fact, gods often changed their shape to deceive mortals into thinking they were dealing with a comrade, and not with a deity who was secretly seeking their demise. As strange as it may sound, the ancients just knew that the person they were looking at was actually an immortal. However, even that realization might not turn them aside in their mortal fury, as seen by Diomedes in Book V and Patroclus in Book XVI. Gods and goddesses may have been immortal, but they could still be wounded.

Ares prepared for battle.

Apollo and Artemis


Below is a list of gods and goddesses from the Iliad, and the side that they supported during the war:

Trojan Achaean Hera Athena Poseidon Hephaestus12 Zeus Apollo Ares Artemis Leto Aphrodite

8. After the Iliad

After the death of Hector, the war continued on. Other allies came to Troys aide, including the fierce Amazonian women, led by Queen Penthesilia. The great queen was killed by Achilles in combat, with one thrust of his spear. But the moment he removed her helmet he fell deeply in love with her. A fellow Achaean, Thersites, mocked the dead queen, which enraged Achilles to fury, and he slew his comrade on the spot. Allied warriors also arrived from Aethiopia, led by
Achilles killing Queen Penthesilia

their king, Memnon, in order to help Troy, but ultimately he too fell before Achilles. However, Thetis prophecy came true, and Prince Paris (with the help of Apollo), killed the great Achaean warrior by shooting him through his only vulnerable spothis heel.13 Ultimately it was not by

Hephaestus, at the behest of Thetis, makes Achilles a new set of armor. The god himself plays no direct combat role in the Iliad. 13 Achilles was dipped in the River Styx, making him immortal, except for where she held him, his heel. This can be explained by the femoral artery, which runs through the heel and can cause a bleed-out if cut.


force of arms that Troy lost, but by the cleverness of Odysseus. Seeking victory through deception, he devised the trick of the hollow wooden horse. Offered as a gift to Poseidon before their supposed journey home, the Achaeans left the Trojan Horse on the shore and secretly sailed their ships to a nearby island, and waited. That night, while the citizens of this proud city were in a drunken slumber from their victory celebration, a host of Achaean warriors came out of the horse, slew the guards and opened the gates.14 The rest of the Achaeans, now waiting outside the gates, poured into the city and pillaged it with brutal ferocity. Troy burned, and all of her citizens were either slaughtered or sold into slavery. Only a few shiploads escaped to find a new home, while the majority died in its fiery destruction.

Questions and Reflection

12. 13. 14. 15. Why would Troys geographical position help it become a wealthy city? Where is the irony in the Achaean victory? Which god or goddess is the most physically involved in the war, on each side ? What was the significance for the ancients if your body did not have a proper burial?

Reflection Essay 4. If you were given the choice like Achilles, would you choose nostos or kleos, and why?


A section of the wall, which had held off the Achaeans for 10 years, was pulled down to bring in the Trojan Horse. The gate to the city was too small, so this was the Trojan solution. It is not without coincidence that in a form of foreshadowing, friends go through gates while enemies go over the wall.


Chapter II
Persian Threat

1. The Dark Ages

Less than a century after the fall of Troy, Mycenaean civilization collapsed from invasion, as well as the Hittite civilization in Asia Minor (see map on page 13).15 The palaces of the Bronze Age were abandoned, no new stone structures were built, and knowledge of writing (called Linear B by historians) fell into disuse. The catalyst for this Dark Age is attributed by ancient historians to an invasion of Greece by a people called the Dorians, whose origin is thought to have been from Asia Minor or the mountainous northern regions of Greece. Homer mentions them in his Odyssey as living on Crete, but the Dorians also came to inhabit the Peloponnesus, Ionia, Sicily and Southern Italy. It is also thought that a son of Herakles, named Hyllus, led some Dorians down into the Peloponnesus to claim back ancestral lands, conquering the cities of Mycenae, Sparta and Argos. The Dark Age is recounted by later Greek authors as history as much as myth, but suffice it to say that Mycenaean civilization fell and was overlaid with the Dorian in the 11th to 9th centuries BC. For over two thousand years bronze was the metal of choice for weapons, but by 900 BC knowledge of iron had spread from its origin near the Caucasus Mountains on the eastern edge of Asia Minor westward into Greek territories. During the Dark Age, iron weapons were being created that could hold an edge better than bronze. However, it took a millennia of bronze metallurgy to be able to figure out how to work the iron into suitable weapons, since the smelting process of iron required higher temperatures than traditional bronze kilns could manage. With the incorporation of carbon (charcoal) to iron, a harder blade could be madein effect, steel was produced. The movie image of taking a hot blade and dipping it into water is actually a process called quenching and tempering. Quenching the blade in water hardens the iron-steel, but it makes the blade brittle. However, the hammering the sword removes the


Egypt was also attacked during this period by a mysterious Sea People whose origin is still unknown. The same Sea People played a role in the collapse of the Hittite and Mycenaean civilization as well.


brittleness. Over time, this process produces are harder blade that can hold an edge longer than bronze. Combine this new process for metal working with the ease of finding iron, plus a possible tin shortage, and iron weapons eventually replaced bronze as the prominent choice during the Dark Ages. During this time, an increased population in Greece prompted Greek settlements to emerge or expand across the Aegean Sea to the Ionian coast of Asia Minor, over to Sicily, southern Italy and even to southern France and the east coast of Spain. The city of Cumae, on the west coast of Italy near the Bay of Naples, was the first Greek colony on the Italian mainland in the 8th century BC, while colonies such as Massilia in southern France (Marseille) were so viable that they still exist today.

2. Geography of Greece
It was during this expansion and resurgence of Greek culture that the city-states of Athens, Sparta, Argos and Corinth became prominent. Understanding the importance of each city-state is relevant to understanding Greek geography during the ancient world. The most


southern portion of Greece is called the Peloponnesus (also called the Peloponnese), and is connected to the mainland by a thin strip of land called an isthmus. Straddling that isthmus was city-state of Corinth, while south in the Peloponnesus was Sparta, the ruins of Mycenae, Argos, and Olympia, the home of the Olympic Games. Across the Aegean Sea were Greek colonies on the western shore of Asia Minor, known as Ionia. To the north of mainland Greece was the more rugged and mountainous regions of Thessaly, Macedonia and Thrace.

3. The Oracle of Delphi

The city of Delphi was the site of a sacred oracle to the god Apollo on the slopes of Mt. Parnassus, which lies just north of the Gulf of Corinth. Legend said that the god Apollo had slain a monster called the Python there early in the history of the world. As a result, a temple was


constructed on the site where the Pythons body fell into a fissure in the Earth. Within the temple, seated on a tripod, was a priestess called the Pythia. While chewing on bay leaves, she would breathe in the vapors that rose from the fissure inside the inner sanctuary and go into a trance, where she would become possessed by Apollo. Modern archeology and seismic data has shown that there is the convergence of three major fault lines that meet under the temple, whose gasses can indeed bring on a hypnotic state. Anyone could go to the Temple of Apollo and ask the Pythia for advice, but at a cost, of course. The Pythia, hidden in shadow and surrounded by the hissing of snakes, would utter her answer in a language only the priests could interpret. It was transcribed by the priests, and was usually in the form of a riddle. While this may seem like a giant scam, the Delphic Oracle was right more often than it was wrong. As it was a sacred location, it did not fear attack from other Greek city-states, and became very wealthy. Travelers from all over the Greek world, and beyond, came to Delphi to seek advice, whether it was about a farmers harvest to a king asking guidance about waging war on a neighboring kingdom.

The Temple of Apollo at Delphi


As a result, the priests at Delphi had one of the best networks for gathering information in the ancient world. It is much easier to make a reliable prophecy when there is a plentiful source of information. It also doesnt hurt if the prophecy is in the form of a riddle. If it was misinterpreted, then it was the fault of the person, not Apollo or the Pythia. Beginning in 586 BC, Delphi celebrated the Pythian Games every four years in honor of Apollo, as Olympia celebrated theirs to Zeus starting in 776 BC. The combination of the Pythian Games, the Oracle and the pilgrims and all the wealth that they brought, made Delphi and the prophecies exceedingly influential to the ancient Greeks. One of the most significant prophecies was given to a man named Lycurgus, who would transform the city-state of Sparta.

4. A New Sparta
Sometime around 7th century BC, a Spartan man named Lycurgus visited the Oracle of Delphi and was told that whatever state followed his laws would become the most famous in the world. Returning to Sparta, he implemented radical changes to all levels of Spartan society. Before Lycurgus, Sparta was much like any other emerging Greek city-state, with an artistic culture that was contemporary for its time. Lycurgus reorganization of Spartan life would reengineer Spartan life entirely, and greatly affect those living nearby in the Peloponnesus. Spartan citizen-males would have a life dedicated for warfare, while it was the job of a Spartan wife to provide sons for the state. All of society would be dedicated to making Sparta the supreme military power in Greece, at a cost that would be considered appalling by modern American standards. Starting at birth, a child would be examined for any defects by an official from a council of Spartan elders called the gerousia. If any defects were found, the child was exposed on a mountainside to die, meaning that the child was left out in the open to their fate. This was done because only the toughest and most perfect would become part of the new Spartan military machine. There is a word for this selective breeding of humanseugenics. Typically, the NAZI party of Germany during World War II has this word associated with them, but the Spartans practiced selective breeding of their citizens seven centuries before the birth of Christall for the good of the state. It was nationalism on an ancient scale unparalleled until the 20th century. At age 7, Spartan males worthy of survival would be removed from their family


and placed into military barracks. Called the agoge, this military arrangement would be their way of life until they were at least thirty. The boys early education was one of tremendous toughness and loyalty to the Spartan state. Everything became secondary to the state, and equality of its citizens was paramount. All Spartan warriors owned the same amount of land, used the same arms and armor, and lived only by what was necessary. A Spartans house was plain and utilitarian by design, with very little beyond the basic furniture. This is the origin of looking at a barren room today and calling it Spartan. For boys in the agoge, punishment and adherence to the rules was wielded by slightly older boys, who were both merciless and ruthless. During this grueling education, it was not uncommon for a Spartan youth to die. At about age 12, each Spartan youth was given a simple, red cloak. This would be their only clothing with which they were to live through the year, including the mountainous cold of the Peloponnesian winter. They were also fed a blood and pork soup, and only in a volume that kept them from starving. If they wanted more food, they were expected to steal it. If they got caught, they were punished. The message was clear: the Spartan system promoted cunning and strength through deprivation. If you were caught, you were not in trouble because of the moral implication of stealing, it was because you werent good enough to get away with the theft. Also at around age 12, Spartan youths entered a relationship with an older warrior, from whom he would be educated throughout the rest of his training. The term was called pederasty, and Herodotus states that the Spartans, above all others, would sometimes take this relationship beyond the Platonic level to a physical one. At age 18 some of the Spartan males would take part in the Crypteia, which acted as a sort of Secret Police for the Spartan state, where Spartan males could indiscriminately kill any person enslaved by Sparta if they deemed them a threat to the state. The local population around Sparta, especially from the nearby citystate of Messenia, were conquered, enslaved and kept under a constant state of fear and oppression by the Spartans. In fact it was the first order of business every year to declare war on them. They were called the helots, and served the Spartan state, doing those jobs that kept the Spartan military machine humming. In all parts of the ancient world, soldiers were farmers when not at war. Here, the helots served that purpose, so the army could train all year and not be troubled with the toil of cultivating the land. The Spartans maintained an army of 10,000 men called the homoioi, who had survived the agoge and entered the Spartan military at about age 20. However, they would not gain the


ability to marry and become a full citizen until they were 30. Sparta was a gerontocratic society, where power to rule was held by the elders. Sparta had a group of 30 members called the gerousia, who ruled as a council of elders, since almost all had to be over 60 years of age. From this body were elected two kings, who served as the generals on campaign and acted as the chief priests of the state, maintaining communication with the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi. Even the speech of the Spartans was a reflection of their lifestyle. It was called Laconic Speech since Laconia was the region around Sparta, while the city of Sparta itself was typically referred to as Lacedaemonia by ancient authors like Herodotus. In their foundation mythology, Lacedaemon was a son of Zeus, whose wife was named Sparta. The city he founded was in her name, although the people thereafter called themselves after their founding king. In fact, the upside down V that is seen on Spartan shields is the Greek letter L () and represented the first letter of the word Lacedaemoniae. If they had called themselves Spartans, then theyd have painted the Greek version of a big letter S on their shields. As it happened, they didnt.

Questions and Reflection

16. 17. 18. 19. 20. What was the name of the people who invaded Greece and destroyed the Mycenaeans? Why were iron weapons better than bronze? State two reasons. Where was Ionia? What god was the Pythia being possessed by at Delphi? Name one of Lycurgus changes to Sparta.

Reflection Essay 5. What makes the Spartans a popular and idolized subject, while the NAZIS are not?

5. Threat from the East

The Persian Empire remains to this day one of historys greatest empires, however, its history is usually mentioned only in context to the Greeks. This is mainly due to the Western way of thinking, since Europe and America looks to the Greeks as a founding model of civilization. Ask a modern Iranian, however, and the answer would be very different. The Persians are a people from the steppes of northern Iran, who rose to power in the 7th and 6th centuries BC. The Persians royal line rose to great power under the Achaemenid Dynasty, named after their founder, Achaemenes. Before Cyrus the Great (600-530 BC), the Persians


were subjects of the the Medes16, whose power stretched from the kingdom of Lydia in central Asia Minor to the borders of India. In 549 BC Cyrus led a rebellion and conquered the Median capital of Ecbatana. The Persian king went on to conquer the kingdom of Lydia, the Babylonians (Chaldean), and unified the Empire into one of the ancient worlds most expansive powers. His treatment of those he conquered is even more startling. Unlike the Assyrians, whose cruel rule of Mesopotamia led to a coalition of allies (Lydia, Egypt and Babylonia) to destroy them in 612 BC, the Persians under Cyrus showed such respect to conquered peoples that the Persian Empire was tremendously stable.

As the Greek historian and soldier Xenophon later wrote,

"And those who were subject to Cyrus, he treated with esteem and regard, as if they were his own children, while his subjects themselves respected Cyrus as their 'Father' ... What other man but 'Cyrus', after having overturned an empire, ever died with the title of 'The Father' from the people whom he had brought under his power? For it is plain fact that this is a name for one that bestows, rather than for one that takes away!"


Herodotus asserts that one origin of the Medes was from Medea, who fled to the Iranian plateau with her son late in life. The people living in that area, the Aryans, later changed their name to the Medes in her honor.


Cyrus the Greats policy of respecting other religions, while showing generosity instead of persecution to conquered peoples, helped the Persian Empire expand rapidly. However, Cyrus was killed in battle in 530 BC, and a magnificent tomb was built for him that survives to this day in Iran. His son, King Cambyses II, continued the expansion of the Empire, conquering the kingdoms of Egypt, Nubia and Cyrenaica by 523 BC.

6. Ionian Revolt
In 540 BC the Persian Empire was continuing to expand, now under the control of King Darius I. Persian forces conquered the Greek city-states of Ionia, which became part of a satrapy, a Persian-conquered territory, which was administered in the regional capital of Sardis. The city-states along the western coast of Asia Minor were not content to remain under Persian rule, and spurred on by the tyrant of the Ionian city of Miletus, in 499 BC a rebellion broke out in


Ionia against Persian rule.17 Supported by the city-states of Athens and Eretria (a great many of the Ionian city-states were Athenian colonies), the rebels marched on Sardis and burned it to the ground the following year. The Persian retribution was swift, and a serious of defeats befell the Ionian rebels, who eventually were subdued when the city of Miletus fell to a Persian siege in 494 BC. The following year the Persians were occupied re-securing their rule over Ionia. Darius, however, was determined to exact revenge on Athens for the role she played in the rebellion. According to Herodotus, he ordered a slave to whisper in his ear every day, Master, remember the Athenians, so his hatred would not be allowed to fade away.

7. First Attempt
In 492 BC, King Darius ordered his general, Mardonius, to lead an assault on Greece, with the aim of punishing Athens and Eretria. Crossing the Hellespont into Europe with a large army, Mardonius secured Thrace and Macedonia as reluctant client kingdoms of Persia. However, just off the coast near Mount Athos the Persian fleet was wrecked in a storm, causing a halt in the armys advance. The fleet followed parallel to the army as it marched, and provided protection and a means of resupplying the Persian army. This forced the army to halt and secure their northern conquests. The Persian reliance on their navy would later turn out to be their proverbial Achilles heel. The following year Darius sent ambassadors down into Greece and the Peloponnesus, seeking their surrender. Only Athens and Sparta did not capitulate to the Persian demand of


The tyrant of Miletus, Aristagoras, had previously joined the Persians in an expedition against the island of Naxos in the Aegean. It went badly, and fearing that the Persians would have him replaced, he stoked the fires of rebellion with his neighboring Ionian city-states.


earth and water, the token symbols of submission. Athens, in an example of her new democracy, put the ambassadors on trial and executed them, while the Spartans un-shockingly just threw them down a well.

8. The First Persian War

In 490 BC, Darius ordered another invasion of Greece, but not by land from the north this time, but from the sea. Command of the expedition went two men, Datis and Artaphernes. This would be the worlds first recorded amphibious invasion, and what would be a quick

solution to the Athenian problem, or so Darius thought. Herodotus stated that 600 triremes, the standard oar and sail warship of the ancient world at this time, carried a Persian army directly across the Aegean Sea to Athens. The Persians stopped at the island of Rhodes and assaulted the city of Lindos, but were unsuccessful. They continued on to the island of Samos, then Naxos, where the inhabitants fled to the hills in fear of Persian retribution, since they resisted the Persians a decade before. To show as an example of Persian clemency, Datis


sacrificed at the Temple of Apollo on the nearby island of Delos.18 The Persian force finally arrived at the tip of Euboea in early fall. Euboea at first glance looks like a peninsula of mainland Greece, but is actually an island about 90 miles long just off the coast. On the southern end of the island was Eretria, which along with Athens were the two city-states that aided the Ionian Greeks in their rebellion nearly a decade before. For a week the Eretrians resisted, but were eventually betrayed by two of their own citizens, who opened the city gates and allowed the Persians inside. They promptly sacked the city and sold the population into slavery. After destroying Eretria, the Persians landed at the Bay of Marathon on the eastern side of the Attic peninsula. With the Persian force was Hippias, the last tyrant of Athens, who had been expelled in 510 BC. With Persian support, Hippias was attempting to regain the rule of Athens after a twenty year absence, albeit as a Persian puppet. When the Persians were landing at Marathon, Hippias famously lost a tooth in a massive coughing fit. Herodotus wrote:

he (Hippias) brought the fleet to anchor off Marathon, and marshalled the bands of the barbarians as they disembarked. As he was thus employed it chanced that he sneezed and at the same time coughed with more violence than was his wont. Now, as he was a man advanced in years, and the greater number of his teeth were loose, it so happened that one of them was driven out with the force of the cough, and fell down into the sand. Hippias took all the pains he could to find it; but the tooth was nowhere to be seen: whereupon he fetched a

Delos, according to mythology, is where Apollo and his twin sister, Artemis, were born.


deep sigh, and said to the bystanders: "After all, the land is not ours; and we shall never be able to bring it under. All my share in it is the portion of which my tooth has possession." So Hippias believed that in this way his dream was fulfilled. 19

Questions and Reflection

21. What modern country did the Persians originate from? 22. What was the Persian city that the Ionian rebels burned? 23. What two cities was Darius generals out to punish? Why? Reflection Essay 6. 7. Why is Cyrus the Great worthy of that title? How is Hippias involvement in the invasion a good strategy for the Persians?

9. The Battle of Marathon

As the Persians landed at Marathon, they found that the Athenians, along with 1,000 hoplites from the nearby city-state of Plataea, had blocked the only two passages off the beach. With marshes on either side of the bay, the Athenians had stopped a Persian advance inland, but did not dare to attack. Command of the Athenian force went to Miltiades, who had previously fought alongside the Persian forces in 513 BC when they fought a northern people called the Scythians, but had fled to Athens after the failure of the Ionian Revolt. The Athenians sent a message to the Spartans, asking for assistance, since they were the only other city-state that had denied the Persians when they demanded Greeces surrender. The famous Athenian messenger, Pheidippides, ran to Sparta across the rugged Greek countryside to deliver the request for military aid. Sparta, however, replied that they could not send troops, as they were celebrating the Carneia, a religious festival which forbade any military action at that time. It would be another ten days before the Spartans said they could send help. It is likely that the Spartans, some of whom had pro-Persian sympathy, hoped that the Athenians would lose the battle. This would result in either the rest of Greece looking to Sparta, or Sparta becoming the chief city-state in a Persian controlled Greek mainland and Peloponnesus. Astonishingly,

Book 6.108


Pheidippides brought the message back to Athens, running the 150-mile roundtrip in just two days. For five days the Athenians and Plataeans faced off against the Persians, but neither made the first move. On the sixth day, word was brought to Miltiades that the Persians had sent part of their force away under the cover of darkness the night before. It was Datis plan to send the cavalry with part of the fleet around the Attic peninsula to Athens, which was undefended at the time. For the battle, Miltiades had 9000 Athenian hoplites, along with 1,000 Plataean allies. By contrast, the Persians had two to three times their number, even after the fleet had left for Athens. Miltiades and the other commanders faced a dilemma; if they continued to wait for the promised Spartan support, Athens might be lost. However, in that dilemma was an opportunity and a need, since the Athenian forces needed to get back to Athens for its defense, plus the Persian force was now weakened by their partial withdrawal. The decision was reached to attack now, and then race back to Athens before the slow-moving Persian ships rounded Cape Sounion and sailed north along the peninsula to attack the city. Even with part of the army withdrawn, the Persian forces still greatly outnumbered the Greeks. As such, Miltiades adopted a bold plan; he thinned the center of his phalanx (a long line of Greek soldiers with interlocking shields) to just 4 men deep, while the wings still maintained the customary 8 man depth. This was done to prevent the larger Persian army from wrapping around the Greeks at the outset of the battle. However, a great majority of the Persian force were archers and light infantry, while the Greeks wore their heavy hoplite armor and large shields. As the Greeks marched slowly towards the Persians, they quickened their pace. As the Persians raised their bows and shot a volley at the oncoming hoplites, they were astonished to see the Greeks suddenly break into a run. Like the last event at the ancient Olympics, the


hoplitodromos, where the competitors ran a footrace in full armor, the Athenians and Plataeans screamed and charged the Persian line. Tactically this was brilliant, because it gave a tremendous physical shock to the Athenian attack, not to mention the Persians horror of seeing ten thousand Greeks in gleaming armor quickly bearing down on them. This also meant that the Persian arrows passed overhead and the Greek hoplites were on top of them before they could fire another volley. Despite this brilliant strategy, the sheer weight of the Persian numbers began to push back the Athenian center. On the wings, however, the Greeks fared better and forced a Persian retreat, with the center now falling back as well. The Persian army now broke and fled for their remaining ships, sailing away hastily, leaving their dead and dying. Seven Persian ships were captured while the rest got away, however the battlefield casualties were certainly endemic of the fight; the Athenians lost 192 men, the Plataeans 11, while the Persians lost 6,400 including Datis. The Athenians buried their dead under a giant funeral mound, which still survives to this day. The Persians were left were they fell, so the Spartans could eventually inspect the Athenian handiwork and their lost glory.

Even though the battle was won, the threat of the Persian fleet and its forces still posed a threat to Athens. As the Greek army prepared to march back to Athens, despite being tired from the battle, they sent their messenger on ahead to tell those in Athens not to give up hope. Again, Pheidippides ran. With all the speed he could, he made the 26 mile sprint back to Athens and announced We have won! ("") and then died from exhaustion on the spot. In


memory of this battle and his epic run, we now celebrate marathons all around the worldall of them being 26 miles. When the Persians sailed up to the port of Piraeus near Athens, they found the Greek army drawn up for battle on the shore. Deciding not to fight, the Persian ships turned and sailed back towards Persian territory. The Battle of Marathon in September of 490 BC is one of the most important in all of history. Even though the Persians planned for yet another invasion, it must be remembered that if the Athenian forces had lost at Marathon, the Persians would have taken Athens and all the Greek mainland. Sparta would have likely fallen from dissent from within and would have eventually become a puppet vassal of the Persian Empire. Darius would have had a secure base to expand his empire into Europe, and have had an uncontested control over the eastern Mediterranean. So many of the ideas that would later come from Athens, including democracy, philosophy and art, would never have existed had the Greeks lost. The western world owes the core of its culture to the Athenian success at Marathon. For the Persians, however, it was only a temporary setback. They had added Thrace and Macedonia to their rule, as well as all the islands of the Aegean Sea. Eretria was punished for their part in the Ionian Revolt, and the next to pay would be Athens.

10. The Second Persian War

Darius began amassing a huge army to take into Greece, but he was delayed when a rebellion broke out four years later in Egypt. The Persian king did not live to see another invasion of Greece, and died that same year in 486 BC. The Persian throne now smoothly transferred to his 36-year-old son, Xerxes. The revolt in Egypt was quickly crushed, and likewise another that had broken out in Babylon. Unnoticed to all at that time, in the city of Halicarnassus in southwestern Asia Minor, the Greek historian Herodotus was born, who later wrote the most complete history of the Persian Wars that survives to this day. It is likely that Herodotus had first-hand accounts of the war when he composed his history. From 483 to 480
BC, Xerxes prepared to complete his fathers campaign for revenge, and set about making

extensive preparations. A massive army and navy was being assembled, and a bridge was built across the Hellespont to transport them from Asia Minor into Europe. However, the bridge was destroyed in a storm, and Xerxes famously had the waters of the Hellespont whipped, and


shackles thrown into the water. It was a visual reinforcement that Great King Xerxes, King of Kings, King of Persia and Media, and the King of Nations, would not be stoppednot even by nature itself. All would be subject to the power of the Persian Empire. A second bridge was built, and the Persian army successfully crossed into Thrace.

Questions and Reflection

24. 25. 26. 27. What two Greek forces took part at Marathon? Why were the Persians after Athens? Why did the Spartans not immediately send forces to Marathon? What was the name of the Persian king who took over after Darius I?

Reflection Essay 8. During the Second Persian War, the Spartans will send forces to fight Persia even though, once again, the Carneia was going on. How does this reversal of religious law fit in with what happened at Marathon a decade earlier? What were Darius goals, and what were Xerxes?


11. The Army of Xerxes

The problem using Greek historians is the frequent lack of an accurate count of the enemys casualties. At the Battle of Marathon, Herodotus recorded such specific numbers of Athenian and Plataean dead (192 and 11 respectively), while the Persian number was a rough 6,400. This indicates that Persian numbers were always a best guess scenario, and not an accurate count. For Xerxes invasion, modern historians look at the number of ships, possible food supply and other logistical factors to try and come up with a closer truth behind the armys size. Even doing that to Xerxes forces, the number is still somewhere between 200-300,000 men, while Herodotus himself listed the total force at over five million men. It is hard to comprehend such an immense army, even the lowest number, when most people today can only visualize a full stadium of 60,000 people as some sort of reference. If we use the more logical, and lower, modern estimate of around 250,000 men, then it can be represented as approximately four modern stadiums at full capacity. If we go by Herodotus, then the combined land and sea forces equaled a startling 88 stadiums, making it the largest army the world had ever seen, or has seen since. While the millions of men who fought in World War I and II are a


larger number overall,20 they were not all at one place in one marching army, with one focused goal. Only Emperor Napoleon Bonapartes Grand Army of the Republic can be compared, which had almost 600,000 men when he invaded Russia in 1812.

In the above map, you can see Darius amphibious invasion in 490 BC, and Xerxes invasion ten years later. Having set out from Sardis, his immense army crossed the Hellespont into Thrace, Macedonia and then passed Mt. Olympus into Thessaly. The Greeks sent a force of 10,000 men to block the mountain pass at the Vale of Tempe, but the king of Macedonia, Alexander I, warned the Greeks that Xerxes forces would be able to go around them. Seeing the danger, the Greeks retreated and the Persians advance continued further south. Overall command of the Greek forces went to Themistocles (524-459 BC), an Athenian general and politician who came from an obscure family background but rose to prominence under the new Athenian democracy. A proponent of a strong naval force, Themistocles became a leading magistrate of Athens and prompted the building of a seaport at Piraeus some 9 miles away from the city. He also served under Miltiades at the Battle of Marathon, and therefore had first hand

By comparison, Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June of 1941, utilized 4.5 million soldiers over the entire 1,800 mile Eastern Front.


experience fighting the Persians.21 With the money provided by the discovery of a new silver mine, Themistocles skillfully ordered the building of hundreds of new triremes in preparation for the oncoming fight with the Persian navy.

12. Thermopylae and Salamis

The king of Sparta, Leonidas, set out with 300 of the best homoioi to occupy the Pass of Thermopylae, along with roughly 7,000 other allies, in an attempt to block the Persian army from being able to proceed south. In overall command of the Greek forces was Themistocles, who was currently with the Athenian navy that had assembled off Cape Artemisium. If the Persian navy could be stopped there, then they could not land troops behind the Pass of Thermopylae beyond the Spartans and other allies. The tactic was the same on both fronts; the numerically inferior Greeks would block the narrow gap on land and water, thereby preventing the Persian forces from being able to utilize their superior numbers. In the Pass of Thermopylae, Leonidas was asked by the Persians to lay down their arms and surrender, to which the Spartan king famously replied, Come and get them ( ). The Spartans occupied the pass, shields locked, and stared down the mass of Persians that descended upon them. On the first day of battle Xerxes sent waves of Medes against the Spartans, but they
Persian Immortals

Bust of Themistocles

After Marathon, the Athenians under the command of Miltiades started liberating islands in the Aegean under Persian control. Miltiades was wounded, and seeing an opportunity his political opponents in Athens prosecuted him. He was eventually put in prison, where he died of his wound.


could not penetrate the shield wall and died by the hundreds. Their shields were made of wicker, so the Greek heavy weapons could easily penetrate the Persian armor. Watching from a nearby hill on a golden throne, Xerxes grew impatient at the obstinate Greeks and threw the Immortals, an immense 10,000 man unit of elite Persian soldiers, into the battle. They too met the same fate as the previous forces, and the Persians found they could not break through the Spartan and allied phalanx. Meanwhile, in the Artemesium Strait, Themistocles and his 271 triremes faced off against the far more numerous Persian fleet. Not long before the battle, the Persian navy lost about 400 warships in a storm north of the Artemesium Strait, and now Xerxes ordered approximately 200 ships around the island of Euboea, but they too were wiped out in yet another storm. Despite this, the Athenian navy still faced an enemy that outnumbered them at least 3 to 1. The smaller Athenian navy surprised the Persian line with a sudden assault late in the afternoon, ramming and destroying about 30 ships and then disengaging from the Persian fleet and returning to safe waters under the cover of nightfall. On the second day of the battle, 53 Athenian ships arrived to reinforce Themistocles navy. The Persians, licking their wounds, declined combat. Back in the Thermopylae Pass, the second day was more eventful. Again the Persians flung their forces at the Greeks, and again they were thwarted. Wave after wave was beaten back, and at the end of the day Xerxes was furious and confused how his army was being stopped, when word reached him that a local Greek named Ephialtes knew of a secret path around the pass. Xerxes ordered a force of 20,000 around the mountain to surround the Greek force. For this traitorous act, the name of Ephialtes lives on as the modern Greek word for nightmare. At dawn on the third day, the Phocians, who were guarding one of the secret paths which shows that the Greeks were aware of the risksaw the Persians and retreated to a nearby hill, leaving the path open for the enemy. A messenger from the Phocians informed Leonidas of what had happened, and a council of war quickly determined the next course of


action. The Spartans would stay to guard the Thermopylae Pass, thereby giving time for the remaining Greeks to retreat. Leonidas undoubtedly reflected on the recent proclamation from the Oracle of Delphi, which said a Spartan king would die at Thermopylae. Also fighting to the end with the Spartans were 400 hoplites from Thebes and all 700 from the city of Thespiae. The entire hoplite army from Thespiaeall of themwould make a stand with the rest at Thermopylae. With the main Greek force safely away, the remaining hoplites charged from the pass to slaughter as many Persians as they could. When spears were shattered, swords were drawn, and when swords and shields were of no further use, they resorted to bare fists. The remaining hoplites fought like demons. In the midst of the fighting King Leonidas fell from a fatal arrow, and a battle raged over the kings corpse. Four times the Persians were beaten away and the Spartans eventually were able to drag away the body of their fallen king. The battle over the body of a hero, their king, was a living echo of the Iliad, when the bodies of the Trojan Sarpedon and Achaean Patroclus were fought over by both sides in the middle of a battle. Protection of ones king, even when he was dead, was a sign of tremendous respect and honor. The remaining hoplites retreated to a nearby hill, while a few of the Thebans chose to surrender; the remainder stayed with the Spartans. Ending the battle, Xerxes ordered his archers to rain down arrows until every last hoplite was dead. While the Greeks lost hundreds, if not thousands of hoplites, the Persians likely lost in excess of 20,000 men over the three days at Thermopylae. In a rage, Xerxes ordered the body of Leonidas recovered, his head cut off, and his body crucified. While the Spartan and allied sacrifice paints a picture of Greek independence, it must not be forgotten that the Spartans themselves held the helot population as slaves. And Thermopylae was not a Greek victory, but actually a military defeat, since the Persian army now continued south without further resistance. Xerxes may have lost 20,000 men, but examine that number in the context of his whole army; if we assume that he had 250,000 men, then he lost 12.5% of his force. However, if we use Herodotus number, then they account for only 0.4%, which hardly would have slowed the Persian army. In the Artemisium Strait, Themistocles wasnt faring any better. The Athenians had inflicted serious damage on the Persian navy, but likewise so had the Persians. Themistocles, having been informed of the disaster at Thermopylae, decided to retreat his forces further south. Xerxes army destroyed the cities of Plataea and Thespiae and marched on Athens, which by this time had been evacuated. The Athenians realized they couldnt resist a siege and had to


abandon the city, with the inhabitants being evacuated to safety. Xerxes ordered Athens burned to the ground, including the beloved Temple of Athena that stood high above the city on the Acropolis. The burning of Sardis and the assassination of the Persian ambassadors was now avenged. However, seeing Athens burn, Xerxes immediately regretted this very un-Persian behavior to a conquered people, but it was too late to stop the inferno. The burning of Athens would not be forgotten.

At the narrow Isthmus of Corinth, the remaining allies built a wall across the only road down into the Peloponnesus and prepared for a last Greek defense. The remaining ships, which were initially intended to defend the Peloponnesian coastline from a Persian landing, were instead usedwith Themistocles insistenceto trap the Persian navy in the narrow waterway between the island of Salamis and the coast. In September 480 BC at the Battle of Salamis, Herodotus claims the Greeks had 378 triremes, while the Persians had 1,207. Whatever the number, the Persian forces had to destroy the Greek fleet if they had any hopes of landing troops down in the Peloponnesus. Xerxes believed that the Greek ships were in disarray, but instead the Persian navy found them ready for battle while they themselves were confined in the narrow waters off Salamis. The result was a clear Greek victory, with the Persians losing 200-300 ships. Xerxes watched in horror from his golden throne on nearby Mt. Aigaleos as his fleet was badly mauled by the Greek warships.


After the battle, Xerxes abandoned attempts to attack the Peloponnesus, and returned with most of his army back across the Hellespont. He left his chief general, Mardonius with a large host of the Persian army to continue the war and subdue Greece the following year. However, with the extreme losses of the Persian fleet, especially at Salamis, further conquest into the Peloponnesus was stopped.

13. Battle of Plataea

In 479 BC the following year, Mardonius withdrew the remains of the Persian army, still numbering anywhere from 120,000 to 300,000 men, to a large open plain near the city of Plataea. The Greeks assembled an army that was the largest they would ever put on the battlefield, which according to Herodotus numbered 110,000 men. Sparta brought 5,000 homoioi (the other 5,000 had to stay behind to keep the helots in line), and even armed 35,000 of the helots that they deemed worthy enough to take into battle. The city-states of Athens, Corinth, Megara, Sicyon, Tegea, Plataea and fourteen others all sent troops. During the battle, Mardonius was conspicuous on his white horse, urging on the Persian forces when a stone hit him in the head, killing him. Thereupon, the Persian line buckled and then broke into a full retreat and rout. Those who retreated to the Persian camp were surrounded and destroyed. Mardonius and his army were cut to shreds, and never again would a Persian army invade Greece. The general Artabazus led what was left of Mardonius force back to Asia Minor, but were harassed brutally by hostile tribes in Thrace. On the same day across the Aegean Sea, the Greeks, led by the Spartan king Leotychides assaulted the Persian navy on the island of Samos. The roughly 60,000 Persian forces remaining there were annihilated, while the Persian ships that were left on the beach were burned. The Persian invasion of Greece was over, and now it was time for the Greek counterattack.


Questions and Reflection

28. 29. 30. 31. Who is our chief historian for the Persian Wars? What were the two locations that the Greeks tried to block the Persian forces? How many days was the Battle of Thermopylae? Where were the Greeks planning on making a last stand?

Reflection Essay 10. Why is the Battle of Salamis more significant than Thermopylae? 11. Why do you think the Greek city-states will look more to Athens than Sparta if Persia invades again?

14. Aftermath
Themistocles was the leading magistrate in Athens initially after the Persian defeat, pushing for Athens to rise to dominance among all the Greek city-states. However, within the decade Themistocles would be ostracized from Athens. Ostracism was a practice in Athenian democracy during the 5th century BC, in order to avoid potential trouble and conflict between the citys leading citizens. Athenians voted to ostracize, or send away, a citizen from the city for a period of ten years. This was done as a pre-emptive measure, especially if one person seemed to be getting too powerful in Athens. As Themistocles rose in power, the more his political allies sought his downfall, especially the Spartans. He sought exile in Argos, then in multiple other city states, eventually seeking exile in Ionia. While in Ephesus, Themistocles eventually ended up meeting the Persian king at that time, Artaxerxes, who was the successor to Xerxes. Learning the Persian language, Themistocles impressed the king and was given governorship of a couple Ionian cities. He lived in the city of Magnesia with his family, which had been smuggled out of Athens along with a great many of his belongings, and died a natural death nearly twenty years later at age 65.22


The later historian Plutarch says that he took his own life rather than fight against his fellow Greeks.


Chapter III
Quarrelsome Greeks

1. The Delian League

The Battle of Plataea secured the safety of Greece from the invading Persian army, but the Greeks wondered if the future would bring yet another invasion. While the Spartans may have sacrificed much at Thermopylae, it was under the Athenian leadership of Themistocles that Greece prevailed. The Battle of Thermopylae was, in the end, a Greek defeat. The Persian army was delayed, but not stopped at the Thermopylae Pass. However, the Battle of Plataea was the true game changer, since it forced the Persian army to withdraw from mainland Greece and give up plans of expanding down into the Peloponnesus.23 Xerxes burning of Athens exacted the Persian revenge for the burning of Sardis during the Ionian Revolt, but any future Persian dreams of Greek conquest were temporarily abandoned. Xerxes set out completing architectural works that were begun by his father at cities such as Susa and Persepolis, in the heart of the Persian Empire. The Greeks were unaware that Xerxes gaze was not facing the west, and they began to plan for yet another invasion. It was clear after the Persian Wars that the leading city-state in Greece was Athens. The success at Salamis and the generalship of Themistocles led the Greeks to victory against Xerxes forces. Unable to stop the momentum, the Ionian city-states once again revolted from Persian rule, and the Greeks, led by Athens and Sparta, set about re-taking Aegean islands from Persian control, as well as all the land north of Greece. The threat of another perceived Persian attack, however, still loomed near. As a result, Athens in 477 BC formed the Delian League; a confederation of Greek city-states with a plan to prepare for the next Persian invasion. With Athens as the leading city-state, other cities looked to their fleet and army to lead the defense of Greece. It was called the Delian League since all those within the league initially met on the island of Delos, the sacred birthplace of Apollo in the center of the Aegean Sea. Delos was seen

There was also a revolt in Babylon, so Xerxes needed troops to put down the rebellion, plus the Greek naval victory at Mycale destroyed what remained of the Persian ships.


as neutral ground if there was a need for a meeting. All members of the Delian League paid for this Athenian protection. However, the treasury would not stay on Delos forever. Once the liberation of all mainland Greece and Ionia had been accomplished, Spartan support and involvement from the Delian League fell away, since they deemed the goal of the league had been achieved. The Athenians, however, felt that the Ionian city-states and the islands of the Aegean needed further protection, and began using the funds and their allied ships as they saw fit, denying those cities that joined the league any opportunity to leave it. Under force of arms cities were compelled to remain loyal to Athens.

2. Athens Golden Age

With Athens as the cultural and military leader of the Delian League, the money flowed, while at the same time Persia was facing strife within the Achaemenid Dynasty. Xerxes never saw another invasion into Greece, as he was assassinated in 465 BC. During the mid-5th century
BC, power fluctuated with the Persian royal family, along with a

rebellion in Egypt, which was loosely under Persian control. Athens supreme power and wealth during this time came to be known as her Golden Age. In 454 BC the leader of Athens, Pericles, moved the treasury to Athens for its protection under the pretense of the renewed Persian threat. The treasury was instead used for Athenian building projects, such as the Parthenon on the Acropolis. Under Pericles direction, this monumental temple to Athena was built over the ruins of the one destroyed by Xerxes during the Second Persian War. Also during this Golden Age the Long Walls of Athens were built, which connected the city to the port of Piraeus some 6 miles to the south. Now, even if Athens citizens were forced behind her walls, the citys seaport could keep Athens supplied indefinitely.24


In modern times, the city of Athens has spread over the surrounding countryside all the way down to the port.


The Temple of Athena on the Acropolis

View from the Acropolis to Piraeus


3. The Peloponnesian War

This heavy-handed approach by Athens met with resistance by Sparta and the Peloponnesian League, which saw this increase of Athenian power and influence as a threat to her own interests. Serving as the basis of Greek unity against the Persian Wars, the Delian League naturally came to be dominated by Athens. But when Athenian hegemony became too much to bear, Sparta and her allies separated. While Athens and her allies officially were the Delian League, Sparta re-formed the original league she had over the Peloponnese. In 431 BC the Peloponnesian League, led by Sparta, went to war with the Delian League, which historians now appropriately call the Athenian Empire. The Spartans wasted no time and marched directly on Athens, whose citizens left their farms and retreated behind their fortifications, while the Long Walls to Piraeus kept the city fed. However, a plague struck Athens the following year, killing 1/3 of the citys population,25 including their leader, Pericles. However, Athens was able to maintain power over its allies and use the Athenian navy to raid the coast of the Peloponnese. In 421 BC a peace accord, called the Peace of Nicias, was signed between Athens and Sparta. The Athenians had managed to capture a couple hundred Spartan hoplites, while the Spartans had taken the city of Amphipolis, which had been supplying silver to Athens and thereby financing her war effort. Hostages were exchanged, but despite the peace accord, hostilities soon broke out again between the two cities.


Over 30,000 Athenians died from the plague.


The peace was broken when the city of Argos, on the eastern coast of the Peloponnese, which had retained its independence from Sparta and the Peloponnesian League, formed a coalition with other free Peloponnesian cities and Athens. In 418 BC the Spartans defeated this Argive and Athenian force at the Battle of Matinea. If they had lost, Sparta would have capitulated to Argos and Athens and would have likely seen her power permanently broken. All was on the line, and Sparta had managed a


crucial victory. However, the Athenians were still on the attack, and in 415 BC went to the island of Sicily to subdue Syracuse, an ally of Sparta. The Athenian campaign was mismanaged by political intrigue and incompetent military leadership, and the attack quickly stalled. The following year the Spartans managed to send a relief force and took command of Syracuses defense, and in 413 BC they destroyed the entire Athenian expedition in the citys harbor and chased down the fleeing survivors on land. Back near Athens, the Spartans were again putting pressure on the city, restricting the Athenian harvest and dwindling their treasury of war silver.26

With the majority of the Athenian navy and soldiery gone, Sparta helped allied citystates rebel from Athens tyrannical hegemony of the Delian League (Athenian Empire). Now, most of Ionia rose up against Athens, the city-state that founded many of these colonies, and went to war against Persia on their behalf over a century before. Shockingly, Persia now became involved and loaned money and ships to the Spartan cause. However, support against Athens regained in popularity as many decided that Spartan control was even more flawed than the Athenian leadership.


The Athenians had 1,000 talents in their treasury as a reserve. One talent was a measure of silver or gold equivalent to one amphora jar full of water, which was roughly 67 pounds. Therefore, they had approximately 67,000 pounds of silver left for the war effort.


From 410 to 406 BC, under the leadership of an Athenian named Alcibiades, Athens used the last 100 ships at her disposal to break Spartan naval power and undue many of the reverses she had suffered in the previous years. Alcibiades is one of the most unique figures in Greek history, and played a major role during the Peloponnesian War. He was a native Athenian who helped push for the Sicilian Expedition in 415 BC, but fled to Sparta when political enemies in Athens tried to wrongfully pin the defeat on him. As a Spartan, his advice helped bring Athens to near defeat, but had to flee Sparta when his life was threatened by political enemies within the Spartan leadership. This time Alcibiades fled to Persia and served them until political allies in Athens advocated his return in 411 BC. Despite initial successes, by 406 BC the political climate had again grown dangerous for Alcibiades following his command during an Athenian defeat at Notium. Never returning to Athens, he went into self-exile inside Persian territory north of Ionia in Asian Minor. In 404 BC the Spartans had tracked Alcibiades down, set his house on fire and shot him full of arrows as he ran out, dagger in hand.

Questions and Reflection

32. 33. 34. 35. What city led the Delian League? Who led Athens during its Golden Age? What did the Long Walls connect? What city in Sicily did the Athenians suffer a major defeat during the Peloponnesian War?

Reflection Essay 12. Compare Persias involvement during the Persian Wars compared to the Peloponnesian War.


4. Defeat of Athens
In 405 BC Athens suffered a crushing naval defeat at the Battle of Aegospotami in the Hellespont, where they lost 168 ships and thousands of sailors to a renewed Spartan fleet. In addition to the military disaster the Athenians now lost control of lands around the Hellespont, which had up until that time supplied them with grain. This double loss prompted an Athenian surrender to the Spartans in 404 BC, effectively ending the Peloponnesian War. Athens Long Walls were torn down and a Spartan government, called the Thirty Tyrants, was put in place to rule Athens as a subject city of Sparta, thereby banishing democracy. The cities of Corinth and Thebes advocated the burning of Athens and the enslavement of her population, but surprisingly Sparta rejected that idea. She asserted that Athens had, after all, been a key ally in the defeat of the Persians so many years before. Greek ruthlessness was appropriate for all barbaric peoples, and despite all the years of warfare and hostility between the two city-states, Athens was still Greek. She would not burn a second time, and especially not by Greek hands.

5. March of the Ten Thousand

Three years after Athens defeat, a Greek mercenary army was hired by Cyrus the Younger, brother to the then-current Persian king, Artaxerxes II, with the goal of putting Cyrus on the throne. The Persian Achaemenid family had been rocked by scandal and suspicion for decades, and now one brother meant to supplant the other with the help of Greek military support. The Greek army nearly made it all the way to Babylon, even winning the Battle of Cunaxa against Artaxerxes forces, but at a costCyrus the Younger was killed during the fighting. Also, the leader of the Greek mercenaries, a Spartan general named Clearchus, and all other senior officers of the Greek army were killed or captured. Finding themselves deep in enemy territory and leaderless, this version of marching Republic then chose a young officer named Xenophon as one of its three new commanders, who later wrote a history of their escape. His account, called the Anabasis (meaning expedition), survives to this day and tells the story how the 10,000 Greeks fought their way home through hostile Persian territory. Heading north, the March of the Ten Thousand as it has come to be known, managed to arrive


at the shores of the Black Sea and friendly Greek cities. Xenophon, and what was left of his army, eventually returned home and were recruited into the army of the Spartan general Thibron. He was given some land near Olympia, settled down into retirement and wrote his Anabasis.

6. More Greek Troubles

Unable to tolerate Spartan rule, the Thirty Tyrants were expelled from Athens in 403 BC and democracy was restored. Two years later Xenophon was involved in the March of the Ten Thousand. It was now time for Spartas supremacy of Greece to be challenged. From 395 to 387 BC the Corinthian War involved a new coalition of Thebes, Athens, Corinth and Argos against Spartan dominance. Yet again, former Greek adversaries fought against a former Greek ally, and like during the Peloponnesian War the Persian navy played a role in the conflictthis time for the Athenian cause. By 390 BC, the Persians changed sides yet again to the Spartan cause, since the Athenians had several initial successes and were quickly growing too powerful


again. Persia now found itself the puppet master, pulling the strings in Greek politics via military and financial support, and helped to topple those Greek powers that posed a threat to Persian interests. Having lost the support of the Persian navy and the Persian purse, the four cities of the coalition were forced to make peace with Sparta, especially since their grain trade routes in the Hellespont were once again threatened. A Spartan representative traveled deep into the Persian Empire to the political capital of Susa in order to work out the peace treaty. The Persian King, Artaxerxes II, officially mediated the peace treaty, called the Peace of Antalcidas. The treaty stipulated that all of Ionia was now under Persian control, while Sparta was put in charge to make sure that Greece stayed at peace. It was sadly ironic since Artaxerxes II negotiated this Kings Treaty, and it was a Greek mercenary army that tried to oust him from power fourteen years before. After over a century of warfare between Greece and Persia, and then between the Greeks themselves, Persia once again controlled Ionia.

7. Battle of Leuctra
While the Peace of Antalcides granted autonomy to the Greek cities, it banned all leagues, except that of the Peloponnesian League. It was a bit tongue-in-cheek that once again Greek independence was asserted, but the issue of the enslavement of the Spartan helots was overlooked. Sparta was left as the enforcer of a Persian inspired peace, so it is not surprising that opposition to this quickly grew. Thebes, led by the general Epaminondas, refused to submit to Sparta, and the two forces met on July 6th, 371 BC at the Battle of Leuctra in northern Greece. Both sides had roughly 10,000 men, with the Spartan numbers slightly stronger. Epaminondas was innovative in his battle strategy, and deviated from the normal phalanx formation. For centuries it was common for a Greek phalanx to line up eight men deep, and advance at an enemy at a sedate pace. It was only at Marathon, remember, where the phalanx broke out into a run at the enemy. While the Spartan general, King Cleombrotus, took up the normal position of honor on the right, with the rest of his soldiers to his left, he faced a new formation from the Thebans. Epaminondas used an echelon formation, where the units are arranged diagonally like a staircase (from the French word echelle, meaning ladder). Under normal conditions, the Thebans would have placed their strongest units on their right as well, but Epaminondas used his cavalry to mask the fact that he massed his far left with 50 men deep.


By also leaving his weaker units further back, it gave the Thebans more time before they would come into contact with the Spartans there. It was a gamble that Epaminondas took. If the Thebans did not win against the Spartan right wing quickly, then they would face defeat when the rest of their army came into contact with the Spartan line. It was a balance of offensive shock and time, and it was unprecedented, risky and brilliant.

The Spartan king fell in the fighting, along with about 1,000 men, and the defeat of the Spartan right wing rippled through the rest of the army and they routed. This was not just another defeat, but a complete change of tactics in phalanx warfare. That would have been significant enough, but Epaminondas followed it up with an even more daring strategy. In all the past conflicts with Athens, Corinth and other city-states, Sparta and her immediate territory in the Peloponnesus remained safe. Epaminondas was about to change that. The following year, after securing alliances with many other city-states, Epaminondas led a large Theban army down into the Peloponnesus, intent on breaking Spartas ability to make war. At the head of a huge army, including former Spartan allies, the Thebans entered the southern Peloponnesus. The Spartans did not offer battle, and retreated behind the safety of their walls, and watched in horror as Epaminondas freed the Messenian helots and rebuilt their ancient city of Messene. The Spartan military machine, and her dedicated core of 10,000 homoioi, depended upon the helots to till the land and give the Spartans the time to prepare for


war. Epaminondas understood that by taking the helots out of the Spartan equation, it would cripple them, since nearly half of the whole helot population came from the region of Messenia. Having dealt a crushing defeat on Sparta, Epaminondas left for Thebes but returnedl the following year, when he returned with an army at a request of allied help in the Peloponnesus. Now, wary of Thebes military threat, Epaminondas found the Isthmus of Corinth blocked by not only the Spartans, but also the Athenians and Corinthians. He launched a dawn attack and broke through the Spartan defense and joined his Peloponnesian allies. The campaign of 368 BC was largely ineffective, and the Thebans withdrew home, also having seen that military help arrived from Syracuse in Sicily. They were not forgetful of the aid that Sparta once gave them during the Peloponnesian War. During this time of Theban hegemony over central Greece, many young men from other city-states came to Thebes as hostages. Sending hostages to a conqueror was a widely established practice in antiquity. A hostage, in ancient terms, was a person of typically royal rank who was sent to live with the enemy, and would grow up under their rule and instruction. The threat always remained that the hostage could be killed if that person or city rebelled, but often what resulted was the tutoring of the young in the royal households of the conquerorin this case Thebes. One of these young boys, Philip II, would grow up in Epaminondas own house under his tutelage, learning the arts of war. He would remain in Thebes for another four years, and then return to his home in Macedon, eventually becoming king. In 362 BC the Thebans once again met the forces of Sparta, Athens and their allies, this time at the Battle of Mantinea. It is not surprising that Athens was siding with Sparta despite their decades of hostilities, since it was Thebes that had advocated the burning of Athens at the conclusion of the Peloponnesian War, and not Sparta. Despite their alliance, neither Sparta nor Athens had Epaminondas in command. Using tactics similar to what he did at Leuctra nine years before, Epaminondas used deception and decisive battlefield movements to break through the Spartan line and rout them. Xenophon, who was still alive to witness the battle, wrote how Epaminondas used his forces as a trireme uses the prow to ram straight through his enemy.27 While the Thebans broke the Spartan line and won the Battle of Mantinea, it was at a cost. Epaminondas was mortally wounded by a Spartan spear as he led the charge against the Spartan right wing, and died shortly after the battle.


Hellenika 5.2.1-3


The death of Epaminondas took the proverbial wind out of the Theban sails, and power continued to fluctuate between Athens, Sparta, Thebes, and to a lesser extent, Corinth. None of the Greek city states understood the threat that was growing to their north in the kingdom of Macedon. Three years after the Battle of Mantinea, in 359 BC, the twenty-three year old former Theban hostage, Philip II, claimed the throne of Macedonia. Epaminondas legacy would live on more than he ever dreamed.

Questions and Reflection

36. What other title do historians call the Delian League in its later years? 37. What city said Athens was not to be burned at the conclusion of the Peloponnesian War? 38. What was the name of the soldier and historian who lived through the March of the Ten Thousand? 39. What is the name of the formation that Epaminondas used at Leuctra and Mantinea? Reflection Essay 13. What are your feelings about the Persian Wars versus the Peloponnesian and later Greek wars?



Chapter IV
Philip II and Alexander III

1. Artemis Absence
Two very famous things happened on the night of July 20th, 356 BC. First, an arsonist, wishing to have his name live forever, set ablaze one of the seven wonders of the ancient world: the Temple of Artemis of Ephesus. That very same night, as the temple was being consumed in flames, Alexander the Great was born. Little remains of the Temple of Artemis today except a single column, standing guard in the marshy swamp where the temple once stood. Located on the western coast of Turkey, the city of Ephesus pre-dates Christianity by over 1,000 years, and was a powerhouse of Greek culture in Ionia. The Temple of Artemis was originally built in the 6th century BC, when that land was controlled by the kingdom of Lydia, and was older than the shrine of Apollo in the nearby city of Didyma. The Temple of Artemis was re-built many times over the course of the next few hundred years, and was in its fourth reincarnation (called temple D) when Alexander was born in 356
BC. Larger than all the previous versions, it was a staggering 220

feet wide and 425 feet long, supported by 127 columns that stretched like a forest of tall trees, 60ft up into the sky. To put it in more American terms, the temple was 1 football fields long, 2/3 of a field wide. If the columns were laid flat on the ground, they would stretch from the end zone to mid-field. The Temple of Artemis was not only the largest temple in the world, but it also exerted significant political and financial influence in Ephesus. On that fateful night in 356 BC, an arsonist named Herostratus set ablaze the great temple, wishing to have his name live forever by commiting this act of intentional destruction. As the Roman historian Valerius Maximus later said:


A man was found to plan the burning of the temple of Ephesian Diana (Artemis) so that through the destruction of this most beautiful building his name might be spread through the whole world28.

In their hatred, the Ephesians ordered Herostratus put to death, and anyone who spoke his name would share the same fate as the arsonist. In the aftermath of the destroyed temple, the Ephesians decided yet again to rebuild the famous temple, but not entirely for religious reasons. It must not be overlooked that the temple was both sacred and a money maker for the Ephesians. Worshippers and admireres came from all over the Greek world to see this amazing sight, and the business it created for the local economy was immense. Rebuilding a templeeven a modest onewas never a quick process, and the Temple of Artemis was still under reconstruction when Alexander marched through with his Macedonian army twenty-two years later in 334 BC. He even offered to pay for its rebuilding, with an eye probably towards the public relations gain of such a gesture. However, they politely refused his offer and continued on their own, eventually finishing it eleven years later. For another three hundred and fifty years people came to Ephesus in order to see the Temple of Artemis. Then, in the first century AD of the Roman Empire, the Apostle Paul stopped at Ephesus to preach the gospel. The Temple of Artemis supported a bustling local business in iconography29, which is described in the Biblical chapter titled Ephesians. Paul feared going into the city because a local silversmith, Demetrius, had stirred up resentment to Paul and his message. Changing to a different faith meant a cut, if not elimination, of the local merchants livelihood, since they relied on selling the iconic images of the Temple of Artemisthose lovely trinkets all tourists and would-be pilgrims pick up from famous sites. In other words, Demetrius was an early advocate for been there, got the t-shirt. Pauls companions, Gaius and Aristarchus, were shoved into the theatre (Paul himself did not dare to enter the city because of the mobs anger). Once inside, Pauls messengers faced the real possibility of being killed by the

28 29

Valerius Maximus, VIII.14.ext.5 Iconography in Ephesus was the business of selling images of the Temple of Artemis.


enraged merchants. However, a town-clerk managed to calm the crowd, and eventually everyone dispersed. A legend arose the night the temple burned in 356 BC: it was said that the goddess Artemis, who always watched over her temples safety, left her beloved sanctuary and traveled across the Aegean to Macedonia so she could witness the birth of Alexander. In her absence, Herostratus found everlasting infamy.

Theatre of Ephesus

2. Achilles Fate
As the fire burned through the wooden timbers and brought the temple roof crashing down, so too did the birth of Alexander begin a fire that would one day spread across Asia. Alexander was the son of twentyyear-old Olympias (375-316 BC), a princess from the kingdom of Epirus, and Philip II (382-326 BC), the twenty-six year old king of Macedonia. The young Alexander spent his childhood hearing the stories of Homers Iliad, and the tales of the gods on Mount Olympus. To him they were real.



Alexander grew up knowing in his heart that the fate of a man lies not within himself or his own deeds, but with the will of the gods. Olympias constantly told him of his ancestry, and that he was a descendant of Achilles and Herakles. She herself could claim her bloodline back to Andromache, wife of Hector, who was taken back to Greece after Troys fall by Achilles son, Neoptolemeus. Alexander intended to surpass in glory these heroes of history and mythology, but he would also unknowingly share Achilles fate. Once he left Greece for his famous march into Persia, he would never see her shores again. Alexander, whether he knew it or not, had chosen kleos over nostos, as Achilles had once done. Alexander felt the gods governed a mans fate, and he would die when the gods deemed it his time. At heart, he was a deeply religious man driven by the faith of his destiny.

3. Philip II

Pella, the capital city of Macedonia, was in the northernmost reaches of Greece, roughly four days travel north of Mt. Olympus. The Athenians and other city-states of central and southern Greece looked upon the Macedonians as semi-barbaric, hard drinkers, who shamelessly had a history of offering invading Persian armies fire and water. As it has been mentioned earlier, such symbols of submission were demanded and received of Alexander I, who ruled Macedonia during the Second Persian War. Essentially snubbed as Greek groupies by the Athenians and other older city-states of central
Philip II of Macedon

Greece, the Macedonians werein a manner of speakingthe loud tenants who move in to a loft apartment above some gentile older couple. It was under the leadership of Philip II, Alexanders father, that Macedonia would rise and unite the Greek city-states under one, single rulehis own. Philip II spent his early years as a hostage in Thebes, receiving an education from its leading general Epaminondas. This was the same general who smashed the Spartan army at the Battle of Leuctra. In 364 BC, at age 18, Philip returned to Macedonia. Five years later, after the deaths of his two elder brothers, he ascended to the throne of Macedonia. In that same


year, he secured his kingdoms western border, which had been invaded by Thracians, and defeated a force of 3,000 Athenians, who were attempting to put their own puppet king on the Macedonian throne. He spent these crucial early years reforming the Macedonian army into one of the most powerful military forces of the ancient world. Philip instituted changes to the standard equipment of a Greek hoplite, radically changing phalanx warfare. His soldiers were no longer the temporary farmer-soldier, but paid by the state. This allowed them to train all year round, even during winter, in an effort to strengthen their endurance. 30 The phalanx was deepened from the traditional depth of 8 to 16 men, and formed a square of 256 soldiers called a syntagma. The large hoplite shield, which had changed very little for the past thousand years, was reduced in size. Now, with the addition of a shoulder strap, it could be wielded without using the left hand. This left both hands free to hold the new Macedonian spear, the sarissa. Philip ordered the length of the traditional hoplite spear doubled, making it roughly 14-17 feet long, which took both hands to use. This turned a phalanx into a rolling pin cushion capable of tremendous offensive damage. Before an enemy could even touch the first man in a syntagma he had to get through the first five rows of sarissae that bristled out in front. Behind them, the remaining men of the syntagma held their spears at an angle to help block incoming missiles.

Questions and Reflection

40. What was the name of the arsonist who burned down the Temple of Artemis? 41. What year was Alexander the Great born? 42. What city did Philip II spend his early years as a hostage? 43. What is the name for the 256 man phalanx formation?

Reflection Essay 14. Compare Alexanders birth and destruction of the temple to someone having been born on th September 11 , 2001.


This classifies Philip IIs army as professional, since their sole occupation became was war, and they were paid, unlike the Spartans.


4. Consolidation of Power
Philip spent the next 13 years in an almost constant state of war and diplomacy, usually against Athens and her allies. He ruthlessly expanded his control in nearly every direction of the compass; however, it was not without sacrifice. In 355 BC, Philip besieged the Athenian city of Methone, and lost an eye from a nearly fatal arrow. But the year before he lost his eye, Philip gained a son. Portents and signs preceded Alexanders birth.31 Philip dreamt that he tried to seal up Olympias womb, and engraved on the seal was the figure of a lion. The lion has long been a sign of kingship, and it was believed that this was a sign that Philips son would one day become king. Olympias also suffered strange dreams before giving birth; she awoke one night, having dreamt that lightning struck her womb with a thunderous crash, and a blinding light thereupon shone from it. On the day Alexander was born, news was brought to Philip that his most trusted general and old friend, Parmenio, won a great victory over the Illyrian tribes in the north. Word also reached Philip that his horse had won in the Olympic Games. As the saying goes, everything happens in threes. Olympias was not Philips first wife, nor his second, or even his thirdshe was in fact his fourth.32 More of a political arrangement, Philips marriage to Olympias linked him to the royal bloodline of King Arymbas of Epirus, since she was the kings niece. The marriage with Olympias helped to strengthen Philips ties to that kingdom and secure his western border, allowing him to focus on his Thracian and Athenian problems.

5. Bucephalus
As Alexander grew up under Philips watchful eye, Philip continued waging war and expanding Macedonian territory. In 346 BC a tentative peace was made with Athens, and Philip turned his attention to Sparta. Even though Spartas military prestige was shattered at Leuctra

31 32

Alexander the Great was named Alexander III. Olympias name was, according to the historian Plutarch, originally Polyxena, but it was changed Myrtale due to her initiation in the secretive cult of Dionysius. He also claimed that she loved to sleep with snakes, which were symbolic of the cult. When Philips horse won at the Olympic Games, her name changed yet again.


in 371 BC, they were still a military power to be worried about. Philip sent a message to Sparta, You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city. The Spartans, in their customary Laconic language, sent a simple reply: if. Philip left Sparta alone. In 346 BC, the ten-year-old Alexander greeted some Persian ambassadors who came to Pella seeking an audience with Philip. Charmed by the inquisitive young prince, they happily answered all his questions. Alexander asked what the extent of the Persian Empire was, its military strength, and who was its king and how did he rule the lands. The Persian ambassadors did not feel threatened by these questions. After all, he was just a boy. Hindsight is truly 20/20. There is another story that gives an insight into Alexanders character, and it concerns perhaps his closest friendhis horse Bucephalus. A horse trader attempted to sell Philip a black horse of immense size and volatile temperament. It had a single, distinguishing white mark on his head in the shape of an ox, and for that it got its name, Bucephalus (meaning ox-head in Greek).33 The trader demanded 13 talents from Philip for the horse, a staggering amount, since it amounted to 858 pounds of silver. The horse would not let anyone ride him, and could not be broken.34 When Philip tried and gave up in frustration, Alexander offered his father a wager (it is important to remember that he is only ten-years-old). He told his father that if he could not ride the horse, he would pay for it himself. As Philip and his entourage looked on, Alexander carefully walked up to the horse, and with the gentlest of motions, turned him to face the sun. The young prince noticed something no one else had; Bucephalus was afraid of his own shadow. When Bucephalus shadow disappeared, Alexander

33 34

The other story is that the horses extreme stubbornness was the origin of its name. A wild horse had to be broken before it could be rode. This meant taming the hor se so a rider could mount on its back without being thrown.


slipped onto his back, and rode him away at a gallop. Things were tense for Philip, as Plutarch says:

Philip and his friends looked on at first in silence and anxiety for the result, till seeing him turn at the end of his career, and come back rejoicing and triumphing for what he had performed, they all burst out into acclamations of applause; and his father shedding tears, it is said, for joy, kissed him as he came down from his horse, and in his transport said, "O my son, look thee out a kingdom equal to and worthy of thyself, for Macedonia is too little for thee."

While John Drydens translation of Plutarch is a bit old fashioned, one can still see in Alexander a keen awareness of things that others would miss, and an exceptional fearlessness he would display all his life.

6. Education
Growing up, Alexander had an early tutor named Leonidas, who was exceedingly strict. One day as a young boy, Alexander was offering sacrifice and heaped a large amount of incense on the altar fire. Leonidas scolded the young Alexander for throwing too much and said that when he conquered all the spice bearing lands could he then afford to be so generous to the gods. Many years later, in 332 BC, Alexander conquered the city of Gaza on his way to Egypt. Gaza was a key city on the spice trade between Persia and Egypt. Leonidas awoke to find that six hundred talents (40,000 pounds) of frankincense and myrrh had been shipped to him. Again, a childhood episode gives a glimpse into how Alexander thought. He could harbor a grudge for years, and was patient and calculatinga very dangerous combination. When Alexander was fourteen, Philip hired the famous philosopher, Aristotle, to continue tutoring the young prince. In a quiet grove, along with some of Alexanders closest


friends, Aristotle taught him rhetoric, astronomy, biology, politics, ethics, logic, and many other wide-ranging subjects. Aristotle was, after all, Platos most brilliant pupil; and Plato himself was a pupil of Socrates. Things do indeed happen in threes.

Questions and Reflection

44. What was Bucephalus afraid of? 45. What kingdom was Olympias from? 46. What were the names of Alexanders two tutors? Reflection Essay 15. How were multiple wives for Philip II different than modern polygamist marriage?

7. The Battle of Chaeronea

When Alexander was eighteen, he took part in a battle with his father against a united army of Athenians, Thebans and their allies. They fought to prevent Macedonian hegemony


over Greecethe Spartans, of course, did not show. The Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC had two significant events: first, this battle ended the Greek effort for independence and recognized Philip as Captain-General of Greece itself. Second, while Alexander was still in his teens, when most American students are just graduating high school, he led a cavalry charge that was decisive in bringing about Philips victory. Seeing a gap between the Athenian and Theban lines, Alexander charged through it and broke the enemy lines. While Plutarch suggests that Alexander may have been leading a division of the phalanx and not the cavalry, the result was still the same. The Athenians lost over 1,000 men, while the Theban Sacred Band, a fierce contingent of 300 homosexual lovers who were known for their skill and tenacity in combat, died nearly to the man. Philip, in honor of the Sacred Bands courage, erected a lion monument where they were buried, which still stands to this day.

With his victory at Chaeronea, Philip secured himself as the leader of the Greeks, albeit tenuously. Given the right opportunity, Thebes and Athens would surely revolt. Then there was Sparta, known for stirring up trouble for any city-state with dreams of grandeur, but for the moment, with shortage of allies, she stayed quiet down in the Peloponnese. With Greece pacified, Philip now set about for his grandest plan: the invasion of Persia.


8. Family Trouble
Olympias was not the last wife of Philip. In fact, in 337 BC Philip II married Eurydice, niece of Attalus, an officer and nobleman in the Macedonian army. She was wife number eight, and a hated rival of Olympias. Eurydice, unlike Alexanders mother, was of pure Macedonian blood. Thus, if a child came of that marriage, it would have a greater hereditary claim to the throne than Alexander. This argument nearly came to blows at a dinner banquet one evening, when Attalus made a toastin front of Alexanderthat he hoped Philips new marriage would result in a legitimate heir. Insulted, Alexander got into a shouting match with Attalus, and asked if he took Alexander to be a bastard. Alexander then threw his wine glass at him. Infuriated, Philip drew his sword to strike at Alexander for this insult, but unsurprisingly he had too much wine that night, and he tripped and fell over a table. With a bit of smugness, Alexander said to the dinner crowd, Look, men, here is the man who was getting ready to cross from Europe to Asia, and he cannot even cross from one table to another without falling down. Olympias now deemed it prudent to return to Epirus,35 and Alexander to campaign against some northern tribes. Soon, Philip realized that he needed Alexander, as he was a good soldier and able leader. If Philip was going to lead his great invasion into Persia, he would need his son at his side. But Fate had a different plan for him. In 336 BC, Philip ordered Attalus to set out with an advance force into Asia Minor in preparation for the main invasion of the Persian Empire. Philip decided now was the appropriate time to visit Delphi and seek confirmation before setting out against Persia. The Oracles advice was typically cryptic, and said Wreathed in the bull, all is done. Philip confidently took the message to mean that King Darius III of Persia was going to be offered up as a sacrifice on the altar. Now satisfied, he had one more thing to do before setting out on his Persian campaign in the spring of the following year;36 he decided to arrange one more marriage, this time for his daughter, Cleopatra. She was the daughter of Olympias and Philip, born the same year as Alexander, and therefore his direct sister. She was to marry Alexander I of Epirus, Olympias own brother. That meant that Cleopatra was going to marry her own uncle. Putting aside the obvious familial issues here, one can see that Philip arranged this marriage for political reasons. By making Alexander I of Epirus his son-in-law,

35 36

Her brother, also named Alexander (I), had been placed as king by Philip a few years before. 335 BC.


Philip tightened his grip on the kingdom of Epirus. Olympias was, in a manner of speaking, having the political door shut in her face.

9. Philip IIs Assassination

Theatre of Aegae

In celebration of this marriage, Philip arranged a public ceremony in the theatre of Aegae (pictured above) in October of 336 BC. Appearing with Alexander I of Epirus on one side and Alexander III on the other, Philip made his way through the city and into the theatre. Here, representatives of almost all the major Greek city-states were present. Philips rule over Greece was tenuous at best, despite his claim that he was about to wage war on behalf of all Greeks for the atrocities of the Persian Wars over a century earlier. As Philip entered the theatre, Pausanias, chief of the Macedonian Royal Guard, approached him when he was alone, and stabbed him.37 Running from the theatre to a waiting horse, Pausanias tripped and was stabbed to death by some loyal guards who had given chase to the assassin. At this turn of events Cleopatra and Alexander I had the good instinct to return to Epirus. Alexander, now twenty-years-old, was proclaimed king the next day by the Macedonian

Pausanius was one of seven soldiers in Philips Royal Bodyguard. His motivation for kill ing Philip was officially that he was on the Persian take, while another darker reason was that he was avenging being spurned by Philip when his sexual advances were denied.


army. Olympias, feeling secure in her position, had Eurydice and her new infant killed.38 Enraged at his mothers actions, Alexander nonetheless now felt that Attalus was a threat to his rule, who was at that time over in Asia Minor, preparing for the forthcoming invasion of Persia. Alexander also learned that Attalus was in conversation with Demosthenes, Athens most famous orator and outspoken critic of Philip. It would not take much convincing for Athens to throw off Alexanders rule, and Attalus conversations with Demosthenes were enough of a danger to order his assassination. The Greek world held its collective breath to find out what was going to happen next.

Questions and Reflection

47. What two city-states fought against Philip at Chaeronea? 48. What did Philip do to commemorate the Sacred Band that died at Chaeronea? 49. What Greek city-state did not recognize Philip as the Captain-General of Greece? 50. What was the name of Philips assassin? Reflection Essay 16. How is being thrown the keys to a new car an apt analogy for Alexanders ascension to the throne in 336 BC? Demosthenes of Athens

Philip II's burial larnax



It is uncertain if there was a child, but the name Europa is given. Some sources say that Olympias had them burned alive, forced to hang themselves, or dragged over a burning brazier. While the method is not clear, the result is all the same. 39 In Vergina (Aegae), the box (larnax) holding Philip IIs remains is on display in the museum there.


Chapter V
Alexanders March: Granicus to Siwa

1. Captain-General of Greece
As soon as Alexander became king, the revolt of Macedonian rule broke out in the cities of Athens and Thebes, along with all of Thessaly. Alexander acted quickly and headed south to subdue Thessaly, and then sped on south through the Gates of Thermopylae. The speed of his reaction silenced all opposition, for now. Arriving in Corinth, he was pronounced the CaptainGeneral of Greece, as his father had been.


While he was in Corinth, Alexander sought out the philosopher, Diogenes of Sinope. Diogenes was in his late 70s, and was a founder of the Cynic philosophy, whose believers said that honor was better in action than theory. He thought the ideal animal was not man, but a dog, which never betrays, always acts out of honesty, and never jealousy or greed. In fact, the word Cynic is derived from the Greek word for dog ( ). Diogenes had spent his life mocking Plato and Athenian society, along with those whom he considered vain and without merit. He ate in the marketplace, which was contrary to the custom of the times. When scolded for this behavior, he replied that is was in the marketplace when he was most hungry. The next time you find yourself in the fruit section of your local grocery store, be a Diogenes and eat a grape before you get to the register. The philosopher was also seen walking around during the daytime, lamp in hand, saying he was looking for an honest man. He had an intense desire to mock Plato, and brought him a plucked chicken. He proudly said, Behold, Ive brought you a man! Platos definition of man was flightless bipeds and it was Diogenes way of mocking Platos arrogance.40 The philosopher lived in perpetual poverty, and was in Corinth when he and Alexander met. As Plutarch recounts: While he stayed here, many public ministers and philosophers came from all parts to visit him and congratulated him on his election, but contrary to his expectation, Diogenes of Sinope, who then was living at Corinth, thought so little of him, that instead of coming to compliment him, he never so much as stirred out of the suburb called the Cranium, where Alexander found him lying along in the sun. When he saw so much company near him, he raised himself a little, and looked upon Alexander; and when he kindly asked him whether he wanted anything, "Yes," said he, "I would have you stand from between me and the sun." Alexander was so struck at this answer, and surprised at the greatness of the man, who had taken so little notice of him, that as he went away he told his followers, who were laughing at the moroseness of the philosopher, that if he were not Alexander, he would choose to be Diogenes.

Plato was recounting the definition as originally told by Socrates, his teacher.


Alexander had everything, and Diogenesnothing. However, both men saw in each other a man who could call his own shots. They may have been radically different, but each was his own alpha male. While in Corinth, Alexander received word that revolt had broken out with the Illyrians and the Thracians in the north. With great rapidity he marched and defeated the rebellious tribes, and when Alexanders army went deep into the north and was not heard from, Athens and Thebes thought him dead. Encouraged by Demosthenes, they threw off the Macedonian yoke and declared themselves free. To their shock, Alexander returned from his northern campaign and marched on Thebes. The Thebans rejected Alexanders demand to hand over the ring leaders of the revolt in exchange for clemency. They decided to resist, fatally. The historian Diodorus Siculus recounts the fall of the city: In the capture of the city, no Theban was seen begging the Macedonians to spare his life, nor did they in ignoble fashion fall and cling to the knees of their conquerors. But neither did the agony of courage elicit pity from the foe nor did the day's length suffer for the cruelty of their vengeance. All the city was pillaged. Everywhere boys and girls were dragged into captivity as they wailed piteously the names of their mothers. In the end, when night finally intervened, the houses had been plundered and children and women and aged persons who had fled into the temples were torn from sanctuary and subjected to outrage without limit. Over 6,000 Thebans perished, more than 30,000 were captured, and the amount of property plundered was unbelievable. There was only one place that was left untouched; the house of the poet Pindar, for whom Alexander had a fondness. The actual destruction of the city was left to Alexanders allies and the cities near Thebes. A Thracian general and his men found a woman named Timoclea, a Theban noblewoman and sister to the general who fell at Chaeronea.41 She was raped by the Thracian commander, and then asked if she had any hidden money. She led him to a well, and when he looked in, she shoved him over the edge to his death. The other soldiers brought her before Alexander, who promptly ordered Timocleas release when he learned what had happened.42

41 42

The Theban commander, Theagenes. Alexander had a strict policy of not allowing his soldiers to rape the inhabitants of a captured city.


2. Alexanders Generals
Upon the death of his father, Alexander inherited the finest army in Greece, if not the entire world at that time. His phalanx was deadly with its long sarissae, and the Macedonian cavalry was lethally strong. The phalanx would engage the enemy, while the cavalry would circle around and smash it from behind; often historians describe this as a hammer and anvil tactic of the Macedonians. Alexander personally led the Companion Cavalry on the right wing, while Parmenio led the allies on the left. Parmenio was Philips most trusted general, and now stood at Alexanders side, ready to fight despite being 64-years-old. Age had only made Parmenio tougher and wiser. Cleitus the Black, called that because of his hair, was 39 and a junior officer in Philips army in 336 BC. He too would follow Alexander into Asia, along with Parmenios three sons; Philotas, Nicanor and Hector. Alexander recalled some of his closest friends, whom Philip had exiled the year before he was murdered. Some of them included Erigyius, Nearchus and Ptolemy, all of whom served as Alexanders hetairoi (literally companions) and became commanders within his army. It is with this group of close friends and elder advisors that Alexander marched to war in the spring of 334 BC. However, he sent the Macedonian army on ahead to cross the Hellespont into Asia while he himself made a special visit to Troy.

3. Trojan Pilgrimage
When Alexander neared the shores of Asia Minor, a bull was sacrificed in honor of Poseidon. This was a display of his strong religious belief in the gods. It was also a rebuttal to Xerxes whipping the waters of the Hellespont during his crossing into Greece in 480 BC. One must remember that Philips reason for invading Asia, at least to appease the Greek sentiment, was revenge for the Persian Wars one hundred and forty-four years before and the subsequent burning of Athens. In Greek history, old trespasses were not forgotten. In a manner befitting Achilles, Alexanders ship pulled up on the shore near Troy, and jumping into the water in full battle armor he cast a spear onto the beach. It stuck in the sand, and he loudly claimed Asia for the Greeks. It was, to be sure, a very Homeric image.43

Alexander slept with a copy of the Iliad with him at all times.


Before leaving Troy, Alexander ordered the tomb of Achilles restored, while his closest companion and boyhood friend, Hephaestion, restored the tomb of Patroclus. The message is very clear; the Iliad was not just a story, but a part of his history. Lastly, Alexander decided to go to the temple of Athena, within which were some of the Trojan Wars most famous artifacts. Alexander left his personal shield in the temple, in exchange for the shield of Achilles, the one said to have been made by the god Hephaestus himself.44

Questions and Reflection

51. 52. 53. 54. Who was the founder of the Cynic philosophy? What Greek city rebelled against Alexander? Where did Alexander stop first on his Persian invasion? What book did Alexander always have with him?

Reflection Essay 17. Why would Alexander use so many of his close friends as generals in his army?

4. Memnon of Rhodes and Battle of the Granicus River

Memnon of Rhodes was a very capable Greek general, who was in command of the mercenaries and the Persian defense of Asia Minor. He understood that Alexander did not have enough provisions or money to support a long campaign, and would soon be forced to go back to Macedonia if he did not achieve a battlefield victory. Memnon insisted on avoiding a direct confrontation with Alexander, and instead pushed the Persians to follow a scorched-earth policy, in order to deny the invading force any provisions. However, he was overruled by the Persian satrap and they assembled an army to meet Alexander. There was undoubtedly a bit of Persian suspicion to trust a Greek who was willing to fight against his own people. The Granicus River, located east of Troy, was narrow and fairly shallow at that time of year. It was here on the 3rd of May, 334 BC that the Macedonians faced off against a Persian army for the first time. Parmenio advised an assault on the enemy in the morning of the following day, when a surprise attack could be launched, but instead Alexander immediately


Whether this was the actual shield of Achilles, in the modern factual sense, did not matter to Alexander. To him, it was a living link to Achilles and the gods of the Iliad.


drew up his army for battle. Across the river, the Persians numbered about 25,000 men, almost half of which was cavalry. Darius III was not there, but instead they were commanded by the local satraps in Asia Minor. Alexander needed an immediate victory in order to legitimize his invasion to those back in Greece. Athenians, such as Demosthenes, undoubtedly wanted to hear that Alexanders invasion was not going well, thereby providing an opportunity to raise a rebellion against Macedonian hegemony over Greece. Alexander also needed a quick victory at the Granicus River in order to pay his soldiers with the victory spoils, since he could not afford a long campaign. On the battlefield, the Greek mercenaries were arranged on a bluff in the rear of the Persian army, with the cavalry drawn up on the bank overlooking the river. While the Persians had superior numbers in cavalry (10,000 to Alexanders 5,000), the Macedonians had the advantage with their phalanx.

Alexander was not attempting to blend in with his army; dressed in his shining armor and with prominent white plumes sticking out of his helmet, he was easily recognized on the battlefield. The Persians, spotting Alexander, massed their cavalry opposite him and the Companions, while Parmenio commanded the left wing and the Macedonian allies. Launching the attack, Alexander led the Companion Cavalry and the phalanx across the river.


Guy MacLean Rogers, in his book, Alexander: The Ambiguity of Greatness, describes the chaos of the battle, and how Alexander was right in the middle.

Mithrdates, the son-in-law of the Persian king, led a second Persian charge, this time directed at Alexander himself, who by now was up and out of the riverbed, on the east side of the river. Alexander rode out to meet Mithrdates and struck him in the face with his spear. The brothers Rhoesaces and Spithridates then rode after Alexander. Rhoesaces sliced off part of Alexanders helmet with his scimitar, slightly wounding him; Alexander killed him with a spear thrust through his cuirass. Spithridates now raised his scimitar, ready to strike a fatal blow at Alexander from behind. But Cleitussevered Spithridates arm at the shoulder with a single blow.45

Alexanders fortune at Granicus truly seemed like the gods were watching from above. Now, the Macedonian phalanx spotted an opening in the Persian cavalry formation, exploited it, and routed them from the battlefield. As for the Greek mercenaries, Alexander gave them no quarter. He ordered his infantry to advance and slaughter them without mercy, sending a clear message to all Greeks who would fight against their own countrymen. Memnon of Rhodes managed to get away, and made plans to continue the Persian resistance. As for casualties, the Macedonians lost a few hundred men, while the Persians suffered roughly 4,000 dead. However, the Greek mercenaries were devastated, with 3,000 slaughtered and another 2,000 being sent into slavery. As a final and somewhat stinging gesture of this victory, Alexander ordered 300 suits of Persian armor sent back to Athens. They were inscribed, Alexander, son of Philip, and the Greeks, except the Spartans, dedicate these spoils, taken from the barbarians who dwell in Asia. Alexander, like his father, had found it best to leave Sparta alone and not invade the Peloponnese. It would have been a snowy day in Tartarus before Alexander begged them to join his invasion of Persia. The number of shields sent to Athens was a clear snub of the famous Spartan sacrifice at Thermopylae. Again, Alexander was not one to forget those who had crossed his path.


Rodgers: 47.


5. Ionian Freedom
Now that the Persian forces were shattered at Granicus, Alexander began the process of taking cities along the Ionian coast. Marching south, the Persian governor of Sardis surrendered the city without a shot. One hundred and sixty-four years before, in 498 BC, Athens had helped during the Ionian Revolt and Sardis had been burned to the ground by the rebels. That interference, remember, had kicked off Darius and Xerxes Persian invasions of Greece and the subsequent burning of Athens in revenge for Sardis in 480 BC. Now, the city was under the 22year-olds control as he continued to march his Macedonian army south.

As Alexander approached Ephesus, the citys inhabitants threw open the gates and welcomed their liberator, having expelled the Persian garrison. While the Ephesians declined any financial assistance to help rebuild the Temple of Artemis, he did re-allocate Persian funds to the temple itself. Once the democratic institutions were re-established, Alexander continued down the Ionian coast. It was at this time that other cities, spurred on by Alexanders success, rebelled and threw out their own Persian garrisons. Alexander had shown the Ionian city-states that he was there as their liberator, not their conqueror.


This map shows the current shoreline, which has silted up since antiquity due to the Meander River.

The Macedonians now approached the powerful harbor-city of Miletus and quickly seized the nearby island of Lade, which stopped the Persians from sending their fleet into the harbor. Miletus had been the most famous and prosperous of the Ionian city-states, and claimed a resettlement by Athenian colonists during the Dark Ages. Now, Alexanders army approached the landward walls and laid siege to the city. The defenders fiercely resisted, but their defense fell apart when the Macedonian siege engines breached a section of the wall. Alexander spared the Miletus population, with the exception of those who fought against the Macedonians.



View to the northeast of Miletus. The flat, green land out beyond is the silted plain of the Meander River.

View of the ruins to the southwest of Miletus, from the top of the Greek amphitheatre.


6. The Oracle of Didyma

From Miletus, a Sacred Road ran south 10 miles to the town of Didyma (modern Didim) and a Temple of Apollo that was the religious focus of the city. It was an oracle, similar to the Oracle of Delphi on the Greek mainland, and was also sacred to the god Apollo. In 494 BC the Persians destroyed the temple en route to Greece, and looted the treasury inside. In the heart of the temple was a sacred spring to Apollo, which symbolically dried up after the temples destruction by the Persians. In addition, a famous statue of Apollo was carried off as a war prize to the city of Ecbatana, deep within the Persian Empire. According to the historian Callisthenes,46 as Alexander and his Macedonian army passed Didyma, the spring once again bubbled. Apollo approved.

The Temple of Apollo in Didim, Turkey.


Aristotles great-nephew and Alexanders official historian that traveled with the army.


7. Fall of Halicarnassus
After the Persian fleet was unable to help the defense of Miletus, Alexander approached the heavily fortified city of Halicarnassus, now the modern city of Bodrum. Before marching on the city, Alexander boldly decommissioned his fleet and sent them back home. He had 160 ships at his command, compared to the Persian navy which numbered around 400 ships, but while the Macedonian navy had helped in the defeat of Miletus, the city had actually fallen from the landward side and his siege towers. Alexander now saw his own fleet as a constriction on his campaign, realizing that his aim of liberating Ionia could be achieved by his army alone.47 As long as Alexander deprived the Persian navy of friendly
The Myndus Gate of Halicarnassus

ports, then they could not pose a threat. In other wordscheckmate. It was now the late summer of 334 BC, and Alexanders army fought a hard, four-month siege of Halicarnassus, the last major Persian stronghold in Ionia.48 The Macedonian siege engines were brought from Miletus, and a deep ditch in front of the citys wall was filled in to make way for the towers. The walls surrounding the city were broad and wide, and Macedonian assaults were initially repulsed. Diodorus gives us an account of the sieges ferocity:

Alexander encamped near the city and set in motion an active and formidable siege. At first he made continued assaults on the walls with relays of attackers and spent whole days in active fighting. Later he brought up all sorts of engines of war, filled in the trenches in front of the city with the aid of sheds to protect


Diodorus Siculus states that the 20 ships from Athens, along with the bulk of the remaining, were sent home. Only a few ships were kept for transporting the siege engines. 48 Halicarnassus was the birthplace of the famous historian Herodotus.


the workers, and rocked the towers and the curtains between them with his battering rams. Whenever he overthrew a portion of the wall, he attempted by hand-to-hand fighting to force an entry into the city over the rubble. But Memnon at first easily beat off the Macedonians assaulting the walls, for he had large numbers of men in the city. Where the siege engines were attacking, he issued from the city at night with numbers of soldiers and applied fire to the machines. Fierce fights occurred in front of the city, in which the Macedonians showed far superior prowess, but the Persians had the advantage of numbers and of fire power.49

The fighting was so savage that Alexander even had to ask for a truce in order to collect the dead for burial. The Persian fleet kept the city supplied, so it was on the landward side where Alexanders siege engines had to force a breakthrough. The citys defense was personally led by Memnon of Rhodes, but when he realized that Halicarnassus would fall, he fled. Alexander left 3,000 soldiers behind to ensure that the city remained loyal, and he and the army proceeded along the southern coast of Asia Minor, mopping up what resistance was left. Asia Minor was no longer in Persian hands. Memnon attempted to raise support within Athens and Sparta for a revolt, and began subjugating islands in the Aegean. Luckily for Alexander, Memnon died of illness while at Mytilene and the Persian resistance along the coast fell apart without his leadership.

Questions and Reflection

55. 56. 57. 58. Who was the Greek general that fought for Persia against Alexander? Who saves Alexanders life at Granicus? What city threw out its Persian garrison before Alexander arrived? Why was Alexander taking coastal cities in Ionia?

Reflection Essay 18. What events at the Battle of the Granicus River could support an argument that Alexander was beloved by the gods? 19. Memnon of Rhodes can almost be considered a tragic military figure. Why?


Book XVII, 24.


8. The Gordium Knot

In 333 BC Alexander left his army, which was continuing across the southern coast, in order to visit the town of Gordium in the center of Asia Minor. This provides yet another glimpse into Alexanders belief in the importance of religious verification of his campaign and his own destiny. Long before, a peasant named Gordias entered the city with his ox-cart. It had been foretold by an oracle that whoever should enter with this type of cart should be proclaimed king of that city. Gordias lucked out, became king, and named the city after himself. As for the cart, it was dedicated to the gods by his son, Midas.50 It had a large knot of extremely intricate wool, with its ends tucked inside so there was no visible way to pull it apart. The local legend was that whoever was able to un-tie the knot would become the master of all Asia. As Alexander stared at the knot, legend says one of two things happened. The first, and more widespread account, is that Alexander drew his sword and cut the knot in half, causing it to fall open. He then declared that no mention was made how the knot was to be un-done. The second version is that he pulled the pin of the wagons yoke out, letting the knot fall open. Whichever version is to be believed, it does show one critical detail about Alexanders mind; if there were two choices available in order to solve a problem, he would create a third. Alexander rejoined his army and marched along the coast, leaving his wounded at the town of Issus, and headed south down the Phoenician shoreline towards Egypt. It was at this point that word reached him that Darius III, the Persian King, had set out from Babylon with a huge army. Leading the Persian army himself, Darius meant to meet Alexander and crush the Macedonians and re-take Asia Minor from the young upstart.


This Midas is the same figure in Greek mythology who could turn everything he touched into gold.


9. The Battle of Issus

The Great King Darius had amassed an enormous army, with a modern estimate of 200,000 men and 10,000 cavalry.51 Darius seems to have thought that Alexander was going to cross over the mountains and lead an assault on the Persian heartland, but was surprised that the Macedonians were instead heading south towards Egypt. Darius passed through the Amanic Gates (remember that gates means a narrow gap in a mountain range) and descended on the town of Issus. Alexander had left the wounded and sick in the city, and now Darius ordered all their hands cut offan act of barbarism that would come back to haunt the Persians. Darius and his army were now behind Alexanders army, which was still heading south. This was an extremely dangerous position for Alexander, as his supply line was now cut, and the Persians might once again have access to their fleet along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean. Alexander immediately turned his army 180 degrees and marched north, meeting Darius at the Pinarus River just south of Issus. The Persian army was on the north side of the river, and was restricted from full deployment, since there were mountains in the east and the Mediterranean Sea in the west. Alexander brought with him about 40,000 infantry and 5,800 cavalry, arranged on the south side of the Pinarus opposite the Persians. Parmenio once again commanded the Macedonian left wing, with orders to hold the Persian cavalry, which were at least twice their number. Alexander commanded the Companions on the right, while the phalanx comprised the center.

According to the historian Curtius Rufus. Arrian and Plutarchs numbers of 600,000 are unlikely.


Darius held the Persian place of honor in the center of his army, with his Greek hoplite mercenaries directly in front, and his Royal Cavalry guarding him. On Darius own left he positioned his archersthe one weak link in the battle plan that Alexander would exploit. On the right, the Persian cavalry opened the battle by charging across the shallow river into the left wing under Parmenio. It was up to the elder general to hold the Persian cavalry charge while Alexander attacked on the right flank. A small Persian force tried to go around the Macedonian right wing, but was driven back into the hills. As soon as the Persian archers let loose a volley of missiles, Alexander and the Companion Cavalry charged hard across the Pinarus. The archers were not ready for such an aggressive attack and scattered. In the center, the phalanx found that the northern bank of the river was slightly elevated, and they were having great difficulty holding their lines intact against the Persian onslaught. A gap opened in the Macedonian line, and the fighting escalated as the Persians tried to exploit it. The Greek mercenaries knew that after Granicus no forgiveness would be given by the Macedonians, and the Macedonians knew that capture meant torture and death like those left behind at Issus. The Greek mercenaries fought fiercely, but gave way once they saw that Alexander was rapidly approaching from their left now that the Persian archers scattered. Alexander went straight for Darius. Diodorus states:

Alexander cast his glance in all directions in his anxiety to see Darius, and as soon as he had identified him, he drove hard with his cavalry at the king himself, wanting not so much to defeat the Persians as to win the victory with his own hands. By now the rest of the cavalry on both sides was engaged and many were killed as the battle raged indecisively because of the evenly matched fighting qualities of the two sides.52

The Macedonians went like madmen for Darius. Oxathres, brother of Darius, killed many a Macedonian as he and the other royal bodyguard bravely protected the Great King. Alexander took a spear to his leg, while the bodies of both armies piled up all around the royal chariot. Darius horses were covered in wounds and threatened to go wild, so he took up the reigns of the chariot himself and fled the battlefield. Seeing their king fleeing, the Persian attack now

Book XVII, 33.


completely fell apart and a rout ensued. The battle lasted less than a half-hour. Now thousands of Persian infantry were cut down by the Macedonian cavalry in the aftermath. Only nightfall ended the Persian slaughter. The number of casualties at Issus were horrifying and vastly different. If we believe Diodorus, the Persians brought 400,000 infantry and 100,000 cavalry to the battle, while they lost 100,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry. These numbers seem to modern historians both unrealistic and exaggerated both in how many the Persians had, and how many they lost. Diodorus then states that the Macedonians lost just 300 infantry and 150 cavalry. Even if we take ancient bias into account, it is still clear that the Battle of Issus was an unmitigated disaster for the Persians.

Alexander Mosaic from Pompeii, 100 BC


When the Macedonians entered the Persian camp after the battle they found the royal attendants preparing Darius bath for his return, not knowing the defeat the Persians had just suffered. Women came screaming from the tents, bewailing their fate and that of their men, while 3,000 talents of gold and silver were found.53 It was the Persian custom to bring your family with you on campaign, and Alexander found Darius mother, wife, two daughters, and young son. The Great King had not returned to camp, but fled to Babylon in order to raise a new army. Thinking that Darius was dead, his mother, Sisygambis, openly lamented his death. Word was brought to them that he was still alive, and that they were safe from harm. The next morning Alexander and Hephaestion, his closest friend, and others officers went to see the royal family. Hephaestion was taller and more handsome than Alexander, which prompted Sisygambis to greet him mistakenly as the Macedonian king. Realizing her mistake, she tried to embarrassingly correct herself, but Alexander said, He too is Alexander. After the dead were buried, Alexander and his army continued south. For seven months they laid siege to the Phoenician island fortress of Tyre. Alexander could not march past and leave this powerful city-state and sea-port behind his line of march. While part of the city was on land, the main portion was an island a mile off the coast. The island-city had walls that went all the way down to the waterline, affording an attacker no foothold to land troops by ship. Mother-city to the powerful colony of Carthage in North Africa, the Tyrians were not going to be bullied. Friendly negotiations broke down, and the Tyrians executed the Macedonian ambassadors on their second attempt at negotiations. The Macedonians were put on the walls of the island, had their throats cut, and dumped into the sea below. The Tyrians had made a fatal mistake. Alexander began his attack by having a mole built out to the island; a mole is an earthen
53 th

3,000 talents of silver equals 201,000 lbs, which at the July 5 2011 value is worth almost $114 million dollars.


causeway thats man-made. As it was being constructed, the Tyrians made sorties at night to attack the mole and burn it. A second mole was built, and the siege towers were yet again brought up to provide protection. At this time the island of Cyprus sent 120 ships to Alexanders aid, and other allies brought the total up to 223 warships under his command. The Tyrians were cut off. Once the mole reached the island, the wall was breached during an all-out Macedonian assault from both land and sea. Alexander was one of the first to enter the city, which fell quickly once the defenses were breached; 8,000 were killed and 30,000 of the 40,000 Tyrians were sold into slavery. Those that sought shelter in the temple of Herakles were spared, including their king. Thousands of Tyrians were crucified in retribution for the execution of the ambassadors and their resistance during the siege. Carthage could not come to her mothercitys aid in time.

After the siege of Tyre, the mole remained, and the silting up around it has permanently attached the island to the mainland.


10. On to Egypt
After the successful siege of Tyre, Alexander continued down the coast, taking the city of Gaza and its important position along the spice trade with the east.54 Next, the city of Jerusalem avoided a siege by opening its gates to the approaching Macedonians. Crossing the Sinai Peninsula in late 332 BC, Alexander, aged 24, entered the Egyptian capital of Memphis as a liberator. The riches of Egypt were legendary, and this brought tremendous wealth and power to Alexander. Even though there was no Persian army in Egypt to fight, Alexander was nonetheless very busy. He traveled west of the Nile Delta, and picked out the site for a great city to be built in his name: Alexandria. This city would increase its population, power and influence at an astonishing rate, and would be a cultural and intellectual hub of the ancient world within three centuries of its founding.


The siege of Gaza lasted two months.


Once Alexander personally laid out the design for the new city, he rode with his closest companions out into the desert to the Oasis of Siwa. After four days in the dry, arid desert, Alexander and his men were saved from dehydration by a sudden rainstorm. The rareness and timing of the event was seen as divine intervention.55 Once he arrived at Siwa, Alexander approached the priests of the oracle, and was greeted by the priests not as Alexander, son of Philip, but as Alexander, son of Zeus Ammon. Zeus Ammon was a blending of the Egyptian chief deity, Ammon, and those characteristics that the Greeks identified with Zeus. After bringing Egypt under his control, coins sometimes depicted Alexander having rams horns; a physical characteristic of Zeus Ammon. Whether by mistake or planning, the 25-year-old general was just told he was a living god on earth.

Questions and Reflection

59. 60. 61. 62. What was the name of the town that Alexander un-tied the knot? What year was the Battle of Issus? What members of Darius family did Alexander capture at Issus? How long was the siege of Tyre?

Reflection Essay 20. Explain what Alexanders military policy was regarding the Persian fleet. 21. Imagine you are Alexander just after Siwa. Reflecting back on your life, why might you believe that you were the son of Zeus Ammon?


Shortly after, Alexanders party became lost, but were saved by some cawing crows that pointed a way to the oasis.


Chapter VI
Alexanders March: Gaugamela to Death

1. Battle of Gaugamela
Once Alexander made his way back from Siwa (of course by a different route), he set out with his army to again confront Darius.56 He marched back up to Tyre in order to meet the fleet, and released the 2,000 Athenian mercenaries that he had been holding captive since Granicus two years earlier. The Athenians had requested their release, and back in Greece the Spartan King Agis was leading a rebellion in the Peloponnesus and on the island of Crete. The Athenians only needed an excuse to join the revolt, and it seemed prudent to Alexander to keep Athens friendly by releasing the prisoners. Alexander sent more ships back to Greece, which combined with the forces under Antipater and succeeded in crushing the Spartans and all opposition. 57

56 57

Hector, one of Parmenios three sons drowned in the Nile before setting out for Persia. Alexander had left Antipater as the Macedonian regent during his absence.


Darius had not been idle since his disaster at Issus. He could explain both defeats; he was not in command at Granicus, while at Issus the terrain did not suit his vastly larger army. The Persian army was squeezed between the mountains and the Mediterranean, and could not properly deploy. Now Darius took chance out of the equation. A defense of Babylon was not feasible, especially since the siege of Tyre. Darius marched his army north to a large, flat plain in front of the Zagros Mountains. Any holes in the battlefield were filled in, and trees were cut down. Nature would bow before the plans of the Great King. The honor of the Achaemenid Dynasty and Persia would be avenged at Gaugamelaor so Darius thought. As Alexander marched east, a messenger arrived from the Great King with an offer: the hand of his daughter, Stateria II, in marriage, along with 30,000 talents of silver and control of all the lands west of the Euphrates River. It was an offer that was beyond what his father could ever have imagined. As Alexander held a council with his generals, he told them what Darius offered. Parmenio spoke, and insisted that he take the offer. Alexander replied, I would, if I were Parmenio. As the messenger arrived back to Darius, he not only learned that Alexander refused his offer, but that his wife, Stateria Isaid to have been the most beautiful woman on earthhad recently died. It had been nearly two years since Darius had seen his wife. However, she did not die from illness, but during childbirth.58 Ever since Issus, Alexander had kept Darius family with him in his camp as his army moved on campaign. Darius had even thanked Alexander for his kind treatment of his mother, Sisygambisthat acknowledgement would come back to bitterly haunt him. Alexander understood that he could not march on Babylon, because doing so would expose him to attack from Darius in the north, so he had no choice but to march to where Darius was waiting with his army. Alexander crossed the Tigris River at a fordable location upstream as the Persians scorched the land across the river. Alexander marched a few miles from the Persian army and made camp, giving his troops some much needed rest. The number of Persians that Darius had assembled can scarcely be believed. Diodorus says that the Great King brought 200,000 cavalry and 800,000 infantry, while Curtius Rufus puts the number at 200,000 infantry and 45,000 cavalry. Both historians also mention that scythed chariots were brought, some 200 in number. These were war chariots with long blades protruding out of each wheel, meant for cutting down infantry. Whatever the numerical differences of each author,


Rumor had circulated that Staterias lover was actually Alexander.


Darius had brought a massive army to the battlefield. The number of Persian cavalry was vastly increased, which was on more favorable ground than at Issus. By comparison, Alexander had with him 40,000 infantry and 7,000 cavalry. On the night of September 30th there was a total eclipse of the Moon, which the Persians took as an ill-omen. Alexander led a scouting party to Darius position, and was stunned at the size of the Persian host. It was vast. Alexander returned to camp and immediately called his generals together for a meeting. Parmenio and Alexander both agreed that more needed to be learned about the Persian army, so scouts were sent to reconnoiter. When word was brought about the terrain and formations, Alexander issued his orders for the following day, exhorting his men to follow orders and avoid individual heroics. Afterwards, Parmenio suggested a surprise attack on the Persian army at night, but Alexander said that he would not be robbed of the glory this victory would bring by something so unpredictable as night. Darius, aware that Alexanders army was close, drew up his army in battle formation. Since there was recently a Full Moon, its glow would provide a faint light most of the night, rising shortly after sunset. Darius troops spent the night staring off into the distance, straining to see the Macedonians. They never came.

At dawn the next day, Parmenio was forced to go into Alexanders tent in order to wake him, as he overslept. The old general was incredulous that Alexander was still soundly asleep on the day of battle. But Alexander was confident, stating that he had already won. As the battle


formation of the Macedonians took shape, the vast numerical difference became overwhelmingly apparent. The Persian battle line stretched roughly 2 miles, overlapping the Macedonians at either end. In fact, Alexander anticipated this; on his left wing Parmenio commanded the allied cavalry, with orders to stop the wave of Persian cavalry that would advance on his position. The old general was outnumbered at least six to one. However, the phalanx was arrayed in a formation that puzzled the Persians. From the center to Parmenio, the left wing echeloned away, thereby giving a bigger gap from Parmenio to the Persians than the center (see the picture on the previous page). Alexander was borrowing a page from his fathers old teacher, Epaminondas of Thebes. At the Battle of Leuctra, Epaminondas used the echelon formation to delay the contact of his left wing of his army with the Spartan right, now Alexander did the same with the Persians. He needed time, and that gap would give him the precious moments required. Knowing that his line was likely to be outflanked, Alexander had placed a reserve of phalanx in the rear, with orders to stop the Persians from rolling up the Macedonian line in case they got around Parmenio. On the right, Alexander again led the Companion Cavalry. By comparison, Darius placed himself in the center of his army, and issued the command for his chariots to attack. The 200 scythed chariots rushed out to the Macedonian lines, but Alexander had thought of that as well and planned accordingly. The historian Arrian states: Yet some got right through the ranks; for the men stood apart and opened their ranks, as they had been instructed, in the places where the chariots assaulted them. In this way it generally happened that the chariots passed through safely, and the men by whom they were driven were uninjured. But these also were


afterwards overpowered by the grooms of Alexander's army and by the royal shield-bearing guards.59

Alexanders phalanx were ready to open ranks and allow the chariots to pass through, only to be brought down afterwards by lightly-armed troops. Darius key weapon at the outset of the battle was a total failure. On the left, Parmenio was facing a hard fight, and his lines were not able to completely hold off the numerically superior Persians. Instead of rolling up the Macedonian line, some of the Persian cavalry rode on to Alexanders camp, where they came upon Darius mother, Sisygambis. They urged the great mother to come with them and return to her son, which she had not seen since Issus two years before. She refused to go and leave Alexander. Darius had lost his wife in childbirth, and now his mother had disowned him. It was now that Alexander launched his key attack. Much to the confusion of Darius and Bessus, his cousin and commander of the Persian cavalry on the left wing, Alexander and the Macedonian cavalry appeared to move off the battlefield to the east. From the Persian perspective, they moved left, nearly parallel with the battle lines. Bessus matched Alexanders move, and the two cavalry wings moved in tandem. Behind the Macedonian cavalry skirmishers were running to keep pace with the cavalry, unseen by the Persians. At a full gallop Alexander turned 140 degrees and raced into the gap that now opened up in the Persian line since Bessus pulled away from the Persian center. The Macedonian skirmishers came out and harassed the Persian cavalry that tried to turn and stop Alexanders charge. In a wedge formation the Companions rode hard straight at Darius, just as they had done at Issus. The fighting was fierce, and sixty of the Companions fell and many were wounded, including Hephaestion. The Great King panicked and fled the battlefield, eventually leaving his golden chariot and bow behind again. But the battle was not yet won, as Parmenio

Anabasis, Book III.11.


was near defeat on the left wing. Pressing the advantage, Alexander helped complete the Persian route. The Persian king had fled east, knowing that a defense of Babylon, Susa and Persepolis were no longer possible, and that Alexander was more likely to capture the cities than pursue him. Darius was right. The casualties of Gaugamela are hard to believe, even if ancient exaggeration is to be taken into account. Arrian states that 300,000 Persians died, while the Macedonians lost only 100 men. Diodorus says that 90,000 Persians fell, compared to 500 Macedonians, while even the cautious Curtius puts the number at 300 Macedonian dead, while the Persians lost 40,000 men. No matter how you try and sugarcoat it, this effectively destroyed the military capability of the Persian Empire. Alexander was only twenty-five.

2. Babylon, Susa and Persepolis

After burying the dead and resting his army, Alexander marched on the city of Ecbatana. There he found the statue of Apollo that the Persians had taken from the Temple of Apollo in Didyma during the Persian Wars over a century ago. Proceeding south, Alexander then marched on Babylon, with its famous Ishtar Gate opened for the Macedonians as a sign of no resistance. Mazaeus, commander of the Persian right wing that fought against Parmenio, surrendered the city to Alexander. The Macedonians stayed for a month, enjoying all the pleasures that Babylon had to offer. The city had been conquered many times in the past, and they knew how to please their newest rulers.60 After receiving reinforcements from Greece, Alexander rapidly covered the 225 miles to Susa in 20 days, and arrived to find the city awaiting his arrival. Susa, the political heart of the Persian Empire, fell without a shot. Entering the royal hall, Alexander sat on Darius throne, his legs dangling above the floor; a reminder that Alexander was only 56 tall, while Darius was

The Ishtar Gate in the British Museum

It was custom for Babylonian men to have strangers have sex with their wives, as long as they were paid.


well over 6 feet. More significantly, Alexander came into possession of the royal treasury, which was staggering. Diodorus says 40,000 talents of gold and silver were captured, which amounts to 2,680,000 pounds. At current market value (just silver), that means the royal treasury was worth over $1.5 billion dollars. Alexander paid bonuses to the army, upwards of a years salary, and rewards were given to all those cities that fought against the Persians during Darius I and Xerxes invasions.61 Two famous statues were also recovered from the Susa treasury, which were taken by Xerxes during the burning of Athens. They were sent back, as a reminder to the Athenians of the purpose of Alexanders march. Lastly, before setting out, Alexander left Darius mother, daughters and son back in Susa, where they were to receive a Greek education and continue enjoying the benefits of their royal rank. The Persians tried to hold off Alexander from Persepolis, but as the Macedonians neared the Araxes River, a horrifying sight met them. As historian Guy MacLean Rogers explains:

About 800 Greeks, most of them elderly, came out to greet Alexander, bearing branches of supplication. These Greeks had been carried away from their homes by previous Persian kings and in captivity had been taught skills or crafts. Afterward their captors had mutilated them, amputating all the extremities they did not need to perform their work. Some lacked hands, others feet, some ears and noses. Others had been branded with letters of the Persian alphabet. The battle-hardened veterans of the Macedonian army pitted the lot of these poor wretches; Alexander was said to have been moved to tears.62

61 62

Alexander granted freedom from taxes for the family of any soldier that died under his command. p. 124


These mutilated Greeks asked not to be returned home and face disgrace and ridicule because of their physical deformities. Alexander richly rewarded them, and gave orders to ensure they were taken care of for the rest of their days. In the spring of 330 BC the Macedonians entered Persepolis, the religious heart of the Persian Empire, and seat of power of the Persian kings for centuries. Here, Alexander claimed another 120,000 talents and riches beyond measure63. It was here that the Macedonians were allowed to vent their frustration on the Persians. As at Thebes, rape was forbidden, but beyond that his troops killed, stole and burned all in sight except the royal palace. Before leaving Persepolis, Alexander held a dinner banquet and games. After copious celebrating, an Athenian woman named Thais (with the approval of Alexander) grabbed a torch and walked into a room of the royal palace. Famed for their beautiful wooden columns, intricate art and sumptuous tapestries, the Persian royal palace was magnificent. As revenge for Xerxes burning of the temple of Athena on the Acropolis in 480 BC, Thais flung the torch, starting a conflagration that destroyed the palace to cinders. The burning of Persepolis was all about one word: revenge. After Persepolis, Alexander continued his pursuit of Darius into the northern satrapies of Media and Parthia.
Ruins of Persepolis in Iran

The former Great King, devoid of an army, a family, and of hope, was now betrayed by Bessus. Alexanders scouts found Darius by a riverbed, mortally wounded from a spear thrust from one of his former officers. He weakly asked for water, and the Macedonian scout filled his helmet from the river. Darius took a drink, then died. When Alexander saw the body of the Great King, he took off his own cloak and covered the body. Afterwards, he was given a resplendent burial, worthy of the kings of Persia, and was entombed with the other Achaemenid kings of the Persian Empire at Persepolis.


120,000 talents is worth 4.6 billion dollars.


Tomb of Darius III (on right)

Questions and Reflection

63. 64. 65. 66. What was the name of Darius cousin who commanded the left wing of the Persian army? Name the three important cities Alexander captured after Gaugamela? Which of the three cities was the political capital of the Persian Empire? Why was Persepolis such an important city to the Persians?

Reflection Essay 22. What makes Gaugamela one of the most decisive battles in the ancient world? 23. How is the death of the Taliban leader, Osama Bin Laden, similar to the death of Darius?


3. Were Not Going Home?

After the death of Darius, Alexanders men expected to go home. The Persian Empires power was shattered, the Great King was dead, and they had more wealth and power than any Greek had ever dreamed of. Marching east, Alexander led his army into the furthest reaches of the Persian Empire. All were not happy with this choice. In October 330 BC Alexander had Philotas, the last surviving son of Parmenio, executed.64 Believed to have taken part in a plot on his life, Alexander had him put to death, along with any others thought to be involved. Fearing revenge for the execution of his son, Alexander sent messengers to Parmenio, who had been left at Susa. Handing Parmenio a false letter from Philotas, the messengers became assassins, killing the 70-year-old general on the spot. Alexander was no longer loved by all.


Nicanor, Parmenios last son, had died of disease during the chase for Darius.


4. The Branchidae and Bessus

Alexander continued exploring and conquering lands to the east, founding Alexandrias along the way.65 In 329 BC the Macedonians crossed the Hindu Kush Mountains, the legendary location where Prometheus was chained and tormented by Zeus for giving man the knowledge of fire. While pursuing Bessus across the Oxus River (in modern Uzbekistan), Alexander came across a town inhabited by the Branchidae, descendants of the priests from the Oracle of Apollo at Didyma. When Xerxes captured Miletus and Didyma in the Second Persian War, he ordered the priests to surrender the temples treasury. The priests submitted, and they were sent back into Persia along with the temples treasury. Now, Alexander held a council on what do to with the descendents of the traitors. Xerxes invasion was not just a military expedition, but a religious war against the Greeks as well. The priests actions with the Persians amounted to heresy in Greek eyes. It was decided that the entire male population would be killed, and the women and children sold into slavery; the town was then razed to the ground. Soon after, Bessus was handed over to Ptolemy by the Persians, and brought before Alexander. The young Macedonian was now ruler of both the Greek and Persian world, and now acted out of respect for Persian custom. He was whipped for his treachery to Darius, then handed over to Darius brother, Oxathres, who fought at Issus and now served Alexander. According to Persian custom, Oxathres had Bessus ears and nose cut off, and was crucified and shot full of arrows. Alexander was now the undisputed king.

5. Death of Cleitus
In fall of 328 BC, while in the northern satrapy of Bactria, Alexander held a banquet where copious amounts of wine were drunk. At this party, discussion soon raged about Alexanders parentage. Cleitus reminded Alexander of how he saved his life at Granicus, and shouted his dislike at how his Macedonian army was now full of Persian units. He mocked Alexander for accepting the gesture of proskynesis; a custom of Persians prostrating themselves in front of their king. Persian dress, Persian titles and Persian habits, were all too much for

There would be over twenty Alexandrias built. Some still survive, including Kandahar in Afghanistan and the first Alexandria in Egypt.


Cleitus to stomach anymore. Shouting escalated to shoving and turned the banquet room to chaos. In a drunken rage Alexander grabbed a spear and ran Cleitus through, killing him instantly. For three days Alexanders generals put him on suicide watch, as he refused any food or drink. It was becoming very dangerous for anyone to be an old friend of Alexander.66

6. Marriage to Roxane
In 327 BC Alexander fell in love and married a Sogdian princess named Roxane in the city of Samarkand. The marriage, like those of Philip, ended hostilities in that region, allowing Alexander to continue his march into India.67 As Alexander entered India, he faced opposition from King Porus and his army. Alexander was certainly no longer the liberator, but the conqueror. The two armies met at the Hydaspes River now located in modern Pakistan. While the Macedonians had seen elephants at Gaugamela, they appeared to not have been used. At Hydaspes, Porus employed nearly 100 war elephants to devastating effect. Alexander managed to out-flank Porus army and rout it, inflicting over 20,000 casualties. However, Alexander was impressed at Porus bravery and let him continue to rule his kingdom as an ally to Macedon. Sadly, it was also at Hydaspes where Alexanders horse, Bucephalus, died. Historians are not sure if the horse died from wounds or old age (the horse was around twenty-three), but Alexander honored his old friend by building a city in his name, Bucephala.68 It was at this time that Porus confirmed rumors that to the east were many kingdoms with hundreds of thousands of soldiers and thousands of war elephants. Alexander wished to continue, his men did not.


Callisthenes, Aristotles great-nephew and official historian, was thrown into prison in 328 for criticizing Alexanders adoption of Persian customs. He died either from torture or disease. 67 Alexander had produced a child with Barsine, the former wife of Memnon of Rhodes. The child was named Herakles and lived with her mother in Pergamum in Ionia. 68 After Gaugamela, Bucephalus was stolen by some Persian locals. Alexander threatened to execute every male in that satrapy if his horse was not returned. It was.


7. Homeward Bound
Alexander made a passionate speech to his troops, telling them of the lands yet to be conquered, but the Macedonian army refused to go any further. They had marched over fifteen thousand miles, and had been fighting constantly for twelve years. They had travelled farther than Herakles and had not seen home and their loved ones for a very long time. The rumor of even stronger enemies to the east was the proverbial strawthey would not go any further. Alexander and the army now headed southward, following the Indus River to the ocean. Along the way he entered the territory of the Mallians. Town after town fell to Alexander, until the Macedonians found themselves laying siege to one of the last Mallian strongholds. Alexander led the charge himself, grabbing a scaling ladder and climbing up onto the top of the wall. Behind him were three other Macedonians; Peucestas, Leonnatus and Abreas, who quickly followed him up the ladder. When he reached the top of the battlement, Alexander drew his


sword and cleared that section of the wall, killing or smashing the defenders with his shield. As the rest of the army tried to follow them, the ladder broke under their weight. Now, Alexander the three other Macedonians were alone on the wall. Not wishing to die ignominiously from the Mallian archers who were raining arrows on him, Alexander leapt down from the wall into the city. The Mallians, stunned at first by his audacity, charged at him from every direction. Using a nearby tree and wall for protection, Alexander beat back his attackers, while, Peucestas, Leonnatus and Abreas jumped down to his aid. As the Macedonian army watched, all four disappeared from sight, and a panic swept through them. Fear for their commander sent them screaming at the wall with their ladders, in an attempt to get in and rescue their king and comrades. Inside, Abreas immediately was shot in the face with an arrow as he landed. Alexander was then hit in the right breast with an arrow, and fell faint; blood and air gurgled out of the wound.69 After all the years on campaign, Alexander now lay helpless on the ground, appearing to be mortally wounded. Leonnatus tried valiantly to hold back the Mallians amid a shower of missiles as Peucestas protected Alexanders fallen body with his shield. As it happened, Peucestas carried with him the shield of Achilles that Alexander had taken from Troy at the beginning of the campaign. Now the fabled shield of Hephaestus protected the descendant of Achilles in this most desperate of moments. The Macedonian army broke through into the city, and in their madness they left no one alive, neither man, woman or child. Alexander may have pushed them to the breaking point, but the siege of the Mallian city proved that the army still deeply loved their king.

Questions and Reflection

67. 68. 69. 70. Who did Alexander have killed for trying to assassinate him? Who scolded Alexander for not respecting his father and paid for it with his life? What river marked the furthest east that Alexander ever went? What was the name of the Indian king that Alexander fought at the Hydaspes River?

Reflection Essay 24. Theorize what would have happened if Alexander had convinced his army to continue east.


This seems to indicate that the arrow punctured a lung.


8. The Gedrosian Desert

In the autumn of 325 BC, Alexander had recovered by the time they reached the Indus Delta. A Macedonian fleet, commanded by Nearchus, was supposed to have followed Alexander and his army along the coastline back to Susa, but contact was lost after a monsoon. The extreme heat and arid conditions of the Gedrosian Desert forced many to give up their spoils of war they had carried with them. Pack animals were the first to die, whether from the heat or the desire of the men to eat. Arrian retells the desperation that the Macedonians felt:

So there was nothing for it but to leave the sick by the way, and any man rendered incapable by exhaustion or thirst or sunstroke. No one could give them a helping hand; no one could stay behind to ease their sufferings, for the essential thing was to get on with all possible speed, and the effort to save the army as a whole inevitably took precedence over the suffering of individual men. Most of the marching was at night, and many men would fall asleep in their tracks; the few who had strength left to do so followed the army when they woke up again, and got safe through; but the greater number perished - poor castaways in the ocean of sand. 70

The living were too weak to help the sick. Even when they managed to camp near the barest trickle of a stream, a sudden rain burst filled up the riverbed. The rush of water swept away the women, children, the royal tent and all the remaining animals.


Anabasis, 6.24.1-26.5, translated by Aubrey de Slincourt.


9. Inconsolable Grief
On his way back to Susa, Alexander took care of some governmental matters within his satrapies, and proceeded up the Tigris River. It was at this point that he married Stateria II, eldest daughter of Darius, thereby legitimizing his link to the Achaemenid royal family. Hephaestion married another of Darius daughters, and many of the Macedonian officers also took Persian noble women as wives. In addition, ten thousand Macedonian troops married, and Alexander gave each one of them a wedding gift. He also announced that he was going to pay off all of his soldiers debts, amounting to thousands of talents. Alexander was attempting to blend together Greek and Persian culture. In July 324 BC he founded yet another Alexandria and reached the city of Opis. Here Alexander faced a situation he had not counted on. He told his soldiers that any who were unfit for duty based on age or physical impairment were going home. They would have enough wealth to enjoy the rest of their years in luxury. Instead of being happy, the old veterans felt used and discarded after having fought by his side all these years. The younger soldiers felt that all their years of service warranted a dismissal from service, since they fought the whole campaign alongside the older soldiers. The final straw was telling Alexander to go to war by himself, with his father Ammon at his side if he wanted company. Alexander became furious. He had the ringleaders executed and then scolded the rest for their lack of respect. It was through Philip and him that they had achieved so much, having made their former masters their slaves. He had honored the dead and shared every danger with the living. He was wounded by every weapon of war, and challenged them to show a scar that he did not earn in battle.71 With that he dismissed his soldiers and sulked in the palace for two days. On the third day the Macedonians realized that there were now Persian troops who could replace them. Alexander had Persian troops trained in Macedonian warfare, from phalanx soldiers to the Companion Cavalry. In other words, the Macedonians were replaceable, and they knew it. They rushed the palace and prostrated themselves before Alexander. Some 10,000 Macedonians went home, while it is likely that Cleitus and Callisthenes rolled over in their graves. In the autumn of 324 BC, as Alexander settled in Ecbatana for the winter, Hephaestion came down with a fever. He fought the fever for seven days, and died. Alexander sunk into


Alexander was wounded eight times in battle.


despair at the death of his closest friend, and in a rage he ordered Hephaestions doctor crucified. Achilles had lost his Patroclus.

10. Death in Babylon

Alexander now received ambassadors from many peoples, including the Carthaginians, Iberians in Spain, Celts from Europe, and Etruscans from northern Italy. It is debated by historians whether he received ambassadors from a growing power in central ItalyRome. Alexander was back in Babylon by the late spring of 323 BC, having travelled up the Euphrates River. His future plans seemed to have included a consolidation and further expansion of his empire. A fleet was being prepared to sail around Arabia and expand his conquests further east, while he also planned an invasion into the west. Alexander planned on unleashing a storm of conquest that would encompass the entire ancient world. However, he never got the chance. About mid-May Alexander attended a banquet where, yet again, there was heavy drinking. He suddenly came down with a terrible pain in his chest and collapsed. He felt feverish, but still had strength. For the next couple days he spent time in the baths or in his bedchamber. At the end of May he held an audience with Nearchus, as they worked out the forthcoming exploration and invasion of Arabia. His fever now grew worse, and by early June he had lost almost all his ability to speak. As Alexander neared death, his generals and staff quietly filed by his bed in order to pay their respects. When asked to whom he would leave his great empire, he replied, To the strongest. On June 10th, 324 BC, Alexander the Great died.72 He was one month shy of his thirty-third birthday. Diodorus wrote:

Alexander accomplished greater deeds than any, not only of the kings who had lived before him but also of those who were to come later down to our time.73


Another possibility was poison. Antipater back in Macedon, whom Alexander had left in charge, was at odds with Olympias and was on tense relations with Alexander. In addition, the procurement of the poison may have been done by Aristotle, still fuming over the death of Callisthenes. 73 7.117


11. The Aftermath

The moments after Alexanders death had to be one of the most uncomfortable silences in history. He had left no clear heir, and each of the generals interpreted himself as the strongest and most capable to take over the empire. Roxana soon ordered Stateira II and her sister thrown down a well. There would be no pretenders to Alexanders heir. Shortly after Alexanders death, Roxana gave birth to his son, Alexander IV. Ptolemy took Alexanders body back for burial in Memphis, then to Alexandria, Egypt. The generals made war upon each other for rule of the empire. Within three years his former generals, Craterus, Perdiccas and Antipater were all dead. Rule of Greece and Macedonia fell to Cassander, son of Antipater. In 316 BC he had Olympias executed, and six years later Roxana and Alexander IV were put to death. The following year rumors began to circulate that Herakles, the eighteen-year-old son of Alexander and Barsine, Memnon of Rhodes former wife, was the legitimate heir to Alexander. Cassander had him killed as well. For the next forty years, generals fought over Alexanders empire, eventually splitting it into three parts: Ptolemy in Egypt, Antigonus in Greece and Macedon, and Seleuces in the old Persian Empire. In the west a new power was rising that would quickly dominate the ruins of Alexanders EmpireRome.

Questions and Reflection

71. What were the names of Alexanders two wives? 72. How many sons did Alexander have, and what were their names? 73. What city did Alexander die in? 74. Where was his body eventually buried? Reflection Essay 25. Alexanders tomb has yet to be found. What would happen if archeologists found the tomb today?


Chapter VII
Rise of Rome

1. Trojan Refugee
As Troy burned, some of the citys inhabitants found their way to a handful of ships and fled. One of them was Aeneas, a Trojan warrior and a Dardanian ally, who was second in fighting ability only to the Man-Slaying Hector. Like most warriors in the Iliad, Aeneas could claim partial parentage from the gods on Olympus. Son of the goddess Aphrodite and the mortal Anchises, Aeneas fought against the Mycenaean Greeks, nearly losing his life multiple times throughout the Trojan War. In Book V of the Iliad, Aphrodite herself rescues Aeneas from almost certain death as he fought Achilles. She couldnt bear to see her beloved son slain in combat. In Vergils Aeneid, the Trojan hero Aeneas fled the burning ruins of the city, carrying his father Anchises and dragging his young son Ascanius to safety.74 During the escape Aeneas wife, Creusa, was lost in the chaos of Troys destruction. Distraught, Aeneas went back into the burning city, prepared to die fighting in his grief. However, he met the ghost of Hector and was convinced to flee, and found the Trojan race in a distant land. Taking the images of Troys gods with them,75 Aeneas and the last surviving remnants of the Trojan people sailed away under the cover of darkness as their beloved city lit the night sky with its inferno. Mimicking the length of Odysseus journey, Aeneas wandered for ten years until he arrived in Italy. Along their voyage the Trojans made many attempts to stop and found a new city, but they all failed. The goddess Hera, called Juno (Iuno) by the Romans, desperately sought to kill Aeneas and stop his eventual arrival in Italy. She knew that the descendants of the Trojan race would one day become the Romans and dominate the Mediterranean. If she could kill
74 75

Vergils Aeneid is a Roman continuation of Homers stories, written 1000 years after the Trojan War. The statue of Athena in Troy, called the Palladium, was stolen by Diomedes and taken to Southern Italy after the war. Diomedes founded many cities in Italy and kept the Palladium until late in his life, when he once again met Aeneas and returned it to him. It was kept in the house of the Vestal Virgins until the Emperor Elegabalus (220 AD) moved it within Rome, and then to Constantinople by order of the Emperor Constantine (320 AD).


Aeneas before he landed in Italy, then the future of her beloved Greeks would be safe from Roman interference in later centuries. Hera was messing with time and fate. As Vergil wrote:

Arms and the man (Aeneas) I sing, who first from the coasts of Troy, exiled by fate, came to Italy and Lavine shores; much buffeted on sea and land by violence from above, through cruel Junos unforgiving wrath, and much enduring in war also, till he should build a city and bring his gods to Latium; whence came the Latin race, the lords of Alba, and the lofty walls of Rome.76 One of the key stops along Aeneas voyage was the Phoencian colony of Carthage in North Africa. Here, Aeneas recounted the fall of Troy to Queen Dido of Carthage, who fell madly in love with the Trojan hero. Aeneas looked upon the lofty walls of Carthage and marveled at the construction of this new and powerful Phoenician colony of Tyre. Despite his desire to stay with Dido, Aeneas was told by the gods to leave and continue his voyage. Distraught at his departure, Dido committed suicide. This remorseful act set up the future hatred and distrust between Rome and Carthage, which would ultimately lead to a series of devastating wars in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC.


Book I, lines 1-7


After making another stop in Sicily (the first time to bury his father), Aeneas and his surviving Trojans landed at Cumae near the Bay of Naples in Southern Italy. Cumae was famous in antiquity for its oracle to Apollo, like at Delphi in Greece. The priestess of the temple, called the Sibyl, guided Aeneas to an opening which led to the Underworld.77 Descending into the Underworld, Aeneas found and spoke with the ghost of his father. He told Aeneas of his future descendants and their greatness, and urged him to continue to the end of his voyage. Sailing north, Aeneas arrived at a kingdom in central Italy called Latium and met King Latinus, for whom it was named. Aeneas eventually married King Latinus daughter, Lavinia. The marriage was not without loss, for Lavinias former fiance, a local prince named Turnus, made war upon the Trojans in revenge for losing his bride to Aeneas. In the melee both Turnus and King Latinus died, which left Aeneas as the king of Latium. He honored Lavinia by founding a city in her name, Lavinium, and the Trojan refugees settled down and blended with the locals, learning their language: Latin.


Lake Avernus


2. Romulus and Remus

After Aeneas death, rule of Lavinium went to his son, Ascanius.78 Years later, Ascanius left Lavinium and founded another city a few miles to the northeast, named Alba Longa. Ascanius ruled Alba Longa for nearly three decades and was succeeded to the throne by a king named Silvius, who is thought to be either his son, or a younger step-brother from Aeneas and Lavinia. The Roman historian Livy states that Silvius was born in the forest, which is echoed in the Latin spelling of his name (silva is Latin for forest). In the 8th century BC, Alba Longa was ruled by King Procas, the eleventh king and descendant of Ascanius. The king had two sons, Numitor and Amulius, and the rule of Alba Longa eventually fell to Numitor. Amulius, jealous of his elder brother, expelled Numitor from the throne. He had Numitors sons killed and his daughter, Rhea Silva, forcibly entered as a priestess of the goddess Vesta. According to custom, any woman who entered the service of Vesta and her sacred flame must remain pure and a virgin.79 This was meant to stop Rhea Silva from having any offspring that could challenge Amulius for the throne of Alba Longa. However, Rhea Silva gave birth to twin boys, much to Amulius fears. Claiming that she was raped by the god Mars, Amulius feared killing the infants, so he had them put in a basket and ordered it to be placed in the Tiber River. Amulius hoped that by floating them down the river, they would drown, but the murder would not be on his hands; this was the ancient worlds custom of separating murder from the will of the gods. In ancient thinking, if the gods wished the twins to survive, then they would intervene. As for Rhea Silva, she was then buried alive, as was the custom for any Vestal Virgin who broke her oath of chastity. A Vestal priestess was protected by the goddess, and could not be executed by mortal hands, so she would be buried in a cave and given a small amount of food and water. Being buried alive was yet another fine line that modern thought would clearly see as murder. the infants, named Romulus and Remus, disappeared down the Tiber River.80 If

Vesta truly did wish the priestess to live, she would intervene. As it was, Rhea Silva died, while


Aeneas was honored by Venus and Jupiter (Aphrodite and Zeus) by having his body cleansed with ambrosia and nectar, and then made into a god. 79 The cult of the Vestal Virgins was one of the oldest traditions in ancient Rome and Latium, and predated the founding of the city. 80 According to Livy, the Tiber River was named for a former king of Alba Longa, Tiberinus, who had drowned while crossing the river.


The rivers waters retreated and the cradle was left on a bit of exposed riverbank. Hearing the boys crying, a she-wolf found and nursed the twins with her milk, and guarded them as if they were her own. Romulus and Remus were found by the kings shepherd, Faustulus, who took and raised them as his own sons with his wife. The boys grew up in secret, since Faustulus had correctly guessed that the twins were the sons of Rhea Silva. As the years passed, Romulus and Remus grew up as strong young men. One day, Remus was brought before King Amulius on false charges, and Faustulus thought he could not deceive his sons any longer. He told Romulus of his true parentage, and with Numitors help, they killed their uncle, rescued Remus and restored their father to the throne of Alba Longa.

Capitoline She-Wolf, Rome

With their father once again king, the brothers set out to found a new city themselves. They went back to where their cradle washed up along the Tiber, near two large hills, the Palatine and the Aventine. Unable to decide which hill should be the sight of the new city, the brothers turned to augury, which is the practice of observing the flights of birds and their


number in order to determine the will of the gods. Remus was the first to spot vultures,81 while Romulus spotted double that number. An argument erupted over who the gods favored, and Remus was slain by his brother. Livy suggests that Romulus killed his brother because Remus jumped over the newly built walls of Rome. However, how did Romulus have time to construct Romes rudimentary walls, and how was Remus able to jump over them? The answer lies in the ancient custom of founding a city. The act of founding a city, especially for Romulus, was steeped in religious overtones. In ancient Rome there was a sacred boundary called the pomerium, which according to Roman tradition was the line of the original walls of Rome marked out by Romulus. According to Livy, Romulus would have used a plow to dig a symbolic trench around the Palatine Hill. The dirt that was kicked up by the plow represented the beginnings of a rudimentary earthen wall. Early cities did not have stone walls, since the cost and labor required for stone fortifications would have been beyond the ability of a city in its infancy. Wherever Romulus wanted to place a gate into the city, he lifted the plow for a few paces then stuck it back into the earth as he continued to mark out the wall. To Romulus, the message was very clear: friends go through gates while enemies go over the walls.82 When Remus jumped over Romulus wall, it was likely that he stepped over the dirt the plow had kicked up, and not some tall wooden or stone structure. By doing this Remus not only mocked his brother, but committed a religious offense that now symbolically made him an enemy. This shameful act of fratricide, the murder of ones own brother, marked the founding of Rome.

Questions and Reflection

75. 76. 77. 78. 79. What was the city Aeneas stopped at in North Africa? What was the name of the city Aeneas founded? Ascanius? On what hill did Romulus found Rome? The sacred boundary of Rome was called what? What year was Rome founded?

Reflection Essay 26. How do boundaries, or limits, of a modern city differ from an ancient city?

81 82

The animal attributed to Mars, their father. For a similarity, compare with the Trojan Horse.


The Seven Hills of Rome: the Palatine, Capitoline, Aventine, Caelian, Esquiline, Quirinal and Viminal. The dark line is the Servian Wall, a stone fortification around the city. However, the th wall does not date to the reign of Servius Tullius, but was actually built in the 4 century BC.

3. Roman Regal Period

Rome was ruled by a series of seven kings; Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Tullus Hostilius, Ancus Marcius, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius, and Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. Some of the kings ruled with an aggressively expansionist policy for Rome, while others stressed piety and adherence to religious doctrine. Romulus founded Rome in 753 BC,
just as Greece was beginning to emerge out of its Dark Age and the first Olympic Games were

barely a generation old.83 During the first Roman kingship, Romulus tricked, conquered and subdued the neighboring Latin and Sabine tribes, merging them with Rome. However, two of the Roman kings, Priscus and Superbus, were actually Etruscan, while the other five were of

The Latin word for Rome (Roma) is a derivation of the name Romulus.


either Latin or Sabine origin. The nearby Sabine people were forcibly merged with Rome under Romulus rule. The most powerful Etruscan

cities were north of Rome across the Tiber River in Etruria, but their influence continued to spread south into Campania during the Roman Regal Period. The origins of the Etruscan people are still undetermined among modern historians, but it is without debate that many of the Etruscan cities pre-dated Rome. It is not known if they were a native Italic people, or another people who immigrated and merged with the local population, as the Romans themselves had done. Whatever the case, the power of the

Etruscans expanded to the north and south of Etruria, and they ruled over Rome by the time of the 5th king, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus.84 Etruscan cities and culture already existed by the 8th century BC, and may even have influenced how Romulus founded Rome. Livy credits the religious and pastoral act of using a plow to found a city to an Etruscan custom. Things later identified as Roman, such as the toga or fasces, were also Etruscan in origin. The fasces were a bundle of rods, bound in leather with an axe head sticking out of it, and were a symbol of power for Roman magistrates. The rods represented the power of the king for corporal punishment while the axe was for beheading as capital punishment.85 The fasces are still used today as a sign of power, even by the United States on currency and the Lincoln Memorial. Rome during the Regal Period (753-509 BC) was dominated by the king and powerful aristocratic families that vied for power within the political system.

84 85

The Tarquin family likely came from Tarquinia in Etruria. The Latin word corpus translates as body while caput means head.


4. Revolution
The end of the Roman Regal Period is connected directly to the fall of the Tarquin family from power. The 7th and last king of Rome was Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, son of the 5th king, Tarquinius Priscus, both of whom were Etruscan. Tarquinius Superbus (Latin for Proud or Arrogant) rose to the kingship by the assassination of the previous king, Servius Tullius. Tarquins wife, Tullia, was actually the daughter of Servius Tullius and helped bring her father down from power in order to put her husband on the Roman throne. Tullia even ran over her fathers dead body in the street with her chariot, an infamous deed in Roman history that earned the street its name, the Vicus Sceleratus" (street of wickedness). The Roman Regal Period, and the transition of power for the kings, was one of violence, murder and betrayal. Even during the Regal Period the city had its senators; men of important and welleducated aristocratic families that initially served as the kings advisors. When Tarquin the Proud came to power, he refused to bury Servius, earning him his nickname Superbus, and executed many senators who he felt threatened his rule. Under Tarquins strong leadership, Rome gained a dominant position among the other Latin city-states and with her Etruscan neighbors to the north. Rome was transitioning from a bunch of huts on the Palatine Hill under Romulus, to the most prominent city-state in Latium. During Tarquins reign, many Roman civic projects were completed, such as the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill, the Cloaca Maxima (the main sewer system that drained the mosquito and malaria filled marshes between the Palatine and Capitoline Hill), and the Roman Forum (the open-air marketplace and heart of ancient Rome). Despite this, Tarquins position as king was not secure. In 509 BC his son, Sextus, raped a noble Roman woman named Lucretia. As a consequence of the rape, Lucretia committed suicide. Her death became a rally cry against Etruscan rule and the Tarquin family, and the king and his immediate family were expelled from Rome. For the Roman people, a replacement government would not be another kingdom, but a Republic. Literally from the Latin words res (thing) and publica (public), the Roman Republic was a government bound by law with representation for its citizens through the Senate. In reality though, power to run the Roman state simply changed hands from the king to the aristocrats, a body of 300 senators from the most powerful families in Rome. Despite those limitations, this was the only type of representative government in existence, with the exception of Athens, which had become a


democracy only the year before Rome became a Republic.86 In a world where kings dominated, Rome was unique. In fact, the symbol of the Republic was not a flag, but the acronym S.P.Q.R. (Senatus PopulusQue Romanus), which translates as the Senate and the Roman People and is symbolic of the shared power between the people and their representatives in the Senate. After Tarquin was expelled, two members from the Senate were chosen to be the first pair of consuls for the new Republic;87 Lucius Junius Brutus and Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus, Lucretias widowed husband. Both men had familial connections to the Tarquin family, but despite his prominent anti-Tarquin position, Collatinus family connection prompted him to resign as consul and retire to Lavinium. Nobody with obvious ties to the Tarquin family could now hold power in Rome. Despite a connection to the Tarquin family, Brutus was saved by his nomen (clan name) being Junius.88 Collatinus consulship was eventually filled by
Lucius Junius Brutus, Capitoline Museum

Lucretias father, Spurius Lucretius Tricipitinus, who also took part in the rebellion against the Tarquins.

Even though Tarquin the Proud was driven from Rome, he was determined to regain the throne. He plotted with some pro-royal Roman citizens to take back the city, but the conspiracy was discovered. Those found guilty of collaborating with Tarquin were executed, which included Brutus own sons, Titus and Tiberius.89 However, Tarquin still managed to rally enough allies from other Etruscan city-states and fought the fledgling Republic at the Battle of Silva Arsia in 509 BC. Tarquin lost not only the battle, but also his son, while Lucius Junius Brutus was killed during the fighting. His sacrifice for the fledgling Republic would serve as an example of Roman virtue against tyranny for centuries. Four hundred and sixty-five years later his descendant, Marcus Junius Brutus, would be one of the key conspirators against Julius Caesar, a general of the Roman Republic who wished to be the sole ruler of the Republic. The word king (rex) had become a hated word for the Romans, and the ancestral honor of the Brutus family pushed
86 87

By comparison, in 510 BC the Athenians expelled their tyrant, Hippias. The Romans elected two consuls each year, who shared power. Each could veto the power of the other, and was a system of rule based on the Spartan state. 88 th Brutus mother was Tarquinia, daughter of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, Romes 5 king. 89 The fact that Brutus own sons sided with Tarquin instead of their own father, one of the first consuls, shows how precarious the Republic was in its infancy.


Marcus to assassinate Caesar. Julius Caesars death in 44 BC, and the subsequent fall of the Republic, was directly tied in its founding by Lucius back in 509 BC.

The Tarquin Family Tree

5. Gallic Sack of Rome

Tarquin tried a second time to re-take Rome, this time with the help of the Etruscan king of Clusium, Lars Porsenna. This ally marched his army south and made camp on the north side of the Tiber River, directly across from Rome. The siege of the city did not go well for Porsenna, and Rome defended herself with brave heroes like Mucius Scaevola and Horatius Cocles.90 The siege ended, and a peace treaty with Clusium was established. Tarquin was denied a return to the Roman throne, and died in 496 BC as an exile in the southern Italian city of Cumae. Rome would not tolerate another king.


Mucius secretly entered Porsennas camp and tried to assassinate him, while Horatius defended the only bridge across the Tiber. The Romans destroyed the bridge, and stopped the enemy from crossing the river into the city.


For the next century Rome dominated her Latin allies and expanded her power over the now weaker Etruscan cities to the north and south. In 390 BC the Roman Senate received word from Clusium, the city-state that was once allied to Tarquin the Proud, that they were being attacked by the Gauls and needed military support in the defence of their city. Clusiums request for Roman assistance clearly shows the advancement of Romes military power during the first century of the Republic. The Gauls were seen by the Romans as a barbaric northern people who inhabited the Po Valley just south of the very mountainous Alps. They often raided Etruscan cities to their south, and now Clusium was their target. As a result of the part that Clusium had played aiding Tarquin the Proud, the Romans were hesitant to give military assistance. The Roman Senate sent ambassadors to ascertain the situation and determine what should be done. When they arrived, the Romans claimed Clusium as an ally and met the Gallic chieftan, who said they were only looking for land to settle in that was not being used. As Livy says:

The Romans asked them what right they had to demand, under threat of war, territory from those who were its owners, and what business the Gauls had in Etruria. The haughty answer was returned that they carried their right in their weapons, and that everything belonged to the brave. Passions were kindled on both sides; they flew to arms and joined battle. Thereupon, contrary to the law of nations, the envoys seized their weapons, for the Fates were already urging Rome to its ruin.

For some reason, and contrary to the ancient law of nations that ambassadors do not fight, the Gauls saw the Romans fighting in the front line of the Etruscan army. One of the ambassadors, Quintus Fabius, personally killed the Gallic chieftain in combat and was recognized by the Gauls. Infuriated at this breach of treaty and interference, the Gallic army abandoned its siege of Clusium and marched south towards Rome. The Romans, thinking the Gauls were not really much of a threat, were surprised by their rapid advance, and barely managed to assemble an army when the enemy was only eleven miles from the gates of Rome. Arrogance of their own superiority had blinded the Romans to the Gallic threat. At the Battle of the River Alia, the Romans met the screaming, long-haired, wild men of the north and their army was crushed. The left wing of the Roman army retreated to a nearby city, while the right wing routed and fled


back to Rome. They gathered on the top of the Capitoline Hill, which acted like a citadel in times of danger. They were in such a state of flight that they didnt even close the gates of the city. Livy continues to explain how stunning and dramatic the victory was for Gauls:

The Gauls for their part were almost dumb with astonishment at so sudden and extraordinary a victory. At first they did not dare to move from the spot, as though puzzled by what had happened, then they began to fear a surprise, at last they began to despoil the dead, and, as their custom is, to pile up the arms in heaps. Finally, as no hostile movement was anywhere visible, they commenced their march and reached Rome shortly before sunset. The cavalry, who had ridden on in front, reported that the gates were not shut, there were no pickets on guard in front of them, no troops on the walls.

The citizens of Rome decided on drastic action. Those of military age and all the wives and children retreated behind the walls of the citadel on the Capitoline Hill. In addition, the Vestal Virgins and the state priests quickly gathered all the sacred objects from the temples, while others stockpiled provisions and weapons for the oncoming siege. The rest of the city was abandoned to the Gauls. All those who were too old, both the aristocrats (patricians) and the common people (plebians), either fled into the countryside or waited for the arrival of the Gauls. They nobly sat side-by-side with former consuls who were no longer able to take up arms. As the Gallic army entered Rome they found the patricians sitting regally in their own homes, resplendent in their togas and long beards. The Gauls hesitated at this strange sight, but became incensed from the scorn of a seated patrician and slaughtered all within sight. The houses were plundered and the city was set on fire. Those Romans who were safe behind the walls of the citadel on the Capitoline Hill could only watch as the enemy ran through the streets day after day, burning and destroying the city. One night during the siege the Gauls tried sneak up a steep and undefended side of the Capitoline Hill near a temple to Juno (Hera). Previously, the enemy had tried a more direct attack on the citadel but the Romans had beaten them back with significant loss. Now they would try to sneak their way onto the Capitoline Hill for a surprise assault. As they climbed the cliff under the cover of darkness they were spotted, not by sentries or guard dogs, but by some


geese that were sacred to Juno and kept near her temple. The noise of the honking geese roused the Romans to the danger. The Gallic sneak attack was beaten back and the citadel was saved, as well as the entire Roman treasury which had been gathered in her temple. Junos temple became known as Iuno Moneta (Juno the Warner), and the Roman treasury stored there during the siege was saved; from Moneta we get the English word money. Soon afterwards a plague struck the Gallic army, which prompted them to make peace with the Romansfor a price. The Romans were to pay 1,000 lbs of gold to the Gauls for them to depart, roughly 15 talents. This amount, compared to the 3,000 talents that Darius had with him at the Battle of Issus in 333 BC, reflects the drastic difference in the level of wealth in early Rome compared to the Greek and Persian world. As the gold was being weighed out, the Romans felt that the scales were unjustly measured and they were paying too much. They complained. To their humiliation a Gaul threw his sword onto the scales and cried, Woe to the conquered! Now the Romans paid an even higher price and a humiliation that would not easily be forgotten.

Questions and Reflection

80. 81. 82. 83. Who were the first and last kings of Rome? What important family helped expel the last king, and whose descendent killed Julius Caesar? What year was the Republic founded? What people sacked Rome in 390 BC?

Reflection Essay 27. As of 2011 the United States has existed 235 years. In the same time frame Rome was still in the Regal Period (518 BC) and about to enter the Republic. Could the United States ever be ruled by kings?


Chapter VIII
Pyrrhus of Epirus and Defensive Imperialism

1. Enter Pyrrhus, Stage Right

With the death of Alexander the Great, and the subsequent 40-year war of succession, Rome was granted the breathing room needed to emerge with a vengeance from the sacking of 390 BC. Fear of attack from neighboring city-states on every border drove Romes expansion ever outward, in a form of what historians call defensive imperialism. In other words, better to attack those now, who would only attack you later. To echo the later Roman historian Vegetius, si vis pacem, parare bellum, if you want peace, then prepare for war. Rome became an almost accidental empire, driven by the fear instilled by the Gallic destruction of the city. Rome, however, usually practiced tolerance and assimilation of her defeated subjects, preferring to make them into new and useful allies from whom she could draw troops and supplies to further fuel her legions. Unlike her imperial history to follow, Rome did not levy tribute on Italian cities that were conquered.91 A system of founding colonies in conquered territory, populated by Roman citizens and her soldiery, helped to spread Roman influence further and further south in the Italian peninsula.


A tribute is a tax on conquered peoples.


Meanwhile, Etruscan power was waning north of the Tiber River, as their territory was squeezed on both their northern and southern borders. In the south they were being conquered and absorbed by Rome, while in the north the Gauls descended out of the Alps and south of the Po Valley to raid their city-states. The Apennine Mountains divide Rome from Italys eastern coast, which meant she naturally expanded up and down the west coast into the heavily Geek influenced part of Southern Italy, and into the Etruscan north. Conflicts with the Samnites of central Italy during the 4th century brought Roman influence further and further south, eventually bringing their expansion to the Bay of Naples and other neighboring Greek city-states. By the time the Samnite Wars (343-290 BC) were over for Rome, Alexanders empire was already broken into the three major divisions: the Ptolemaic pharaohs in Egypt, the Antigonid Empire in Greece, and the Seleucid Empire in Persia. To the west of Egypt, Carthage controlled the North African coast, and was waging war with the troublesome Greek city of Syracuse in Sicily, which refused to submit to Carthaginian rule of the island. Spain and northern Europe


were filled with small but powerful tribes of Celtic92 and Germanic peoples, which often mistrusted each other and were in a constant state of war. Such was the state of the Mediterranean world at the start of the 3rd century BC. It was at this time that Romes influence came in contact with the powerful southern Greek city of Tarentum. Located on the inner heel of Italy along the northern shore of the Bay of Tarentum, this Greek city-state was a powerful merchant and naval power in Southern Italy. In 282 BC, the conflict with Tarentum started when Rome came to the aid of another Greek city-state, Thurii, which was being attacked by a neighboring city.

The Romans sent troops and a handful of ships to the Bay of Tarentum in response. However, they were never to sail into those waters, which were the exclusive domain of Tarentum. The Roman ships were quickly sunk by the superior Greek warships, and this escalated to a state of war with the Tarentines. Feeling threatened by the proximity of Romes power, Tarentum called upon those Greeks back home across the Ionian Sea to aid her against this upstart Italian hill tribe which now threatened Greek independence.

Celts and Gauls are the same people, and the names are often interchanged. It was Julius Caesar who stated that the word Celts is of Greek origin, while the Romans called the same people Gauls .


The general who answered Tarentums call for help was Pyrrhus of Epirus, a competent and skillful general who saw an opportunity to expand his kingdom into Italy, while veiling it in the role of a protector of Greek independence. There was no Greek power in Italy itself that could stand up to the Roman expansion, so all hope was put in Pyrrhus and his army. While some cities like Thurii were friendly to Rome, there were very few Greeks in Southern Italy who saw Pyrrhus as a greater threat than Rome.

Questions and Reflection

84. When has the Kingdom of Epirus been discussed before? 85. Looking back at the map on page 127, why did the Etruscans, Romans and Greeks not spread east in Italy? 86. What is the name of the Greek city-state that asked Pyrrhus for help? Reflection Essay 28. Is there a time in American history that weve acted with defensive imperialism, and if so, is it justified? Why?

2. The Roman Army of the Middle Republic

In 280 BC Pyrrhus arrived in Italy at the head of an army that Rome had never before encountered; a force of highly trained Greek phalangites and a host of war elephants. However, the Roman army that Pyrrhus faced no longer resembled the Greek style hoplites that it started as back during the 8th century. In all the years that Rome had waged war, her army had evolved. Starting out as a characteristically Greek phalanx of soldiers equipped with a round shield, spear, helmet, and sword, the Roman army had evolved over the three centuries since the creation of the


Roman Republic. The old-style phalanx was not effective when the Romans expanded into the mountainous terrain of central Italy against the Samnites in the 4th century. It was a simple fact: a phalanx had extreme difficulty when it moved over anything but flat terrain. As it has been noted, Alexander and his phalanx had difficulty just getting over a riverbank and maintaining a solid line of soldiers at the Battle of Issus in 333 BC. The old, solid line of soldiers locked shieldto-shield cannot by its very nature maintain cohesion when fighting uphill. Therefore, in what would become a hallmark of Roman warfare, the Romans adapted their army to be more mobile. They formed their army, called a legion, into three lines of infantry, with each line broken down into sub-units of men called maniples. In Latin, the word manus means hand, so in essence these were handfuls of men, usually 120 strong each, while a legion at full strength numbered around 4,800 men. In the very front of the army the Romans would have velites, short-range skirmishers equipped with various light weapons. These could be dislodged against an enemy, and the velites could retreat behind the army for safety. A couple hundred cavalry held the flanks, with the main infantry in the center. Each maniple had enough space between another maniple to allow the lines to move through each other, giving the Roman army the look of a checkerboard formation. This was done to allow a battle line, if needed, to retire in good order back behind the safety of fresh troops. This gave the legions something that the phalanx did not have: flexibility. The first line of Roman heavy infantry was called the hastati, and represented the newer units, who had seen some battle, but were the most raw and least experienced battle line. If the fight was beyond the hastati, they fell back through the gaps in the line, letting the second line take over the fight. In fact, the Romans typically used the hastati to exhaust an enemys strength, so they could hit them with their second line, which would be fresh for the fight. This second line was called the principes, and was comprised of soldiers who had seen some experience in battle. They were the core of the Roman army, and represented the seasoned soldier, who was usually in his mid-twenties. However, even they might break in the face of a tough opponent. If the Roman army needed to retreat from the battlefield, they relied on the third line to step forward and protect the army from a rout and potential disaster. An army that could not maintain order could easily turn a retreat into a rout. Then, in full flight, the fleeing troops could be hunted down by an enemys cavalry and suffer terrible losses, since soldiers tend to throw away their weapons in the panic of flight. For that reason, the Roman third line,


called the triarii, was equipped differently than that of the first two lines. The hastati and principes had both spear and sword, with the spear (pilum) roughly 6-8 feet in length and meant to be thrown en masse at the enemy. Instead, the triarii had longer spears, which were used in a manner similar to the Macedonian phalanx. Composed of the most experienced veterans of the Roman army, the soldiers of the triarii were expected to save a legion if it faced potential defeat. Calm and cool under pressure, the older soldiers of the triarii would protect the rear of a retreating legion. The Roman expression ad triarios redisse (it has come to the triarii) became synonymous with a desperate situation. This was the Roman army that Pyrrhus of Epirus faced in 280 BC.

Questions and Reflection

87. What are the names of the three Roman lines of an army? 88. Which line was expected to win a normal Roman engagement? 89. What is a maniple? Reflection Essay 29. Why did the Roman army look different when they faced Pyrrhus, when in the beginning they looked the same as a Greek army?


3. First Engagement: Heraclea

Pyrrhus and his army landed on Italian soil with the public message that he was coming to the aid of his Greek cousins in Southern Italy; however, he saw the chance to expand his power westward from Epirus. His army consisted of about 20,000 phalangites, 3,000 cavalry and even 20 war elephants. Pyrrhus brought with him knowledge of phalanx warfare perfected generations before by Alexander the Great. It is commonly mistaken that the first time the Romans encountered elephants was during the Second Punic War against Hannibal in 218 BC, but it was actually sixtysix years before when Pyrrhus brought his Hellenistic army to Italy. The Tarentines had invited Pyrrhus to come to their aid, but soon found out, to their dismay, that Pyrrhus was more interested in securing a position of power in Southern Italy than crusading Greek independence from Rome. Nonetheless, Rome presented the more immediate and barbaric invader to the Italic Greeks, and they threw their support to Pyrrhus. The two armies first met at the Battle of Heraclea which was along the western shore of the Bay of Tarentum. This was the first time that the Romans faced off against three things: elephants, a Greek phalanx, and most importantlya Greek general. This was not some local Latin or Samnite hill tribe, nor some invading mass of Gauls, but a true professional army the Romans faced. The two armies met and joined battle on the banks of the River Siris near the town of Heraclea. Pyrrhus drew up his army, seeing the Romans open the battle with their velites. He charged the Roman cavalry with his Macedonian and Thessalian contingents, and drove them off the battlefield. In the center of the battle, Pyrrhus Epriote phalanx tried to push its way through the massed Roman infantry, but could not break through its ranks. For the Romans, things were worse and already getting desperate. Seven times the Roman lines charged the phalanx, but every time they were hurtled back. Fear or folly drove the Roman legionaries to try and roll under the phalangite spears, vainly trying to grab the Greek sarissae. Once the Romans threw their spears, they only had their short swords to use against the much longer Greek spears. It proved lethally useless and the Roman maniples buckled.


In a manner similar to Alexander and other Greek generals, Pyrrhus wore armor that made him easily recognizable on the battlefield. Curiously, he took off that armor and gave it to a bodyguard to wear, who was unfortunately cut down by the Romans soon thereafter. The Romans cheered, and rallied, thinking Pyrrhus had fallen in battle. Seeing his men beginning to panic, Pyrrhus rode down the Greek line, cheering his men on and reassuring them he was alive after all.93 At this point in the battle the Roman cavalry had rallied and returned to the battlefield, and was pressing in on Pyrrhus flanks. Seeing the decisive moment, Pyrrhus played his trump card: his elephants, which he had kept in reserve until this key moment. The Roman horses panicked at the sight and smell of the elephants, which threw the whole of the Roman army into confusion, routing them from the battlefield. Pyrrhus ordered his cavalry to pursue and cut down the retreating Romans, further exacerbating their defeat. The Romans left an estimated 10,000 dead on the battlefield, while Pyrrhus had only slightly less. It was a victory for Pyrrhus and his army, but in that victory was sown the seeds for his ultimate defeat.

4. The Battle of Asculum

The term Pyrrhic Victory means that, while you might be victorious against an enemy, the enemy did such damage to your own army that you are unable to exploit it and ultimately will lose the war. This was going to be the case for Pyrrhus, who after the Battle of Heraclea, continued further north into Apulia, and in 279 BC met the Romans again at the Battle of Ausculum. Led by both consuls, Publius Decius Mus (the Mouse) and Publius Sulpicius Saverrio, the Romans fought a hard, two-day battle against Pyrrhus. Both sides had roughly 40,000 infantry and cavalry, while Pyrrhus also now had Tarentines and Samnites, who saw in this foreign invader a chance to overthrow their recent Roman oppressors. Having had time to prepare for this battle, the Romans had anti-elephant countermeasures ready: ox-led chariots with long spears, skirmishers with spears to throw at the elephants, and pots filled with burning pitch to hopefully scare them. As the battle progressed that first day, both sides suffered losses.

We do not know the motivation for this move by Pyrrhus. The Romans would cite cowardice, but that seems unlikely.


The Romans had one of their four legions routed along with their Latin allies, while for Pyrrhus the Tarentines and Epriotes in the center had to fall back. Retreating to a nearby hill, the Romans broke off their attack, while Pyrrhus himself retreated to deal with an attack on his own camp, which was promptly crushed. Both sides spent a wary night encamped on nearby hills for protection. At dawn on the second day, both sides renewed the battle on an open plain between the two hills. The battles outcome was in doubt until Pyrrhus, as he had done at Heraclea, seized the opportunity to use his elephants, which once again broke through the Roman line. The Roman anti-elephant countermeasures worked briefly, until Epriote skirmishers destroyed the ox-led chariots. The elephants charged once again and broke completely through the Roman line. At the same time Pyrrhus ordered his Royal Cavalry Guard to charge the Roman line. Overrun, the Romans fled the field, and the consul Publius Mus lay dead.94 While victorious, Pyrrhus lost about 4,000 menmany of them his officers, while the Romans lost nearly 6,500. It was at this time that Pyrrhus famously said, One more such victory and we shall be undone. This was the origin of the phrase Pyrrhic Victory, since Pyrrhus decided to seek a new opportunity than the conquest of Italy. That opportunity would be Sicily.


The Publius Decius Mus family had a record of dying on the battlefield; his grandfather (same name and also a consul), pledged his life to the gods if his army would be victorious against the Latins in 340 BC. His father (also a consul and also the same name) made an identical devotio and also died in battle against the Samnites in 312 BC.


5. On to Sicily
At this point Pyrrhus tried to negotiate a truce with Rome, asking only for Tarentine independence, but the offer was rebuffed by the Senate. Led by the aged and blind former consul Appius Claudius Caecus, creator of the first Roman highway and aqueduct (the Via Appia and Aqua Appia), the Senate turned down any offer from Pyrrhus and vowed to continue the war95. Pyrrhus, seeing a lack of any strong allies in southern Italy, decided to change opponents and aid the Greek city of Syracuse in Sicily against the powerful city-state of Carthage, which had been trying for centuries to subjugate the entire island. Carthage, located in North Africa, saw Syracuse as the only real Greek threat left on the island of Sicily.


Ironically, Rome formed a military alliance with Carthage. In an attempt to aid Rome, Carthaginian ships sailed up the Tiber, only to be sent back to Carthage with the polite refusal for any direct help on Italian soil. Never again would a Carthaginian ship come so close to Rome.


Landing his forces successfully in Sicily in 278 BC, Pyrrhus drove off the Carthaginians from their siege of Syracuse and forced them back to the western port city of Lilybaeum. He then proclaimed himself king of Sicily and captured the Carthaginian stronghold of Mt. Eryx the following year.96 The only city in Sicily left for Carthage was Lilybaeum, and Pyrrhus began peace negotiations with the Carthaginians. Pyrrhus knew the siege of Lilybaeum would be costly, so he thought a peace accord would be the wiser course of action. The Sicilian Greeks were not pleased that Carthage still had a port city in Sicily, and the peace process broke down. The Sicilian Greeks pushed Pyrrhus to lay siege to Lilybaeum. He then demanded manpower and money from his Sicilian allies in order to throw Carthage out, but his measures became so unpopular that he lost Greek support, which prompted the Sicilians to shockingly side with Carthage against Pyrrhus. Another Carthaginian army was sent to exploit the situation, but Pyrrhus promptly defeated it. The situation in Sicily became poisonous for Pyrrhus, and it was at this time that he received word that the Tarentines were in a desperate situation. They were about to be defeated by the Romans, so Pyrrhus decided to go back to Italy with his army and aid them in their conflict.


Pyrrhus was also given the choice to become king of Macedonia, whose king was killed in 279 when the Gauls invaded Greece and sacked Delphi. He thought the better opportunity lay in Sicily and Italy for he and his sons.


6. The Battle of Beneventum

Having given up on Sicily and returned to Italy, in 275 BC Pyrrhus met the Romans at the town of Maleventum (literally evil wind) and was defeated. In the three years that Pyrrhus was in Sicily, the Romans had called up thousands of recruits and had been training fresh legions. At the Battle of Beneventum, Pyrrhus designs for the conquest of Italy were forever stopped by the more numerous Roman forces. For their good fortune, the Romans changed the name of the town from Maleventum to Beneventum (good wind), which still retains its ancient name to this day: Benevento. Pyrrhus had lost two-thirds of his army by this point in the campaign, and after retreating to Tarentum, decided to go back to Greece. Leaving Italy, he famously prophesized, Oh, what a battlefield I am leaving for Carthage and Rome! That battlefield would be Sicily, the natural convergence point for these two great expanding powers of the western Mediterranean. Pyrrhus knew that the Greeks in Southern Italy would fall under Roman dominance, while the Carthaginian expansion in Sicily would now continue. Sicily would be the future conflict of Rome and Carthage. Pyrrhus returned to Greece and took the city of Argos, where he was killed. As he was going through the defeated city, an old woman threw a roof tile down upon his head, knocking him from his horse. Standing nearby was an enemy soldier, hidden in the crowd. The Argive drew his sword and slew the great commander where he had fallen in the street. Pyrrhus was


46 years old. With the death of Pyrrhus, there was no further aid that would be coming to the Greek city-states of Southern Italythey were now on their own to face Rome. Within the next few years, Roman forces dominated Italy from the northern regions all the way down to the tip of the boot. There, across the narrow Straits of Messina lay the fertile plains of Sicily, the powerful city of Syracuse and the expanding power of Carthage. As a sign of Roman preeminence, the Ptolemaic pharaohs of Egypt officially recognized Rome as a power by opening an embassy and dialogue between them. Rome had now thrust herself onto the world stage.

In this photo, from the Sicilian port of Messina, Sicilys tip of land (back left) extends to the Strait of Messina towards Italy (back right). Less than two miles apart separate Italy from Sicily at this point.

Questions and Reflection

90. 91. 92. 93. 94. What is a Pyrrhic Victory? What prompted Pyrrhus to give up in Italy the first time? What was the only Carthaginian stronghold left in Sicily after Pyrrhus invasion? What made Greek support fall away from Pyrrhus in Sicily? What was the original name of the Roman town of Beneventum?

Reflection Essay 30. Thinking back on Pyrrhus and his generalship, what would your opinion of him be? Would you classify him as a successful general?



Chapter IX
The First Punic War and the Battle of Telamon

1. Tension in the Strait

When Pyrrhus of Epirus finally left Italy after his defeat, he left Rome as the dominant power in the Italian peninsula. Now, the remaining independent Greek city-states in southern Italy fell under the control of the Roman Republic. In the north of Italy, the enormous Alps Mountains acted as a natural barrier against any large invading army. The Padua River, now called the Po, ran down from the Alps into a fertile plain just south of the mountains. The Etruscans, who had such influence and power in northern Italy in former centuries, were either absorbed into the Roman Republic or had their lands taken over by the Gauls who encroached into the Po Valley region south of the Alps. The Samnites, who lived in the mountainous Apennines of central Italy, and all the Greeks of the south, were now under the protection of the Roman Republic.


2. Carthages Origin
According to the Greek historian Timaeus, Carthage (Punic97 for New City) was founded in 814 BC, evidenced by radiocarbon-dating of archeological finds. The city was a colony from the Phoenician city-state of Tyre, which later would fall to Alexander the Great. According to Vergils Aeneid, it was Aeneas who stopped at Carthage to see Queen Elissa (Dido was what the Romans called her) when the city was first being constructed. However, theres an obvious date discrepancy between the flight from Troy (1184 BC) and the archeological evidence (814 BC). It must be remembered, though, that the origin myth did not have to fit an actual timeline, so the two are not necessarily in contradiction for an ancient reader. As the Roman historian Livy commented in his history of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita):

Events before Rome was born or thought of have come to us in old tales with more of the charm of poetry than sound historical record, and such traditions I propose neither to affirm nor refute. There is no reason, I feel, to object when antiquity draws no hard line between the human and the supernatural: it adds dignity to the past.98

97 98

The word Punic comes from the Latin word for Phoenician (punicus) Book 1.1 (Penguin Classics)


Livy states that founding myths are just thatmyth. Just because it was myth did not mean that it was not important or valid in an ancients eyes. In a modern world where history means verifiable facts, it must be remembered that history in the ancient world was not so much about validity, but a good story. That is not to discount historians like Herodotus, Appian or Livy, but events before the 6th or 7th centuries BC are more myth than actual records. In contrast to Timaeus, the historian Appian claimed the Phoenicians settled Tyre fifty years before the capture of Troy. Whatever the true founding date, it is generally believed that Queen Elissa fled Tyre when her brother, King Pygmalion, killed her husband in a dispute over the throne. She, and those wishing to join her, sailed to Tunisia, the North African promontory that is closest to Sicily. The native inhabitants who owned the land laughingly agreed to give Queen Elissa as much land as she was able to enclose with the hide of an ox. Cutting the hide into very thin strips, she laid them in a large circle end-to-end and claimed the land within that enclosed space. This, according to the myth, is how Carthage was first settled. As Phoenicians, the Carthaginians were skilled in maritime trade and naval warfare. The citys position, along the trade routes between it and Sicily, quickly made Carthage a powerful city-state. By the 6th century BC, the Carthaginians power stretched along the African coast to Egypt, the western part of Sicily, and the coasts of Sardinia and Corsica.99 As Carthages power expanded on Sicily, they were challenged for supremacy of the island by the Greek city of Syracuse. For over two centuries Carthage fought against Syracuse and its allies on the island. As the Second Persian War was raging with Xerxes in 480 BC, Carthaginian forces tried to take over the island, but were unsuccessful. Over the 5th century, as Greece was rocked by the Peloponnesian War, there were a constant series of battles and plagues between the Carthaginians and Syracusans. It was during this time that Syracuse also managed to defeat the Athenian force that was sent to take the city in 415 BC. The Athenian loss at Syracuse, you may remember, was an influential factor in bringing down the Athenian Empire during the Peloponnesian War. By 310 BC the Carthaginians had managed to conquer a great portion of Sicily, but the tyrant of Syracuse, Agathocles, in response sent an army across the sea to Carthage itself. This chess-like move by the Syracusans forced the Carthaginians to recall their army to Africa and protect the city. Agathocles forces were defeated, but he managed to escape back to Syracuse and negotiated a peace with Carthage. Pyrrhus of Epirus then came to

In 509 BC, Rome established a merchant treaty with Carthage shortly after they established the Republic. The treaty does not survive, but it shows that there was at least mercantile contact between the two city-states, even at this early period.


Syracuses aid against Carthage (278-276 BC), but did not manage to drive them from the island. Carthage, long since independent of its mother colony, Tyre, was prophetically drawn into conflict with the Romans after the Pyrrhic War.

3. Harbors and Walls

Carthage was very famous for two things: its harbors and the defensive fortifications around the city. There were two harbors that greatly aided Carthages ability to become a merchant and naval superpower; one was strictly for trade, while the other had specially designed docks for warships of the time. Looking at the image below, you can see in this computer rendering the long, rectangular harbor that was for merchant ships. Two towers protected the entrance, and a large iron chain could be stretched across the mouth of the harbor to stop ships from entering or leaving. The Carthaginians had 220 warships at her disposal in the other harbor. Both the inner island and circular docks maintained battle-ready warships, which could be quickly launched for the citys defense.


The walls of Carthage were perhaps the finest defensive fortification in the entire ancient world, stretching some 23 miles around the city, even on the seaward side. There were a series of three walls on the landward side, while the seaward were not nearly as strong since the Carthaginians relied on their navy to protect themselves from a seaborne attack. In all the years of warfare between Carthage and Rome, the landward walls would never be breached.

4. The Quinquereme
Warships had been evolving ever since the days of the Trojan War, when perhaps 50 men were crewed on each ship. During the Persian Wars of the 5th century BC, warships had evolved into triremes with a crew compliment of roughly 200 men each. By the 3rd century, ships had evolved into the quadrireme and the largest to date, the quinquereme. The tri-, quad-, and quin-, refer to the number of oarsmen or oars per row on each ship. How the oarsmen were arranged on each design is still a subject of debate by modern historians. Even though quinqueremes were the most
A Roman Quinquereme

advanced design of that period, with a crew of about 420 men, smaller quadriremes and triremes were still produced as the need required. So, for example, a small fleet of 150 warships consisted of 63,000 sailors and soldiersthe equivalent of a large army. The maintaining of a large naval force was a considerable expense for Carthage, but it was that naval force which gave her dominion over a huge area of the Mediterranean Sea. However, it is somewhat ironic that the design of the quinquereme has been credited to Dionysius I, tyrant of Syracuse at the beginning of the 4th century BC.


5. Messina and Rhegium

In the narrow Strait of Messina, barely 2 miles separates the toe of Italy from the northeastern tip of Sicily and the coastal town of Messina. In 288 BC, a group of mercenaries called the Mamertines occupied Messina (called Messana in antiquity) and killed all the men and took the women as their wives. At the same time, across the strait, a body of Roman soldiers seized the city of Rhegium without orders.100 The Mamertines eventually fell into conflict with the Syracusans, and had their army destroyed by King Hiero II of Syracuse. The remains of the Mamertine force fled back to Messina and appealed to Carthage for aid against their common foe. Seeing an opportunity, Carthage sent a force and garrisoned Messina, and Hiero II backed down. The Mamertines now had a change of heart and send a deputation to Rome, asking them for aid instead. Debate raged in the Roman Senate over sending troops, since this would be the first conflict outside of Italy, and the Romans had no navy to take on Carthage. However, the prospect of the Carthaginians controlling all of Sicily, and therefore the Strait of Messina and the trade routes, was something they did not wish to see. The Mamertines expelled the Carthaginian garrison, and the Romans landed two legions in Sicily under the command of Appius Claudius Caudex, the grandson of Appius Claudius Caecus, the consul who built the first Roman highway, the Via Appia in 312 BC. The Romans defeated the Carthaginian force when they tried to retake Messina, as well as the Syracusans who now saw Rome as a threat. Appius quickly marched on Syracuse, forcing Heiro II to make


Rhegium, a Greek colony, had allied itself with Athens during the Peloponnesian War, but was taken by the Syracusans in 387 BC, since Syracuse had allied themselves to Sparta.


peace with Rome and became an ally. The Romans now began preparations to continue the war against the Carthaginian forces in Sicily. The First Punic War had begun.

Questions and Reflection

95. 96. 97. 98. 99. Name the three main powers that the Romans conquered by 270 BC. What was the Latin name for Queen Elissa? What was the mother city of Carthage? How many men were on a quinquereme? What two cities face each other across the Strait of Messina?

Reflection Essay 31. Give an example of one myth from early American history that is widely known and told.

6. Battle of Agrigentum
With Syracuse and Messina now secured as allies, the Romans began the process of securing cities in Sicily one by one with land warfare. In 262 BC the Romans besieged the Carthaginians strongest city on the southern coast, Agrigentum, in response to a Carthaginian build-up of forces on the island. Situated on a high plateau a few miles from the coast, Agrigentum (Acragas in Greek) was easily defensible and posed a difficult target for the Romans. The two consuls for the year, Lucius Postumius Megellus and Quintus Mamilius Vitulus took their combined consular armies and marched on Agrigentum. The inhabitants, not wishing to risk a battlefield engagement, retreated behind the walls and put their faith in the strong defensive position that the city held. The Romans were caught off guard by the determination of the Carthaginians resistance. Skirmishes and 5 months of starvation followed. As the siege dragged on, a Carthaginian relief force, under the command of Hanno, landed at the city of Heraclea (Minoa) and cut the Roman supply line. Hanno pursued the Romans to their camp, and now they found themselves under a state of siege by the Carthaginian relief army.


After another 2 months, both those Carthaginians who were inside Agrigentum and the Romans inside their camp were growing desperate. The consuls decided, since they were close to starvation, to offer battle. The historian Polybius wrote:

For two months both sides remained in these positions without attempting anything more decisive than skirmishing actions every day. But all this while Hannibal (the commander of Agrigentum) was making fire-signals and sending messages to remind his colleague that the population could not endure the famine any longer, and that more and more of his men were deserting to the enemy for lack of food. As last the Carthaginian commander determined to risk a battle, while the Romans for the reasons which I have explained were no less eager, and so both armies advanced into the space between the camps and engaged. The fighting was long and drawn-out, but in the end the Romans


succeeded in driving back the front line of Carthaginian mercenaries, and as they retired on to the elephants and the other units stationed behind them, the whole Punic army was thrown into confusion.101 In the aftermath, the remains of Hannos army fled west to Heraclea, while Hannibal102 and what was left of his mercenaries escaped under the cover of darkness from Agrigentum, leaving the city to be sacked by the Romans. Its 25,000 remaining inhabitants were sold into slavery.

7. Polybius
Before any further account of the war is discussed, a brief mention must be made about the one truly reliable source we have for this war. The Greek historian, Polybius, was born in the city of Megalopolis at the end of the 3rd century BC when the war between Rome and Carthage would be at its height. The city of Megalopolis was founded in 371 BC by the Theban general Epaminondas in an attempt to counter Spartan supremacy in the Peloponnesus. Polybius lived an aristocratic and educated life, and by 180 BC he held some distinction among the Greeks. However, when Rome eventually came into conflict with the Macedonians and Greeks, he was sent to Rome as a hostage. By chance, he became friends with Scipio Aemilianus, a general of distinction in the later years of the Punic Wars. Polybius traveled the Mediterranean and provided both political and military advice to Scipio. Later in his life, Polybius would serve as an intermediary for peace between Greece and Rome. His opinions are somewhat blunt, but honest, about the mistakes that Rome made on its way to becoming an empire. However, he comments with admiration on the balanced political system that the Romans had at that time. He was an eye witness to the very end of Romes wars with Carthage, and stood alongside his friend Scipio. It is his account that is the only reliable source of the First Punic War.

101 102

Polybius, Book 1.19 Hanno, Hannibal and Hasdrubal were extremely common names for Carthaginians and can cause confusion. The famous Hannibal of the Second Punic War was Hannibal Barca, son of Hamilcar.


8. Mercenaries and Shipwrecks

Like the Greeks, the Carthaginians took it as a point of pride that their citizens rowed their own ships. Their armies, however, were composed of mercenaries but commanded by Carthaginians, and were usually a mix of North African, Celt-Iberian (Spanish Celts) or other allied peoples. Unlike the Romans, who saw it as an honor to serve in the army, the Carthaginians did not. The opening years of the 23-year-long First Punic War were predominantly fought on land, subjugating cities by traditional siege warfare. Rome felt, with the capture of Agrigentum, that Carthage could be pushed completely from the island of Sicily. There was a problem, since the Romans had practically no fleet whatsoever. The Romans were shown to be completely inadequate in naval warfare when they went against the Tarentines at opening stages of the Pyrrhic War twenty years before, and had no fleet at the outbreak of the First Punic War. After Agrigentum, many of the inland Sicilian cities went over to Rome. However, many coastal cities instead threw in their lot with the Carthaginians, seeing the power of their fleet, which was also raiding the Italian coast unchallenged. Polybius speaks with admiration at how the Romans made their first real venture upon the sea:

When the Romans first ventured to transport their forces to Messina, not only had they no decked ships, but no warships at all, not so much as a single galley. They merely borrowed penteconters103 and triremes from the Tarentines, the Locrians and the people of Elea and Neapolis, and ferried the troops across at great risk. It was on this occasion that the Carthaginians sailed out to attack them as they were crossing the straits, and one of their decked ships, in their eagerness to overtake the transports, ventured too near the shore, ran aground, and fell into the hands of the Romans. It was this ship which they proceeded to use as a model, and they built their whole fleet according to its specifications; from which it is clear that but for this accident they would have been prevented from carrying out their program for sheer lack of the necessary knowledge.104

103 104

A penteconter was the earliest type of warships from the Archaic Period, with 50 oarsmen. Book 1.19


In other words, the Romans found a Carthaginian warshipa quinqueremeand reverse-engineered its design to produce 100 warships and an additional 30 triremes in order to challenge the Carthaginians. The Romans were so unfamiliar and ill-prepared for naval warfare that crews rowed on land, practicing the movements of their oars while sitting on logs. Quickly, the Romans challenged Carthaginian dominance of the seas around Sicily, the Italian coast and Sardinia. Both sides threw themselves into a contest for mastery of the sea, which resulted in the largest naval battle the world had ever seen.

9. Battle of Ecnomus
In 256 BC, after six years of indecisive land warfare, Polybius says the Roman consul Marcus Atilius Regulus led a fleet of 330 warships along the eastern coast of Sicily. They sailed around Cape Pachynus to the southern city of Ecnomus, where their land forces were stationed. The Carthaginians, in response, had a fleet of 350 ships sailing from Heraclea to meet them. The Roman intent was to launch an invasion of Africa and bring the war to Carthages doorstep, much the same way that the Syracusans had done years before. The Carthaginians sent their fleet with the intention of stopping the invasion before it even started. The result was the Battle of Ecnomus. With an average of 420 men per ship, Polybius estimated the overall force of both the Romans and Carthaginians at nearly 300,000 men. While the Persian Empire had more ships two centuries before during the Persian Wars, the newer ships carried at least twice the crew of the older design. Go back even further to the Iliad, and the supposed 1000 ships of the Greeks would have been able to carry roughly only 50,000 men. The sheer human element in this naval battle outstrips the size of almost any land battle in history.


As the Roman fleet lined up for combat, they distinctly choose a multiple line formation as a kind of echo of their manipular legions. Their most vulnerable ships, the transports, were placed in the center of their fleet with the first two lines forming a shape like an arrowhead. In the rear of their fleet they stationed their triarii in a single line, forming the solid base of the arrow, like the bottom of a pyramid turned on its side. While the Carthaginians showed superior seamanship, being faster than their Roman counterparts, they were unprepared for the Roman corvus (Latin for crow). The Romans had modified their ships with a boarding bridge, affixed to the front of their warships. The corvus could swivel and pivot, and when a Roman warship got close to a Carthaginian, they would drop it onto the enemy deck. On the end of the corvus was an iron spike, like the beak of a crow, from which it
A Roman corvus

got its name. The heavy iron would crash through the enemy deck from its weight and momentum, and lock the two ships together. The Romans would then take their marines, essentially legionaries transferred to the ships, and race across and capture it. Essentially, the Romans turned a sea battle into a land battle. The Battle of Ecnomus went to the Romans, who lost twenty-four ships, while the Carthaginians had sixty-four captured and thirty sunk. If we assume that Polybius numbers were correct, then the 88 ships which were lost account for over 35,000 dead, while the captured Carthaginian ships were an additional 26,000 sailors and soldiers lost for Carthage.


Questions and Reflection

100. What was the name of the powerful Carthaginian city along the southern coast of Sicily that fell to the Romans? 101. What is the name of the Greek historian who is the primary source for the First Punic War? 102. What type of ship did the Romans find washed up on their shore? 103. How did the Romans practice rowing? 104. What was the corvus? Reflection Essay 32. What is genius behind the Roman use of the corvus?

10. Regulus Folly

After repairing his ships, the consul Regulus sailed on to Africa and disembarked his troops in the spring of 255 BC. The Romans began sacking nearby towns and soon met the hastily arranged Carthaginian defense, routing them. For Carthage, things were now desperate since they had met defeat on both sea and land, and now found the enemy outside their walls. Regulus was eager to settle the conflict with Carthage, since his term as consul was ending and hed have to return to Rome. Under the Roman political system, the new consul would sail to Africa and replace Regulus and finish his campaign, thereby robbing him of his glory. Regulus felt that the city was pretty much his already, and his peace terms were harsh. The Carthaginians rejected them and resolved to fight on. As Polybius wrote:

(The Carthaginians) resolved that they would suffer any extremity and try every resource rather than submit to a settlement which was so ignoble and so unworthy of their past achievements. 105

It was at this time that a Spartan officer named Xanthippus showed up in Carthage, recruited by the city for its defense. Even though Spartas power was broken over a century before by Thebes, nonetheless their skill in warfare was still legendary. Xanthippus did an inspection of the forces available for Carthage and determined the Roman victory was not because of their superiority of arms, but because of the Carthaginians inexperience. He set

Book 1.32


about re-organizing the Carthaginian forces, training them, and making the citizens themselves fight for their own citys defense. In short order Xanthippus molded the Carthaginians into a fighting force of 12,000 infantry, 4,000 cavalry and nearly 100 elephants and marched out to meet the enemy at the Battle of Tunis in May, 255 BC. The Romans on the other hand had a force of about 15,000 infantry but only about 500 cavalry. Regulus, as a countermeasure to the elephants, compressed the ranks of his legions. As the battle began the Roman cavalry were quickly driven from the battlefield, and the Carthaginian elephants rammed into the main body of the legions. Regulus battle plan of massing his infantry succeeded in doing nothing but limiting his troops mobility and making it easier for the elephants to make Roman pancakes out of the legionaries. Those that survived the mauling of the elephants now faced the main body of the Carthaginian citizenry, armed in phalanx style and ready for battle. Regulus was captured, along with a small body of soldiers. About 2,000 Romans managed to extricate themselves and flee back to the coast and the security of the Roman camp; the rest were annihilated and were stripped of their armor. He once demanded their surrender, and now as a prisoner the consul Marcus Atilius Regulus was led into Carthage and pleaded for his life.106 Polybius comments on Regulus actions, and reflects on what anyone canand should learn from his example:

I have recorded these events in the hope that the readers of this history may profit from them, for there are two ways by which all men may reform themselves, either by learning from their own errors or from those of others; the former makes a more striking demonstration, the latter a less painful one. For this reason we should never, if we can avoid it, choose the first, since it involves great dangers as well as great pain, but always the second, since it reveals the best course without causing us harm. From this I conclude that the best education for the situations of actual life consists of the experience we acquire


Regulus will be held hostage until 250 BC, when hes sent back to Rome to seek a peace treaty. Instead of asking for a settlement, Regulus gave a moving speech to the Senate to continue fighting. Bound by his oath to return, Regulus went back to Carthage and was executed for his actions.


from the study of serious history. For it is history alone which without causing us harm enables us to judge what is the best course in any situation or circumstance.107

History, according to Polybius, was not just the study of facts but an acquisition of knowledge and experience gained without harm. From this we might better ourselves and gain a greater understanding of the world around us. I greatly agree with the Greek historian.

11. The War Drags On

After the Battle of Tunis the Carthaginians repaired and built a fleet of 200 vessels and started patrolling the coast in order to stop any further Roman invasions. A Roman relief force of 350 ships was launched at the beginning of summer, and met the Carthaginian fleet near Cape Hermaeum east of Carthage. The Romans won again, capturing an astonishing 114 ships and their crews. What was left of Regulus army was then picked up, and they sailed back to Sicily. Near Camarina on the southern coast the Roman fleet ran into a fierce storm, and only 80 of the 364 ships survived. The loss of life would have been around 100,000 men, higher if the ships were at full capacity. Polybius squarely blames the destruction of the fleet not on Fortune, but on the commanders. The native captains had advised against sailing along the southern shore of Sicily, with its rocky coastline and few good harbors. Any survivors would have been bashed up against the rocks in the storm, or would have gone down with their ship. The Romans used slaves to row their vessels, and frequently they were chained together and to the ship itself. The Carthaginians now felt emboldened by this reversal of fortune and built yet another 200 ships and transported a force across to their stronghold of Lilybaeum.108 The Romans were not willing to surrender, and built a new fleet of 220 ships in an astonishing three months and then set sail for Sicily. The consuls for that year, Aulus Atilius and Gnaeus Cornelius, met the surviving ships from Regulus fleet in the Strait of Messina in the summer of 254 BC. The

107 108

Book 1.35 Lilybaeum is now known as Marsala, the region from which the red wine is produced for some of the most popular Italian recopies.


combined Roman fleet sailed along the north coast and laid siege to the city of Panormous (modern Palermo), took it, put a garrison in it and then set sail for Rome. The following year the new consuls took a fleet once again to Africa, but this time they were nearly destroyed when their ships approached the shoals. They were forced to throw many heavy items overboard in order to lighten their ships. Barely escaping danger, the Roman fleet sailed back to Sicily and around the western coast through hostile waters to Panormous. After that, the Roman fleet attempted to sail across the open water directly for Rome, but were once again caught in a storm and lost 150 ships. Polybius states that at this point the Romans grew tired of the losses to their fleet, and resolved to continue the war on land and use the fleet only for transport and re-supply in Sicily. Carthage now ruled the sea, and for the next two years the Romans did not engage the enemy forces in open battle, since they still feared the charge of the Carthaginian elephants. In 251 BC the Romans managed to defeat a Carthaginian force under the command of Hasdrubal who was raiding the territory around the city of Panormous. Feeling emboldened, the Romans built another fleet of 200 ships and set sail for Sicily. Arriving on the west coast, the Roman force began an assault on Lilybaeum, which was the only other remaining Carthaginian port besides the city of Drepana. The Carthaginians realized the importance of this battle as well, and committed themselves to the citys defense. As the Romans began the bitter siege of Lilybaeum, a Carthaginian fleet set sail from Africa with a 10,000 man relief force. To the shock of the Romans anchored off Lilybaeum, the Carthaginian fleet, loaded with troops, skillfully sailed past them into the harbor. The Roman navy couldnt stop them because of the winds direction, because they feared being swept into the harbor themselves. The next morning the Carthaginians, under the direction of the garrisons commander, Himilco, rushed from the defenses with nearly 20,000 men in many different locations. The Romans were expecting this bold move, and met it with superior numbers and with great speed. A fierce battle broke out all around the Roman siege works, but not with any discipline. Polybius describes the struggle as something of the spirit of single combat pervaded the whole battlefield.109 Himilco feared that the battle was about to be lost and called for a retreat back into the city, which was a relief to the Roman forces who were about to breakunknown to Himilco. However, some weeks later a very strong storm blew with tremendous force upon the Roman siege towers, nearly knocking them over. The Carthaginians saw an opportunity, and

Book 1.45


attacked the Roman towers with fire and a general assault from the walls of the city. The wind drove the smoke and debris onto the Roman lines, blinding them. In the end, the destruction was so complete that the towers and battering rams were ruined. The legions now decided starvation was a better tactic against the enemy, and dug a moat and fortifications all around the city, while the fleet blocked the harbor, not altogether successfully.110

12. Sacred Chickens

In 247 BC the consul Publius Claudius Pulcher111 set sail with the fleet from Lilybaeum to surprise the Carthaginians fleet in Drepana. Pulcher set out with his fleet in the middle of the night and hugged the coastline, approaching Drepana from the south at dawn. His chance of surprise was gone, however, when Carthaginian scouts spotted the Roman fleet on the horizon. Conditions were hazy, and the Romans didnt notice that the Carthaginian fleet had scrambled to battle and slipped out another passage of the harbor. Finally realizing what was happening, Pulcher hastily tried to turn around and re-order his fleet for battle, since the Carthaginian ships were now rounding the small islands outside the harbor and were now bearing down on the Roman fleet.

Polybius describes how desperate the Romans were: Because of the abruptness of the turn, the result of this maneuver was to cause some of the ships inside the harbor to foul those which were entering it; it also created great confusion among the crews, and a number of vessels had the blades of their oars snapped as they collided with one another.112


A Carthaginian captain named Hannibal the Rhodian, brazenly sailed multiple times through the Roman blockade. In the beginning the Romans attempted to chase him, but could not match his speed. Hannibal stopped his ship and waited, to see if any Romans would continue the chase, before he continued on his voyage to Drepana. He served as a messenger between these two remaining Carthaginian strongholds, but he was eventually caught when the Romans used a captured Carthaginian ship to overtake him. 111 Brother to Appius Claudius Caudex, the consul of 264 BC who landed the first forces in Sicily. 112 Book 1.50


Drepana (modern Trapani), Lilybaeum (Marsala) and the Aegates Islands (Aegadian Islands)

Google Earth view of modern Drepana


The Carthaginians had the advantage of superior ship quality and better rowers, plus they werent hemmed in by the shoreline and could retreat to more open water if necessary. Pulcher, seeing the battle was lost, fled with 30 ships; the remaining 93 Roman vessels were captured along with their crews. The orator and senator, Marcus Tullius Cicero, writing about this event two-hundred years later, told a slightly different story in regards to Pulchers actions. Before the battle, the Roman commander took the sacred omens to determine the will of the gods. On board his flagship were chickens, which were supposed to eat some grain that was offered them. However, the chickens would not eat. Pulcher, who was irate at this delay, threw the chickens into the water in his frustration. He famously shouted, ut biberent, quando esse nollent ("let them drink, since they refused to eat"). Having escaped back to Rome, Pulcher was put on trial, condemned and fined for his religious transgression. He would die shortly afterwards, possibly by suicide.

Questions and Reflection

105. 106. 107. 108. 109. Where did Carthage get help from to defeat Regulus? What weapon was most effective against Regulus army? What was the biggest factor for the destruction of Roman fleets? What city was the most important Carthaginian stronghold in Sicily? What city was Pulcher trying to take when he lost his fleet??

Reflection Essay 33. Pulcher was on trial for committing a religious crime. Could that happen today?


13. Hamilcar Barca

The Carthaginians once again felt they had an opportunity and raided the Roman fleet, which was still anchored off Lilybaeum with their fleet from Drepana. A great amount of damage was done to the Roman ships, but instead of finishing the attack the Carthaginian fleet continued to sail down the coast.113 As the Carthaginian fleet sailed along the southern coast, they met two separate Roman fleets, including one that had left from Syracuse. Seeing the weather worsen, the Carthaginian admiral, Carthalo, took the advice of his pilots to seek the safety of a harbor around Cape Pachynus. The Romans, typically, did not. The Romans, as Polybius says, ...had never suffered such a total disaster since it was the loss of over a hundred warships and nearly 800 transports loaded with supplies. After this setback, the Romans once again decided to concentrate on land operations and not on naval warfare. The Carthaginians now appointed Hamilcar Barca to oversee the fight in Sicily, which was now in its 16th year. He showed extreme confidence and ability, and began harassing the Romans along the southern coast of Italy. He ordered raids by the Carthaginian fleet as far north as Cumae along the western coast of Italy. The Romans decided not to challenge the Carthaginians for supremacy of the sea. However, the Romans were still encamped outside Lilybaeum, concentrating on land operations.114 Hamilcar countered every Roman action with guerilla tactics, hitting and wearing down the Romans wherever he could for the next five years. When the Romans took the large and imposing Mount Eryx, Hamilcar countered their move by putting his own base of operations on very defensible hill near Panormous.
Hamilcar Barca


As the fleet left, a land battle now raged all around the city. The Romans in the camp tried to save their ships, while Himilco, seeing the confusion the Carthaginian ships were causing, rallied from inside the town to attack the Romans on two fronts. It would once again end in a stalemate. 114 Their siege of Lilybaeum was so long that the modern town of Marsala still shows the imprint of the Roman camp.


The formidable sight of Mt. Eyrx.

Polybius does not go into detail of Hamilcars actions, but describes the Romans and Carthaginians as two great boxers, bashing away at each other, using feints and hard blows to try and knock out their enemy. The two forces were evenly matched, and more importantly were deeply dug in to their positions. Neither had the strength to dislodge the other during the early years of Hamilcars arrival, and the battles near Mt. Eyrx were taking each of their forces to the breaking point. All the years of constant warfare, the loss of human life, and the disruption of trade were beginning to make both the Roman and Carthaginian Senate crack under the strain of the long and drawn-out war.

14. Battle of the Aegates Islands

In 242 BC, fearing Hamilcars success, the Romans decided to once again change tactics and build yet another fleet. However, the public treasury was empty, so the aristocrats of the Roman Senate reached into their own pockets to finance the building of another 200 warships.


Under the command of the consul Gaius Lutatius Catulus, the Roman fleet sailed to Sicily in order to reinforce those ships that were still laying siege to the ports of Drepana and Lilybaeum. Romes intent was to cut off any support to those cities, and more importantly, to Hamilcar. A fleet of 250 Carthaginian ships arrived at the Aegates Islands off the coast, but waited for a favorable wind in order to race into Lilybaeums harbor. Catulus, however, ordered all the unnecessary equipment removed off his ships, and lowered their masts in order to make his vessels faster. When the two fleets engaged, the Romans were lighter and faster, while the Carthaginians were laden with provisions and reinforcements for Hamilcar. The battle was never in doubt. Polybius explains:

The Carthaginians had assumed that the Romans would never again challenge their naval supremacy, and so in their contempt for their opponents they had neglected their own navy. The result was that immediately the battle was joined they were worsted at one point after another, and were swiftly put to flight: fifty ships were sunk outright and seventy captured with their crews.115

With the loss of this fleet, the supplies, and with no ability to help Drepana, Lilybaeum or Hamilcar, the Carthaginians decided to sue for peace. The 23-year-long First Punic War was finally over.

15. The Cost of War

The Romans ratified the peace terms; the Carthaginians were instructed to evacuate all of Sicily, never to harm Hiero II and the Syracusans, and to free all prisoners incurred during the war. In addition, they were to pay 2,200 talents of silver,116 spread out in payments over the next twenty years. The scale of the forces lost in the First Punic War were gigantic; Polybius says that overall the Romans lost 700 quinqueremes while the Carthaginians, 500. He compares the loses to the wars between the Persians and the Greeks, and the Athenians and the Spartans,

115 116

Book 1.61 Remember, ninety-two years before, when Alexander beat Darius at the Battle of Issus, the Macedonians found over 3,000 talents in Darius traveling treasury.


and states that never before in the history of the world had a war raged this long, and cost so much in human life, materials and money. Polybius, in the final lines of Book I, gives a final opinion on the war:

In respect to individual courage the Romans were far superior, but the general who must be acknowledged as the greatest on either side, both in daring and in genius, was Hamilcar, surnamed Barca. He was in fact the father of that Hannibal who later made war on the Romans.117

Leaving Sicily, Hamilcar Barca returned to Carthage to put down a rebellion by her mercenaries, who did not care if Carthage lostthey just wanted to get paid. The rebellion was bloody and fierce, but no direct account of it survives to validate what happened. In 238 BC, while Carthage was embroiled with the Mercenary War, Rome annexed the islands of Sardinia and Corsica. In addition, they forced the Carthaginians to pay another 1,200 talents for the trouble. When the Carthaginians protested, Rome used the treaty as a smokescreen and threatened a renewal of hostilities. Carthage remained silent, for now. The following year Hamilcar finally crushed the Mercenary War and then set out with an army along the North African coast towards Spain.118 Crossing over into southern Spain, he set about expanding Carthaginian power, since their possessions in Sardinia and Corsica were now lost. For the next eight years Hamilcar fought against the native Celts in Spain, called CeltIberians. In 228 BC, Hamilcar was killed; however, his legacy as a general of extraordinary skill was assured. Before his death, he had founded the port of Barcino on the eastern coast of Spain, after his family name, Barca. Today the port city still survives, as does the derivation of Hamilcars family name: Barcelona.

16. Gallic Troubles Again

After the death of Hamilcar, command passed to Hasdrubal the Fair, who was skilled in diplomacy and military ability. He had commanded the fleet that followed Hamilcar initially into Spain nearly a decade before. During Hasdrubals command in 226 BC, Roman ambassadors
117 118

Book 1.61 236 BC


visited him and completed a treaty between Rome and Carthage concerning Spain. It marked the Ebro River as the dividing line between Roman controlled territory to the north, and Carthaginian territory to the south. The speed and necessity of this treaty quickly became evident, because an old foe was again on the move in the north of Italythe Gauls. Back in 390 BC, the Roman errors at Clusium prompted a Gallic army to quickly give up the siege of the city and march on Rome, destroying a Roman army that had come out to meet them. The city was sacked, and a humiliating bribe was paid to the Gauls for them to leave. From that moment on, Rome emerged as a defensive Republic, ever aware of the enemies on her frontier who might one day pose a threat. Now, unexpectedly, the northern Gallic tribes of the Boii, Insubres, and Gaesatae formed into one large army and marched south into Roman territory. Rome quickly assembled her forces to meet the renewed Gallic threat. In Sardinia, the consul Gaius Atilius Regulus set sail with his forces for Italy.119 He was the son of Marcus Atilius Regulus, the consul who had lost to Xanthippus and the Carthaginians during the failed invasion of Africa. The other consul, Lucius Aemilius Papus, was on the east coast of Italy near modern-day Venice. In central Italy an unknown praetor commanded an army directly in the path of the oncoming Gauls. The Gallic army descended through Etruria and set up camp, ironically, near the town of Clusium. The praetor and his army

Gaius brother, Marcus, held the consulship in 227 BC.


noticed the campfires of the enemy camp, and saw the Gallic cavalry hastily leaving at dawn the next day. Unknown to the Romans, the Gallic infantry had slipped out under the cover of darkness to a defensible hill about 8 miles away. The cavalry were left behind to light the campfires and give the impression to the Romans that the entire army was still encamped at Clusium. The Romans took the bait and pursued the cavalry, only to fall into the Gallic trap. The Gauls charged the Roman force and caught them by complete surprise. Despite the fight being hotly contested, the weight of Gallic arms and courage put the Roman army to flight. Around 6,000 Romans fell, while the survivors retreated to a nearby hill that offered a strong defense. However, the Gauls were tired from battle and did not pursue. The Gauls now held a council of war and decided that they had collected enough wealth from their raid into Etruria, and now started marching home. They also learned that Papus and his consular army was shadowing them, and they decided to avoid a direct conflict and head north. The consul hesitated against directly attacking the Gallic force, and was content at the moment to harass the rear of the enemy army and recover some of the plunder that they had taken. Unknown to the Gauls or even Papus, Regulus and his army had landed near Pisae in the north and were currently proceeding south towards Rome.

17. Battle of Telamon

As the Gauls approached the shore near the city of Telamon, some of the foragers were captured by the advance guard of Regulus army. They revealed the Gallic position and strength, and Regulus realized that he was in the extraordinary position of trapping the Gauls between his army and Papus, who was still shadowing the Gallic enemy. Regulus wanted to occupy a prominent hill overlooking the battlefield, and he himself went forward with his advance cavalry to scout the position. However, the Gauls assumed that the cavalry they encountered ahead of them was Papus somehow, who had managed to get around them during the night. Quickly, though, the Gauls learned of the true identity of Regulus forces and decided on a bold strategy. The Gallic army, realizing that they were caught in a pocket between two Roman armies, changed their normal battle formation and faced the


army in both directions, back to back. Papus, realizing the good fortune of running into Regulus forces, sent reinforcements to secure the hill that was being contested. The Gauls had 50,000 infantry and 20,000 cavalry against a Roman army of slightly more numerous infantry, but only 5,400 cavalry. The Gauls were a frightful sight, as Polybius explains:

The Insubres and the Boii wore their trousers and light cloaks, but the Gaesatae had been moved by their thirst for glory and their defiant spirit to throw away these garments, and so they took up their positions in front of the whole army naked and wearing nothing but their arms. They believed that they would be better-equipped for action in this state, as the ground was in places overgrown with brambles and these might catch in their clothes and hamper them in the use of their weapons.120

The fighting over the hill was fierce and Regulus lost his life in the melee. His head, according to Gallic custom, was cut off and brought to their king. However, possession of the hills went to the Romans, whose cavalry finally overcame the Gallic force there. Polybius continues:

By this time the infantry were almost in contact, and the battlefield provided a strange and marvelous spectacle, not only to those who were actually present, but to all those who could afterwards picture it in their imagination from the reports.121

The battle was between three armies in a confined space, and Polybius states the spectacle that was beheld by all those there:

For their part the Romans felt encouraged at having trapped the enemy between their two armies, but at the same time dismayed by the splendid array of the Celtic host and the ear-splitting din which they created. There were countless horns and trumpets being blown simultaneously in their ranks, and as the whole
120 121

Book 2.28 Book 2.29


army was also shouting its war-cries, there arose such a babel of sound that it seemed to come not only from the trumpets and the soldiers but from the whole surrounding countryside at once.122

The Gauls, whose warrior culture was based off individual glory, faced an enemy who was on two fronts, with little or no hope of escape if they lost. Each of the Gallic warriors believed in reincarnation, and that dying in battle was the best way for them to meet death. But death was only temporary since they knew theyd be born again. The release of death added to their courage. Think of a football stadium at full capacity, when a cheer goes up and reverberates and seems to echo from everywhere. Now double it, and you might get close to the noise that echoed on the battlefield at Telamon. When the infantry clashed, the Romans let loose volleys of spears, called pila, which caused the greatest havoc among the Gaesatae. Without shields, armor or clothes, the spears found their deadly mark, and those who did have shields found themselves encumbered by the Roman spear now stuck in it. Despite this, the Gauls fought fiercely. The Roman advantage in arms quickly became clear. The Gallic shield did not cover as much of the body as the Roman, and while the Gauls used a sword that was much longer than the gladius of the Romans, it could not be used effectively. The Gallic sword was meant more for swinging and cutting, while the Romans was a thrusting sword. In the confined space of the battlefield, the Gauls could not swing their swords appropriately.




The end came swiftly, as Polybius continues:

The end came when the Gauls were attacked by the Roman cavalry, who delivered a furious charge from the high ground on the flanks; the Gallic cavalry turned and fled, and their infantry were cut down where they stood.123

In the end, the Gallic force was not just defeated, but annihilated. Around 40,000 were killed, including one of their kings, and about 10,000 taken prisoner. The captured Gallic armor was brought to Rome, and used to decorate the Capitoline Hill. Back in 390 BC, the Gauls said that they would not take off their armor until they had entered the Capitol after it had been captured. It never was, and now the Romans mockingly displayed them for all to see. The Gallic nightmare was over. The remains of the Gallic armya few thousand cavalryfled the battlefield to the safety of the north. The Romans lost about 10,000 men themselves, but it was nevertheless a clear victory for Rome. Afterwards, the Roman forces raided the territory of the Boii and pillaged it. Next, the Romans marched against what was left of the Insubres and subjugated other northern tribes. The Gallic tribes were quiet, for the moment.

Questions and Reflection

110. 111. 112. 113. 114. What type of tactics did Hamilcar Barca employ against the Romans? What made the Carthaginian ships so heavy in the Battle of the Aegates Islands? What did Carthage have to give up at the end of the First Punic War? Where did Carthage expand her power after she lost Sardinia and Corsica? Why did the Gaesatae fight naked at the Battle of Telamon?

Reflection Essay 34. After World War I, Germany was punished so hard for the war that it unintentionally bred the circumstances that would bring about World War II. How is that similar to the end of the First Punic War, when it should be no surprise that Carthage will again wage war on Rome?


Book 2.30


Chapter X
The Second Punic War: Invasion to Cannae

1. Swear to Baal
Six years before the end of the First Punic War, in 247 BC, Hannibal Barca was born. He was the son of Hamilcar, the famously ingenious and daring Carthaginian commander who reluctantly had to give up Sicily to the Romans at the conclusion of Carthages first war with Rome. After crushing a revolt of Carthages mercenaries, Hamilcar set out for Spain with his 9year-old son. The Roman historian Livy says that:

Hannibalbegged, with all the childish arts he could muster, to be allowed to accompany him; whereupon Hamilcar, who was preparing to offer sacrifice for a successful outcome, led the boy to the altar and made him solemnly swear124, with his hand upon the sacred victim, that as soon as he was old enough he would be the enemy of the Roman people.125

Hannibal went with his father, Hamilcar, when he led his army westward along the North African coast and crossed over the Strait of Gibraltar into southern Spain in 236 BC. After eight years of successful warfare, Hamilcar was suddenly killed in battle,126 and command shifted to his second-in-command and son-in-law, Hasdrubal the Fair, who had commanded the Carthaginian ships that accompanied Hamilcar on the initial invasion into Spain. Hasdrubal founded the city of Nova Carthago on the southeastern coast (modern Cartagena), which became the capital of Carthaginian Spain. For another eight years Hasdrubal commanded the forces in Spain, more by peaceful diplomacy than by force. It was during this time that Rome sent ambassadors in 226 BC, seeking a treaty to reassure that there would be no immediate


Baal was the chief diety for the Carthaginians, and was of Phoenician origin. Hannibals own name translates as by the grace of Baal. 125 Book 21.1 126 228 BC.


hostilities between Rome and Carthage. At that time Rome was sensing unrest with the Gauls in northern Italy, and would soon be embroiled with the Gallic invasion and the Battle of Telamon. The Treaty of the Ebro River clearly defined Rome and Carthages territory; those areas south of the Ebro would be Carthaginian controlled, while all those north of the river would fall under Romes dominion.

Roman and Carthaginian Territory in 218 BC

Despite his able command, in 221 BC Hasdrubal the Fair was murdered and command of the forces now fell to 26-year-old Hannibal Barca. The reaction from the troops, as Livy tells us, was dramatic:


The troops received him with unanimous enthusiasm, the old soldiers feeling that in the person of this young man Hamilcar himself was restored to them. In the features and expression of the sons face they saw the father once again, the same vigour in his look, the same fire in his eyes.127

Hamilcar Barca had been an extremely capable Carthaginian general; however, the future successes of his son would overshadow his glory, as Alexander had done to Philip. In this same passage Livy gives us perhaps the most descriptive ancient account of Hannibal:

Power to command and readiness to obey are rare associates; but in Hannibal they were perfectly united, and their union made him as much valued by his commander as by his men. Hasdrubal preferred him to all other officers in any action which called for vigor and courage, and under his leadership the men invariably showed to the best advantage both dash and confidence. Reckless in courting danger, he showed superb tactical ability once it was upon him. Indefatigable both physically and mentally, he could endure with equal ease excessive heat or excessive cold; he ate and drank not to flatter his appetites but only so much as would sustain his bodily strength. his time for waking, like his time for sleeping, was never determined by daylight or darkness: when his work was done, then, and then only, he rested, without need, moreover, of silence or a soft bed to woo sleep to his eyes. Often he was seen lying in his cloak on the bare ground amongst the common soldiers on sentry or picket duty. His arms, like the horses he rode, was always conspicuous, but not his clothes, which were like those of any other officer of his rank and standing. Mounted or un-mounted he was unequalled as a fighting man, always the first to attack, the last to leave the field.128

Livys account of Hannibals virtues almost pours off the page, which is surprising when one remembers that it was written by a Roman historian over two hundred years after the Second Punic War. Compare Hannibals virtues to what Livy writes of his flaws:
127 128

Book 21.4 Ibid.


So much for his virtuesand they were great; but no less great were his faults: inhuman cruelty, a more than Punic treacherousness, a total disregard of truth, honor, and religion, of the sanctity of an oath and of all that other men hold sacred.129

Livys list of Hannibals negative attributes is noticeably less than his good qualities. He even writes that Hannibal was a great military leader in the very next sentence. As an author writing at the beginning of the Roman Empire, at a time of social upheaval and powerful proRoman sentiments, Livy could not openly have favored a Carthaginian general over a Roman, but a certain amount of admiration is obviously evident in his account. Livy himself admitted that he favored the centuries of the Roman Republic before his birth, and lamented the state of the world in which he was living (59
BC17 AD).

Questions and Reflection

115. Where did Carthaginian power expand after the First Punic War? 116. What was the name of the river that divided Roman from Carthaginian power in Iberia? 117. Who commanded Spain after Hamilcar? 118. How old was Hannibal when he took command? Reflection Essay 35. Do you think Hannibal would be a good CEO? State a few reasons why you believe this.

Hannibal Barca


Book 21.4


2. The Siege of Saguntum

After the assassination of Hasdrubal the Fair, Hannibal consolidated power in the territory south of the Ebro, attacking and laying siege to all hostile tribal strongholds.130 Under the previously agreed Treaty of the Ebro River with Rome, these actions were within the Carthaginian sphere of influence. Hannibal continued to pillage and subdue the native tribes, until the last of the resistance, those of the Carpetani tribe, were wiped out at the Tagus River. Saguntum was now isolated deep within Carthaginian territory (see map on p.169). Feeling threatened with imminent attack, ambassadors from Saguntum went to Rome to request military protection. While the Senate was deliberating what to do, word reached them that Hannibal had already begun his attack on the city. Debate raged in the Roman Senate as to their course of action, finally settling on sending ambassadors to Hannibal to caution him to leave the Saguntines alone, since they were allies of the Roman people.131 The consuls of that year, Publius Cornelius Scipio132 and Titus Sempronius Longus, were to raise the legions for the upcoming war, while two other men, Publius Valerius Flaccus and Quintus Baebius Tamphilus, were sent to question Hannibal himself. If a settlement was not reached with the Carthaginian general, then they were instructed to proceed directly to Carthage and force the issue with the Carthaginian Senate.


Livy says that as soon as Hannibal took command, he decided to make war upon Saguntum at once, (Book 21.5) but in fact, he did not. 131 Book 21.6 132 Roman sons usually took the name of their father, which can cause confusion. This Scipio is the father of the more famous Scipio Africanus, who will go on to defeat Hannibal.


When the Roman ambassadors arrived at Saguntum, they found the city well under siege by Hannibal. However, they received a somewhat chilly reception from the Carthaginians. As Livy says:

Meanwhile the envoys from Rome arrived. But messengers from Hannibal met them at their ships and advised them that it would be unsafe for them to come into the camp among the half-savage native troops. Moreover, Hannibal, they said, had no time to listen to embassies during such a crisis.133

In other words, they were snubbed. Hannibal knew what the course of that meeting would bring, and did not even bother to talk to the ambassadors. During the continuing siege of Saguntum, Hannibal received a javelin wound in his thigh.134 The Saguntine defense was valiant, but the city eventually fell after 8 months, and Hannibal secured this last independent city-state south of the Ebro River. He returned to New Carthage and began in earnest to prepare for the invasion of Italy.135

3. You Decide, Fabius

News reached Rome that Saguntum had fallen, and that Hannibal had departed from New Carthage with a large, well-trained army. The Romans knew they were going to be attacked, and that another war with Carthage had indeed begun. According to custom, the consuls prepared their legions, made public prayers for a successful outcome, and all other arrangements necessary for the oncoming war. Rome now sent a second delegation to the Carthaginian Senate, where they were met by cold hostility. Hannibals, and to a great extent his fathers, successes in Spain had made the senators of Carthage partisan to the Barcid family, and now there was little dissent to not go to war with Rome. Fabius, a leading Roman senator, gave the Carthaginian Senate a choice. Livy wrote:
133 134

Book 21.9 Livy actually makes mention of a timeline error made by Polybius, from whom he was using as a more contemporary author to the events of the Second Punic War. (Book 21.5). 135 Polybius gives very specific numbers as to Hannibals troop preparations, which he says he got from a plaque that Hannibal left in southern Italy at the end of the war. He says, I considered this to be an absolutely trustworthy piece of evidence, I had no hesitation in following it. (Book 3.33).


Fabius, in answer, laid his hand on the fold of his toga, where he had gathered it at the breast, and, Here, he said, we bring you peace and war. Take which you will. Scarcely had he spoken, when the answer no less proudly rang out: Whichever you pleasewe do not care. Fabius let the gathered folds fall, and cried: We give you war.136

The Second Punic War had officially begun.


Book 21.18


4. Hannibals March
The Roman envoys now sailed on to Spain, in an attempt to convince some of Carthages Spanish allies to go over to their sidethey failed. Thereupon the Romans went north into Gaul, and sought audience with the Gallic chiefs and their warriors. When they were asked by Fabius to fight the Carthaginians and protect Rome, the Roman delegation was openly laughed at. The Gauls were already aware of Hannibal, who had long ago sent scouts and ambassadors north in an attempt to raise allies, or at least get those tribes to allow his army to pass by unharmed. The Gauls told the Romans that they knew what had befallen their cousins in northern Italy not long before, and they were certainly not willing to help Rome. Failing here too, the Roman delegation returned home. Hannibal had two brothers, Hasdrubal and Mago; the former he put in charge of Spain, with the order to raise more troops and follow him into Italy as soon as he was able, while Mago went with the army as one of Hannibals most trusted generals. After offering prayers, Hannibal left New Carthage in 218 BC and crossed the Ebro River in late spring with nearly 90,000 infantry and 12,000 cavalry. He crossed the Pyrenees Mountains, secured the alliance of the Gallic tribes on the other side, and reached the Rhone River in southern Gaul (France) by September. However, Hannibal and his army now met resistance from a native Gallic tribe called the Allobroges, who cared for neither the Romans nor the Carthaginian forces that were now attempting to cross through their territory. The Rhone River was broad, and not easily crossable. In addition, the Allobroges occupied the opposite shore, and were watching Hannibal and his armys movements, waiting for an opportune moment to attack this invader. Unknown to the Gauls, Hannibal had sent a detachment of forces upstream, which crossed the river where it was more easily fordable. As Hannibal and part of his army began to cross the Rhone River on small boats, the Gauls, in their midst of screaming and challenging the oncoming force, where totally taken by surprise when the Carthaginians attacked them from behind. As Hannibals troops landed on the opposite shore, the Gallic force panicked and ran. Having secured both river banks, Hannibal now began to cross the bulk of his army.


Perhaps the most difficult part of the crossing was for the elephants, which feared the river and would not willingly get on the rafts. According to Livy, Hannibal ordered large piers built, 200 feet long and 50 feet wide, and covered with dirt and grass. The elephants were calmly led onto piers, thinking they were still on solid ground. Then, a large raft was brought up to the end of the pier, and the elephants obligingly walked onto them, since it too was covered with dirt and vegetation. When ready, the raft was detached and floated across to the opposite shore. It was in this manner that Hannibal moved his 37 elephants to the eastern side of the Rhone River. Not wishing a battle with Rome yet, Hannibal led his army northward in order to make a crossing of the Alps at a location unknown to the Romans. Just days later, a Roman army under the command of Publius Cornelius Scipio arrived too late at Hannibals camp, which had been recently abandoned. Scipio separated his army, giving the bulk of the forces to his brother Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio137 with orders to conquer Spain from Hasdrubal, while he would go on to northern Italy and wait for Hannibals eventual crossing of the Alps. The Gallic tribes living in northern Gaul were restless after their recent wars with Rome, and Publius rightly feared what would happen if Hannibal were allowed to link up with them. Historians are not sure where Hannibal crossed the Alps, but the march was full of danger, from both hostile mountain tribes and the extremes of the Alpine winter. The Carthaginian army was crossing in late November, and the snows were already blanketing the passes. Hannibals army fought and marched for nine days to the summit, and then began the more difficult decent into the Italian plain. The slopes of the mountains were, as Livy says, far steeper and more precipitous on this side of the Alps. Men and animals slipped off the narrow paths to their doom below. At one point, the army halted, and Hannibal rode forward to see

Gnaeus was nicknamed Calvus meaning the Bald.


the cause. A landslide had blocked their route, and there was no easy way around it. Livy wrote:

It was necessary to cut through the rock, a problem they solved by the ingenious application of both heat and moisture; large trees were felled and lopped, and a huge pile of timber erected; this, with the opportune help of a strong wind, was set on fire, and when the rock was sufficiently heated the mens rations of sour wine were flung upon it, to break them apart.138

Not even nature could stop Hannibal and his army. After fifteen days Hannibals army had finally crossed the Alps and descended the lower slopes into Italy. The march from Saguntum had taken 5 months and had cost him the lives of many soldiers. Polybius says that Hannibal descended out of the Alps with 12,000 African troops, 8,000 Spanish, and no more than 6,000 cavalry. This is in stark contrast to his initial army, which had withered from a beginning total of 90,000 men in Spain, and was already down to 38,000 at the Rhone.139

Questions and Reflection

119. 120. 121. 122. 123. What was the name of the city that Hannibal attacked in Spain, starting the Second Punic War? What was the name of the Roman ambassador who declared war on Carthage? What mountain range did Hannibal cross between Spain and Gaul? What was the name of the river that Hannibal crossed his elephants on rafts? How long was Hannibals march from Spain to his crossing of the Alps?

Reflection Essay 36. Hannibal took horrendous losses since setting out from Spain. Do you consider him a good commander on that point? If so, defend your reason.

138 139

Book 21.37 Hannibal had left men in Spain and Gaul in order to secure his route, plus some were lost due to disaffection and, of course, the crossing itself.


5. Skirmish at the Ticinnus River

When Hannibals army arrived in Italy, he immediately set out to restore what was left of his forces to good fighting order, since he knew that the Romans would attempt a battle at the earliest opportunity. Hannibal quickly assaulted a nearby Gallic town that had snubbed a proposed allegiance, taking it within three days. Perhaps out of fear, other Gallic towns now allied themselves with Hannibal, while others remained quiet. Publius Scipio and his army were nearby, and it was likely that they were waiting to see how this confrontation would play out before they chose a side. He had sailed from the Rhone and marched his Roman army into the Po Valley to oppose Hannibal whenever he eventually crossed the Alps. Here, Publius had made camp and kept watch on the Gallic tribes, all the while awaiting the Carthaginian forces. He had shown Hannibal that he was competent and bold, and not to be overestimated. The Romans had encamped near the Ticinnus River, which was a rather small tributary from the Alps that fed into the larger Po River, and kept an eye to the north. Both sides knew that their enemy was close, but not sure where, so each general decided to send out a large scouting party and accompany it themselves. By chance they came into contact with each other, and Hannibal quickly pushed his forces forward before the Romans could use their javelin-throwers, which would have wreaked havoc on the Carthaginian cavalry. In the melee of this skirmish, Publius Scipio was seriously wounded and found himself isolated, along with just a handful of other Roman soldiers and the enemy all around. His 18-year-old son of the same name, Publius Cornelius Scipio, drove his horse in and rescued his wounded father (whom I will call the Elder from now on in order to distinguish him from his son). Disengaging, the Romans returned to their main camp on the other side of the Po River. Upon hearing that the Carthaginians could resist the Romans, some Gallic tribes now decided to throw in their lot with Hannibal. Even some Gauls who were allied with Rome now decided that their fate was better with the Carthaginians. Polybius wrote:

Meanwhile the Gallic contingents who were serving in the Roman army had decided that the Carthaginians prospects were decidedly brighter and had concerted a plot among themselves; for the moment they remained quietly in their quarters, while they watched for an opportunity to attack the Romans. All ranks within the entrenched camp had taken their evening meal and retired to


rest; the Gauls then waited for the greater part of the night to pass, seized their arms about the time of the morning watch, and fell upon the Romans who were quartered near them. They killed many men outright and wounded not a few, and finally after cutting off the heads of those they had murdered, they went over to the Carthaginians.140

The Gauls arrived in Hannibals camp, holding Roman heads as proof of their loyalty. As enthusiastic as these Gauls were, many tribes were still very cautious about showing Carthaginian support. The next day Hannibal marched his army to the Roman camp, but Scipio the Elder had known that the Carthaginians would be coming and ordered it evacuated and the bridge across the Po River demolished. The Roman forces continued to retreat south of the Po River and made a new camp on a strong defensive hill. Here, Scipio attempted to recover from his wound and awaited the arrival of the other consular army, under the command of Tiberius Sempronius Longus.

6. Battle of the River Trebbia

Even before the Battle of the Ticinnus River, the Senate had ordered Tiberius Sempronius Longus back to Italy to help stop Hannibal. The consul had been in Sicily preparing for a Roman invasion of Africa, but the speed of Hannibals arrival forced a change in the aggressive Roman battle strategy. Crossing over into Italy from Messina, Longus marched up the Via Amelia to Placentia, a Roman colony near Scipios camp.141 It is not known whether Longus joined his forces with Scipios or remained in their own separate camp nearby, but whatever the case Hannibal devised a trap for his adversary. He needed a victory over the Romans in order to convince the remaining Gauls to join the Carthaginian cause. Some local Gauls were trying to
140 141

Book 3.67 th As the Roman armies expanded throughout Italy in the late 4 century BC, Rome constructed a series of well-built roads (called via in the singular), named after the Roman who commissioned its building; here, named after Marcus Aemilius Lepidus.


play both sides, and Hannibal methodically devastated their countryside. However, while doing this, the Roman forces of Longus caught the Carthaginians by surprise, and managed to win a minor victory. Hannibal, however, knew now that Longus could be provoked to battle. The next day, Hannibal chose over 2,000 of his best infantry and cavalry, and sent them to a nearby hill under the command of his brother, Mago. Polybius wrote:

Hannibal had some time before noticed a piece of ground between the two camps, which, although flat and treeless, was well suited for an ambush; it was crossed by a watercourse with high overhanging banks that were densely overgrown with thorns and brambles, and here he planned to lay a trap for the enemy. He had a good chance of catching them off their guard, for the Romans always suspected wooded ground because the Celts were apt to choose such terrain for their ambushes, but they had no fear of treeless spaces. They overlooked the fact that the latter may offer the concealment and security required for an ambush even more effectively than woods, for the reason that the men who were lying in wait have an excellent view over long distances and in most cases can also find sufficient cover. A watercourse with an overhanging bank and a quantity of reeds or ferns or some kind of thorny plants conserved to conceal not only infantry but even cavalry, if the simple precaution is taken of laying any shields which carry blazons flat on the ground and hiding the helmets underneath them.142

Mago and his forces arrived at their ambush location under the cover of darkness, aware that the Romans were preparing for battle the next day. At dawn, Hannibal sent a detachment of Numidian cavalry to attack Longus camp, but quickly fell back to the river when challenged. This was part of Hannibals plan, and had the desired effectLongus quickly assembled and rushed his soldiers out of camp in order to pursue the Carthaginians. The weather conditions that morning were horrible, as it was December and the winter snow was already falling. Again, we turn to Polybius:


Book 3.71


The day was bitterly cold with occasional guts of snow, and the men and horses had almost all left the camp without having taken their morning meal. At first they (the Romans) were buoyed up by their natural high spirits and martial ardour, but when they had to ford the Trebbia, which was in full flood because of the rain which had fallen in the previous night on the high ground above the camp, the infantry had great difficulty in wading across, since the water was running breast high. In consequence, as the day wore on the whole army began to suffer intensely from the cold and from the desire for food. The Carthaginians, by contrast, who had eaten and drunk in their tents and groomed their horses, were all anointing and arming themselves round their campfires.143

By attacking the Romans early, before they had a chance to eat breakfast and prepare for battle, Hannibal put an advantage to the Carthaginians, who were comfortably back in their own camp. They were eating a good meal in preparation for the battle, and putting oil on their skin in order to stay warm. As Hannibal had predicted, the extreme cold and snow quickly drained the strength of the Romans, especially since they had to wade through the frigid Alpine waters of the Trebbia River. Cold and hungry, the Romans found a fully fed and warm Carthaginian army waiting for them.


Book 3.72.


With difficulty, Longus army completed the crossing of the Trebbia and advanced on the Carthaginians, who numbered about 30,000 men, which included about 10,000 cavalry. The Romans, by contrast, had nearly twice as many infantry but only half the number of cavalry. As the two battle lines engaged, the cold and wet hampered the Roman infantry, while the Carthaginian cavalry drove their adversary from the battlefield. With their infantry flanks now exposed, the Carthaginians pressed in with their elephants. Things were getting desperate for Longus, and it was at that key moment when Mago and his troops appeared in the battle, having come out of hiding behind the Roman lines. As the Romans had crossed the river, Mago and his forces had watched as their enemy marched confident up to the Carthaginian position, unaware that they sat in ambush behind them, waiting for this decisive moment. Now the Roman forces began to panic and buckle, with only the Roman center having any success. They held their nerve, and hacked through the African and Gallic units of Hannibals army. Having seen that the battle was lost, the 10,000 Romans who broke through the center now retreated back across the river and sought the safety of their camp. Livy explains the horrible weather conditions at the close of this battle:

Rain, sleet and intolerable cold carried off many of the pack-animals and nearly all the elephants. At the river-bank the Carthaginians ceased their pursuit, and on their return to camp the men were so numbed from the cold that they could hardly feel pleasure in their victory.144

Because of the cold and torrential downpour, the Carthaginians did not pursue the Romans, and allowed them to retreat from their camp across the river to the nearby town of Placentia. Longus, who survived the battle, along with the still-wounded Scipio, retreated with the remains of their combined forces across the Po River to Cremona. For Hannibal, however, the weather conditions were no less devastating; all of his elephants died, except for one, and a great number of men and horses perished from the cold. When word reached Rome of this disaster, the consuls designate,145 Gaius Flaminius and Gnaeus Servilius, took steps to mobilize all the Roman forces throughout Italy and Sicily. Polybius wrote:

144 145

Book 21.56 The consuls had been elected for the next year, but had not taken up the office yet.


In short, they hastened their preparations in every direction. It is when the Romans stand in real danger that they are most to be feared, and this principle applies both to their public and their private life.146

Questions and Reflection

124. Who rescues the Roman general at the Ticinnus River? 125. Based on where the Romans had their legions, where do you think they were expecting the next war to be located? 126. What was the name of Hannibals brother who fought with him at Trebbia ? 127. What was the name of Hannibals brother who had remained back in Spain ? 128. What saved the Romans who had escaped from Trebbia? Reflection Essay 37. People always associate elephants with Hannibal. Why?

7. Disaster at Lake Trasimene

As 217 BC began, Hannibal was encamped in Cisalpine Gaul and was preparing to march south as soon as possible. He feared the temperament of the Gallic allies, and was nervous of their betrayal while they impatiently waited to invade Roman territory. Many Roman highways ran south, but Hannibal feared attack on these roads, so he decided to go through the marshes of Etruria. Hannibal put his African and Spanish units at the head of the column, then the Gauls, and in the rear his brother Mago who commanded the cavalry. The hardened Carthaginian units did well marching through the wet marsh, while the Gallic units were far less effective since they were not accustomed to that kind of hardship. They marched for four days and three nights, sleeping when they could on little bits of dry land or the piles of those men and animals which had died. Hannibal rode the one surviving elephant, Syrus, but nonetheless became ill from the marsh,147 getting an infection in one of his eyes. Without the ability to stop and have a doctor look at it, he permanently lost sight in that eye. Once he reached the edge of the marsh, Hannibal gathered intelligence about the current consul, Gaius Flaminius and his army. He concluded that Flaminius was a politician, and
146 147

Book 3.76. The elephants became sick from the previous cold and wet conditions of the Alps and Trebbia, and had all died except for Syrus.


possessed little talent for the conduct of war. The area around Hannibal in central Italy was lush and offered a wealth of plunder, and Hannibal set about devastating the countryside. Knowing that Flaminius would not suffer the indignity of seeing Roman territory ravaged, the Carthaginian army now marched further south towards Lake Trasimene. Hannibal wanted Flaminius to think that the Carthaginians were just blindly ravaging Roman territory, but it was here that he planned his next trap. The Romans were so confident that crowds followed Flaminius and his army, hoping to see Hannibals destruction firsthand. They even carried chains in anticipation of putting them on any Carthaginians that might survive the forthcoming battle. Hannibal understood this blind arrogance, and used it to his advantage. When they reached the north side of Lake Trasimene, Hannibal stationed his troops in the hills near the shore of the lake. Only a narrow path wound around the lake to a valley on the other side, and Hannibal knew this was the place to lay his trap. Under the cover of darkness he ordered his troops quietly into the nearby forest that overlooked the lake, and waited for the Romans to march blindly past. Flaminus and his 40,000 troops had camped late the previous night, and set out early the next morning,148 eager to pursue the Carthaginians. As the


June 21 , 218 BC



Roman column wound its way around the shore, their vision was obscured by an intense fog and morning mist. As the column neared the valley on the other side, they found their exit blocked by enemy forces, and all along the Roman line the Carthaginians suddenly sprang from hiding. Polybius wrote of the horror the Romans now faced:

They found themselves under attack simultaneously from the front, the flanks and the rear. In consequence most of the troops were cut down while they were still in marching order and without the least chance of defending themselves, delivered up to slaughter, so to speak, by a complete lack of judgment on the part of their commander; in a word, death took them unawares while they were still wondering what to do. Flaminius himself, demoralized and thrown into utter despair by what had happened, was attacked and killed by a band of Gauls. Some 15,000 Romans perished in the valley. In this situation they could do nothing to help themselves, and yet they would not yield to circumstances; the Romans considered it their supreme duty, as all their training had taught them, never to turn tail or to leave their ranks. As for those in the rear who had been trapped between the hillside and the lake, they suffered an even more humiliating, or rather pitiable fate. They found themselves herded into the lake, whereupon some lost their heads, tried to swim away in their armor and were drowned, while the greater number waded as far as they could. There they stood with only their heads above the water; then, when the cavalry rode in after them and death stared them in the face, they raised their hands, uttering the most piteous pleas for mercy and begging to be spared. In the end they were either killed by the horsemen or steeled themselves to self-destruction.149

The trap was perfect. The consul Flaminius was dead, along with 30,000 Roman and allied soldiers, while 4,000 were taken prisoner; another 6,000 escaped to a nearby town, but were soon caught as well. The Roman force was not just mauled, but completely annihilated. When the prisoners were brought before Hannibal, he freed the Roman allies and sent them home to their native cities, telling them that he was in Italy to fight Rome, not them. It was a tactic he employed after the Trebbia as well, in order to win over the Italian allies, who supplied half of

Book 3.84


the manpower for the legions. The rest of the Romans were sold into slavery. The following day another 4,000 cavalry, which had been sent ahead by the other consul, Gnaeus Servilius, arrived as a relief force, but Hannibal was aware of their approach and destroyed them as well.

An aerial view of Lake Trasimene, with a view of the north shore. The islands of Isola Maggiore and Minore are absent in the Wiki image above, but the promontory jutting out into the lake between the islands can be matched on the map.


8. Roman Panic
When the news of Flaminius defeat reached Rome, the people were summoned together and told of the disaster. At first there was a stunned silence, but quickly panic began to spread through the city. The remainder of Flaminius consulship was given to an elder senator and ex-consul named Marcus Atilius Regulus, whose brother had died against the Gauls at the Battle of Telamon in 225 BC, and whose father had fought in the First Punic War. The Romans feared that Hannibal was now only days away from marching on their city. Despite the victory at Trebbia and Trasimene, the Carthaginian soldiers were desperate for rest. Therefore, Hannibal led his forces east down the Adriatic coast, and gave his army the respite and recovery it so badly needed. Those soldiers that needed to be re-armed were given the best of the Roman weapons that their victories had given them. When Hannibal was near the sea again he sent word back to Carthage of his victories, which were met with the rejoicing that one would expect. It was in this great state of anxiety and crisis that the Romans now appointed a dictator, the senator Quintus Fabius Maximus, who previously had been an ambassador to Carthage and had held the consulship twice already. The title of dictator (Latin for one who speaks) was an appointed position and emergency leader of the Roman state that was enacted in times of great danger. A dictators leadership was absolute, and possessed an authority unseen since the days of the kings. To aid Fabius, Marcus Minucius was elected his second in command, called a Master of Horse, and together with four hastily assembled legions, they set out for Hannibal. Fabius met Gnaeus Servilius and his army on the march, and relieved the former consul of his command and sent him with an escort back to Rome. His forces, however, were combined with Fabius and he set up camp about 6 miles from Hannibals. Testing Fabius, Hannibal marched out of camp and drew up his army for battle outside the Romans fortifications, but the dictator did not march out to meet him. Hannibal was now facing a different type of Roman commander, who would later earn the nickname Delayer (Latin Cunctator). Fabius knew his troops were raw recruits, while Hannibal was now in possession of a well-armed and battle-tested force. He was, however, on foreign soil, and Fabius felt it was in that aspect that he had the advantage. If Hannibal could be isolated without reinforcements, his army could be whittled away by disease and desertion. Despite the loss of two battles, all the Italian cities had remained with Rome, and it was that loyalty that Hannibal wished to test


and destroy. Fabius, unlike former Roman commanders, was not prone to rash action. He would not be provoked into battle and seemed content to shadow the Carthaginians as they moved south, harassing and capturing enemy foraging parties when they lagged behind or went too far astray. Plus, Fabius hoped to rebuild the confidence of the Roman army, which by this time had been seriously shaken. He would not be lured into a pitched battle and repeat the mistakes of previous commanders, and counted on time and desertion to whittle down the Carthaginian forces. In response to Fabius, Hannibal continued to ravage the countryside, with the exception of property that belonged to the dictator. It was Hannibals hope that this act would cast doubt on the loyalty of Fabius command within the Roman Senate, and as such he was summoned back to Rome for inquiry. After Fabius departure, Minucius took command of the Roman forces and soon sought battle with Hannibal. He was deceived and his army was saved only by the timely return of Fabius. The charges against the dictator were dropped, and Fabius had returned as fast as possible, fearing exactly this outcome. From this point onward, Minucius deferred all tactical decisions to his commander. As the Carthaginian forces neared the city of Capua, just north of the Bay of Naples, Hannibal attempted to provoke Fabius to battle by devastating all the extremely fertile land in the area. Again Fabius did not offer battle, but instead attempted to trap Hannibal and his army in the plain by occupying all the passes. Seeing this, Hannibal encamped and ordered his men to bed early, but had them rise a few hours before dawn. Meanwhile, Fabius had all the passes out of the plain blocked, and was waiting with the bulk of the Roman army for Hannibals next move. Suddenly, the Romans awoke to see thousands of torches racing up one of the paths in the darkness, and assumed that Hannibal was attempting a breakout. The Romans rushed their forces to the pass, but were perplexed by what they saw when they got there. Along with a scant force of Carthaginian light infantry were 2,000 oxen, whose horns had been affixed with torches, which were then set alight. What the Romans didnt see was the bulk of the Carthaginian army, with all their baggage and their general, escaping out of the plain through another now un-guarded pass. Fabius may have been cautious, but Hannibal was cunning.


9. The Battle of Cannae

In 216 BC, the new consuls, Lucius Aemilius Paullus and Gaius Terentius Varro, took office and Fabius relinquished his dictatorship since it had now expired.150 The Roman Senate made plans to continue the war by attacking Carthaginian forces in Spain, while troops were brought back from Sicily, including the fleet which was currently at Lilybaeum.151 The Senate decided that an ultimate show of strength was required to oust Hannibal from Italy, so they raised eight legions, a number of men that had never been done in the history of the Republic. Normally the Republic had four legions, with each consul commanding two of them. The average strength of a single legion was about 4000 infantry and 300 cavalry, while the Roman allies contributed an equal number of infantry but typically three times the number of cavalry. The Romans now massed this grand army of the Republic with one intentionto smash Hannibal and the Carthaginians, who were currently on the southeastern coast of Apulia down near the heel of Italy.


Consuls held office for one year, while dictators held power for a briefer six months. The Romans were ever wary of one person holding power too long, even if it was during a crisis. 151 Lilybaeum, the former Carthaginian stronghold, had been in Roman hands since the conclusion of the First Punic War twenty-five years before.


The Roman army of 216 BC numbered roughly 80,000 infantry and 6,000 cavalry, and was so enormous both consuls were present, but since they could not decide on a common battle strategy it was determined that they should alternate command of the whole army on different days.152 The Romans marched south and encamped about 5 miles from Hannibal, while the consuls tried to determine the next course of action. Varro did not have the experience of Paullus, who was being cautious, but instead showed the arrogance and impetuousness of the typical Roman commander. On the following day, Varro took command of the army and marched onto the battlefield near the hill of Cannae and offered combat. Hannibal, with his 40,000 infantry, was outnumbered 2 to 1, but his cavalry had an advantage of 10,000 to the Roman 6,000. Varro massed his infantry, closing the normal gap of five feet between each man down to below three. His plan was to use the momentum of mass and simply smash through the Carthaginian center, as they had done at Trebbia, and afterwards destroy what was left of Hannibals forces. Hannibal, by contrast, offered the Romans one of the most confusing battle lines they had ever seen. He placed his Gallic and Spanish units in the center, but instead of a straight line, the formation bulged out towards the Romans in a great curve. On either side Hannibal stationed his African units, which were now equipped with the finest Roman armor that could be had from all their previous victories. Customarily, on either side, both forces had placed their cavalry. Conversely, the right wing of the Roman army was commanded by Paullus, while Varro commanded the left. Hannibal stood and fought in the center of his army, where he felt it was weakest, in the hope of providing encouragement to his forces and overseeing direct control of his army. As the lines engaged, the sheer mass of the Roman center began pushing the Carthaginian center back. For a short time, the Romans thought that the success they had at the Trebbia River was happening again here at Cannae. A feeling of oncoming triumph drove the Roman legionnaires deeper into the Carthaginian lines. The cavalry on both sides had already engaged, and after a fierce struggle the Romans were driven from the battlefield and remorselessly pursued to the nearby river. 153 With the cavalry gone, it was the infantry who were left to slug it out that hot August afternoon. The Celts and Spaniards gave ground and the bulge that once faced the Romans now became convex as the Romans enthusiastically pushed deeper and deeper into the Carthaginian lines, all the time unaware that this was exactly what

The Roman army was so vast that they had to split it between two camps, as it was to large for the typical camp fortifications. 153 The Aufidus River, now called the Ofanto.


Hannibal was expecting. So blind was the Romans confidence that the normal organization of the maniples, under Varros compressed battle plan, had now become a huge condensed mass of Roman legionnaires, many of whom were now stuck in the middle of this tumult. Unable to move, draw their swords, or even throw their pila, the Romans in the center could only peer through the dust and haze of the battlefield and watch helplessly as events unfolded around them. As the Romans pushed deeper into the Carthaginian line, Hannibal sprung his trap. The Celts and Spaniards stopped retreating and now held their ground, and the Roman advance stalled. Paullus, who had been commanding the right wing at the start of the engagement, now saw the desperate situation and threw himself into the thick of the battle, encouraging his men and exchanging blows with the enemy. Hannibals best units, his African troops, had been placed on each end of the main army, and were now sweeping in like the sides of the letter U.


It was at this point in the four-hour-long battle that the Carthaginian cavalry returned after having routed their Roman counterparts, and fell upon the rear of the enemy infantry. In this desperate melee, Paullus fell from multiple wounds and died. Panic spread through the Roman lines, and now the battle became a slaughter. Completely surrounded, only a few thousand survivors managed to fight their way out to safety, Varro ironically being one of them. Polybius wrote:

So ended the battle between the Romans and the Carthaginians at Cannae, a struggle in which both victors and vanquished fought with indomitable courage. The proof of this is the fact that out of the 6,000 cavalry on the Roman side only seventy escaped with Varro to Venusia, while about 300 of the allied horse took refuge in different cities in scattered groups. Of the infantry, some 10,000 were captured fighting, although not in the actual battle, and only about 3,000 got away from the field to the towns of the neighborhood. All the rest to the number of about 70,000 died gallantly. On Hannibals side about 4,000 Celts were killed, together with 1,500 Spaniards and Africans and about 200 horsemen.154

Livy, who gives a more detailed account of the battle, describes Varros escape as either by chance or design (seu forte seu consilio) and the surviving consul kept clear of the other Roman fugitives on his rapid escape to Venusia. Livy recorded that among the dead were many ex-consuls and men of senatorial rank, nearly 80 in number, which amounted to about 1/3 of the Roman Senate. Twenty-nine out of the forty-eight Roman military Tribunes were killed, and sadly both consuls from the preceding year; Gnaeus Servilius and Marcus Atilius Regulus, who took over after the disaster at Lake Trasimene in order to finish Gaius Flaminius consulship. Like his brother at the Battle of Telamon, and his father in the First Punic War, the cost of serving Rome was his life.


Book 3.117


The hill and battlefield of Cannae.

Questions and Reflection

129. 130. 131. 132. What natural phenomena helped Hannibals trap at Trasimene? What was the name of the dictator elected after Trasimene? What does Cunctator mean? Which Roman commander survived Cannae?

Reflection Essay 38. How can the Battle of Cannae be considered a greater military achievement than Gaugamela?


Chapter XI
The Second Punic War: Scipio Rising

1. A Schoolboys Debate
Right after Cannae, some of the Roman survivors fought their way out of their camp to the nearby town of Canusium. Maharbal, one of Hannibals senior commanders and the man in charge of the Carthaginian cavalry, urged Hannibal to send him ahead to Rome, so that the first news of the battle would be the sight of his own cavalry outside their Roman walls. Hannibal, instead of setting out for Rome right away, decided to rest his troops and carefully weigh his options. Livy wrote of Maharbals reply, Surely the gods did not give everything to one man. You know how to conquer, Hannibal, but you do not know how to use a victory. The decision Hannibal made that day inadvertently saved Rome. Livy wrote, It is generally believe that that days delay was the salvation of the City and of the Empire. For the Carthaginians, however, the next day was one of nightmares as they inspected the dead on the battlefield. Again, we look to Livy:

At dawn next morning the Carthaginians applied themselves to collecting the spoils and viewing the carnage, which even to an enemys eyes was a shocking spectacle. All over the field Roman soldiers lay dead in their thousands, horse and foot mingled, as the shifting phases of the battle, or the attempt to escape, had brought them together. Here and there wounded men, covered with blood, who had been roused to consciousness by the morning cold, were dispatched by a quick blow as they struggled to rise from amongst the corpses; others were found still alive with the sinews in their thighs and behind their knees sliced through, baring their throats and necks and begging who would to spill what little blood they had left. Some had their heads buried in the ground, having apparently dug themselves holes and by smothering their faces with earth had choked themselves to death. Most strange of all was a Numidian soldier, still living, and lying, with his nose and ears horribly lacerated, underneath the body


of a Roman who, when his useless hands had no longer been able to grasp his sword, had died in the act of tearing his enemy, in bestial fury, with his teeth.155

Roman stragglers continue to arrive in Canusium, including Fabius Maximus, son of the dictator, and the 19-year-old Publius Cornelius Scipio, who had previously rescued his father at the Ticcinus River and had fought at Trebbia. Once collected, Varro and the remaining Roman forces began to make their way northward to safety. Back in Rome, the shock of the disaster was beyond anything that the Romans had ever faced in their history. Livy found it difficult to even write of Romes mood at this time, saying, To write of it is beyond my strength, so I shall not attempt to describe what any words of mine would only make less than the truth. He goes on to write, No other nation in the world could have suffered so tremendous a series of disasters, and not been overwhelmed (Nulla profecto alia gens tanta mole cladis non obruta esset). To this day, there is a column with this Latin inscription, which overlooks the battlefield of Cannae (see p. 193). Things only continued to get worse for Rome in 216 BC; emboldened by this Carthaginian victory, the Greek cities of Tarentum and Capua (the second largest city in Italy) went over to Hannibal, along with many other Samnite and Greek towns in southern Italy. Cities in Sicily also rose in revolt, and the new king of Syracuse, Hieronymous, pledged loyalty to Carthage.156 Across the Adriatic Sea, the 22-year-old king of Macedon, Philip V, pledged a treaty of support to Hannibal in order to help bring down what was left of Rome. Rome now found enemies in every direction of the compass, but when Hannibal sent terms of surrender to the Roman Senate, they were refused. The decision that Hannibal took to not march on Rome would change the outcome of the Second Punic War, and gave the city the time it needed to regroup and counter-attack the Carthaginians. For generations afterwards, Roman schoolboys debated in their classes what would have happened if Hannibal had marched on Rome right after Cannae.

155 156

Book 22.51 King Hiero II, ruler of Syracuse during the First Punic War, had died, leaving his 15-year-old grandson as ruler of the city. An embassy from the Roman controlled town of Lilybaeum reached Syracuse and sought to renew their treaty, but were informed that an alliance was no longer possible.


2. The Sword of Rome

Shortly after Cannae, Hannibal made three attempts to take the city of Nola near the Bay of Naples on the southwestern coast, but was unable to get past the defense of Marcus Claudius Marcellus. Proclaimed the Sword of Rome, Marcellus was one of Romes most capable generals, along with Fabius Maximus (called the Shield of Rome for his defensive tactics). Marcellus was on his way to regain Roman control in Sicily when news of Cannae forced his immediate recall to Rome and the citys defense. Having sent part of his force ahead to the capital, Marcellus saw that Hannibal was intending to take Nola and reinforced it with his remaining forces and successfully kept it out of Carthaginian hands. Hannibal sought to destroy Rome by destroying her Republic, which meant separating her from her allies. He understood that the allies provided a huge reserve of manpower for the Roman legions, and losing them would cripple the Republics ability to put armies on the battlefield. In the north, Hannibal had successfully raised the Gauls in revolt and brought them into his army, while in the south the Greek cities threw off Roman domination under the protection of Carthaginian independence. Yet, much to Hannibals surprise, the cities of central Italy remained loyal to the Republic, whether from fear, common sense, or luck. In 214 BC, Marcellus arrived in Sicily and led the Roman siege of Syracuse, while Hannibal still roamed with impudence about Italy. Immediately after Cannae, the Senate had reinstated their previous Fabian Strategy and tried to restrain Hannibals movements in Italy, while at the same time securing their positions in Sicily and Spain. Now, Marcellus sought to retake the city of Syracuse and bring her back into the Republicby force if necessary. Marcellus, ever the capable commander, devised multiple ways to penetrate Syracuses strong defenses.157 Having seen that the walls on the seaward side were weaker than those on land, he had floating siege towers built, which were taller than the walls of the city. However ingenious this tactic was, Marcellus was not prepared for the citys chief defenderArchimedes.


It was Syracuses walls and strong defense that had stopped the Athenians in 413 BC during the Peloponnesian War.


3. Archimedes
The mathematician, inventor, astronomer and engineer named Archimedes was the Leonardo da Vinci of the ancient world. Born in Syracuse in 287 BC, he was already 73-years-old when Marcellus and his army laid siege to his city. He had already gained fame for discovering the mathematical formula for volume, when he sat in a bathtub full of water and caused the excess water to overflow. In an instant he understood the relationship of volume to mass, and in his enthusiasm he ran through the streets of the city yelling, Eureka! (Greek for I got it!). As Marcellus floated his siege towers (sambuca158) up to the citys walls, the Syracusans fired various artillery pieces and iron bolts at them, while cranes swung out large rocks that crashed through the towers. Time after time, Marcellus and the Romans adapted their tactics to penetrate the Syracusan defenses, but again and again Archimedes had some sort of strange contraption to stop the Romans assault. The most famous of these Archimedian inventions was the Archimedes Crane, which was used to devastating effect on the Roman ships. In one attempt, the Romans brought ships with scaling ladders up to the walls of the city, only to see the arm of a crane extended out and over the wall. On the end of the crane was a grappling-iron, which was quickly lowered onto the bow of the enemy ship and hooked. Inside the walls, a counterweight would be engaged, thereby lifting the whole ship out of the water with its stern just touching the sea. The counterweight would be cut loose, and the Roman ship would crash back down into the water with a tremendous crash, causing it to sink.

The sambuca refers to the shape of the tower, which Polybius says looked like an ancient musical instrument of the same name.


The other Roman commander present at the siege of Syracuse, Appius Claudius
Pulcher, son of Marcus Claudius Pulcher, tried to make a breakthrough into Syracuse on the landward side, but the Roman forces faced the same Archimedian machines and found their siege towers crushed by huge stones, while grappbling hooks picked up men in full armor and dropped them to the ground from a great height. 159 Frustrated, Appius gave up on a general assualt of the walls and conferred with his commander, Marcellus, who was equally now frustrated at sea. Both the Romans and Syracusans settled down into a long siege by starvation, nevertheless, the Roman fleet was not able to fully cut-off supplies from reaching the city. Appius was put in charge of the siege, and Marcellus set out to subdue the other parts of Sicily that had revolted against Rome. In 212 BC, the Romans destroyed a Carthaginian relief force that had arrived on the island, and then Marcellus was informed that the Syracuasans were going to celebrate an annual festival to Artemis. Under the cover of darkness, a few Roman soldiers scaled the walls and opened the gates as the drunken revelers slept. The Roman army rushed in and sacked the city, but they were under direct orders from Marcellus not to harm Archimedes. In spite of this, a Roman soldier came upon Archimedes as he was working on some equations in his home, and when he protested this interruption (Do not disturb my circles!) he killed Archimedes on the spot.160

Questions and Reflection

133. 134. 135. 136. 137. What other battle against Hannibal did Scipo the Younger survive besides Cannae? What are the two primary authors used for the Punic Wars? What two areas revolted from Roman control after Cannae? Which foreign king pledged help to Hannibal? What city did Archimedes defend against Rome?

Reflection Essay 39. How are mathematics and engineering so important in understanding Archimedes defense?


Marcus Claudius Pulcher was the Roman commander who famously threw the chickens overboard before the ill-fated naval battle off Drepana during the First Punic War. 160 Archimedes was buried in Syracuse; however, his tomb has not been fully identified. Over a century later, in 75 BC, the Roman orator and consul, Marcus Tullius Cicero, served in Sicily as quaestor and sought out Archimedes tomb. He found it in a neglected state and had it restored.


4. Disaster in Spain
The re-conquest of Sicily brought a bit of hope to the Roman Republic. The Fabian tactic of shadowing Hannibal was working, although not effectively stopping him. However, it was proving more useful against Hannibals allies; while Hannibal was in one part of Italy, the Romans would then attack an ally that had gone over to him and re-take the city before Hannibal could arrive to help. Unable to defend them, the allies began wondering if staying with the Carthaginian was the best idea. Flushed by their success, the Roman Senate concentrated their forces in Spain, which was still under the command of Hannibals brother, Hasdrubal. Likewise, the Carthaginian Senate had prioritized sending reinforcements for Spain before Italy, partially to keep the rich Spanish silver mines secured, and partly because there was a strong anti-Barca element in the Senate that was working against Hannibal. The Roman Senate sent Publius Cornelius Scipio the Elder, long-healed from his wound at the River Ticinnus, to aid his brother, Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio, who was already in Spain working to take the Iberian Peninsula away from the Carthaginians. Since 215 BC the Romans had secured the territory north of the Ebro River, however, both sides were using local CeltIberians in their forces as allies. This was proving un-reliable, and in the end, would be fatal. Mago, Hannibals other brother, had returned to Spain to help out Hasdrubal, and the Roman and Carthaginian armies quickly clashed. Publius and Gnaeus were working independently of each other, and it was that independence that Mago and Hasdrubal sought to exploit as a weakness. They bribed many of Gnaeus Celt-Iberian allies to desert, which forced him to keep his now-weakened Roman army in camp. Having temporarily immobilized Gnaeus, Mago and Hasdrubal focused on destroying Publius and his army. The proconsul was attempting a night assault on some pro-Carthaginian allies, but it wasnt going as well as he hoped, and his attack became bogged down when a combined Carthaginian force counterattacked. In the melee, Publius died along with many of his men. Gnaeus was unaware of his brothers fate and feared attack on his weakened army, so he decided to march north to the safety of the Ebro River and Roman territory. With the desertion of his Celt-Iberian allies, and the unknown fate of his brother, Gnaeus force was too weak to offer battle. Hounded by the Carthaginians, the tired and shaky Romans withdrew to a nearby hill for defense. When all the Carthaginian armies arrived onto the battlefield, Gnaeus


saw the extreme danger they were in and ordered his troopers to construct any type of fortifications they could. Livy described the desperate situation:

But the hill was bare and the soil so stony that no timber could be found for stakes, no ground could be cut, no trench could be dug: for any work of fortification whatever it was useless. At no point was the ascent rough enough or steep enough to cause the enemy any serious difficulty: on all sides there was no more than a gentle slope. None the less, to make something at any rate resembling a rampart, they piled their pack-saddles, with the loads still attached, all round in a circle, building them up to the normal height of a rampart, and heaping on top of them, where there were not enough, any sort of baggage and gear they could get hold of.161

It didnt take long for the Carthaginian forces to break through the ramshackle defense, and when they did the Romans were slaughtered. Gnaeus died during the assault, or shortly after when the remainder of the Roman force was destroyed at the camp. As Livy says, it had been eight years that Gnaeus had been fighting in Spain, while Publius was killed a scant 25 days after his arrival.

5. Scipio Rising
Four years after Cannae, the only city that remained free from Hannibal in southern Italy was Rhegium. Going on the offensive in 211 BC, the Romans laid siege to Capua, a vital ally for Hannibal near the Bay of Naples. Hannibal tried to harass the Romans into battle, but was unsuccessful. Wishing to draw the Roman army away from Capua, he marched on Rome itself. If he had done this five years before things might have been very different, but now Hannibal found his army staring at the strong walls of Rome, with the inhabitants no longer fearful of the Carthaginian, but contemptuous. Hearing of Hannibals approach, the city prepared for a siege while the Senate sat, awaiting those who might need guidance. As a sign of resistance and


Book 25.36


supreme confidence, the Romans auctioned off the land that Hannibals army had encamped on outside the walls of Romefor no reduction in price. The Romans called his bluff. Not being able to effectively attack Rome, the Carthaginian force now fell back south, and shortly thereafter Capua was re-taken. Despite these reverses for Hannibal, news of the disaster in Spain soon crushed the Roman morale once more, even though they had just enjoyed success in Sicily and had re-taken Capua. Hannibal continued to roam Italy without check, and despite fewer and fewer allies, he and his army were still extremely dangerous. Publius Cornelius Scipio (the Younger) had risen through the ranks of the Roman army ever since the beginning of the war. He saved his fathers life at the River Ticinnus, fought at the Trebbia and survived Cannae. Now, his father and uncle were both killed by Hannibals brothers in Spain. No one wished to risk taking the Spanish command, which had been so troublesome and cost the Romans so dearly. On the day of the public assembly, Publius Cornelius Scipio presented himself to lead the command, despite the fact that he was only about twenty-seven. His command was ratified and he arrived in Spain and quickly began preparations.162 Unlike Hannibal, who had marched into Italy intent on separating Rome from her allies and only then taking the capital, Scipio ascertained that New Carthage was the most important Carthaginian stronghold in Sicily and he set about to take it immediately by siege. New Carthage had the best harbor in eastern Spain, and offered the most direct route for Carthaginian forces to be transported from Spain to Africa by ships.163 At that time, Mago (not Mago Barca) was commanding the citys defense, while all the other Carthaginian forces were campaigning elsewhere in Spain. Scipios assault on New Carthage was fierce and relentless; he cut off the city from the landward side, and attacked from an isthmus that ran from the east across to the city (the remnant of which is used as a breakwater; see the map on the opposite page). A large canal cut off the city from west, while a lagoon kept the attackers back from the north. On the southern side Scipios fleet attacked the walls, and everywhere the Carthaginians were hard-pressed, as they were being attacked from nearly every quarter. The defense was stubborn, but a sudden gale rose up and forced some of the water in the lagoon into the canal, exposing a bit of shoreline and the undefended north wall to assault. Before the attack even began, Scipioever religioushad made an appeal to Neptune for his aid, and now

Scipio had an older brother, Lucius Cornelius Scipio (later with the additional cognomen Asiaticus), who was already in Spain and would continue to fight there until the conclusion of the Spanish campaign. 163 New Carthage also had extensive supply and monetary reserves for the Carthaginian war effort in Spain, and was therefore a very tempting target.


it looked to the Roman soldiers as if the god was indeed working with them to defeat the Carthaginians.

The Romans scaled the north wall and beat back the few defenders who rushed to stop them, slashed the bolts and opened the gates, allowing even more legionnaires inside. On the isthmus, Scipios infantry and navy now broke through there as well, and the city quickly fell. What happened next was a Roman reprisal of the most terrible kind. Polybius wrote:

Scipio, when he judged that a large enough number of troops had entered the town, let loose the majority of them against the inhabitants, according to the Roman custom; their orders were to exterminate every form of life they encountered, sparing none, but not to start pillaging until the word was given to do so. This practice is adopted to inspire terror, and so when cities are taken by the Romans you may often see not only the corpses of human beings but dogs


cut in half and the dismembered limbs of other animals, and on this occasion the carnage was especially frightful because of the large size of the population.164

Afterwards, the city was plundered and all the wealth put in the market-place and guarded that first night. The next day, it was divided among the legions according to Roman custom. That winter, Scipio began the practice of releasing Celt-Iberian hostages, and being generous in his treatment, promising a good relationship with Rome if they fought against Carthage. It was in this Hannibalic manner that he continued to fight against the Carthaginian forces in Spain Meanwhile, the Romans were continuing to raise rebellions in Greece against Philip V, thereby tying up his forces and not giving him the chance to send support to Hannibal. Continuing to push their advantage, the 73-year-old Fabius Maximus led an assault against the southern city of Tarentum in 209 BC, re-taking it from Hannibal and denying him the best allied harbor in Italy. Hannibal had once again been battling the army of Marcus Claudius Marcellus, this time near Canusium. While Hannibal was occupied, Fabius had marched on Tarentum and retaken it, glaringly showing the weakness of Hannibals strategy; the Carthaginian couldnt be everywhere at the same time to defend all his allies. This left all of Hannibals remaining Italian allies exposed to Roman counterattacks. Marcellus had suffered heavy losses in the inconclusive battle and retired to Campania for the remainder of the summer, while Fabius once again returned to Rome a hero. The war seemed to be swinging in Romes favor, however, the following year (208 BC) was not without tragedy. Marcellus, the victor of Sicily and the Sword of Rome, was ambushed near Venusia in Apulia by a detachment of Hannibals forces and was slain.

6. Dont Lose Your Head

Even as tragedy struck Marcellus in Italy, Scipio was making progress in Spain. With the fall of New Carthage, Mago and Hasdrubal Barca were now on the defensive. Despite Scipios good fortune thus far, in the winter of 208 BC Hasdrubal and his army slipped past the Roman


Book 10.15


forces to the north in order to follow his brothers footsteps across the Alps. Hasdrubal had always intended to join Hannibal in Italy, and now the losses in Spain pushed him to accelerate his plans. Mago stayed behind in Spain with the hope of winning back lost territory, while Hannibal, unaware of his brothers crossing of the Alps, remained penned in the south of Italy. Even contained, the Romans knew that Hannibal posed a tremendous threat. In the spring of 207 BC, the consuls Gaius Claudius Nero and Marcus Livius Salinator were facing a dilemma. In the north, Hasdrubal had crossed the Alps and was encamped, preparing to move south in order to join forces with his brother. For the past few years the Romans had been seizing back Hannibals allies one-by-one, and denying him the support he so desperately needed in Italy. On the island of Sicily, Syracuse had gone over to the Carthaginians but had since fallen, and the rest of the island remained securely in Roman hands. Over in Spain, Scipio had effectively ousted Hasdrubal and was trying to force a final resolution for Spanish control with the remaining Carthaginian forces there. The Romans had certainly suffered in the years past, but they had felt the tide of the war had since turned. To their horror, it seemed that the Carthaginian threat had risen anew once again.

In the north, Salinator kept watch over Hasdrubal while Nero did the same with Hannibal in the south, but a bit of good luck came to the Romans at this point. Hasdrubal sent a message to his brother, suggesting that the brothers Barca meet their armies in central Italy, and combined they would inflict new catastrophes on Rome. The message, however, was


intercepted by the Romans. Nero pounced on this opportunity and took the majority of his army north, leaving enough troops behind to fool Hannibal into thinking that he and the legions were still there in strength. Then he set out quickly to join Salinator and attack Hasdrubal. At the Battle of the Metaurus River, Hasdrubal arranged his army for battle against Salinator, but quickly realized that the Roman force he was facing was now far larger than the day before. In the night, Nero had raced north with 7,000 men to strengthen his co-consuls forces. Unable to delay battle, Hasdrubal made all the preparations he could, but the superiority of Roman numbers proved decisive. Livy wrote of Hasdrubals end:

When at last no doubt remained that the day was lost, he refused to survive the great army which had followed his fame, and setting spurs to his horse he galloped straight into the midst of a Roman cohort. There, still fighting, he found a death worthy of his father Hamilcar.165

The Carthaginian army was crushed, and those Gallic units that had managed to survive the battle were allowed by the consul to return home unharmed. The Roman army needed to rest after their hard-fought victory, and Nero wanted the Gallic survivors to spread the word of the Carthaginian defeat. Back in Rome, ecstatic joy spread through the city when word reached the populace that the army and both consuls were safe and the enemy destroyed. The Senate proclaimed three days of public thanksgiving for this victory, and the temples became crowded with Romans expressing their gratitude to the gods for answering their prayers. Down in Southern Italy, Hannibal remained unaware of what had happened to his brother. The message had never reached him of Hasdrubals plan, and he was ignorant of Claudius Neros daring ruse as he went north with his army. Livy describes the shock to Hannibal when he learned of his brothers fate:

Nero on his return to Canusium had Hasdrubals head, which he had carefully preserved during his march, flung on the ground in front of Hannibals outsposts; he also ordered his African prisoners to be paraded in their chains, and had two of them released and sent to Hannibal to tell him all that had happened. The


Book 27.49.


story is that Hannibal under the double blow of so great a public and personal distress exclaimed: Now, at last, I see the destiny of Carthage plain!166

Questions and Reflection

138. 139. 140. 141. 142. Which two Roman generals, and brothers, died fighting in Spain? What allied city did Hannibal try and save by marching on Rome? Who was the Sword of Rome? How did Hannibal find out his brother was defeated? What two brothers did Hannibal have?

Reflection Essay 40. When a computer detects a virus, a security program can put it in a vault which is a secure portion of the hard drive that is not attached to other systems. How was Hannibals later years in Italy similar?

7. Scipios Bold Plan

In 206 BC, Scipio crushed the remaining Carthaginian forces in Spain at the Battle of Ilipa; here, Scipio used a bold strategy of deception and maneuver (called his anti-Cannae) against Mago and his numerically stronger Carthaginian force. Each day Scipio presented his army for battle, with his stronger Roman units in the center of his battle line, while his allied Celt-Iberians he kept on the wings of his army, but each day Mago refused to be rushed into battle. On the day that Scipio had planned, he once again presented his army at daybreak and pushed Mago for a quick response before they even had a chance to have breakfast. The Carthaginians took up their positions for battle, but realized too late that the Roman units were now on the wings, with the allies in the center. As the battle began, Scipio held the allies back as he advanced, thus forming them into a concave line. In other words, Scipios battle plan was a reverse of what Hannibal had done at Cannae.

Book 27.51. What is of interest is the fact that Claudius Nero chose to preserve the head of Hasdrubal for the shock value not only to Hannibal, but I believe for his troops as well. After 11 years of warfare within Italy, Hannibals core of African and Spanish troops would have been diminished and replaced by a heavy number of Gauls. The Gauls believed that the head was the repository of the soul, and they themselves practiced headhunting and preserving their gruesome trophies using pine resin. If Nero had not preserved the head, the time required to march back down to southern Italy would have seen the head decompose, perhaps to the point of not being recognized by Hannibal. The shock of seeing the decapitated head, I theorize, was meant not only to shock Hannibal personally, but also to cause dissent within the allied Gallic units and cause defections within the Carthaginian army.


The main Carthaginian force now stood helpless as the Romans pushed the weaker allied Spanish troops back on the flanks, thus encircling Mago and his whole army. The complete slaughter of the Carthaginians was only saved by a sudden downpour, which gave time for some of Magos troops to escape. However, within days many of those who had fled were hunted down by Scipios forces. Frustratingly, Mago was able to slip away to northern Italy to raise fresh troops, while the other Carthaginian commander, Hasdrubal Gisco, fled back to Africa to help keep affairs in Africa from spinning out of control167. Scipio spent the remainder of the year securing eastern Spain and punishing those tribes that had aided in the destruction of his father and uncles armies five years before. With affairs in Spain settled, Scipio now returned to Rome in late 206 BC and was elected consul for the following year, even though he was just 31-years-old.168 With public support, Scipio began to un-fold his bold plan to end the war in Italy, which was now in its 14th year. He was elected pro-consul in 204 BC and was given Sicily as his command, and began enrolling a volunteer army to make a crossing to Africa. However, there were those who thought the better option was to contain and further reduce Hannibal by slow attrition, namely the 78-year-old Fabius Maximus. Fabius pushed to not invade Africa, partly to continue those policies which he thought had worked for so long against Hannibal, and partly as a check to the growing power of Scipio within the Republic. But Scipio was quite clever, and the desire to end this war was quite strong within both the Senate and the Roman people as a whole. Even the survivors of Cannae, who were banished to Sicily because they had fled from the battle, now saw a chance to redeem themselves. Here was a capable commander, who had stood beside them through the dark early years of the war. Scipio also had formed an alliance with Masinissa, who had served with distinction under Hannibal, but after fighting the Romans in Spain (and being politically pushed out in Africa by his rival, Syphax) he had decided to change sides and fight for Rome. With this growing army in Sicily, Scipio pushed for an invasion of Africa, which he hoped would prompt the Carthaginian Senate to recall Hannibal from Italy in order to protect them.


Mago made a costly and failed attempt to re-take New Carthage from Scipio, and his departure from Spain signaled the abandonment of that campaign by the Carthaginians. In Africa, a bloody civil war was raging over who should rule Numidia, a crucial ally for Carthage. 168 The customary age for being elected consul was forty.


8. Prelude to Battle
After landing his troops in Africa in 203 BC, Scipio smashed the armies of Hasdrubal Gisgo, whom he had fought in Spain and defeated at Ilipa, and the allied Numidian army under King Syphax. This prompted the Carthaginian Senate to recall Mago Barca, who was in northern Italy with his army and recovering from a battle wound, and Hannibal who was still bottled up in the toe of Italy with his forces. Tragedy, however, would once again follow the Barca family, and Mago died at sea on his way to join his brother. What must Hannibal have been thinking before he left Italy on his voyage back to Africa? For sixteen years he had waged war against Rome, having marched an army from Saguntum in Spain, across the Pyrenees and Alps Mountains, and laid waste to countless Roman armies in Italy. Cannae had been his masterstroke, but the war had cost him an eye and both his brothers, while all those around him had grown old and weary as he and his army roamed Italy like a wounded lion. Three years before (205 BC), Hannibal had spent the summer near the city of Croton dedicating an inscription to Juno (Hera) which had a long record of his achievements written in both Punic and Greek. This inscription itself was used by Polybius for his history of the Second Punic War, as he says:

The fact is that I discovered on Cape Lacinium a bronze tablet which Hannibal himself had had inscribed with these details while he was in Italy, and since I considered this to be an absolutely trustworthy piece of evidence, I had no hesitation in following it.169

Polybius, who was born right after the end of the Second Punic War, would have been able to use primary sources for his histories, namely those old veterans who had fought with and againstHannibal, and would have provided invaluable details of his campaign.


Book 3.33


In 203 BC, the great Carthaginian general must have been awash in grief and frustration. He had sailed with his father, Hamilcar, to Spain when he was 9-years-old, and fought against Rome all his life. He must have stood and looked at the inscription of his accomplishments in Italy and wondered where it all went wrong. Livy wrote:

Seldom, we are told, has any exile left his native land with so heavy a heart as Hannibals when he left the country of his enemies; again and again he looked back at the shores of Italy, accusing gods and men and calling down curses on his own head for not having led his armies straight to Rome when they were still bloody from the victorious field of Cannae. Scipio, who in his consulship had never seen a Carthaginian enemy in Italy, had had the audacity to march on Carthage, while hewhen a hundred thousand Roman soldiers had been killed at Trasimene and Cannaehad been content to grow old in idleness at Casilinum and Cumae and Nola! Such were his self-accusations and expressions of distress as he was forced to surrender his long occupation of Italy.170

When word reached Rome that Hannibal had indeed left Italy, the Senate decreed five days of public thanksgiving and the sacrifice of 120 full-grown animals to the gods. However, great joy was to be balanced by great despair, for it was in that year that Fabius Maximus died at the old age of 77. Livy wrote:

What is indisputable is that he was worthy of the name Maximus, and would have deserved to be the first of his line to bear it. He held more magistracies than his father, and the same number as his grandfather. His grandfather Rullus enjoyed the fame of more victories and greater battles, but to have had Hannibal as ones enemy is enough to equal or outweigh them all. Fabius has been stigmatized as a cautious soldier, never quick to act; but though one may question whether he was a delayer by nature or because delaying tactics happened to suit the campaigns he was engaged in, this, as least, is certain, that, as the poet Ennius wrote,


Book 30.24


One man by his delaying saved the State.171

Fabius never saw the conclusion of the war between Hannibal and Scipio. Now, with Hannibal back on African soil, the Carthaginian Senate broke off peace negotiations with Scipio and made preparations to repel the Romans. Always wishing to know his enemy, Hannibal sent scouts to Scipios camp in order to find out the strength and disposition of the forces at his disposal. The scouts, however, were caught by Scipios troops, as Livy says:

(the scouts) were brought by their Roman guards to Scipio, who handed them over to an officer and, telling them to have a good look at everything without fear of consequences, gave orders that they should be taken round the camp and shown whatever they wished to see. He then asked them if their investigations had been both comfortable and adequate, furnished them with an escort, and sent them back to Hannibal.172

When the scouts returned, Hannibal learned for certain that his old ally, Masinissa, and a large number of Numidian cavalry were in Scipios camp. The size and strength of the Roman force prompted Hannibal to ask for a conference with Scipio. On an open spot between both camps the two generals met the following day. Again, we look to Livy:

Exactly half-way between the opposing ranks of armed men, each attended by an interpreter, the generals met. They were not only the two greatest soldiers of their time, but the equals of any king or commander in the whole history of the world. For a minute mutual admiration struck them dumb, and they looked at each other in silence.173

Hannibal spoke first and wished that the Romans had not desired any territory outside of Italy, nor that Carthage sought expansion out of Africa. He discussed the role of Fortune in war, and warned Scipio about being overconfident from his success in Spain and Africa. Hannibal pointed out to Scipio that he was young, and had not experienced reverses in his
171 172

Book 30.26 Book 30.29 173 Book 30.30


command as Hannibal himself had endured. He offered all of Spain, Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily and all the islands in-between Italy and Africa up to Rome, and told him to go home lest fortune steal away his good luck. Scipios reply was blunt: both of the wars had been started, so he said, because of Carthaginian aggression. If he, Hannibal, had left Italy of his own accord, then peace negotiations might have been possible, but since he was in Africa defending Carthage only because Scipio had made it so, then there was no room for negotiation. With that, the two generals went back to their armies. It was unlikely that either side was looking for a peace settlement. Hannibal knew that everything was on the table and that they were playing for the highest of stakes. Scipio could not go home without a victory, and Hannibal was as likely to surrender as Scipio was to trust him. What is more plausible is that both of these commanders wished to size each other up and meet them; Hannibal because of the Scipio family and the man who beat his brothers in Spain, while Scipio wanted to look in the eye of the commander from whom he learned so much by the point of the sword. His father and uncle had died fighting Hannibal, and his family had brought uncounted suffering to Rome and her allies over the past sixteen years. The final battle of the Second Punic War had arrived.

9. The Battle of Zama

The next morning both armies marched out for battle. The Romans now outnumbered the Carthaginians in cavalry with their Numidian allies commanded by Masinissa, while Hannibal enjoyed superiority in infantry, along with about 80 new war elephants. The third line of each army was a poetic ending to the war; for Scipio, they were his Cannae veterans seeking vengeance and retribution for that horrible day fourteen years before, while Hannibals third line was composed of those old soldiers who had fought with him throughout his Italian campaign. If a Carthaginian was 17 years old when he set out with Hannibal from Saguntum, he was now 33-years-old. It would be these two groups of veterans who would determine the course of the battle. Hannibal sent his elephants charging at Scipios line, but the Roman general had already devised a solution. As the elephants neared, the maniples compressed, leaving alleys in the infantry lines through which the elephants passed to the rear of the Roman army. There, the velites finished them off with arrows and spears, rendering this attack


harmless. In fact, some of the elephants panicked from the skirmishers weapons, along with lasts from Roman trumpets and bugles, and had charged back into the Carthaginian cavalry, causing havoc and confusion. The Roman cavalry on the right and left drove in hard and pushed the Carthaginians from the battlefield. The front ranks of both armies fought relentlessly, both sides giving ground at times until the reserve of both armies came to blows. As the fight was being contested, and Scipios forces looked to be on the losing end, the Roman cavalry returned from the field and attacked the Carthaginian forces from the rear. Scipio had managed to reverse, literally, the stain of Cannae. Hannibal, however, managed to escape the battle with a small portion of his forces, and a Carthaginian embassy was sent to Scipio to sue for peace.


The Carthaginians, along with many Romans, expected Scipio to march on Carthage and burn it to the ground.174 Scipio, however, was far more magnanimous; Carthage would not be burned, and she would be allowed to keep all those territories she already had in Africa. In addition, all prisoners of war were to be returned to Rome, all their elephants and nearly all their warships were to be handed over, they were not to wage war on anyone without Romes consent. Moreover, Masinissa was to be restored to the throne of Numidia. Lastly, they were to pay 10,000 talents of silver over the next 50 years and hostages for good faith. When these terms were pronounced in the Carthaginian Senate, one of the senators spoke out against Scipios offer. As he was speaking, Hannibal entered and yanked him down off the podium and read the Senate the riot act for not realizing that they were beaten, and that the terms that Scipio had demanded were fair. Scipio left Hannibal in charge of the civic duties of Carthage, to which he proved himself as able to lead a city-state in times of peace as much as in times of war. As for Publius Cornelius Scipio, he returned to Rome the following year as a hero and was given the surname Africanus, in recognition from the Senate and a tribute to all that he had accomplished. The Second Punic War had finally come to an end.

Questions and Reflection

143. 144. 145. 146. 147. Scipio concentrated on conquering what territory before taking on Hannibal? What important Carthaginian died before returning to Africa? Which prominent Roman died before the invasion of Africa could be started? What warning did Hannibal give Scipio? Which important Numidian had changed sides and now supported Scipio?

Reflection Essay 41. What was the crucial and decisive factor for the victories of Cannae and Zama?


A Roman officer, named Marcus Porcius Cato, would survive the war and famously advocate for the destruction of Carthage. He ended every speech to the Senate with the words Carthago delenda est (Carthage must be destroyed) and was a sign of his distrust for Carthage and his fear that she would one day take up arms against Rome yet again. His urging would ultimately spur Rome into the Third Punic War (149-146 BC).


Chapter XII
The Battle of Cynoscephalae

1. Revenge
In 221 BC, three years before Hannibal marched over the Alps, Philip the V of Macedon took the throne when he was just seventeen. He was descended from the ruling family line in Greece, the Antigonids, whose bloodline linked itself with Ptolemaic Egypt and to both Antipater and Cassander of Macedonia. At that time, Macedonia still ruled over the Greek city-states as they had done since the days of Philip II and Alexander the Great over a century before, but now their hold on Sparta, Elis and other cities of Greece had grown tenuous. Roman influence in the area was beginning to be felt by Philip, but he continued to expand his territory and control over Greece with a skill that eventually re-established Macedonia as the dominant force among the Greek city-states. The year before, the previous Macedonian ruler, Antigonus III, had crushed the Spartan-led opposition at the Battle of Sellasia, located barely 10 miles north of Sparta itself. As Antigonus III was occupied in the southern Peloponnesus, the Illyrians, who bordered the northern edge of Macedonian territory, invaded Antigonus kingdom. Quickly he led his army northward and crushed the invading tribes, but in the process he was mortally wounded. Rule was then transferred over to the young, but capable, Philip V. Following the Battle of Cannae in 216 BC, Hannibal formed an alliance with Philip V, in the hopes of bringing the skilled Macedonian army over to help aid in Romes destruction. Seeing the threat that such a union could bring, Rome supported Sparta and her allies in leading revolts against Philip, which denied him the ability to help Hannibal. In 211 BC, as the tide of the Second Punic War was beginning to turn in Romes favor, she formed an alliance with the Aetolian League of Greek cities and Attalus I of Pergamum, and got them to attack Philips forces. With all these problems in his own proverbial backyard, Philip was still unable to send military assistance to Hannibal and the Carthaginians. Seeking an end of hostilities, Philip made a temporary peace with the Romans called the Peace of Phoenice in 205 BC, which kept Philip out of Italy, and stabilized his Macedonian control over Greece and Illyria.



After the end of the Second Punic War in 202 BC, it was time for Rome to settle some old scores; first of which was with Philip. When Rome was heavily involved with Spain, she was unable to send any real forces to the aid of the Greeks against the Macedonians, but now that the war with Carthage was over, the Roman Senate was quick to exact revenge. An opportunity came when Rhodes and Pergamum asked for aid against Philips expansion in that region.175 Now, this call for aid was seen by the Roman Senate as an opening to send forces, and in 200 BC the legions of Rome marched into Illyria. This direct confrontation of Roman and Macedonian arms is called the Second Macedonian War.
Philip V of Macedon

2. Titus Quinctius Flaminius

During the Second Punic War, Titus Quinctius Flaminius served in the Roman army as a military tribune, and afterwards was elected to the consulship in 198 BC.176 Scipio Africanus, who had been elected censor in 199 BC, undoubtedly influenced Flaminius election as consul.177 Scipio, and his love of Greekthat is to say, Hellenisticways was in direct contrast to older, more conservative aspects of the Roman Senate. Famous among this group of hard-right Roman politicians and generals was the now-deceased Fabius Maximus, who saw the younger generation of Romans like Scipio as a threat to the traditional ways of Rome. This conflict spilled over into Fabius speaking out against Scipios invasion of Africa at the end of the previous war. The customary age for being elected a consul in the Roman Republic was 40, but this custom was not adhered to during the crises of the Second Punic War, when capable generals over that age were hard to find. Scipios election to lead the forces in Spain brought him political power unknown to Romans of such a young age. Titus Flaminus was cut from the same cloth as Scipio, whereas the conservative element of the Roman Senate was now led by another former officer Hannibalic War, Marcus Porcius Cato.
175 176

The non-military intervention of the Romans is called the First Macedonian War. He was 30-years-old upon receiving command. 177 The office of censor was an extremely powerful one in the Roman Senate, where a senior Roman politician had the ability to select and dictate the roster of those who could be senators.


Initial command of the war against Philip was held by Publius Sulpicius Galba, but little success was achieved in the first two years of the war. Command for the war was then given to Flaminius when he became consul, and he quickly managed to push Philip back into Macedonia. Flaminus sought peace negotiations with Philip, however, when Flaminius and his Greek allies met to work out a peace plan, he demanded that Philip renounce all his conquests in Greece and fully evacuate the territories back into Macedonia. Irate at this treatment, Philip sent an embassy to Rome to seek a direct negotiation with the Roman Senate. While Philip awaited a reply, Flaminius learned that his consular command was now extended to the conclusion of the war. Flaminius, now a proconsul with indefinite command, broke off peace negotiations and sought to bring the Second Macedonian War to a military conclusion. Setting out from Thebes with his army in early summer of 197 BC, the Roman army met the Macedonians in the rolling hills of northern Greece at a place called Cynoscephalae.

The hills of Cynoscephalae

Questions and Reflection

148. What city did Rome side with against Philip during the First Macedonian War? 149. What was the name of the Roman commander who fought Philip V? 150. Which prominent Roman opposed Scipio and the Hellenistic movement? Reflection Essay 42. How were the Greeks being used by the Romans during their conflict with Philip V?


3. A Clash of Armies

The forthcoming battle would be not just a struggle between Macedonian and Roman arms, but a confrontation of the most dominant armies of the day. Centuries before, when Rome was a fledgling kingdom in the 8th century BC, her arms and armor looked distinctly Greek. At that time, the city-states of ancient Greece were emerging from their own Dark Age and sending colonies all over the Mediterranean. As the Roman Republics borders expanded throughout central Italy in the 4th century, they adapted their stiff, phalanx into a more manipular formation, which was capable of adaption and flexibility to the terrain. What resulted from this adaptation was a legion that looked very non-Greek, and had proven itself superior to every power it had come in contact with. By contrast, the campaigns of Philip II and Alexander had perfected the phalanx and cavalry formation that became the dominant method of warfare for all Hellenized nations. Since Alexanders time, more and more emphasis was placed on the infantry with its long sarissa, while the cavalry was reduced with lower numbers and capability. These two powers, Roman and Macedonian, had a common military origin, but had gone down two different paths over the centuries. Now, at Cynoscephalae, these two models of ancient armies were to come to battle and determine the ultimate fighting formation of the 2nd century BC and beyond. The historian and biographer, Plutarch, wrote about how the armies felt at the outset of the battle:

The two armies advanced against each other until they came into the neighborhood of Scotussa, and there they proposed to decide the issue by battle. Their mutual proximity did not inspire them with fear, as might have been expected; on the contrary, they were filled with ardour and ambition. For the Romans hoped to conquer the Macedonians, whose reputation for prowess and strength Alexander had raised to a very high pitch among them; and the Macedonians, who considered the Romans superior to the Persians, hoped, in case they prevailed over them, to prove Philip a more brilliant commander than Alexander.178

Life of Titus Flaminius, 7.3.


Both sides felt confident of victory, as both had advantages that they felt were decisive. Flaminius had nearly 20,000 Roman and allied infantry, about 4,000 phalangites, 2,000 Greek skirmishers, 2,600 cavalry, andmost shockinglyabout 20 elephants. It had been only five years since the conclusion of the Second Punic War, and now the Romans themselves were using these large beasts in battle. This shows one, if not the most important, attributes of Roman warfare: adaptability. The elephant was a weapon, first introduced to Rome when Pyrrhus of Epirus invaded Italy over a century before, which devastated the Romans in the First Punic War in Sicily and wrought terror under Hannibals leadership. Now, the elephant was being used by the Romans. By contrast, Philip had 16,000 phalangites, nearly 2,000 mercenaries (since many of his Greek allies had abandoned him in order to support the Romans), 4,000 skirmishers and an equal amount of other infantry, plus about 2,000 cavalry. In other words, the forces held nearly the same number of soldiers, but their organizational method was quite different. On the next day, the weather conditions were terrible. Again, we look to Plutarch:

Towards morning on the following day, after a mild and damp night, the clouds turned to mist, the whole plain was filled with profound darkness, a dense air came down from the heights into the space between the two camps, and as soon as day advanced all the ground was hidden from view. The parties sent out on either side for purposes of ambush and reconnaissance encountered one another in a very short time and went to fighting near what are called the Cynoscephalae, or Dog's Heads. These are the sharp tops of hills lying close together alongside one another, p343and got their name from a resemblance in their shape. As was natural on a field so difficult, each party sending out aid from their camps to those who from time to time were getting the worst of it and retreating, until at last, when the air cleared up and they could see what was going on, they engaged with all their forces.179

In other words, both the Roman and Macedonian forces were unaware of each others location, but knew that they were close. The fog and weather conditions greatly limited visibility, and a fierce battle broke out on the top of one of the hills by skirmishers from both armies. Both sides

Life of Flaminius, 8.1-2


threw more and more troops into the battle, since a hilltop advantage could prove decisive in the forthcoming conflict, however, neither side knew that that battle had already begun. As the fog lifted, Philip realized that he held the high-ground, but did not have his forces fully deployedthat would take time. As for Flaminius, he had his army drawn up below and moved his left wing up the hill where the battle had been fiercely contested by the skirmishers. Philip, hesitant to go into battle without the phalanx fully deployed, sent his right wing advancing down the hill before the Romans could reach the summit. As expected, the phalanx and their long sarissae inflicted heavy damage on the Roman lines, but they did not break. Polyibus would later write:

It is easy to understand that so long as the phalanx retains its characteristic form and strength nothing can withstand its charge or resist it face to face.180

But in Polybius statement one can see the phalanxs Achilles heel; once a phalanx is committed to battle, it is very difficult to alter that plan. As the sarissae are long and require both hands to hold, a phalanx can only attack forward, but it is that forward charge that was so deadly. Flaminius, seeing that Philip had not fully deployed his line, advanced his left wing, thereby drawing the Macedonians right wing down in response. Now that Philips right was fixed, Flaminius deployed his right wing upon the Macedonian left wing, which was still not fully deployed. The Roman elephants now attacked Philips left, and caused havoc within the phalanx. Before they could recover, the legionary maniples slammed into the phalanx, which fought, wavered, and then broke. At that time, a Roman tribune, whose name is lost to history, led 2,000 of the triarii around and behind Philips right wing, which was now exposed. Success on the Roman left was more elusive, as they were being forced back down the hill by the long spears of the Macedonians. Falling upon the rear of the phalanx, the tribunes force slammed into the unprotected rear of Philips line, making them buckle and rout. These triarii were the most veteran of Flaminius army, and understood the significance of this moment in the battle; these were also men who were finishing up their military career, and were the survivors from Cannae who were picked up by Scipio, fought so bravely at Zama, and now found themselves fighting in the hills of Greece.


Book 18.28



The Macedonian army routed from the battlefield, however, the phalanx was unable to run due to their heavy weapons and instead raised their sarissae as a sign of their surrender and mercy. Whether the Romans did not know of this Greek custom, or chose to ignore it, they continued to slaughter the Macedonians. Losses, depending on the author, were from 5,0008,000 killed for the Macedonians, while the Romans lost a couple thousand. As a result of the battle, the Greek city-states were declared free from Macedonian rule and Philip was forced to sue for peace from Flaminius. The Roman Senate added that Philip had to pay 1,000 talents of silver and surrender a huge portion of his fleet, but he was allowed to remain in control of Macedonia. With the defeat of Philip V, Rome was now the unquestioned military power in the Mediterranean.

Questions and Reflection

151. What factor prompted the accidental start of the battle? 152. Which side held the geographical advantage at the start of the battle? 153. What weapon of war do the Romans surprisingly use in this battle? Reflection Essay 43. Rome was founded by the descendant of a Trojan refugee. How is the Battle of Cynoscephalae an example of circular history?



With the defeat of Philip V of Macedonia and the formal liberation of Greece in 196 BC, Rome temporarily withdrew her armies back to Italy. The following year, fear of a Roman assassination drove Hannibal, who was still ably ruling Carthage seven years after Zama, to flee in exile from his home and head eastward into the service of the king of Syria, Antiochus III. For the next decade, Hannibal would go from kingdom to kingdom as a mercenary general for anyone wishing to fight against the emerging and irresistible force of Rome. Meanwhile, the political climate in Rome was growing poisonous for Scipio Africanus, as Cato the Elder and the conservative elements of the Senate sought to reduce the Scipionic influence. However, public favor was still strong enough for Scipio and his brother, Lucius Cornelius Scipio, to be appointed the command of the Roman forces against Antiochus III. By 190 BC, the Scipio brothers had achieved a Roman victory at the Battle of Magnesia in central Asia Minor. An armistice was declared, and Antiochus III gave a huge payoff of 15,000 talents of silver to Rome for a cessation of hostilities. At some point that year, or the next, Scipio and Hannibal met for a second and final time in the city of Ephesus. The historian Appian wrote:

It is said that at one of their meetings in the gymnasium Scipio and Hannibal had a conversation on the subject of generalship, in the presence of a number of bystanders, and that Scipio asked Hannibal whom he considered the greatest general, to which the latter replied, "Alexander of Macedonia." To this Scipio agreed, since he also yielded the first place to Alexander. Then he asked Hannibal whom he placed next, and he replied, "Pyrrhus of Epirus," because he considered boldness the first qualification of a general; "for it would not be possible," he said, "to find two kings more enterprising than these." Scipio was rather irritated by this, but nevertheless he asked Hannibal to whom he would give the third place, expecting that at least the third would be assigned to him; but Hannibal replied, "To myself; for when I was a young man I


conquered Spain and crossed the Alps with an army, the first after Hercules. I invaded Italy and struck terror into all of you, laid waste 400 of your towns, and often put your city in extreme peril, all this time receiving neither money nor reinforcements from Carthage." As Scipio saw that he was likely to prolong his self-laudation he said, laughing, "Where would you place yourself, Hannibal, if you had not been defeated by me?" Hannibal, now perceiving his jealousy, replied, "In that case I should have put myself before Alexander." Thus Hannibal continued his selflaudation, but flattered Scipio in a delicate manner by suggesting that he had conquered one who was the superior of Alexander.181

But it seems that the end for both men was not as cordial as their conversation; Scipio returned to Rome to find the political climate more hostile than ever. Lucius, who had served in the shadow of his famous younger brother during the Second Punic War, now found fame and fortune in the war against Antiochus III. However, Cato the Elder claimed that 3,000 talents of silver were missing, which he said were personally given to Lucius as a bribe. This was a serious charge, especially since the Senate itself had given him the honorific title Asiaticus for his victory in Asia Minor, as they had given Africanus to his brother years before. In 185 BC, Lucius and Publius were formally put on trial for corruption, but it was thrown out by the influence of Publius, who angrily reminded the Senate of the 15,000 talents that they brought back from Antiochus III for the Roman treasury. He also pointed out to the crowd that the trial was being held on the anniversary of the Battle of Zama, which caused such uproar that the trial was immediately dismissed. Two years later, in 183 BC, the 53-year-old Scipio Africanus died in self-exile in southern Italy near Cumae. His cause of death is unknown, but varies from poison, ill-health, and even suicide. Whatever the case, Scipio was so incensed at Rome that he demanded the phrase, Ungrateful country, you will not even have my bones (Ingrata patria, ne ossa quidem habebis) be placed on his tombstone.182 The location of his tomb is still unknown to this day. That same year, or the next according to Polybius, Hannibal was tracked down by Titus Flaminius to the city of Libyssa in the kingdom of Bithynia, near the entrance to the Black Sea.
181 182

The Syrian Wars, 10. It was written that 150 years later, the Roman Emperor Augustus visited his tomb.


Ever since he fled from Carthage, the Romans had been hunting down the now 63-year-old general, wishing to take him back to Rome alive, if possibledead, if necessary. No enemy had ever cost the citizens of Rome so dear a price in lives, and he still haunted their collective memory.183 As the Romans closed in on his residence, Hannibal realized that all of the exits were guarded, and that there was no escape. Livy, with a bit of sadness, wrote:

Finally he called for the poison which he had long kept in readiness for such an emergency. "Let us," he said, "relieve the Romans from the anxiety they have so long experienced, since they think it tries their patience too much to wait for an old man's death. The victory which Flamininus will win over a defenseless fugitive will be neither great nor memorable; this day will show how vastly the moral of the Roman People has changed. 184

In 168 BC, the Romans decided to remain in Greece in order to maintain security and stability, and too late the Greeks realized that they had replaced one ruling power for another. Twenty-two years later, in 146 BC, the destruction of Carthage was completed.185 Pushed by Cato the Elder, who famously finished every speech with Carthago delenda est (Carthage must be destroyed), the Roman Senate declared war on Carthage in 149 BC. Led by the general Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus, the adoptive grandson of Scipio Africanus, the Roman forces breached the strong walls of the city after three long years of siege warfare, and sacked it after nearly a week of brutal house-to-house fighting. On the final day, in a final act of defiance, a small group of remaining Carthaginians jumped into a burning temple on Carthages citadel as the Roman forces closed in. The sight of this tragedy brought Scipio Aemilianus to tears.


For generations afterward, the phrase Hannibal ad portas! (Hannibal is at the gates!) inspired terror to Roman childrenhe was the Roman Boogeyman. 184 Book 39.51. Livy further recounts how the Romans warned Pyrrhus about poison as a point of honor among enemies, while now they had sent a man of consular rank to assassinate a defenseless man in his own house. 185 The Romans would also burn Corinth to the ground as an example to the rest of Greece.


Polybius, who was Scipios personal historian and was an eyewitness to Carthages final destruction, wrote that the Roman commander, seeing this great city burn, quoted a line from Homer concerning the fall of Troy:

The day shall come when sacred Troy shall fall, and King Priam and all his warrior people with him.

In the flames of Carthage, Scipio Aemilianus saw the fate of Rome and the descendents of Aeneas.


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