Page 1 of 1

Battle of Pydna 22 June 168 BCE

PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2004 3:02 pm
by Horatius Piscinus
Battle of Pydna, 22 June 168 BCE

On the night before battle a shadow was cast across the Moon. The Macedonian soldiers began to wail that this was a sign of the downfall of the monarchy. No soothsayer could convince them otherwise. Across the field, in their camp the Roman soldiers watched in silent awe. Earlier that day Gaius Sulpicius Gallus, a tribunus militarium and former praetor, addressed the soldiers to explain that a lunar eclipse would take place that night between the second and fourth hour. The following morning neither King Perseus nor Consul Aemilius Paulus stirred the armies from their camps. "Then, without the wish of either commander, Fortuna, more powerful then the plans of men, brought on the battle."

Paulus had his men gathering fodder and fire-wood in the area behind his camp. Before the camp he had stationed three cohorts under G. Cluvius supported by two decuria of cavalry. Further forward, near a stream that separated the camps, Marcus Sergius Silus commanded a screening force composed of a cohort of Marrucini and a cohort of Paeligni, supported by two decuria of Samnite cavalry. One of the Roman draught animals got loose and crossed the stream, followed by some Roman soldiers. On the other side two Thracian soldiers seized the animal and were leading him away when the Romans came upon them. A Thracian cover force of 800 men witnessed the attack and pursued the Romans back across the stream. They were followed by more Thracians, and soon enough Perseus was sending in his Macedonian phalanx. Aemilius countered by placing his legions into battle lines and joined in the battle.

The Paeligni cohort formed into battleline and tried to withstand the tightly knit Macedonian phalanx bristling with spears. At first the Macedonia phalanx swept all before them as it move across level ground. As they began to move up the slope where the Roman camp was positioned, Paulus noticed how it started to bend and that gaps formed between the divisions in their line. Paulus then led Legio I against the Bronze Shields on the left. He ordered Lucius Albinus to lead Legio II against the White Shields in the center of the enemy line. The Romans advanced not in line but in separate cohorts, taking advantage of every break in the phalanx formation so that they could slip in close beneath the Macedonian spears. Rather than advancing forward, the Macedonians began to turn this way and that, entangling their long heavy spears, until all was confusion and their formation began to disintegrate. The long Macedonian spears were of little use in the close in fighting that the Romans engaged. On the right wing Paulus sent in his elephants followed by his Latin allies, turning the Macedonian flank onto itself.

Seeing his phalanx crumble, Perseus turned with his Sacred Squadrons of cavalry and fled the battle. The Odrysian cavalry under Cotys then followed, and after them the rest of the Macedonian cavalry. Left to their fate was the Macedonian phalanx, which the Romans systematically butchered from every side. Some tried to escape by running into the sea. They were met by Romans on small boats who continued the slaughter. Seeing this, some Macedonians than came back to shore where they were met by the Roman?s elephants and crushed to death. In all about 20,000 Macedonians were killed, another 11,000 captured, and the Romans lost roughly only 100 men, most of them from the Paeligni cohort. The versatile Roman formations, adapting their tactics as the battle developed, proved the better over the rigid phalanx formation of the Macedonians.

Battle of Pydna, 3 Sep 172 BC

PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2004 5:36 pm
by Anonymous
Everything's fine 'cept the date, probably....

June 22, 168 BC is the date usually seen in the English-speaking world; elsewhere, the date is usually given as Sept. 3, 172, and for good reasons.

PostPosted: Sun Aug 29, 2004 11:35 am
by Horatius Piscinus
Salve bene Bill

Most interesting, and just the sort of information that intrigues me.

I ran into problems with dating while working on our religious calendar. The traditional date for Cannae is 2 Aug. where similar historical argument has placed it in late June. That poses another problem because of Livy's version where news of the battle interrupted the sacrum Cereri. The battle takes place in the years when the new cultus Cereri was introduced from Campania using a ritus Graecus, and the prominence of women in the rite Livy refers to suggests it is this new cultus that was involved. It would not, however, be the same as what we know from later sources. The sacrum Cereri reenacted the myth of Ceres' search for Proserpina. It occurred in the Fall, related to the equinoxes. The traditional date for Cannae is too early. Late June, around summer solstice, would be within the dry season. According to the myth, while Ceres searches for Proserpina the earth became barren, and this was later associated with winter. But it would make more sense for Italy that summer is indicated. The underlying religious calendar, based on the lunar cycle and looking at some of the festivals of the countryside, appears to relate to the agricultural cycle for winter wheat production, and such a rite to Ceres in summer would fit into to that earlier religious cycle.

Vale optime

"for good reasons"

PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2004 4:15 am
by C.AeliusEricius
What are the reasons? I can conjecture but I'll stifle myself and just ask the question.

Bene valete.

PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 12:31 pm
by Horatius Piscinus
Reasons for what, Erici?

PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 12:49 pm
by Marcus Pomponius Lupus

I think Ericius means the reasons that Bill was talking about:

June 22, 168 BC is the date usually seen in the English-speaking world; elsewhere, the date is usually given as Sept. 3, 172, and for good reasons.

Erici, you can click on the "for good reasons" part in Bill's posting, that will lead you to another website with the explanation.

Valete bene