Hellenistic Warfare > Antigonid Macedonian Army

Antigonid Macedonian Army

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The Antigonid Macedonian Army refers to the military forces of the Antigonid dynasty, which ruled over the Kingdom of Macedon from the aftermath of the Wars of the Diadochi (Successor Wars) until the Roman conquest of Macedon in 168 BCE. The Antigonid Macedonian Army was a formidable force renowned for its effectiveness in both offensive and defensive warfare. Here's an overview of its organization, composition, and tactics:


Phalanx Formation: The core of the Antigonid Macedonian Army was the phalanx, a formation of heavily armed infantry soldiers called phalangites. They fought in close formation, typically in ranks of 8 to 16 men deep, wielding long spears known as sarissas.

Phalanx Units: Phalanx units were organized into syntagmata (battalions) and taxis (brigades), each led by officers known as taxiarchs. These units formed the backbone of the army's offensive power and were renowned for their discipline and cohesion in battle.

Companion Cavalry: The Antigonid army included a strong contingent of elite cavalry known as the Companion Cavalry, which served as the king's bodyguard and shock troops. They were equipped with lances and often deployed on the flanks of the phalanx to protect its vulnerable sides.

Skirmishers and Light Troops: The army also included various auxiliary troops, such as light infantry and skirmishers, who provided support to the phalanx and harassed enemy forces with missile weapons like javelins, slings, and bows.

Siege Engineers: During sieges, the Antigonid army employed skilled engineers to construct siege engines and siege towers, as well as to undermine enemy fortifications. Siege warfare was an important aspect of ancient warfare, and Macedonian engineers were adept at breaching enemy defenses.


Phalangites: The phalangites formed the bulk of the Antigonid Macedonian Army. They were recruited from Macedonian citizens and subject peoples, trained rigorously in the use of the sarissa, and equipped with bronze armor, helmets, and shields.

Companion Cavalry: The Companion Cavalry consisted of elite nobles and aristocrats, often drawn from Macedonian noble families. They were highly skilled horsemen and played a crucial role in decisive battles, such as cavalry charges and flanking maneuvers.

Allied Troops: The Antigonid army also incorporated allied contingents from allied Greek city-states, as well as mercenaries from various regions. These troops provided additional manpower and specialized skills, such as archery or light cavalry, to complement the Macedonian core forces.


Phalanx Push: The primary tactic of the Antigonid Macedonian Army was the phalanx push, in which the dense formation of phalangites advanced steadily against enemy lines, using the momentum of their sarissas to drive back opposing infantry.

Oblique Order: Antigonid commanders, such as Philip V and Perseus, sometimes employed oblique order tactics, where they concentrated their strongest units on one flank to overwhelm the enemy's weaker wing while delaying engagement on the other flank.

Combined Arms: The Antigonid army utilized combined arms tactics, coordinating the actions of phalanx infantry, cavalry, and skirmishers to exploit enemy weaknesses and achieve tactical superiority on the battlefield.

Siege Warfare: In addition to open-field battles, the Antigonid army was adept at conducting siege warfare, using siege engines, battering rams, and mining operations to capture enemy fortifications and cities.


The Antigonid Macedonian Army represented the culmination of Macedonian military traditions established by Philip II and Alexander the Great. Its disciplined infantry phalanx and elite Companion Cavalry set the standard for Hellenistic warfare, influencing military tactics and strategies throughout the Mediterranean world. Despite eventual defeat by the Roman legions, the legacy of the Antigonid army endured, leaving an indelible mark on the history of ancient warfare.


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