Hellenistic Warfare > Antigonid Military

Antigonid Military


The Antigonid military was the armed force of the Antigonid dynasty, which ruled Macedonia and parts of Greece from 306 BCE until the Roman conquest in 168 BCE. The Antigonids were one of the successor states that emerged after the death of Alexander the Great and played a significant role in the Hellenistic world. Their military organization and tactics were influenced by the legacy of Alexander and adapted to meet the challenges of their time.

Key Features of the Antigonid Military

  1. Phalanx Infantry:

    • The core of the Antigonid military was the Macedonian phalanx, a formation of heavy infantry armed with long spears (sarissas) and shields.
    • Phalangites, the soldiers of the phalanx, were trained to fight in close formation, presenting a wall of spears to their enemies. This formation was highly effective in frontal engagements.
  2. Companion Cavalry (Hetairoi):

    • The Companion Cavalry was an elite unit that served as the primary strike force of the Antigonid army.
    • They were heavily armored and equipped with lances, used for decisive charges against enemy formations.
  3. Light Infantry and Skirmishers:

    • The Antigonid military also included various types of light infantry, such as peltasts (javelin throwers), archers, and slingers.
    • These units provided flexibility and mobility, capable of harassing the enemy, protecting the flanks, and pursuing fleeing opponents.
  4. Mercenaries and Allied Troops:

    • The Antigonids often employed mercenaries and allied troops from different regions, including Thracians, Illyrians, and Greeks.
    • These forces added diversity to the army, providing specialized skills and augmenting the core Macedonian troops.
  5. Elephants and War Machines:

    • Following the example of Alexander, the Antigonid kings, particularly Antigonus I Monophthalmus and his successors, used war elephants to disrupt enemy formations and cause panic.
    • They also utilized various siege engines, such as catapults and ballistae, to conduct sieges and defend fortifications.

Key Battles and Campaigns

  1. Battle of Ipsus (301 BCE):

    • Fought between the coalition of Antigonus I Monophthalmus and his son Demetrius I Poliorcetes against the combined forces of Seleucus I Nicator, Lysimachus, and Cassander.
    • The battle resulted in the death of Antigonus and the significant weakening of Antigonid power, although Demetrius managed to maintain a foothold in Greece.
  2. Battle of Sellasia (222 BCE):

    • A major battle between Antigonus III Doson and the Spartan king Cleomenes III.
    • The Antigonid victory at Sellasia restored Macedonian dominance over the Peloponnese and reaffirmed Antigonid control over Greece.
  3. Battle of Cynoscephalae (197 BCE):

    • A crucial battle during the Second Macedonian War, where the Roman legions under Titus Quinctius Flamininus defeated the Antigonid forces led by Philip V.
    • This defeat marked the decline of Antigonid power and the rise of Roman influence in Greece.
  4. Battle of Pydna (168 BCE):

    • The decisive battle of the Third Macedonian War, where the Roman forces under Lucius Aemilius Paullus defeated King Perseus of Macedon.
    • The defeat led to the fall of the Antigonid dynasty and the incorporation of Macedonia into the Roman Republic.

Military Organization and Reforms

  1. King's Army:

    • The Antigonid kings maintained a standing army, which included both professional soldiers and levied troops.
    • The king often led the army in person, reflecting the Hellenistic tradition of monarchs as warrior-leaders.
  2. Training and Discipline:

    • Training and discipline were crucial aspects of the Antigonid military, with an emphasis on maintaining the cohesion and effectiveness of the phalanx.
    • Military exercises and drills were conducted regularly to ensure readiness for battle.
  3. Logistics and Supply:

    • The Antigonid military paid attention to logistics and supply lines, essential for sustaining long campaigns and maintaining the army's effectiveness.
    • They established supply depots and used naval forces to secure supply routes, particularly during campaigns in Greece and Asia Minor.


The Antigonid military played a crucial role in maintaining Macedonian dominance in Greece and the surrounding regions during the Hellenistic period. Their adaptation of Alexander the Great's military tactics and innovations, combined with their ability to integrate diverse forces, allowed them to remain a formidable power for nearly two centuries. The eventual decline of the Antigonid military against the rising power of Rome marked the end of an era and the beginning of Roman supremacy in the eastern Mediterranean.


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