Hellenistic Warfare > Hetairoi


Alexander the Great - Dove Decoration


The Hetairoi, also known as the Companions, were an elite cavalry force within the ancient Macedonian army during the reign of Alexander the Great. The Hetairoi were composed of noble Macedonian aristocrats and companions of the king who served as his personal bodyguard and elite cavalry force. Membership in the Hetairoi was prestigious and exclusive, reserved for individuals of noble birth and proven loyalty to the king.The Hetairoi were well-trained and highly disciplined, possessing superior horsemanship skills and proficiency in various cavalry tactics.

Role and Function:

The primary role of the Hetairoi was to serve as Alexander the Great's personal bodyguard and shock troops in battle. They were often deployed as a decisive striking force on the battlefield, charged with breaking enemy formations and delivering the decisive blow. The Hetairoi were renowned for their courage, skill, and unwavering loyalty to Alexander, earning them a fearsome reputation among friend and foe alike.

Equipment and Arms:

The Hetairoi were typically equipped with heavy cavalry armor, including helmets, breastplates, greaves, and shields, providing them with excellent protection in combat. They wielded long lances or spears known as "xystons" or "sarissas," which they used to deliver devastating charges against enemy formations. In addition to their primary weapon, the Hetairoi also carried swords or daggers for close combat, ensuring they were prepared for all contingencies on the battlefield.

Training and Recruitment:

Members of the Hetairoi underwent rigorous training from a young age, honing their equestrian skills, martial prowess, and strategic acumen under the supervision of experienced mentors. Recruitment into the Hetairoi was based on merit and social status, with individuals selected for their noble lineage, military aptitude, and personal loyalty to the king. Alexander the Great personally selected many of the officers and commanders within the Hetairoi, fostering a sense of camaraderie and mutual trust among its members.

Campaigns and Battles:

The Hetairoi played a pivotal role in Alexander's military campaigns and conquests, participating in numerous battles and engagements throughout his reign. They fought alongside Alexander in key battles such as the Battle of Gaugamela, the Battle of Issus, and the Battle of the Hydaspes River, where their courage and skill contributed to Alexander's victories. The Hetairoi's unwavering loyalty and dedication to Alexander were instrumental in his military successes, enabling him to overcome formidable adversaries and conquer vast territories.


The Hetairoi left a lasting legacy in ancient military history, symbolizing the epitome of elite cavalry warfare and personal devotion to the king. Their exploits and achievements under Alexander the Great inspired generations of warriors and leaders, shaping the course of military tactics and strategy for centuries to come.

Here is the table of the Hetairoi of Alexander the Great, including their descriptions, roles, and fates:

Antigonos (son of Callas)Macedonian nobleHetairosUnknown
Archelaus (son of Androcles)Macedonian nobleHetairosUnknown
Ariston of PharsalusThessalian cavalry officerCavalry commanderUnknown
AutobaresMacedonian nobleHetairosUnknown
Cleitus the BlackMacedonian officerCommander and personal guardKilled by Alexander in a drunken quarrel
Caranus (hetairos)Macedonian nobleHetairosUnknown
Demaratus (hetairos)Macedonian noble and companion of AlexanderHetairosUnknown
Demetrius (son of Althaemenes)Macedonian nobleHetairosUnknown
Demetrius (son of Pythonax)Macedonian nobleHetairosUnknown
Demonicus of PellaMacedonian officerHetairosUnknown
ErigyiusMacedonian officerOfficer and commanderKilled in battle
Glaucias of MacedonMacedonian officerHetairosUnknown
HephaestionClosest friend and general of AlexanderGeneral and close friendDied of illness in Ecbatana
Heraclides (son of Antiochus)Macedonian nobleHetairosUnknown
Laomedon of MytileneOfficer and administratorOfficer and administratorSurvived and became governor of Syria
Medius of LarissaOfficer and close associate of AlexanderOfficer and close friendUnknown
Metron of PydnaMacedonian officerHetairosUnknown
NearchusAdmiral and explorerAdmiral of the fleetSurvived and became governor of Crete
PanegorusMacedonian nobleHetairosUnknown
Pantaleon of PydnaMacedonian officerHetairosUnknown
PeroidasMacedonian officerHetairosUnknown
PhilotasCommander in Alexander’s armyCommanderExecuted after conspiracy
Polydamas of MacedonMacedonian officerHetairosUnknown
Proteas of MacedonMacedonian officerHetairosUnknown
Ptolemy I SoterGeneral and later ruler of EgyptGeneral and ruler of EgyptBecame ruler of Egypt and established the Ptolemaic dynasty
Socrates of MacedonMacedonian officerHetairosUnknown
Tlepolemus (general)Macedonian generalGeneralUnknown


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