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Battle of Cynoscephalae Area Today

A map of the area around the battle positions

Battle of Cynoscephalae summary

The Battle of Cynoscephalae (Greek: Μάχη τῶν Κυνὸς Κεφαλῶν) was an encounter battle fought in Thessaly in 197 BC between the Roman army, led by Titus Quinctius Flamininus, and the Antigonid dynasty of Macedon, led by Philip V.

  1. The two armies met near Pherae, and Philip's troops were defeated in a cavalry skirmish on the hills outside the city. Both sides then marched toward Scotusa in search of food, but out of sight of each other because of the hills. Flamininus, unaware of Philip's location, sent out some cavalry and light infantry to reconnoiter, which engaged Philip's troops on the hills
  2. The battle on the hills grew fierce and Flamininus sent 500 cavalry and 2,000 infantry as reinforcements, mostly Aetolians, forcing Philip's men to withdraw further up the hill
  3. Philip now sent more men into the melee, his Macedonian and Thessalian horse, who drove the Romans down the hill, until the Aetolian cavalry stabilized the situation
  4. Philip, though reluctant to send his phalanx into the broken, hilly terrain eventually ordered an assault with 8,000 men when he heard of the Roman retreat
  5. Flamininus positioned his troops on the field as well. He left his right wing in reserve, with his elephants in front, and personally led the left wing against Philip
  6. Meanwhile Philip's phalanx had reached the summit, and after joining with their light troops and cavalry which he placed on his right wing, Philip had his phalanx charge down the hill into the oncoming legionaries
  7. As the Roman left was slowly being driven back, Flamininus took command of his right and ordered an assault there
  8. Philip's right wing was now on higher ground than the Roman left, and was at first successful against them
  9. However his left wing and center made up of another 8,000 phalangites were still disorganized and in marching formation
  10. They hadn't even formed the phalanx when Flamininus sent his elephants charging into them, and they routed
  11. After breaking through, one of the Roman tribunes took twenty maniples (a smaller division of the legion) and attacked the Macedonian right wing from behind
  12. The Macedonians were unable to reposition themselves as quickly as the Roman maniples
  13. Surrounded by both wings of the Roman legion, they suffered heavy casualties and fled
  14. After a brief pursuit, Flamininus allowed Philip to escape