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Battle of Pydna in 168 BCE Area Today

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Battle of Pydna in 168 BCE summary

The Battle of Pydna in 168 BCE between Rome and the Macedonian Antigonid dynasty saw the further ascendancy of Rome in the Hellenic/Hellenistic world and the end of the Antigonid line of kings.

  1. The Romans had 29,000 men, of which 24,500 were infantry, including two legions. The Macedonian kingdom had 44,000 soldiers, of which 21,000 were phalangites. The cavalry forces were roughly equal, about 4,000 each.
  2. The two centers engaged at about 3pm, with the Macedonians advancing on the Romans a short distance from the Roman camp. The Romans tried to beat down the enemy pikes or hack off their points, but with little success. Unable to get under the thick bristle of spikes, the Romans used a planned retreat over the rough ground.
  3. As the phalanx pushed forward, the ground became more uneven as it moved into the foothills, and the line lost its cohesion, being forced over the rough terrain. The Roman commander Paullus now ordered the legions into the gaps, attacking the phalangites on their exposed flanks. At close quarters the longer Roman sword and heavier shield easily prevailed over the short sword and lighter armor of the Macedonians.
  4. The Roman right succeeded in routing the Macedonian left.
  5. Seeing the tide of battle turn, king Perseus fled with the cavalry on the Macedonian right. According to Plutarch, Perseus' cavalry had yet to engage, and both the king and his cavalry were accused of cowardice by the surviving infantry.
  6. The 3,000 strong Guard fought to the death, and the Macedonians suffered more than 32,000 dead or captured out of 40,000. The battle lasted about an hour but the bloody pursuit lasted until nightfall.