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The Argyraspides (in Greek: Ἀργυράσπιδες "Silver Shields"), were a division of the Macedonian army of Alexander the Great, who were so called because they carried silver-plated shields. They were picked men commanded by Nicanor, the son of Parmenion, and were held in high honour by Alexander. They were hypaspists, having changed their name to the Argyraspides whilst in India under Alexander.[1] After the death of Alexander (323 BC) they followed Eumenes. They were veterans, and although most of them were over sixty, they were feared and revered due to their battle skills and experience.

At the Battle of Gabiene in 316 BC they settled with Antigonus Monophthalmus after he managed to take possession of their baggage train (consisting of their families and the result of forty years of plunder): they obtained the return of their possessions, but in exchange delivered their general Eumenes to him.

Antigonus soon broke up the corps, finding it too turbulent to manage, also executing their commander, Antigenes.[2] He sent them to Sibyrtius, the Macedonian satrap of Arachosia, with the order to dispatch them by small groups of two or three to dangerous missions, so that their numbers would rapidly dwindle. However, others may have been retired to live in Macedonian settlements in Asia.

The Seleucid kings of Syria employed an infantry phalangite corps of the same name. At the Battle of Raphia in 217 BC the 10,000 men-strong Argyraspides took up positions opposite the Ptolemaic phalanx. They were men chosen from the whole kingdom and armed in the Macedonian manner.[3] Their position besides the king at the Battle of Magnesia in 190 BC suggests that they were the premier infantry guard unit in the Seleucid army. At the Daphne parade held by Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 166 BC the Argyraspides were 5,000 strong.[4] However the corps of men described by Polybius as being armed and dressed in the “Roman fashion” numbered 5,000,[5] and Bar-Kochva suggests that these men, who are described as being in the prime of life, might have also been a division of the Argyraspides, putting the number of the corps back up to 10,000 strong. Livy mentions a cavalry corps called argyraspides as a royal cohort in the army of Antiochus III the Great at Magnesia.[6]

The Roman Emperor Alexander Severus, among other ways in which he imitated Alexander the Great, had in his army bodies of men who were called argyroaspides and chrysaspides.[7]


  1. ^ Arrian Anabasis 7.11.3
  2. ^ Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca, xvii. 57, 58, 59, xviii. 63, xix. 12, 41, 43, 48; Curtius Rufus, Historiae Alexandri Magni, iv. 13; Plutarch, Parallel Lives, "Eumenes", 13-19
  3. ^ Polyb. 5.79.4, 5.82.2
  4. ^ Polyb. 30.25.5
  5. ^ Polyb. 30.25.3
  6. ^ Livy Ab urbe condita xxxvii. 40 Archived March 9, 2003, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Historia Augusta, "Alexander Severus", 50


  • PD-icon.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSmith, William, ed. (1870). "Argyraspides". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities. Boston: C. Little, and J. Brown.