Battle of Paraitakene

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Battle of Paraitakene
Part of the Second War of the Diadochi
Date317 BC
Location
Paraitakene (near modern Isfahan, Persia)

Coordinates: 32°38′00″N 51°39′00″E / 32.6333°N 51.6500°E / 32.6333; 51.6500Isfahan Province, Iran
Result Indecisive
Belligerents
Antigonus I Monophthalmus, Eumenes
Commanders and leaders
Antigonus I Monophthalmus Eumenes
Strength
28,000 heavy infantry,
5,500 light infantry,
6,900 light cavalry,
3,700 heavy cavalry,
65 war elephants
17,000 heavy infantry,
18,000 light infantry,
6,000 cavalry,
125 war elephants
Casualties and losses
7,700, inc. 3,700 killed 1,540, inc. 540 killed
Battle of Paraitakene is located in West and Central Asia
Battle of Paraitakene
Approximate location of the Battle of Paraitakene.

The Battle of Paraitakene (also called Paraetacene; Greek: Παραιτακηνή) was a battle in the wars of the successors of Alexander the Great (see Diadochi) between Antigonus I Monophthalmus and Eumenes. It was fought in 317 BC.

Background[edit]

After the death of Alexander the Great, his generals immediately began squabbling over his huge empire. Soon it degenerated into open warfare, with each general attempting to claim a portion of Alexander's vast kingdom. One of the most talented successor generals (Diadochi) was Antigonus Monophthalmus, so called because of an eye he lost in a siege. During the early years of warfare between the Diadochi, he faced Eumenes, a capable general who had already crushed the popular general Craterus. The two Diadochi fought a series of battles across Asia Minor in which Antigonos completely outgeneraled Eumenes.[1] Eumenes retreated to, and was besieged in, the fortress of Nora. Eventually, after swearing an oath, Eumenes was released. Unfortunately for Antigonos Eumenes had revised the original oath in a way he was still able to continue the war without being labeled an oathbreaker.[2] Eumenes recruited a small army and marched south into Cilicia where he made an alliance with Antigenes and Teutamos (commanders of the Silver Shields and the Hypaspists, Alexander's veterans).[3] In Cilicia, Syria and Phoenicia Eumenes recruited additional troops for his army and ships for his fleet and renewed the war against Antigonos. Antigonos, having taken care of his enemies in the West, now marched East after Eumenes. When he arrived in Cilicia he found out Eumenes had marched to Mesopotamia trying to get the eastern Satraps to join his cause.[4] After securing Cilicia and Syria he marched to Mesopotamia intent upon bringing Eumenes to battle. Eumenes avoided battle and the armies marched and countermarched through Babylonia, Susiana and Media until finally, in the summer of 316 BC, they faced off across a plain in the lands of the Paraitakenoi, to the northeast of Susa.

Prelude[edit]

In the summer of 316 BC, Antigonus moved southward from Media towards Persia in the hope of forcing Eumenes to battle. Eumenes was moving north from Persia. The two armies met in the region called Paraitakene, between Media and Persia. Antigonus drew up his army in a strong defensive position. The two armies surveyed each other for a while, and for four days they lived off the land. On the fifth day, supplies were running low so Antigonus decided to march away to Gabiene, where the countryside was rich and unplundered. Unfortunately his plans were betrayed by some deserters, and Eumenes was able to march off first. When Antigonus found out his opponent had left he gave chase with his cavalry while the rest of his army followed at moderate speed. In this way he caught up with Eumenes's rearguard and forced him to halt his army. When the rest of Antigonus's army came up both sides prepared for battle.[5]

Battle[edit]

Antigonus deployed his army obliquely, the right wing leading, in the same fashion used by Alexander and Philip. Antigonus deployed his light horse (c. 7,000 horsemen) on the left under Peithon, his heavy cavalry (3,700 horsemen) and light infantry were placed on the right flank resting on the hills under his own command and his phalanx held the center, with the Macedonians on the right, the Asians in the center and the mercenaries (probably Greeks) on the left, while the war elephants were spread across the line. Eumenes, also placed his phalanx in the center, with the elite Argyraspides and Hypaspists on the right of the phalanx. His left flank, resting near the hill, was made up of cavalry, elephants, and auxiliaries. The right flank was led by Eumenes himself with his heavy cavalry (2,900 horsemen).[6] Antigonus's oldest son Demetrius, aged about twenty, was with his father on the right for his first major battle[7].

The battle began with Pheiton, ignoring his orders to hang back, charging Eumenes's heavy cavalry with his more numerous light cavalry. Eumenes held his own against Pheiton with his heavy cavalry and elephants and then attacked him in the flank with a couple of his own light cavalry squadrons brought over from his left flank. Peithon was driven back to the foothills in rout.[8]

In the center, the two phalanxes engaged, again to Eumenes’ advantage due to the incredible skill of the Argyraspides who, despite their age (50 to 70 years old), seemed invincible. Antigonus's phalanx was also driven back to the foothills. [8]

Despite these reverses, Antigonos kept his head and when he observed that the very success of the enemy phalanx had led them forward opening up a gap between their center and their left flank he charged his heavy cavalry into this gap, wheeling right and left to the rear of Eumenes's cavalry and his phalanx. The attack proved successful – ending what seemed to be the start of a Eumenes victory over another opponent. The battle slowed as both sides tried to rally broken units. Eumenes tried to claim victory by occupying the battlefield but his troops insisted on returning to their baggage and making camp there. Antigonos, who had his troops better in hand, marched forward and claimed the battlefield.[9]

Aftermath[edit]

Antigonus claimed victory, even though he lost some 3,700 men, and a further 4,000 were wounded. Eumenes came off with a loss of only 540 men and some 1,000 injured.[10] Antigonos used trickery (force marching his army away by night) to get away from Eumenes[11], but he would be back the following year. Their next major confrontation would be the Battle of Gabiene.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Richard A. Billows, Antigonos the One-Eyed and the Creation of the Hellenistic State, p.77.
  2. ^ Richard A. Billows, Antigonos the One-Eyed and the Creation of the Hellenistic State, p.83.
  3. ^ Richard A. Billows, Antigonos the One-Eyed and the Creation of the Hellenistic State, p.85.
  4. ^ Richard A. Billows, Antigonos the One-Eyed and the Creation of the Hellenistic State, p.88.
  5. ^ Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca historica XIX 26,1-10; Richard A. Billows, Antigonos the One-Eyed and the Creation of the Hellenistic State, p.95.
  6. ^ Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca historica XIX 26,1-9.
  7. ^ Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca historica XIX 29.4; Richard A. Billows, Antigonos the One-Eyed and the Creation of the Hellenistic State, p.95.
  8. ^ a b Richard A. Billows, Antigonos the One-Eyed and the Creation of the Hellenistic State, p.95.
  9. ^ Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica, XIX 30,1-31,5; Richard A. Billows, Antigonos the One-Eyed and the Creation of the Hellenistic State, p.98.
  10. ^ Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca historica XIX 30,1-31,5.
  11. ^ Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca historica XIX 32,1-2; Polyainos, Strategemata, IV 6,10.

External links[edit]