Battle of Pteria

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Battle of Pteria
Part of the Campaigns of Cyrus the Great
DateAutumn 547 BC
39°55′00″N 35°20′00″E / 39.9167°N 35.3333°E / 39.9167; 35.3333Coordinates: 39°55′00″N 35°20′00″E / 39.9167°N 35.3333°E / 39.9167; 35.3333
Result Tactical stalemate;
Strategic Persian victory.
Pteria part of Anatolia, lost by Lydia, captured by Persia.
Lydian Empire,
Babylonian mercenaries,
Arabian mercenaries,
Greek mercenaries
Achaemenid Empire
Commanders and leaders
Croesus of Lydia,
Artacamas of Phrygia,
Aribaeus of Cappadocia,
Aragdus of Arabia,
Gabaedus of Hellespont,
unknown others
Cyrus the Great,
unknown others


Casualties and losses
Heavy1 Heavy2
1 Herodotus states that the Lydian forces "fell very short of the enemy."
2 "[...] upon both sides the number of the slain was great; nor had victory declared in favour of either party, [...]"
Battle of Pteria is located in West and Central Asia
Battle of Pteria
Approximate location of the Battle of Pteria

At the Battle of Pteria (Ancient Greek: Πτερία) in 547 BC, the Persian forces of Cyrus the Great fought a drawn battle with the invading Lydian forces of Croesus, forcing Croesus to withdraw back west into his own kingdom.


Formerly, the Lydians and Medes had arranged that the natural boundary between the two empires would be the Halys River. Croesus learned of the sudden Persian uprising and defeat of his longtime rivals, the Medes. He attempted to opportunistically use these set of events to expand his borders upon the eastern frontier of Lydia. He made an alliance with Chaldea, Egypt and several Greek city-states, including Sparta.


Croesus may have intended re-instating his brother-in-law, Astyages on the Median throne. It is also possible that he was trying to pre-empt a Persian invasion of Lydia.


Croesus began the campaign with an invasion of Cappadocia, crossing the Halys and capturing Pteria, then capital of the district and formidable as a fortress; The city was sacked, and the inhabitants enslaved.[3] Meanwhile, Cyrus had advanced to halt the Lydian incursion, and the armies met in the vicinity of the fallen city. The battle appears to have been fierce, but indecisive; Both sides sustained considerable casualties; in the aftermath, the outnumbered Croesus withdrew across the Halys. The retreat of Croesus is represented by Herodotus as a strategic decision to suspend operations until their armies were more evenly matched, by arrival of reinforcements from his allies the Babylonians, the Egyptians and particularly the Spartans.[4] Though losses were more or less equal, Croesus apparently thought he had inflicted sufficiently heavy losses on the Persians to cripple Cyrus for the winter, as he disbanded his army shortly after reaching his own territory.[5]


Among historians, the outcome of the battle remains debatable and unclear. Before all of this, and prior to his invasion, Croesus asked the Oracle of Delphi for advice. The Oracle suggested vaguely that, "if King Croesus crosses the Halys River, a great empire will be destroyed."[6] Croesus received these words with delight, instigating a war that would ironically and eventually end not the Persian Empire but his own. The dispersal of Croesus' army exposed Lydia to the unexpected invasion of Cyrus, who followed almost immediately on Croesus' steps, pursuing him to Sardis.[7] The rival kings fought again at the Battle of Thymbra, before Sardis, which ended in a decisive victory for Cyrus the Great.


  • Herodotus. The Histories. Suffolk, England: Penguin Books, 1975.
  • Diodorus Siculus. Diodorus of Sicily in Twelve Volumes with an English Translation by C. H. Oldfather. Vol. 4-8. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press; London: William Heinemann, Ltd. 1989.
  • Dupuy, R. Ernest, and Trevor N. Dupuy. The Encyclopedia of Military History from 3500 B.C. to the present. New York: Harper and Row, 1977.
  • Fuller, J.F.C. A Military History of the Western World, Volume One. N.P.: Minerva Press, 1954.
  • Kevin Leloux, "La bataille de (la) Ptérie. La Lydie face à la Perse (ca. 547 av. J.-C.)", in Actes du 9e Congrès de l'Association des Cercles Francophones d'Histoire et d'Archéologie de Belgique (Liège, 23-26 août 2012), Tome III, volume 2, 2017, p. 407-415.


  1. ^ Spencer, C. Tucker Battles That Changed History: An Encyclopedia of World Conflict , ABC-Clio Inc, (2010) p.563
  2. ^ Eggenberger, David, An Encyclopedia of Battles: Accounts of Over 1,560 Battles from 1479 B.C. to the Present, Courier Dover Publications, (1985) p. 386
  3. ^ Herodotus, The Histories, (Penguin Books, 1983), I., p. 71
  4. ^ Herodotus The Histories, (Penguin Books, 1983), I., p. 71
  5. ^ Herodotus, I., p. 72
  6. ^ Diodorus. 9.31
  7. ^ Herodotus, I., p. 72