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Hellenistic Greek

Hellenistic Greek

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Historical Overview Section

Hellenistic Greece corresponds to the period between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the annexation of the classical Greek heartlands by Rome in 146 BC. The Hellenistic period begane after Alexanders death when Athens and her allies revolted against Macedon but were defeated within a year in the Lamian War.

The defeat of the Greek cities by Philip and Alexander had taught the Greeks that their city-states could never again be powers in their own right, and that the hegemony of Macedon and its successor states could not be challenged unless the city states united, or at least federated. But they still squabbled quite a lot.

Cassander, son of Alexander's leading general Antipater, was first to make himself master of most of Greece. He founded a new Macedonian capital at Thessaloniki and was generally a constructive ruler. His power was challenged by Antigonus, ruler of Anatolia, who promised the Greek cities that he would restore their freedom if they supported him. This led to successful revolts against Cassander's local rulers. In 307 BC Antigonus's son Demetrius captured Athens and restored its democratic system, which had been suppressed by Alexander. But in 301 BC a coalition of Cassander and the other Hellenistic kings defeated Antigonus at the Battle of Ipsus, ending his challenge. After Cassander's death in 298 BC, however, Demetrius seized the Macedonian throne and gained control of most of Greece. He was defeated by a second coalition of Greek rulers in 285 BC, and mastery of Greece passed to the king Lysimachus of Thrace. Lysimachus was in turn defeated and killed in 280 BC.

The Macedonian throne then passed to Demetrius's son Antigonus II, who also defeated an invasion of the Greek lands by the Gauls, who at this time were living in the Balkans. The battle against the Gauls united the Antigonids of Macedon and the Seleucids of Antioch, an alliance which was also directed against the wealthiest Hellenistic power, the Ptolemies of Egypt. Antigonus II ruled until his death in 239 BC, and his family retained the Macedonian throne until it was abolished by the Romans in 146 BC. Their control over the Greek city states was intermittent, however, since other rulers, particularly the Ptolemies, subsidised anti-Macedonian parties in Greece to undermine the Antigonids' power. Antigonus placed a garrison at Corinth, the strategic centre of Greece, but Athens, Rhodes, Pergamum and other Greek states retained substantial independence, and formed the Aetolian League as a means of defending it. Sparta also remained independent, but generally refused to join any league.

In 267 BC Ptolemy II persuaded the Greek cities to revolt against Antigonus, in what became the Chremonidian War, after the Athenian leader Chremonides. The cities were defeated and Athens lost her independence and her democratic institutions. The Aetolian League was restricted to the Peloponnese, but on being allowed to gain control of Thebes in 245 BC became a Macedonian ally. This marked the end of Athens as a political actor, although it remained the largest, wealthiest and most cultivated city in Greece. In 255 BC Antigonus defeated the Egyptian fleet at Cos and brought the Aegean islands, except Rhodes, under his rule as well.

Antigonus II died in 239 BC. His death saw another revolt of the city-states of the Achaean League, whose dominant figure was Aratus of Sicyon. Antigonus's son Demetrius II died in 229 BC, leaving a child (Philip V) as king, with the general Antigonus Doson as regent. The Achaeans, while nominally subject to Ptolemy, were in effect independent, and controlled most of southern Greece. Athens remained aloof from this conflict by common consent.

Sparta remained hostile to the Achaeans, and in 227 BC Sparta's king Cleomenes III invaded Achaea and seized control of the League. Aratus preferred distant Macedon to nearby Sparta, and allied himself with Doson, who in 222 BC defeated the Spartans and annexed their city – the first time Sparta had ever been occupied by a foreign power.

Philip V, who came to power when Doson died in 221 BC, was the last Macedonian ruler with both the talent and the opportunity to unite Greece and preserve its independence against the "cloud rising in the west": the ever-increasing power of Rome. He was known as "the darling of Hellas". Under his auspices the Peace of Naupactus (217 BC) brought conflict between Macedon and the Greek leagues to an end, and at this time he controlled all of Greece except Athens, Rhodes and Pergamum.

In 215 BC, however, Philip formed an alliance with Rome's enemy Carthage, which drew Rome directly into Greek affairs for the first time. Rome promptly lured the Achaean cities away from their nominal loyalty to Philip, and formed alliances with Rhodes and Pergamum, now the strongest power in Asia Minor. The First Macedonian War broke out in 212 BC, and ended inconclusively in 205 BC, but Macedon was now marked as an enemy of Rome. Rome's ally Rhodes gained control of the Aegean islands.

In 202 BC Rome defeated Carthage, and was free to turn her attention eastwards, urged on by her Greek allies, Rhodes and Pergamum. In 198 the Second Macedonian War broke out for obscure reasons, but basically because Rome saw Macedon as a potential ally of the Seleucids, the greatest power in the east. Philip's allies in Greece deserted him and in 197 BC he was decisively defeated at the Cynoscephalae by the Roman proconsul Titus Quinctius Flamininus.

Luckily for the Greeks, Flamininus was a moderate man and an admirer of Greek culture. Philip had to surrender his fleet and become a Roman ally, but was otherwise spared. At the Isthmian Games in 196 BC, Flamininus declared all the Greek cities free, although Roman garrisons were placed at Corinth and Chalcis. But the freedom promised by Rome was an illusion. All the cities except Rhodes were enrolled in a new League which Rome ultimately controlled, and democracies were replaced by aristocratic regimes allied to Rome.

User-contributed links about this army:

Using the army in FoG

  • Fight with the pikes, thorakitai and thureophoroi.
  • All your troops (except the LH) should be in a compact mass on one side of the table. The cavalry hide at the back. The LH are deployed last and hope to slow down the enemy on the wing you are not attacking.
  • If everything vulnerable hides behind the pikes, the enemy can avoid the pikes only at the cost of avoiding battle altogether.
  • Don't be tempted to increase the proportion of support troops - you would just be giving the enemy targets.
  • The Poor pikes in BGs of 12 are pretty good if you deploy them where the enemy is trying to avoid you or against enemy mounted - especially if you put a general in the front rank for combat.
  • The thorakitai are unbeatable in terrain and not bad in open ground.


Allied Contingents

  • Greek, Hellenistic : Date restrictions None Book: Immortal Fire Page: 53 - The spearmen are a sideshow - the MF Theurophoroi are where this ally is at, and can dominate any Rgo in period. 4 Lh is always useful too
  • Roman, Mid Republican : Date restrictions 207 BC Book: Rise of Rome Page: 6 - Adding in a core of Legionaries toughens this lot up a lot


15mm Manufacturers supplying figures for this army

You can see some of the figures in the Ancients Photo Gallery also on this site

Army Lists

Sample army lists for this army

Name of Army / Date
Achean Greek

  • 3 x TC
  • 1 x 12 Average HF pikemen
  • 2 x 8 Average HF pikemen
  • 2 x 12 Poor HF pikemen (or 2 more x 8 average if you prefer)
  • 1 x 8 Thorakitai MF Armoured, Off Sp
  • 1 x 8 Thureophoroi MF Protected, Off Sp
  • 1 x 4 Cavalry Average, Armoured, Light Spear, Swordsmen
  • 1 x 4 Light Horse Javelins
  • 1 x 6 LF Javelins average
  • 1 x 8 LF Slings average


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Created by admin. Last Modification: Monday 26 of April, 2010 22:48:21 BST by admin. (Version 12)
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