Imperial Seleucid 300 BC - 162 BC

Before 275 BC: Dry. Ag. 2. WW, Rv, O, E, M, RGo, Rd, BUA.
From 275 BC: Warm. Ag. 2. WW, Rv, H(S), H(G), O, V, RGo, Rd, BUA.
Nominal list scale: 1 element equals 500 men (twice normal scale).

C-in-C - as Agema, Companions or Lancers, Reg Kn (F) @ 31 AP 1
Sub-general - as Phalanx, Reg Pk (O) @ 24 AP 0-1
Sub-general - as Companions, Agema or Lancers, Reg Kn (F) @ 31 AP 0-1
Sub-general - as Argyyraspids, Reg Pk (S) @ 25 AP, or Lancers, Reg Kn (F) @ 31 AP 0-1
Agema - Reg Kn (F) @ 11 AP 0-1
Companions - Reg Kn (F) @ 11 AP 0-1
Lancers - Reg Kn (F) @ 11 AP 1-12
Horse archers - Irr LH (F) @ 4 AP 0-3
Bedouin camel riders - Irr LH (I) @ 3 AP 0-1
Scythed Chariots - Irr Exp (O) @ 7 AP 0-3
Tarantines - Reg LH (O) @ 5 AP 0-2
Phalanx - Reg Pk (O) @ 4 AP 12-39
Argyraspids, etc - Reg Pk (S) @ 5 AP 0-20
Cretan archers - Reg Ps (O) @ 2 AP or javelinmen - Reg Ps (S) @ 3 AP 0-2
Greek or other mercenaries - all Reg Sp (I) @ 4 AP or, if acting as euzonoi, all Reg Ax (O) @ 4 AP 0-12
Elephant escorts - Reg Ps (S) @ 3 AP or Reg Ps (O) @ 2 AP 0-2 per El
Other archers and slingers - up to 2/3 Irr Bw (I) @ 3 AP, rest Irr Ps (O) @ 2 AP 2-32
Thracians - Irr Ax (S) @ 4 AP or Irr Ax (O) @ 3 AP 0-6
Other hillmen - Irr Ax (O) @ 3 AP or Irr Ps (S) @ 3 AP 2-12
Other levies - Irr Hd (O) @ 1 AP 0-5
Bolt-shooters - Reg Art (O) @ 8 AP 0-2
Stone-throwers - Reg Art (S) @ 10 AP 0-1
Siege-towers - Reg WWg (S) @ 14 AP 0-1
Ditch and palisade for camp - TF @ 1 AP 0-24
Replace Lancers with field fortifications - TF @ 2 AP Any
Penteres or larger - Reg Gal (S) @ 4 AP [Reg Ax or Bd] 0-1
Trieres or Tetreres - Reg Gal (O) @ 3 AP [Reg Ax or Ps] 0-4
Uncovered vessels - Reg Gal (F) @ 2 AP [Ax, Ps] or Irr Bts (O) @ 2 AP [Ps] 0-2

Only before 275 BC:
Elephants - Irr El (O) @ 16 AP 1-9
Median longchophoroi - Irr LH (O) @ 5 AP 0-4

Only after 276 BC:
Downgade sub-general to ally-general - Reg Pk (O) @ 14 AP or as Lancers, Reg Kn (F) @ 21 AP Any
Upgrade Greek mercenaries as thorakitai - all Reg Sp (O) @ 5 AP or all Reg Ax (S) @ 5 AP 0-1/2
Elephants - Irr El (O) @ 16 AP 1-5
Replace Argyraspids with militia thureophoroi - Reg Ax (I) @ 3 AP Any

Only from 245 BC to 228 BC:
Galatian allies - List: Galatian (Bk 2) 0-18

Only after 228 BC:
Galatian mercenary foot - all Irr Wb (O) @ 3 AP or all Irr Bd (I) @ 4 AP 0-12
Replace El with Galatian cavalry - Irr Cv (O) @ 7 AP 0-1 per 4 Galatian foot

Only after 206 BC:
Upgrade Agema to Reg Kn (X) @ 33 AP if general, otherwise @ 13 AP All/0
Upgrade Lancers to Reg Kn (X) @ 23 AP if ally-general, @ 33 AP if other general, @ 13 AP otherwise Any
Regrade Galatian foot as Irr Bd (I) @ 4 AP All

Only after 193 BC:
Upgrade Lancers to Reg Kn (X) @ 33 AP if general, otherwise @ 13 AP All

Only from 192 BC to 190 BC:
Aitolian allies - List: Hellenistic Greek (Bk 2) 0-18

Only after 167 BC:
Replace Tarantines with Militia horse - Reg Cv (I) @ 6 AP or Reg LH (O) @ 5 AP All
Replace Galatian Cv with Militia horse - Reg Cv (I) @ 6 AP or Reg LH (O) @ 5 AP Any
Replace Lancers with Militia horse - Reg Cv (I) @ 6 AP or Reg LH (O) @ 5 AP 0-1/3
Replace Argyraspids, etc with imitation Romans - Reg Bd (O) @ 7 AP 8*-10

Only if invading through steep hills, the enemy has PF, or a naval landing party:
Regrade Argyraspids as Reg Ax (S) @ 25 AP if a general, @ 5 AP otherwise Any

This list covers Seleucid armies from after the battle of Ipsos until the Roman destruction of the Seleucid fleet and most of the Indian elephant herd in 162 BC and the civil wars starting in the same year. While the elephants were usually accompanied by escorting infantry, as before, there is no direct evidence that each animal had its own dedicated guard, and the numbers of men involved were large. Accordingly, escorts are graded regular, and additional to their elephants. Aitolian allies may not be used with Galatians or militia, and may include camp defences. The minimum marked * applies only if any imitation Romans are used. At least twice as many elements of Pk (O) must be used as Kn; Pk (O) must also not be outnumbered by any single other (non-allied) troop type except Ax (I). Before 275 AD, Kn must outnumber El. A Pk (S) general can only be used if at least 16 elements of Argyraspids or imitation Romans are used. Unless Art (S) deployed behind PF, each element of Art (S) or WWg (S) is replaced by two elements of Irr Hd (O) pioneers and labourers if the enemy has no PF. Elephant escorts must be initially deployed in contact with an element of elephants. Allied contingents drawn from this list may include mercenaries. An army including an internal ally-general may not include El or Argyraspids. Such internal ally-generals need only command the same compulsory troop types as their own element.


List dates: The list starts with a presumed reorganisation of the army after Ipsos (including the institutions, or perhaps, consolidation of the Argyraspids, and the rearming of bulk of the cavalry in the Macedonian manner). The list concludes with the splitting of the kingdom into warring factions, with a consequent diminution of any army's maximum size. Earlier Seleucid armies are covered by my Eastern Asiatic Successor list, later armies by my Later Seleucid list.

Aggression: The current list is rated 2, and this is fine. The kingdom was invaded about just as often as it attacked others for the entire period the list covers.

Terrain: At the kingdom's foundation, the capital was in Babylon, supplanted by the new foundation of Seleucia-on-Tigris, the terrain and climate accordingly reflects Babylonia. The capital appears to have been shifted to Antioch in Syria not long after Seleucus Nicator was killed (278 BC).

List scale: Seleucid armies of this period could apparently be very large indeed - ca. 70000 being recorded for both Magnesia (190/89 BC) and Raphia (217 BC); a military parade at Daphne (ca. 164 BC) involved ca. 55000 men. Accordingly, a list scale of1:512 has been employed. To fight battles at true scale therefore, all minima and maxima must be doubled.

C-in-C: Commanders fought mounted in every instance reported. A C-in-C need not be the King or his heir, who would usually command the Agema and Companions, since smaller armies could be commanded by other generals.

Sub-generals: None are compulsory to reflect Antiochos' small army at Thermopylae in 191 BC. Large armies usually had 3 divisions, a centre and two wings, such as Raphia, but at Magnesia according to Appian there was also a vanguard command large enough so that the force appeared to be two armies deployed one behind another. The central command always incorporated the Phalanx; at Magnesia this was under the command of Philip, the commander of the Elephants, but there is no evidence he himself actually fought mounted on an elephant. The option for ally generals is to allow for the occasional on-field desertions such as occured in Molon's revolt.

Agema: Seemingly the senior guard cavalry unit, its members were probably equipped as catafracts in the 2nd century BC, although direct evidence is lacking, hence the option to remain Kn (F). The unit was almost certainly 1000 strong: I allow only one element which in addition to a general's element makes 1000 men.

Companions: Apparently the second most senior guard cavalry unit, its members are disscribed as being light-armed in comparison to catafracts at Magnesia. Like the Agema, it was almost certainly 1000 strong so I allow only one element; this plus a general's element makes 1000 men.

Lancers: Despite oft-stated claims that the Seleucids 'inherited' most of Alexander's Macedonian cavalry, the truth appears otherwise. The Seleucids started off with almost no troops that had served under Alexander, and unit titles such as the 'Companions' and 'Argyraspids' are most likely to have been assumed in imitation rather than inherited. The bulk of the Seleucids' cavalry was recruited from the east, although by the 3rd century BC, they were apparently armed in the Macedonian manner and are thus are graded as Kn (F). Some 6000 are claimed to have been present at Magnesia, exclusive of the Agema and Companions. Seleucid armies usually were well-provided with such men, but armies could contain very few mounted indeed, accordingly the minimum is just one element (and this can be reduced to zero, see fortifications, below). By Magnesia (190/89 BC), it seems all the line cavlry were catafracts, but at Panion in 200 BC, only the left wing included catafracts. Catafracts are not mentioned in the fighting in Bactria in 206 BC, and were presumably introduced as a result of this campaign.

Horse archers: Provided not only by Scythians, but also Medes, Parthians and, in Babylonia, quite likely by Jews as well. The minimum is reduced to zero since Antiochos' small army at Thermopylae in 191 BC seemingly had just 500 mounted men - ie. the C-in-C's element.

Bedouin: I have reduced the maximum down to one element. At Magnesia, they formed one part of four nationalities of the mounted archers there. No numbers are given, but there is no reason to believe they were over 500 strong, especially since at Raphia, where Arabs were particularly strongly represented in the infantry, they are not represented at all. As they are described as being fleet mounted archers, I see no reason why the option of massed Cm (O) should be allowed.

Scythed chariots: The maximum is reduced to 3, since no more than 150 are ever attested (except for a highly unreliable late Jewish source).

Tarantines: These are last mentioned at Magnesia - by Daphnae their place seems to have been taken by other types of cavalry.

Phalanx: The minimum is raised to 12, ie 6000 men. Even at Thermopylae, it is likely that of the 10000 foot present, 6000 of them were probably line phalangites. Archers, slingers etc. are also mentioned, but in a way that it is clear they are well outnumbered by the phalanx, since they pass through it to their rear (ie. it is as wide as them, and undoubtably deeper). The maximum number available appears to have been 20000, although 16000 was probably a more typical number, as at Magnesia.

Argyraspids, etc.: I say 'etc.', since the 10000 picked men at Raphia are described as being mostly, and not entirely, Argyraspids. (I would posit 8000 Argyraspids, and 2000 foot agema). The minimum is reduced to zero, since rebels such as Molon might have been unlikely to have used such troops, and similarly for provincial armies. They seemingly could operate with javelins in the traditional Macedonian manner - since Polybious records 10000 'peltasts' in the Seleucid army at one point, and it is the 'peltasts' who storm a city breach. At the Daphnae parade, organised by the Romanophile Antiochos Epiphanes, the Argyraspids were 5000 strong, while 5000 other picked men were instead equipped in the Roman manner. This may have been a reaction to the Macedonian phalanx' defeat at Pydna in 168 BC. Polyainos records Seleukos I using 'hypaspists' as an elite force against Demetrios, seemingly in 286 BC, so the Seleucid footguards were seemingly established by this time, and were probably so organised when Seleucus proclaimed himself king before the start of this list.

Cretan archers: I have reduced the minima to 2 elements. The Seleucids had any great influence in Crete, so they are extremely unlikely to have ever have had more than 1000 Cretan archers together at one time. Larger numbers of (non-Cretan) men equipped "in the Cretan style" are covered elsewhere in the list.

Elephant Escorts: Elephants serving Seleukos Nicator's rivals Eumenes and Antigonos routinely had escorting infantry, as did later Seleucid elephants, so there seems to reason to suppose early Seleucid elephants did without, so they are allowed escorts too; they are optional however on the basis that the huge number of elephants in the army immediately post-Ipsos would not have had a sufficiennt number of trained escorts, and aklso the seeming absence of any such escorts from the accounts of Magnesia. I am convinced by Sekunda's interpretation of a Jewish source stating each elephant carried 32 men means it was escorted by 32 men on foot. In this case an element of elephants would have 2 whole DBM elements' worth of escorting infantry, and so they would require separate representation, unlike Indian elephants that are said to have had 2 men walking at the foot of each elephant in which case they can be subsumed into the elephant base (and so make it (S)). In any case, Seleucid elephants at Magnesia proved vulnerable enough to light infantry that a grading of El (S) seems inappropriate. Normally elephant escorts were archers and slingers, but Sekinda illustrates a Hellenistic gem showing an infantryman with a heavy javelin who may represent an elephant escort, so Ps (S) is an option.

Other archers and slingers: I have reduced the minimum to 2 to simulate Thermopylae (I assume the 10000 foot there to be 6000 Pk, 2000 'peltasts', 1000 archers and slingers, 1000 others - elephant escorts, javelinmen, mercenaries, etc.); the maximum I raise to 32 elements, since at Raphia there were apparently 10000 Arabs in the main line, who would therefore qualify as Bw rather than Ps, plus all the light infantry on the wings, such as the Mysians. This also requires the maximum ratio of Bw to Ps to be shifted from 1:1 to 2:1.

Thracians: The Seleucids were still hiring large numbers of Thracians long after they lost any direct contact with Bithynia, 3000 being recorded at Daphne.

Other hillmen: These might be classified as either Ax (O) or Ps (S): the Cilicians at daphne are described as Euzonoi - lightly equipped, since they did not have helmets, Ps might be best at least in their case, Ax (O) would be more suitable for others such as Kappadokians. The number is substantially raised - 3000 Cilicians are mentioned at Daphne, and Cilicians were just one group of (inexperienced) mercenaries recorded at Magenesia along with Kappadokians and several others.

Other levies: I don't believe any Seleucid infantry were demonstrably poor enought to qualify as Hd, but leave the option in for those that disagree. In any case, their number is reduced, since even 5 elements at this scale represents 10000 men, say the entire Arab levy recorded at Raphia.

Bolt-shooters: These were used at Thermopylae.

Seige equipment: Art (S) and WWg (S) are not recorded in open battle - in fact their use at all is not well documented. They are accordingly allowed only in limited numbers.

Camp defences: Seleucid armies seem to have routinely used defended camps, but the limited information does not allow me to state they were always used, so I allow them to be optional.

Field fortifications: Most notably at Thermopylae, were they were manned by artillery.

Naval: Antiochos the Great's fleet is said to have been comprised of ships that were on the whole much lighter than those of his Rhodian/Pergamene/Roman enemies, so the majority must have trieres or similar. Some penteres and the like no doubt existed however, and various types of smaller undecked ships are also mentioned. However, the Seleucid fleet does not appear to have cooperated very well with the army, even at Thermopylae, so only a limited naval contingent is allowed. After 189 BC, the fleet was limited by treaty to just 12 decked vessels, but this limit was soon being ignored. I have allowed a fleet from the very start, since the Seleucids had built a port near the future site of Antioch before the start of this list, and after Antioch's foundation, ca. 300 BC, their outlook was ever more westward; their interventions in the Aegean in the 3rd century would have demanded a fleet.

Greek (and other) mercenaries: These are no longer compulsory. The Seleucids were at first based in the east, and what mercenaries they had may have all been enrolled in the phalanx. I have increased the maximum number of elements allowed however, since 4000 men, 8 elements, is not that great a number, especially given their later ventures in Ionia, etc. After 275 BC, the thureos seems to have been commonly adopted by Hellenistic mercenaries, though this does not effect grading. Although Thorakitai are first heard of only near the end of the 3rd century, this is probably no more than a reflection of the paucity of the sources that an indication of recent invention.

Elephants: 400 Seleucid elephants had taken part in Ipsos, some would not have survived the battle, or the journey home; 9 elements (nearly 300 beasts) would still be a fairly conservative number of how many could be fielded at this time. Inevitably, numbers declined over time, so that 102 were recorded at Raphia for instance; but new stocks were occasionally obtained from the east, some 150 elephants are recorded just over 10 years later, but those at Magnesia appear to have been not much over 50 strong, so a highly variable number of elements is allowed. Elephants were highly regarded, and since every effort was made to ensure they were used in battle, they are compulsory - but to cover local campaigns, there are options to replace them with other elements.

Median longchophoroi: I assume that not all the former Median horse were assimilated to the Macedonian model, and that some initially retained their skirmishing nature. However, after a couple of generations of Seleucid rule, I assume that such troops had ceased to exist, certainly they are not mentioned in any of the later 3rd century battles.

Militia thureophoroi: I have allowed these at a much earlier date, since it is IMO likely that the Babylonian army mentioned in 2 Maccabees of 4000 "Macedonians" and 8000 "Jews" defeating a Galatian invasion of reputedly 120000, tentatively dated to ca. 229 BC, included a very substantial militia component. They should replace regular soldiers, particularly guards, rather than be additional to them, since their use would not be necessary if the regular army was on hand to deal with things!

Galatian foot: First mentioned sometime after 246 BC; in the encounter between Molon and Antiochos in 220 BC both sides fielded Galatian contingents, integrated into the main line. I assume that before they were humbled by the Pergamenes, any contingents would count as allied contingents and be somewhat untrustworthy. Certainly in Antigonid and Ptolemaic service, they are noted as deserting en masse on at least one occasion with each employer, and I so no reason that those first recruited into Seleucid service would be any more reliable. After this time, I rate them as normal troops in the main list however. The number allowable is raised to 12 elements: 5000 were paraded at Daphne, by which time contact with the independent Galatians was much diminished; their numbers can hardly have been smaller earlier, and at Magnesia, Appian refers to one of the two Galatian divisions being 3000 strong (although misidentifying it as Catafract cavalry) which would imply 6000 men overall. Even if Galatians fought with 'fanatic' fervour in ca. 278 BC, (which is very debatable), this was apparently not the case in Seleucid service. The above incident where a reputed 120000 were defeated by 12000 would on the face of it argue against a Wb (S) classification, and despite the list notes, Galatian mercenaries did not have a great reputation - one source does indeed claim that no Seleucid ruler would go to war without them, but that is not the same as saying they were especially feared - the fact that they were so numerous and cheap is a much better argument as to why they were so ubiquitous. Polybios does not sing their praises with regards to the events of 220 BC, or at any time later, while those serving at Magnesia are described as inexperienced, and Eumenes had no problem routing them. I accordingly grade them initially as Wb (O) in the 3rd century, and later, when they are depicted wearing Greek style arms and armour, carrying their swords on their left, and armoured in muscle cuirasses, as Bd (I), Galatians never being described as conducting impetuous charges. Even in their invasion of Greece, at Thermopylae they flung themselves forwards when ordered to do so, and likewise retired when ordered to do so, so Irr Bd (O) might be a better classification than Wb (S).

Galatian cavalry: Some seem to have been employed, but hardly in the numbers allowed presently, which would also allow cavalry to be fielded without foot; in fact foot are mentioned in the absence of horse, but never the converse. Some Thracian cavalry might be assumed to be included in these elements.

Aitolian allies: Antiochos allied with them in 192 BC, so they date is shifted back a year, even if they didn't actually fight a battle together until 191 BC. The number of elements allowed is restricted, since they did not contribute their whole army to the cause - the total isn't stated, but two groups of 1000 are mentioned in addition to another (likely larger) group in their own camp; the Aitolians had allied with the Ptolemies with 6500 men less than ten years before, so a limit of 18 elements (8000 fighting men) is more than sufficient.

Militia cavalry: A feature of the Daphnae parade, where 3000 are mentioned. They were unhelmeted, so should probably be classed as Reg Cv (I) given their milita status, but some might alternatively be LH (O); since they were not all the same, the gradings are not exclusive of one another, and some might well have taken over the role of the former Tarantines.

Roman Argyraspids: I have made these an asterisked minima, since they seem to have been one homogenous unit, probably modelled on a Roman legion; they would be most unlikely to have been split up between different armies. 5000 men are recorded, ie. 10 elements, I allow a minimum of 8 however to account for casualties etc.

This page last modified 14 May 2006.

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