Late Seleucid 161 BC - 64 BC

Warm. Ag. 1. WW, Rv, H(S), H(G), O, V, RGo, Rd, BUA.
Nominal list scale: 1 element equals 250 men (normal scale).

C-in-C - Reg Kn (F) @ 31 AP or Reg Kn (X) @ 33 AP 1
Sub-general - as above 0-1
Sub-general - as above or Reg Pk (O) @ 24 AP or Reg Bd (I) @ 25 AP 0-1
Lancers - up to 1/2 Reg Kn (F) @ 11 AP, rest Reg Kn (X) @ 13 AP 1-4
Horse archers - Irr LH (F) @ 4 AP 1-4
Thracian, Galatian or other mercenary cavalry - Irr Cv (O) @ 7 AP 0-2
Militia cavalry - Reg Cv (I) @ 6 AP or Reg LH (O) @ 5 AP 0-4
Scythed chariots - Irr Exp (O) @ 7 AP 0-3
Macedonian foot - all Reg Pk (O) @ 4 AP or all Reg Bd (I) @ 5 AP 16-64
Replace Macedonian foot with militia thureophoroi - Reg Ax (I) @ 3 AP Any
Cretan mercenaries - Reg Ps (O) @ 2 AP or Reg Ps (S) @ 3 AP 0-6
Mercenary thureophoroi - all Reg Sp (I) @ 4 AP, or if acting as euzonoi, all Reg Ax (O) @ 4 AP 2-6
Upgrade thureophoroi to thorakitai - all Reg Sp (O) @ 5 AP or all Reg Ax (S) @ 5 AP 0-1/2
Galatian mercenaries - Irr Bd (I) @ 4 AP 0-6
Thracian mercenaries - Irr Ax (S) @ 4 AP 0-4
Kappadokian or other hillmen - Irr Ax (O) @ 3 AP or Irr Ps (S) @ 3 AP 0-4
Asiatic archers and slingers - up to 1/2 Irr Bw (I) @ 3 AP, rest Irr Ps (O) @ 2 AP 0-8
Elephant escorts - Reg Ps (S) @ 3 AP or Reg Ps (O) @ 2 AP 0-2 per El
Bolt-shooters - Reg Art (O) @ 8 AP 0-2
Stone-throwers - Reg Art (S) @ 10 AP 0-2
Siege towers - Reg WWg (S) @ 14 AP 0-2
Camp defences - TF @ 1 AP 0-24
Jewish allies: List Maccabean Jewish (Bk 2) or Hasmonean Jewish (Bk 2)

Only before 140 BC:
Median Catafracts - Reg Kn (X) @ 13 AP 0-4
Upgrade Macedonian foot to Reg Bd (O) @ 7 AP 0-1/3
Indian elephants - Irr El (O) @ 16 AP 0-2

Only from 145 BC to 125 BC:
African elephants - Irr El (I) @ 14 AP 0-2

Only after 141 BC:
Elymaian or other Parthian allies: List Parthian (Bk 2)
Bactrians - all Irr LH (S) or all Irr Cv (O) @ 7 AP 0-4

Only from 124 BC to 102 BC:
Ptolemaic allies: List Ptolemaic (Bk 2)

Only after 89 BC:
Tribal (nomadic) Arab allies: List Later Pre-Islamic Arab (Bk 2)

Special rules:

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. Bd (I) may not support Bd (O).

This list covers Seleucid armies from the destruction of the fleet and most of the Asiatic elephant herd by the Romans until the final abolition of the kingdom by Pompey. African elephants were obtained in 145 BC from the Ptolemies, but the fleet never seems to have been reconstituted. The kingdom was usually split into two warring factions, with their neighbours playing off one side against the other. There is circumstantial evidence the Macedonian foot were converted to imitation legionaries, but the possibility they remained pikemen until the end of the period is at least as strong. Ptolemaic allies may not be used with any other allies. Jewish allies need not include any irregular infantry. Bactrians may not be used unless Elymaian or other Parthian allies are used. No more than 2 elements of elephants may be used.


List dates: In 162 BC a Roman commission enforced an arms limitation treaty which saw most of the Seleucid elephant herd slaughtered, and the fleet burnt. The same year also saw the start of the civil wars that wracked the kingdom until its final demise, thus effectively almost halving the size of any potential army, making it a natural break point. The list date is extended to 64 BC. The current list ends in 83 BC, when Tigranes conquered Antioch, but Seleucid forces were holding out in other parts of the realm until 69 BC, and Antioch had a new king after Tigranes' expulsion; Antioch being large enough that its own militia could (and did) constitute a sizeable army, being noted as numbering over 10000 strong.

List scale: Armies of this era were still reasonably large, typically eleven thousand or more men. The usual 1:250 scale is fine. Reports of forces up to 40000 strong in Josephus can probably be put down to exaggeration given the loss of many important recuiting grounds, as well as many of the richest tax-bearing areas; Justin's report (38.10.2) of an army of 80000 men with 300000 non-combatants invading Parthia is certainly gross exaggeration.

Aggression: This is lowered to 1. The kingdom occasionally conducted offensive forays when united, usually against Parthia, but was usually the stomping ground for other nations in its more normal divided state.

Terrain: Following the loss of the eastern provinces, the heartland was strictly Syrian. Thus E, M and D have been dropped, and are replaced by V, the area around Antioch being noted for its wines.

Generals: Previously, important generals fought mounted, and there is no reason to suspect this practice had changed. Previously, the was phalanx usually commanded by a non-royal commander, and its commander was more senior than the commander of the Argyraspids, hence the provision for a Pk (O)/Bd (I) general, but not a Bd (O) general. Direct evidence for this period is lacking however. No sub-generals are compulsory to account for the army of 88 BC which involved Jewish, Arab and Parthian allied contingents.

Lancers: Seleucid lancers had been mostly comprised of catafracts before this period (Kn (X) in DBM terms), with a few lighter types here graded as Kn (F). The number of cavalry had decreased markedly, no doubt due to the loss of Babylonia (141 BC) and especially Media (148/7 BC) to the Parthians, 3000 being the largest number attested (in 147 BC), a far cry from the nearly 10000 recorded before the start of the list. The proportion of lighter lancers seems to have been higher in the west, given the evidence of the Daphne parade (ca. 166 BC), so I have allowed, including generals, a reasonable number of them.

Horse archers: 1000 out of 3000 cavalry mentioned in 147 BC were horse archers. Previously such types had been recruited from Scythians or Parthians, by this stage Arabo-Arameans are likely to have been an important source. As the only cavalry type specifically mentioned by the sources, they are compulsory.

Thracian and Galatian mercenaries: Such types were used before, and Thracians at least are still mentioned during this era.

Militia horse: First mentioned in the Daphne parade, these likely became more important as time went on. At Daphne, they were unhelmeted, implying either light skirmishing troops (LH (O)), or very poorly equipped (and probably trained) "medium" cavalry (Cv (I)). I favour the Cv (I) interpretation, but those at Daphne were not all alike, and a fragment from this era does talk about horsemen from the Syrian town of Larissa being equipped in the style of their ancient Thessalian ancestors, so a mixture of both can't be ruled out.

Scythed chariots: 300 are mentioned in a Jewish source at one point, but this seems far too many. At Daphne, before the kingdom was divided, and before the horse-breeding eastern areas had been lost, with the kingdom at peace so that virtually all the available troops were on parade, only 140 were mustered. I therefore think 30 is more likely than 300, and take the absolute maximum number to be half that at Daphne, which would still give 3 elements' worth.

Macedonian foot: these were pikemen at the start of the period, save for 5000 picked men who were equipped in the Roman fashion (Bd (O)). I assume that as the kingdom shrunk, the quality of these picked troopps could not be maintained, certainly armies of this period do not seem to have put up many displays that would imply substantial numbers of troops good enough to qualify as Bd (O); Justin certainly implies (38.10.9) that later Seleucid troops were not up to much. Sekunda believes that the phalanx was entirely converted to Roman style troops, but I remain unconvinced. His arguments primarily rest on two points: the similarity of the surviving Hellenistic manuals to known Roman formations, and a Jewsish description of an army in 163 BC as all being in mail, neither of which are at all convincing to my mind. However, I have included the option for those that agree with him. The option for their replacement with militia rests on descriptions of areas being entirely denuded of fighting men when armies went away, implying they could be mustered for foreign wars as well as for local defence, and descriptions of the Antiochenes fighting. In the case of an Antiochene "army", virtually all the troops would have been such militia. I assume such militia thureophoroi would fight with javelins in the manner of euzonoi, rather than with spears, although this is as much a function of DBM lacking any suitable class between Sp (I) and Hd (O).

Mercenaries. These are quite prominenent in the historical sources for all states in the area at the time, Jewish, Ptoleamic and Seleucid. In the case of the Seleucids, Cretans are once mentioned as being numerous (and Alexander Balas was backed by the Cretans in his rise to power), and Thracians are also mentioned. At Daphne, Galatians and various other nations, mostly from mountainous areas, are mentioned in large numbers, and presumably could be found serving throughout this time; one Jewsish source alleges an army in the 140s was comprised mostly of mercenaries. Cretans could be javelinmen, not just archers.

Asiatic archers and slingers: the scant sources of the period do not directly attest these, but they surely would have been present in many battles. Their numbers are reduced compared to previous times, since the east Asian provinces had been mostly lost by the start of the period, and were entirely lost not long afterwards.

Bolt-shooters: These had been used in field battles by previous kings, and sieges were still conducted so the capability to employ them was certainly there, and the Maccebeans are known to have captured Seleucid artillery.

Stone-throwers: again not directly attested, but the "machines" once mentioned as battering Jerusalem are as likely to have been stone-throwers as battering rams, and one of the Dead Sea Scrolls (one of the 4QM fragments) mentions stonethrowers that are quite likely to have been ex-Seleucid.

Siege-towers: these in contrast, are directly talked about, indeed, an exaggeratedly huge number (100) are said to have been employed in one siege against Jerusalem.

Camp defences: Again, not directly attested, but "camps" are, and this usually means fortified camps in respect to Hellenistic warfare, as it had in the past; that at magnesia even had towers.

Jewish allies: These were used far more frequently than the current list allows, and I have therefore left the dates unspecified. The Jews were even more faction-ridden than the Seleucids, and it was usually possible to stir up one faction against the other, just as they in turn did with the Seleucids. Some contingents are described as being of picked men, but others are are not so described, so the option to bring only regular troops is only an option.

African elephants: These accompanied the Ptolemaic army in support of Alexander Balas in 145 BC, and were subsequently incorporated into his rival Demetrios' army. Numbers are unknown, but are unlikely to have been more than even the 32 animals reported in 163 BC (in an army of reputedly nearly 50000 men!). Sekunda's theory about each elephant's permanent escort being 32 men appears very likely to me.

Indian Elephants: Apparently not all the elephants were killed by the Romans, since a tablet dated to 151 BC in the Istanbul museum (No.194) refers to Demetrios using 25 elephants in battle. These were likely remnants of a portion of the Indian herd that escaped the Romans.

Parthian allies: These were more widely used than the current list allows; and some were even commanded by a legitimate royal prince rather than being rebels. One such seems to have comprised a very large proportion of the army, perhaps even half, so I have removed the element number restriction. Demetrios' invasion force was according to Justin (36.1.4) accompanied by Bactrians and Persians as well as Elymaians; Persians and Bactrians other than LH (S) can be assumed to be included in the Asiatic troops from the main list.

Ptolemaic allies: Alexander Balas' alliance should be represented by a Seleucid contingent in a Ptolemaic army; the Ptolemaic contingents represented here are smaller forces such as the 6000 men sent by Ptolemy Lathyros in the 110s; such intervention is first recorded in ca. 124 BC.

Nomads: Tribal Arab allies are mentioned in 88 BC, I take this to be the equivalent of Nomadic groupings, rather than settled states such as Nabataea. The alliance of Antiochos Theos with the Gileadites should be represented as a Seleucid contingent in an Arabo-Aramean army.

This page last modified 29 May, 2004.

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