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"Magnesia Achaeans & Pergamenese...." Topic

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Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP04 Feb 2020 10:39 a.m. PST

So Ive read Duncan Head on this, Lost Battles, reviewed all the previous posts as well as perusing the GMT Games list for this topic.

My question essentially is, do you believe that the infantry forces for both Pergamene and the Achaean League were actually Peltasts or was this just a convenient term the author used to classify troops that he didn't have more specific information about.

If you believe they were not all Peltasts, what replacement do you think is more likely:

Thureophoroi, Thorakitai or even Phalanx?

One of the reasons I ask is it seems odd to me that these two states would have still been relying on Peltasts at this late date and not Thureophoroi or some type of Imitation Legionaries like Thorakitai.

Thanks for any input

Rich Bliss Supporting Member of TMP04 Feb 2020 10:49 a.m. PST

I generally go with Thureophoroi but I'd consider some closer to Legionnaires for the Pergamemes.

JJartist04 Feb 2020 11:35 a.m. PST

Thureophoroi, Thorakitai- yes but there is more evidence for round shields, still similar tactics (1)

or even Phalanx? – probably not pikes (2).

Pergamene artwork shows thureos shields and large/medium round shields, of course we often can't tell who it belonged to, is it Pergamene gear, Galatian, or Seleucid trophies.

Sometimes it is more obvious.

Pergamene with aspis shield with grip:

Pergamene with aspis style:

1- Thureophoroi and thorakites are (IMO) multi-role troops. They can skirmish or be a spear/shield wall like phalanx. I doubt they did both at the same time, but as with hoplites and ekdromoi,and hypaspists, we know that units had the capability to have some 'swifter' troops do some anti-skirmisher protection.

The issue is with our name convention, the thureophoros is boxed in by being named by his shield, but there is no reason why the same type of troop could not have used hoplite style or bronze faced pelte round shields.
It may have been a Pergamene thing, the images of troops carry round shields on the Pergamene Altar.

My impression is they are positioned and used like the later Roman auxiliaries. Workhorse troops useful in many roles and sieges. We just don't get a clear description of Pergamene infantry in action. My guess is- they were very adaptable.

These seem to be trophies:


2- The only connection (I know of) to Pergamene phalanxes is the Seleucid deserter phalanx that were in service for a short period long gone by Magnesia.

Achaean hoplite/thureophoroi/peltast/phalangite theory I'm going to pass on (dodging the smackdown) sorry for my abject cowardice.

Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP04 Feb 2020 11:50 a.m. PST

Not at all JJ. That's awesome material. Thanks for contributing.

wmyers04 Feb 2020 2:14 p.m. PST

Yes, thank you!

The more you learn, the more you realize how little you actually know and how much more you need to learn.

GurKhan05 Feb 2020 2:25 a.m. PST

The only connection (I know of) to Pergamene phalanxes is the Seleucid deserter phalanx that were in service for a short period long gone by Magnesia.

And the Pergemene takeover of Seleucid territory after Magnesia that brought a lot of Seleucid military settlements under Pergamene control, of course and they in turn are too late for the period under consideration.

The Achaian peltasts are tricky. There does seem to have been a force of "peltasts" who were a permanent part of the Achaian army after Philopoimen's reforms we mostly know them from references in Livy, who of course calls them "caetrati" in Latin. At the battle near Corinth in 197 they appear to have been fighting as part of the phalanx see Livy 33.14-15, discussed at link

But in an incident in 192, troops called "caetrati" are definitely fighting as light troops:

Before he came within sight of the enemy Philopoemen decided to make a novel kind of attack and take him unawares. Collecting some small craft in a secluded creek on the Argive coast he manned them with lightly equipped infantry, mostly peltasts (expeditos milites, caetratos plerosque), who were armed with slings and darts and other light equipment (fundis et iaculis et alio leui genere armaturae).

That's Livy 35.27. (See link if you happen to have JSTOR access.)

I suspect that the Achaian peltasts are a copy of the Antigonid peltasts, a select force capable of fighting either as part of the phalanx (perhaps a bit lighter equipped than the "normal" phalanx, perhaps not) or more lightly armed though I'm not sre that the Antigonid peltasts ever fought with slings and javelins, so Philopoimen may have taken that one further than his prototype. So at Magnesia, I suspect they were javelinmen and/or slingers equipped with small Macedonian-style round shields.

They may have been mixed with Pergamene soldiers Appian says there were 3,000 Achaian peltasts, Livy that Pergamenes were mixed with Achaians, making a total of 3,000. If so, the Pergamene citizens may have been equipped as thureophoroi see the terracotta that's slide 10 at link which probably shows Pergamene youths.

JJartist05 Feb 2020 11:33 a.m. PST

"If so, the Pergamene citizens may have been equipped as thureophoroi"

I would rather go with that interpretation. Thanks for sharing that slideshow with the thureos and the other references. I have this lovely book on Pergamum art and I could not find one thureos (other than celtic) in it, despite feverish flipping last night. I knew somewhere there was a reference.


I reckon "Seleucid deserter phalanx" is more of game list term, which is misleading. I wonder how long the Pergamenes would want to support a Seleucid military settlement phalanx, and not convert them to home defense thureophoroi types themselves.

One thing I have never tried to look at was when (how early) the Pergamene army started to Romanize. Obviously after Magnesia. It seems after that everybody in the region were "romanizing" and ended up with units they called legios. But all that is an aside.

I agree that anything labeled "caetrati" is a reference to a small round shield user.

I would still rely on Figure 41 in AMPW for my rendition of Pergamene troops. Maybe substituting the small shield of figure 21, for true skirmishing "peltast" action.

One of my projects is to make an Pergamene elite "Peltast" unit out of the lovely Aventine figures, but add in the larger round shields from the Alter (above).



The issue of Hellenistic "peltasts" as elite dual role troops in some armies (but maybe not all) does cause confusion. I believe it goes all the way back to the dual nature of the Macedonian hypaspists, or even ekdromoi. Folks want it one way or another for their game armies.

Thanks again for the clarifications and brave answers.

I reckon the next step is to discuss how long the Pergamene army had some elephants in it to stomp their neighbors?

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