Author Topic: Alabanda 197 BC  (Read 4657 times)

Duncan Head

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Alabanda 197 BC
« on: August 25, 2012, 09:32:50 PM »
Battle: Alabanda, 197 BC

Rhodes (Pausistratos) vs Macedonia (Deinokrates)

Background
In 201 BC Philip V of Macedon campaigned in Caria, occupying among other areas the region lying opposite, and controlled by, Rhodes, known as the Rhodian Peraia. Rhodian efforts to regain their territory culminated with an expedition in 197, when Philip was occupied fighting their ally Rome. The resulting battle was a small one, but interesting for several reasons.

Numbers: About 3,000 foot and 100 horse on each side.

Source: Livy XXXIII.18 – following on from the battle outside Corinth discussed in http://soa.org.uk/sm/index.php?topic=450.0. Note that this is one of the sections that is not included in the popular Penguin translation. The main translation here used is the 1935 Sage version, online at http://www.perseus.tufts.edu - but see the Commentary for certain issues.

Translation:
At the same time, when everything was going one way, the Rhodians also, with a view to reclaiming from Philip the district on the mainland — [2] Peraea is its name —which their forefathers had held, dispatched Pausistratus the praetor with eight hundred Achaean infantry and about one thousand eight hundred auxiliaries collected from different states: [3] these were Gauls and Pisuetae and Nisuetae and Tamiani and Arei from Africa and Laudiceni from Asia. [4] With these forces Pausistratus took Tendeba, a city in the territory of Stratonicea and well situated, without the knowledge of the king's forces who were at Thera. [5] There reinforcements, summoned at this time and for this purpose, to wit, one thousand Achaean infantry with one hundred cavalry, met them; Theoxenus was their commander.

[6] Dinocrates, the king's prefect, first moved his camp towards Tendeba itself for the purpose of recovering the fortress, then to another fort, also in the country of Stratonicea —they call it Astragon —recalling all the garrisons which had been scattered far and wide and Thessalian auxiliaries from Stratonicea itself, and began to march towards Alabanda, where the enemy lay. [7] The Rhodians did not decline the battle. So, placing their camp near by, they came down to the battle-field. [8] Dinocrates placed five hundred Macedonians on his right flank and the Agrianes on the left; [9] in the centre he posted the troops gathered up from the garrisons of the forts —they were mostly Carians —and he covered the flanks with the cavalry and the Cretan and Thracian auxiliaries. [10] The Rhodians had in the centre the Achaeans, a picked force of infantry, and the auxiliaries, made up of men of different races, [11] and the cavalry and what there was of light infantry placed outside the flanks.

[12] On that day both lines merely remained standing on the banks of the river flowing between them, which was then a small stream, and after hurling a few missiles retired to their camps. The next day the two armies were similarly formed and a battle began, severer than might be expected from the numbers of the combatants. [13] For there were not more than three thousand infantry and one hundred cavalry on either side, but they fought not only with equal numbers and similar weapons but with the same courage and equal hope as well. [14] The Achaeans at first crossed the river and attacked the Agrianes, and then almost the whole line hastily crossed the stream on the run. The issue was long in doubt. [15] By weight of numbers, the Achaeans, a thousand strong, dislodged the four hundred; [16] then, as the left gave way, the whole effort was directed against the right flank. [17] The Macedonians could not be moved as long as the line held and the phalanx was, so to speak, compact; when, after their left flank was exposed, they tried to change front so as to [18] meet the enemy that was attacking them in flank, they first caused immediate disorder and confusion among themselves, then they began to fall back, and finally threw away their arms and fled at full speed. The fugitives made for Bargyliae, and Dinocrates sought refuge in the same place. [19] The Rhodians followed as long as daylight lasted and then returned to camp. It is quite clear that if the victors had at once marched to Stratonicea, this city could have been recovered without a struggle. [20] The opportunity for this was lost while they consumed time in occupying the forts and towns of Peraea. [21] Meanwhile the courage of those who were holding Stratonicea with the garrison was renewed, and presently Dinocrates entered the walls with the troops that had survived the battle. In vain was the city then invested and besieged, nor was it recovered until some time later through the aid of Antiochus. [22] Such were the events of this period, which took place during, we may almost say, the same days in Thessaly, Achaea, and Asia.


Commentary
Livy's final sentence of course refers to the Macedonian defeats at Kynoskephalai in Thessaly, near Corinth in "Achaia" (http://soa.org.uk/sm/index.php?topic=450.0) and at this battle.

One interesting point here is that it gives us what seems to be the only order of battle of a Hellenistic Rhodian army that we have in ancient literature. No Rhodian citizen troops are present, except for Pausistratos himself (and perhaps some other officers); all the troops are allies or mercenaries. Unfortunately, some of the uncertainties of the text affect the composition of the Rhodian army. The 1905 Roberts translation at http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/txt/ah/Livy/Livy33.html actually speaks of 400 Achaian cavalry, though I haven't found a Latin version that would support this; the 1824 Wurttemberg text at http://tinyurl.com/c8abgpn has the assorted auxiliaries at 1900 rather than 1800, and so on.

The largest single component is of allied Achaian League troops, 1,800 infantry in two contingents and 100 cavalry. Achaian infantry at Corinth included clipeati/hoplitai, caetrati/peltastai, and light troops; which type or types were present here is unknown. Of the 1800 assorted auxiliaries, the Galli are probably Galatians from Asia, but could alternatively have been recruited from further afield. The string of names that follows is more obscure, and the suggestion that some of the troops come from Africa is surprising. We do not know how any of these contingents were equipped, though the phrase "what there was of light infantry", "leuisque armaturae quod erat", suggests that few were regarded as "light", most as line-of-battle infantry of some sort.

The Pisuetae are generally associated with Pisue, a town in Caria mentioned in the geographical work of Stephanus Byzantinus (see the Weissenborn-Mueller 1883 notes available with the text at http://www.perseus.tufts.edu ). The Nisuetae – a name so similar to the preceding as to raise the suspicion that the spelling of one may have influenced the other in the MS – are associated in the same notes with an African town Nissua or Misua near Carthage. In an 1893 article ("Notes sur l'épigraphie et l'histoire de Rhodes", BCH v.17), Maurice Holleaux cites the Tarmianoi mentioned in Rhodian inscriptions, apparently as a subject or allied community, and suggests that they are the Tamiani of Livy's army-list. Associated with them are the Mniesutai, and so Holleaux suggests that these, not some African people, are to be seen as Livy's Nisuetae. All three contingents – Pisuetae, Nisuetae/Mniesutai and Tamiani/Tarmianoi – would then come from neighbouring towns of Caria. Perhaps all these contingents were already in Rhodian service before the Macedonians occupied much of Caria.

This leaves "ex Africa" as perhaps applying only to the Arei (or Trahi, in one manuscript). Indeed a note in the 1887 BCH (http://tinyurl.com/cxqxjqm) suggest that with so many of the contingents identified as Carian peoples, the reading "ex Africa" must be suspect; and the text at http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/livy/liv.33.shtml#18 even replaces it with "ex Peraea".

The "Laudiceni ex Asia" come from one of the cities named Laodicea – there are Laodiceas in Phrygia, Pontus, Pisidia, and Syria.

The Macedonian army is less remarkable; apart from the local Carian garrison-troops, it is composed of the usual suspects: 500 Macedonians, 400 Agrianes (if "the four hundred" defeated by the Achaians in s.15 are indeed the Agrianes they attacked in s.14), Thessalians (not described as cavalry, so perhaps to be understood as infantry like those at Corinth), Thracians, and Cretans. The invincibility of the phalanx to frontal attack but its inability to deal with a simultaneous threat from the flank are well brought out in the narrative.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2015, 09:33:01 AM by Duncan Head »
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Jim Webster

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Re: Alabanda 197 BC
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2012, 09:57:42 PM »
A fascinating little battle, and as you say, one of the few accounts of a Rhodian force.

Interesting that so many troops were Carians (being in Caria obviously helped)

Jim
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aligern

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Re: Alabanda 197 BC
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2012, 08:44:21 AM »
A lovely little action. Is this a case of a phalanx being unable to turn to flank and fight effectively?
Roy
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Duncan Head

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Re: Alabanda 197 BC
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2012, 05:04:43 PM »
Is this a case of a phalanx being unable to turn to flank and fight effectively?
It certainly looks like quite a clear case  of that weakness. Much the same thing can be seen in the Corinth battle:

Quote
at last, exposed by the flight of the rest, with two lines of the enemy advancing from different directions, the light infantry from the flank, the heavy infantry and peltasts from the front ... [the Macedonians] at first retired slowly, but then, as the pressure increased, they broke 
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Jim Webster

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Re: Alabanda 197 BC
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2015, 05:44:10 PM »
Just to awaken this thread, I'm re-reading John Ma, 'Antiochos III and the Cities of Western Asia Minor'

I've scanned the passage in for those who want a chance to check the Greek  :-[

He discusses briefly the Laudiceni ex Asia

Jim
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Duncan Head

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Re: Alabanda 197 BC
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2015, 03:36:29 PM »
So everyone except the Gauls - "Pisuetae and [Mn]isuetae and Tamiani and Arei from [Peraia?] and Laudiceni from Asia" - may be a Karian? Makes sense.
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Patrick Waterson

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Re: Alabanda 197 BC
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2015, 06:10:16 PM »
Nicely presented, Duncan: good format and useful commentary.

The Greek in Jim's scanned page reads: to koinon ton Laodikeon, roughly 'the community of Laodicea', situated in Caria and apparently controlled by Rhodes.

Royal euergetism (doing good deeds) and civic eunoia (goodwill) together with royal behaviour towards cities as it evolves from symmachikes (alliance) to despotikos (rule) are not quite so pertinent to the battle, but I mention them for anyone trying to read the page and finding that certain words are all Greek to them. ;)
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Jim Webster

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Re: Alabanda 197 BC
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2015, 10:30:43 PM »
So everyone except the Gauls - "Pisuetae and [Mn]isuetae and Tamiani and Arei from [Peraia?] and Laudiceni from Asia" - may be a Karian? Makes sense.

The assumption seems to be that they are 'local Karian levies'

Jim
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