How the Greek saved the Macedonian Empire


After the death of Alexander the Great, his diadoches (the Greek successors, the closest associates of the king) immediately began to partition a huge empire that stretched from Illyria to India. The first successor, with the nominal rule of half-brother Alexander Philip Arridea, was the commander of the guard Perdiccas, who tried to keep a huge power united, at least nominally. Purdicky tried to challenge the rest of the diadochi. The unsuccessful war with another colleague of Alexander Ptolemy Lagid, who became governor of Egypt, and especially the actions of Perdiccas during the siege of Camila, which caused great losses among the soldiers, predetermined the fate of this first heir to the Macedonian king. A conspiracy matured against him and he was soon killed in a camp in his own tent. The era of the Diadochi began, full of conspiracies, betrayals and endless wars on the ruins of the once united empire of Alexander.

The collapse of the state of Alexander the Great. Image from

Greek among strangers

Eumen Kardisky was not an ethnic Macedonian, as his rivals, enemies and even his own soldiers did not forget to remind him constantly. Future diadoh was born in the town of Cardia on the banks of the Dardanelles in 362 BC. er in a family, not the local aristocrat, not the carter at all. As a child, he was noticed by Philip of Macedon, when the king visited the city, and was taken to the service of the court, becoming the head of the royal office under Alexander. In the military field, the Greek showed himself during Alexander's campaign in India, when he was entrusted with the command of one of the Macedonian corps, and then the whole cavalry. After the death of Alexander, Eumenes became the “neighbor” of Anaton the One-eyed in satrapy: if Antigonos obeyed Great Phrygia (western Asia Minor), then Eumenes established themselves in Cappadocia and Paflagonia (central and eastern Asia Minor), seizing the land from the rising satraps. By the way, Antigonus was also supposed to take part in the campaign in Cappadocia, but he refused, for which he was sent into exile, and Perdiccas had to allocate his own troops to help Eumenes.
In the Diadochok War, Eumenes actively supported Perdiccas, because he, like a foreigner, had no chance to win the love and respect of the Macedonian soldiers, so that only a strong single authority of the regent gave Eumene a chance to maintain a prominent position in the empire. On the side of Perdiccas, he proved himself to be a talented organizer and energetic commander. Arriving in Asia Minor, he first defeated Neoptolem (the former commander of the guard Alexander), and then the diadoch of Crater, who was going to war with Perdiccas.
The crater enjoyed unlimited respect and honor among the Macedonians, many saw him as the real king and heir to the son of Philip. Eumenes was a friend of Crater and sincerely wanted to reconcile him with Perdiccas, however, Crater, yielding to the suggestions of Neoptolem, ventured to challenge the Greek. The Macedonian was convinced that he would not even get to the battle: when the soldiers saw him, they would simply betray their commander and go over to his side. For such a calculation, Crater had every reason, but he did not take into account that he would have to deal with such a sophisticated and cunning person as Eumenes was. The Greek succeeded in convincing the infantrymen that they would have to fight against Neoptolem, who had been defeated the day before, and the loyal units consisting of Asia Minor had to decide the outcome of the battle, while the mass of infantry remained in ignorance.
And so it happened: while the phalanx of Eumenes defended, his cavalry swooped down on the enemy horsemen and broke them on both wings. In battle, Neoptolem himself fell, and according to legend, the Crater, one Thracian, was killed. Eumenes was inconsolable, mourning the loss of a friend, especially since the murder of the most worthy of the Macedonians forced many of them to hate Eumenes. At a meeting of the Macedonian army, Evmenu was sentenced to death in absentia.

The beginning of the war with Antigone

The death of Perdiccas not only did not establish peace between Alexander's commanders, but only deepened the contradictions: Perdiccas' supporters were outlawed, and Antipater was elected senior among the diadochoes - Philip the Macedonian's associate and governor in the metropolis during the campaigns of Alexander the Great. Antipater was already old (at the time of Perdikka’s murder he was 76 years old!) For active political and military activities, so after the meeting of the Diadochi and election as a senior he calmly returned to Macedonia, leaving the younger successors to deal with the supporters of Perdiccas in Asia.
The tsarist army was entrusted to Antigonus the One-Eyed, who was eager to take revenge on Eumenes and drive him out of the lands he was accustomed to consider as his own. Antigonus The One-Eyed is a glorified warrior and ally of Alexander the Great. Delivered after the conquest of Asia Minor by the viceroy of Phrygia, Antigonus showed himself as a purposeful and energetic commander who managed to establish peace and restore order in the troubled lands from the Hellespont to Armenia, firmly providing the rear of Alexander’s army for further campaigns.

According to legend, during the next siege of Antigonus, an arrow fell from a ballista into the eye. He did not agree to remove the shell until the wall was taken. Images from site i.

At first, Eumenes had a hard time. Despite superiority in manpower, the Greek completely failed the campaign of 321–320. BC er In the battle of Orkinias in the midst of the battle he was successively changed by his two commanders (contempt with which the Macedonians treated the Greek commander), confusion arose and Eumenes army was defeated, and he and the remnants of the troops were forced to retreat to Armenia. Antigonus, however, with skillful maneuvers cut Eumenes of the withdrawal path, so that there was nothing left but to dissolve the army (except for a small selected detachment) and lock himself up in the fortress of Nora, a mountainous citadel in which one could hope to wait out a difficult time.
Antigonus blocked Nora with small forces, while he himself calmly dealt with the remaining supporters of Perdiccas and became the sole ruler of all of Asia Minor, even under the formal rule of Antipater. Now in submission to Antigonus were the rich lands of Phrygia and Cappadocia, a large army, and even their own separate elephant corps. It is time to think about something more, especially since for this just had a good case.

New regent, old problems

In 319 Antipater is no longer young. Polyperchon, appointed by Antipater under the influence of the public sympathies of the Macedonians without the advice of other diadochi, became a new regent. The situation was complicated by the fact that the son of Antipater Cassander had serious claims to the Regent, or at least the Macedonian throne, and was ready for the most audacious and reckless steps to achieve his goal. Overwhelmed with a thirst for power, the young man fled to Antigonus, whom he himself had accused before his father of treason and treason a couple of years ago. The world, which seemed about to be established, was again broken. Polyperchon, seeking to strengthen his position, is looking for an alliance with ... Evmen, who still resides in the Burrows, blocked by Antigone troops.
So the regent and diado-greek union was again in force: Eumen was returned all his lands in Asia, provided extensive funds from the royal treasury and was given a detachment of the royal guards of argyraspids (silver shields) - veterans of the Indian campaign of Alexander. At the same time with this cunning Greek managed to hold Antigone and enter into an agreement with him, slightly changing the text of the contract. As soon as the one-eyed diadek realized that he had been deceived, he immediately ordered that actions against Nor be re-opened, but Eumenes managed to escape from the fortress. Passing Cappadocia and taking over all the new detachments, Eumenes went to Cilicia, where he took command over the corps of argyraspids.

Warriors of the army of Alexander the Great and his successors Image from the site colors. life

In the shortest possible time, thanks to the royal gold, he managed to recruit several thousand more soldiers, so that by the beginning of 318, there were already about 12,000 soldiers under his banner, including 3,000 guardsmen and 2,000 horsemen. Half a year before, the Cardian had only a couple hundred soldiers, and now he was again preparing to defy anyone who tried to challenge the power of the royal house and the regent.
The flight and the performance of Eumenes mixed all the maps to Antigonus: he was already preparing for the crossing to the European shore of the Gellisonpont, concentrating all his forces for this. According to Antigonus, 60,000 infantry, 10,000 horsemen and 70 elephants should have been enough to conquer Macedonia and Greece, after which Antigonus could declare himself a new regent and manage the entrusted territories as he himself wished. Now, plans to conquer Europe had to be abandoned, despite the fact that both diplomatic and strategic bridgeheads for this were already created. Antigonus managed to make an alliance with Ptolemy Lag, captured coastal Lydia and Seaside Phrygia, and even achieved supremacy at sea, defeating Polyperchon's fleet. And now, in such favorable conditions, it was necessary to abandon the expedition to Europe, since it was clear that Eumenes would be able to take advantage of the absence of Antigone and conquer Asia in his absence.

Campaign 318−317

At the end of the fall of 318, Antigonus marched east with the army to deal once and for all with the overly energetic Greek who had undertaken to defend the legacy of the Macedonian kings. After the defeat of Eumenes, according to Antigonus, nothing more would prevent him from becoming a new regent, and perhaps even a king. In the campaign, he took 20,000 infantry and 4,000 horsemen.
Eumenes, frightened by the number of enemy troops, hastily left Phenicia, which he occupied for the construction of the fleet, and went to the eastern satrapies, where, just like in the west, there was a war between supporters of a single empire and royal power and the diadocho separatists. Not without incident, the royal army crossed the Euphrates and the Tigris and reached Suziana, where he was already awaited by the faithful satraps with their units. Here, Eumenes paid salaries to his soldiers, trying to bind them even more strongly to him, and received weighty reinforcements, including 125 elephants from the Indian satrap.
Winter 318−317 both armies spent rest - after the heavy marches of autumn, the troops needed to replenish their supplies and recover. Antigonus reached Mesopotamia, where it joined the detachments of Seleucus and Python (satraps of the eastern provinces) and stopped at winter apartments. But with the arrival of spring, the army again set in motion. Antigonus set its sights directly on Susa, the main city of Suziana and generally supporters of kings in the east. The eastern satraps, who spent the winter in endless feasts and flirting in front of the Macedonian Guard, now turned to Eumenes, who was supposed to prevail over Antigone, who seemed to hang inexorably over them. Kardiets actively began to prepare for a meeting with the enemy and successfully managed to repel the first attack, entrenched behind the River Koprat. Attempts by Antigone to gain a foothold on the opposite bank were unsuccessful, and the diadochi had to retreat. True, not for long.

Hellenistic world after the death of Alexander Image from book Edward M. Anson Eumenes of Cardia. A Greek among Macedonianc

Having failed, Antigonus decided to resort to indirect actions: instead of a new attack, he decided to invade Media, seizing the initiative and forcing the enemy to attack him himself. In the case of Eumenes, this could not have worked, it was painfully sophisticated strategist, but now it worked flawlessly on the eastern satraps, so that Eumenes was forced to submit and move after Antigone. Only in the fall of 317, the troops met again when Antigonus decided to withdraw the army from Mussels to Gabiena, in order to maintain communications with Suziana and Seleucus. It was then that Eumenes decided to catch the enemy by blocking the path of retreat. Now the one-eyed diadocho had to take the fight on Greek terms, since the delay threatened with even more serious consequences. Both armies lined up in battle order and prepared for battle.

Battle of Paretaken

The peculiarity of the Battle of Paretaken was that, in addition to the traditional for the army of Alexander the army, in both armies were presented elephants, who were to cross their tusks in the upcoming battle. Eumenes, who had double superiority in beasts (120 versus 65), generously placed them in front of his front, Antigonus concentrated the elephants in front of the left flank, where he had a great superiority in cavalry. The rest of the construction was traditional: the line infantry in the center, the flanks occupied by cavalry and light infantry. The Eumenes shock cavalry concentrated on the right flank, intending to cover the enemy army. Obviously, Antigonus understood what the attack of the riders of the enemy would lead to, and therefore deployed light cavalry units against them. With false attacks and retreats, they had to distract enemy elephants and cavalry, while the outcome of the battle was decided on the other flank. Fears inspired only the situation in the center: in spite of a numerical superiority, the infantrymen of Antigone had to fight the elite of the Macedonian army - hypaspistes and argiraspids - veterans of Alexander, who were famous for their invincibility.

The scheme of the Battle of Paretaken Image from the book of Abakumov A. A. War elephants in the history of the Hellenistic world

The fight, apparently, began with the attack of the cavalry of Eumenes, which, however, was unsuccessful due to the successful actions of the defenders of Antigone. Only the attraction of auxiliary parts from the opposite flank allowed the royal forces to prevail. At the same time, a phalanx collision occurred, in which Alexander’s veterans easily turned the Antigonus infantrymen to flight. Carried away by the pursuit, the soldiers broke the line and broke away from parts of the left flank, which the One-eyed one did not fail to take advantage of. The cavalry of Antigone entered the gap in the enemy system, defeating its left flank, so that Eumenes had to make great efforts to bring the troops in order and take them to their original positions. Only the coming of night interrupted the battle - the warriors were built and ready for new attacks.
The outcome of the battle was a combat draw. Antigone’s troops were dealt more serious damage (especially to infantry, whose losses allegedly extended to 8,000), however, his army retained discipline and combat capability, and even more so, the battlefield remained behind them, as Eumenes soldiers demanded that he withdraw to fearing the actions of the light cavalry of the enemy. However, the Macedonian could not make his way to wintering at the Seleucus and was forced to retreat to the Indian regions of the Empire, not yet affected by the war. Eumenes also went to the winter quarters, not trying to hinder the movement of the enemy anymore. The decisive battle of the two diadoes was postponed for the next year.


The tsarist troops settled in the winter apartments with great comfort, not caring at all about expediency and safety. As a result, the troops were scattered and far away from each other, which made it difficult to concentrate the army if necessary. The fact was that when the danger had passed, the soldiers again began to spend time in idleness, incited by the satraps of the east, who tried to win over the Macedonians to strengthen their own power. Eumen, when necessity receded, became useless and uncomfortable, and he had no real levers of pressure on a vain and politically decaying military mass. In such a situation, the defeat of the party, which advocated the preservation of a united empire, was a matter of time. Antigonus, who was well aware of the disunity of the enemy, decided to take advantage of this and unexpectedly hit Eumenes.

Fighting phalanx Image from i.

Only the tactical genius of Eumenes, so capable of any fabrication, made it possible to avoid defeating the army in parts. Hearing about the approach of Antigonus, Eumenes ordered to collect troops, and at this time to set up camp on a hill that could be seen from afar. The camp was illuminated as if a large army was lodging in it, the guards and guards alternated, although at the hands of Eumenes there were only detachments of bodyguards. At first, Antigonus was even taken aback when he saw the camp, and decided to lead the army on a circuitous road to give his people a rest after a difficult transition. This was what Eumenes was waiting for, concentrating all the available forces. After some time, Antigonus realized that he had been held again, but it was already too late. Furious, he decided to impose a battle on the enemy at all costs. Eumenes did not wait.

Battle of Gabien

The battle that took place put an end to the longstanding confrontation between Eumenes and Antigone, those who wanted to save Alexander's power under the rule of his descendants and those who thought about the foundation of their own kingdom on the ruins of the empire of their great commander.
Eumenes now had the advantage not only in the elephants, but also in the infantry, however, still much inferior in the cavalry. The idea of ​​Eumenes was to oppose to the strong right wing of the enemy the same strong left wing, not allowing the coverage of the phalanx. В том, что пехота обратит неприятеля в бегство он не сомневался, так что нужно было лишь удержать фланги от решительного разгрома и битва будет выиграна ударом пехоты. Антигон тоже заметил, что Эвмен усилил свой левый фланг за счёт правого. Он скрытно перебросил на это направление отборный отряд лёгкой конницы, стремясь более воздействовать морально, чем физически.

Схема сражения при Габиене Изображение из книги Абакумов A. A. Боевые слоны в истории эллинистического мира

Воины Эвмена были уверены в своём полководце (на которого они совсем недавно не обращали никакого внимания) и своей победе. A more skeptical mood reigned among the soldiers of Antigone - the memories of the defeat of the infantry were still fresh by the veterans of the enemy. But the one-eyed diadoh put discipline at the forefront, so the soldiers could only submit.
The battle began with the battle of cavalry and elephants on the left flank of the tsarist army. At the very beginning of the battle, one of the satraps of the Eumenes army fled from the battlefield, taking about 1,500 horsemen with him (out of 6,000). Even without that, the number of horsemen of Eumenes was discouraged, a stubborn cavalry battle ensued. The situation could have been changed by the successful attack of the elephants and the dowry of light infantry, however, the leader of the elephants of the Eumenes army was slain, after which the other animals rushed to flee. The commander himself managed with difficulty to break through from the encirclement of enemy horsemen, who were pressing tightly on the remnants of Eumenes cavalry.
The situation was not saved even by the successful attack of the phalanx: the infantry overturned enemy pikemen without any problems, but the battle was already lost. A select detachment of light cavalry attacked the camp of the Eumenes army, where all the riches and booty of his soldiers and their wives and children were. This finally undermined the morale of the royal army: Eumenes was captured by his own soldiers, accused of initiating and delaying the war and extradited to Antigone. The one-eyed diadoh could celebrate triumph.

Kingdom diadohov 315 BC. er Image from

Eumen Kardijsky was sentenced to death, he was tortured for three days and then executed. So ended his days the most zealous and consistent supporter of the preservation of the empire of Alexander the Great. Evmen was undoubtedly an outstanding commander, successful, talented and cunning, but he did not claim personal primacy, seeing his mission in protecting the royal house of Alexander and his vast empire, which could not end well with the coming era of the Diadochi. Soon there will be already quite independent and independent (often warring) Hellenistic kingdoms on the map. But that's another story.

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Sources and literature used:

Plutarch Comparative biographies. Eumenes
Diodor Historical Library

Edward M. Anson Eumenes of Cardia. A Greek among Macedonians
Abakumov A. A. War elephants in the history of the Hellenistic world
Bannikov A.V. Popov A.A. Martial Elephants in Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages
Droysen IG. The History of Hellenism T. II
Kolosov D. Heir of Alexander (Some aspects of the commander-in-chief art of Eumen Cardius)
A. Shofman. The Decay of the Empire of Alexander the Great

Watch the video: The lie that saved Ancient Greece (November 2019).


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