Ars Bellica

Battles In Brief

Battle of Megalopoli

331 B.C.

The opponents

Antipatros - Macedonian General (390 - 319 b.C.)

Already influential during the kingdom of Phillip II, Antipatros had from Alexander the Great to the beginning of the consignment of Asia, the regency of the Macedonia salad and the government of the things of Greece. It sustained the oligarchical parties against the democracies and it defeated Agide III of Sparta that tried to shake the Macedonian yoke. After the death of Alexander (323) were rebelled Athenian, Etoli and other populations whose manages Antipatross besieged in Lamia: the arrival of Macedonian reinforcements and the following victory of Crannone (322) they suffocated however the revolt. The year later Antipatros, connected with Cratero and Antigono, it participated in the war against Perdicca; after the victory he was proclaimed, in the conference of Triparadiso (321), regent of the empire. To hisdeath (319), he left not the regency to his child Cassandro, but to the Macedonian general Poliperconte.

Agide III, king of Sparta

Agide III Euripontide, had reigned in Sparta since 338 to 331 to. C. He opposed the dominion of the Macedonian ones on Greece and it tried to lift it against Alexander the Great that he was risked in hiscountry of Asia. he succeeded in putting together an army, partly composed of mercenaries (recruited with the contribution of the Persia) and partly of Peloponnesiaci, but after some successes he was defeated and it lost the life (331) near Megalopoli to work of the Macedonian regent Antipatros.

The genesis

While in Asia Alexander continued his triumphal march, in Greece and in Macedonia the situation was not of the rosiest for the great Macedonian king. It reigned to Sparta Agide son of Archidamo, which was fallen bringing help to the Tarantinis in the same day when Phillip defeated the Athenians at Cheronea. He, emulate of Alexander for value, incited his fellow citizens not to bear for a longer time that Greece was oppressed from the slavery of the Macedonian ones: if they had not set a remedy in time, the same yoke would also have been imposed to them. It needed to do therefore every effort as long as remained still to the persians of the strengths to withstand: in vain they would have been mindful of the ancient liberty, when they had been crushed by a surpassing power. This inflamed the minds, so they meditated the occasion to undertake the war in the opportune moment. Then induced by the happy moment of Memnone (commander of you Gnaw that he was bringing an energetic maritime antimacedonian counteroffensive in the Aegean one), they tried to join to his decisions and, after that was frustrated, with his immature death, the promising beginning of the enterprise, they didn't act of certain with smaller appointment but Agide, directed himself by Farnabazo and by Autofradate (persian satraps), it asked for thirty silver talents and ten triremes, that he sent to his brother Agesilao, so that with them it brought him in the Crete island, among whose inhabitants were separated the different factions: for-spartans and for-Macedonian. They were also ambassadorial envoys to Dario to ask for a great availability of money for war uses and more ships. Besides the defeat shutter at Issus, it didn't not only hinder the spartan projects, but rather it favored them. In fact Alexander, pursuing Dario in escape, it brought him in distant places more and more and the big mass of mercenaries to the pay of Dario, after the same battle, they had succeeded in earning the escape in Greece. With the persian money Agide was able to recruit around 8.000 of them, and thanks to these it was able to regain a lot of cretese cities. When in turn Mennon, sent by Alexander in Tracia, it induced the Barbarians to the desertion and to repress it Antipatros drove the army of the Macedonia in Tracia, the spartans, exploiting the favorable opportunities, drew from their part the whole Peloponnesus, except few cities, preparing an army of 20.000 infantrymen and 2.000 riders to whose command was set the same spartan king. Antipatros, acknowledged of this, stipulated the peace in Tracia, at the best possible conditions, and returned in hurry and fury in Greece, it picked up auxiliary troops from the allied cities, as to add a number of around 40.000 fighters. Also from the Peloponnesus a consistent department had come: but since same Antipatros had come to know about their doubtful fidelity, hiding the suspicion, he thanked them to have come to defend the dignity of Alexander against the spartans, and informed them that he would have written to the Macedonian king of that, which, to histime he would have shown his thankfulness. For the time being there was no need of other troops, therefore they could return in country, considering that they had already complied to the obligations of the alliance. Then it sent some envoys to Alexander to inform him about the movements in Greek earth. These last ones reached the Macedonian king only when he was near Battra, that is when by now the war in Arcadia was concluded with the victory of Antipatros and the death of Agide. In truth, for a long time learned already the revolt of the spartans, Alexander had provided for how much he was able, only being kept from the extension of his dominions: it had in fact commanded to Anfotero to go toward the Peloponnesus with the ships Cypriot and Phoenician, while it was ordering to Menete to bring toward the sea 3000 talents, so that to personally supply Antipatros for all the money of which it required. Alexander in fact, had exactly seen of what importance would have been the possible evolution of that revolt, even if once adjourned subsequently with the news of the victory, comparing that difficult moment to its glorious deeds, ironically said that had been a "battle of mice." However the beginnings of that war were not unfavorable for the Spartans. Next to the Macedonian fortress of Corrago, they had gone out victorious after having met with a part of the strengths of Antipatros: and also for the fame of the enterprise happily completed, those that had attended the result of it because undecided with who to take sides, they were induced to join the lacedemonis. One of the cities elee and achee, Pellene, refused the alliance and in Arcadia also Megalopoli made the same choice, being faithful to the Macedonian ones in memory of Phillip, from which had been gratified always. But this, tightly besieged, it was not distant from the to surrender, if at the end he had not arrived her the help of same Antipatros. Him, after having approached hisown field to that enemy and possession ascertained to be superior to the spartans for number of men and military apparatus, definite to engage as soon as possible the decisive battle: the spartans didn't refuse the clash.

The battle

This way it began the battle that jeopardized seriously the situation spartan. In fact, confiding in the narrow passages of the places in which he was fought, where they thought that the enemy would not have had some advantage from his own numerical superiority, the spartans they had boldly engaged battle while the Macedonian ones didn't succeed in opposing a serious resistance also bringing a lot of losses. But after Antipatros quickly sent fresh troops in help to his in difficulty, the lines spartan, the attack, began immediately to surrender the footstep. Agide, after having observed the manoeuvre, together with the real garrison, formed entirely from warlike select, it threw him in the crucial point of the battle, and once I killed those that withstood with more fury, chased away again back big part of the enemies. The Macedonian ones so they began to run away, at least until when they succeeded in making to move to sufficiency the spartans from their positions, so that to be able to turn and to fight in open field: to that point he was fought "to equal weapons." Nevertheless, the king spartan, polled in the middle of all the fighters, not only for its gait and the shine of its weapons, but also for its magnanimity, the only thing of which could not be defeated. Agide in fact he was attacked by every part, now from nearby, now from far and rotating for a long time the weapons neutralized some hits with the shield, others it avoided them with the body, up to when the thighs, pierced by a lance, they prevented him from fighting for the too lost blood. Then, extended on his shield, he was brought toward the field hismen, suffering even more the pain of the wounds for the undulated movement produced by the same transport.

Nevertheless the spartans didn't withdraw him from the fight and, not as soon as they could regain a more proper position for their characteristics, they shut the ranks and they resisted the hostile assault that poured again them from all the sides. Any other crucial moment of the battle was not so violent as this. The armies of the two bravest people in war of their time, now fought as equal. The spartans looked at their ancient glory, done of granite hoplites, the Macedonian ones looked at their actual glory, brought by phalanx and sarissa; the first ones fought for the liberty, the seconds for the predominance: the spartans missed the commander, while the Macedonian ones missed the favorable ground. Also the so mutable story of an only day increased now the hope, now the fear in both the contenders, as if of intention the case had balanced the fight among brave men. After all the narrow passages of the place in which the battle had been forced, didn't allow that all the strengths entered, therefore they were anymore the men that assisted to the clash that those that participated you, and those that could not have active part in the same clash incited to big voice the companions. At the end the army spartan started to succumb, hardly holding up the weapons, clammy of sweat, therefore to surrender the footstep and to give him to the escape, under to pursue some enemy. The Macedonian ones pursued while they were messily running away and, after having crossed the whole ground occupied by the army spartan, they aimed direct toward the same king Agide. Him, when he saw the escape of his, and the enemy to arrive, made him abandon to the ground: after having verified that the limbs were able to hold up the impetus of its mind, when he felt venir less it sustained him on the knees, and bravely worn the helmet, protecting the body with the shield, it brandished a lance with the right, provoking besides the enemy, if someone dared to subtract him the weapons while it was being to earth. There was no anybody that dared to face nearby it from: he had been made target, from far, of repeated throwing of darts, that himself tried to launch back toward the enemy until when a lance hammered him in its breast. After having extracted it from his own body, it supported a pò the tilted head and deprived of strengths on the shield, therefore, with the soul and the blood that abandoned him, it collapsed dying on hisweapons. That day they fell 5.300 spartans and no more than thousand Macedonian; after all nobody almost made return to the field, if not wounded.

The aftermath

This Macedonian victory not only weakened Sparta and its allies, but also all those people who waited for the result of the same war. Neither it escaped to Antipatros that the face of those people that were congratulated with him dissimulated their true feelings, but since it desired to end the war, it needed that he left "to deceive", and, even if happy about the course of the things, had nevertheless fear of their aim of revenge. Meanwhile Alexander wanted him to the defeat the enemy, but he was at the same time openly irritated that same Antipatros had triumphed, holding usurped to his own glory any success that didn't originate from his hands. Insofar Antipatros, that well it knew the character of the king, it didn't dare to directly dictate the conditions of the victory, but it consulted the meeting of the Greek on the to make. From such assembly the spartans got null'altro that was possible to send some embassies to the king, the Tegeatis (inhabitants of Tegea ancient city of the southeastern Arcadia, in the Peloponnesus) they got all, except the promoters, the pardon for hisown defection. To the Acheis and Elei it was orderly to pour 120 talents to the Megalopolitanis as reimbursement for the siege. This was the result of the war that, even though bursted to the sudden one, it finished before Alexander defeat Dario at Gaugamela.

Same Alexander, busy as it was in epic clashes among boundless masses of soldiers for the conquest of the vast known empire, it didn't have well inclusive that that "battle of mice", not less epic than those that was facing him, he had enacted in reality the end of the giants: the spartiatis, him "equal" that they had made of Sparta the war model for excellence of the ancient world, they had been put in knee as their king and the battle of Megalopoli, it represents the true passage of witness among the phalanx from the red mantles and that armed with sarissa.