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Climax of the Syrian Wars


The battle of Raphia, 217 BC
oN ThE AfTERNooN of juNE 22, 217 (All dATES ARE BC) PTolEmy
Iv PhIloPATER, lIkEly AT ThE INSISTENCE of hIS GENERAlS,
RESolvEd To BRING ANTIoChuS III To BATTlE. ThE TWo ARmIES
hAd BEEN CAmPEd oPPoSITE EACh oThER foR AlmoST fIvE
dAyS ANd ThE BoTChEd ATTEmPT oN PTolEmyS lIfE By
ThEodoTuS, hIS ERSTWhIlE GovERNoR of CoElE SyRIA
NoW IN SElEuCId SERvICE, WAS A PRoduCT of ThIS PRo-
CRASTINATIoN (PolyBIuS 5. 82.1; 81.1-6 All REfERENCES
To ThIS AuThoR uNlESS oThERWISE STATEd). TWo
dAyS PREvIouS, ANTIoChuS hAd CloSEd ThE dISTANCE
BETWEEN ThE TWo CAmPS fRom 1.8 kIlomETRES To A lIT-
TlE lESS ThAN oNE kIlomETRE. AS A RESulT ThERE WERE
fREquENT STRuGGlES AT ThE WATERING-PlACES AS WEll AS
INfANTRy ANd CAvAlRy SkIRmIShES IN ThE SPACE BETWEEN ThE
CAmPS (5.80.5-7).

By Michael Park

Ptolemy, who had force-marched his much preparation and drill


army through the waterless region had been invested in the
from Pelusium to the spot he was Lagid (Ptolemaic) force (see
bound for (5.80.2-3) some nine kilome- below), there remained the
tres southwest of Raphia (near to mod- fact that its reliability was
Livius.org

ern Dikla, Egypt) in five days a distance open to question and so the
of near 180 kilometres at 36 kilometres narrower field of the pass would
per day had chosen his ground with be to its advantage. In the wider
a clear purpose. The Ptolemaic army, world, Ptolemy and his generals
unlike the Seleucid, had not fought a almost certainly encouraged the revolt
major set-piece engagement in a gen- and dynastic pretensions of Achaeus
eration with much of its work in the Antiochus satrap of Asia Minor in the Bust of Antiochus III the Great (242-187
intervening years having been carried Seleucid rear (5.42.7; 57.2; 66.3; 67.1). On BC), now in the Louvre, Paris.
out by mercenaries. At the head of this this battlefield, they would settle for
largely untried host, Ptolemys general stopping Antiochus in his tracks. His
staff chose to adopt a largely defensive dispositions would reflect this strategy. from Pelusium and a lack of concise
strategy and block the Jiradi Pass. Antiochus had never really expect- information regarding its whereabouts
The chosen ground, inside the east- ed Ptolemy to fight indeed he was likely occasioned the former. As for
ern end of the pass, was some four encouraged in that belief (5.66.6-8). the latter, Polybius (5.80.4-6) says this
and a half kilometres in width. Sea Having arrived the same night as was to remove to more advantageous
dunes guarded the northwestern side Ptolemy, his surprise at the size of the ground and to inspire confidence in
whilst desert dunes from the Sinai and army that had taken the field against his troops. Antiochus, finding himself
limestone knolls hemmed the south- him is evidenced by both his cautious outnumbered in phalanx infantry and
east. To the southwest, the wells of final advance from Gaza and his move- roughly even in cavalry, had no desire
Sheik-Zuwayid would provide water as ment into the pass a few days after his to encourage Ptolemy from his defen-
would the sea dune wells. Although arrival. Reports of the army advancing sive posture. Advancing into the more

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restricted field of the pass he would claiming that his allies were giving The Raphia campaign
inspire confidence in his troops by him no part of the conquered territory, Taking the court to Memphis, Sosibius
accepting battle on the more advan- even though he had been a partner and his co-conspirator, Agathocles,
tageous ground where he would not in the war. Seleucus, on the basis of received the ongoing embassies from
have to stretch the lines of his phalanx friendship, decided he would not for Antiochus with every mark of courtesy
to match Ptolemys. the present interfere, but would con- and kindness. What Antiochus ambas-
Given Ptolemys intentions, sider later how best to deal with friends sadors or those sent by Sosibius
Antiochus was compelled to adopt a who chose to encroach (Diod. 21.5). (5.66.9) signally did not receive was any
more aggressive posture. Not that he In the decades following, succes- knowledge of what was transpiring
would likely have chosen otherwise. sive monarchs engaged in repeated at Alexandria. Here the two ministers
With Achaeus having assumed the dia- attempts to establish lasting control of of the crown had collected the mer-
dem at Sardis, Antiochus could ill afford the strategic region, resulting in what cenaries whom they had on service in
to wait. Having advanced into the pass are termed the Syrian Wars. The third towns outside Egypt. As well, they had
he could now deploy his line to match and most recent of these, lasting from dispatched officers to recruit foreign
Ptolemys with his experienced phalanx 246 to 241, saw Ptolemy III Euergetes soldiers and were collecting provisions
holding the centre of the field. With a march as far as Babylon. After its set- both for the troops they already pos-
combined arms assault from a stacked tlement, Ptolemy was left in control sessed, and for those that were com-
right wing, Antiochus hoped to blast of Coele Syria and the ports of Syria. ing in. The recruiting did not stop at
the Ptolemaic left flank from its posi- Amongst these latter was the city of soldiers: the Ptolemaic army required
tion, crush its left wing infantry and Seleuceia-in Pieria the capital, and so seasoned officers and these too, came
force Ptolemy back into the waterless to speak, the very inner shrine of the from Greece. Echecrates of Thessaly,
region hed recently crossed. Antiochus, kings realm (5.58.4). Phoxidas of Melita, Cnopias of Allaria
controlling the water of Raphia and Antiochus III, within a year of his and Socrates of Boeotia all came to
Sheik-Zuwayid, would thus have a nat- accession, was embroiled in a rebel- Alexandria and all, importantly, had
ural border and free himself to deal lion in Media and the upper satrapies. seen service under Demetrius II and
with Achaeus. This, plus the determined resistance Antigonus Doson. They were swiftly put
of Ptolemys general Theodotus, fore- in charge of the training of the army
The Syrian Wars stalled his attempt (221) on Seleuceia (5.63.7-14).
The fourth Syrian War in sixty years and Coele Syria (5.43-46.5). Within two As the interminable embassies
would be decided by the greatest clash years (219), though, Antiochus was back. travelled back and forth, Antiochus
of arms since the battle of Ipsus in Advised to reclaim Seleuceia before any interested himself with the odd siege
301. Great armies would fight and kill other action was taken (5.58.4-8) he did and eventually agreed to a four month
yet again to press the claims of exactly that and might, for the moment truce over the winter of 219/18 (5.66.1-
rival kings over the possession of Coele have been satisfied, but for the arrival 2). Meanwhile the Lagid army trained
Syria. The one, Ptolemy, absorbed in of a letter from Theodotus offering apace. The soldiers were divided by age
unworthy intrigues and senseless and to put Coele-Syria into his hands, and and nationality, after which they were
continuous drunkenness, who treat- inviting him to come thither with all assigned to divisions and armed tak-
ed the branches of government with speed. At this Antiochus abandoned ing no account of what they had borne
equal indifference (5.34.10); the other, his expedition against Achaeus, and before (5.64.1). Here the Greek merce-
Antiochus, young and aggressive scion regarding everything else as of second- naries were armed as phalangites and,
of the Seleucid house with an empire to ary importance and set about claim- under Phoxidas and Andromachus,
set in order, if not reclaim. ing Coele Syria (5.61.6). drilled with the phalanx as one unit on
The conflict was the latest mani- Ptolemys senior advisor, Sosibius, the same ground (see Ancient Warfare
festation of a long running sore of and co-minister Agathocles imme- I.1 Alexandrias Colourful Funeral
Hellenistic politics, whose roots lay in the diately set in play the only game in Stelae). Here also Echectrates splen-
events of the Diadoch Wars. Coele Syria town attempting by embassies to try didly trained the Greek mercenary cav-
was unjustly occupied by Ptolemy to retard the advance of Antiochus: alry and Polycrates the cleruchic cavalry
(Diod.18.73.2) after Triparadeisos (320) pretending to confirm him in the opin- (that which was obtained from Libya
and again after the battle of Gaza in ion he originally entertained about or enlisted in the country 5.65.5) and
312. Later, as his allies fought at Ipsus Ptolemy, namely, that he would not the guard.
in 301, Ptolemy Soters contribution venture to fight (5.63.2-3). The dip- Convinced that Ptolemy would
to the grand alliance of kings against lomatic delaying tactics involving not leave Egypt to fight, Antiochus
Antigonus Monophthalmus was to Rhodes, Byzantium, Cyzicus, and Aetolia left his winter quarters in Seleuceia
reoccupy Coele-Syria. In the aftermath are illuminating in as much as they (218) and stormed the Porphyrion Pass.
Seleucus, a key member of the alliance, illustrate the entire 84 years of dispute. Subsequent resistance aside from
marched into Syria where in accor- The real purpose though, was delay Sidon was sporadic and typified by
dance with the terms of the agreement, and time to make their preparations the desertion of Ptolemys commanders
he endeavoured to appropriate Coele for war (5.63.5-6). And preparations (Theodotus had earlier given over Tyre
Syria. Ptolemy refused to give it up, there most certainly were. and Ptolemais). After consolidating his

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whilst allowing some room 8,000 of this corps and the remaining
for the cavalry to maneu- 2,000, the nature of whom can really
ver. only be guessed at, may well have been
To the immediate hypaspists (peltasts).
right of the Egyptian To the left of the phalanx was
phalanx Phoxidas led the Antiochus make do infantry of the
8,000 mercenary Greek defensive left wing. Abutting the pha-
phalangites into position lanx were 10,000 Arabs, likely javelin
sixteen deep. Alongside men, at a similar depth to the phalanx.
the Greeks the Gauls and Alongside these were 5,000 light armed
Thracians, 6,000 of them, Medes, Cissians and Carmanians and
took their station under they were joined by 3,000 Agrianians,
Dionysius. Rounding out the Thracians and Persians with 1,500
right was the Greek mercenary Lydian and Kardouchoi (Cardaces,
cavalry under Echecrates who likely modern Kurds) javelin men at
commanded the right wing. To the end. Themison, with 2,000 cavalry,
his front was posted a 33 strong commanded the wing and 33 elephants
elephant corps. stood across its front (5.82.11-13).
Karwansaray Publishers

Next to the Greco-Macedonian The Seleucid right wing, which


phalanx Ptolemy arranged the would lead the offensive, Antiochus
3,000 Libyans armed and trained would command in person. Alongside
in the Macedonian fashion and the argyraspides, he posted the 5,000
these were abutted by Socrates 2,000 mercenary thureophoroi from Greece
sarissa-armed peltasts. Anchoring under the command of Hippolochus
the Lagid infantry on the far left were (cf 5.84.9). These troops would con-
the phalanx infantry elite: the 3,000 front Ptolemys infantry agema and his
guard troops of the royal agema peltasts: their role would be crucial to
(basilikon agema) under Eurylochus. the battle plan. Byttacus, with 5,000
These last three divisions were also light troops (Daae, Carmanians and
arrayed sixteen deep. The extrem- Cilicians) under his command, provided
Bust of Ptolemy IV Philopater (Father ity of the Ptolemaic left wing was held both extra width for the infantry line as
loving, 244-205 BC), now in the by Polycrates and the cleruchic cav- well as support for the sixty elephants
Louvre, Paris. alry: 2,300 strong along with Ptolemy posted in front of the wing. Alongside
himself and his cavalry guard of 700 these lights stood 2,500 Cretans and
(5.82.3-7). Forty of Ptolemys elephants Antipaters 2,000 strong cavalry corps
guarded this wing and 3,000 Cretans rounded out the main line. The royal
hold on Coele Syria Antiochus retired stood behind them and alongside the ile (regiment) and cavalry agema, of
to Ptolemais for the winter. In the fol- cavalry they would support. The Lagid 1,000 each and which he would lead,
lowing spring of 217 Ptolemy finally battle line ran slightly northwest to Antiochus placed at an angle to his
mobilized his retrained army and ven- southeast, from the ancient road near main line. This angle, given his attack-
tured to make a contest of the province. to the sea dunes to somewhat south of ing posture, was near certainly ech-
Antiochus, informed of his approach, the modern El-Arish-Rafa road, occupy- eloned rearwards in deep column and
gathered his army and marched for ing the available ground afforded by would be somewhat difficult to discern
Raphia where he would deal with the pass. from the Ptolemaic lines (5.82.8-10).
friends who chose to encroach. Antiochus phalanx, at the regu- Both kings rode the lines with their
lar depth of sixteen (18.30.1), was officers and, in the case of Ptolemy,
Deployment for battle deployed opposite Ptolemys in the cen- his sister Arsinoe addressing words
Marching out from camp and form- tre of the field. The phalanx of Greco- of encouragement and exhortation to
ing into line, the phalanx divisions of Macedonians, almost 20,000 in num- their officers and friends. Neither hav-
Sosibius and Andromachus filled the ber under Nicarchus and Theodotus ing been on the throne long enough
centre of the field; around these troops Hermiolius, stood opposite Ptolemys to point to any glorious or famous
the rest of the army would be arrayed. virgin native phalanx. To its right, achievement of his own instead
The near 20,000 Egyptians under under Theodotus, the Aetolian who reminded them of the glory of their
Sosibius held the right of this block. had deserted from Ptolemy, were ten ancestors, and the great deeds per-
The Greco-Macedonian phalanx of thousand picked men from the whole formed by them. These words were
25,000 stood to their left. Both these kingdom, armed in the Macedonian directed particularly to the officers and
formations adopted a depth of 24 ranks fashion, most of whom had silver men of the phalanx on both sides for
allowing the deployment of the rest of shields (5.79.4-5). These elite Syrian it was these that they both rested
the infantry thus plugging the pass, troops, the argyraspides, likely formed their strongest hopes on (5.83.1-6). This

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Carlos de la Rocha

done, both returned to their chosen careered back onto his troops throwing stood with sarissae raised and waited.
stations opposite each other on the horse, rider and Cretans into panic Across the sand and dust, flashes could
north-western side of the field. As the Seleucid elephants gained be made out as the enemys shields
the ascendancy Antipaters cavalry caught the sun: the Seleucid infantry
Battle begins corps, launched at the Ptolemaic left were drawing shields from their shoul-
Antiochus signaled for the attack to close behind them, charged into the ders.
begin and the elephants lumbered off dust covered melee. Antiochus, skirting Leading his royal ile and the cavalry
at the run with Byttacus light infantry the outer edge of the elephants, led his agema at the gallop, Antiochus swung
following in support. Across the field column at the charge whilst the Greek out and around the elephant battle.
Ptolemy ordered his own elephants for- thureophoroi, on the other side of the Polycrates cavalry rent by elephants
ward. Polycrates cavalry, along with the elephants, advanced toward the Lagid retreating onto and through his posi-
Cretans, began an advance left and for- elite units of foot at the double. tion was now a mass of terrified
ward behind them. Immediately mat- Echecrates, away on the Ptolemaic and rearing horses. Ptolemys Cretans,
ters went astray as only some few of right wing, waited first to see the increasingly confined by the cavalry
Ptolemys elephants came to close quar- result of the struggle between the they were to assist and taking any open-
ters with the foe. These few, very likely other wings of the two armies (5.85.1). ing for retreat available to them, added
Indian rather than African given they Looking towards the north-west he to the escalating disarray. At this point
were towered, engaged fiercely as they can have made out little of what was Antiochus, appearing from behind the
butted heads and swung tusks at and unfolding. Heat haze combined with cloud and noise that was the elephant
into each other. In the towers atop the over three and a half kilometres of disaster to Polycrates front, drove vio-
elephants, amid the arrows and mis- intervening distance obscured all lently into the latters defenceless flank
siles from the light armed, the soldiers detail other than the immense cloud of (5.84.8). Troop after troop of Seleucid
maintained a brilliant fight lunging dust that was now the Ptolemaic left: cavalry charged into Polycrates men
at and striking each other with saris- a cloud that appeared to be moving, who, unable to cope with the elephants
sae. Too few to make any appreciable inexorably, rearwards. Beyond the light and the flank attack, died as spears
difference, Ptolemys elephants were troops of his own wing and the phalanx drove into both horse and rider. Under
forced back and onto their own lines. of Greeks, the Egyptian phalanx, flank- impossible pressure Ptolemys left wing
Here, as Polycrates advanced, elephants ing their Macedonian counterparts, cavalry gave ground falling back and

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onto its own infantry. their ranks also into confusion (5.84.9), from the camp including the survivors
The confusion and dislocation Ptolemys peltasts also came under of the peltasts and infantry agema.
amongst the Ptolemaic cavalry eventu- attack. Antiochus Greek mercenaries The Seleucid cavalry of the left,
ally turned to rout. Antiochus, envision- assaulted the Lagid phalangites as they advancing in concert with their ele-
ing a crushing victory as Polycrates struggled for cohesion. Gaps in the pel- phants, were taken completely by
cavalry eventually fled, pressed the tasts ranks the inevitable result of surprise in their flank and rear by
rout and the pursuit. His object, more their own elephants falling back into Echectrates assault column appear-
likely than not, was Ptolemy himself them opened invitingly. Into these ing from around the limestone knolls.
who, along with what remained of his gaps streamed the Seleucid Greeks The mercenary cavalry charged into
cavalry guard, had used the dust and whilst the agema shattered and lack- Themisons troops and quickly drove
din of the tumult to circle back and ing any formation broke and gave them from their ground (5.85.3) across
away towards the safety of his phalanx way (5.84.7). Byttacus men, meanwhile, and onto their light troops. The Seleucid
which was unengaged (5.85.7). were taking targets of opportunity lights the Persians, Cardaces, Lydians
with impunity from the peltasts flank and Agrianians found themselves cor-
Charge of the Lagid wing as well as the remnants the Ptolemaic ralled by the cavalry they were osten-
Opposite Echecrates position the trum- left wing. sibly supporting. Order quickly turned
peting of the Seleucid elephants quick- Ptolemy, sheltered by his phalanx, to shambles as Echectrates Thracian
ly drowned whatever sounds drifted was watching the disintegration of his troops, having loosed javelins, created
across from the Ptolemaic left wing. entire left wing. Whilst his phalanx mayhem with their romphaia pole
Looking forward Echecrates saw the was still intact in the centre of the field, weapons with a blade some seventy or
dust coming his way and, worse, that both it and his camp might well be more centimetres long. Horses and rid-
the elephants opposite his division overrun shortly. To his right his Greek ers fell indiscriminately as the blades
were afraid even to approach the hos- phalanx, along with the right wing were swung and thrust.
tile elephants (5.85.1) and had either infantry, had advanced to the charge.
remained stationary or began to back Urged on by his officers, Ptolemy came Seleucid collapse
away. The disaster of the left now por- around the right flank of his Egyptian The Seleucid phalanx, having watched
tended for the right and Echectrates phalanx and riding along its front their elephants and light troops move
could wait no longer. showing himself in the view of both off, readied for the advance. As they
In a move that was doubtless armies struck terror in the hearts of were about to step off the Arab tribal
planned, Echecrates sent a rider to the enemy, but inspired great spirit and levies, protecting their left flank, were
Phoxidas ordering an advance and for enthusiasm in his own men. At this taken in a vicious assault by Phoxidas
Phoxidas himself to charge the part of Andromachus and Sosibius gave orders and his Greek phalangites. The Arabs,
the enemy opposite him with his Greek for sarissae to be couched and for the light javelin men, failed to withstand
mercenaries along with the Gauls. 45,000 strong backbone of the army the initial charge and those not imme-
Then, ordering the Thracian infantry to follow the right wing and advance diately run through or crushed in the
(the division behind the elephants) upon the enemy phalanx. (5.85.9) contact, began to look for any meth-
to follow him, he led them and the mer- Antiochus Greek mercenaries, shov- od of escape. As the cavalry fled the
cenary cavalry out to the right off the ing sarissae aside with their thureoi, Cissians, Medes, and Carmanians, taken
field and around the limestone ridge attacked Ptolemys disorganised pha- frontally by the Gauls, also came under
so as to get outside the elephant scrim- langites with spear and sword in hand attack from Echectrates Thracians.
mage and out of view of the Seleucid to hand combat. With the Lagid infan- Ptolemys phalanx brigades,
cavalry behind its elephants. The Greeks try agema largely destroyed, its corps advancing at the double, left behind
lowered their sarissae and set off at of peltasts was now in danger of being the carnage of their left wing and
the charge. The Gauls, as the Greeks cut to pieces. As casualties mounted closed on their Seleucid counterparts.
stepped off, advanced into and around alarmingly the peltasts gave ground. In the initial collision the picked Syrian
the elephants to engage the Seleucid Stepping over and around the dead or troops stood their ground for a time.
light troops advancing in support of dying, the Greeks stabbed and hacked Alongside them the Greco-Macedonian
them (5.85.1-3). at Ptolemys peltasts pushing them phalanx came under severe pressure.
On the Ptolemaic left, the infantry backwards, with ever increasing ease, The lights of the Seleucid left wing, led
agema was in the ineluctable process until they were driven out of the line by their defeated cavalry, were falling
of disintegration. Panicked elephants, (5.84.9). back towards and behind them in the
showing no respect for man or sarissa, Ptolemys camp, being close to direction of the camp and, eventually,
trampled the former and splintered the the battle line like that of Antiochus Raphia. Echectrates did not bother with
latter. Phalangites, not already crushed, (cf 5.80.6), now presented a strate- a headlong pursuit but drove across
were thrown into in a state of utter gic obstacle. Antiochus troops could into what remained of the light infan-
terror as fleeing elephants caught pro- not execute a turn to their left in an try. The Thracians and Gauls followed
truding sarissae skittling their wielders attempt to roll up Ptolemys line as they and carnage was wrought by Galatian
and any near to them. To their right, would be exposed on their right sides swords and Thracian romphaia. As
the elephants having already thrown to any missile fire or defenders sallying their light infantry fled the field the

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Seleucid Greco-Macedonian phalanx all interest in matters of interstate rela- dence. When they did the Ptolemies
found itself denuded of support and tions resuming his habitual effemi- would lose Upper Egypt for decades.
under flank attack. With Ptolemys nacy and corruption of his manner of The struggle for Coele Syria, too, did
Egyptians driving them back they buck- life (5.87.3) one suspects. not end at Raphia. Antiochus would
led and fled. The argyraspides, aware The military victory, though quite take it back after the battle of Panion in
of the imminent danger of envelop- emphatic, would not settle the issue. 200. Thirty two years later the intermi-
ment, also retreated towards camp. Antiochus returned to his kingdom and nable dispute would have an end when
Now Echectrates pursued killing large busied himself disposing of Achaeus. the final arbiter of all the Hellenistic
numbers of the enemy [] by means of His loss here actually facilitated the kingdoms, Rome, in the form of Gaius
his cavalry and mercenaries on his right stabilising of his own kingdom and Popilius Laenas literally drew a circle
wing (5.86.1). his following campaign to restore the around it (29.27.1-9). n
On the far side of the field Antiochus, upper satrapies. Ptolemy took little
confident that the success of his Greek active part in interstate politics again.
mercenaries inside of his cavalry and The evidence (Egypt coining less in sil- Michael Park trained as a teacher in
elephants was reflected across the line, ver and eventually ceasing such) sug- English, history and science back in
continued his pursuit. At the warning gests economic trouble and an inability the seventies. When not working at his
of one of his older officers he called a to pay for mercenaries on a continu- day job, he pursues his real interests:
halt to collect his forces and assess the ing basis. The lasting result, for Egypt, decent red wine and collecting classics
state of battle. Looking back across the was the sudden spike in nationalism and works on ancient history as well as
field to his centre he realised that the brought on by the training of Egyptian writing. Income not already disposed of
cloud of dust raised by the phalanx troops for the battle. Taken with their supports something of a mini Library of
was moving towards their own camp. success at Raphia they refused any Congress on the subject. He would like
Antiochus and his cavalry returned to longer to receive orders from the king; to thank Christopher Webber and Paul
the field at the full gallop to find his but looked out for a leader to represent McDonnel-Staff for the answers to some
whole line in full retreat and his cam- them, on the ground that they were questions. They should not be blamed
paign in tatters (5.85.13). quite able to maintain their indepen- for how those answers were utilised.
Antiochus had lost some 10,000
infantry and 300 cavalry killed as well
as 4,000 men taken prisoner. He retired
to Raphia with such of his men as
had fled in compact bodies. Ptolemy, Further reading:
seemingly taken aback by the victory - Polybius (Shuckburgh translation) is the literary source for Antiochus
(5.87.3), retired to his own camp and invasion and the campaign (5.58-71 and 79-87). The trilingual Raphia
there spent the night having lost 1,500 Inscription provides confirmation of dating and the period of the cam-
infantry killed and seven hundred cav- paign. Polybius battle narrative, though, is very Diodorus-like and suffers
alry. These, almost to a man, fell dur- from summarising and cherry picking. As J.P. Mahaffy wrote his descrip-
ing the debacle on the left of his line. tion, as we have it, is incoherent. Thus, for example, one has to work
Whilst Polybius says that sixteen of out the probabilities of troop placement from the garbled 82.10 and I
his elephants were killed, and most of have placed the medium infantry (Greeks) alongside the phalanx with
the others captured, it is difficult to Byttacus lights supporting the elephants.
see an army in flight capturing some Modern works are not plentiful outside of general treatises. The exhaus-
fifty elephants (5.86.3-6). Ptolemy, hav- tive and exhausting to find Raphia, 217 BCE, Revisited by E Galili
ing buried his dead and despoiled (Scripta Classica Israelica, 3, 1976-77) is a treasure trove and well worth
the enemys, marched on Raphia the the tracking down. Bar Kochva, Seleucid Army Organisation and the Great
next day. Antiochus, like Antigonus Campaigns provides a shorter analysis.
Monophthalmus at Paraetecene, had - J.P. Mahaffey, The Army of Ptolemy at Raphia. Hermathena 13 (1898), 140-5
decamped before sunrise and found provides some discussion of the textual problems.
refuge at Gaza (5.86.4). - G.T. Griffiths, The Mercenaries of the Hellenistic World. Chicago 1975
(reprint) deals with both armies - mainly from the mercenary point of
Aftermath view and Bevan The House of Ptolemy (Chicago 1985, reprint) chapter VII
The towns and cities came over to for a general overview.
Ptolemy and within three months hed - F. Walbank, Historical Commentary on Polybius. I (Oxford 1957), 585-616
re-established control over the region. and III (Oxford 1979), 773-4.
Before concluding a one year truce with For the possibility of Indian elephants in Ptolemys array see M. Charles,
Antiochus Ptolemy, in a display of phar- Elephants at Raphia: Reinterpreting Polybius 5.845, The Classical
aonic propaganda, made a show inva- Quarterly 57.1 (2007), 306-311 .
sion of Phoenicia. He then returned to
Egypt and, according to Polybius, lost

32 Ancient Warfare

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