The Sun Sets
On this day in history, June 22, 168 BC, the Battle of Pydna is fought between the Roman Republic and Macedon.
In 179 BC, Philip V of Macedon had died of old age, leaving his son Perseus to take the throne. Perseus was a highly ambitious and aggressive monarch, eager to restore the greatness of Macedon and its hegemony over Greece, and accordingly he began to increase his influence beyond Macedonia. Playing with fire, Perseus violated the peace terms between Macedon and Rome, and inevitably the Third Macedonian War broke out in 172 BC. By 168 BC, the Roman Consul Aemilius Paulus was able to penetrate into the Macedonian heartland and confront Perseus in a pitched battle near Pydna.
Perseus had good reason to feel confident, as he heavily outnumbered Paulus - the Macedonian army consisted of 40,000 infantry and 4,000 cavalry including the elite Agema guard Phalanx and Sacred Squadron of cavalry, while the Roman army consisted of 29,000 infantry, 4,000 cavalry and some elephants. On June 22, both armies deployed for battle at a rush, and the fighting began soon afterwards.
The Macedonian Phalanx pushed the Roman Legions back at first, however the latter withdrew in good order to the rough and hilly terrain behind them, where the Macedonians followed their enemies believing victory to be imminent. However the Phalanx at once lost its cohesion, and gaps formed in the Macedonian ranks, gaps that the more flexible Romans exploited immediately. The Macedonian army became disordered on the rough terrain and pressed together, as they were hacked down without mercy by the Roman Legionaries. Due to the clumsiness of the Phalanx, the Macedonian soldiers were unable to inflict any casualties on the attacking Romans in these conditions, while they themselves were slaughtered like animals. The battle had lasted less than an hour, but the pursuit and annihilation of the Macedonians lasted until nightfall, and the casualty disparity was thus immense: 20,000 Macedonians were killed and another 11,000 taken prisoner, against 100 Roman killed and a somewhat larger number of wounded. Disgracefully defeated, Perseus capitulated.