Long before George R.R. Martin penned his tale of war, intrigue and treachery the ancient world was scene to its own version of Game of Thrones.
(This is the eighth in a series concerning the Wars of the Diadochi. Part 1 can be read here, and includes comprehensive biographies of the players in this drama. It is strongly advised that you start there before reading on here. The previous installment, Part 7, can be found here . Stay tuned to this blog for future installments! Special thanks to Michael Park for his indispensable help in filling in the gaps in the sources and putting-up with my incessant questions!)
It was now early summer, 320, three years after the death of Alexander the Great. Perdiccas, to whom Alexander had passed his signet ring on his death-bed; and who had ruled the empire ever since was now dead as well, murdered by his mutinous officers. He had played the “game of thrones” to win, gambling all and coming up short.
The day after his death there was an assembly of the Macedonian Royal Army in their camp in Egypt. Ptolemy son of Lagos, yesterday’s enemy, was invited to speak . This invitation so close on the heels of Perdiccas’ murder may suggest his collusion with the officers responsible.
Ptolemy was well received, and the soldiers offered him the regency for the two kings. But the politically canny son of Lagos refused to step into Perdiccas sandals, a move guaranteed to make him the focus of every ambitious leader’s envy. Instead, he nominated to be custodians of the kings two other officers: Peithon, Alexander’s former Bodyguard, satrap of Media and Perdiccas’ former senior sub-commander (as well as one of his three killers); and Arrhidaeus, the officer who’d aided Ptolemy in the bringing of Alexander’s corpse to Egypt. They were given the mission to take the Royal Army out of Egypt and back to Syria, to where Antipater was enroute from Asia Minor.
It is likely that all understood that with Perdiccas gone primacy now belonged to Craterus or Antipater, allies of Ptolemy against the late Regent. It had already been agreed between these two men that Antipater would rule in Europe, while Craterus acted as guardian for the Kings and Regent in Asia.
The soldiers agreed enthusiastically to Ptolemy’s proposals, and the army and court prepared for its trek back to Syria. Ptolemy returned to Memphis, where he continued to organize Egypt into his own personal fief and base of power. Here he would bide his time, watching and waiting for opportunities to expand his power, one careful bite at at time. He was a gambler who made only safe bets, and never risked all on a single throw of the dice.
But just two days after the murder of Perdiccas, before the Royal Army could break camp and begin the march back, word came that there had been a momentous battle between Craterus and the late Perdiccas’ lieutenant, Eumenes of Cardia, in Asia Minor; one that would once again change the game and reset the pieces on the board.
EUMENES AND NEOPTOLEMUS
When Perdiccas set off for Egypt he left his philos, the wily Eumenes of Cardia in command in Anatolia; with instructions to block Antipater and Craterus from crossing the Hellespont into Asia. To help him in this endeavor Perdiccas instructed his hotheaded brother, Alcetas, satrap of Pisidia; and Neoptolemus, satrap of Armenia to obey Eumenes and join their forces to his. Together their combined armies would be approximately equal to that of the “Europeans” (Antipater and Craterus). Further, he had dispatched the imperial fleet, under Cleitus the White (who had successfully commanded at sea against the Greek allies during the Lamian War) to the Hellespont; to help Eumenes in preventing Antipater and Craterus from crossing into Asia. Operating from ports along the Asian side of the strait, Cleitus’ fleet  could have made transporting Antipater and Craterus’ forces across the straits potentially suicidal. For this reason, the Perdiccas had felt safe in marching the bulk of the Royal Army to Egypt, with these strategically sound arrangements left in place for defending his rear in Anatolia.
But his plans relied upon his commanders staying loyal and working together in harmony. As events would show, this was an unrealistic expectation.
The first set-back may have been the defection of Cleitus. We don’t know at what point this occurred, but promised the satrapy of Lydia he defected to the “Europeans”. Perhaps the victor of Amorgos couldn’t stomach supporting a Greek, his erstwhile enemies in the Lamian War (even one who had always served the Macedonian throne) against his old commanding officers, Craterus and Antipater; the most respected Macedonian leaders then alive. Whatever his motivation, he now placed the royal fleet at the disposal of Craterus and Antipater.
They were now free to cross into Asia at their pleasure.
With Antipater and Craterus’ march into Asia inevitable, Eumenes could only gather his subordinate forces and fight a holding action; giving Perdiccas time to defeat Ptolemy. Accompanied by a strong force of his Cappadocian cavalry (see below), Eumenes moved towards Hellespontine Phrygia; expecting to link up with Alcetus and Neoptolemus.
Neoptolemus and Eumenes had very recently campaigned together in western Armenia. This highland region, allotted at the Babylon accord to Neoptolemus, was crucial to the security of Cappadocia. Armenia straddled the lines of communication from east to west, including the old Achaemenid Royal Road from Susa to Sardis. Following the Cappadocian campaign in the summer of 322 Perdiccas had given Neoptolemus a body of Macedonian troops as the core of an army to subdue Armenia.
But campaigning in this harsh land of upland valleys and high mountain ridges is notoriously difficult . The Armenians, famous for their heavy cavalry, proved more trouble than Neoptolemus, at best an indifferent commander, could deal with. Short of cavalry, he and his troops were in any case at a severe disadvantage. Worse, the Macedonian veterans, garrulous and opinionated as only old grognards can be, were soon disaffected and mutinous; and Neoptolemus found himself in something of the same predicament as the far more capable Lucullus would when campaigning in this same region two-and-a-half centuries later. Eumenes, as ruler of neighboring Cappadocia, was tasked by Perdiccas with aiding Neoptolemus’ faltering expedition. 
However, Perdiccas failed to take into consideration the deep animosity that existed between Neoptolemus and Eumenes, as well as the former’s pride and arrogance. The source of these two men’s mutual enmity is not stated in the sources. It may have begun during Alexander’s campaigns, where Eumenes was first the royal secretary and later a commander of a squadron of Companion Cavalry; and Neoptolemus the king’s “Armor Bearer” and at one point commander of the Royal Foot Guards (the Agema). Neoptolemus was a Molossian of Epirus, related to the royal family on Alexander’s maternal side. This proud officer obviously resented Eumenes being foisted upon him as co-commander in Armenia. He is recorded to have insulted Eumenes during this campaign, sneering that he (Neoptolemus) had followed Alexander through Asia with shield and spear; while Eumenes had only done so with stylus and tablet. As a Greek in the high councils of the ruling Macedonians , Eumenes had to take such slights with grace. But he returned Neoptolemus’ scorn with a quiet disdain of his own.
The ghost of Hellenism still haunts the Armenian uplands in abandoned temples such as this
Eumenes was able to restore the situation. He did so by raising at his own expense (and with promises of immunity from future taxation) a large body of cavalry from amongst the Graeco-Macedonian officers of his satrapal court and from the Iranian gentry of his province; some 6,300 in a very short time. With these he came to Neoptolemus’ aid. With cajoling words and diplomacy he quelled Neoptolemus’ mutinous troops and restored some order. The situation was soon restored and Neoptolemus left in possession of his province.
But his resentment and jealousy of Eumenes lingered on.
Now in the spring of 320 Neoptolemus was expected to bring his army west and serve under Eumenes against Antipater and Craterus. As was Alcetus, brother of the Regent. However, Macedonian chauvinism made serving under Eumenes, a Greek, problematic at best. Alcetus flatly refused the summons, staying at home in his own satrapy and defying his brother’s orders. When Perdiccas became aware of his brother’s obstinance, and again ordered him to join Eumenes, Alcetus replied that his troops could not be relied upon to fight against Antipater, an iconic Macedonian leader; and especially not against Craterus, the very best of Alexander’s marshals, who was beloved by the rank-and-file Macedonians. Alcetus steadfastly refused to move from his base in Psidia.
Neoptolemus, weighing his options, went even further; deciding to secretly treat with Antipater and Craterus rather than serve under a man he despised. Feigning compliance with his instructions, he marched his army towards Eumenes, all the while planning to betray him at the first opportunity.
Meanwhile, Antipater and Craterus crossed into Asia. At the subsequent battle against Eumenes, Craterus had an army of 20,000 infantry  and 2,000 cavalry. But this was after Antipater left the army with a detached force for operation in Cilicia (see below). Since the numbers of Antipater’s division is nowhere stated in the sources we can assume that the grande armee the Europeans brought into Asia was closer to or even exceeded 30,000: not much less (if at all) than Alexander crossed into Asia with in 334. Diodorus makes the point that ” the majority were Macedonians celebrated for their valor” . These were the veterans of Philip and Alexander’s long wars, the men who had stood up to Alexander at Opis and demanded discharge and return home; and who once reconciled had been sent with Craterus back to Macedon in 323. The victors of Crannon, they were the steadiest infantry in the world. Only the Silver Shields (Argyraspides), currently with Perdiccas on the way to Egypt, enjoyed a greater reputation.
To face these Eumenes had a scratch force of mixed quality, of which no more than 5,000 could have been Macedonians. These latter were with Neoptolemus, the veterans of his Armenian campaign; and were not yet united with Eumenes’ army. The Molossian was indeed approaching, but with no intention of joining Eumenes and every intent of betraying him.
For the sake of clarity, we shall call Perdiccas’/Eumenes side the “Royalists”, as the Regent had possession of the two kings and the royal court; and thus acted with royal authority. Those aligned against Perdiccas (chiefly Antipater, Craterus, and Ptolemy) we shall call the “Allies”.
THE BATTLE FOR ANATOLIA
Things could hardly have started off any worst for the Royalists in Anatolia. Their fleet had switched sides, making blocking the crossing of Antipater and Craterus into Asia impossible. To complicate matters even further Antigonas (acting as Antipater’s subordinate) had established a bridgehead in southwestern Anatolia, landing there in early spring with 3,000 troops; and nearly capturing Eumenes at Sardis (see Part 7). The local satraps, Asander of Caria and Menander of Lydia had immediately gone over to the Allies. With these forces behind him, Eumenes could in no way attempt to block Antipater and Craterus from crossing the Hellespont into Asia. He had no choice but to fall back towards his own satrapy of Cappadocia.
The Royalist defense of Anatolia was collapsing before the campaign had even properly begun.
Eumenes must have known that Alcetus was refusing to leave Pisidia and join him. But he expected Neoptolemus to unite forces with him. This combined with his Cappadocian heavy cavalry would given him an army nearly as large as the Allies; though with a fraction of the number of Macedonians, who made up the phalanx, the solid core of any Diadochi army.
At some point before their junture Eumenes learned of Neoptolemus’ planned treachery; we don’t know how or precisely when. He marched against his unfaithful subordinate immediately. Where this, the first battle of the Wars of the Diadochi, was fought is unknown. Due to the animosity between the two men, it took on the aspects of a grudge match. Neoptolemus’ had the advantage in infantry, Eumenes having no heavy infantry to oppose Neoptolemus’ Macedonian phalanx. His own were likely a mixed lot of Asian light troops and perhaps some Greek mercenaries drawn from local garrisons. However, Eumenes had his 6,000 heavily-armored Cappadocian noble cavalry and another 300 Graeco-Macedonian lancers of his Agema (bodyguard). The number of cavalry that Neoptolemus had at his command seems to have been negligible, perhaps no more than his own bodyguard of 300 horsemen.
In the resulting battle, for which no historian gives a name or location, Neoptolemus’ Macedonians broke and pursued the lighter infantry of Eumenes’ center. However, the Cappadocian horse swept around the flanks and captured Neoptolemus’ camp; in which the soldiers’ baggage was stored. As would be shown throughout the wars to come the Macedonian soldiery valued nothing more than the accumulated plunder of some 14 years of conquests. Their families, the women who followed them and the children they bore, also waited in the camp. By this move Eumenes had captured a powerful bargaining chip.
Having captured the camp, Eumenes and his masses of cavalry turned about and charged back towards the rear of the enemy. Apparently the loss of their camp had gone unnoticed: ancient battles, involving large numbers of horses galloping about, were often cloaked in clouds of dust. Chasing down fleeing light infantry, Neoptolemus’ Macedonian phalanx had broken ranks, advancing sloppily, in poor order. From seemingly out of nowhere came Eumenes massed squadrons, thundering into the rear of the phalanx!
Nothing is more devastating in ancient battle than a cavalry charge into the unsuspecting rear of a body of troops. The initial impact of the Cappadocian’s charge likely killed many, and shattered the phalanx’s formation (what remained of it in the midst of their pursuit). The Macedonians surrendered in mass, signalling their submission by raising their pikes. Eumenes, pulled back his riders, accepting their surrender upon receiving their oaths to serve under him.
Neoptolemus escaped the debacle, fleeing the field with just the 300 horsemen of his personal agema. He rode off to find the camp of Antipater and Craterus, where he was welcomed in their councils.
Eumenes had won the initial clash-of-arms of the First Diadochi War; and with it no little prestige. A largely untried commander until them, he had proved himself able to weigh the means at hand to come up with a successful plan. The addition to his army of a force of crack Macedonian infantry was a welcome addition, balancing his already very strong cavalry forces. He could count on these for the most part to accept his leadership, up to a point. As the Regent’s appointed legate in the theater, he could legitimately claim to be commanding them in the name of the kings. Certainly they had no loyalty to Neoptolemus, who had never been popular with these troops, as evidenced by earlier their mutiny in Armenia. No doubt the return of their captured baggage weighed heavily on their decision to change sides.
What Eumenes could not rely upon was their willingness to fight for him, a Greek, against the two most respected Macedonian leaders then alive: Antipater and Craterus. In this, Alcetus had not been wrong when he told Perdiccas his reasons for not bringing his own Macedonians to fight with Eumenes. Though these (5,000?) Macedonian phalangites would give his army the stiffening it needed, they could not be relied upon in the battle to come.
THE FINAL RECKONING
At this point Craterus and Antipater reached out to Eumenes. In contrast to his bitter relationship with Neoptolemus, Eumenes and Craterus had been on friendly terms throughout Alexander’s campaigns. While many Macedonians looked down their noses at Eumenes as nothing but a jumped-up Greek, the affable Craterus had been the exception. So now he offered Eumenes a complete amnesty, rank and honor if he switched sides and joined against Perdiccas. Knowing of Eumenes long distrust of Antipater (patron and supporter of Eumenes’ personal enemy, the tyrant of his home city of Cardia), Craterus proposed to reconcile the two, and Antipater for his part offered Eumenes his friendship.
Eumenes now showed the firmness of his loyalty by replying to Antipater that he already had all of the friends that he needed, thank you. To Craterus, he responded with no little cheek: that if he would change sides and join Perdiccas’, he (Eumenes) would undertake to reconcile him to the Regent!
Thus the die was cast, and a fateful battle was inevitable.
The Allied leaders took council and deliberated the next move in the game. Present were the four principal commanders: Antipater, Craterus, Antigonas, and Neoptolemus. The latter gave a jaundiced account of Eumenes’ victory over him, disparaging the Greek’s abilities and the composition of his forces; and assured all that Eumenes’ Macedonians would never stand with him against Craterus, who was beloved:
…for the Macedonians longed for him exceedingly, and if they should only see his cap and hear his voice, they would come to him with a rush, arms and all. And indeed the name of Craterus was really great among them, and after the death of Alexander most of them had longed for him as their commander.
Reminiscent of Napoleon, it was thus suggested that the mere site of Craterus’ hat  would be enough to win over Eumenes’ Macedonian infantry without striking a blow!
Craterus was known always wearing his kausia, even into battle. The modern Afghan Pakol, or “Chitrali cap” is reminiscent of and perhaps descended from the Macedonian kausia.
The Allies decided to divide their forces. Plutarch implies that Craterus now assumed over-all command; for he states that “Craterus sent Antipater into Cilicia, while he himself with a large part of the forces advanced with Neoptolemus against Eumenes.”  This makes perfect sense, in that Antipater was at this point a very old man while Craterus was in the prime of his life. Antigonas was sent (presumably still in command of the force he had landed in Caria with) to thwart Perdiccas’ operations in Cyprus, and secure the island for the allies.
Two question arise regarding this division of forces.
The first concerns the purpose of Antipater taking a force away from the main army when a clash with Eumenes was imminent. Diodorus states that Antipater was sent to Cilicia “to fight against Perdiccas”. But militarily speaking this is nonsensical. Perdiccas was marching on Egypt, and would have been at least at that country’s borders if not already in the northern Sinai. Antipater can have given Ptolemy little immediate help from Cilicia at this stage. So why was he sent there?
The second question regards numbers: was the split an even one?
Unfortunately for our analysis, we are missing a vital piece of information: what was the grand total of the Allied army before the division? We know from Diodorus what portion Craterus had with him in his fight against Eumenes: 20,000 infantry, and 2,000 cavalry. But that is after Antipater took his division to Cilicia. As Craterus’ force was roughly of equal size to Eumenes’, it seems likely that the Allies arranged it so that Craterus would retain enough to ensure numerical parity in the coming battle, and the excess would go with Antipater. Since the Allied army can not have been much more than 30,000 it is likely that Antipater’s force was not more than 10,000, and likely less; and that it was mostly light auxiliaries or mercenaries, as we know the veteran Macedonians were with Craterus.
But to what purpose? Surely, as we note above, Antipater was not detached to engage the distant Perdiccas.
The Cilician Gates; through which ran the main road between Asia Minor and Syria.
What seems far more likely is that Antipater’s detachment was sent to occupy the passes leading from Anatolia into Cilicia, particularly the so-called Cilician Gates. His objective was to cut off Eumenes retreat and prevent him from withdrawing south to join Perdiccas. Eumenes position in Anatolia must have seemed doomed to the Allies; faced by their superior forces, and himself with a questionable army of “barbarians” and disaffected Macedonians (ready to switch sides, if Neoptolemus was to be believed). His only option would seem (to Craterus and Antipater) was to withdraw, and Antipater was sent to Cilicia to prevent this. Or, should Eumenes be foolish enough to give battle to Craterus, Antipater would be in position to block his escape following his inevitable defeat, sealing the victory.
Craterus now marched the bulk of the Allied army against Eumenes.
To the Allies utter surprise, the latter had no plans for withdrawing. With breathtaking audacity, Eumenes attacked.
Moving rapidly towards Craterus, the opposing forces came upon each other somewhere between the Hellespont and Cappadocia. That is all we know of the location. That we know so little is surprising in a battle of such consequence, as is the fact that it isn’t even given a name in the sources. In any case, a hill (or ridge) seems to have separated the two armies, and they could not initially see each other.
A broad plain in central Anatolia. On just such a field, Craterus faced Eumenes.
The night before, Eumenes (according to Plutarch) dreamed of Alexander and victory; and that the goddess Demeter would be his patron. He therefore had his soldiers adorn their helmets with wreaths of wheat in honor of the harvest goddess; and “Demeter” became their watchword in the coming fight (“Athena” was to be used by Craterus’ army, for what reason the sources are silent).
Eumenes seems to have scouted ahead and accurately discerned Craterus’ deployment on the day of battle, as evidenced by his counter dispositions. That, or he knew his opponent so well he could accurately guess as to his dispositions. In either case, he deployed his army in such a fashion as was to give him his best (only?) chance of winning this one-sided engagement.
That his Macedonians would not fight against their hero, Craterus, was a very real concern. To prevent their defection, Eumenes concealed from his troops who their enemy was. He put it out that they were facing Neoptolemus once again; a Molossian and even less popular with his Macedonians than he, a Greek. But he knew that this fiction would collapse the minute his Macedonians spotted Craterus approaching, wearing his trademark jaunty kausia.
Eumenes therefore posted the mass of his Cappadocian heavy cavalry, 5,000 strong, on his left, opposite to where Craterus would be leading his own smaller force of cavalry, on the Allied right. These “barbarians” cared little who they were opposed to, and Craterus’ name carried no weight with them. They were commanded by the old Persian grandee, Phanabazus the son of Artabazus, Eumenes’ brother-in-law , and Phoenix of Tenedos, likely an officer of his inner-circle. Their orders were to advance rapidly, ahead of the infantry in the center; and upon seeing Craterus coming on, to charge him with all their might. On no account were they to accept parlay if offered: Craterus must be given no chance to announce himself to Eumenes’ Macedonians!
Eumenes himself rode to the opposite flank, his right (where generals in Graeco-Macedonian armies typcally took station) with the 300 troopers of his personal agema. Here he expected to be opposed by his enemy, Neoptolemus with the men of his bodyguard. For the two leaders facing each other on this wing the battle would take on the character of a grudge match. For Eumenes and Neoptolemus, this was personal!
Eumenes infantry were posted in the center, further back than his cavalry wings and were apparently told to advance but slowly. This force was comprised of “twenty thousand foot soldiers, men of every race”, according to Diodorus, of which between 3-5,000 were his Macedonian phalangites; until recently Neoptolemus’ troops. His most unreliable element, they must be kept out of the battle till he could win it with the element in which he had the most confidence: his cavalry.
Craterus had arranged his army for battle as Eumenes anticipated: with himself and the bulk of the 2,000 cavalry under his command on his right; his Macedonian phalanx (and supporting light infantry skirmishers) in the center; and Neoptolemus with his own 300 agema cavalry on the left. We know from Diodorus that the Allied infantry numbered 20,000 mostly Macedonians, “famed for their valor” (see above, and note 10 below). We don’t know how many cavalry were heavy horse or light. Certainly those of Craterus’ and Neoptolemus’ own bodyguards were Graeco-Macedonian heavy horse, in the model and perhaps veterans of Alexander’s Companion Cavalry: lance armed and armored shock cavalry. Unfortunately for Craterus, they were no match head-to-head with the even more heavily armored Cappadocians they were facing.
In all of Alexander’s battles, Iranian heavy cavalry such as these had given the Macedonians their toughest opponent. At Granicus he had bested them in a furious melee along the river’s bank; the longer Macedonian xyston giving the Companions greater reach. That, and the mistake the Persians had made in deploying along the river bank in static position and remaining stationary instead of charging. At Issus, massed Persian heavily armored cavalry charged the Thessalian horse on Alexander’s left under Parmenio; and succeeded in pushing back these, reputedly the best horsemen in Greece. At Gaugamela Alexander had countered the Bactrian and “Scythian” heavy cavalry on Darius’ left with small groups of light infantry and cavalry, shielding and supported by his Companions; using short, sharp charges to delay and string them out, taking them out of the battle and creating the vital gap with their own center that he was able to exploit.
In no wise did he attempt to meet “force with force”, by charging his Companions directly into the Persian heavy cavalry. Alexander had better uses for his Companions.
Unfortunately for Craterus, he had made no similar arrangements for dealing with Eumenes 5,000 Cappadocian heavy horse.
Haranguing his troops, Craterus promised them the spoils of Eumenes camp. Then, signalling a general advance, he spurred forward at the head of his own right wing cavalry, quickly leaving the infantry of his phalanx far behind. His intentions are unknown, but it is likely he planned to scout ahead, and to show himself to Eumenes’ Macedonian infantry. Perhaps he believed that with a wave of his hat he could induce them to lay down their arms or switch sides. However, if this was what he expected as he crested the intervening ridge, he was dissapointed.
Directly ahead, bearing down furiously upon him, was a mountain of bronze-clad riders in close formation. In the distance and to his left he could see Eumenes infantry coming on as well, but he had no time or opportunity to address them. Muttering curses at Neoptolemus for deceiving him, he quickly “exhorted his officers to act like brave men, and he charged upon the enemy”.
The two charging masses of horse met with a thunderous clash. Plutarch says their lances were quickly shattered, and the opponents laid on each other with swords. Craterus, at the head of his squadrons in the fashion of Alexander, fought admirably, slaying many about him. He had thrown off his hat, that he would be more readily recognized. But the Cappadocians who pressed about him cared not a fig for whom he was; and the Macedonians who did were at some distance, unable to catch site of their beloved leader, unaware he was even on the battlefield. At last he was speared and fell from his horse. Diodorus claims he was trampled under in the cavalry melee and thus perished. But Plutarch tells a different and more dramatic tale:
As he lay prostrate there all his enemies rode past him, not knowing who he was, except Gorgias, one of the (Graeco-Macedonian) officers of Eumenes; he recognized him, dismounted from his horse, and stood guard over his body, for he was now in an evil plight and struggling with death.
The Cappadocians, more heavily armored and outnumbering their foe by more than 2-1, drove Craterus cavalry off in flight; and the survivors took refuge behind their slowly advancing phalanx.
Simultaneously, on the opposite flank, an even greater drama was playing out.
Here, Eumenes and Neoptolemus’ led their respective bodyguard squadrons (agemata); each 300 horsemen strong. They charged each other, smashed together, and then withdrew to prepare to charge again. This they did twice before Eumenes spotted his enemy, and Neoptolemus he; recognizing one another by their horses and the splendor of their arms. On this third clash, the two men made directly for each other with murderous intent. They”dashed together with the violence of colliding triremes” and exchanged furious stokes at close quarters. Their respective squadrons drew back, watching the duel and allowing the outcome to decide the contest. It was a scene right out of Homer.
Letting go of their reins, they each leaned over, grappling the other and seeking to pull him from his horse. While they were struggling, their horses ran from under them and they fell to the ground; where they wrestled about for advantage. Neoptolemus rose first. But Eumenes, rising to one knee, viciously slashed the back of his legs; partially “hamstringing” his enemy. Collapsed back to his knees, Neoptolemus nevertheless had the strength to return the favor, striking Eumenes with a flurry of blows; slashing him on the arm and both thighs. Eumenes finally struck him down with a blow to the neck, between the top of his cuirass and helmet. Neoptolemus fell to the ground and Eumenes, as though in duel on the plains of Ilium, began to strip the armor from his fallen foe, reviling him all the while.
However, Neoptolemus was not yet dead; and still retained his sword in hand. Mustering what little life was left in him, he thrust his blade into Eumenes groin, beneath the lower edge of his cuirass. But his fading strength was too feeble to inflict a killing wound, and Eumenes was only injured.
Thus died Neoptolemus, whose reach far exceeded his grasp.
Helped onto his horse, a bloody Eumenes then led his squadrons to the opposite side of the field. There, according to Plutarch, he found his officer, Gorgias, still warding the dying Craterus. Eumenes dismounted, and comforted his old friend before he died; weeping and bitterly cursing the “evil fortune” that pitted two friends against each other. Craterus died in his arms, the foremost of Alexander’s generals then alive.
When Craterus’ infantry learned of the death of both of their commanders, they halted their advance. Eumenes, though weakened by his wounds, rode before them and convinced them to cease the struggle, and to join him. However, in the night they struck camp, marching to join Antipater in Cilicia.
The approval and allegiance of the Macedonian soldiery, the steadiest infantry in the world, was the goal of every Diadochi warlord. Ironically, in the two opening battles of the First Diadochi War the phalanxes played at best a minor role; Eumenes deciding both with his cavalry alone. The underlying truth of the conflict was that the cynical veterans had no stake in the outcome other than their own financial gain and welfare. While loyal in an abstract sense to their Royal House, they saw little profit in dying to advance one Diadochi’s power over another.
Improbably, Eumenes had won a great victory, and should have earned as great a renown. He had triumphed over far superior forces, led by the best of Macedonians commanders. However, far from gaining from this, he found himself reviled by the Macedonians as the killer of their hero, Craterus.
In Egypt, word of Eumenes victory and the death of Craterus came too late to help Perdiccas; this news arriving in the Royal camp just two days after his assassination. The enraged and grief-stricken Macedonians of the Royal Army voted a sentence of death against Eumenes; as well as fifty other leaders who had been of Perdiccas’ faction, including his brother Alcetus. The soldiers even went so far as to vent their fury against Perdiccas’ sister, Atalante and other of his associates in their camp; murdering them all.
The First War of the Diadochi had reached an ugly conclusion; but one without a true decision. Perdiccas was dead. But with Craterus out of the game, who was to replace him was now an open question. As the Royal Army and the kings marched out of Egypt, Antipater marched south from Cilicia to join them. The two armies would meet at a place called Triparadeisos, in Syria.
NEXT: EURYDIKE AND ANTIPATER, A CLASH OF WILLS AT TRIPARADEISOS
- In this narrative I follow the so-called “low chronology”. Scholars are in disagreement as to the dating for the events leading up to and for the Diadochi Wars. The alternative “high chronology” has much to recommend it, as well; and would place the outbreak of hostilities and all subsequent events one year earlier.
- Diodorus XVIII 36.1-2; Arrian Succ. 29
- The size of the imperial fleet in 320 under Cleitus is unknown. Two years earlier, At the Battle of Amorgos, it had numbered 240 warships. At this early date most would have been triremes, but included quadremes and penteres/quinqueremes, the largest galleys available at the time. But Cleitus had returned to port in Cilicia after the Lamian War. How many of these ships stayed with Cleitus, at the command of Perdiccas; as opposed to returning to Greek or Macedonian ports, where they would have remained at the disposal of Antipater and Craterus in this conflict, is unknown. At the start of the First Diadochi War, 90 warships and most of the transports were detached under the command of Perdiccas’ brother-in-law Attalus to support the Regent in the Egyptian expedition. The balance of the the fleet at Cilicia then sailed with Cleitus to the Hellespont.
- For purposes of this discussion I maintain the ancient distinction between “Greeks” and Macedonians. Though it is nearly universally accepted today that the ancient Macedonians were ethnically and culturally Greek, this was not the accepted belief in the ancient world. There is volumes of evidence to support this, though it has become a politically incorrect fact today.
- Plutarch, Lucullus 32; Xenophon, Anabasis, 4. 3-5
- Plut., Eumenes, 4. 1-3
- While modern Greeks resent any notion that the ancient Macedonians were anything but “Greek”, it is irrefutable that in the ancient world the Macedonians and Greeks thought of each other as two different, if related, peoples. Much of this was mere prejudice and chauvinism; and any objective analysis must conclude that they were two branches of the same Hellenic tree. But for the purposes of this series, I will refer to them as two different peoples, as they considered themselves at the time.
- Perhaps as may as 15,000 of the total 20,000 were Macedonians, the men of the phalanx; the rest were likely mixed light infantry auxiliaries (peltasts and psiloi, armed with javelin, sling or bow).
- Diodorus XVIII.30,4
- Arrian VII.8-12; Diodorus XVII.108-109. How many of the 10,000 veterans of Opis remained in service at this time is unknown. Certainly a number must have take their discharges and retired. But Diodorus’ description of Antipater and Craterus’ Macedonians as men “celebrated for their valor” implies that these were veterans; and those young Macedonians who were recruited during the emergency of the Lamian War are unlikely to have warranted this description. How many of the Allied cavalry were Macedonian heavy horse, as opposed to light cavalry Balkans auxiliaries is also unknown. That Eumenes Cappadocian heavy cavalry won handily on both flanks argues that most of the Allied cavalry were Paeonian or Thracian light cavalry; and only a portion were Macedonian “Companions” or the bodyguards (agema) of the three generals.
- After Alexander’s death, and the division of his empire at Babylon in 323, most of the Macedonian leaders who became satraps of various provinces enlisted their own bodyguards (agema) of Macedonian cavalry. These were almost universally recruited from members of the elite Companions (Hetairoi), Alexander’s elite heavy cavalry. This corps disappears as a unified force soon after Babylon, as its members were dispersed into the agema of various satraps. The number 300 reoccurs regularly in the accounts of the Diadochi armies; so it is likely that this was the standard size of such bodyguard units. (This was also the size of Alexander’s own elite squadron of the Companions, the basilike ile, at the end of his campaigns; at which time it was also referred to as the agema. Arrian, 4.24.1)
- Plutarch, Eumenes. 6.1-2
- Likely the Kausia, a beret-like cap worn by the ancient Macedonians. The Persians referred to the Macedonians as Yaunã Takabara or “Greeks with hats that look like shields”; possibly referring to the kausia.
- Plut., Eumenes. 6.3
- Pharnabazus had fought against Alexander, chiefly as commander of the Persian fleet operating in the Aegean in 334-333; but was later reconciled. His sister had been given to Eumenes as bride at the mass marriage at Susa four years earlier.
- Plut. Eumenes. 7.2. Plutarch says Craterus “heaped much abuse upon Neoptolemus for having deceived him about the Macedonians changing sides“. While we can well believe he muttered curses regarding his Molassian ally “deceiving” him, the nature of the deception can have had nothing to do with Eumenes’ Macedonians changing sides. That they didn’t was not because Neoptolemus had lied regarding where their loyalty lay. Given the chance, they likely would have joined Craterus. But he had no opportunity to put this to the test: the Cappadocians were coming on hard, and Craterus had his hands full. It is far more likely that the deception was in not appraising him of the true number of heavy horse he would be facing; but instead “downplaying” the formidable nature and numbers of Eumenes cavalry.
- Diodorus XVIII.30.5
- Plutarch claims Craterus assailant was a Thracian. Arrian claims he was “slain by some Paphlagonians”, implying several had a hand in his unhorsing. As his opponents were Eumenes’ Cappadocian noble cavalry, it seems likely that both historians are confused as to the identity and the number of Craterus’ killers.
- Plut. Eumenes. 7.4
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