Debut of Seleucids

As mentioned in earlier post, I thought of building Successor force for [Basic] Impetus. Mostly because I like eastern variety and Macedonian pike blocks.  There is of course opportunities for interesting battles against wide variety of enemies. With minor alterations, Successor army also opens a door to somewhat earlier era – that of Persians.

I like the Impetus way of handling pike and hoplites. While not terribly powerful on their own, they are very durable when deployed two or three bases deep. Pikes have tendency to overcome enemy by just slowly grinding it down – or, failing that, prolonging their own existence long enough to allow clever flanking maneuver to take place.

Cataphract1In very short history, Seleucid Empire became in prominence during wars of succession. Philip II of Macedon established mighty war machine which his son inherited. Philip’s son is familiarly known as Alexander the Great, and he took over a somewhat megalomanic quest to unify neighboring lands – also known as the whole known world. He marched over Persia to India and annexed quite bit of territory along the way. Unfortunately for his plans for world domination, he expired June 10, 323 BC in his thirties. Newly created and vast empire then fell to his generals and other associates to fight over. Not wasting time, they quickly divided it in satraps. After quite normal disputes over any inheritance, a bit battling, petty politics, assassinations and betrayal between various factions, four dynasties emerged victorious. Antigonid of Macedon, Ptolemaic of Egypt, Seleucid of Syria and Attalid of Anatolia. 

"Seleucid-Empire 200bc" by Thomas Lessman (Contact!) - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Seleucus I Nicator took Babylon 312 BC and the whole east of the Alexanders Empire. Initial phase of securing power during the inheritance wars and  rapid expansion was followed by unavoidable troubles that always come along when empire overextends itself. Downfall of Seleucus Nicator came in a form of refugee Ptolemy Ceraunus. After death of Seleucus, good fortune of the empire lasted because no external power was really interested in them, and constant civil war kept all local factions busy. 

Parthia, ambitious superpower in making, kept nibbling pieces off the empire in every opportunity from north. However, Parthians failed to keep their ownership for very long, but constant annoyance undermined Seleucid stability. Finally in around 100BC Seleucids were torn by civil strife and Armenians finally saw a moment to seize the opportunity in 83BC. Parthians, Armenians and Romans happened to be hovering in the  neighborhood at right time to finish the job and Seleucid empire was divided more or less between the three. Unlike their predecessors, Parthians who eventually did become a superpower, put a good fight against Rome until they too had to give way to Sassanid Persians around 3rd century AD.

Of the other three, Philip V of Antigonids made bad call and sided with Hannibal during his Italian tour, and by doing so, infuriated Romans. As always, Roman hegemony was not to be challenged and Antigonids paid the price ultimately in Battle of Pydna 168BC, during reign of Perseus. Not much is said about Attalids of Anatolia. Apparently they gave up and Attalus III bequeathed the kingdom to Rome in 133BC. Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt fell to Rome 30BC as part of events that included yet another round of Roman civil war touched by romantic affair of Cleopatra and Mark Anthony. That was the end of the Successors.

I have now finished first of Seleucids, a unit of heavy cavalry called cataphracts. Based in two ranks, 17 figures they hopefully have desired effect at the other side of the table. Purple was one major source of wealth of Persia and empires of the same region, and is quite well established that army of Alexander used purple lavishly after Persian defeat – so why not his successors.Cataphract1 Cataphract3     Cataphract4 Cataphract2

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