Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The army of Alexander the Great
Author: Lock, Robert
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 1974
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
The army with which Alexander the Great conquered the Persian empire was "built around the Macedonian Companion cavalry and the Macedonian heavy infantry. The Macedonian nobility were traditionally fine horsemen, hut the infantry was poorly armed and badly organised until the reign of Alexander II in 369/8 B.C. This king formed a small royal standing army; it consisted of a cavalry force of Macedonian nobles, which he named the 'hetairoi' (or Companion) cavalry, and an infantry body drawn from the commoners and trained to fight in phalangite formation: these he called the ‘pezetairoi’ (or foot-companions). Philip II (359-336 B.C.) expanded the kingdom and greatly increased the manpower resources for war. Towards the end of his reign he started preparations for the invasion of the Persian empire and levied many more Macedonians than had hitherto been involved in the king's wars. In order to attach these men more closely to himself he extended the meaning of the terms ‘hetairol’ and 'pezetairoi to refer to the whole bodies of Macedonian cavalry and heavy infantry which served under him on his campaigning. In addition to these bodies, he formed an elite infantry force of Macedonians, distinct from the regular levy, and named them 'hypaspists’. Philip was killed as he was about to begin the invasion of Asia and his son inherited the army and the expedition. During the early years of the Asian campaign, which was begun in 334 B.C., Alexander made few changes in the structure of the army: the Companion cavalry was organised into seven territorial squadrons and a royal guard, all under a single commander; the foot-Companions consisted of six territorial battalions, organised together with the Greek hoplites under an overall commander; the hypaspists also were grouped together into one command. One battalion was added to the foot-Companions in 331 B.C. but there was no major reorganisation until the hard fighting against the scattered tribes of Iran was encountered. Then, faced by a different style of opposition, Alexander adopted a more flexible structure. In 330 B.C. the overall commander of the pezetairoi was removed and the battalions became fully independent command units: later in the same year the commander of the hypaspists died and was not replaced; the Companion cavalry also lost its commander in this year and was divided into two independent parts. In the winter of 328/7 B.C., in preparation for the Indian campaign, the Companion cavalry was further divided to form six independent commands in addition to the royal guard. No Macedonian reinforcements were received by Alexander after the end of 331 B.C., until his return from India in 324 B.C. During this time the strength of the pezetairoi was maintained by reinforcements of Greek mercenaries, and from 328/7 B.C. Iranian cavalry was introduced to the Companion cavalry to reinforce the strength of that body. In the final year of his life, after his return from India, Alexander set about establishing the structure of the imperial armies. He discharged many veterans and received fresh troops from Macedonia and his subjects in the Persian empire. Many of these forces he dispatched for service under satraps and garrison commanders, but he maintained a large main army directly under his command and prepared for a major expedition into Arabia. At the core of the cavalry was the Companion cavalry consisting of Macedonian and Iranian nobility: the nucleus of the infantry was the Macedonian hypaspists and pezetairoi and beside them were ranged Iranian guards, called ‘melophoroi’, and Iranian archers. The political relationship between Alexander and his Macedonian soldiers was of the most primitive nature. The Macedonian commoners had no background of political involvement and had no consciousness of defined roles for themselves or their king. On the Asian campaign they were intimately involved in the king’s policies and their opinions influenced the conduct of affairs, but they showed no sign of being aware of their role and their powers as a political body.
Supervisor: Badian, E. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available