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date: 26 November 2022

Raphia, battle oflocked

Raphia, battle oflocked

  • John F. Lazenby

Extract

The battle of Raphia takes its name from a town in southern Palestine where *Ptolemy (1) IV defeated *Antiochus (3) III (23 June 217 bce). Ptolemy had 5000 cavalry and 73 African *elephants, but his infantry numbers depend on whether the 20,000 native Egyptians, recruited for the first time, were included in the 25,000-strong *phalanx also mentioned by Polybius (5. 65), or additional: in the former case he had 50,000 infantry, in the latter 70,000; Antiochus had 62,000 infantry, 6,000 cavalry, and 102 Indian elephants. The battle opened with Antiochus' 60 right-wing elephants charging the 40 on Ptolemy's left, and when the latter gave way, Antiochus followed with a successful cavalry attack, led by himself. Antiochus' left was, however, defeated, and as *Demetrius (4) had done at *Ipsus, he rode too far in pursuit, allowing Ptolemy, who had initially been carried away by the flight of his left wing, to disengage himself, and personally lead a successful counter-attack with his phalanx.

Subjects

  • Greek History and Historiography

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