An extract from Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars
by Duncan Head, illustrated by Ian Heath


This figure is from the Aemilius Paullus monument, which clearly shows that Macedonian cavalry, like the last figure, had adopted large round shields. These have a central rib like the thureos indicating Celtic or Italian origin, but no metal boss or rim is indicated, and unlike the thureos this shield is carried with the rib horizontal. Unlike Macedonian infantry, no pattern is visible on the shield face. Although Peter Connolly says this shield “is certainly neither Roman nor Greek” it was in fact used by both, whatever its origin. It occurs on Roman coinage (see figure 140) and as for the Greeks it is carried by a cavalry officer in typical Hellenistic short plate cuirass and knotted sash on a relief from near Daskylion, on the borders of Bithynia and Phrygia. The cavalry on the Aemilius Paullus monument carrying these shields cannot be Celts, as Connolly suggests, as we know enough about the orders of battle to be fairly certain no Celtic cavalry were present, on either side. In addition, the clearest surviving cavalryman has a Macedonian style helmet, with low comb and cheekpieces, very like the silvered iron example from Epeiros, discussed under figure 34, depicted here. One rider shown without his shield has the usual cloak and short muscled cuirass.

Macedonian cavalry seem to have discarded the long xyston and reverted to javelins, since Livy describes their consternation when charged by Roman cavalry; the Macedonians automatically assumed cavalry would skirmish. He also mentions Philip V himself fighting with missiles from horseback, outside Athens. The change may have come about because using long xyston and large shield together was asking too much of cavalry without saddle or stirrups. The reduced shock power would have been acceptable because of the declining role of cavalry. Pyrrhos, who as noted may have been responsible for introducing cavalry shields to Greece, seems according to Dionysios of Halikarnassos to have had his guards armed with xyston in Italy, but after his return was using a bronze shield on horseback in his last battle at Argos (Pausanias records that the Argives kept it as a trophy), so may have adopted javelins and shield for himself and his guards.

Next: 47. HELLENISTIC XYSTOPHOROS CAVALRYMAN in Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars by Duncan Head and Ian Heath

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