What's new: Twilight of Byzantine (v4.15) ; information about upcoming content (Corps, talents) on the forums. Read more.
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Battle of Gaugamela - October 1
Hello Atlantica Players,
Today's first historical topic is the Battle of Gaugamela.
This battle took place in 331 BC today, on October 1, between Alexander the Great of Macedonia and Darius III of Achaemenid Persia.
On the eve of battle, Darius, fearing a night attack, kept his army awake and on alert for the whole night, while Alexander's were more rested.
With victory in hand, Alexander overthrew the Persian king Darius III and conquered the entire Persian Empire. In contrast, Darius was betrayed by his loyal friend Bessus and was chased to Bactria and finally met his death at Bessus's hands. This led to the fall of the Achaemenid Persian Empire.
Leonidas (pronounced /liːˈɒnɨdəs/, Greek: Λεωνίδας; "Lion's son", "Lion-like") was a king of Sparta, the 17th of the Agiad line, one of the sons of King Anaxandridas II of Sparta, who was believed in mythology to be a descendant of Heracles, possessing much of the latter's strength and bravery. While it has been established that King Leonidas of Sparta died at the Battle of Thermopylae in August, 480 BC, very little is known about the year of his birth, or for that matter, his formative years. Paul Cartledge has narrowed the date of the birth of King Leonidas to around 540 BC.
Leonidas was one of three brothers: he had an older brother Dorieus and a younger brother Cleombrotus, who ruled as regent for a while on Leonidas' death before the regency was taken over by Pausanias, who was Cleombrotus' son. Leonidas succeeded his half-brother Cleomenes I, probably in 489 or 488 BC, and was married to Cleomenes' daughter, Gorgo. His name was raised to heroic status as a result of the events in the Battle of Thermopylae, one of the most famous battles in ancient history.
As a result of a social revolution occurring in the 8th-7th centuries BC, the whole Spartan state became militarised. This was made possible by the conquest of neighbouring lands, and the enserfment of the people. Known as Helots, they farmed the lands owned by the Spartans, thus removing the burden of supporting Sparta from the Spartans themselves. This left the Spartans free to dedicate themselves to the art of war.
From the age of seven onwards, Spartan males were trained for a life of warfare. They were taught iron discipline, and almost programmed to forget about their individuality for the sake of Sparta. The strenuous training and comradeship engendered between Spartans made them ideally suited to hoplite warfare which required high levels of discipline and selflessness. Spartans were taught not to fear death, only the shame of defeat in battle. In Spartan military culture, throwing away a soldier's aspis was not acceptable. The saying went: "Come home with this shield or upon it".
It is not quite accurate to describe Spartans as professional soldiers, as the military was not an occupation which they chose, but a requirement by birth. Spartans were not employed as soldiers; instead, they were provided with serfs to support them. This can be compared to feudal Europe; knights were not professional soldiers, but a militaristic caste, supported by the local population. Nevertheless, despite their obvious differences compared to other Greek city-states, the Spartans fought in much the same way as other Greeks, only perhaps more effectively. The Spartans did, unusually, have standard-issue equipment, including a shield called the aspis, featuring the Greek letter lambda (Λ), in reference to their homeland Lacedaemonia and the bronzed cuirass that was bestowed upon all of the Spartans with their helmet. Every Spartan wore a scarlet robe to represent them as Spartans. The Helots would usually accompany the Spartans in battles and provide ranged support, for the Spartans thought of archery as a job unfit for a true warrior. The Helots also set camps and performed labour for the Spartans whilst on campaign.