What was the Battle of Pydna (148 BC)?

Introduction

The Battle of Pydna was fought in 148 BC between Rome and the forces of the Macedonian leader Andriscus. The Roman force was led by Quintus Caecilius Metellus, and was victorious. The result of the battle played an important role in deciding the outcome of the Fourth Macedonian War. This battle annihilated the last military-political force of Macedon.

Refer to the Macedonian Wars (214-148 BC).

Background

After the Macedonian kingdom’s defeat at the Battle of Pydna, the Romans broke up Macedon into four client republics, with trade and military limitations and obligations to Rome. Twenty years later, Andriscus, a fuller from Aeolis , claimed to be the son of Perseus of Macedon and with this, also claimed the Macedonian throne. Initially unsuccessful, he invaded Macedon with a Thracian army, crowning himself King of Macedon and invading Thessaly. After a first Roman army under praetor Publius Juventius Thalna was annihilated, a second army under Metellus was sent to Macedon, meeting Andriscus’ forces at Pydna.

The Battle

The battle began successfully for Andriscus, with his cavalry gaining the upper hand. Seeing this, he split his forces, sending some to ramp up his campaign in Thessaly. Metellus seized this opportunity to counterattack in full strength, defeating the Macedonian army. It is possible that some of Andriscus’ troops defected during the battle. If true, this defection was probably spurred by Telestes, the general appointed by Andriscus to command his cavalry. The Macedonian aristocratic cavalry joined Telestes, as the richer classes supported the Romans more than they did Andriscus, and this may have decided the battle.

Aftermath and Legacy

Andriscus tried to gather a new army in Thrace, but was betrayed by a Thracian named Byzes and handed over to the Romans. After being paraded in Metellus’ triumph, he was executed and Macedonia became a Roman province.

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