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Battles of ancient Rome

Ancient Rome, a highly expansionistic empire, was involved in many wars. Led by brilliant generals, highly trained and superbly equipped Roman forces could win against an enemy army twice as strong in numbers. There were, of course, some defeats, like the battles of Cannae or Teutoburg Forest.The Roman armies have already confirmed their imperial status at the beginning of the 2nd century BCE, by massacring the Macedonian army at Cynoscephalae in Thessaly, in 197 BCE. Seven years later Roman legions defeated, at Magnesia in Asia Minor, armies of the Seleucid, considered the prime power of the Hellenic world. Thus the legions proved themselves the finest army in the region. The decline of legions’ power became apparent in the 3rd century of the Common Era. Eventually, the ‘Germanisation’ of the Roman army and consequential loss of fighting prowess resulted in the fall of both army and the Roman state.

Battle of the Allia and plunder of Rome by Gauls

(390 BCE)

Battle of the Alia River, fought in 390 BCE (according to the Roman calendar) or 387/6 BCE (according to the Greek calendar), between the Romans and Senones (one of the Gallic tribes), ended in the humiliating defeat of the Roman army. Consequently, a few days after the battle, the Gauls occupied Rome, which they plundered completely.

Battle of Alia

Battle of Thermopylae

(191 BCE)

Battle of Thermopylae (191 BCE) was the victory of the Romans over the army of the Selucid king Antioch III. The clash took place in the legendary Thermopylae Gorge, where the Spartans defended themselves three centuries earlier.

Map of the Roman Empire from 117 CE

Battle of the Trebia

(December 218 BCE)

Battle of the Trebia (218 BCE) was the first great clash between Carthage and Rome in the Second Punic War. The troops of the Republic were completely defeated by Hannibal's army. In this battle, Hannibal first used the tactics that brought him a great victory at Cannae.

Illustration showing the scene of the Battle of Trebia

Battle of Aoi Stena gorge

(198 BCE)

Battle of Aoi Stena gorge (198 BCE) is another clash characteristic of the wars in the Hellenistic East. After defeating Carthage, the Romans immediately turned their eyes to the Hellenistic East. The immediate cause of the intervention was an appeal from Rhodes and Pergamon, fearing Macedonian influence. Roman troops pushed Macedonian troops out of the gorge and forced them to withdraw.

Roman-Macedonian clash

Battle of Pydna

(22 June 168 BCE)

Battle of Pydna (168 BCE) was a clash between the Roman army under Emilius Paulus and the Macedonians. It prejudged the fall of Greece.

Battle of Pydna

Battle of Baecula

(208 BCE)

Battle of Baecula (208 BCE) was another victory of Scipio Africanus over the Carthaginian armies in Spain. The battle was important for the further development of Roman war art. Scipio copied Hannibal's tactics, placing stronger troops on the wings, leaving the center to the light infantry.

Carthaginian commander at the head of the army

Capture of New Carthage

(209 BCE)

Capture of New Carthage (209 BCE) was a great success of the Roman army under the command of African Scipio, during the Second Punic War. Rome after a series of defeats regained faith in his own strength and proved determination.

Roman soldiers in the Second Punic War

Battle of Zama

(19 October 202 BCE)

Battle of Zama (202 BCE) was the great victory of Scipio Africanus over Hannibal, which resulted in the defeat of Carthage in the Second Punic War. The Roman commander used a brilliant tactic that allowed him to exclude from the fight Hannibal's most dangerous weapon - war elephants.

Hannibal's battle elephant charge

Battle of Actium

(2 September 31 BCE)

Battle of Actium (31 BCE) was a decisive battle in the civil war between Octavian and Antonius and the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra who supported him.

Battle of Actium, Lorenzo A. Castro

Battle of Cannae

(2 August 216 BCE)

Battle of Cannae (216 BCE) was the biggest defeat of Roman army in history. Manoeuvre from Cannae was an innovative solution of Hannibal, the Carthaginian general.

Illustration showing Hannibal fighting in the front line at the Battle of Cannae

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