The Argyraspides: Some Aspects of the Seleucid Social and Military History

Novikov Sergey V., Anokhin Artem S.

The paper is focused on the argyraspides – warriors wearing silver shields in the army of the Seleucids. Such shields first appear as an equipment of the hypaspistes – the Macedonian infantry guard – during the last years of Alexander’s reign. The silver shield, as it can be seen during the following Diadochi epoch, implied three main meanings: a reference to Alexander\'s epoch, high military values and experience as well as participation in the Eastern campaigns. This symbol with all these meanings was inherited by the army of the Seleucids, who made a special stress on their dominance over Asia. Only the units of picked men could be equipped with silver shields. Those again could be the hypaspistes, though not exclusively. Thus at Raphia (217 BC) the argyraspides were several thousand of picked recruits who were attached to the hypaspistes in order to form a crack unit of the phalanx. Though the argyraspides are first mentioned in the Seleucid army under Antiochus III (223–188 BC) there can be little doubt that the silver shields had been used in the troops of his predecessors as well.

Keywords: argyraspides, Seleucid army, Hellenism, silver shield, kingdom guard.
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