Ancient History & Civilisation


Alexander the Great or Alexander III (356–323 B.C.) King of Macedon and conqueror of the Persian Empire.

Antipater (ca. 397–319 B.C.) Governor of Macedonia in Alexander’s absence, Antipater organized the defense of the home front against a revolt by the Greek city-states.

Bessus (d. 329 B.C.) Satrap of Bactria, organizer of coup against Darius III and pretender to the Persian throne as Artaxerxes V, he was captured and executed by Alexander.

Craterus (d. 321 B.C.) Probably Alexander’s best general after the death of Parmenio, he held important commands at Issus and Gaugamela and in Sogdiana and India.

Darius III (d. 330 B.C.) Ruled the Persian Empire beginning in 336 and organized resistance against Alexander, whom he faced in battle at Issus and Gaugamela.

Hephaestion (d. 324 B.C.) Alexander’s closest friend and possibly his lover, Hephaestion had enormous influence with the king.

Memnon of Rhodes (d. 333 B.C.) Greek mercenary in the service of Persia, he commanded the Persian fleet and handed Alexander his worst defeats before his untimely death.

Parmenio (ca. 400–330 B.C.) Veteran general of Philip II, he played a key role as a commander in Alexander’s pitched battles but was eventually executed as a rival.

Perdiccas (d. 321 B.C.) One of Alexander’s best generals, both as an infantry and cavalry commander.

Philip of Macedon or Philip II, King of Macedon (382–336 B.C.) Father of Alexander, he founded the Macedonian empire and began the project of conquering Persia.

Porus, Indian king who fought Alexander bravely in the Macedonian’s last pitched battle, at the Hydaspes (326 B.C.). He was rewarded by Alexander with additional land in spite of his defeat.

Ptolemy, Son of Lagus, or Ptolemy I (367–282 B.C.) One of Alexander’s leading generals, he later became king of Egypt and established a dynasty; he also wrote an important history of Alexander.

Spitamenes (d. 328 B.C.) Warlord of Sogdiana and one of Alexander’s toughest opponents for a while, but he faltered and his own men eventually killed him.

Gaius Flaminius (d. 217 B.C.) Prominent Roman politician and general who walked into Hannibal’s trap at Lake Trasimene and was cut down with most of his army.

Gaius Terentius Varro (fl. 218–200 B.C.) Consul and commanding Roman general at Cannae (216 B.C.), Varro, along with the other consul and second-in-command, Lucius Aemilius Paullus, carried out tactics that led to disaster.

Hamilcar Barca (d. 228 B.C.) Father of Hannibal and Carthage’s greatest general in his day, he began the conquest of southern Spain and may have conveyed a hatred of Rome to his sons.

Hannibal (247–183 B.C.) Carthage’s greatest general, he was the driving force for war with Rome and the strategist behind the invasion of Italy.

Hasdrubal (d. 207 B.C.) Hannibal’s younger brother, he was left in charge of Spain but lost it to the Romans. He marched his surviving troops overland to Italy, where he was defeated and killed at the Metaurus.

Mago (d. 203 B.C.) Hannibal’s youngest brother, he invaded northwestern Italy by sea in 205, in support of Hannibal, but he was defeated and wounded and died at sea on the way home.

Maharbal, Son of Himilco (fl. 217–216 B.C.) One of Hannibal’s main cavalry officers, he defeated a large Roman cavalry force after Trasimene and urged Hannibal to send his cavalry to Rome right after the victory at Cannae.

Masinissa (238–148 B.C.) King of Numidia whose defection from Carthage to Rome, with his excellent cavalry, sealed Hannibal’s fate at Zama.

Polybius (ca. 200–ca. 118 B.C.) Historian who wrote the best surviving account of the Second Punic War, Polybius was a Greek statesman who was sent to Italy as a Roman hostage, and rose to a position of influence with the Scipio family.

Pyrrhus of Epirus (319–272 B.C.) He invaded Italy to support Greek cities against Rome and won every battle but lost the war. He was both a role model and a warning to Hannibal.

Quintus Fabius Maximus Verucosus (d. 203 B.C.) Dictator in 217 and a prominent general and politician during most of the rest of the Second Punic War, he led the Roman policy of delay and attrition that stymied Hannibal in Italy.

Scipio Africanus or Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus (236–183 B.C.) Rome’s greatest general of the Second Punic War, he conquered Spain and North Africa and defeated Hannibal at Zama.

Cato, Marcus Porcius or Cato the Younger (95–46 B.C.) Caesar’s most bitter and most principled enemy, his suicide made him a symbol of republican liberty.

Cicero, Marcus Tullius (106–43 B.C.) Rome’s greatest orator, Cicero hesitated during the civil war before supporting Pompey; eventually, he received a pardon from Caesar. He is most important to us for the light his letters and speeches throw on Roman public life.

Cleopatra or Cleopatra VII (69–30 B.C.) Queen of Egypt and mistress of Julius Caesar and, later, Mark Antony, she was a brilliant stateswoman who skillfully maneuvered for political power and to try to preserve her kingdom’s independence.

Gaius Julius Caesar (100–44 B.C.) The greatest general of the later Roman republic and perhaps of all Roman history, he was also a shrewd politician and an excellent writer.

Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus (d. 48 B.C.) Roman politician and enemy of Caesar, whom he fought at Corfinium, Massilia, and Pharsalus.

Mark Antony or Marcus Antonius (83–30 B.C.) One of Caesar’s leading commanders, he proved a better general than politician.

Metellus Scipio or Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio (d. 46 B.C.) Governor of Syria, he commanded the center of Pompey’s lines at Pharsalus and fled to North Africa, where he led the opposition to Caesar and was defeated at Thapsus. He killed himself afterward.

Pharnaces II (63–47 B.C.) King of Bosporus (in modern Turkey) and son of Mithradates, a famous enemy of Rome, Pharnaces suffered a crushing defeat against Caesar at Zela and was killed soon after by a domestic enemy.

Pompey or Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (106–48 B.C.) Second only to Caesar as a Roman commander and statesman in the late republic, he went from being Caesar’s ally to his leading opponent—and the result was civil war.

Titus Labienus (ca. 100–45 B.C.) Caesar’s second-in-command in Gaul, he defected to Pompey and fought to the bitter end against his former chief.

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