Girish Mahajan (Editor)

Achaean League

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Capital  Aigion (meeting place)
Government  Republican Confederacy
Re-founded under the leadership of Aigion, with the aim to "expel the Macedonians"  280 BC
Historical era  Classical antiquity
Religion  Ancient Greek religion
Legislature  Achaean assembly
Founded  281 BC
Achaean League 6136jpg

Languages  Achaean Doric Koine, Koine Greek

The Achaean League (Greek: Κοινὸν τῶν Ἀχαιῶν), also known as the Aegean League, was a Hellenistic-era confederation of Greek city states on the northern and central Peloponnese. The first league was formed in the 5th century BC. The second Achaean League existed between 280 BC and 146 BC. The league was named after the region of Achaea.


Achaean League A History of the Wars of the Achaean League Paradox Interactive Forums


Achaean League Achaean League

The regional Achaean League was reformed in 281/0 BC (on the basis of a looser alliance of the founding city-states extending back to the 5th century BC), and soon expanded beyond its Achaean heartland. It was first joined by the city of Sicyon in 251, which provided it with its first great leader, Aratus of Sicyon. The League soon grew to control much of the Peloponnese, considerably weakening the Macedonian hold on the area. It acquired Corinth in 243 BC, Megalopolis in 235 BC and Argos in 229 BC. The increased size of the league meant a bigger citizen army and more wealth, which was used to hire mercenaries. However the league soon ran into difficulties with the revived Sparta of Cleomenes III. Aratus was forced to call in the aid of the Macedonian King, Antigonus Doson, to defeat Cleomenes in Sellasia. Antigonus re-established Macedonian control over much of the region.

Achaean League Peloponnesos Achaean League Ancient Greek Coins WildWindscom

In 220 BC, the Achaean League entered into a war against the Aetolian League, which was called the "Social War". The young king Philip V of Macedon sided with the Achaeans and called for a Panhellenic conference in Corinth, where the Aetolian aggression was condemned.

Achaean League httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu

After Aratus's death, however, the League was able to reap much of the benefits of Macedon's defeat by Rome in 197 BC. Under the leadership of Philopoemen, the League was able to finally defeat a heavily weakened Sparta and take control of the entire Peloponnese.

Achaean League Achaean League History Dictionary

The League's dominance was not to last long, however. During the Third Macedonian War (171–168 BC), the League flirted with the idea of an alliance with Perseus, and the Romans punished it by taking several hostages to ensure good behavior, including Polybius, the Hellenistic historian who wrote about the rise of the Roman Republic. In 146 BC, the league erupted into an open revolt against Roman domination, the Achaean War. The Romans under Lucius Mummius defeated the Achaeans at the Battle of Corinth, razed Corinth and dissolved the League. G.T. Griffith has written that Achaean War was a hopeless enterprise for the Achaeans, badly led and backed by no adequate reserves of money or men. Lucius Mummius received the agnomen Achaicus ("conqueror of Achaea") for his role.

Roman era

Achaean League NPC Achaean League

The original name Koinon of Achaeans (Achaean League) continues to exist in epigraphy, denoting either the previous Peloponnesian members (see koinon of Free Laconians) or the whole of Roman Achaea. In c. 120 BC Achaeans of cities in the Peloponnese dedicated an honorary inscription to Olympian Zeus, after a military expedition with Gnaeus Domitius against the Galatians in Gallia Transalpina. In Athens, AD 221-222 the koinon of Achaeans, when the strategos was Egnatius Brachyllus, decided to send an embassy to the emperor Caracalla


Achaean League Achaean League

An inscription from ancient Orchomenus dating to 234–224 BC states that members of the Achaean Federation must invoke Zeus and Athena.


The government of the league had a council of citizens, a smaller council of ten Demiourgoi, and a Strategos. Each city had one vote in the council of Demiourgoi.


The Achaean army was an army of the traditional hoplite type. From the 270s onwards however, much like the rest of Greece, the emergence of the Celtic shield known as the thureos was incorporated into Greek warfare and a new type of troop was developed. Reforming their troops into thureophoroi, the Achaean army was now composed of light troops. The thureophoroi were a mixture of evolved peltasts and light hoplites, carrying the thureos shield, a thrusting spear and javelins. Plutarch tells of how they could be effective at a distance, but in close combat the narrow thureos shield disadvantaged them. He also describes how they would form a formation of sorts, but it would be ineffective, as it would not have inter-locked shields or a ‘leveled line of spears’. Aratus, one of the major Achaean strategoi and statesmen was known for his use of light forces for irregular operations, a type of warfare suited to the thureophoroi but not suited to operations in the open field.

The League in 217 decided to maintain a standing force of 8,000 mercenary foot and 500 mercenary cavalry, added to a picked citizen force of 3,000 infantry and 300 cavalry, of which 500 foot and 50 horse would come from Argos and the same amount from Megalopolis. Aratus also obtained 500 foot and 50 horse each from Taurion and the Messenians for defence of parts of the League open to attack via Laconia. The citizen infantry would have been armed as thureophoroi, apart from the citizen light troops who would have been archers and slingers etc. This picked citizen force may well have existed before these so-called reforms, at least on an official basis, as we know of a similar elite force of the same size as Sellasia in 222. However, it was the Achaean general Philopoemen in 208 who changed the Achaean fighting style and weaponry to the Macedonian fashion. This was due to the influence of Philip V of Macedon, who supported Philopoemen. Philip, at the time of Philopoemen's reforms, was in a full-scale war and could not support or finance the League. He realized that the League had to become militarily self-sufficient but also kept in the Macedonian sphere, lest the League join Macedon's rivals. Philip V probably supported Philopoemen for strategos for the year 208/07 and in doing so was able to get what he wanted. According to Plutarch, Philopoemen ‘persuaded them to adopt long pike and heavy shield instead of spear and buckler, to protect their bodies with helmets and breastplates and greaves, and to practice stationary and steadfast fighting instead of the nimble movements of light-armed troops’. These ‘reforms’ were not necessarily new to some of the constituent cities of the League, the city of Megalopolis had been given bronze shields and armed in the Macedonian fashion by Antigonus Doson for the Sellasia campaign many years before. Philopoemen then trained the new army how to fight with the new weapons and tactics and how to co-ordinate them with a new mercenary corps that was hired. He spent nearly 8 months in his term as strategos visiting, training and advising cities in this capacity. At the Battle of Mantinea in 207 BC the Achaean phalanx was positioned with intervals between the companies with lighter troops. This was obviously a major attempt by Philopoemen to increase the flexibility of his phalanx. He too may have picked this tactic up from his experience at the Battle of Sellasia, where the phalanx of Antigonus Doson was also divided up with light/medium troops in between them. As well as reforming and re-organizing the infantry, Philopoemen also did this with the citizen cavalry. The cavalry was recruited, much like in other Greek states, from the rich and noble classes. Philopoemen organized the cavalry in lochoi, which usually in ancient military treatises means ‘files’, most probably of 8 men, grouped into dilochiai, a formation of double-files of 16 and so forth. However, by the time of the Achaean war in the 140s BC, the League's army had decreased in strength and efficiency. The League was even reduced to freeing and arming 12,000 slaves. This was probably due to the 2nd century BC decline in population. This may well account for the increased hiring of mercenaries, especially Cretans and Thracians.


The below are the original Peloponesian members, except the ancient regions of Sparta, Elis and Messenia. Later Hypana in Elis, Corone, Messene, Sparta and Pagae in Attica were joined by conquest. In 223 BC, Megara in Attica deserted the Achaean League and joined the Boeotian Confederacy.

Besides many city-states on the Mainland joining the Achaean Federation, certain Mediterranean island city-states also became part of the federation. For example, Kydonia on Crete joined at some time after 219 BC.

The city of Helike had been an important member of the first Achaean League, but sank into the sea following a disastrous earthquake in 373 BC. The town of Olenus, also one of the twelve members of the first Achaean League, had been abandoned before 280 BC, but was sometimes counted as though still extant.

The dates in brackets indicate the year of first adhesion. Some cities had periods of separation or foreign occupation and later joined again.

From Achaea

  • Dyme (281 BC)
  • Patras (281 BC)
  • Pharae (280 BC)
  • Tritaia (280 BC)
  • Aegium (275 BC)
  • Boura (~ 270 BC)
  • Keryneia (~ 270 BC)
  • Leontion (~ 265 BC)
  • Aegira (~ 265 BC)
  • Pellene (~ 265 BC)
  • Olenus (?)
  • Helike (before 373 BC)
  • From Corinthia

  • Sicyon (251 BC)
  • Corinth (243–224 BC, again 197 BC)
  • Stymphalos
  • Tenea
  • From Argolis

  • Troezen (243 BC)
  • Epidaurus (243 BC)
  • Cleonae (235 BC)
  • Argos (229 BC)
  • Phlius (229 BC)
  • Hermione (229 BC)
  • Alea
  • Asine
  • From Arcadia

    From the ancient political geography of Arcadia, not totally compatible with modern Arcadia

  • Megalopolis (235 BC)
  • Mantineia (235/227 BC)
  • Orchomenus (235 BC)
  • Heraea (captured 236 BC)
  • Caphyae (captured 228 BC)
  • Tegea (223 BC)
  • Psophis (218 BC)
  • Lasion (218 BC)
  • Alipheira
  • Asea
  • Callista
  • Cleitor
  • Dipaea
  • Elisphasi
  • Gortys
  • Lusi
  • Methydrium
  • Pallantium
  • Pheneus
  • Phigaleia
  • Teuthis
  • Theisoa
  • Thelpusa
  • From other regions

  • Megara (243-223 BC / after 197 BC again)
  • Aegina (228 BC)
  • Kydonia (after 219 BC)
  • Sparta (192 BC)
  • Elis (191 BC)
  • Messene (182 BC)
  • List of Strategoi (Generals)

  • Margos of Keryneia 256 - 255 BC
  • Aratus of Sicyon I 245 - 244 BC
  • Aratus of Sicyon II 243 - 242 BC
  • Aegialeas 242 - 241 BC (?)
  • Aratus of Sicyon III 241 - 240 BC
  • Aratus of Sicyon IV 239 - 238 BC
  • Aratus of Sicyon V 237 - 236 BC
  • Dioedas 236 - 235 BC (or 244 - 243 BC)
  • Aratus of Sicyon VI 235 - 234 BC
  • Lydiadas of Megalopolis I 234 - 233 BC
  • Aratus of Sicyon VII 233 - 232 BC
  • Lydiadas of Megalopolis II 232 - 231 BC
  • Aratus of Sicyon VIII 231 - 230 BC
  • Lydiadas of Megalopolis III 230 - 229 BC (Margos of Keryneia  was Navarch)
  • Aratus of Sicyon IX 229 - 228 BC
  • Aristomachos of Argos 228 - 227 BC
  • Aratus of Sicyon X 227 - 226 BC (Lydiadas of Megalopolis  was Hipparch)
  • Hyperbatas 226 - 225 BC
  • Timoxenos 225 - 224 BC (Aratus of Sicyon held the exceptional office of strategos autokrator)
  • Aratus of Sicyon XI 224 - 223 BC
  • Timoxenos 223 - 222 BC (?)
  • Aratus of Sicyon XII 222 - 221 BC
  • Timoxenos 221 - 220 BC
  • Aratus of Sicyon XIII 220 - 219 BC
  • Aratus the Younger of Sicyon 219 - 218 BC (Miccus of Dyme was Hypostrategos)
  • Epiratos of Pharae 218 - 217 BC
  • Aratus of Sicyon XIV 217 - 216 BC (Demodocus was Hipparch, Lycus of Pharae was Hypostrategos)
  • Timoxenos 216 - 215 BC
  • Aratus of Sicyon XV 215 - 214 BC
  • Aratus of Sicyon XVI 213 BC (Aratus died before the end of the year)
  • Euryleon 211 - 210 BC (?)
  • Cycliadas of Pharae 210 - 209 BC (Philopoemen of Megalopolis was Hipparch)
  • Philopoemen of Megalopolis I 209 - 208 BC
  • Nicias 208 - 207 BC (Aristaenos of Dyme was Hipparch)
  • Philopoemen of Megalopolis II 207 - 206 BC
  • Lysippus 202 - 201 BC (?)
  • Philopoemen of Megalopolis III 201 - 200 BC
  • Cycliadas of Pharae 200 - 199 BC
  • Aristaenos of Megalopolis 199 - 198 BC
  • Nicostratus of Achaia 198 - 197 BC
  • Aristaenos of Megalopolis 195 - 194 BC
  • Philopoemen of Megalopolis IV 193 - 192 BC
  • Diophanes of Megalopolis 192 - 191 BC
  • Philopoemen of Megalopolis V 191 - 190 BC
  • Philopoemen of Megalopolis VI 189 - 188 BC
  • Philopoemen of Megalopolis VII 187 - 186 BC
  • Aristaenos of Megalopolis 186 - 185 BC
  • Lycortas of Megalopolis 185 - 184 BC
  • Archon 184 - 183 BC
  • Philopoemen of Megalopolis VIII 183 - 182 BC  (Lycortas of Megalopolis was Hipparch)
  • Lycortas of Megalopolis 182 - 181 BC
  • Calicrates 180 - 179 BC
  • Xenarchos 175 - 174 BC
  • Archon 172 - 171 BC
  • Archon 170 - 169 BC (Polybius was Hipparch)
  • Menalkidas of Sparta 151 - 150 BC
  • Diaeos of Megalopolis 150 - 149 BC
  • Damocritus 149 - 148 BC
  • Diaeos of Megalopolis 148 - 147 BC
  • Critolaos of Megalopolis 147 - 146 BC  (replaced by his predecessor)
  • Diaeos of Megalopolis 146 BC
  • References

    Achaean League Wikipedia