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Ancient History

  • MHQ Magazine

    The Fisherman: Catching Spartacus

    A Roman general sets his nets to catch Spartacus at Bruttium. It was a winter morning in the mountains of southern Italy, in early 71 BC. Normally it was silent at this time of year, when even the herdsmen had left for lower ground. On...

  • MHQ Magazine

    Citizen Tyrants

    Athenian generals, elected to their positions, found that appeasing citizen overlords can spell disaster in the field. The Sicilian expedition of 415–413 BC proved disastrous for the Athenians. They had undertaken the venture during what...

  • Military History Magazine

    The Genius of Philip II

    Western warfare that united Greece and enabled his son Alexander to conquer the world. The full moon cast long shadows across the 3,000 dead and wounded sprawled in grotesque piles throughout the meadow. Moans disturbed the night’s...

  • Military History Magazine

    What We Learned: from the Battle of Gaza

    Following Alexander the Great’s death in 323 BC, his generals began fighting over the empire he had created. Within a decade two leading factions emerged. The first, led by the grizzled Macedonian veteran Antigonus the One-Eyed and his...

  • Military History Magazine

    What We Learned: from the Battle of Thessaly

    In 353 BC Philip of Macedon marched into Thessaly at the request of the Thessalian League to attack the city  of Pherae, which had allied itself with Phocis against Thebes in the Third Sacred War. Upon learning of Philip’s...

  • Military History Magazine

    What We Learned: from the Battle of Salamis

    In the spring of 480 Xerxes led 180,000 soldiers over a pontoon bridge across the Hellespont BC, Persia’s King and invaded Greece. Accompanied by 1,207 warships and 3,000 transports, Xerxes intended to destroy Athens to avenge the defeat...

  • American History Magazine

    Who Really Discovered America?

    Move over, Columbus. A host of other intrepid explorers lay claim to your mantle. Humans have been a clever, restless lot ever since our earliest known ancestors roamed the grasslands and forests of prehistoric Africa. Pioneering sorts...

  • Military History Magazine

    Military History Book Review: The Poison King

    The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy by Adrienne Mayor, Princeton University Press, 2009, $29.95 This is an enjoyable but strange book. The introduction claims it is “the first full-scale...

  • Military History Magazine

    Trajan’s Column

    A 100-foot column in Rome records the 2nd Century military exploits of Trajan and his legions. Nineteen centuries after its construction, Trajan’s Column remains one of antiquity’s great works of architecture, a magnificent work of art...

  • Military History Magazine

    Rome’s Big Idea

    A grand long-term strategy allowed Roman rulers—both good and bad—to shape the empire’s destiny. Why did the Western Roman Empire collapse? The question has consumed historians, clergy and philosophers since its fall in the 5th...

  • MHQ Magazine

    Tactical Exercises: Fear the Phalanx

    The Macedonian formation terrified opponents— and at times overwhelmed the vaunted Roman legion. ONE DAY in late June 168 Rome and Macedon were encamped be- tween Mount Olympus and the port city BC, the armies of of Pydna in Macedonia....

  • Military History Magazine

    Buddha: Enlightened Warrior

    In his youth Siddhartha Gautama was a brawny, six-foot warrior prince, trained in the art of war—and perhaps touched by tragedy. It is a curious fact of military history that the founders of three of the world’s four major religions...

  • Military History Magazine

    What We Learned: from Mount Gilboa, 1006 BC

    The Israelite victory at Michmash Pass (1010 BC) sparked a popular uprising that ejected Philistine outposts from the Israelite hill country. Saul’s control of the foothills thwarted outright frontal assaults, so Philistine commanders...

  • Military History Magazine

    Hannibal’s Big Mistake

    In the Second Punic War the great Carthaginian general repeatedly defeated Rome’s best armies—but still lost. In November 218 BC, after invading Italy, Carthaginian military commander Hannibal defeated a Roman cavalry force at the...

  • MHQ Magazine

    Marathon Men

    The conventional wisdom is that the Athenians at the Battle of Marathon were amateur soldiers who won by chance. In reality, they were the Israel Defense Force of their day—smart, highly trained, and merciless. Before dawn on September...

  • MHQ Magazine

    The Greatest Ancient Leader

    When Theodore Ayrault Dodge, the American Civil War historian known for his love of the ancient generals, dubbed Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar “great captains” in 1889, imperial ambition was some- thing to be admired. Today, after...