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Philopoimen (253 - 183 BC)

University of Peloponnisos

Fhilopoimen Injured: Work of David Angers at the Museum of Louvre
(Photo: Jastrow http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philopoemen)

Philopoimen was a famous General of the Achaian Confederacy from Megalopolis, who was called "The Ultimate Greek". His militaristic intelligence and his political capacity gave the Achaean Confederacy full sovereignty in the area of Peloponnese. From very early in his life he had shown his love for the martial arts and admired the Thebian General Epameinondas. In 222 BC in the battle of Sellasia, the young Philopoimen, demonstrated exceptional valor as the commander of the phalanx of Megalopolis and determined to a great extent the victory of the Achaeans and Macedonians over the king of Sparta Kleomenes III. In 210 BC and during the first Macedonian war he was appointed leader of the decadent Achaean cavalry and within a small period he managed to reorganize it and turn it into a well respected force. The same year he led his cavalry on behalf of the Macedonians in a victorious battle against Ilia and Aetolia. In this battle he became famous throughout Greece after killing the leader of the cavalry of the Aetolians, Damophantus, in a personal duel.

In 208 BC he was appointed General of the Achaean Confederacy and immediately he reorganized the army according to the Macedonian system. In 207, in the battle of Mantinea he defeated the army of the tyrant of Sparta, Machanidas and he killed Machanidas again in a personal duel. In 201 he also defeated the new tyrant of Sparta, Navis and he sieged Sparta, demolishing its walls. The Spartans, who had never faced an enemy outside their gates before, were forced to join the Achaean Confederacy. But his vision for a common line of defense against Rome from the city-states of Peloponnese did not last for long. In 183 BC the King of Messene, Dinocrates, a political puppet of Rome and Sparta, left the Confederacy. Then Philopoimen, who at that time was elected General of the Achaeans for the eighth time, abolished a siege against Messene but during the battle he fell from his horse injured by an arrow and was eventually captured. Dinocrates then, despite the objections imposed by the Messenians and his senate, put Philopoimen to death by forcing him to drink poison. In the events that followed the death of the great General, Messene was destroyed by the angered Achaeans and Dinocrates committed suicide along with his family. Philopoimen's body was cremated and his ashes were transferred with honors back to his hometown.

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