The Battle of Megalopolis was fought in 331
between Spartan led forces and Macedonia. Alexander's regent Antipater led the
Macedonians to victory over King Agis III.
Opponents: Macedon versus Sparta
Commanders and leaders:
Macedon - Antipater
Sparta - Agis III
Macedon - 40,000
Sparta - 20,000 Infantry 2,000 cavalry
Casualties and losses:
Macedon - 1,000-3,500
Sparta - 5,300
In the autumn of 333 , the Spartan King Agis III had met with the Persian
commanders Pharnabazus and Autophradates, somewhere in the Aegean Sea, and
revealed to them his plans for a war against Alexanderin Greece itself.
The Persians agreed to support Agis; however, they could only spare him 30
talents and 10 ships. Agis also recruited the Greek mercenary survivors of
Issus - who had served in the Persian army a force of 8,000 veterans. In
the summer of 331 , Agis defeated Coragus, the Macedonian general in command of
the Peloponnese and the garrison of Corinth. Agis asked for help from the
Peloponnesia] and Athens, though Athens refused to help the Spartans.
Meanwhile, Antipater, Alexander's regent in Macedonia, was occupied in Thrace
where the Macedonian general, Memnon, was involved in a rebellion. After the
rebellion was resolved, Antipater marched against King Agis. Antipater had
recruited a large force, over 40,000 strong, with a core of Macedonian troops
and substantial numbers of tribal warriors from the northern fringes of
Macedonia, reinforced with troops from his Greek allies. Antipater received aid
from Alexander of 3,000 talents to support in what Arrian names the
Lacedaemonian (Spartan) War.
The final battle, fought near Megalopolis in Arcadia, ended in defeat for the
Spartans. Early in the battle Antipater's lines broke, but in the end it was
the sheer weight of numbers that brought victory to the Macedonians. It is
written that 5,300 died on the Spartan side and 3,500 on the Macedonian side,
though it may have been as little as 1,000 for the Macedonians, Curtius agrees
that there were 5,300 Spartans killed. For the Spartans that meant a death toll
of over 25 percent. King Agis, now wounded and unable to stand, ordered his men
to leave him behind to face the advancing Macedonian army so that he could buy
his men time to retreat. Diodorus states that the Spartan king slew several
enemy soldiers before being finally killed by a javelin.
After the battle, Antipater remained apart from the peace talks (which did not
please Alexander), instead leaving it to the Peloponnesians to organise their
own peace terms (Curt. 6.1.17-19). The Spartans were forced to send ambassadors
to Alexander, the Tegeans (apart from its "ringleaders") were
pardoned and the Achaeans and the Eleans gave 120 talents to Megalopolis for
laying siege to their city (Curt. 6.1.20).