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The Argyraspides were a division of the Macedon
Macedonia or Macedon was an ancient kingdom, centered in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, the region of Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south....

ian army of Alexander the Great, who were so called because they carried silver-plated shields. They were picked men, were commanded by Nicanor
Nicanor of Macedonia
Nicanor , son of Parmenion, was a distinguished officer in the service of Alexander the Great. He is first mentioned at the passage of the Danube river, in the expedition of Alexander against the Getae, 335 BC, on which occasion he led the phalanx...

, the son of Parmenion
Parmenion was a Macedonian general in the service of Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great, murdered on a suspected false charge of treason....

, and were held in high honour by Alexander. They were hypaspists
A hypaspist is a squire, man at arms, or "shield carrier". In Homer, Deiphobos advances "ὑπασπίδια" or under cover of his shield. By the time of Herodotus the word had come to mean a high status soldier as is strongly suggested by Herodotus in one of the earliest known uses:"Now the horse which...

, having changed their name to the Argyraspides whilst in India under Alexander (Arr. Anab. 7.11.3). After the death of Alexander (323 BC
323 BC
Year 323 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Longus and Cerretanus...

) they followed Eumenes
Eumenes of Cardia was a Thracian general and scholar. He participated in the wars of the Diadochi as a supporter of the Macedonian Argead royal house.-Career:...

. They were veterans, and although most of them were over sixty, they were feared and revered due to their battle skills and experience.

At the Battle of Gabiene
Battle of Gabiene
Battle of Gabiene was a second great battle between two of Alexander the Great's successors: Antigonus and Eumenes in the wars of the Diadochi.-Background:...

 they settled with Antigonus
Antigonus I Monophthalmus
Antigonus I Monophthalmus , son of Philip from Elimeia, was a Macedonian nobleman, general, and satrap under Alexander the Great. During his early life he served under Philip II, and he was a major figure in the Wars of the Diadochi after Alexander's death, declaring himself king in 306 BC and...

 when he managed to take possession of their baggage train (consisting of their families and the result of forty years of plunder). They obtained the return of their possessions, but in exchange delivered their General Eumenes to him (316 BC
316 BC
Year 316 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Rutilus and Laenas...


Antigonus, however, soon broke up the corps, finding it too turbulent to manage. He sent them to Sibyrtius
Sibyrtius was a Greek officer from Crete in the service of Alexander the Great, who was appointed by him, on his return from India , governor of the province of Carmania. This post he shortly after exchanged for the more important satrapy of Arachosia and Gedrosia, to which he succeeded on the...

, the Macedonian satrap of Arachosia
Arachosia is the Latinized form of the Greek name of an Achaemenid and Seleucid governorate in the eastern part of their respective empires, around modern-day southern Afghanistan. The Greek term "Arachosia" corresponds to the Iranian land of Harauti which was between Kandahar in Afghanistan and...

, with the order to dispatch them by small groups of two or three to dangerous missions, so that their numbers would rapidly dwindle.

The Seleucid
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 kings of Syria
History of Syria
The history of Syria:*Prehistory and Ancient Near East: see Pre-history of the Southern Levant, Fertile Crescent, Ebla, Mitanni*Antiquity: see Syro-Hittite states, Greater Syria, Roman Syria...

 employed an infantry phallangite corps of the same name. At the Battle of Raphia
Battle of Raphia
The Battle of Raphia, also known as the Battle of Gaza, was a battle fought on 22 June 217 BC near modern Rafah between the forces of Ptolemy IV Philopator, king of Egypt and Antiochus III the Great of the Seleucid kingdom during the Syrian Wars...

 in 217 BC the Argyraspides took up positions against the Ptolemaic phalanx. Polybius describes them as being armed in the Macedonian manner (Polyb. 5.79.4, 82.2). Their position besides the king at the Battle of Magnesia
Battle of Magnesia
The Battle of Magnesia was fought in 190 BC near Magnesia ad Sipylum, on the plains of Lydia , between the Romans, led by the consul Lucius Cornelius Scipio and his brother, the famed general Scipio Africanus, with their ally Eumenes II of Pergamum against the army of Antiochus III the Great of the...

 suggests that they were the premier infantry guard unit in the Seleucid army. They were men chosen from the whole kingdom (Polyb. 5.79.4) and constituted a corps of 10,000 men at Raphia. At the Daphne parade held by Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes ruled the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. He was a son of King Antiochus III the Great. His original name was Mithridates; he assumed the name Antiochus after he ascended the throne....

 in 166 BC the Argyraspides were 5,000 strong. However the corps of men described by Polybius as being armed and dressed in the 'Roman fashion' numbered 5,000, and Bar-Kochva suggests that these men, who are described as being in the prime of life, might have also been a division of the Argyraspides, putting the number of the corps back up to 10,000 strong.
The Roman Emperor Alexander Severus
Alexander Severus
Severus Alexander was Roman Emperor from 222 to 235. Alexander was the last emperor of the Severan dynasty. He succeeded his cousin Elagabalus upon the latter's assassination in 222, and was ultimately assassinated himself, marking the epoch event for the Crisis of the Third Century — nearly fifty...

, among other things in which he imitated Alexander the Great, had in his army bodies of men who were called argyroaspides and chrysaspides. Livy
Titus Livius — known as Livy in English — was a Roman historian who wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people. Ab Urbe Condita Libri, "Chapters from the Foundation of the City," covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome well before the traditional foundation in 753 BC...

 mentions a cavalry corps called silvershields as the royal cohort in the army of Antiochus III the Great
Antiochus III the Great
Antiochus III the Great Seleucid Greek king who became the 6th ruler of the Seleucid Empire as a youth of about eighteen in 223 BC. Antiochus was an ambitious ruler who ruled over Greater Syria and western Asia towards the end of the 3rd century BC...

in Magnesia.