Battle of Pelusium, early 525

Battle of Pelusium, early 525


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Battle of Pelusium, early 525

The battle of Pelusium (early 525 BC) was the decisive battle of the first Persian invasion of Egypt, and saw Cambyses II defeat Psamtik III, opening the rest of Egypt to conquest.

Cambyses came to the throne in 530, five years before the invasion. He put some effort into preparing for the invasion, gathering a major army, assembling his allies, and making an agreement with the local Arabs, who agreed to provide water during the crossing of the Sinai desert.

The Persians were aided by Polycrates, tyrant of Samos, who sent forty triremes. More importantly Phanes, one of the commanders of the Greek mercenaries in Egyptian employment, betrayed his master and sent vital information to Cambyses.

Psamtik posted his army near the Pelusian mouth of the Nile, and took up a defensive position. Both armies contained Greek troops - Cambyses raised his from his Ionian and Aeolian possessions, while the Egyptians employed mercenaries.

Herodotus records very little detail of the battle itself, describing it as fierce with heavy loses on both sides. He does provide colourful anecdotes from before and after the fighting.

Phanes had left his sons in Egypt when he fled to Cambyses. The Greek mercenaries in the Egyptian army decided to punish him for this by killing his children in front of the two armies, mixing their blood with wine and drinking the mixture.

Herodotus visited the battlefield about seventy-five years later, and reported that the bones of the dead were still lying in the desert. He claimed to have examined the skulls and found that the Persians had thin, brittle bones and the Egyptians thick solid bones. He suggested that this was because the Egyptians normally shaved their heads, and the sunlight thickened their bones. This might suggest that the battle took place on the edge of the desert, rather than on cultivated land, although it does seem a long time for the bodies to have remained visible and unburied.

The Persians went on to capture Heliopolis, and then besieged Memphis. According to Herodotus Psamtik was captured, and sent into exile in Susa, where he later committed suicide after being discovered plotting against the Persians.

Cambyses remained in Egypt for most of the rest of his reign. He planned an attack on Carthage, which never took place. An army that was sent to the Oasis of Amon at Siwah was lost in the desert. He led an expedition into Nubia which had some success.

In March 522 a revolt broke out in the heart of the empire, commanded by someone claiming to be Cambyses's brother Bardiya (Smerdis to the Greeks). Cambyses left Egypt, but died in Syria on the way home and was eventually succeeded by a distant relative, Darius I.


This battle took place near the eastern edge of Egypt&rsquos Nile Delta in 525 BC between Pharaoh Psamtik III and Achaemenid king Cambyses II of Persia. It was the first big battle between the ancient Egyptian and Achaemenid Empires. The Persian ruler was furious that the Egyptian Pharaoh&rsquos father (Amasis) had sent him a ‘fake&rsquo daughter and decided to invade Egypt as retribution. By the time Cambyses was ready to invade, Amasis had died which meant his son had to deal with the invaders.

Psamtik was prepared for the attack and strengthened his position at Pelusium. While he believed his forces could repel attacks and withstand a siege, he was unprepared for his crafty enemy. At that time, Bastet was one of Egypt&rsquos most popular goddesses and was known to be a loving and kind deity unless she was offended. In this case, she would become her wicked and spiteful alter ego Sekhmet. In ancient Egypt, you could be executed for the crime of killing a cat such was the reverence the Egyptians showed for this animal.

On the day of the Battle of Pelusium, it is said that Cambyses ordered his men to paint the image of Bastet on their shields. Another source suggests he told his army to pin cats to their shields as a means of psychologically paralyzing the Egyptians. 2 nd Century AD Macedonian writer Polyaenus claimed the Persians placed various animals sacred to the Egyptians on their front line including cats, sheep and dogs. We will never know the precise story but it does appear as if Cambyses used some cunning strategy to win the day.

The Egyptians suffered a terrible defeat and up to 50,000 of them died on the battlefield compared to approximately 7,000 Persians. Once again, it is claimed that the Egyptians surrendered their position due to the sight of cats/Bastet on enemy shields (or clothing). Retreating Egyptians fled to the city of Memphis and a siege ensued. Cambyses finally lifted the siege and killed an estimated 2,000 of his enemies. Egypt was annexed by the Persians and Cambyses became the new Pharaoh. While Psamtik III was initially spared, he attempted a rebellion and was promptly executed.


Cambyses II became the new ruler of the Persian Empire when his father, Cyrus the Great, died in 530 BC. Egypt was the only independent state left anywhere near Persian territory so it was only natural that Cambyses would try to follow in his father&rsquos footsteps by expanding the empire. The Battle of Pelusium is possibly the first battle in world history that was won through the use of psychological warfare.

According to Herodotus, Cambyses declared war on Egypt as a reaction to what he perceived as deception by the enemy. He wanted to marry the daughter of Pharaoh Amasis II, but the Egyptian leader believed his daughter would probably become a concubine rather than a wife and did not want her humiliated. Amasis sent Nitetis, daughter of former Pharaoh, Apries, instead. However, Nitetis told Cambyses the truth, so he declared war on Egypt.

The Egyptian suffered a blow when Amasis died just as Cambyses was invading. His son Psamtik III (Psammenitus) became the new ruler and faced the threat of the Persians. Cambyses clearly did his homework on the enemy because he used their reverence of cats to his advantage. Apparently, the Egyptians worshiped cats to the point where killing one was an act punishable by death. It is difficult to know how true the story is but according to historian Polyaenus, the Persian leader ordered his men to paint the image of Bastet, an Egyptian goddess with the head of a cat and body of a woman, on their shields. He also placed other animals that the Egyptians revered in front of his men as they marched.

Whether or not this is true, there is no doubt that the Persians routed the Egyptians at the Battle of Pelusium. Apparently, the Egyptian soldiers refused to fight in case they injured the animals in front of the enemy, so they fled the field instead. Unfortunately for them, the well-trained Persians routed them and slaughtered tens of thousands of Egyptians. Ctesias suggests that 7,000 Persians died compared to 50,000 Egyptians.

Cambyses captured Psamtik, but instead of executing him initially, he kept him as a prisoner and reportedly treated him well. However, Psamtik tried to launch a rebellion, and when it failed, he was killed. Cambyses also captured the city of Memphis and became the first Persian Pharaoh of Egypt. It was the beginning of over 120 years of Persian rule although Cambyses did not live long enough to enjoy the fruits of his labor. His grip on power was weakened by a failed attempt to invade the Kingdom of Kush.

Apparently, his brother Bardiya or someone pretending to be him seized the throne and Cambyses marched against him. Some reports suggest that Cambyses committed suicide after realizing that he couldn&rsquot win the war or else he died from an accidental wound in his thigh.


Aftermath

According to Herodotus, Cambyses II in a last attempt to bring an end to the struggle sent a Persian herald in a ship to exhort the Egyptians to give up before further bloodshed. Upon sighting the Persian vessel at the port of Memphis, the Egyptians, ran out, attacking the ship and killing every man in it, carrying their torn limbs with them back to the city. [1] As Cambyses advanced to Memphis, it is said that for every Mytilenian killed during the siege of Memphis, ten Egyptians died, which makes the number dead Egyptians two thousand, that may have been executed at the time or after the siege, because two hundred Mytileneans were killed. Pelusium probably surrendered itself immediately after the battle. The pharaoh was captured after the fall of Memphis, and allowed to live under Persian watch. He would however be later executed after attempting a revolt against the Persians. [1]


The Genius Strategy of the Persian Army to Win the Battle

The battle of Pelusium was an extremely special battle because it was an early form of Psychological warfare as told by Herodotus (a Greek historian). The Persians had a genius tactic to use the Egyptians religious belief against them, the Persians put cats in front of them as they attacked, the Egyptians didn’t dare to shoot an arrow or even attack in any form so they wouldn’t hurt the cats.

This strategy was based on the idea that ancient Egyptian worshiped the goddess Bastet (the cat goddess of beauty, protection, the home, fertility), during this period, Bastet was the most powerful and honored goddess in Egypt, and because of that casts were protect and highly respected as the punishment for killing a cat was the death sentence and absolute damnation in the afterlife and that’s why the Egyptian lost the city of Pelusium. The Egyptians lost fifty thousand men while the Persians only lost seven thousand men, then the Egyptian retreated to the city of Memphis. Cambyses took his troops to Memphis and was able to defeat the remaining army which made Psamtik surrender the city and live under the watch of the Persian emperor but he was later executed when he attempting a revolt against the Persian Empire.


The Battle of Pelusium: ‘Cats’ and psychological edge lead Persians to victory

Often viewed as the first major battle fought between the burgeoning Achaemenid Empire and Ancient Egypt (still ruled by native Pharoahs), the Battle of Pelusium was surely a decisive conflict before the advent of the Classical Age. Fought in 525 BC near Pelusium – which was an important Egyptian settlement on the eastern reaches of the Nile Delta, the battle pitted the Persian leader Cambyses II against Pharaoh Psametik III (also known as Psammenitus). Now interestingly, in spite of the crucial nature of the conflict, much of the information about the battle is only available to us through the writings of ancient authors and historians, namely Herodotus and Polyaenus. And according such antediluvian sources, the unique (and evolved) tactics used in the battle lend credence to the psychological element of warfare that was even used during the ancient times.

Motives and Women –

Now according to Herodotus, the bitterness between the two empires was sparked when Psammenitus’ father, Amasis, decided to ‘dupe’ Cambyses by sending him a wrong woman. Cambyses had supposedly asked for Amasis’ daughter’s hand in marriage. But Amasis fearing that his own daughter would live out her life as a concubine, decided to send another woman – by the name of Nitetis, the daughter of the previous ruler, Apries. On discovering the ruse, Cambyses was so furious that he was bent on invading Egypt itself. However by the time the Persian expeditionary forces reached the Egyptian borders, Amasis was already dead, and his son Psammenitus had to take part in the impending confrontation.

Preparation and Confidence –

As a result, the Pharaoh who had only ruled for six short months, decided to march up to the extreme eastern reaches of his kingdom. The Egyptians subsequently fortified their positions by the mouth of the Nile near the city of Pelusium. Historically, Persians were not the only foreign power that had tried to invade Egypt through the Pelusium route. The mighty Assyrians had tried their luck in 8th century BC, when Sennacherib attempted to conquer Egypt – but was supposedly defeated when a swarm of field-mice destroyed Assyrian bows, quivers and shields (according to Herodotus). Given this (surely exaggerated) passage of past history, Psammenitus might have felt a bit confident, especially with their already fortified advantage.

But all was not well on the alliance front, with Greeks from the Cypriot towns, along with the large fleet of tyrant Polycrates of Samos (a Greek island in the eastern Aegean Sea), deciding to join the Persians in their invasion. The strategic predicament might have been even more exacerbated, since Phanes of Halicarnassus – who was one of the better tactical advisers of Egypt, had already took the side of the invading Persians.

Cats and Egyptians –

But according to few ancient writers, beyond grand strategies and sea-borne armies, the deciding factor in the Battle of Pelusium oddly pertained to cats. To that end, the native Egyptian mythology and religion popularized the worship of Bastet (or Bast). A goddess of the home, love, fertility, joy, dance, women and secrets, Bastet with her cat-like head and woman’s body was considered as a benevolent deity. But in Upper Egypt, she was also worshiped in the form of her ‘alter-ego’ Sekhmet – the warrior lioness who was seen as the protector of the pharaohs and symbolically led them in warfare.

Given such propensity for feline symbolization, cats were uniquely sacred in Egypt – so much so that the punishment for killing a cat was death by stabbing. Once again, according to Herodotus, Egyptians was so fond of their cats that they preferred to save their cats instead of themselves, when trapped inside a burning building. Some cats were also known to be mummified in a ceremonious manner with jewelry – as was the case with many noble people.

Cambyses and His Cunning –

Unfortunately for the Egyptians, Cambyses came to know about the Egyptian (obsessive) veneration for cats. According to Polyaenus, the Persian king took advantage of this seemingly unhealthy feline fascination of his enemy’s culture by positioning many such animals in the front-lines of his own army. The adorable critters ranging from cats, dogs to even sheep, dissuaded the animal-loving Egyptians from firing their arrows – thus allowing the Persians to take the initiative and win the battle. However, Herodotus takes a contrasting approach by mentioning very few details of the battle itself, except for its unusually high casualties and an ultimate Persian victory.

On the other hand, modern sources talk about how instead of using living animals, the Persians might have taken the symbolic route to defeat the Egyptians. To that end, the Persians could have just painted their shields with images and depictions of Bastet, thus psychologically afflicting the Egyptians.

Reality and Fiction –

Now when examined from the practical perspective, the use of real animals by the Persian forces to unnerve the Egyptians does seem a bit far-fetched. Furthermore, there was a big probability that the Egyptians forces (like their Persian counterparts) employed a lot of foreign mercenaries, including Arabs and Greeks – who were surely not that ‘fond’ of Bastet. Anyhow, as we mentioned before, the Persians might have utilized some form of psychological demonstration that gave them a tactical advantage over their enemies. In fact, the use of such psychologically-inspired battlefield ploys was not unheard of during ancient times – as is evident from the grand Macedonian phalanx demonstration (planned by Alexander the Great) that both impressed and intimidated the rebelling Illyrians.

And, since we are talking about practicality, there is an interesting anecdote given by Herodotus concerning the Battle of Pelusium (as written in HistoryofWar.org) –

Herodotus visited the battlefield about seventy-five years later, and reported that the bones of the dead were still lying in the desert. He claimed to have examined the skulls and found that the Persians had thin, brittle bones and the Egyptians thick solid bones. He suggested that this was because the Egyptians normally shaved their heads, and the sunlight thickened their bones. This might suggest that the battle took place on the edge of the desert, rather than on cultivated land, although it does seem a long time for the bodies to have remained visible and unburied.


The Battle of Pelusium: 525 B.C.

Psametik III was the Pharaoh of Egypt at this time. He had ascended the throne after the death of his father, Amasis. It was unfortunate that he ascended to the throne between a great diplomatic rift between Egypt and the Achaemenid empire (Persians).

He was ill-experienced in comparison to his father, who was a competent adversary to the Persians. This did not deter him. The odds were so stacked against him that it did not seem possible that he would hold down the empire. His Greek allies had left him while his father’s military adviser had turned his back on Egypt and joined the Persians.

When he heard of the Persian advance under King Cambyses II, he did not cower in fear. He quickly arranged for the fortification of the capital, Memphis, and arranged provisions for his military as he was aware of this war's gravity.

Another point that he fortified and acquired enough provisions for was Pelusium, where he anticipated the Persian attack. As the battle raged on, the Egyptians were being successful, and it seemed as if they were actually going to have a decisive win against the Persians at certain points of the war.

This was until Egypt’s adversary, Cambyses II, introduced psychological intimidation to the mix. The Persian king was aware of Egypt’s beliefs and religious inclinations. Thus, he had his soldiers paint Bastet’s image on their shields. According to Polyaenus (a Macedonian author), another thing introduced to the war was animals held dear in Egyptian religious practices, including dogs, sheep, and ibis birds.

Consequently, they had two distinct spheres of warfare. One affected the mind once they saw their goddess painted on their enemies’ shields. The second one was physical as the Egyptian warriors were mainly trying to evade harming the animals and thus couldn’t fight effectively. They took off in a run, and it was a blood bath.

These were not the only factors that contributed to the weak retaliation. The Persians had more people fighting for them, as Greeks and Arabs also joined their ranks.

Egypt fell to the Achaemenid empire, and it effectively lost its independence because of its deep respect for cats and other religious animals. That point in history led to Egypt’s constant conquests for most of its subsequent history.


Trouble in the West: Egypt and the Persian Empire, 525-332 BCE. Oxford studies in early empires

Egypt of the Pharaohs flourished for over two thousand years. During this period, apart from two incursions, Egypt did not experience major foreign invasions. Its frontiers provided Egypt with excellent natural defensive barriers. Ruzicka’s Trouble in the West: Egypt and the Persian Empire 525-332 BCE deals with the difficulties in conquering Egypt and the problems in holding it. This work begins with Cambyses’s conquest of Egypt in 525 (all dates are BCE) to Alexander’s subjugation of it in 332. Ruzicka argues that Persia’s primary concern in the West was not Greece but Egypt and during these approximate two centuries Persian rule was never secure. His thesis is supported by many costly and often unsuccessful Persian expeditions which were usually triggered by rebellions in the western part of the Delta, a region that the Persians never secured. Ruzicka contrary to reports in Herodotus and in line with recent scholarship argues that initial Persian rule was enlightened. Cambyses did not trample on Egyptian customs nor kill the Apis bull and Darius continued a liberal policy by maintaining low taxes and respecting Egyptian culture. In view of the immenseness of the Persian Empire, some three million square miles, it was practical to win over the people and maintain the area with light garrisons. But after the revolt of 487 Xerxes established a repressive rule and thereafter measures became increasingly oppressive. The Achaemenids, however, tolerated for about a century a strong Egyptian military class, the machimoi, which provided the Persians with military service. The machimoi were among Xerxes’s best soldiers in the Greek invasion of 480 but they eventually became untrustworthy.

The Persians usually mobilized their military forces on the Syrian coast. The land forces marched through semi-arid land into desert terrain and once in Egypt encountered strong fortresses, a limited road network and obstructions such as embankments and canals. The Persian navy, obliged to sail along a coast without good harbors, was equally challenged. The bulk of the fighting had to be conducted before the inundation of the Nile in May or after October when the waters receded. Cyrus defeated the Egyptians in one great land battle at Pelusium but the invasions of other Persian kings went less smoothly due to the obstacles outlined above.

Ruzicka provides an impressive in depth and breadth discussion of how Persia’s internal and external relations impacted on the various campaigns and a detailed discussion of each military operation, including naval operations. During this period the most important war vessel was the trireme. In an earlier era not covered in this work, the Pharaoh Necho ca. 600 according to Herodotus (2.159) acquired, perhaps from Greeks or Phoenicians, two fleets of triremes, one for the Red Sea and the other for the Mediterranean. 1 Necho’s navy represents the first time any Mediterranean power had built a fleet of triremes, a warship that was then relatively new. The Pharaoh dispatched armed forces as far as the Syrian coast and his triremes assisted the land forces in seizing harbors in Phoenicia, staging points which enemy forces needed to invade Egypt. Necho did not hold these harbors long, but earlier Pharaohs, most notably Thutmoses III (1479-1425) practiced the policy of protecting Egyptian borders by expanding its frontiers. Despite the Egyptian practice of meeting enemy threats beyond the borders of Egypt, Ruzicka (17) wonders why there was no Egyptian attempt on land or sea to disrupt Cambyses’s military preparations. The answer may be connected to inadequate Egyptian sea-power. The Pharaoh Amasis II (570-526) was apparently thinking of seizing these critical staging points when he made an agreement with the Samian tyrant Polycrates ( fl. 530) to provide forty manned triremes. 2 Polycrates broke his agreement with Egypt and without these triremes Psammetichus III (reign 526-525), Amasis’s successor, did not have the resources to check Cambyses beyond the frontiers of Egypt.

Ruzicka (43) maintains that the Pharaoh had the ability to build vessels. No doubt this is true for the traditional type of Egyptian river boat that plied the Nile, but it is debatable whether the Egyptians, who were never comfortable venturing into the open sea, could build triremes at this time. Such ships required not only shipwrights with knowledge in constructing vessels for the open sea but also experienced rowers to man triremes and especially vast supplies of wood which became unavailable to the Egyptians once the Persians had taken possession of Phoenicia. Polycrates betrayed Amasis and committed the triremes, most likely built in Samos with Egyptian funds, to Cambyses, but they were late in arriving for the expedition. It seems that Cambyses won over Egypt without much naval support. The only evidence we have of a trireme in Cambyses’s force is the one from Mytilene dispatched to Memphis after the victory at Pelusium. We know that it was a trireme because the Egyptians massacred the crew of two-hundred, the full complement of a trireme (Herodotus 3.13.1-2 3.14.4).

Of all the Persian campaigns in Egypt classicists are most familiar with the one triggered by Inarus’s revolt (462- 454). Around 459 the Athenians dispatched two hundred triremes of their own and their allies to support the rebels (Thuc. 1.104). One school of thought maintains that Athens aimed at taking control of a section of the Delta. Ruzicka (34) eschews such imperialistic designs and suggests that the two parties were attempting to establish a “joint Egyptian-Athenian arche,” in the eastern Mediterranean. It is not clear what this entailed. Perhaps such an agreement was based on an expanded Athenian presence into the eastern Mediterranean, financed by the Egyptians, and intended to prevent Persian vessels from sailing into that region. After assisting the Egyptians in a two-year siege of Memphis most of the men serving in the Athenian expedition perished and their ships were either captured or destroyed. Another fifty triremes dispatched to supplement the Athenian force was also lost (Thucydides 1.110). Many scholars, including Ruzicka, dismiss Thucydides’s figures of two hundred and fifty Athenian triremes and suggest a much lower number, arguing that a large naval force was not necessary to carry out the siege. This view ignores the necessity of a great trireme fleet to deter the Persians’s Phoenician fleet from cutting off the Athenian forces. It is nevertheless hard to accept the staggering losses of around fifty thousand men unless we assume that the bulk were not Athenians but men from the Delian League eager to join an expedition which promised so much booty.

The Athenians deployed the trireme chiefly as a war vessel, but during the Egyptian expedition put it to another use. Triremes had little room for anything besides one hundred and seventy rowers and between thirty to sixty men on deck. Apparently, the Athenians converted triremes in this campaign to troop transports. The rowers apparently served in land operations. But the Athenians were not the only ones who occasionally deployed the trireme in this manner. Around 350 the Persians, as part of their preparation for an Egyptian campaign, dispatched Idrieus, the Hekatomnid, to Cyprus with forty triremes and an eight thousand man force, the number of men required to man forty triremes. It appears that once Idrieus arrived in Cyprus his rowers and deck personnel became a land force.

One of the chief merits of this work is the detailed analysis of the Persian-Egyptian struggle in the context of Greek affairs. After the Peloponnesian War the Persians made an alliance with Athens to check the growth of Spartan power while the Spartans made a pact with Egypt to weaken the Persian Empire. The Athenian admiral Conon convinced the Persians to follow an aggressive naval policy with a trireme fleet. With a navy financed by the Persians, Conon disrupted grain shipments from Egypt to Laconia and then defeated a Spartan navy near Cnidus. At the Battle of Cnidus the Athenians put the trireme to its traditional use, destroying the Spartan navy with a ramming attack. The naval battle gave Persians control of the sea and opened the way to invade Egypt in 390-388.

Artaxerxes III, known as Ochus (425-338), led two major invasions of Egypt, 351-350 and 343, the first a fiasco and the second a success. There are scarcely any sources for the 351/0 abortive campaign. Diodorus (16.48.1-2) notes that the Egyptian rebels owed much to a Spartan Lamius and an Athenian Diophantus but does not specify their contribution. Diophantus in Athens had served as a syntrierarch, an office which required financial contributions to maintain a trireme and some service on triremes during naval campaigns. With this naval background it is reasonable to assume that Diophantus was in charge of organizing the Pharaoh’s trireme navy and leading it against a Persian fleet consisting mainly of Phoenician and Cyprian vessels. It should be noted that Cyprus was also an important base in attacking Egypt, and Ruzicka discusses the internal politics of the island and military operations against it. Both of these Persian allies revolted after the campaign. The Phoenician uprising of ca. 350-345 is reminiscent of the 480 rebellion. After the Battle of Salamis Xerxes punished the Phoenicians, who had made onerous contributions to the expedition, by executing some officers for what the King considered cowardly conduct during the battle. Xerxes’s unjust action triggered a major revolt in Phoenicia. The revolt of ca. 350-345, which Ochus brutally suppressed, may have been provoked for similar reasons, a perceived inadequate naval effort and high exactions.

Ochus’s second invasion was a textbook operation. He entered Egypt with three separate strike forces, a land army and two naval contingents made up of triremes. The trireme was a vessel with a relatively shallow draft and could ply the Nile, but if any naval battle took place, a question Ruzicka ponders, it would not have been a conventional encounter because the Nile was too narrow for the rowers to carry out the maneuvers associated with trireme warfare. Ruzicka (183), who elucidates Diodorus’s confused account of the expedition, believes that the three strike forces attacked three different fortresses on the Pelusaic branch: Pelusium, Daphnae and Babitis. Diodorus describes force one taking Pelusium and force three securing the surrender of Babitis. But there is no reference to Daphnae. Diodorus (16.48.3-69) reports that when force one launched its attack on Pelusium, force three sailed to a “secret area” where troops disembarked and defeated an Egyptian army. This does not sound like an attack on a fortress. This battle could have taken place in the Delta west of Pelusium. As a result of the encounter Nectanebo II (360-342), the last native Pharaoh, fled to Memphis and then to the south and disappeared. Ochus conquered the land and imposed a harsh rule, carrying out mass executions, looting temples and exacting high taxes. It is surprising that the Egyptians had the will and wherewithal to rebel after Ochus’s death in 338. The uprising was quickly put down by Darius III. Ruzicka concludes that these centuries of intermittent warfare drained the resources Persia needed to resist Alexander’s invasion. Alexander, who was short on naval resources, was also fortunate that the Egyptians were exhausted and did not have the wherewithal to exploit their considerable defensive strengths.

Overall, Ruzicka has written an excellent scholarly monograph based on a wide and deep knowledge of the ancient texts and modern scholarship. It is particularly impressive that he produced a very readable narrative history of this complex subject.

1. A. B. Lloyd, “Were Necho’s triremes Phoenician?”, JHS, 95 (1975), 45-61.

2. H. T. Wallinga, Ships and Sea-Power Before the Great Persian War: The Ancestry of the Ancient Trireme (Leiden, 1993), pp. 84-99, 117.


8. 1920 Battle of Warsaw

Russia and Poland had been at war since 1919 over Ukraine, but in June 1920, the Russian 1 st Cavalry Army defeated the Poles, forcing them to retreat. By August 16, the Russians were close to the capital at Warsaw.

The Soviets tried to surround the city, but failed to adequately defend their southern flank. Polish Commander Józef Piłsudski took advantage of this and routed the invaders. Russian losses were high, estimated at 10,000, while the Poles lost 4,500.

This would secure a peace treaty with Russia till 1939 when half of Poland was annexed into the Soviet Union and the other half by Nazi Germany.


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Watch the video: Battle DECIDED BY CATS: Ancient Egypt vs the Persians at Pelusium 525 BC: Cambyses II vs Psamtik III


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