Galatians (280 - 25 BC)
(DBA II/30)

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The Galatians (from the Greek "Galatae" or "Gauls") were Celts who migrated southward across the Danubian plains through Illyricum and Pannonia to settle in Asia Minor (central Turkey). Perhaps due to this migration through open country, they were known to fight in tighter formations than their Gallic counterparts.

The Galatian army list begins properly in 280 BC, when the arrival of the Galatian host in northern Macedonia.  After stopping to rest and refit, the Galatian chiefs debated whether to continue west or move further south into Greece. A faction under the chieftain Brennus split off to invade Greece, sacking the temple at Delphi before being driven back with heavy losses. The remnants rejoined the other division of Galatians under Leonorius and Luterius who had moved into Thrace. In 278 B.C., two groups of 20,000 Galatians crossed over into Asia Minor where they were engaged in service to King Nicomedes I of Bithynia, helping to suppress a rebellion by his younger brother. As a reward for their services, the Galatians receved a large tract of land in central Asia minor (in modern Turkey) known henceforth as Galatia.

At this point, the Galatians consisted of three tribes centered around three towns: the Tolistboboii (Pessinus), the Tectosages (Ancyra, or modern Ankara) and the Trocmi (Tavium). Each tribe divided its territory into canton-like tetrarchies, ruled by a tetrarch supported by a judge and a general. Until the imposition of Roman-supported Kings, Galatia was ruled by a council of tetrarchs and by a 300 man Senate that met periodically at Drynemeton, near Ancyra.

Once firmly established, the Galatians commenced a series of marauding expeditions in all directions that made them the scourge of Asia Minor. Antiochus, the Macedonian successor king of Syria earned the title "Soter" (Savior) by repelling Galatian raiders. King Attlaus I of Pergaman (with Roman encouragement) was able to confine them to Galatia proper in a series of campaigns in 235-232 AD.

Thereafter, the warlike Galatians increasingly sought outlets through service as mercenaries. At Magnesia (180 BC) Galatians fought for King Antiochus of Syria against the Romans. Following the Roman victory, a Republican army under the Consul Manlius Vulso entered Galatia, defeating them in two battles (see Livy, XXXVIII, xvi. and I Mach., viii.). In 64 BC, the tetrarch Deiotarus fought for Rome against King Mithrades I of Pontus, and was rewarded by being named King of the Galatians by the Romans. Deiotarus later raised two imitation legions of Galatians who fought for Cicero in Roman service in Cilicia in 51 BC. In the Civil War, the Galatians supported Pompey with troops at the battle of Pharsala (48 BC).

Following Pompey's defeat, Mark Anthony placed the tetrarch Amyntas on the throne of Galatia, which by that time included not only Galatia proper, but also portions of Lyesonia, Pamphylia, Pisidia and Phyrgia (including the towns of Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe). A Galatian legion under command of the Roman Domitius was routed in battle against the army of Pharnaces of Pontus in the Alexandrian War (40 BC). A Galatian contingent joined Anthony at Actium (31 BC), but they changed sides at a critical point, offering their allegiance to Octavian (Augustus Caesar). As a reward, Amyntas continued as king of the Galatians until he was ambushed and killed in 25 BC. At that point, Galatia was officially absorbed as a Roman province, ending this DBA army list.

Enemies 

The Galatians migration has the longest list of enemies, as might be expected.  Their victims include the Thracians (I/48), the Paionians (I/63), the Greeks (II/5bcdef), the Bithynians (II/6), the Cappadocians (II/14), the Macedonians (II/18de), and the Seleucids (II/19b).  Once settled, they continue to tangle with the Cappadocians (II/14) and Seleucids (II/19bc), while finding themselves beset by the Polybian/Marian Romans (II/33 & II/49) and their clients in Pergamene (II/34), as well as Mithdrates (II/48).  After becoming a Roman client, they fight the Cappadocians (II/14) and in the Roman civil wars (II/49).

Army Composition

280-273 BCE 272-48 BCE 47-25 BCE Description
1x LCh or 4Wb (Gen) 1x LCh or 3Cv or 4Wb (Gen) 1x 3Cv (Gen) Chieftain and retainers.
1xLCh     Nobles
1x 3Cv 2x 3Cv 2x 3Cv Athenian and Thessalian cavalry who allied with the Galatians during their invasion of northern Greece in 279 BC. In later periods, they are represented as mounted Galatian leaders and retainers.
8x 4Wb 8x 4Wb 6x4Wb Galatian warband. In their early years, Galatians were noted for their fanatical fervor, indifference to wounds, and distain for armour. Nude Galatians were recorded fighting with the Seleucids against Rome as late as 189 BC.
    2x 4Bd Two legions of Galatian foot armed and trained as imitation legionaries by Deiotarus to aid the Romans against Pontus were later enrolled as the Legio XXII Deitariana when Galatia was absorbed by Rome in 25 BC.
1xSCh or LCh or 3Cv     Scythed chariots or nobles (mounted or in chariots)
  1x 2Ps 1x 2Ps Galatian skirmishers, who usually fought in close support of the Galatian cavalry.

The DBM list also allows for Cappadocian or Pahlagonian auxilia, where are not available on the DBA list. The DBM list also provides that Galatian cavalry can dismount as warband, which makes an interesting variant option.

Tactics

The Galatian migration (II/30a) and subsequent period to 189 BCE are classed as aggression 4, whereas the Galatians drop to a placid aggression of 1 after 189 BCE

A warband army with cavalry and optional blades makes an interesting combination. The traditional warband tactic is to charge home against enemy foot and worry about the flanks later. But with cavalry and light chariots, the early Galatians have plenty of mobility to exploit enemy flanks, or can use their mounted troops to prepare the way for a warband charge.  The low aggression version creates an opportunity for the Galatian warband to use bad going as a launching pad and haven.  The scythed chariot (with option of second movement into combat) provides an interesting weapon to throw against the Macedonian and Seleucid phalanx. Alternatively, the imitation blades can be used to force enemy pikes into double ranks, exposing their shortened lines to overlaps and flanks.

Miniature Sources

With the exception of Freikorps, you won't find specific 15mm "Galatian" ranges, but you can easily piece together a Galatian army from the Gallic/Celtic ranges available from Corvus Belli, Essex, Irregular, Museum and others.  Essex offers a DBA army pack. Early Galatians were reputed to fight nude, and can be represented with various "fanatic" and "gestaetae" figures, although the number of nude warriors is assumed to have significantly declined after 250-225 BCE, with only small groups of adherents of the War God Camulos shunning clothes in battle.  The laer Galatians also incorporate Greek and Phrgyian-style army and equipment as they migrated. In 25mm, Amazon and Navigator both offer Galatians.

David Kuijt:  The best Galatian figures out there are Freikorps HG31. They are in a mix of Gallic and captured Greek equipment, armour, clothing, and shields. A warrior in Celtic clothing will have a Greek hoplon. Another with a Celtic shield will have a Greek Phrygian helmet. And so on.

Other Resources

Peter Stone's Galatians are featured in a Fanaticus gallery.


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Last Updated: 14 Oct. 2004

Comments, questions or suggested additions
can be sent to Chris Brantley, IamFanaticus@gmail.com.