350 to 168 BCE


The Hypaspists were an elite unit with aristocratic roots in the army of Philip II of Macedonia. The name literally translated to shield-bearer, and their mentions in ancient Texts, and use as a guard of honour, might suggest that they developed from the personal bodyguards of the Macedonian kings. Under Alexander The great, the Hypaspists grew to 3,000 men and formed a unit, which was usually deployed on the right flank of the center phalanx. Their role was to protect the vulnerable flanks of the phalanx and keep in contact with the cavalry, which was again deployed to the right of the Hypaspists.

Their armament is closely related to the Classical Hoplite. They are fighting with the Dory, a lance about 2.50m long, and are carrying a larger shield than the Macedonian Phalangites. The equipment suggests that their fighting formation closely resembled the Classical Greek phalanx. Torso armour, helmet, and greaves completed their panoply.

After the death of Alexander the term Hypaspist changes in meaning and is then often used for envoys or logistics officers. The branch of arms is kept alive in the Macedonian army of the Antigonids under the name Peltastai.

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