DBA Resources

Army Notes


Paionian (512-284 BC)
DBA I/63

The Paionians (Paeonians) were a loose collection of tribes who settled in the central Balkans in the valleys of the rivers Struma, Vardar and Bistricia around 4000-3500 BC (an area corresponding roughly with modern Macedonia and Serbia). They are often classified as an Illyro-Thracian people, and several eastern Paionian tribes including the Agrianians, clearly fell within the Thracian sphere of influence. The earliest written reference is probably Homer's account of the Trojan War, in which Paionians from Amydon fought with the Achaians in their quest to recover Helen.

The DBA list begins circa 512 AD, the significance of which is not known to this author. The first 100 years of the list represents a time of great tribal princes, such as Teutaos, Langarus and Dyplaios of the Agrianians, Nicharchos, Symon and Bastareios, which are known to use in part through early coinage.

The next major development was the Persian invasion (490 BC), which upset the balance of power in the region, aiding the Thracians in their absorption of the eastern Paeonian tribes.

At some point thereafter, the Paionian princedoms colalesced into a kingdom centered in the central and upper reaches of the Vardar and Struma rivers. They joined with the Illyrians in resisting the northward expansion of the Macedonian state. In 360-359 AD, southern Paionian tribes were launching raids into Macedonia (Diodorus XVI. 2.5) in support of an Illyrian invasion. Macedonian was throne into a state of uncertainty by the death of Perdiccas, but Philip assumed the throne, reformed the army (providing his Greek-style phalanx with the long sarissa), and proceeded to stop both the Illyrian invasion and the Paionian raids. He followed his success in 358 BC with a campaign deep into Paionia, which reduced that kingdom (then ruled by Agis) to a semi-autonomous, subordinate status.

A native dynasty, however, continued through the reigns of Lycaeios (359-340 BC), Patraios (340-315 BC), Audoleon (315 -286 BC), Ariston (286 BC), Leon (278-250 BC) and Dropion (250-230 BC). Of these, Audoleon is perhaps best known, in part because of his role in minting coinage, because he also accepted the citizenship of Athens, and because of the legend that he had to flee his own cornation ceremony (which involved bathing in the waters of the River Vardar) by swimming the river to avoid the Successor Lysimachus and his Thracian host. Audoleon recovered his kingdom, and received Macedonian aid in 310 BC in his campaign against the Illyrians. The list ends in 284 BC, with the conquest by Lysimachus of Paionia.

A common Paionian coin features Ariston, the brother of King Patraios, who fought with Alexander the Great in his eastern campaigns. The coin depicts a single combat between Ariston and the Persian Satropates at Gaugamela fought between the lines before the armies engaged. It is reputed that after striking him down with a lance, Ariston took the head of Satropates, and hurled it at the feet of Alexander with the challenge "In my country, a deed like this is rewarded with a gold cup."

In the year 297 B.C., a Gallic host under Queen Iomara migrated through Paionia and Macedonia, raiding as far south as the Oracle at Delphi. The Galatians continued their migration eastward, leaving much of Paionia deserted. The Agrianians had already abandoned the Skopje region, which allowed the Dardanians and others to fill the voids. Eventually, Philip V of Macedonia annexed it in 217 AD, installing Didas as his viceroy and recolonizing the old Paionian settlements as a bulkwark against the Dardanians in Skopje. Eventually, in 148 B.C., Paeonia was incorporated into the Roman province of Macedonia (along with Thessaly, Thrace, Northern Epirus, and Southern Illyria).

Army Composition

The DBA 2.0 army list consists of 1x2Lh or 3Ax (Gen), 1x 2Lh, 8 x 2Ps or 3Ax, 2x 2Ps.

From figures depicted on coinage, Paionian cavalry wore a squarenecked tunic with elbow-length sleeves, an Attic-style helmet with crest, a long spear held under arm, and a sword on a baldric. His seat was a large saddlecloth of fur or sheepskin which extended around the horse's chest. Heavy folds in the cloth in some images have been interpreted as vertical colored stripes and/or pteruges.

Auxilia are presumably armed/equipped as hypaspists, with psiloi representing javelin armed warriors, slingers, and/or archers.

BUAs and Camps

An aggressive army, the Paionians are unlikely to fight in their friendly "hilly" terrain most of the time. What constitutes a typical camp is not known, but a typical collection of baggage and/or horses are likely. Some creative possibilities include beached lembis (small boats) used to navigate rivers, a collection of women and children (the Paionians were reputed to have been polygamous). The Paionians were also reputed to use wardogs, which are represented as 0-1 Irr. Wb (F) in the DBM list but are not reflected in the DBA list.

BUAs are optional terrain and can be represented by a palace or fortification built on a ridge line, with a well-defined acropolis at the highest point and walls adapted to the irregular ground. A typical example would be the palace of Teutaos at Markova Kula, which was approximately 40x36 meters, surrounded by a defensive wall 270x60 meters in perimeter. Walls were built of large limestone blocks (2.4x3.2 meters in size), laid without mortar and cut so accurately that a sewing needle can't be inserted into the cracks.


To field all options in a Paionian army, you will need 4 light cavalry (including a figure suitable as a general), 27 peltasts/hypapists or irregular infantry (including a figure suitable as a general), and 20 lightly armed skirmishers (javelin, bow or sling).

There is no specific Paionian range available, but you can easily field and army by using figures selected from other ranges. Most Macedonian/Successor ranges offer Paionian cavalry (e.g. Chariot, Old Glory, etc.). Alexander's Agrainian foot can also used.

Because of their close proximity to both Illyria and Thracia, it seems logical that Illyrian and/or Thracian foot or mounted could be used for Paionians. Based on the classical Attic style helmets shown in Paionian coinage, I tend to think Illyrian troops (such as the range by Falcon UK) might be more appropriate. I put the question to Thracian expert Christopher Webber, who replied: "There is some argument about whether Paionians were Thracian or Illyrian, so yes, either will do."

Other Resources

Christopher Webber's excellent Thrace and the Thracians Page, includes a special section on the Paionians with excerpts from classical references, coinage, and pictures.

Line illustrations of Paionian cavalry and Agrianian infantry in Macedonian service appear in Duncan Head's Armies and Enemies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars.

| Top of Page | Army Notes | DBA Resources |

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

Last Updated: Dec. 23, 2002