Ancient Warfare Answers (286): Low Casualty figures

Murray answers a question from a 12-year-old fan from Italy, Greg - How many casualties were there really at Magnesia? The Roman sources say 53,000 for the Seleucids and only 350 Romans died. Is This true?


Enjoy the Podcast? Join us on Patreon

1 comment

I wonder whether it has to do with how counting happened.
As the victor, you know how many of your mates died and they were mourned/celebrated on the battlefield. Wounded and injured on the winning side would stand a chance of survival, while injured enemy were probably finished off quickly.
Also, as you mentioned Murray, many of the enemy dead were probably killed in flight, away from where the front lines clashed – probably by cavalry and light troops :) Why count the piles of enemy dead when a quick estimate of how many were in each pile would do.
And we should bear in mind that large numbers of losses for Rome (like at Cannae) would probably be estimated by how many units were destroyed – the Romans didn’t hold the battlefield so were unable to count their dead. Individual survivors who escaped disasters like that could live to fight again – for instance Sertorius.

Duncan Whinton-Brown

Leave a comment

Related Posts