Enhance Ability Histories: Raphia

Welcome back to the next Enhance Ability Histories! Today we will be covering the Battle of Raphia from the wars of succession of Alexander the Great. Honestly, the context behind this battle is arguably more interesting than that battle itself, but that’s a conversation for another day.

The Battle of Raphia took place in June of 217 BCE, and was the climax of an invasion of Seleucid Syria by Ptolemaic Egypt, both successor states of Alexander the Great. The armies of both sides featured large numbers of Hoplite infantry and battle elephants, with the Seleucid’s Indian elephants outclassing the Ptolemaic elephants in size. To start the battle, the flanks of the Seleucid army advanced, elephants on one flank and cavalry on the other, routing the Ptolemaic cavalry and elephants. The tide of battle changed when the center lines clashed, with the Ptolemaic infantry’s superior training and numbers eventually carrying the day.

Since both sides were successors of Alexander, they fought similarly, with pike or spear wielding infantry supported by cavalry and elephants prominently in this battle. It is likely that both sides would use similar magic, but I would imagine the Seleucids using Enlarge on their elephantine forces to make them even more threating. Conversely, the Ptolemaic army, with its focus on infantry, could use Barkskin, Heat Metal, or other personnel buffs to secure the superiority of their center line.

With these additional abilities, I envision enormous elephants of the Seleucid army smashing into the flanks and rear of the Ptolemaic infantry after routing the Egyptian cavalry. Even with the tightly packed infantry phalanxes of the day, and spells like Entangle to trap the elephants or damaging spells to turn them away, these beasts would be near impossible to stop once they got momentum. Enlarge triples the size of a creature, and the average size of an Indian elephant is 2,000-5,000 kg (4,400-11,000 lbs). No matter how disciplined or enhanced your infantry battle line is, only a handful of these need to reach the line to decimate it, Battle of Pelenor Fields style. I give this battle to the Seleucids when magic is introduced.

I hope you enjoyed this battle. If you want more of these Enhance Ability Histories, check out our last one for the Battle of Cannae! Come back soon for more battles!

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