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Who Were the Galatians?

by Jeff Jonas 10/2018 

"The Galatians, under the command of Bolgius, sent deputies to Ptolemy (Keraunos) to sound the disposition of the Macedonians, offering him peace if he liked to purchase it; but Ptolemy boasted to his courtiers that the Galatians sued for peace from fear of war. Nor was his manner less vaunting before the ambassadors than before his own adherents, saying that “he would grant peace only on condition that they would give their chiefs as hostages, and deliver up their arms; for he would put no trust in them until they were disarmed.” The deputies bringing back this answer, the Galatians laughed, and exclaimed throughout their camp, that “he would soon see whether they had offered peace from regard for themselves or for him.” Some days after a battle was fought, and the Macedonians were defeated and cut to pieces. Ptolemy, after receiving several wounds, was taken, and his head, cut off and stuck on a lance, was carried round the whole army to strike terror into the enemy. Flight saved a few of the Macedonians; the rest were either taken or slain."

Justin- Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus

The Gallic Wars are well known in the western half of the Mediterranean. Marauding Gauls notoriously sacked Rome in 390BC. In the east, the Celtic invaders were called Galatians and their origin is more obscure. The burly warriors from the north that sowed fear and a path of destruction in Macedonia, Greece, and then crossed to Asia deserve more than passing attention from miniature games enthusiasts.

The Hellenistic World in Chaos 279BC

The Macedonian phalanx marches into place as their commanders and cavalry move froward (Aventine and Old Glory figures)

Ptolemy Keraunos Macedonian King and the Galatian Warlord Bolgius  (Aventine and Relic and Old Glory figures)

Macedonian elephants do not scare the Galatians at this battle (Old Essex elephant and Foundry and Old Glory figures)

"We only fear that the sky shall fall on our heads." - The Galatians respond to Alexander the Great

Macedonian Cavalry attack the Galatian warriors  (Aventine, Newline Designs, Essex elephant and Old Glory figures)

The Galatians close in (Newline Designs, Old Glory, new Relic figures)

“They rushed at their adversaries like wild beasts, full of rage and temperament.”
- Pausanias

“Ptolemy alone, the king of Macedonia, heard of the approach of the Gauls without alarm, and, hurried on by the madness that distracted him for his unnatural crimes, went out to meet them with a few undisciplined troops, as if wars could be dispatched with as little difficulty as murders.”
- Justin

The last stand of the "Thunderbolt"

The Macedonians deploy to face the ambushing Galatians pouring through the passes.

Gaming the last stand WSS Issue #98

This page is based on my article in Wargames Soldiers and Strategy Magazine issue #98:

Future Galatian topics:

Galatian Miniatures and Armies in 28mm (In Progress)
Brennus and the attack on Delphi (In Progress)
The elephant Victory of Antiochus I (In Progress) 

The noble cavalry wait in reserve to rush out and exploit a break in the enemy line (Old Glory and Relic figures)

Links to other online Galatian articles:
Two part online article with many illustrations from magazines:


Justin Histories: http://www.forumromanum.org/literature/justin/english/trans24.html

Livius Invasion of the Gauls:

The Ethnic Identity and Redefinition of the Galatians in the Hellenistic World: Qizhen Xie:

Galatians in Macedonia (280–277 BC):  Invasion or Invitation?  Fernando López Sánchez:

Miniatures in this article:

Relic Miniatures:

Ferocious enemies, allies, or mercenaries- the Galatians made an impact in all Hellenistic armies  (New Relic figures)

Aventine Miniatures:


Gorgon Studios:


Old Glory Miniatures USA:


Wargames Foundry:


Newline Designs:


A second war chief, Brennus, later leads the Galatians forward to Delphi.

Questions or Comments Email:


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All content Copyright 2018 Jeff Jonas