3 – Battle of Panium (200 BC)
The victory at Raphia in 217 BC was arguably the high watermark of the Ptolemaic Dynasty. It brought the Fourth Syrian War to an end, but Ptolemy IV did not build on the victory and refused to expand into the Seleucid Empire. He died in 204 BC just as the Egyptian Rebellion was getting underway. Matters weren’t helped by the squabbling over the right to become Pharaoh as Ptolemy V was only a child. A minister called Agothocles might have held the regency until he was killed by a mob.
In the meantime, Antiochus III saw a chance for revenge and began an invasion of Coele-Syria. He made an agreement with Philip V of Macedon to share non-Egyptian Ptolemaic territories in what was a brief alliance. The Fifth Syrian War began in 202 BC and was dominated by Antiochus barring a brief setback at Gaza. He delivered the final blow at Panium in 200 BC when his army defeated the Ptolemaic force led by Scopas of Aetolia.
Precise details of the battle are hard to find, but it seems as if the Seleucids used cataphracts (armored cavalry) to attack the Egyptians on their flanks. This exposed the Egyptian infantry which was subsequently routed. It marked the end of Ptolemaic rule over Judea and was a loss the dynasty never fully recovered from. After Panium, Roman emissaries met with Antiochus and Philip and demanded that they didn’t invade Egypt as such an action would negatively impact grain supply to Italy. Neither monarch intended to invade Egypt in any case, so they obliged.
Antiochus completed his conquest of Coele-Syria in 198 BC and raided other Ptolemaic territories in Cilicia and Caria. Ptolemy V had to deal with the Egypt Rebellion at this time, and the war with Syria had dented the nation’s coffers. He decided to increase taxation which only angered the rebels, and the revolt wasn’t quelled for another decade. By then, the Ptolemaic dynasty was in permanent decline.