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Evolution of Military Tactics: Phalanx V Legion

June 1 2004 at 4:11 AM

g3  (Login G3-A3)

Polybius (c.200-after 118 BCE), a Greek historian, wrote how the stategy that dominated the ancient world for over 300 years and swept from Iberia in the west to the indus river had been defeated by an evolution in military philosophy.... an interesting read for the history of warfare buffs
--------------------------------------------------------

The Roman Maniple vs. The Macedonian Phalanx


The Histories, Book XVIII, Chapters 28-32:

In my sixth book I made a promise, still unfulfilled, of taking a fitting opportunity of drawing a comparison between the arms of the Romans and Macedonians, and their respective system of tactics, and pointing out how they differ for better or worse from each other. I will now endeavor by a reference to actual facts to fulfil that promise. For since in former times the Macedonian tactics proved themselves by experience capable of conquering those of Asia and Greece; while the Roman tactics sufficed to conquer the nations of Africa and all those of Western Europe; and since in our own day there have been numerous opportunities of comparing the men as well as their tactics, it will be, I think, a useful and worthy task to investigate their differences, and discover why it is that the Romans conquer and carry off the palm from their enemies in the operations of war: that we may not put it all down to Fortune, and congratulate them on their good luck, as the thoughtless of mankind do; but, from a knowledge of the true causes, may give their leaders the tribute of praise and admiration which they deserve.

Now as to the battles which the Romans fought with Hannibal and the defeats which they sustained in them, I need say no more. It was not owing to their arms or their tactics, but to the skill and genius of Hannibal that they met with those defeats: and that I made quite clear in my account of the battles themselves. And my contention is supported by two facts. First, by the conclusion of the war: for as soon as the Romans got a general of ability comparable with that of Hannibal, victory was not long in following their banners. Secondly, Hannibal himself, being dissatisfied with the original arms of his men, and having immediately after his first victory furnished his troops with the arms of the Romans, continued to employ them thenceforth to the end. Pyrrhus, again, availed himself not only of the arms, but also of the troops of Italy, placing a maniple of Italians and a company of his own phalanx alternately, in his battles against the Romans. Yet even this did not enable him to win; the battles were somehow or another always indecisive.

It was necessary to speak first on these points, to anticipate any instances which might seem to make against my theory. I will now return to my comparison.

Many considerations may easily convince us that, if only the phalanx has its proper formation and strength, nothing can resist it face to face or withstand its charge. For as a man in close order of battle occupies a space of three feet; and as the length of the sarissae are sixteen cubits according to the original design, which has been reduced in practice to fourteen; and as of these fourteen four must be deducted, to allow for the weight in front; it follows clearly that each hoplite will have ten cubits of his sarissa projecting beyond his body, when he lowers it with both hands, as he advances against the enemy: hence, too, though the men of the second, third, and fourth rank will have their sarissae projecting farther beyond the front rank than the men of the fifth, yet even these last will have two cubits of their sarissae beyond the front rank; if only the phalanx is properly formed and the men close up properly both flank and rear, like the description in Homer:

So buckler pressed on buckler; helm on helm; And man on man; and waving horse-hair plumes In polished head-piece mingled, as they swayed In order: in such serried rank they stood. [Iliad, 13.131]



And if my description is true and exact, it is clear that in front of each man of the front rank there will be five sarissae projecting to distances varying by a descending scale of two cubits.

With this point in our minds, it will not be difficult to imagine what the appearance and strength of the whole phalanx is likely to be, when, with lowered sarissae, it advances to the charge sixteen deep. Of these sixteen ranks, all above the fifth are unable to reach with their sarissae far enough to take actual part in the fighting. They, therefore, do not lower them, but hold them with the points inclined upwards over the shoulders of the ranks in front of them, to shield the heads of the whole phalanx; for the sarissae are so closely serried, that they repel missiles which have carried over the front ranks and might fall upon the heads of those in the rear. These rear ranks, however, during an advance, press forward those in front by the weight of their bodies; and thus make the charge very forcible, and at the same time render it impossible for the front ranks to face about.

Such is the arrangement, general and detailed of the phalanx. It remains now to compare with it the peculiarities and distinctive features of the Roman arms and tactics. Now, a Roman soldier in full armor also requires a space of three square feet. But as their method of fighting admits of individual motion for each man---because he defends his body with a shield, which he moves about to any point from which a blow is coming, and because he uses his sword both for cutting and stabbing---it is evident that each man must have a clear space, and an interval of at least three feet both on flank and rear if he is to do his duty with any effect. The result of this will be that each Roman soldier will face two of the front rank of a phalanx, so that he has to encounter and fight against ten spears, which one man cannot find time even to cut away, when once the two lines are engaged, nor force his way through easily---seeing that the Roman front ranks are not supported by the rear ranks, either by way of adding weight to their charge, or vigor to the use of their swords. Therefore, it may readily be understood that, as I said before, it is impossible to confront a charge of the phalanx, so long as it retains its proper formation and strength.

Why is it then that the Romans conquer? And what is it that brings disaster on those who employ the phalanx? Why, just because war is full of uncertainties both as to time and place; whereas there is but one time and one kind of ground in which a phalanx can fully work. If, then, there were anything to compel the enemy to accommodate himself to the time and place of the phalanx, when about to fight a general engagement, it would be but natural to expect that those who employed the phalanx would always carry off the victory. But if the enemy finds it possible, and even easy, to avoid its attack, what becomes of its formidable character? Again, no one denies that for its employment it is indispensable to have a country flat, bare, and without such impediments as ditches, cavities, depressions, steep banks, or beds of rivers: for all such obstacles are sufficient to hinder and dislocate this particular formation. And that it is, I may say, impossible, or at any rate exceedingly rare to find a piece of country of twenty stades, or sometimes of even greater extent, without any such obstacles, every one will also admit. However, let us suppose that such a district has been found. If the enemy decline to come down into it, but traverse the country sacking the towns and territories of the allies, what use will the phalanx be? For if it remains on the ground suited to itself, it will not only fail to benefit its friends, but will be incapable even of preserving itself; for the carriage of provisions will be easily stopped by the enemy, seeing that they are in undisputed possession of the country: while if it quits its proper ground, from the wish to strike a blow, it will be an easy prey to the enemy. Nay, if a general does descend into the plain, and yet does not risk his whole army upon one charge of the phalanx or upon one chance, but maneuvers for a time to avoid coming to close quarters in the engagement, it is easy to learn what will be the result from what the Romans are now actually doing.

For no speculation is any longer required to test the accuracy of what I am now saying: that can be done by referring to accomplished facts. The Romans do not, then, attempt to extend their front to equal that of a phalanx, and then charge directly upon it with their whole force: but some of their divisions are kept in reserve, while others join battle with the enemy at close quarters. Now, whether the phalanx in its charge drives its opponents from their ground, or is itself driven back, in either case its peculiar order is dislocated; for whether in following the retiring, or flying from the advancing enemy, they quit the rest of their forces: and when this takes place, the enemy's reserves can occupy the space thus left, and the ground which the phalanx had just before been holding, and so no longer charge them face to face, but fall upon them on their flank and rear. If, then, it is easy to take precautions against the opportunities and peculiar advantages of the phalanx, but impossible to do so in the case of its disadvantages, must it not follow that in practice the difference between these two systems is enormous? Of course, those generals who employ the phalanx must march over ground of every description, must pitch camps, occupy points of advantage, besiege, and be besieged, and meet with unexpected appearances of the enemy: for all these are part and parcel of war, and have an important and sometimes decisive influence on the ultimate victory. And in all these cases the Macedonian phalanx is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to handle, because the men cannot act either in squads or separately.

The Roman order on the other hand is flexible: for every Roman, once armed and on the field, is equally well-equipped for every place, time, or appearance of the enemy. He is, moreover, quite ready and needs to make no change, whether he is required to fight in the main body, or in a detachment, or in a single maniple, or even by himself. Therefore, as the individual members of the Roman force are so much more serviceable, their plans are also much more often attended by success than those of others.

I thought it necessary to discuss this subject at some length, because at the actual time of the occurrence many Greeks supposed when the Macedonians were beaten that it was incredible; and many will afterwards be at a loss to account for the inferiority of the phalanx to the Roman system of arming.

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/polybius-maniple.html












    
This message has been edited by G3-A3 on Jun 1, 2004 5:21 AM


 
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Koursaros
(Login Koursaros)

Re: Evolution of Military Tactics: Phalanx V Legion

June 1 2004, 12:04 PM 

Please...not again! I have argued at least two times that we don't know which is better because they never fought on equal terms!

Molon Lave


When once you have tasted flight,
you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward,
for there you have been,
and there you will always long to return.

Leonardo da Vinci

 
 

Anonymous
(Login SpartanBlood)

Re: Evolution of Military Tactics: Phalanx V Legion

June 1 2004, 12:08 PM 

Koursaros,

Kaneis lathos! To kadili theli ladi ksana. ! Loipon...ali mia fora!


    
This message has been edited by SpartanBlood on Jun 1, 2004 12:25 PM


 
 

Koursaros
(Login Koursaros)

Re: Evolution of Military Tactics: Phalanx V Legion

June 1 2004, 12:26 PM 



Molon Lave


When once you have tasted flight,
you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward,
for there you have been,
and there you will always long to return.

Leonardo da Vinci

 
 

Koursaros
(Login Koursaros)

Re: Evolution of Military Tactics: Phalanx V Legion

June 1 2004, 1:18 PM 

211. Then the Medes, having met so rough a reception, withdrew from the fight; and their place was taken by the band of Persians under Hydarnes, whom the king called his "Immortals: " they, it was thought, would soon finish the business. But when they joined battle with the Greeks, 'twas with no better success than the Median detachment - things went much as before - the two armies fighting in a narrow space, and the barbarians using shorter spears than the Greeks, and having no advantage from their numbers. The Lacedaemonians fought in a way worthy of note, and showed themselves far more skilful in fight than their adversaries, often turning their backs, and making as though they were all flying away, on which the barbarians would rush after them with much noise and shouting, when the Spartans at their approach would wheel round and face their pursuers, in this way destroying vast numbers of the enemy. Some Spartans likewise fell in these encounters, but only a very few. At last the Persians, finding that all their efforts to gain the pass availed nothing, and that, whether they attacked by divisions or in any other way, it was to no purpose, withdrew to their own quarters.

This is from Herodotus, and goes to people who think that a phalanx could go only forward and not perform any maneuvers.

Molon Lave


When once you have tasted flight,
you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward,
for there you have been,
and there you will always long to return.

Leonardo da Vinci

 
 

Anonymous
(Login G3-A3)

Re: Evolution of Military Tactics: Phalanx V Legion

June 1 2004, 2:23 PM 

"and goes to people who think that a phalanx could go only forward and not perform any maneuvers."


I dont think its the case of whether it could or could not, its a matter of degrees.. yes the phalanx was mobile but maybe the maniple was MORE mobile..also guys dont forget polybius was talking about the Macedonian phalanx which differed from others by using longer spears (see pics!), what would the maniple do against the Spartan phalanx is nothing more than a hypothetical question as they were Allies and never engaged in hositilies..

The key here differnce of the two formations has probably to do with the arms carried by both sides, while we all know what the average hoplite carried, the Legionaries used a MUCH larger shield and their sword or "gladius" was also shorter than the swords carried by the Greeks. These are two very big advantages.

This enabled them with the protection of the shield to approach in between the spears of the phalanx.
having done this they used their short swords in stabbing puncturing motions while hiding behind their shields- As opposed to the hoplite whose sword was larger and was utilized in a slashing motion that proved ineffective as the Legionare's shield took the majority of the blows.

A historian also told me once that legionaries specifically aimed at stabbing its enemies unprotected legs (zone between thighs and knee)- thus imobilising them, rather than trying to lop off their heads or a limb with a swoop of their sword- injuring an enemy this way took much less energy and took him out of the fight.

The Roman shield was the primary weapon of the maniple as the spear was of the phalanx. At the length of the spears tip no army could resist the force of the phalanx BUT once well armed troops got in between the rows of spears and engaged in close hand to hand fighting the Legionare hiding behind his big shield and puncturing holes in you legs or cutting your hamstring was always going to have the advantage.

The Maniple was the first ever strategy to systematically weave in between the on coming forests of spears and thats why they were so successful vis a vie the longer speared Macedonian phalanx.






 
 

Koursaros
(Login Koursaros)

Re: Evolution of Military Tactics: Phalanx V Legion

June 1 2004, 5:13 PM 

I dont think its the case of whether it could or could not, its a matter of degrees.. yes the phalanx was mobile but maybe the maniple was MORE mobile..

The Macedonian phalanx consisted of syntagmata, i.e. 16 rows x 16 columns, that could do everything a maniple could do. Detach from the main body, attack rear or flanks. Phalanxes did things like split in half, operate is crescent formations (refused flanks, the could double their frontage etc. There are no facts that support the thesis that the syntagma was less maneuverable than a maniple. The fact that the commanders most of the time did not use such kind of battle maneuvers does not mean that the phalanx was inherently unable to do such things. It is commanders that make maneuvers, not troops. legion with an incompetant commander was a legion incapable of maneuver, while phalanxes under Alexander the Great could maneuver like British Foot Guards trooping the colours!

Of course these are accurate for Macedonian phalanxes and not for hoplites. One more example of the phalanx mobility, is an incidence where Phillip II defeated some tribes north of Macedonia. The tribes where on a hill, with their army watching while the phalanx performed some maneuvers. Phillip had invited them specifically for that reason. As they were marching in front of tribesmen, they turned 90 degrees, and charged uphill. Suddenly the fight was on!!



also guys dont forget polybius was talking about the Macedonian phalanx which differed from others by using longer spears (see pics!), what would the maniple do against the Spartan phalanx is nothing more than a hypothetical question as they were Allies and never engaged in hositilies..

I may also point out that Polybius wrote his thesis precisely on the era when Rome intervened in Greece for the first time.



The Roman shield was the primary weapon of the maniple as the spear was of the phalanx. At the length of the spears tip no army could resist the force of the phalanx BUT once well armed troops got in between the rows of spears and engaged in close hand to hand fighting the Legionare hiding behind his big shield and puncturing holes in you legs or cutting your hamstring was always going to have the advantage.

When a phalanx charged (i am talking about a macedonian one), the sarissa had a really long reach and could pierce the shields and breastplates of the legionaries who stood on its way, as it happened at Pydna. So, no, the legionare could not come really close and use his long sword. In Cynoscephalae, the right wing of the phalanx, pushed back their Roman opponents. And when i say pushed back, i mean hurt them really bad, since the sarissa could pierce the Roman scutums AND loricas.



Check this sarissa in this pic.



The Maniple was the first ever strategy to systematically weave in between the on coming forests of spears and thats why they were so successful vis a vie the longer speared Macedonian phalanx.

A legionare had to face 2 phalangites and 10 deadly sarissa points, charging to him. Dunno...seems quite impossible to manage to sneak between them and finally reach the phalangites.



This enabled them with the protection of the shield to approach in between the spears of the phalanx.
having done this they used their short swords in stabbing puncturing motions while hiding behind their shields- As opposed to the hoplite whose sword was larger and was utilized in a slashing motion that proved ineffective as the Legionare's shield took the majority of the blows.


Check previous block. Too many spears to maneuver about, with a large shield. Especially when the spears can pass through you like knife through butter.

Molon Lave


When once you have tasted flight,
you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward,
for there you have been,
and there you will always long to return.

Leonardo da Vinci

 
 

g3
(Login G3-A3)

Re: Evolution of Military Tactics: Phalanx V Legion

June 1 2004, 9:29 PM 

File Koursare,

My opinion is not set in stone and much of what you have said is well received, and I’m enjoying our little ‘debate’ - ides ta debate den einai mono gia ton kostaki ton georgaki kai tin madame KKE!!.


Yes, as you said it also true that each legionary was theoretically targeted by 10 pikes of the phalanx, (this fact is also confirmed by Livy) but for this to remain effective the phalangites had to constantly maintain their spear horizontally, jabbing back and forth to occupy the critical empty space that a legionary try to wedge between the spear tips- this would have been a very hard task, almost humanly impossible to continue doing for any long period of time by a man wearing 30 kilos of armour carrying a 6 meter long pike!

For the phalanx to work effectively there must first of all be absolute cohesion amongst the ranks as the hoplites are lined up next and behind each other whereas the less rigid maniple had no such idiosyncrasy. Therefore if the lines broke, or if struck on the flank or attacked ‘sto opisten’ the maniple was easier to re-group and turn than the phalanx.

As most military formations, the phalanx could only point in one direction at a time, but problems arose when flanked, its area of manoeuvre was restricted by the very size of the sarissa they held- the longer the sarissa (as in Macedonian tradition) the more difficulty in wheeling the front line of the phalanx especially if the enemy was already WITHIN the space of the spears tip and the phalangiti. The spear was impossible to wield against an immediate infiltrator(s) of the phalanx- a phalangitis only option was to hope that the man in the second row could deal with the oncoming intruder, if not- he was left at the mercy of the fast approaching enemy while holding a 6 meter spike. If the phalangiti were to drop the spear in order to engage the infiltrator he would then effectively disrupt the shape of the phalanx and thus its effectiveness…

Once within shield-to-shield combat range, the double-edged gladius and the roman stab & thrust technique was the phalanx’s worst nightmare. Livy remarked that “Greek eyes had never seen such carnage inflicted upon them” that’s because the once even a small number of legionaries were able to get inside the phalanx’s columns they cut hamstrings, legs and limbs in abundance while the phalangites were trying to hold their spears firm in formation as they were in fact amputated.

I am however surprised that you chose to point out Cynoscephali as an example- apart from isolated feats of extreme bravery this battle was a disaster. And if I am not mistaken the reason for these isolated successes came because Philip had his hoplites throw away their spears (thus adopting a non-phalanx) and fight with their swords. (pori na kano kai lathos L)..



In no way do I take polibius or livy’s as the absolute truth but some of their observations are worth looking into- Livy for instance, believed that in the latter phase of the successor kingdoms they utilised the phalanx wrongly, where earlier phalanx’s of the polis were of relatively less numbers than those in the Macedonian phalanx which “increased numbers simply made the phalanx without grace and more vulnerable”.

My conclusions on this issue are based on the argument that the maniple proved better than the phalanx ONLY because of the specific TYPE or manifestation of the phalanx it encountered- the successor Macedonian phalanx. The successor armies took many eastern traits thanks to the experiences of the war in Asia and these newly introduced corruptions to the classical aged phalanx cost them, among the changes introduced were:

1. increased numbers compacted in larger field units- thus being more vulnerable to bad generalship,

2. The abandoning of the shorter lonchi and the stubborn use of the 20 ft long spear against less rigid roman lines

3. The introduction of large mercenary forces- according to the historian victor Hanson in his book “Wars of the Ancient Greeks”: by the 3rd century almost all phalangites were exclusively hired mercenaries, gone was any vestige national solidarity & professional ‘élan’ of the older Macedonian armies.

4. The criminal neglect of the cavalry is defiantly huge error in the successor armies; use of elephants instead of the excellent companion cavalry left the phalanx flanks and rear undefended.


It is my honest belief that if the Romans had encountered a Spartan or in fact any of the major polis phalanx using the classical phalanx formations & tactics the story would have been quite different…..






 
 

Koursaros
(Login Koursaros)

Re: Evolution of Military Tactics: Phalanx V Legion

June 2 2004, 2:58 PM 

Yes, as you said it also true that each legionary was theoretically targeted by 10 pikes of the phalanx, (this fact is also confirmed by Livy) but for this to remain effective the phalangites had to constantly maintain their spear horizontally, jabbing back and forth to occupy the critical empty space that a legionary try to wedge between the spear tips- this would have been a very hard task, almost humanly impossible to continue doing for any long period of time by a man wearing 30 kilos of armour carrying a 6 meter long pike!
For the phalanx to work effectively there must first of all be absolute cohesion amongst the ranks as the hoplites are lined up next and behind each other whereas the less rigid maniple had no such idiosyncrasy. Therefore if the lines broke, or if struck on the flank or attacked ‘sto opisten’ the maniple was easier to re-group and turn than the phalanx.


This is why phalangites were professional soldiers and they were drilled all the time. Cohesion was vital for success and all the drills aimed for that. Alexander's army was the most disciplined and most drilled army the world had ever seen [at least until then] and the result is well known. However duting the Diadochi, this excellence was not present. The Diadochi armies lacked the edge that gave their predecessors the victory on almost all battles.


As most military formations, the phalanx could only point in one direction at a time, but problems arose when flanked, its area of manoeuvre was restricted by the very size of the sarissa they held- the longer the sarissa (as in Macedonian tradition) the more difficulty in wheeling the front line of the phalanx especially if the enemy was already WITHIN the space of the spears tip and the phalangiti. The spear was impossible to wield against an immediate infiltrator(s) of the phalanx- a phalangitis only option was to hope that the man in the second row could deal with the oncoming intruder, if not- he was left at the mercy of the fast approaching enemy while holding a 6 meter spike. If the phalangiti were to drop the spear in order to engage the infiltrator he would then effectively disrupt the shape of the phalanx and thus its effectiveness…

A legionare [or any soldier for that matter] had to overcome 5 spears at least. And as i said it was not an easy task because the sarissas were not "toy" spears. They had a deadly bite. How eager would you be to overcome 5 spears that could pierce through your shield AND front armor, before you even manage to deal a blow on the enemy?

As for the phalanx being unable to wheel around, i flatly disagree. What makes you think that during the drills they practiced only forward movement. They practiced EVERYTHING. It would be very stupid to stick with a formation that could only move forward. Phalangites and hoplites could easily turn around and run. And that is especially true for the square formations that Alexander used in his campaigns. A formation of that kind could o anything you can imagine. I have already told the story with phalanx turning 90 degrees and going to fight immediatly. And it was the speed with which, this was done that surprised and defeated the tribes.



Once within shield-to-shield combat range, the double-edged gladius and the roman stab & thrust technique was the phalanx’s worst nightmare. Livy remarked that “Greek eyes had never seen such carnage inflicted upon them” that’s because the once even a small number of legionaries were able to get inside the phalanx’s columns they cut hamstrings, legs and limbs in abundance while the phalangites were trying to hold their spears firm in formation as they were in fact amputated.

I want to point out that in every one of the 3 battles that Romans fought against phalanxes, the legionares were losing until something happened. That "something" was always an external factor.

In Pydna, the nobility (the shock cavalry) left the battle. Without the cavalry to protect the flanks, the Romas were able to wheel around and attack the phalanx from the rear and the flanks.
In Cynoscephalae, Philip, despite the unfavourable terrain and the fact that he had sent many of his men to collect fodder, accepted battle after receiving encouraging messages from the front line. The king, leading on the right wing the half of his phalanx that had formed up, charged downhill and pushed back the Roman left.
In Magnesia [190BC], Antiochus arrayes his army in a way never used before and gets beaten by an enemy phalanx. There the Roman right wing (of Achaen Greek phalangites under a Greek General!) defeated the troops opposite and attacked the cavalry behind them while they were disordered. With the flank guard defeated, Greek skirmishers swarmed all over the flanks of the phalanx while the elephants posted in the middle of the formation were panicked by showers of missile from Roman light troops. The panicking elephants completely screwed any chance the Phalanx had of fighting any sort of decent battle. Noone knows why Antiochus set up his elephants as he did. He doubled the depth of his phalanx to 32 men (usually 16) and put elephants in the gaps - it was the only time anything like it had ever been done and was against any and all tactical principles of the time. In this case it was the commanders yet again that were important - Antiochus for stupidity in his setup, and Eumenes for tactical excellence.


In no way do I take polibius or livy’s as the absolute truth but some of their observations are worth looking into- Livy for instance, believed that in the latter phase of the successor kingdoms they utilised the phalanx wrongly, where earlier phalanx’s of the polis were of relatively less numbers than those in the Macedonian phalanx which “increased numbers simply made the phalanx without grace and more vulnerable”.

Quite right. A la Magnesia. And like in Cynoscephalae. One weakness that linear formations have is that they have to be arrayed correctly to achieve maximum efficiency. By linear i mean, formations that could not break and attack from many sides, like light cavalry for example. You could not have a phalanx or a legion break in many many pieces and execute swarming attacks. They have to arrayed in proper fashion. Swarming was a kind of warfare that would not be used until many centuries passed.


My conclusions on this issue are based on the argument that the maniple proved better than the phalanx ONLY because of the specific TYPE or manifestation of the phalanx it encountered- the successor Macedonian phalanx. The successor armies took many eastern traits thanks to the experiences of the war in Asia and these newly introduced corruptions to the classical aged phalanx cost them, among the changes introduced were:

1. increased numbers compacted in larger field units- thus being more vulnerable to bad generalship,
2. The abandoning of the shorter lonchi and the stubborn use of the 20 ft long spear against less rigid roman lines
3. The introduction of large mercenary forces- according to the historian victor Hanson in his book “Wars of the Ancient Greeks”: by the 3rd century almost all phalangites were exclusively hired mercenaries, gone was any vestige national solidarity & professional ‘élan’ of the older Macedonian armies.
4. The criminal neglect of the cavalry is defiantly huge error in the successor armies; use of elephants instead of the excellent companion cavalry left the phalanx flanks and rear undefended.


Some correct points! The phalanx was a formation that required good generals. Under good generals, they was not one army in the world that could defeat them. Roman or otherwise. The sarissa in POV was the weapon that gave this edge. It kept the phalangites out of enemy reach and it provided missile protection as well. It WAS a deadly weapon. The point about cavalry is SO correct!

Molon Lave


When once you have tasted flight,
you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward,
for there you have been,
and there you will always long to return.

Leonardo da Vinci

 
 
 
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