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Macedonian Phalanx (any Phalanx really) VS Roman Legion.

June 15 2006 at 4:37 PM
Dee  (Login dhp)
Imperium Europeum (Europe)

From Polybius (the authority on the matter) taken from "The Histories" book XVIII

link:

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

//
Polybius (c.200-after 118 BCE):
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.
//


Yes, it's true.. many are at a loss to account for the inferiority of the phalanx it seems


-- Dee


    
This message has been edited by dhp on Jun 15, 2006 4:38 PM


 
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Dee
(Login dhp)
Imperium Europeum (Europe)

Re: Macedonian Phalanx (any Phalanx really) VS Roman Legion.

June 15 2006, 5:17 PM 

Important to note:

//
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.
//

Here Polybius claims that when phalanx makes any movement which dislocates it's formation; pockets are opened, which the roman legion filled (which could not be filled by the phalanx as they had little lateral movement) these pockets where on the flanks, thus.. even a HUGE line of them .. could become fractured and within the fractures they could be flanked and defeated from the line.

After the marian reforms; in the war with pontus (Mithridatic wars 80's BC); Roman legionaries engaged
phalanx armies on terms often in excess of 6 to 1 against, and still beat them decisively.

Whilst I cannot find a historical reference for the tactics used to gain these IMMENSE victories, I am
suprised they are not well documented. Such a victory deserves to be properly accounted.

Oh, and the commander of those victories; Sulla who eventually became roman emperor;
when He retired; retired with a gay pride march !!

And that's a fact.

//
By the next year though, Sulla had either tired of the political life, or felt that he accomplished all that he could. In 79 BC he retired to a country villa with the intention of writing his memoirs. Before he left Rome however,
--- Sulla confirmed long standing rumors about his own sexual behavior to a shocked audience. He announced that Metrobius, a famous actor, had been his lifetime lover. As he left Rome, he was accompanied by a large contingent of actors, dancers and prostitutes in a final act of disdain. His memoirs, which he would finish ---- over the next year, while they have not survived, did prove a valuable resource to later Roman writers (Plutarch and Appian in particular). Sulla died shortly after, in 78 BC, opening the Roman political system to a new and even more dangerous wave of power grabs.
//

So huge formations of Phalanx, where decisively beaten.. even by a gaybo.

-- Dee

 
 

CretanArrow
(Login CretanArrow)

Re: Macedonian Phalanx (any Phalanx really) VS Roman Legion.

June 15 2006, 10:58 PM 

Dee,

Don't kid yourself. The phalanx of Phillip/Alexander the Great bore little resemblance to how it was used during later engagements with the Romans. The phalanx the Romans encountered was not the steamroller that Alexander used. Alexander used the phalanx as a buckler and the cavalry as the offensive arm which would either flank or create a wedge formation and crush the infantry lines (see Gaugamela). If you look at later engagements of the Macedonians vs the Romans you will see that the phalanx did in fact push back the legions or pin them down, but the cavalry arm never did its job of outflanking the enemy because the commanders either sucked or fled the battle and never engaged the Romans. In fact, Aemilius Paulus stated that when he first encountered the phalanx it was the most terrifying thing he had ever seen.

Hannibal used phalanx tactics against the Romans at the battle of Cannae in which he annihalated 8 DOUBLE LEGIONS.

The truth is that if the flanks of the phalanx are protected with sufficient cavalry, nothing can stop the momentum of a 16 deep phalanx. It will steamroll over everything in its path. The Romans were just lucky enough to have never encountered a commander like Phillip or Alexander.

 
 
Tancrède
(Login ParaColo)
La Grande Armee (France)

Re: Macedonian Phalanx (any Phalanx really) VS Roman Legion.

June 16 2006, 12:16 AM 

Don't gorget the capital part played by light infantry and archers (plus stone throwers) on the sides and behind the phalanx (to fill in the gaps when they open their ranks): their uses, their versatility are the necessary counterpart to the massive cohesion of the phalanx. Plus, their mobility were of great importance to go along short cavalry movements (Gaugamele...).

Par St Michel vivent les Paras,
Pour que toujours vive la France...
Et pour qu'au nom de Dieu vive la Coloniale!

"Le fantassin se doit de calquer en tout son attitude sur le morpion, cet animal sublime qui meurt mais ne décroche jamais" (Maréchal Joffre)

 
 

Eryx
(Login Eric_De_La_Legion)
Elite WAFF Vet Club

Re: Macedonian Phalanx (any Phalanx really) VS Roman Legion.

June 16 2006, 5:51 AM 



Anyone with a tactical eye, from a modern POV, can easily discover the major shortcoming of the Phalanx: the Phalanx is not as fluid as the roman formation. War, tactics, formation evolve people!

THe Phalanx vs Roman formation is like comparing Frederic's Prussian formation vs Napoleonic formation. Same kind of argument. Frederic's formation was great only for a time period.

--------------------------------------------
Pity is treason -Robespierre






 
 
Anonymous
(Login dhp)
Imperium Europeum (Europe)

Re: Macedonian Phalanx (any Phalanx really) VS Roman Legion.

June 16 2006, 6:39 AM 

//
Hannibal used phalanx tactics against the Romans at the battle of Cannae in which he annihalated 8 DOUBLE LEGIONS.
//

As the major authority (polybius) from which most ancient historians recite when discussing the subject, Hannibal's and Pyrrus's victories had little to do with the
tactics of the romans, but more to do with poor commanding; which in all cases soundly
allows snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory.

During this time, roman's had little in the way of battlefield strategy, it was just
a bit of line up, and move forward. Being adaptive (unlike phalanx) was the key, and
when a decent commander was around, both of them where trounced.

The roman army was a different animal here than after the marian reforms (where every
phalanx army afterwards was soundly beaten.. even at incredible odd's) there is no
denying that.

-- Dee

 
 
Anonymous
(Login dhp)
Imperium Europeum (Europe)

Re: Macedonian Phalanx (any Phalanx really) VS Roman Legion.

June 16 2006, 6:44 AM 

//
Don't kid yourself. The phalanx of Phillip/Alexander the Great bore little resemblance to how it was used during later engagements with the Romans. The phalanx the Romans encountered was not the steamroller that Alexander used.
//

You are of course right here, there is no deny'ing this. The Phalanx of Alexander was a different animal.

largely they were equiped differently (for greater mobility) and better trained.. and of course
better commanded.

That's not to say they would have had any chance of defeating post marian reform roman armies..
EVEN on flat ground.

With scorpions, onagers, (REAL) heavy cavalry, repeating ballistae, we can see a variety of
reasons why phalanx was outdated (no loose formation).

-- Dee

 
 

Lakedaimon
(Login miltos75)
WAFFer

Re: Macedonian Phalanx (any Phalanx really) VS Roman Legion.

June 16 2006, 7:52 AM 

That's not to say they would have had any chance of defeating post marian reform roman armies..
EVEN on flat ground.

With scorpions, onagers, (REAL) heavy cavalry, repeating ballistae, we can see a variety of
reasons why phalanx was outdated (no loose formation).

Dee,

this is true but rather obvious.. It's like saying the Napoleonic Army would stand no chance against Rommel's Afrika Korps..?

As for Polybios being the "major authority" on this issue I respectfuly disagree.

Polybios is definatelly the primary source both for Plutarch and Livy as far as events go. But his treatise on Maniple vs Phalanx is mainly his own judgement, a simplistic and misleading one IMO which did his Greek audience a disservice.

1 Flaw of Polybios: "Maniple vs Phalanx". He should have focused on the Legio vs Hellenistic Army i.e. combined arms.

2 Flaw of Polybios: Phalanx became disoriented on rough ground while Maniple didn't. Wrong. Maniple would have lost cohesion as well. Simply, however, that was not a major problem for the Maniple which was better suited for fighting mano-a-mano (designed to fight Oscans).

3 Flaw of Polybios: If the Phalanx moved forth or back it lost cohesion. Not necessarily. That was very much dependant on training and leadership. Look at Gaugamela. However, the phalanx's role was definately NOT to pursue.

In any case the Legio was definately the way to go in the sense that it could be manned, trained and led easier than the phalanx. It could also be effective in more ways, against more adversaries and on various terrains. IOW the Legio gave the commander many more options. And in a campaign you will not have to give battle on the opponent's favourable terms. The discussion here is IF the phalanx fights on favourable terms will it prevail? IMO against the Republican Legio yes it CAN. Against the Imperial Legio (post Marius) I certainly doubt even if Alexander could have pulled it off. The artillery alone would be enough to end it.

As for the Mithridatic wars you mention may I point out that:

1) Sulla and Pompey were two of the best Roman commanders ever.
2) Mithridates was in all likelihood a fool.
3) The Pontic troops lost not only as phalanxes but even as immitation legionaires also (trained and led by Roman vets). So I believe their blunders shouldn't be blamed on their formations but somewhere else...
4) If it weren't for Rome's internal problems the Mithridatic Wars would never have happened. Simply put, this man would have been crushed like a bug right away if Rome had paid attention to him. He's not worth mentioning in our argument.



Cheers,

Miltos

AIEN ARISTEYEIN!




 
 
Anonymous
(Login dhp)
Imperium Europeum (Europe)

Re: Macedonian Phalanx (any Phalanx really) VS Roman Legion.

June 16 2006, 12:18 PM 

//
As for Polybios being the "major authority" on this issue I respectfuly disagree.

Polybios is definatelly the primary source both for Plutarch and Livy as far as events go. But his treatise on Maniple vs Phalanx is mainly his own judgement, a simplistic and misleading one IMO which did his Greek audience a disservice.
//

The primary source for both of the major historians of any credit. His remarks
are generally considered by most historians to be quite objective.

It's also important to remember that Polybius had in fact served as a cavalry leader (unsure if it was as a general or not), and had intimate military knowledge.

//
this is true but rather obvious.. It's like saying the Napoleonic Army would stand no chance against Rommel's Afrika Korps..?
//

This is my point entirely. (Imperial) Legion where in a totally different class.


-- Dee

 
 

Lakedaimon
(Login miltos75)
WAFFer

Re: Macedonian Phalanx (any Phalanx really) VS Roman Legion.

June 16 2006, 12:42 PM 

This is my point entirely. (Imperial) Legion where in a totally different class.

Well since they're more than 3 centuries younger!

Another tjhing I noticed. You named the title Macedonian Phalanx (any Phalanx really).

A Hoplite Phalanx and a Macedonian Phalanx are not the same. The Mac Phalanx annihilated Hoplite Phalanxes on many occasions (Chaeronea for instance). But there were occasions when the opposite occurred (Issus). There is also the Battle of Bagradas where a "Spartan" Hoplite Phalanx employed by Carthage and covered by Elephants/Cavalry utterly destroyed the army of Regulus during the 1st Punic war.

This only goes to show that there is not simple rule of thumb : This better than that. A gifted commander will always find the way to win and an idiot commander will always find a way to lose even if he is in command of the best men of his time.

Cheers,

Miltos

AIEN ARISTEYEIN!



 
 
Anonymous
(Login dhp)
Imperium Europeum (Europe)

Re: Macedonian Phalanx (any Phalanx really) VS Roman Legion.

June 16 2006, 2:14 PM 

//

Well since they're more than 3 centuries younger!

//

Yep, but phalanx was still widely deployed.

-- Dee

 
 

CretanArrow
(Login CretanArrow)

Re: Macedonian Phalanx (any Phalanx really) VS Roman Legion.

June 16 2006, 7:29 PM 

The truth of the matter is that a phalanx in the hands of an able commander (Alexander, Phillip, Hannibal) cannot be stopped. The mass wall of spears and shields and the forward momentum of thousands cannot be be halted. It is the commander's duty to protect the flanks of the phalanx (its weakness). At Cannae, Hannibal's phalanx annihalated 80,000 Romans. Do you know what kind of loss this is?

Any other state would have ceased to exist with these kinds of losses. The only reason the Romans became a superpower was due their manpower and infinite amount of resources. Phyrrus, Hannibal, and a host of others defeated the Romans multiple times, but they just kept throwing men into the legions and eventually would overcome their opponents. The Romans could sustain multiple losses of thousands of men, but their opponents would be finished after just one defeat.

The Legion is not a specific tactical unit, just an organizational unit. The Romans initially used to line up in three lines and advance (Phyrrus, Hannibal). They later adopted a checkboard type formation.

 
 

NeroAzzuri
(Login NeroAzzuri)
The Redcoats (UK)

Re: Macedonian Phalanx (any Phalanx really) VS Roman Legion.

June 17 2006, 12:30 PM 

Legions were surely superior to phalanxs,but i would have liked to have seen the Roman legionaires take on Spartan hoplites.Flank them or not,i think the spartans would have won.They were just as capable with swords afterall..

At the battle of plautea they were flanked severals times by persians soldiers.Yet the persians still suffered catasrophic losses against them.


 
 
Anonymous
(Login arionas)
Hellenic Hoplites (Greece)

Re: Macedonian Phalanx (any Phalanx really) VS Roman Legion.

June 19 2006, 5:21 PM 

forced to make the same points again...
The legion is not much different than the spartan fallanks. they are both based on the sword and as flexible with each other. the spartan fallanks had its loxoi the same way the legion had the cohorts.

The legion cannot be possible tactically superior to the mac fallanks because it simply provides the commander with more in quantity and more in specialisation wepons

Of course that means that is necessary for good comanders since they have greater complexity to handle. if they can do that then simply there is no contest

the romans were not undefiteable by no means they lost a great number of battles to many different opponents. the roman society though was able to absorb this and contineu

Ask any officer of any of the worlds armies and he will tell of the superiority of the combined weapons attacks

 
 

Parham
(Login Parhamz)

Re: Macedonian Phalanx (any Phalanx really) VS Roman Legion.

June 19 2006, 6:23 PM 

.

 
 
Anonymous
(Login dhp)
Imperium Europeum (Europe)

Re: Macedonian Phalanx (any Phalanx really) VS Roman Legion.

June 19 2006, 8:44 PM 

//
The legion cannot be possible tactically superior to the mac fallanks because it simply provides the commander with more in quantity and more in specialisation wepons
//

Oh bullcrap. Tactically superior ? Phallanx could not be re-inforced.. their rows where static; they where
not particularly maneuverable. They could not form multiple formations (wedge, saw etc).

They did not operate well on any ground that wasn't plain (or flat).

Due to pilum strikes they lost their entire defensive ability; and I can imagine them getting humped by cavalry auxiliaries (Sagittarii in particular).

Their inadequacies are easy to see. Compared to post marian reform Legion; phalanx was antiquated.

END OF STORY.

-- Dee

 
 
Anonymous
(Login dhp)
Imperium Europeum (Europe)

Re: Macedonian Phalanx (any Phalanx really) VS Roman Legion.

June 19 2006, 8:51 PM 

//
There is also the Battle of Bagradas where a "Spartan" Hoplite Phalanx employed by Carthage and covered by Elephants/Cavalry utterly destroyed the army of Regulus during the 1st Punic war.
//

Also note that this is long before the marian reforms.

-- Dee

 
 
Anonymous
(Login arionas)
Hellenic Hoplites (Greece)

Re: Macedonian Phalanx (any Phalanx really) VS Roman Legion.

June 20 2006, 4:48 PM 

lets clear up the confusion.

There is no 1 phallanks but many different types, so you cannot make a comparison between all of them. choose which one you compare with the legion.

the legion is nothing more than a variation of the spartan phallanx. They were both phallnkses based on the sword and not the spear. The romans made some clever aduptions, but to consider that they made a whole new contribution is obsurd.

The javellins of the legion is a great idea, but specialised for fighting against infantry. When the opponent has cavalary then the spear is a must. This explains why the legions failed repeatedly against cavalry. It was the weapon of choice for hannibal and also the parthians humiliated the legions by using only a combination of light and heavy cavalary and the partians were a hellenistic kingdom.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phalanx_formation>

(
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Carrhae>)

No phallanx ever was rigit unless its comander wanted it so.

http://www.roman-empire.net/army/cannae.html>

http://www.roman-empire.net/army/adrianople.html>

Even the greatest of roman victories the battle of zama was won because except the larger numerical advantage, the romans used successfuly cavalry

All in all the legion had its maniples and the spartn phallanx had its mora so flexibility was obvious. But lets examine some battles so to prove hat the phallanx was not rigit unless the commander wanted.

First the battle of marathon
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Marathon>

It is clear that the phallanx had variable geometry and depth.

The thebans with epeminondas had made a phallanx with variable depth and geometry as a standard
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epaminondas>


When comparing the legion to the Macedonian phallanx specifically, it is appropriate that the comparison includes except the pikemen also the light infantry (peltasts)and the slingers and archers as well as as the normal hoplites (usually from allied cities)that their job was to cover the flanks of the sarissa soldiers.

This is where the compined weapons assualt principle comes to hand. In this area is the legion that is rigit since it provides 1 tool for all occasions and circumstances. The Macedonian phallanx has many speciallised tools that can be combined in many different ways to adupt to each circumstance.

http://www.answers.com/topic/ancient-macedonian-military

In the battle of gauagamele http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Gaugamela> one can see that the different types of phallankses that were used, the flexibility of the line (it chancheed shape dramatically through the battle and the opening of the rows of the phallanx so that the enemy chariots will go through without causing damage)

In the battle of canes
http://www.apollonia.com.tn/hgbcann.htm> the phallanx was more flexiblke than the legion. That is enough i think to prove that the phallanx was not rigit unless its commander wanted it so.

That is why alexander even managed to defete the tribes of central asia that over a thousant years later they would dominate the world.

The only time that the legion could defeat the Macedonian phallnx is when it did not work all its weapons in cinergy
http://www.answers.com/topic/battle-of-pydna Hier the pikes did their gob, but when needed cover the cavalry did nor appear. The phallanks because of its variety, demnds a well trained force and excellent commader. Average commanders will not do ,because it is simple too complicated for them. That I accept as a weaknes.

The romans were forced to adopt the phallanx when facing the parthian cavalry because the legion was inadequate.

The geopolitical situation in the maditaranean and the middle east at the time of the rise of rome, was very influenced from hellenic war doctrine (even hanibal studied in hellenic "war" academies)

The legion was a very specialised weapon against that philosophy. The phallanx was made to face anything. Which one is the rigit and which is flexible?


    
This message has been edited by arionas on Jun 20, 2006 5:05 PM


 
 

Oki
(Login oki81)
WAFFer

Re: Macedonian Phalanx (any Phalanx really) VS Roman Legion.

June 20 2006, 5:27 PM 

Well

Phalanx VS roman legion...

there are more to war than just the obvious weakness and strength.

alot of historical battles are decided by: Time, Place, Moral, Number, Training etc...and very little is about troop types, let explain breifly:


Time, what time of the day are they attacking, the matters between if the troops had breakfast or water in the morning or not can decided the fate of the whole battle. who is attacking, who is defending... meaning, how long did the attackers travel before they initiated the attack.. how long did they rest.

Place, Probablly the most important factor, how does the terraine look like, can troops advance fast, is it open battle field or dense vegitation. are there rivers behind or in the flanks. height of the standing army, which army is on high ground.


Moral, what are the mental state of the armies. do both army worry about food and water supply, are they adjust to the new environment... army that has been travling far usually cant adjust to the local food and water right away (that can easily make soldiers sick). kinda like if you live in europe when you go to thailand on a trip you most likey fall ill for a couple of days. Do they feel secure about their flank and availability of reinforcement.

number and training.. is pretty obvious no need to explained..

And you cant not really say consider everything equal which army is better.. because in reality usually it is these details that determine the outcome of a battle...





__________________________________________
No Matter Who Wins, our troops are always in Good Hands!


    
This message has been edited by oki81 on Jun 20, 2006 7:39 PM


 
 

Oki
(Login oki81)
WAFFer

Re: Macedonian Phalanx (any Phalanx really) VS Roman Legion.

June 20 2006, 5:45 PM 

However, if you ask me which army is better in general.. i would say the Roman Legion... especially the cohorts, not only hand picked fighters but also had great support (the could acheive their goal by putting in political pressure, get what ever supply they pretty much need).

Also doesnt matter how long the Phalanx's spear is.. they couldnt reach as far as how far the legion could throw their iron spears... another reason is the legion is highly adaptable and more flexible in the formation than the phalanx -which have a deadly front.. but extremly clumpsy, a frontal charge toward phalanx is stupid...but phalanx unfortunatley has a very weak flank, and are extremly vunerable to arrows and throwing spears.. while the legion usually carry large shield.. and some can even form testudo formation.




__________________________________________
No Matter Who Wins, our troops are always in Good Hands!


    
This message has been edited by oki81 on Jun 20, 2006 5:48 PM


 
 
 
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