Did Alexander command the PHALANX at Chaeronea?

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Re: Did Alexander command the PHALANX at Chaeronea?

Post by SpartanJKM » Tue Jun 27, 2017 10:59 am

I don't think Polyaenus' excerpt of 4.2.8 was necessarily a doublet of Frontinus' similar one at all (both of them would not tell us of both ruses, presumably, as they would be in the same chapter of the same figure, and that would be redundant), not because it would be below a member of the 'stratagem genre' (including the likes of Hermogenes of Smyrna) to concoct and prevaricate, but because the successful ruse Polyaenus describes is the very reason the 10,000 or discontinued guarding the Gravia Pass and became 'relaxed' (it is specified Philip could certainly not force the pass with this enemy in its holding position, and no other reason would compel Chares to withdraw other than believing the Macedonians were heading north to deal with what was ostensibly a more important matter); there would have been pickets, etc., (in whatever cruder form than what a modern army may have exercised) in a proximate area north of the entrance to the pass, and Philip arranged, based merely five or so miles north of these presumed pickets, in a manner making the false information believable (including its interception; spies, bribes, 'agents' posing as turncoats, etc.), and for them to receive the false 'intelligence' via dispatchers who were now 'friends'. He gave the observable illusion his army was leaving the region, yet could still effect the bogus letter (or merely the information orally) to reach the mercenaries at the pass after its 'interception', who would have taken it right to Chares. If Polyaenus' story was falsified, and Chares and Proxenus ceased to guard such a nodal strategic position, the reason they did so is indeed a mystery.

This was, IMHO, a masterful display of double-bluff by Philip (assuming Frontinus' excerpt was genuine, too): Philip counted on Chares, probably not a rank incompetent and the very same commander duped in Frontinus' exemplar (the Thracians continuing to revolt while the Macedonians were busy elsewhere again a year later is not untenable for Chares to believe), thinking he surely wouldn't attempt the same ruse twice, thus it must be veritable this time. Philip, a wily master of war, gambled and it worked. Such an attribute is what made the likes of Hannibal and Belisarius such great commanders.

For Philip's force - needing to be large enough to win yet small enough to engage this enemy quickly enough with the advantage of surprise - to get through the ungaurded pass and defeat a force of some 10,000 men, albeit catching them unawares and now away from its entrance/exit, still required a degree of stealth and celerity which required a 'raid' (defining it as a sudden attack on an enemy). Indeed, the capture of Amphissa may have been uncontested, if Dinarchus can be sustained that Proxenus was a traitor while enlisted there (cf. Against Demosthenes, 74).

But, as Guy T. Griffith aptly wrote, this backdrop constitutes the extant Greek historical tradition at its most poverty-stricken. Hence, we can just never know, and I could be completely wrong. But I enjoy the extrapolating, and very much so discussing the various possibilities and analyses.

Thanks, James :)
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Re: Did Alexander command the PHALANX at Chaeronea?

Post by sean_m » Tue Jul 04, 2017 5:13 pm

Xenophon wrote:Sean M. wrote:
But the story of Parmenion at Gaugamela implies that he was not in the front rank of the sarisophoroi, because once the file had closed and the sarisas had been lowered someone in the front rank had no chance to observed the overall situation let alone to call for a messenger, give him instructions, and send him back through that solid mass of pikes to get a horse and ride for help (and Heckel figures that that story was invented within a generation of Alexander's death, so the people who invented that story understood the practicalities).
Some confusion here, I think. I referred to unit commanders (Taxiarchs/Hegemonia) commanding their units standing in the front rank, on the right.
Above that level, commanders who did NOT command a unit probably did not stand with a unit, but perhaps were posted in the rear and mounted, surrounded by their 'staff'. At Gaugemala,the elderly Parmenion commanded the left wing - half the army - and was not associated with a particular unit. If that was the case, then he would have had no difficulty in despatching a mounted messenger/member of his staff to Alexander.....
You are right Xenophon/Paul. I was reading this thread and composing my replies too quickly, and I had also not had time to refresh myself on the details of Graham Wrightson's article.

For what its worth, as I understand it Graham Wrightson's theory is that all units of the Maceonian phalanx large enough to have supernumeraries, and especially the taxeis and wings, were commanded by officers on horseback. I gave the link to his article so people who were interested could read it and decide what they think for themselves.

Unfortunately, my dissertation and a number of publishers (not to mention rhubarb season and the summer weather in the Alps) have me fully booked until the middle of next year!
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Re: Did Alexander command the PHALANX at Chaeronea?

Post by SpartanJKM » Sat Aug 19, 2017 8:53 am

Carolyn Willekes, From the Steppe to the Stable: Horses and Horsemanship in the Ancient World (2013), pp. 318-319,

"...cavalry would only very rarely attack a massed infantry formation head on. The reasons for this are straightforward enough: basic equine behavior does not encourage a horse to move willingly into what would appear to be a solid, sharp wall! Even with horse willing to charge said wall, the risk of serious injury is greater - both for breaking legs on solid shields or being impaled on a solidly planted spear. It was far more logical to attack the exposed flanks as this was a more inviting option for the horses. My own experiments have shown that the most important factor is whether or not the horse thinks he can fit his body through a gap. If he can easily put his head and neck through an opening, he will willingly go through, even if he bumps or shoves the infantry on either side of him. To train a horse to push through a gap is not as complex as it might seem, once again thanks to equine behavior. The main formations used by the Greek cavalry - the wedge, rhomboid, diamond - all have one thing in common: they start with a narrow point. If the cavalry commander puts brave and dominant horses at these points, simple herd mentality will ensure that the rest of the cavalry horses follow. The Mediterranean preference for riding stallions was well suited to these tactics as a dominant stallion - like Bucephalus - will 'attack' a threat with very little encouragement from his rider, especially if this characteristic is encouraged through training. Not all horses are brave. This does not, however, negate their usefulness in a cavalry formation. These less dominant or more cautious horses can be placed in the center of the formation, where they will follow the leaders with little to no hesitation. Using the same principle, cavalry horses could be trained to attack the front of a phalanx, as Alexander proved at Chaeronea; nonetheless, this is still a very risky move, even with well-trained animals..."

A very risky move for Alexander to hesitate in attempting in any form? I think not! For all the nebulousness regarding the tactical details for our backdrop, what are not obscure issues are that gaps began to open up amid the Greek Allied line at Chaeronea, and Philip introduced the wedge formation to his cavalry (Chaeronea occurring upwards of two decades since his accession). This will far from be free from even little argument, but I feel Willekes' forensic contributions are more solid in supporting the presence of the Macedonian cavalry - Phililp's army was probably outnumbered in all (Justin pace Diodorus, IMHO), and the battlefield was definitely large enough to utilize cavalry squadrons weilding 'long spears' of perhaps 10 ft. or so, in this case not attempting any enveloping actions - than 'all the extant ancient sources on this suggest it was an infantry battle' in espousing that it was an exclusive infantry clash; the old adage 'the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence' is very pertinent to formulating the scenarios of this great battle, due to the poverty-stricken nature of the ancient record on this chapter. Bad sources can paradoxically help in that they narrow possibilities due to their possible wrongness. Diodorus' use of 'companions' could denote the cavalry, and the lack of corroboration with the ancient Greek nomenclature with the likes of Arrian may be due to an interchangeable nature of the translations by the various compilers of the MSS. amid the Renaissance. But I'm not going to press such a theory, just entertain it's plausibility.

An outnumbered infantry army of pezhetairoi will not soundly defeat one of hoplites in a stout defensive position; the verdict of Crannon sixteen years later, whereby Antipitar's sheer weight of numbers forced the Athenian infantry back, involved the latter apparently remaining intact upon being pushed back upon higher ground.

The Greeks were far more soundly beaten at Chaeronea; even if their right wing began to succumb psychologically with the sarissai bearing down on them (which initially opened up the gaps for the hetairoi, IMHO), the Macedonian footmen - even if supported by non-mounted, lighter auxiliaries - could probably not have demonstrably beaten them as did seemingly happen without a precise and formidable attack of combined foot and mounted companions, by which the latter could scatter and ride down hoplites opponents whose integrity was already perforated; a horseman has a tremendous advantage in a vantage position once this dynamic ensues. Whatever Philip did to achieve his victory on his side against the Athenians in what was primarily an infantry clash, it involved something precise and crafty not analogous with Crannon, even though he may have outnumbered his opponents on this side of the battle (but not as heavily as Antipitar did at Crannon, where his footmen apparently held a numerical advantage of nearly 60%, if Diodorus was right this time in that regard). Moreover, there is nothing to suggest that Macedonian cavalry squadrons could not be marshaled at certain points along the front with their preponderant infantry lines. These wedge-formations could exploit the gaps at angles, which is more conducive to a horse's line of sight.

Thanks, James :)
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Re: Did Alexander command the PHALANX at Chaeronea?

Post by Paralus » Sun Aug 20, 2017 2:30 am

SpartanJKM wrote:Carolyn Willekes, From the Steppe to the Stable: Horses and Horsemanship in the Ancient World (2013), pp. 318-319,

"This does not, however, negate their usefulness in a cavalry formation. These less dominant or more cautious horses can be placed in the center of the formation, where they will follow the leaders with little to no hesitation. Using the same principle, cavalry horses could be trained to attack the front of a phalanx, as Alexander proved at Chaeronea; nonetheless, this is still a very risky move, even with well-trained animals..."
On the behaviour of horses and riding and training of same, I would not presume to argue with Willekes. Again, though, the premise assumed by Willekes is that this was a cavalry attack and we move on from there ("The Equine Aspects of Alexander the Great's Macedonian Cavalry", Greece, Macedon and Persia, Howe, Garvin Wrightson eds Oxbow 2015, p 52):
The greatest contribution Alexander made to cavalry in the ancient world was with its actual use in combat. This change is first seen at Chaeronea in 338 when an eighteen year old Alexander made his dramatic military debut as a cavalry commander. He was assigned the formidable task of defeating the Sacred Band with his cavalry.
The assumption is clear: Alexander commanded cavalry here; all else follows. Wilkes goes on to say (ibid):
Alexander's horsemen engaged the hoplites in hand-to-hand combat, fighting an infantry style battle on horseback.
Why are Alexander's cavalry fighting an infantry battle from horseback? Because Diodoros' language is very much a description of infantry hand to hand fighting and so, because we presuppose Alexander led cavalry, it must be infantry fighting on horseback.

Willekes makes much of the herd instinct, arguing that strong, aggressive horses placed in leading positions will see the more 'submissive' follow. She also remarks that (p 56):
If, however, one horse in a formation panics, the same herd instinct will spread the anxiety throughout the group, causing it to fall into disorder.
The action at Chaeronea is clearly a long and hard fought hand-to-hand battle. If, as you say, Alexander did this on horseback then one can only wonder at the opportunities for hoplite spears to find horse chests, shoulders and flanks. This is no cavalry "charge" where a Macedonian wedge is slicing through hoplite formations; it is a bitter hard fought struggle where gaps eventually open up. Not forgetting Plutarchs' note of the Sacred Band falling where they'd faced the Macedonian sarisai.

SpartanJKM wrote:A very risky move for Alexander to hesitate in attempting in any form? I think not! For all the nebulousness regarding the tactical details for our backdrop, what are not obscure issues are that gaps began to open up amid the Greek Allied line at Chaeronea, and Philip introduced the wedge formation to his cavalry (Chaeronea occurring upwards of two decades since his accession). This will far from be free from even little argument, but I feel Willekes' forensic contributions are more solid in supporting the presence of the Macedonian cavalry - Phililp's army was probably outnumbered in all (Justin pace Diodorus, IMHO), and the battlefield was definitely large enough to utilize cavalry squadrons weilding 'long spears' of perhaps 10 ft.
"Nebulousness" gives way to presumed views. On the matter of translations, I have to sstrongly disagree. I see you prefer "long spears" so as to posit the xyston as the source for Plutarch's note. The reference is plain, the Greek being σαρίσαις / sarisai.
SpartanJKM wrote: Diodorus' use of 'companions' could denote the cavalry, and the lack of corroboration with the ancient Greek nomenclature with the likes of Arrian may be due to an interchangeable nature of the translations by the various compilers of the MSS. amid the Renaissance. But I'm not going to press such a theory, just entertain it's plausibility.
Again. I strongly disagree. The word involved, παραστατῶν / parastaton, does not in any way mean "companion" as in cavalry. It means those who were about him - to his left and right flank and Diodoros' use of same has been discussed already. Should you need any more evidence you might check the following: Polybios 18.29.5, 30.8; 28.4.7; Cassius Dio 40.23.3; Arrian, Indica 24.6; Plutarch, Alcibiades 7.2, Phil. 6.1; Ascep. Tact. 2.3-4. That's a sample of Greek nomenclature over several centuries. In none of those are any of the sources refering to companions as in the cavalry; it is always beside, flank, tent mate. etc. Positing differences due to scribal transmission in the MSS is more than desperate.

On the battlefield itself and the numbers you propose (following Hammond) I would advise you check the geography. As stated already, Hammond has to suppose an absurdly oblique allied line so as to fit his numbers onto the field.
Last edited by Paralus on Mon Aug 21, 2017 4:46 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Did Alexander command the PHALANX at Chaeronea?

Post by Paralus » Sun Aug 20, 2017 8:50 am

SpartanJKM wrote:Carolyn Willekes, From the Steppe to the Stable: Horses and Horsemanship in the Ancient World (2013), pp. 318-319,

"...cavalry would only very rarely attack a massed infantry formation head on. The reasons for this are straightforward enough: basic equine behavior does not encourage a horse to move willingly into what would appear to be a solid, sharp wall! Even with horse willing to charge said wall, the risk of serious injury is greater - both for breaking legs on solid shields or being impaled on a solidly planted spear. It was far more logical to attack the exposed flanks as this was a more inviting option for the horses.
Absolutely. The horse is even more endangered when a cavalry battle becomes an infantry battle against hoplite infantry as Willekes has to admit her view of Chaeronea must be. Her other examples (in the paper referred to in my previous post) are horse against horse. This is because we have no description of Alexander attacking an infantry formation head on with cavalry.
SpartanJKM wrote:Carolyn Willekes, From the Steppe to the Stable: Horses and Horsemanship in the Ancient World (2013), pp. 318-319

The Mediterranean preference for riding stallions was well suited to these tactics as a dominant stallion - like Bucephalus - will 'attack' a threat with very little encouragement from his rider, especially if this characteristic is encouraged through training. "
I'd be interested in Willekes' rationale and source material backing the "Mediterranean preference for riding stallions". In the work referenced in my previous post, Willekes claims that the Macedonians had this preference. Her only argument is Alexander riding Bukephalos. One horse, from a tale in Plutarch, does not a national preference make I'd think.
SpartanJKM wrote: Phililp's army was probably outnumbered in all (Justin pace Diodorus, IMHO), and the battlefield was definitely large enough to utilize cavalry squadrons weilding 'long spears' of perhaps 10 ft. or so...
You seem to have many "humble" opinions not so "humbly" held! Can you sketch out for me just how the batlefield was large enough for both Philip to be outnumbered and large enough for cavalry to operate using xystons?
SpartanJKM wrote:An outnumbered infantry army of pezhetairoi will not soundly defeat one of hoplites in a stout defensive position; the verdict of Crannon sixteen years later, whereby Antipitar's sheer weight of numbers forced the Athenian infantry back, involved the latter apparently remaining intact upon being pushed back upon higher ground.
It most certainly did if we accord the Greek mercenary numbers in the sources that Dareios gathered. Either way, Antipatros defeated the Spartans with an army that cannot have been greater than the enemy's: Alexander's thirst for reinforcements saw to that. While we are not served by the loss of Curtius' beginning of the batle (including numbers), what remains is clear: the Macedonians forced a victory against hoplites who had adopted a very solid defensive position.
SpartanJKM wrote:The Greeks were far more soundly beaten at Chaeronea; even if their right wing began to succumb psychologically with the sarissai bearing down on them (which initially opened up the gaps for the hetairoi, IMHO), the Macedonian footmen - even if supported by non-mounted, lighter auxiliaries - could probably not have demonstrably beaten them as did seemingly happen without a precise and formidable attack of combined foot and mounted companions, by which the latter could scatter and ride down hoplites opponents whose integrity was already perforated;
Why not? We have no description of cavalry turning the "Battle of Mice" yet the Macedonian phalanx won the day. Ditto Sellasia (although against sarisa armed infantry on the left). Again, no one suggests the Macedonian cavalry did not ride down and kill infantry after the rout had begun.
SpartanJKM wrote: Moreover, there is nothing to suggest that Macedonian cavalry squadrons could not be marshaled at certain points along the front with their preponderant infantry lines. These wedge-formations could exploit the gaps at angles, which is more conducive to a horse's line of sight.
Can you explain to me how these "cavalry squadrons were marshaled at certain points along the front with their preponderant infantry lines" and how they then exploited gaps at angles?
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Re: Did Alexander command the PHALANX at Chaeronea?

Post by sean_m » Sun Aug 20, 2017 7:34 pm

Paralus wrote:I'd be interested in Willekes' rationale and source material backing the "Mediterranean preference for riding stallions". In the work referenced in my previous post, Willekes claims that the Macedonians had this preference. Her only argument is Alexander riding Bukephalos. One horse, from a tale in Plutarch, does not a national preference make I'd think.
While I don't have the book version of her thesis, I would guess that she looked to see whether the horses ridden by armed men in art have their wedding tackle dangling in the breeze. There is also skeletal evidence and cuneiform texts. Both the horses on the rightmost part of the Darius Mosaic are definitely male, and Tiglath-Pilser III boasted that he made king Sarduri of Urartu dismount from his chariot and mount on a mare, the better to run away from the kakku of Aššur like a wimp. So it seems plausible, although I can't speak for anyone else.

See also pages 189 and 190 of her PhD thesis.
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Re: Did Alexander command the PHALANX at Chaeronea?

Post by Alexias » Sun Aug 20, 2017 8:32 pm

Moreover, there is nothing to suggest that Macedonian cavalry squadrons could not be marshaled at certain points along the front with their preponderant infantry lines. These wedge-formations could exploit the gaps at angles, which is more conducive to a horse's line of sight.
If you are suggesting that the cavalry was interspersed with the infantry, would not such an unusual strategy have elicited some sort of comment in the sources, especially if this tactic resulted in victory?

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Re: Did Alexander command the PHALANX at Chaeronea?

Post by amyntoros » Mon Aug 21, 2017 8:30 pm

sean_m wrote:
Paralus wrote:I'd be interested in Willekes' rationale and source material backing the "Mediterranean preference for riding stallions". In the work referenced in my previous post, Willekes claims that the Macedonians had this preference. Her only argument is Alexander riding Bukephalos. One horse, from a tale in Plutarch, does not a national preference make I'd think.
While I don't have the book version of her thesis, I would guess that she looked to see whether the horses ridden by armed men in art have their wedding tackle dangling in the breeze. There is also skeletal evidence and cuneiform texts. Both the horses on the rightmost part of the Darius Mosaic are definitely male, and Tiglath-Pilser III boasted that he made king Sarduri of Urartu dismount from his chariot and mount on a mare, the better to run away from the kakku of Aššur like a wimp. So it seems plausible, although I can't speak for anyone else.

See also pages 189 and 190 of her PhD thesis.
And there is also Xenophon's "On Horsemanship" which, apart from the constant use of the male pronoun, advises the reader when purchasing a horse that: (I.30) A horse ought not to have large testicles, though that is not a point to be determined in the colt.

And later:

(X.1). . . and the best proof of the pleasure which he takes is, that when he is let loose with other horses, and more particularly with mares, you will see him rear his head aloft to the full height, and arch his neck with nervous vigour . . .

I personally can't interpret this guide in any other way than that the ancient reader knows any horse he is purchasing for his own use will/must be a stallion.

For any Pothosian who doesn't have a copy or who is interested in judging for himself, the full treatise of On Horsemanship can be found at:
https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1176/1176-h/1176-h.htm

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Re: Did Alexander command the PHALANX at Chaeronea?

Post by SpartanJKM » Thu Nov 30, 2017 1:43 am

Can you explain to me how these "cavalry squadrons were marshaled at certain points along the front with their preponderant infantry lines" and how they then exploited gaps at angles?
You really don’t understand this hypothesis? Is this some sort of trifling challenge over ‘proper’ semantics? How does any army become deployed before battle?

Marshaling cavalry squadrons means merely deploying them (arranging them, if you prefer), and ‘at certain points’ denotes them being deployed from a position from which to strike once the gaps could opened up from their infantrymen deployed next to them. The sarissai broke the integrity of the enemy front at the points they faced (not without a struggle), and at those points cavalrymen - arranged near them along the front - rode in the perforations in wedge formation, and did so at angles because the gaps in the allied line could not have been opened by themselves directly in front of them. Not unlike against Bardylis two decades earlier, once the enemy line was breached at a certain point by cavalry and infantry, a subsequent loss of stability in the enemy lines percolated quite substantially.

Preponderant infantry lines means that they were simply more numerous than their cavalry squadrons. Exploiting a gap means making use of an opening, and doing so at an angle, amid this context, means riding at a projection off of its horizontal or vertical baseline.

Overall, Philip could not beat the allied army at Chaeronea in an exclusive infantry clash, and the field was clearly large and flat enough for cavalry to be utilized, if not as predominantly as was effectuated at Gaugamela, etc. The ancient evidence affords us the knowledge that Philip created a diverse army, and specified he introduced the wedge formation, of which they tell us it’s purpose. After twenty years of forging his army, this battle was not undertaken as an exclusive infantry clash which would probably disfavor him. Impossible. It’s unfortunate the extant ancient texts which deal with Chaeronea are so foggy, but the deep speculations and inferences of a plethora of modern scholarship which espouse the Macedonian cavalry action at Chaeronea is quite sustainable. Nobody claimed that the Macedonian cavalry could per se break solid enemy infantry lineas, a scenario from which Gaebel and Rahe make their ‘refutations’. That’s a false platform.

BTW, I looked at Worthington’s By the Spear, and what he wrote relating to the theory of Alexander’s involvement, if not direct, of Philip’s assassination does not strain credibility at all. Indeed, it is without the empirical evidence many of you seem to require. That Alexander benefited from Philip’s death is without question, unless one wishes to question that Alexander did not harbor colossal ambitions - wording which may not actually be emphasized verbatim in an original source. Modern scholarship on all of this (Hammond, Ellis, Gabriel, Willekes, etc) is no less knowledgeable of the fountainhead of evidence to work from, nor less discerning than any of you on when judging this issue on a holistic level. That’s not an opinion.
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Re: Did Alexander comm the PHALANX at Chaeronea?

Post by Paralus » Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:29 am

SpartanJKM wrote:
Can you explain to me how these "cavalry squadrons were marshaled at certain points along the front with their preponderant infantry lines" and how they then exploited gaps at angles?
You really don’t understand this hypothesis? Is this some sort of trifling challenge over ‘proper’ semantics? How does any army become deployed before battle?
I generally have little problem with English and have none here. This was not a "trifling challenge over proper semantics" either. It was, rather, a question as to exactly how you see these cavalry squadrons arrayed among the infantry and just how that functioned. I have to say that I find your description rather unpersuasive. Just how do you see the infantry and cavalry arranged in the line? Are they inserted between each speira/syntagma or are they inserted between smaller units? Was this across the whole infantry line or just one extremity? Are you supposing the infantry, their sarisai having made gaps in the opposing front, disengaged to allow a cavalry squadron to attack it at an angle?

All the above sounds like an invitation to disaster among the Macedonian ranks.
SpartanJKM wrote:Overall, Philip could not beat the allied army at Chaeronea in an exclusive infantry clash, and the field was clearly large and flat enough for cavalry to be utilized, if not as predominantly as was effectuated at Gaugamela, etc.
The field width has been given several times. Just how do you fit those forces on it?
SpartanJKM wrote:After twenty years of forging his army, this battle was not undertaken as an exclusive infantry clash which would probably disfavor him. Impossible. It’s unfortunate the extant ancient texts which deal with Chaeronea are so foggy, but the deep speculations and inferences of a plethora of modern scholarship which espouse the Macedonian cavalry action at Chaeronea is quite sustainable. Nobody claimed that the Macedonian cavalry could per se break solid enemy infantry lineas, a scenario from which Gaebel and Rahe make their ‘refutations’. That’s a false platform.
You may need to re-read them.
SpartanJKM wrote:BTW, I looked at Worthington’s By the Spear, and what he wrote relating to the theory of Alexander’s involvement, if not direct, of Philip’s assassination does not strain credibility at all. Indeed, it is without the empirical evidence many of you seem to require. That Alexander benefited from Philip’s death is without question, unless one wishes to question that Alexander did not harbor colossal ambitions - wording which may not actually be emphasized verbatim in an original source. Modern scholarship on all of this (Hammond, Ellis, Gabriel, Willekes, etc) is no less knowledgeable of the fountainhead of evidence to work from, nor less discerning than any of you on when judging this issue on a holistic level. That’s not an opinion.
I'm glad you read Worthington's By The Spear. Perhaps, then, you might re-read what I actually wrote:
Paralus wrote: To that list of historians you can add Ian Worthington. In his book By The Spear Philip II, Alexander the Great and the Rise and Fall of the Macedonian Empire (Oxford, 2014), Worthington states, without supporting argument, that Alexander “must have been devastated when Philip told him he would not be going to Asia but would remain behind in Macedonia” (p114). In a book replete with endnotes and references to source material, one wonders why nary a one accompanies this flat assertion other than that no source states this. He stated this previously in his Philip II of Macedonia’ (2006, p 185-186) - again without an ounce of evidence to back it up. This was to support his view that Alexander may well have been complicit in the murder of his father. That's before we get to the battle of Issos.... It always pays to read the ancient sources.
So, having read the book, as you say, can you point out to me where Worthington supplies evidence, any source evidence, that Philip had told Alexander that he was to be left in Macedonia, this being the motive for Alexander's involvement in his father's murder? Looking forward to it.
Last edited by Paralus on Mon Dec 11, 2017 2:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Did Alexander comm the PHALANX at Chaeronea?

Post by sean_m » Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:58 pm

Paralus wrote:So, having read the book, as you say, can you point out to me where Worthington supplies evidence, any source evidence, that Philip had told Alexander that he was to be left in Macedonia, this being the motive for Alexander's involvement in his father's murder? Looking forward to it.
Michael, are you objecting to "Philip told Alexander that he would be left in Macedonia" or to "so Alexander must have been enraged"? When I read the original post I thought that you were objecting to the conclusion, but it just seems like a normal 'sourceless subjunctive' and part of ordinary historical reasoning. The "must have" or "would have" warns readers that the conclusion is not based on a specific source, just on a general assessment of Alexander's character, so the argument is properly structured.

But if Worthington states something as a fact based on no source (the premise), that would be a problem.

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Re: Did Alexander command the PHALANX at Chaeronea?

Post by Paralus » Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:22 am

Hi Sean. I was objecting to the fact that Worthington states that Alexander “must have been devastated when Philip told him he would not be going to Asia but would remain behind in Macedonia”. This then plays into possible motivation for Alexander to be involved in Philip's murder. Both, of course, are possible but that Alexander was told by Philip he was to be left behind in Macedonia finds no evidence in any source we have left to us. Worthington has no problem providing copious notes for much of what he writes but nothing whatsoever for this stated "fact". Ditto for his Philip where he states the same "fact". I might just as well state that Alexander had Koinos murdered after his speaking up in India. The bloke did die fairly on the heels of that speech but I have no source attestation for that whatsoever . Actually, if I recall, Worthington claimed that in his Philip as well!
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Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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Re: Did Alexander command the PHALANX at Chaeronea?

Post by sean_m » Wed Dec 06, 2017 8:22 pm

Paralus wrote:Both, of course, are possible but that Alexander was told by Philip he was to be left behind in Macedonia finds no evidence in any source we have left to us. Worthington has no problem providing copious notes for much of what he writes but nothing whatsoever for this stated "fact".
Ok, I wanted to make sure that you were stating that there is no evidence that Philip planned to leave Alexander behind, and not just disagreeing about how Alexander would have most likely responded to that situation. That was not clear to me from your original statement, and it is a much stronger criticism.
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Re: Did Alexander command the PHALANX at Chaeronea?

Post by Paralus » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:51 pm

I've no doubt that had Philip told Alexander such the latter's reaction will have been as he paints it. Fact is, Worthington states, as fact, that Philip told Alexander he'd be left behind. This is entirely possible of course, but possibilities are not facts - particularly when no evidence is provided.
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Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους;
Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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Re: Did Alexander command the PHALANX at Chaeronea?

Post by Xenophon » Sun Dec 10, 2017 2:59 am

Spartan JKM wrote:
.... Modern scholarship on all of this (Hammond, Ellis, Gabriel, Willekes, etc) is no less knowledgeable of the fountainhead of evidence to work from, nor less discerning than any of you on when judging this issue on a holistic level. That’s not an opinion.
No, it is just an example of a statement of the illogical 'argument from authority', or 'name dropping'. No matter how many well known scholars opinions you refer to, they are still opinions, not facts.

The fact of the matter is there is no surviving source evidence which refers to Alexander beating the Thebans with cavalry. On the contrary, Plutarch specifically tells us it was the phalanx under Alexander that defeated the Sacred Band:

Plutarch, Pelopidas 18.5
. . .It is said, moreover, that the band was never beaten, until the battle of Chaeroneia; and when, after the battle, Philip was surveying the dead, and stopped at the place where the three hundred were lying, all where they had faced the long spears [sarissae] of his phalanx, with their armour, and mingled one with another, he was amazed, and on learning that this was the band of lovers and beloved, burst into tears and said: ‘Perish miserably they who think that these men did or suffered aught disgraceful.’

(see pages one and five of this thread)

....and...

Plutarch, Alexander 9.2
He was also present at Chaeroneia and took part in the battle against the Greeks, and he is said to have been the first to break the ranks of the Sacred Band of the Thebans.


ergo, Alexander commanded the Left Wing phalanx........probably as part of his command of the left half of the army.

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