Rugger

Post here about Alexander in film, TV, radio, other websites, YouTube etc.

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Paralus
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Rugger

Post by Paralus »

If there's a tv in the Elysian fields a certain bung legged Spartan king is watching his white phalanx pushed from the field by the gold. So I hope....
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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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Alexias
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Re: Rugger

Post by Alexias »

Unfortunately it has been pushed out the spotlight a bit today by a certain tournament with a round ball ....

(and the Queen's official birthday, and the cricket)
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Re: Rugger

Post by Paralus »

Bloody round ball game....
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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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Alexias
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Re: Rugger

Post by Alexias »

Yes, a certain Pommie will be dancing tonight!

Sport is very closely linked to war, as the ancient Greeks and the British Empire (sorry) knew. The BBC, as they usually do, showed the Trooping of the Colour today, which for anyone who does not know, is when certain regiments in the British Army parade their regimental standards before the sovereign. In the days before electronic communication, it was obviously extremely important for troops to be able to recognise the standards of different regiments to distinguish friend from foe and to know which direction to go in. This begs the question, did the ancient Greeks have standards? You never hear tales of rallying round the flag, or capturing the colours of the enemy etc. Did you distinguish Spartan from Athenian by colour of shield, helmet shape, or what?

Going back to Trooping of the Colour, if you ever want to see what the phalanx would have looked liked in action, search YouTube for a video on this. At first glance, they look like toy soldiers in bearskins and red coats marching about, but if you watch carefully you will see what strength and discipline is needed to drill in this manner. Swap the guns for sarissas and Philip and Alexander's infantry would have been right at home, and vice versa.

Apologies if this is a bit jingoistic.
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Re: Rugger

Post by Paralus »

A certain lame Spartan king is having pints on me. I'd have been getting box and dice on this but there you go. There's two to go. Redemption awaits.

On the old Girl's "birthday", the less said the better. She even gazzumped my wife's aunt's 101st birthday today. How dare she? The trooping of the olour is something to see though. She's good for that at least.

Yes, I'm an unaplogetic republican. Never to be confused with that arse Trump!
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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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Matthew Amt
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Re: Rugger

Post by Matthew Amt »

Alexias wrote:This begs the question, did the ancient Greeks have standards? You never hear tales of rallying round the flag, or capturing the colours of the enemy etc. Did you distinguish Spartan from Athenian by colour of shield, helmet shape, or what?
No standards or banners that I've ever heard of. Uniform shield emblems seem to be used by the Peloponnesian Wars, but not necessarily by everyone. And before that, shield emblems were pretty individualistic. Spartans were probably at least a bit distinctive for a while with their red clothing and long hair, but other people started copying those styles! There seems to have been some regional tendencies for helmet styles and such, but probably nothing hard and fast. So the whole idea of "line up and go forwards" makes unit recognition much simpler: anything in front of you and coming towards you is a bad guy! And yes, sometimes there was confusion.

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Re: Rugger

Post by Alexias »

Thanks. Maybe accents played a part in recognising friend or foe too. There was probably a lot of shouting going on and Athenians made fun of Thebans I believe because they sounded like uncouth to them, and you'd certainly be able to tell whether the other bloke was Greek or Macedonian. Must have been difficult for cavalry though.
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Re: Rugger

Post by hiphys »

I think a kind of standard or banner is visible on the right in the background of the Alexander Mosaic from Pompei. It is very damaged and it isn't possible to understand its real shape, colour and if there were any figure. But IMHO there is no doubt it isn't a weapon (shaft, lance). Therefore many scholars believe the mosaic is the graphic representation of the very moment when the Companion Cavalry swung left in the direction of Darius himself, following their standard: a vague forecast of the Trooping the Colour? :wink:
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Re: Rugger

Post by Alexias »

It certainly is a standard, but it appears to be on the Persian side, so is it a Persian invention?
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Re: Rugger

Post by Matthew Amt »

Oh! Hadn't spotted that before! Looks like a Roman vexillum to me--maybe not surprising since the mosaic is from Pompeii? Hmm....

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Re: Rugger

Post by hiphys »

I'm not a specialist, Alexias, but I have read a lot about the Alexander Mosaic; well, I don't remember anyone assuming the standard was a Persian one. It seems, on the contrary, the original painting wanted to represent Darius' defeat by drawing him in the crowd of his enemies (symbolized by the long Macedonian sarissas with the standard behind him).
It is a common mistake, Matthew Amt, to believe Pompei a totally Roman city, but really the Mosaic is a local transposition (100 century B.C.) of an original more ancient Greek painting that reproduces strictly colours, arms, clothes, weapons and equipments of the Alexander's times. There is, moreover, another painting in Paestum (IV cent. B.C.) of a Samnite warrior armed in Greek fashion that holds a flag or banner with bright colours tied to a pike; you may see it here:
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Samnite soldiers from tomb frieze in Paestum Lucania 4th century BCE.Jpg
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Re: Rugger

Post by Paralus »

Aside from my musings over the rugger and loss of banter, this likely needs transferring to the main forum as the discussion is relevant to it.

Alkibiades ran up a 'signal' at Kyzikos if I recall. Holidaying on the north coast and the laptop is still packed away so can't check (laptop = work!) just yet. That is not a 'standard' though. Hephaistion's hipparchy definitely had a 'standard' but it seems not standard if you follow. A one off sort of thing.
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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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Matthew Amt
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Re: Rugger

Post by Matthew Amt »

hiphys wrote:It is a common mistake, Matthew Amt, to believe Pompei a totally Roman city, but really the Mosaic is a local transposition (100 century B.C.) of an original more ancient Greek painting that reproduces strictly colours, arms, clothes, weapons and equipments of the Alexander's times.
Yes, I realize that, and I wouldn't want to imply that any amount of that mosaic is "Romanized"! And I'm not an art historian, by any means. It just struck me as REALLY looking like a Roman vexillum. Not that other cultures couldn't be using the same kind of banner!
There is, moreover, another painting in Paestum (IV cent. B.C.) of a Samnite warrior armed in Greek fashion that holds a flag or banner with bright colours tied to a pike; you may see it here:
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Samnite soldiers from tomb frieze in Paestum Lucania 4th century BCE.Jpg
That's a tunic and a bronze belt. The horseman has a belt on his spear as well. Probably trophies, not laundry, but not some kind of standard or banner. You can clearly see the neckhole and the curved hem.

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Re: Rugger

Post by hiphys »

Yes, of course it is a tunic and a belt, but here we can see how plain clothes became symbols and afterwards banners and standards! Do you think the first banner was made explicitly to be a banner? The first banner was a trophy, and here we see the transformation of a dress into a war booty and, subsequently, from a token of an act of bravery to a permanent and universal distinguishing mark.
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Re: Rugger

Post by sean_m »

hiphys wrote:Yes, of course it is a tunic and a belt, but here we can see how plain clothes became symbols and afterwards banners and standards! Do you think the first banner was made explicitly to be a banner? The first banner was a trophy, and here we see the transformation of a dress into a war booty and, subsequently, from a token of an act of bravery to a permanent and universal distinguishing mark.
In the earliest sources from the Ancient Near East and Egypt, battle standards were symbols of the soldiers' patron god. No need to tell stories about tying cloaks or tunics to a pole in an emergency or to show off booty! In the Achaemenid empire the Aramaic word for a large military unit was dgl or "standard, banner." There is no sign of battle standards or flags in the Aegean until first the Cyropaedeia and then a story that when Hephaistion died, Alexander ordered that his successor must continue to use his standard, and his unit would still be called "Hephaistion's." By the second century BCE they were common in Macedonianized armies, but without the symbolic and religious significance which they had in the Aegean and the Semitic world. Greeks seem to have seen them as tools for signalling more than divine emblems or the embodiment of a unit. So it appears that one of the Persian practices which Alexander and his successors borrowed was “every large unit should have a battle standard.”

The standard on the Alexander mosaic was better visible when excavated, and shows some kind of bird like Xenophon says was on the standard of the King; its also fairly clear that one of the Persians in the background is holding it. See Carl Nylander. “The Standard of the Great King: A Problem in the Alexander Mosaic.” Opuscula Romana, Volume 14, Issue 2 (1983) pp. 19-37.

I have a whole chapter of my dissertation on this topic; until it is defended, see my article in Ancient Warfare Magazine III.6.
My blog (Warning: may contain up to 95% non-Alexandrian content, rated shamelessly philobarbarian by 1 out of 1 Plutarchs)
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