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Re: Rugger

Posted: Tue Jun 21, 2016 8:21 am
by Paralus
Now, there's a dissertation I'll have to read. What's the timeline Sean?

Re: Rugger

Posted: Tue Jun 21, 2016 5:16 pm
by sean_m
In theory (knocks on wood) I have a year left.

Sorry I can't help on the rugby front, but I don't follow that sport! Next time I have a glass of something cool and tasty I will think of Agesilaus. The Rhaetians are more excited about that game with the round ball.

Re: Rugger

Posted: Tue Jun 21, 2016 10:36 pm
by Alexias
sean_m wrote: In the earliest sources from the Ancient Near East and Egypt, battle standards were symbols of the soldiers' patron god.
There does seem to have been a difference between battle standards and more ceremonial totems (for want of a better word). The Sammite image may be something that was used when the army was on the march, or entering/leaving the home city as a parade item, which could include booty or icons of the gods that wouldn't actually have been taken into battle. Eusebius says that the image of the Cross which the Emperor Constantine commissioned, was carried "at the head of all his armies", ie not specifically a battle standard but a ceremonial item. Similarly, Arrian's description of Hephaestion's standard implies that it was a ceremonial item. It does not state that it was already in use.
Alexander did not appoint any one else to be commander of the Companion cavalry in the place of Hephaestion, so that the name of that general might not perish from the brigade; but that division of cavalry was still called Hephaestion’s and the figure made from Hephaestion went in front of it.


This sounds more like an effigy than a standard, and more like the venerated image of a god or hero than a signalling device.

The standard shown in the mosaic, rather than being a common device throughout the divisions of the army, may simply have been to mark the position of the King during the battle, so if Hephaestion's standard was carried into battle, this may have been Alexander's intention. The cavalry couldn't have functioned on the battlefield without a commander, so Alexander may have taken command of them himself, if they were used during the Cossaean campaign.

Re: Rugger

Posted: Wed Jun 22, 2016 3:21 am
by Paralus
Alexias, I do not think that Hephaistion's "standard" was an effigy or similar. Chinnock's translation is a rather loose rendering of σημεῖον which here almost certainly means something more akin to a "sign", "flag" or standard. Chinnock translates this rather misleadingly as "figure". Hephaistion was the chiliarch and, as such, commander of both the "first hipparchy" of the hetairoi as well as commander of the cavalry (Ἡφαιστίωνος χιλίαρχον ἐπὶ τῇ ἵππῳ τῇ ἑταιρικῇ - "chiliarch of the Companion Cavalry"), a position to which Perdikkas succeeded and Seleukos after him. I would think that his pennant, standard or whatever we deem it, marked out that first of all hipparchies. Nothing is said of any other such "standards" among the Companion Cavalry but that does not totally preclude that other hipparchies may have possessed their own, though such is speculation.

I'd disagree that it was not already in use. Arrian does not imply that such was made at the time of Hephaistion's death so as to be carried before the cavalry. A more natural take is that this "standard" was not removed or changed so as to keep Hephaistion's name associated with that first hipparchy.

If you can get hold of it, Pamela Mensh's translation for the Landmark Arrian is much better than Chinnock's.

Re: Rugger

Posted: Thu Jun 23, 2016 7:29 am
by sean_m
Austria just suffered an unexpected defeat in that game with the round ball. I notice that the Icelanders have started worshipping Sumerian gods, while the Austrians who are still religious mostly stick with their Trinity ... coincidence?

Latin signum and Greek sēmaion are difficult words, because they can have a technical meaning “battle standard” or a variety of other meanings. The last time I read the Greek it was clear to me that Arrian mean “a battle standard belonging to Hephaistion.”

Taxeis of the phalanx were named after their commanding officers, and so were units of Judaeans and Aramaeans at Elephantine and in the Roman army (where helmets are labeled “Apion of Straton's century” not “Apion of the 13th century of pilani”). I think that at either Issos or Gaugamela we here about so-and-so's taxis “which was actually commanded by someone else because he was sick.” I would not be surprised if battle standards were introduced to the large units with named officers by Philip II, or in one of the re-organizations which the Alexander historians mention in passing.

Unfortunately our sources on the Diadochoi and the Hellenistic kingdoms in the third century BCE are not really interested in battle standards. From the second century BCE we have the lists of Roman spoils from Magnesia, the bronze fitting from Pergamon and the reliefs of loot from Pergamon, Polybius; assumptions that educated Greek readers are familiar with them, a list of troops from Hermopolis Magna in Egypt, and an epigram for a dead sēmeiophoros from Egypt. These are kinds of evidence which are much rarer in earlier centuries. Maybe they will pull one of those lost historians from the third century BCE out of a cave in Egypt one day ... but right now its hard to chart the history of battle standards in Macedonia before the second century BCE.

Re: Rugger

Posted: Thu Jun 23, 2016 9:55 am
by Paralus
sean_m wrote:Austria just suffered an unexpected defeat in that game with the round ball. I notice that the Icelanders have started worshipping Sumerian gods, while the Austrians who are still religious mostly stick with their Trinity ... coincidence?
Possibly not! Still, I've got one more test to go to restore some pride. Here in Sydney as well so I'm attending. Perhaps that'll inspire the Aussies.
sean_m wrote:Latin signum and Greek sēmaion are difficult words, because they can have a technical meaning “battle standard” or a variety of other meanings. The last time I read the Greek it was clear to me that Arrian mean “a battle standard belonging to Hephaistion.”
Agreed. This seems to me to be a standard that Hephaistion designed. Mensch translates as "and followed the standard Hephaistion had designed". I do not see this as some "figure" as Chinnock has.
sean_m wrote:Taxeis of the phalanx were named after their commanding officers, and so were units of Judaeans and Aramaeans at Elephantine and in the Roman army (where helmets are labeled “Apion of Straton's century” not “Apion of the 13th century of pilani”). I think that at either Issos or Gaugamela we here about so-and-so's taxis “which was actually commanded by someone else because he was sick.” I would not be surprised if battle standards were introduced to the large units with named officers by Philip II, or in one of the re-organizations which the Alexander historians mention in passing.
Yes - the units of the phalanx were indeed named after their commanders as were the units of the Companion cavalry. It is tempting to see standards being used for these and possibly a development of that military reformer, Philip. The sources are indeed not much interested in standards and the like. A similar disinterest is noticeable in logistics which also only gets passing asides. Given the contacts between Macedonia and Persia (similarities in court make up for example), is it not possible that given the Persians used some form of standards that the Macedonians under Philip might adopt something similar Sean?

The battle you're thinking of is Gaugamela where Arrian has Simmias command Amyntas' unit because the latter was in Macedon raising troops (3.11.9).

Re: Rugger

Posted: Thu Jun 23, 2016 3:49 pm
by sean_m
Paralus wrote:Yes - the units of the phalanx were indeed named after their commanders as were the units of the Companion cavalry. It is tempting to see standards being used for these and possibly a development of that military reformer, Philip. The sources are indeed not much interested in standards and the like. A similar disinterest is noticeable in logistics which also only gets passing asides. Given the contacts between Macedonia and Persia (similarities in court make up for example), is it not possible that given the Persians used some form of standards that the Macedonians under Philip might adopt something similar Sean?

The battle you're thinking of is Gaugamela where Arrian has Simmias command Amyntas' unit because the latter was in Macedon raising troops (3.11.9).
Yes, my argument is that when we have good evidence for a practice in Egypt and Mesopotamia and Iran for a long time, but none from the Aegean until first the Cyropaedia and then an anecdote about Alexander and then a long list of Hellenistic sources, it was probably borrowed from the Achaemenid empire sometime around the time of Philip and Alexander. I have pretty good evidence that Achaemenid kings and the leaders of some units had personal standards on poles, and that some military units were called “standards” in Aramaic (dglyn, probably pronounced something like digelin). But its a bit complicated to summarize in a forum post ...

Its just hard to nail down the details, because our sources are vague. I can't prove that Philip did it, or Alexander did it when he re-organized his phalanx and cavalry after Gaugamela, or any other theory. Also, the Greeks don't seem to have been interested in the idea of a standard of their patron god, or in worshipping standards, or in using them in temple parades and oath-taking and the other things that people in Babylonia and Egypt and Persis did with them. So as people usually do, they chose some parts of a foreign practice to borrow and ignored the rest.

I guess we can hold off on the Zuism and the Norse Paganism until we see if Iceland's winning streak lasts.

Re: Rugger

Posted: Sun Jun 26, 2016 3:28 am
by Paralus
The English winning streak continued. A certain lame Spartan king is rejoicing with a pint or six I'd judge.

Re: Rugger

Posted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 12:51 pm
by Paralus
The English, having embarrassed themselves last Friday, have now decided that Norse paganism is the solution to their problems methinks Sean.

The Wallabies, having lost to the English 0-3, have instructed coach Michael Cheika to conduct a sort but comprehensive analysis of Icelandic paganism prior to the confrontation with the All Blacks. Oh dear....