Agesilaos wrote on 20 Jan:
in fact it was Agesilaos who insistently claimed “contemporary Macedonian source”.
In fact it is Walbank who insists on this when he says Comm II p582 ‘…the reference to the nickname [elephanta] here may derive from the eye-witness source on the Macedonian side, to whom part of P.’s narrative clearly goes back.’ Care to explain a non-contemporary eye-witness?
Posted here on 28th Oct, conveniently at the top of the preceding page, so you can hardly plead ignorance of this.
Another "straw man" from you? Kindly point out where I pleaded "ignorance of this"? Nor does this even make sense ! Of course ultimately Polybius' narrative must ‘go back’ to a contemporary account, most probably Roman, as has been said earlier.[must we go round in circles yet again?]
But this was not what you were alleging. You claimed he had a contemporary Macedonian eye-witness, for which there is no evidence whatever, and considerable evidence he did not. We dealt with all this, and the possibility that Eupolemos of Aetolia might have been an informant, on the preceding page, and I'm certainly not going to rehash it all again - anyone remotely interested has only to read page 8.
The question was whether Polybius consulted a contemporary Macedonian eye witness, and the weight of evidence is that he did not. As I said on the previous page, Walbank said; “Finally, after 151 [when Polybius returned to Greece] came his wider researches; but by now the majority of his [Greek and Macedonian] informants on the years prior to 179 would be dead”
[i.e. no contemporary Macedonian/Greek witnesses]. Also, "..but of the Macedonian stand-point he has no inkling."
Thus Walbank concludes that Polybius’ knowledge regarding Philip V must have been garnered second-hand during his time at Rome, and almost certainly did not directly include Macedonian sources, contemporary or not.
Walbank is clearly in error here, for we are told without shadow of a doubt that the 'open/normal/natural formation 16 deep and at 6ft intervals was used generally, including on the march [Aelian XI.1-6; Asclep IV.3-4; Onasander X.2; Polybius XII.5 ff] Eight deep at 3 ft intervals was close/battle formation, and Paralus must be well aware of this. To therefore quote Walbank here without qualification regarding his obvious error is equivocal and seems to be deliberately misleading.
“No depth for the file when marching is ever stated in the manuals, although Alexander marched 120 deep at Pelion, and at Issos moved from 32 deep to 16 and finally to 8 (Kallisthenes ap Polybios XII), good job he pre-dated all the manuals. None of these changes represent changes in density as Polybios doubles the putative length of the line at each indicating that in his mind the intervals between the files were maintained. No ancient source associates a density with a depth, they vary. Walbank need not therefore have erred, although, I think he has, but not in giving Philip’s phalanx a depth of eight only in assuming that it arrived marching in files eight deep”.
That is simply untrue. 'Pyknosis'/close order was used for the purpose of assaulting the enemy [i.e. hand-to-hand combat], and 'synaspismos'/locked shields was intended as a defensive formation, and as I said 'open/normal/natural' formation was used generally, which obviously included on the march - see the references referred to. Furthermore, Polybius specifically tells us in the very passage we both refer to that “..with the proper intervals for marching order a stade, when the men are 16 deep will hold 1600, each man being a distance of 6 feet from the next...”
i.e. ‘marching order’ is open/normal/natural order. How you could state “No ancient source associates a density with a depth,” presumably having just read this, I find baffling, since Polybius is plain enough.
To argue otherwise because 'marching' isn't explicitly referred to in the manuals is a fallacy of the 'ad ignorandium' type. (It can’t be true because we aren’t specifically told it is so.) Besides which, there are a number of accounts of armies on an approach march, then deploying into 'close order' [obviously from 'open' order] in order to fight.
Your attempted sarcasm unfortunately falls rather flat . At Pelion [Arrian I.6], Alexander was about to enter a narrow gorge, identified by Hammond as the Gryke e Ujkut in modern Albania, with the enemy Illyrian Autariates and Taulantians holding the wooded heights above. Arrian’s narrative is somewhat truncated in this passage, though quite a lot is happening. The phalanx, each taxis some 2,000 strong (16 X 120) is marching to its flank, i.e. in column and thus technically in ‘files’ 120 deep , and ‘ranks’ 16 wide. Its sarissas are held vertically, as is necessary in order to make turns [c.f. Connolly’s experiments in this regard].
Arrian goes on to describe how the battle-line could be instantly formed by turning and lowering the sarissas to right or to left as needed ( and each taxis would then be formed in ranks of 120 and files the usual 16 deep, which could then swiftly ‘close up’ for action if necessary).Impressed by the disciplined drill, and the speed with which the marching column became a battle-line ready for instant action, the Illyrian Autariates abandoned the foothills. Alexander ordered his troops to about turn the other way and to raise the war-cry and clash their spears menacingly on their shields [obviously in the vertical position, which they would have to have adopted in order to about turn], and this un-nerved the Taulantians on the other side sufficiently that they withdrew back to Pelion.
At Issos, Alexander will have moved through the narrow pass in column [ Arrian Anabasis II.7.3], and as the terrain opened out, formed phalanx the usual 16 deep. At first the left wing will have been deployed behind the right wing, giving the formation an overall depth of 32, but as the terrain opened out still further, the left wing gradually deployed one taxis at a time beside the right wing, until the phalanx was fully deployed in its normal 16 deep formation.[Arrian II.8.2; Kallisthenes via Polybius XII.19-20; Curtius III.8.16 ff] “..finally as he approached the enemy, to eight deep.”
i.e. the phalanx closed up to normal battle order, ‘pyknosis/close order’ 8 deep, once close to the enemy.
All this is exactly “by the book”, or perhaps we should say ‘Manual’.
“What is deliberately misleading, is your continued purblind denial that Polybios describes two orders being issued, ‘τοῖς δὲ πελτασταῖς καὶ τοῖς φαλαγγίταις παρήγγελλε διπλασιάζειν τὸ βάθος καὶ πυκνοῦν ἐπὶ τὸ δεξιόν’ is perfectly clear in both Greek and English, ‘he ordered the peltasts and the phalangites to double their depth AND close up to the right.’ Far from remaining true to Polybios you are totally distorting him and rather than Paralus aping the ostrich… well .”
More personal insults? It is not I who is dim-witted. The ‘and’ does not necessarily have to mean two separate and distinct movements, as I have repeatedly explained. If you go to a restaurant and order “Fish AND Chips” does that mean you have ordered two separate meals ? LOL!
More pertinently perhaps, a common modern command is “Advance and be recognised!”, but the “and” in the order does not connote two distinct actions, only one. Conversely the single order “Form Square!” involves several complex drill movements. To dogmatically insist that Polybius’ words can only
mean two distinct and separate movements is illogical. This is the more so when ALL our evidence suggests otherwise.
Furthermore, consider that Asclep XII.8 and Aelian XXXIII both specifically describe this closing up to the right manoeuvre and how it is performed, but many other possible drill manoeuvres are not described. The obvious reason why this particular move is included, but not other drill/formation possibilities, must be that the original author knew of just this manoeuvre being used by Philip at Kynoskephalae, uniquely as far as we know, and hence described how it was performed in detail.
In fact from ‘open’ formation 16 deep, closing up to a flank can ONLY be done by a turn, closing up and then facing front again, and ending in close order at ‘double depth’, still 16 deep - it could not, for example, be carried out so as to end up in the usual 8 deep ‘close order/pyknosis’, or from a hypothetical 8 deep ‘open’ order.
“One that I won’t let pass, however is the quote from Onasandros. You ought to be aware, as a self-proclaimed expert on matters ancient and military, that Onasandros is writing for the Romans about the Romans. The movements described in XIX are those Polybios describes occurring at Kynoskephalai, XVIII 24
 κατὰ δὲ τὸν αὐτὸν καιρὸν καὶ Τίτος, δεξάμενος εἰς τὰ διαστήματα τῶν σημαιῶν τοὺς προκινδυνεύοντας, προσέβαλε τοῖς πολεμίοις.
At the same time Flamininus also, having received his advanced party into the intervals between his maniples,
I am no ‘self-proclaimed expert’ – just another sneering insult that is patently untrue. I do however hold a PhD on the basis of my work on Greek and Roman military matters, and incidently, another in Law – and my skills as a trained forensic investigative lawyer ( in two different jurisdictions) are also useful when sieving and analysing evidence. For almost 40 years off and on since then, I have been published on the subject both in books and magazine articles, including the biggest selling ancient military book ever, “Warfare in the Classical World” by John Warry [Salamander 1980], which outlasted its original publisher and was in print in many editions, off and on, for over 25 years. It still sells briskly both new and second-hand, and is widely lauded as the best general book on the subject, and still unsurpassed! ( just look at the many reviews – though 35 years on, there are a number of revisions I’d like to make ! ). Of course qualifications and expertise are no guarantee that one is correct regarding a particular matter [ the ‘argument from authority’ fallacy] – but they do increase the probability.
What are your qualifications on the subject of Greek and Roman military history ? Could your ill-intentioned jibe be about to rebound – a case of the ‘biter bit’ ? LOL!
Onasander was a platonic philosopher, who wrote in the middle of the first century AD. His “Strategikos”/generalship treatise sets out in some 42 sections a series of general precepts and guidance in generalship, and many of these guiding principles still have relevance today, and have been used by military commanders down the ages. Onasander modestly does not claim these are original, but compiled from earlier sources. As Agesilaos notes, he dedicates his work to the Romans. However, there were very few Roman military writings on the subject to draw on, with the possible exceptions of Cincius Alimentus’ and Cato’s lost works both entitled ‘De Re Militari’. It is quite clear that Onasander’s sources were Greek and Hellenistic, going back to Homer, just like the versions of the ‘Taktike’ manual discussed on another thread. For example, a couple of precepts are drawn directly from Xenophon’s works, such as training by sham battle [Onasander X.4 drawing directly on Xen Cyro II.3.17-18], and the use of sentries [Cyro III.3.25]. In addition X.10 taking the omens before battle refers to the largely Greek General’s habit of sacrificing animals, whereas the Roman General tended to take the auspices, observing birds etc, for omens.
Whilst it is true that light troops could fight in front of the main body, and then withdraw through ‘open order’ intervals, or intervals between units, from any era and army, from hoplites and before ( see e.g. Tyrtaeus’ poetry) through to the 19th century, there is no evidence whatever to suggest Onasander was referring to Roman velites at Cynoscephalae, ( why specifically the passage from Kynoskephalae? There are plenty of other references in Polybius and Livy to Roman light troops withdrawing through the Legions e.g. Zama, or Livy VIII.8 ), and plenty of evidence that he wasn’t drawing on Romans at all, but general Greek/Hellenistic practice.
Firstly, Onasander refers to ‘the Phalanx’ throughout his work, and as all our writers make clear, the Romans did not fight in a monolithic phalanx, but had abandoned the Etrusco-Roman phalanx some time in the pre-history of the fourth century BC, adopting a much more flexible arrangement of a line made up of sub-units of maniples [lit:’handfuls’], each capable of fighting independently if necessary.[ Livy VIII. 8. 3 ]. No Greek writer refers to the Roman battle line as ‘the phalanx’ ( save for a couple of rare exceptions, which I’ll come to.)
Secondly he is making a general observation in XIX, not referring to a specific instance or battle.
A digression on the word ‘phalanx’ may be useful. [ lit: log or roller – an apt metaphor for what it was supposed to do to the foe ! ] It first occurs in Homer, to refer to the main body of infantry drawn up in a battle-line. The word in this context is not apparently used by Herodotus or Thucydides. Xenophon uses it frequently to refer to the heavy infantry in a battle-line or array, particularly a Greek hoplite phalanx, and in addition to its generic meaning of ‘heavy infantry battle line’ the word came to acquire a specific meaning of referring to the Greek or Macedonian phalanx, whose characteristic was a formation of files which manoeuvred in ‘open order’ generally, but fought in ‘close order’. ( see LSJ for full definition details for phalanx. In the manuals it is also used of chariots and elephants too, but only there).
For example, Polybius uses the term some 37 or so times, almost invariably of Macedonian type phalanxes, save that he uses the word a couple of times loosely in its original generic sense to refer to a clash of phalanxes, where one of them is Roman [e.g. III.73. Trebia; XI.22 Ilipa; and XV.12 Zama]. Polybius generally uses a variety of words to describe a Roman battle line, most commonly ‘stratopedon’, which can also sometimes mean the whole army, and a variety of words to refer to Roman sub-units to translate maniple, ordines, cohort, or vexilla [ ‘speira’ for cohort and sometimes maniple, ‘tagma’ which can also mean Legion, and ‘semaia’ for vexilla and sometimes maniple]. In fact in his famous passage on Kynoskephalae, he specifically contrasts
‘the phalanx’ and its characteristics with the Roman formation [XVIII.29-32]
Other Greek writers – Dionysius, Arrian, Appian, Cassius Dio, Plutarch, Josephus ( yes, I know, he’s Jewish, but he wrote in Greek ! ) use a variety of words, but none describe a Roman battle line as ‘the phalanx’ and nor does Livy, who also refers to phalanxes, for this era.
Onasander only refers to ‘the phalanx’ throughout, and refers to files that ‘open’ and ‘close’ etc [X.1] The Romans operated in ordines/lines/ranks, not files, so his source for the use of light troops at XVII and XIX cannot be Roman, or refer specifically to Romans, but must be Hellenistic and ‘the phalanx’ must be a Macedonian type phalanx.
(note: At XX, Onasander briefly refers to what is clearly a Roman-type testudo, as does Arrian’s ‘Taktike’ version of the Hellenistic manual , and while Onasander predates Arrian, they may share a common source, or Arrian might be drawing on Onasander).
Onasander, then, was writing a work for Commanders generally, dedicated to the Romans, but his technical references [such as XIX on light infantry withdrawing through ‘the phalanx’] were drawn from Greek and Hellenistic sources, not Roman ones and there is no evidence that he was referring to Roman velites [though such a tactic could apply to them], and certainly not by reference to Polybius’ remark regarding Kynoskephalae in particular since he is stating a general principle.