Antigonid : Play misty for me: Kynoskephalai

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Re: Antigonid : Play misty for me: Kynoskephalai

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Post by agesilaos » Fri Jan 23, 2015 3:09 pm
“I will take the continued silence as eloquent of grudging acceptance of eight deep actually doubling to sixteen and move on to the question of the interval or density of the troops. If, like our Xenophon, you believe that only those intervals mentioned in the Taktikeis are allowable even during evolutions then it is clear that the eight deep line MUST have been in close order at 3ft intervals since otherwise, when they double their depth, by whatever method, the interval will become the allegedly disallowable 12 feet.”
The silence was due to the fact that I don’t seem to have as much time for this sort of thing as you and Paralus seem to, combined with the fact that I have twice as much to respond to, and am always playing ‘catch up’, as you are aware from previous comments of mine.
You are sort of correct....see ante, ergo Philip’s phalanx must have been in ‘open/normal/natural order’ ( to allow the light infantry and cavalry to withdraw) 16 deep when the command was given to close up in double depth to the right i.e. form close order/pyknosis 16 deep on half the previous frontage – and the way this was done is explained in the manuals [Asclep XII.8; Aelian 33], obviously with Cynoscephalae in mind.
“I do not hold with this reasoning but the fact is demonstrable by considering the ground. We can all agree that the phalanx fought in close order (pyknosis) so that when Philip attacks with his wing it is at 3ft intervals and that his frontage roughly matches that of the Roman left with which he engages and drives before him (had the Roman line been longer it could have attacked his flank, but rather the whole force is forced back). The actual numbers are fraught but it is clear that Philip had doubled his depth and by doing so halved his frontage. We may also assume that his original frontage occupied the whole of the ridge as when the Roman right attacks it is initially straight forward and not with a right hook flanking movement, although that develops due to Philip's left failing to establish itself or, indeed, even reach the ground vacated by the compacting right wing.”
Yes! We have agreed this previously........so far so good.
“The broken ground which interfered with the deployment of the left must initially have anchored that flank when the ridge was fully occupied as Philip leaves it unsupported by cavalry or light infantry. It follows mathematically if a space is half occupied by a body of close order troops sixteen deep these same must also be in close order to fill it when eight deep, there is no room for a larger interval.”
Also agreed ! The problem with your hypothesis is that we are told that immediately prior to closing up, Philip’s light troops and cavalry are ‘received’ by the phalanx [ i.e. they withdraw through them], and for the reasons Onasander sets out [XVII and XIX] the phalanx must have been in ‘open’ order’, which had to be 16 deep. You will note that an ‘open order’ phalanx 16 deep occupies the same frontage as your ‘close order’ one 8 deep. Your hypothesis would have Philip march onto the ridge in the usual 16 deep open order ,deploy on a 1,000 yard or so frontage then form ‘close order’ 8 deep, then open up to 16 deep and finally close up to the right, 16 deep to a 500yard aprox frontage. These evolutions would take time to order, and for the various orders to be complied with along a frontage of around 1,000 yards – it could not happen instantaneously – and I don’t think there was anywhere near enough time to do this with the Roman left advancing from just a few hundred yards away, and just where does the withdrawal of the light troops fit in ? Then there’s Occam’s razor.......
Leaving out the ‘8 deep in close order’ stage solves these problems AND complies with everything Polybius says ( provided you don’t dogmatically insist that forming close order in double depth MUSTnecessarily involve two separate manoeuvres. ) :wink:
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Re: Antigonid : Play misty for me: Kynoskephalai

Post by agesilaos »

Xenophon wrote
Agesilaos wrote on 20 Jan:

Xen

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?]
I am afraid that we have to go round in circles until you finally get it, but it should be soon; you see the emboldened part of the Walbank verbatim quote, and your emboldened explanation? Good, just how many Romans were in Philip's army? Now there were Thracians and Illyrians and Thessallians, which is, no doubt, why Walbank says 'on the Macedonian side' rather than simply Macedonian, but no Illyrians etc were sent into exile as far as I recall, but the important bit is that there was a contemporary eye-witness to convey Philip's orders which cannot therefore be fudged - he ordered the phalanx to double its depth and close to the right - since you are pressed for time I will await your response before moving on.
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Re: Antigonid : Play misty for me: Kynoskephalai

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The constant refrain and 'root of all ridicule' aimed at my position is that Macedonian phalanx drill is a ‘system’ and that system excludes a formation eight deep being in anything other than ‘close order’. This is not correct. Firstly it should be noted (as has been earlier) that none of the tactical writers state that a phalanx eight deep must always be in ‘close order’. That is the product of a theory which claims that half file insertion (by any method) is the method of compaction and any other is to be considered an exception proving the rule. Secondly, in explaining the very subject of intervals and the various ‘orders’ of the phalanx, Asklepiodotos and Aelian (respectively) both summarise as below:
4.4: Now since the file-leaders, forming the front of the phalanx, number 1024, it is clear that, drawn up in the most open formation, they will cover 4096 cubits, which is 10 stades and 96 cubits; in the compact formation, 5 stades and 48 cubits; and with locked shield 2½ stades and 24 cubits.It will be necessary, therefore, for you to select your terrain with all this in mind.
11.6: Therefore, since there are 1,024 file-leaders drawn up along the front of the phalanx, it is evident that deployed they occupy 4,096 cubits (6,144 ft.) in length, that is, 10 stades and 96 cubits, 5 stades and 48 cubits (3,072 ft.) in compact order (pyknosis), and two and a half stades and 24 cubits (1,536 ft.) in “locked shield” order.
This figures are correct and it is clear that these authors readily assume that the phalanx, sixteen deep, can halve by width with each reduction of interval or ‘order’ (‘normal’, ‘closed’ and ‘locked shields’). Indeed this seems basic to them. But perhaps both these men are guilty of “pure fiction” or “invention”? Polybios, familiar with the “Macedonian system”, shows they are not. In his oft quoted criticism of Kallisthenes, Polybios describes that author’s description of the advance of Alexander’s phalanx – in line of battle – at Issos (19.7-9; 21.1-3):
A stade, allowing for the distances which must be kept on a march, and reckoning the depth at sixteen, admits of one thousand six hundred men, each man covering six feet. It is plain, therefore, that ten stades will admit of only sixteen thousand men, and twenty twice that number. Hence, when Alexander caused his men to form sixteen deep, he would have wanted a width of ground of twenty stades; [...]"As soon as Alexander," he says, "was within distance of the enemy he caused his men to take up order eight deep," which would have necessitated ground forty stades wide for the length of the line and even had they, to use the poet's expression, "laid shield to shield and on each other leaned," still ground twenty stades wide would have been wanted
Polybios manifestly sees this advance – over some 40 stades (over 7km) in line of battle – as being carried out in ‘normal’ or ‘marching’ order of 1.83 metres (6’). When the phalanx took order eight deep Polybios states plainly that double the width is required; confirming this by stating that even had it closed up to close order it still required twenty stades. But perhaps Polybios has claimed the phalanx was in open order eight deep simply to embarrass the dead Kallisthenes? Most unlikely because if, as is claimed, a phalanx eight deep must always be in close order, Polybios has made a fool of himself. Eight deep in ‘normal’ order had to be something his readers were familiar enough with to accept.

The other leg facilitating a description of “purest fiction” and “invention” is that my rationale for doubling of depth is an absurdity. Both Asklepiodotos and Aelian (respectively) state that such doubling does occur:
2.1: Accordingly some have formed the file of eight men, others of ten, others of twelve, and yet others of sixteen men, so that the phalanx will be symmetrical both for doubling the depth of its units, in circumstances to be described later, so that it may consist of thirty‑two men, and also for reducing it by one‑half, i.e., to eight men;

4.3: Let the file here contain sixteen men. For that number is proportionate to the length of the phalanx, and if we want to do so for any reason, we will be able to double the depth, so as to make it thirty-two men, or to reduce the depth to eight.
These above have been dismissed as a product of ‘lucid dreams’ and never to have taken place in the real world. Asklepiodotus states plainly that he will explain this “in circumstances to be described later”. Indeed, both do:
10.17: Doubling of men, then, takes place by length when we interject or insert between the original files other files of equal strength, maintaining all the while the length of the phalanx, so that a compact order arises only from the doubling of the men; doubling takes place by depth when we interject between the original ranks others of equal strength, so that a compact order arises only by depth.

29.6: The depth is doubled by inserting the second file into the first, so that the file-leader of the second file will be posted behind the file-leader of the first file, and the second man of the second file will be the fourth man of the first file, and the third man of the second file will be the sixth in the first file, and so also for the next until the whole of the second file is integrated into the first file, and [Laur. folio 155v] likewise the fourth file into the third, and all the even-numbered files into the odd-numbered ones. And this is how doubling by number takes place.
Neither of these, as has been argued, returns the phalanx from ‘close order’ or pyknosis which must be eight deep. It is difficult to conceive just how said phalanx – closed up, eight deep – can insert each second file into its right hand neighbour. Asklepiodutus even states that such a doubling thus creates close order by depth only. The earlier promise of discussing doubling of depth is thus fulfilled.

This brings me to the repeated allegation that that I have invented a new ‘order’ of the phalanx nowhere mentioned in the tactical treatises. As has been mentioned, the Macedonian drill was a ‘system’. As such, evolutions do not take place in isolation. While the tactical writers might treat the various movements individually, they were not employed individually. When Philip’s phalanx doubled its depth (see quotes immediately above), the resultant files immediately began closing to the right (as ordered and, for which, see below). Just as Asklepiodotos and Aelian do not mean that the end result was for the phalanx to wind up in close order by depth only, nor did Philip. The first was simply the precursor to the second leading to the desired result.

Closing up:
33.1. If we want to compact the phalanx on the right wing, we order the file on the extreme right wing to stand still and the rest to face spearward and close up to the right, then to face to the front to restore the line, and have the rearward ranks close up forward

12.8If the phalanx must assume the compact formation by wings, we shall give the command, if on the right wing, for the right file to hold its position and for the other files to right face, close up to the right, and then face to the front, and for the rear ranks to advance.
Given that the phalanx had closed up by depth, the second part is not required. But I see now that the original source of both these quotes is claimed only to have included this closing to the right because he knew of Kynoskephalai:
Xenophon wrote: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.
Well, “other possible drill manoeuvres” are, in fact, described including closing to the left and both wings closing to the centre; none of which transpired at Kynoskephalai. No rational argument is offered for all of these going back to presumed knowledge of Kynoskephalai in the original source and I cannot see that one could reasonably be made.

The truth of the matter is that what we don’t know mostly outweighs what we do. We are rarely treated to descriptions of phalanx evolutions in our sources as we are at Kynoskephalai (or Issos – see Arrian’s generalisation from the same source). When we are it is parlous practice to claim such is an exception or ‘unique’ and therefore that a description of the same movement described in the tacticians must go back to knowledge of said exceptional or unique battle.

The evidence admits more than the one view no matter Xenophon’s strident admonishments

For the record my position is as follows:

Philip led his right to the ridge top in a marching column of ‘eights’ (that is, by taxis – Asklep 2.8; Ael 9.3). On reaching the ridge he deployed into line eight deep, ‘open’ order (by half files) to occupy the length of high ridge. As it became apparent his left would not be in position in time, he ordered his line to double its depth (to sixteen) and close to the right.
Last edited by Paralus on Mon Feb 09, 2015 1:35 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Antigonid : Play misty for me: Kynoskephalai

Post by Xenophon »

Agesilaos wrote:
I am afraid that we have to go round in circles until you finally get it, but it should be soon; you see the emboldened part of the Walbank verbatim quote, and your emboldened explanation? Good, just how many Romans were in Philip's army? Now there were Thracians and Illyrians and Thessallians, which is, no doubt, why Walbank says 'on the Macedonian side' rather than simply Macedonian, but no Illyrians etc were sent into exile as far as I recall, but the important bit is that there was a contemporary eye-witness to convey Philip's orders which cannot therefore be fudged - he ordered the phalanx to double its depth and close to the right - since you are pressed for time I will await your response before moving on.
No we don't have to go round again!....and I am not going to. The subject was fully dealt with back on page 8, particularly posts around 4/5 November.I wrote even earlier that ultimately Polybius' sources must have been 'contemporary', but there is no evidence at all that Polybius' drew on any Macedonian source [see Walbank's comments quoted page 8], and it is possible that any contemporary account was from the Roman side :
Xenophon wrote 4 Nov:
"Moreover, all the Macedonian moves described would have been visible to the Romans at the various stages of the battle - Philip's arrival on the ridge, the driving back and deployment on the right of the light troops, the closing up to the right and subsequent charge, the defeat of the left-wing phalanx largely in column and undeployed by the elephants, the subsequent pursuit back to the Macedonian camp etc. No need for any ASSUMED Macedonian source, contemporary or not. Or an Aetolian one for that matter."
Certainly any Roman, observing Philip's manoeuvre from just a couple of hundred yards away, would have recognised and understood what Philip must have ordered, namely, "to double their [usual] depth and close up to the right", so the source for this need not necessarily have been on the Macedonian side.

Moreover, Walbanks suggestion (IIRC) that the fact that Polybius knew Nicanor's nickname of' the elephant' implies he spoke to a Macedonian source doesn't follow either. The Romans could have learnt of this earlier in the campaign from P.O.W's, or from any of the prisoners taken at the battle itself, or during the negotiations with Philip in the aftermath from Philip himself, or anyone in his entourage. Polybius could thus easily have learnt of both Philip's manoeuvre and Nicanor's nickname in Rome, from a Roman source.

In any case the source for Polybius' statement cannot now be ascertained with any certainty, and is irrelevant in any case, because Polybius' wording does not necessarily imply that there MUST have been two separate movements, as you and Paralus dogmatically insist. It is what was actually done that is important. When Philip initially deployed his phalanx, it is reasonably certain it was 16 deep in open order, on a frontage of around 1,000 -1,200 yards, matching the frontage of the four Roman/Allied Legions and Aetolians more or less. It must have been still in this formation when the Roman infantry drove back the Macedonian light troops and cavalry, who were 'received' through the phalanx, which must therefore still been in open order, and then sent to the right wing [to protect the flank of the phalanx]. The left flank would be covered eventually by the deploying left wing, the more so as the Roman right was also still deploying ( as we agree) and he could tackle Flamininus on a more or less equal frontage The Roman lights also withdrew through their heavy infantry. [Polybius XVIII.24.1-10] Philip's leftmost file had to cover 500 yards or so to their right, with the Romans only a few hundred yards away, preparing to charge( the Romans were "close upon them"). It will have been a near-run thing, and there was certainly no time for more than one major manoeuvre. Just as Philip's men completed their move - the sarissas were still vertical - the Romans "fell upon the enemy", and there was just time to lower spears [famously misinterpreted in Livy's account] and charge.
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Re: Antigonid : Play misty for me: Kynoskephalai

Post by agesilaos »

If you go back one more page to the foot of page 7 you will see that the spark for the lengthy debate was your claim that Walbank’s Commentaries supported your views which you stood by. Instead of simply admitting that it was his ‘Philip V’ you persisted in denying what he says in the Commentaries meant what it clearly does and now you simply reject his statement; nothing wrong in that per se but you might like to add that Walbank clearly does NOT support your view.

Just because you have said something on a matter does not close the case especially when there is so much legerdemain. Let me illustrate on 21 Jan it was
No-one said that it means ' to move to a notional double standard depth'. Those are your words. "Straw man alert" as someone here is fond of saying ( invariably wrongly! ) and any bluster is by those who put forward postulations which cannot be so, being contradicted by the evidence ( as I have now posted repeatedly).
Yet now
Certainly any Roman, observing Philip's manoeuvre from just a couple of hundred yards away, would have recognised and understood what Philip must have ordered, namely, "to double their [usual] depth and close up to the right", so the source for this need not necessarily have been on the Macedonian side.
We should be thankful you put that ‘usual’ in square brackets, I suppose because the Greek will not bear it and there is no reason to add it, other than to distort what Polybios says, of course. Nor does your excuse follow, in your model the Romans would certainly not see any doubling of depth since the Macedonians are in double depth, sixteen according to you, all along.

But it gets worse; you insist on foisting a meaning on διπλασιάζειν it will not bear on the pretext that there was no witness with the Macedonian side that could have certain knowledge of the orders issued and then place an undue weight on a word that can have two meanings (ie is ambiguous), namely προσδεξάμενος . Polybios does not write ‘the light troops and horse were received through the phalanx’ as you say repeatedly; the way Polybios expresses such a move is XVII 24 x
δεξάμενος εἰς τὰ διαστήματα τῶν σημαιῶν τοὺς προκινδυνεύοντας,
he received (δεξάμενος) through the (εἰς τὰ) gaps (διαστήματα) of the maniples[literally; standards](τῶν σημαιῶν) those who had fought first (τοὺς προκινδυνεύοντας)
εἰς with a noun in the accusative case means ‘through’, this is not the construction at 24 viii
προσδεξάμενος δὲ τοὺς ἀγωνιζομένους, τούτους μὲν ἥθροιζε πάντας ἐπὶ τὸ δεξιὸν κέρας, καὶ τοὺς πεζοὺς καὶ τοὺς ἱππέας
Here it is προσδεξάμενος rather than just δεξάμενος ; προσ does not mean ‘through’ but rather ‘towards’ or ‘in front of’, and as well as ‘to receive’ it may mean ‘to await’. There is no ‘receiving through’ here, nor would any general allow horses, allegedly fleeing a close pursuit, to pass through his lines. It is a natural translation that Philip ‘met or awaited’ his vanguard. The only way to have the Macedonians in open order is to ignore order’ to double by depth’ or to, in my opinion, spread the battlefield too far (the eight deep open order solution).

Once again you place too much faith in Polybios’ description of the Roman side of things; we have already seen that he has the legions and their ala appear fully deployed and then Flamininus very sportingly attacks with only half his available forces! Again the close pursuit and collapse of the Macedonian Van do not ring true, Philip had time to rally and re-deploy his vanguard and double his depth and close to his right and get his charge in; there does not seem much urgency in the following up of the retreating Maks indeed the Romans re-deployed the very forces that are allegedly meant to be in hot pursuit. That sarrisai were only lowered when the enemy were close is normal practice rather than an emergency action.

The picture from the Roman side is confused or formulaic the details on the Macedonian rational and detailed and has a high command perspective, complete with an apologist angle it is highly unlikely that any of this could come from a Roman source basing his report on prisoner de-briefings which were not part of ancient warfare once a campaign had concluded.
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Re: Antigonid : Play misty for me: Kynoskephalai

Post by Xenophon »

Postby Paralus » Sun May 18, 2014 1:32 am
“Having drunk from the fountain of historical infallibility, I find nothing to disagree with in anything I've posted. This is as it should be, debate without end. Amen.”
Way back when Paralus wrote this, I took it as a humorous ‘bon mot’, but to my dismay now realise it was a declartion of intent! I don’t intend to respond to all of Paralus’ post since it is almost entirely repetitious, and simply demonstrates that he does not seem able to distinguish hypothetical from real/practical in the 3 versions of the manual, which in turn led to incorrect postulations such as “32 deep in close order” which were patently not possible for a variety of reasons I won’t repeat. This despite the fact that earlier Paralus accepted that much of the Manual was hypothetical theory.

Paralus now surprises us by accepting "32 deep in close order" is wrong, and now postulates that Philip’s right wing charged 16 deep in close order – just as Polybius specifically says [ XVIII.30], and with which Agesilaos and I concurred.
HALLELUJAH! We are all agreed ..... which just leaves the vexed problem of how they got into that formation.{ see last few pages of this thread passim]

Paralus wrote Feb 8 above:
The constant refrain and 'root of all ridicule' aimed at my position is that Macedonian phalanx drill is a ‘system’ and that system excludes a formation eight deep being in anything other than ‘close order’. This is not correct....... [no need to repeat quotations of Aelian and asclepiodotus quoted previously]
I’m afraid it IS correct, in general and practical reality terms. As is apparent from reading holistically, it was intended that the phalanx function in one particular manner generally, viz operate 16 deep in ‘open/normal’ order 6 ft spacing of files) as a general rule both on the march ( usually in column of sub-units, though it could also march as an ‘end-on’ phalanx etc in specialist situations) and deploying onto the battlefield, the standard method being that the lead sub-unit took position on its chosen spot, and the succeeding units would then deploy successively to its left, forming a phalanx/line-of battle.

Again generally speaking this battle-line was tailored to the terrain, so as not to leave vulnerable flanks if at all possible, and often light troops and cavalry provided flank guards. The approach march, in phalanx, was also undertaken in ‘open/normal’ order. Close to the enemy line, an assault formation of ‘close order/pyknosis’ was formed, by halving the depth of the phalanx to 8 deep, which also doubled the number of men in each rank, so that half-files now stood on a 3 ft spacing. I don't know off-hand of even a single example of Macedonian files deployed for battle 8 deep in 'open order' in our historical sources, and again, such a formation is mentioned in none of the three versions of the Manual. Close order/pyknosis 8 deep was the standard ‘fighting formation’ for most purposes ( c.f. earlier Greek hoplite phalanxes, which also fought in 'close order' of half-files.) Thanks to the ‘side-on’ method of holding pikes two-handed, and their smaller ‘pelta’ shields, a further refinement ( attributed to Philip II ) was ‘synaspismos/locked shields’ whereby the phalanx halved depth once more to four deep, doubling the men in the ranks once more, with each file now occupying a mere cubit/18 inches of frontage ( which Peter Connolly demonstrated was quite feasible). Thus jammed together, the phalanx could not manoeuvre other than a slow shuffle forward, but the formation presented an all but impenetrable hedgehog of pikes for ( usually) defensive purposes . Note that throughout, the frontage remains the same, 10 stades/2,000 yards/1828 metres for a full 16,000 man phalanx. This was essential, and shortening or lengthening frontage was highly dangerous, as the manuals advise us.[ e.g how were flanking cavalry and light troops expected to cope with a concertina like expanding or contracting phalanx ?]

Indeed the one occasion we are told it was attempted through force of circumstance, Kynoskephalae, it ended in disaster. [ see Polybius commentary on the phalanx at Kynoskephalae XVII.31.12 and 32.5]. To return to their original formations, the reverse procedure was adopted, with the files reforming at ‘double’ depth,[4,8, and 16] and ‘double’ frontal intervals each time [1.5 ft. 3 ft and 6 ft].
Now in theory ( see Paralus’ quotes ), this closing up could also be done laterally – so that Paralus' phalanx maintains the depth of its files, but quarters its frontage from 2,000 yards ( over a mile!!) to 500 yards. The question is why anyone would want to form their ‘fighting formation’ in such a fashion, [unless advancing down a funnel !!]

Militarily it somewhat suicidally invited flank attacks, and indeed even our Roman authors (Arrian; Aelian; Asclepiodotus) advise against it


.......down to.........

“...Given that the phalanx had closed up by depth, the second part is not required. But I see now that the original source of both these quotes is claimed only to have included this closing to the right because he knew of Kynoskephalai:

Xenophon wrote: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.

Well, “other possible drill manoeuvres” are, in fact, described including closing to the left and both wings closing to the centre; none of which transpired at Kynoskephalai. No rational argument is offered for all of these going back to presumed knowledge of Kynoskephalai in the original source and I cannot see that one could reasonably be made.
That is not a reasonable argument – and I trust not deliberately disingenuous, and a wilful misinterpretation of my point? Once you have ‘closing up laterally to the right’ described, based on Kynoskephalae, where it was uniquely performed because of the terrain, and the fact of the surprise ‘encounter’ battle, then it is an obvious corollary for a manual writer to add ‘closing up to the left’ and ‘closing up to the centre’ performed in essentially the same way. What I meant by “Other possible drill manoeuvres” includes, for example, forming hollow square/rectangle for all round defence, for which ‘how to’ details are not given – though we know it occurred on the battlefield [ e.g. Gaugemela, Magnesia, Xenophon’s Anabasis]. These are only very briefly mentioned as march formations, not battlefield ones, and not in any detail. [Asclep XI.6; Aelian XXXVII.2; Arrian 29] Also we are told “Many other formations are in use, not merely on the battlefield but also on the march...” [Asclep X.22 ] for which no details are given, yet ‘closing up laterally to the right’ is described in detail down to the necessary drill moves [Aelian XXXiii.1-2]. Why should this be so, if not because it is what occurred at Kynoskephalae?
“The truth of the matter is that what we don’t know mostly outweighs what we do. We are rarely treated to descriptions of phalanx evolutions in our sources as we are at Kynoskephalai (or Issos – see Arrian’s generalisation from the same source). When we are it is parlous practice to claim such is an exception or ‘unique’ and therefore that a description of the same movement described in the tacticians must go back to knowledge of said exceptional or unique battle.”
Whilst largely true, this is simply the fallacy of ‘ad ignorandium’ again. All battles have their unique chacteristics, yet they are fought on the same underlying principles, and in our sources hundreds of battles are described in greater or lesser detail. If Paralus truly believes what he says here, then he really doesn't understand ancient battle at all. If we do not have information of every ancient battle, yet we still have a large enough sample to be ‘statistically significant’ and from which we may infer or deduce those underlying principles and methods ( just as the compilers of the Manual did).
“The evidence admits more than the one view no matter Xenophon’s strident admonishments.”
Of course there are many possibilities, but only one is most probable/likely. That is why we have principles such as ‘Occam’s razor’ which states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Other, more complicated solutions may possibly ultimately prove correct, but—in the absence of certainty—the fewer assumptions that are made, the better for probability.
“For the record my position is as follows:

Philip led his right to the ridge top in a marching column of ‘eights’ (that is, by taxis – Asklep 2.8; Ael 9.3). On reaching the ridge he deployed into line eight deep, ‘open’ order (by half files) to occupy the length of high ridge. As it became apparent his left would not be in position in time, he ordered his line to double its depth (to sixteen) and close to the right.”
Which should read “...my NEW position is as follows:”
Unfortunately this has as many problems as his old one. Why would Philip have chosen to deploy at ‘half depth’? He had no idea of what the Romans were doing in the fog, save in the most general way. Such a line occupied a frontage of 2,000- 2,500 yards, yet all the indications are that the battlefield was ‘cramped’, but Philip did know a Roman deployment would be only around 1,000 yards long.[ for the heavy infantry]

'Doubling dept'h has the same problem as before – the new 16 deep files would be 12 feet apart, only worse because now the line must close up twice as far, with the leftmost file marching around a mile [1,500-2,000 yards], very possibly under missile fire from the Roman lights. There was no time, or space for this, in reality, with the Romans a few hundred yards at most when the Macedonian lights were pushed back through their ‘open order’ phalanx. ( they would not have withdrawn if the Romans were not an ‘immediate threat’.)

I’m afraid Paralus’ new position also fails to meet the criteria....alas his knowledge and understanding of ancient military matters still falls short of a viable hypothesis.
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Re: Antigonid : Play misty for me: Kynoskephalai

Post by agesilaos »

I will leave Paralus to defend himself but must comment on the latest trip down fantasy lane.

Since it is being claimed that Polybios’ discussion of the phalanx is specific to Kynoskephalai I think it best to post his text ; the Greek can be accessed by following the link and pressing the ‘focus’ button toppish right.

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... apter%3D28
The Macedonian Phalanx
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 endeavour 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,
The Roman defeats in the Punic wars were not from inferior tactics, but owing to the genius of Hannibal.
and the defeats which they sustained in them, I need say no more. It was not owing to their arms or their 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 them. 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.1 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.

A Well-Formed Phalanx is Irresistible
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 is 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 distance between the two hands holding it, and to balance the weight in front; it follows clearly that each hoplite will have ten cubits of his sarissae 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 Homer1— “"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."
” 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.
1 Iliad, 13, 131.

Roman Soldiers in More Open Order
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
The Roman more open order compared with the phalanx.
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 armour 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 vigour 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.
Cumbrous Nature of the Phalanx
Why is it then that the Romans conquer? And what is
Why the phalanx fails.
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 manœuvres 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.
How the Romans Fight Against a Phalanx
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.
Flexibility of the Roman order.
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.
Apologies for the long read but a ‘holistic’ approach demands considering ALL the evidence; most of you will have noticed that just after describing the phalanx as ‘charging sixteen ranks deep’ and the function of the rear rankers in proving missile cover with their densely packed pikes, he concludes XVIII 30 v
‘Such is the arrangement, general and detailed, of the phalanx.’
[5] τοιαύτης περὶ τὴν φάλαγγα διαθέσεως καὶ καθόλου καὶ κατὰ μέρος οὔσης,
No mention of closing up to eight deep in this detailed programme, nor can any manoeuvre be executed once the phalanx is charging. Polybios clearly considers sixteen deep in close order the normal combat formation. Nor does he ever describe this as double depth.

Consider too the description of how the Romans fight a phalanx,
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 (τῶν μερῶν ) 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.
Whilst some of this might apply at Kynoskephalai, the flank attacks on a disordered phalanx suit Pydna more and the attack on a retreating phalanx losing formation Magnesia. Polybios is drawing on all the battles where the Romans faced the phalanx.

Not only that, if one were to accept that only Kynoskephalai is referred to then Paralus’ is actually the only scenario that fits since only his has the Macedonian line longer than the Roman, a fact made more troublesome by Polybios stating that there are two phalangites per legionary frontage!

‘Holistic’? More of a homeopathic approach I fear, Xeno’, trace amounts of evidence watered down with wishful thinking to fit a pre-ordained model. LOL!!
:lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Antigonid : Play misty for me: Kynoskephalai

Post by Paralus »

As Xenophon suggested earlier on this thread, I have written an article on this battle (Ancient Warfare VIII.6). A number of my thoughts on that battle as represented in the article owe much to this thread. I'd intended to include a link to this thread in the further reading with the descriptor of "a lively discussion of the battle can be found at Pothos.org" feeling that traffic to the site might well increase. In the end I thought better of it and left it out. I did so because the level of discourse on the thread had descended to the personal and the pejorative and did not present a 'good look' for the site. I do not exclude myself from that criticism as all three major (only?) contributors are clearly responsible. I do not propose to troll back through those comments and remarks - as we all know what has been said explicitly or implicitly - only apologise for my part in what has become an acrimonious 'debate'. As remarked to me privately: it is hardly worth losing friends over phalanx depth.

As already mentioned this thread and the comments in it informed, to some extent, what was written in the article. During the lull in posting I'd poured over much written material and geography - the latter as the battlefield is more crucial for this battle than most others. I became convinced that although Philip doubled his depth and closed to the right that Hammond's thirty-two deep scenario could not work for reasons expounded on this thread and because even Hammond's chosen site affords a wider deployment. Far from having one's head in the sand, I altered my view - if not the rationale behind that view (that Philip doubled and closed). That altered view is posted a few posts above.

It has been said that possibly the only thing left to discuss on this subject is the actual battle location. As remarked above, that is extremely important and took me many weeks of Google Earth walking. Perhaps we can get on with that in something of a more civil manner. Before that, though, there is the notion that Polybios' discourse on phalanx and legion is based solely on this battle which has been raised most recently. I disagree with that entirely and will get around to posting on same eventually.
Last edited by Paralus on Mon Feb 23, 2015 10:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Antigonid : Play misty for me: Kynoskephalai

Post by agesilaos »

Have to hold my hands up for being part, and a bigger part, of the problem than Para, here, so I will return to my usual style (don't think I can fully disarm :D But the three of us ought to make a better fist of returning to academic discourse than the cease fire in Eastern Ukraine).

As I think I may have said, the main problem with identifying the correct battle field is getting the right frontage to look for; working the other way round, ie. finding a position with a pass to the West and a secure left flank and extrapolating the frontage from the ground will be insufficient (though a great advance on the method of drawing a random contour and superimposing the battle description [sometimes not even that, just a fantasy loosely based on the idea of Polybios' text!]). There are sufficient clues to allow identification of good candidates, I think, and there ought to be archaeology; the Macedonians lay on the field unburied for six years so would be fully skeletised so there ought to be a concentration of minor bones which would have escaped collection when the Glorious Dead were eventually entombed, which mound should also be discoverable. Metal objects would likely have been stripped over the years but small artefacts might have escaped, studs and fastenings, even broken weapons; though confirmatory sarissa parts would have been large enough to have been easily scavenged. The fact that the site remains vague could be due to looking in the wrong place for years; good luck, wish your search well.
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Re: Antigonid : Play misty for me: Kynoskephalai

Post by Paralus »

Xenophon wrote:and we know they charged 16 deep in 'close order', having closed up to their right, also because of the frontages, and because Polybius specifically says they did, for immediately after his description of Kynoskephalae, he digresses on the advantages and disadvantages of the phalanx [XVIII.28-30] " and I will, now that we see them both in actual practice [at Kynoskephalae], endeavour to fulfill this promise." He tells us, inter alia, that each man "occupies a space three feet in breadth" i.e 'close'order. He also says[XVIII.28.30] " From this we can easily conceive what is the nature and force of a charge by the whole phalanx when it is 16 deep." Since we know from the manuals that 16 deep was normally in 'open order', closing up to 8 deep in 'close order', Polybius must be describing the specific formation and charge at Kynoskephalae - which we know took place at 'double depth' i.e. 16 deep.
Given private correspondence and this lengthy thread, it is difficult to remember where this assertion first made its appearance. The above, though, will suffice to illustrate the nub of it. What is claimed is that Polybios’ discussion of phalanx and legion is actually a discussion of Kynoskephalai; more pertinently, of Philip’s formation and tactics at Kynoskephalai. I disagree with this.

Polybios only digresses on this subject because, as he promised, he would at the right time. As this is the first time the two systems had met on the field in his work in pitched battle, this moment was germane. Polybios is clear he is comparing the two systems in general – not the individual forces which had just fought at Kynoskephalai. Not to repeat Agesilaos’ long quote, Polybios is “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”. Note he refers to systems in general. Further, he makes this plain by writing that “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”. He is plainly drawing on all the evidence of both systems in the field and observed clashes between those systems including the numerous opportunities in “our own day”. This is not a dissertation reduced to the tactics and formation of Kynoskephalai.

As Agesilaos says, Polybios’ summation refers to far more than what occurred at Kynoskephalai. Here Polybios, having explained the need for good ground and the phalanx keeping its integrity, says “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 force” and the enemy then attacks in the flank or the rear. The above is not limited to Kynoskephalai.
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Re: Antigonid : Play misty for me: Kynoskephalai

Post by agesilaos »

Since we know from the manuals that 16 deep was normally in 'open order', closing up to 8 deep in 'close order', Polybius must be describing the specific formation and charge at Kynoskephalae - which we know took place at 'double depth' i.e. 16 deep
.

Yet what the Manuals actually say about intervals is
Ask Takt 4
1 Now that the parts of the army have been brought into due relation with the entire force, we may well speak of the intervals in both length and depth. The needs of warfare have brought forth three systems of intervals: the most open order, in which the men are spaced both in length and depth four cubits apart, the most compact, in which with locked shields each man is a cubit distant on all sides from his comrades, and the intermediate, also called a 'compact formation,' in which they are distant two cubits from one another on all sides
2 As occasion demands a change is made from one of these intervals to one of the others, and this, either in length only, which, as we have noted before, is called forming by rank, or in depth, i.e., forming by file, or in both rank and file, which last is called 'by comrade-in rank' and 'by rear rank-man.'
3 The interval of four cubits seems to be the natural one and has, therefore, no special name; the one of two cubits and especially that of one cubit are forced formations. I have stated that of these two spacings the one of two cubits is called 'compact spacing' and the one of a single cubit 'with locked shields.' The former is used when we are marching the phalanx upon the enemy, the latter when the enemy is marching upon us.
4 Now since the file-leaders, forming the front of the phalanx, number 1024, it is clear that, drawn up in the most open formation, they will cover 4096 cubits, which is 10 stades and 96 cubits; in the compact formation, 5 stades and 48 cubits; and with locked shield 2½ stades and 24 cubits. It will be necessary, therefore, for you to select your terrain with all this in mind
.

Aelian 11 corresponds
11 Density of deployment.
1.1. And now we will set forth details concerning the intervals by which the heavy infantry are separated from one another as regards length and depth. There are three kinds of arrangement.
1.2. For, in the first place, some are drawn up with narrower intervals for some special purposes. Now, a man occupies four cubits (6 ft.) drawn up in normal order, two cubits in compact order (pyknosis), and one cubit with locked shields (synaspismos).
1.3. (42) It is “compact order” (pyknosis) whenever from a more open order the intervals are reduced so as to contract the formation as regards both rank and file, that is, as regards length and depth, while still permitting the troops to face about.
1.4. It is “locked-shield order” (synaspismos) whenever from an existing “compact order” (pyknosis) the formation is contracted still further as regards both rank and file, so that because of the nearness of the troops neither a withdrawal nor a turn to the right or to the left is possible.
1.5. “Compacting” (pyknosis) is used whenever the general wishes to lead the phalanx against the enemy, “locking shields” (synaspismos) when the defenders, hedged about as it were, have to receive the enemy's attack.
1.6. Therefore, since there are 1,024 file-leaders drawn up along the front of the phalanx, it is evident that deployed they occupy 4,096 cubits (6,144 ft.) in length, that is, 10 stades and 96 cubits, 5 stades and 48 cubits (3,072 ft.) in compact order (pyknosis), and two and a half stades and 24 cubits (1,536 ft.) in “locked shield” order.
So, what we actually ‘know from the Manuals’ is that pyknosis was the formation used in the approach march on the field.

It is Polybios’ critique of Kallisthenes’ account of Issos which gives XII 19 vi
Immediately on issuing into the open country he re-formed his order, passing to all the word of command to form into phalanx, making it at first thirty-two deep, changing this subsequently to sixteen deep, and finally as he approach the enemy to eight deep. 7 These statements are even more absurd than his former ones. For with the proper intervals for marching order a stade, when the men are sixteen deep, will hold sixteen hundred, each man being at a distance of six feet from the next. 8 It is evident, then, that ten stades will hold sixteen thousand men and twenty stades twice as many. 9 From all this it is quite plain that when Alexander made his army sixteen deep the line necessarily extended for twenty stades, and this left all the cavalry and ten thousand of the infantry over.
And here ‘marching interval’ is envisaged for formations 32, 16 and 8 deep; as has been stated repeatedly, with the evidence, there is no set relationship between depth and interval, as would be expected the Hellenistic general could select any depth or interval (based on a sixteen man file of course – which is why the Manuals mention the frontages that a phalanx occupies at the different intervals ) depending on the situation.
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Re: Antigonid : Play misty for me: Kynoskephalai

Post by agesilaos »

Can't quite remember where Arrian's Taktike is being discussed but it is apposite here so as a point of information, Xenophon would you post the version of 5 vi given in the two translations you have (if we might know whose they are that would be handy, I know of one in 'Ancient World' and another re-published by Ares but have neither). The Greek is on Perseus and is
[6] καὶ εἴτε διπλασιάσαι δεήσειεν τὸ βάθος ἐπὶ τριάκοντα δύο ἄνδρας, ἡ τάξις σύμμετρος ἔσται: εἴτε
αὖ μηκῦναι τὸ μέτωπον ἐς ὀκτώ, ἔσται οὐ πάντη ἀβαθὴς ἡ φάλαγξ. τὴν δὲ ἐς ὀκτὼ εἰ ἐκτεῖναι
ἐθελήσειας ἐπὶ τέσσαρας, ἀβαθὴς γίγνεται
The last line seems to be saying something fatal for your case, but maybe it is just my bad translating. :P
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Re: Antigonid : Play misty for me: Kynoskephalai

Post by agesilaos »

Maybe you have mis-placed your books; I make it
And if it is desired to double the depth to 32men, the unit will be of the appropriate measure: again, if prolonging the front line to eight deep, the phalanx will not become wholly lacking in depth. Should one wish to move [the phalanx] from eight to four deep it will become lacking in depth.
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Re: Antigonid : Play misty for me: Kynoskephalai

Post by Xenophon »

Postby agesilaos » Tue Feb 10, 2015 7:32 pm
“If you go back one more page to the foot of page 7 you will see that the spark for the lengthy debate was your claim that Walbank’s Commentaries supported your views which you stood by. Instead of simply admitting that it was his ‘Philip V’ you persisted in denying what he says in the Commentaries meant what it clearly does and now you simply reject his statement; nothing wrong in that per se but you might like to add that Walbank clearly does NOT support your view. “
I have pointed out more than once that I did not have access to ‘commentaries’ to check, and I quoted Walbank’s remarks in ‘Philip V’ quite correctly, which DOES support my views, even if he says something different elsewhere.
“Just because you have said something on a matter does not close the case especially when there is so much legerdemain. Let me illustrate on 21 Jan it was:
Xenophon wrote:
No-one said that it means ' to move to a notional double standard depth'. Those are your words. "Straw man alert" as someone here is fond of saying ( invariably wrongly! ) and any bluster is by those who put forward postulations which cannot be so, being contradicted by the evidence ( as I have now posted repeatedly).

...Yet now...
Xenophon wrote:
Certainly any Roman, observing Philip's manoeuvre from just a couple of hundred yards away, would have recognised and understood what Philip must have ordered, namely, "to double their [usual] depth and close up to the right", so the source for this need not necessarily have been on the Macedonian side.

We should be thankful you put that ‘usual’ in square brackets, I suppose because the Greek will not bear it and there is no reason to add it, other than to distort what Polybios says, of course. Nor does your excuse follow, in your model the Romans would certainly not see any doubling of depth since the Macedonians are in double depth, sixteen according to you, all along.”
The [usual] is simply a reminder that the usual depth in close order was eight. Given that the Romans had a clear view of Philip’s phalanx advancing down the slope, it would be readily apparent they were 16 deep [double depth].
“But it gets worse; you insist on foisting a meaning on διπλασιάζειν it will not bear on the pretext that there was no witness with the Macedonian side....”
I don’t ‘foist’ anything, and there is no ‘pretext’. Your continual pejorative and derogatory language is really getting tiresome, and I am certain off-putting for general readers ( if there are any left !)
If you read what I actually say, I have made it clear that everything Polybius reports could have come from Roman sources, so there need not necessarily have been a Macedonian source, and such a source is unlikely since being Achaean, Polybius was ‘anti-Macedonian’, and as Walbank says [ p.281 Philip V] with reference to Polybius; “...but of the Macedonian standpoint he has no inkling.”
“... that could have certain knowledge of the orders issued and then place an undue weight on a word that can have two meanings (ie is ambiguous), namely προσδεξάμενος . Polybios does not write ‘the light troops and horse were received through the phalanx’ as you say repeatedly; the way Polybios expresses such a move is XVII 24 x
δεξάμενος εἰς τὰ διαστήματα τῶν σημαιῶν τοὺς προκινδυνεύοντας,
he received (δεξάμενος) through the (εἰς τὰ) gaps (διαστήματα) of the maniples[literally; standards](τῶν σημαιῶν) those who had fought first (τοὺς προκινδυνεύοντας)


εἰς with a noun in the accusative case means ‘through’, this is not the construction at 24 viii
προσδεξάμενος δὲ τοὺς ἀγωνιζομένους, τούτους μὲν ἥθροιζε πάντας ἐπὶ τὸ δεξιὸν κέρας, καὶ τοὺς πεζοὺς καὶ τοὺς ἱππέας


Here it is προσδεξάμενος rather than just δεξάμενος ; προσ does not mean ‘through’ but rather ‘towards’ or ‘in front of’, and as well as ‘to receive’ it may mean ‘to await’. There is no ‘receiving through’ here, nor would any general allow horses, allegedly fleeing a close pursuit, to pass through his lines. It is a natural translation that Philip ‘met or awaited’ his vanguard.”
We would expect that the cavalry, as was customary, would be on the flank of the light infantry, and hence outside the phalanx line, but that horsemen could pass through heavy infantry in open order is known from other examples e.g. the Spartan cavalry at Leuktra. And what do you think happened after Philip supposedly ‘awaited/met’ his light troops ? If they did not withdraw through the phalanx in ‘open/normal’ order, then presumably you envisage them passing along the front of the phalanx to reach the right flank – in which case the Roman lights would not have withdrawn in turn, but rather pressed on and destroyed the trapped Macedonians, as Onasander tells us:
XIX. [The Phalanx should leave Intervals for the light-armed Troops to retire through the Ranks]

1 There should be intervals within the ranks, so that, when the light-armed troops have discharged their weapons while the enemy is still advancing, before the two armies come to close quarters, they may about-face, pass in good order through the centre of the phalanx, and come without confusion to the rear. For it is not safe for them to go around the whole army, encircling the flanks — since the enemy would quickly anticipate them in this manoeuvre, coming to close quarters and intercepting them on the way — nor is it safe for them to force their way through the closed ranks, where they would fall over the weapons and cause confusion in the lines, one man stumbling against another........”
Many words in every language, including English, have multiple meanings where the actual meaning depends on context. The context here is clear .
Shuck burgh translates XVIII.24 ‘προσδεξάμενος’/pros-decamenous as:
...Receiving therefore the men who had been already engaged, he massed them all upon his right wing, both infantry and cavalry;.....”
and ‘δεξάμενος’/decamenous as:
...Flamininus also, having received his advanced party into the intervals between his maniples, charged the enemy....”

Paton in the Loeb similarly has :

Receiving those who were engaged with the enemy...” and “...Flaminius having received his advance force into the gaps between the maniples...”

‘prosdecamenous’ has many meanings in the LSJ, [too many to quote in full] including Agesilaos’ ‘await’, but its primary meaning is:
A. [select] receive favourably, accept, τὸ ἐκ Δελφῶν [χρηστήριον] Hdt.1.48, cf.SIG557.11 (Magn. Mae., iii B.C.), etc.; “π. συμμαχίαν” X.HG7.4.2; τὴν φιλίαν,τὰς διαλύσεις, Plb.1.16.8, 1.17.1; also “π. ἑκάστους ἐπὶ . . ὁμολογίαις”Id.3.18.7; receive hospitably, S.OT1428, E.Ph.1706; “ζῶνθ᾽ Ἡρακλῆ” S.Tr. 233.
II. [select] admit, “ἐς τὴν πόλιν” Th.2.12; admit into one's presence, of a king, X.Cyr.7.5.37, HG1.5.9; of a demos receiving foreign emissaries,SIG561.7 (Chalcis, found at Magn. Mae., iii B.C.).


In context, ‘ await’ makes little sense, and once again Agesilaos’ is forcing a translation which does not fit the context to support an unlikely view. One which no other translator adopts. In context, Philip receives his light troops into the phalanx intervals between his open order files, and then they are sent to protect the right flank. Nor can I find a modern account of the battle that does not accept that this translation and consequent sequence of events are in any way wrong.

For ‘decamenous’ the LSJ also has too many meanings to burden this post with, but again the primary one is :

I. [select] of things as the object, take, accept, receive, etc., “ἄποινα” 1.20, etc.; “μισθὸν τῆς φυλακῆς” Pl.R.416e; “φόρον” Th.1.90; “δ. τι χείρεσσι”Od.19.355; “τὸ διδόμενον παρά τινος” Pl.Grg.499c; “τι ἐνπαρακαταθήκῃ παρά τινος” Plb.33.6.2, etc.; δ. τί τινι receivesomething at the hand of another,

In context, the translations of receive or admit into the ranks must be correct. I cannot find any translation that agrees with Agesilaos, who is therefore likely wrong in his forced translation to suit his dogmatic 'two separate moves'. The two words, appearing so close together in the text are likely for variation, or if there really is a distinction it is likely because the Roman light troops were received through gaps between the Roman units, whilst the Macedonian light troops were received through open order intervals in the phalanx itself.
“ The only way to have the Macedonians in open order is to ignore order’ to double by depth’ or to, in my opinion, spread the battlefield too far (the eight deep open order solution).”
On the latter we are agreed – Philip’s phalanx 8 deep in open order would occupy a frontage of around 2,000 yards or more – over a mile, and twice the Roman frontage. ( never referred to anywhere in our sources with regard to a heavy infantry Macedonian phalanx – despite Agesilaos’ interpretation of Polybius on Kallisthenes - and Polybius then points out that 8 deep in close order would occupy 20 stades [XI.21] – another indication that Polybius didn’t understand what Kallisthenes wrote, and that he wasn’t as familiar with military matters as some believe). Philip would hardly spread himself so thin, it would be a recipe for disaster. On the former, we are all agreed that Philip’s formation in ‘close order’ was 16 deep – double depth – and it is not ‘ignored’ but it doesn’t require two separate drill movements to achieve this, as I have repeatedly demonstrated!
“Once again you place too much faith in Polybios’ description of the Roman side of things; we have already seen that he has the legions and their ala appear fully deployed and then Flamininus very sportingly attacks with only half his available forces! Again the close pursuit and collapse of the Macedonian Van do not ring true, Philip had time to rally and re-deploy his vanguard and double his depth and close to his right and get his charge in; there does not seem much urgency in the following up of the retreating Maks indeed the Romans re-deployed the very forces that are allegedly meant to be in hot pursuit. That sarrisai were only lowered when the enemy were close is normal practice rather than an emergency action.”
Indeed, on your first point, I agree Polybius is almost certainly wrong. There is no reason to suppose that the Romans could deploy significantly faster than the Makedones from their camp, save that they probably didn’t have to await the return of foraging troops. However, I disagree regarding the turning of the tables on the Macedonian light troops. Once the Hastati joined in ( missile armed, be it remembered ) Philip’s auxiliary allied light troops were significantly ‘outgunned’ and outnumbered, with the threat of close combat with ‘heavy’ infantry hanging over them. A rapid withdrawal is what we would expect. Once the Makedonian light troops withdrew through the phalanx, which would not have taken long, the phalanx was clear to close up to its right. The victorious Roman lights ( velites and Aetolian peltasts ) could have pressed forward to harass the phalanx, but they would be very low on missiles after the prolonged skirmishing. In any case Flamininus wished to get his legions into action (they were now ‘close upon’ the phalanx ), so Flamininus briefly halted, blew the recall, and the Roman lights withdrew while the Hastati reformed. I calculate this would have taken a similar time as Philip’s moves. Then, from fairly close to one another, both sides lost no time in charging. This takes place simultaneously with the ‘lights’ being ordered to the right flank, so all is happening quickly, though not, I think, an “emergency action.” [ Not least because Philip’s charge seems to have been orderly and successful] On the march, sarissae were normally sloped over the shoulder, but for all manoeuvres had to be held vertically, and I agree they were only lowered for the actual charge.[ see e.g. Connolly’s experiments]
“The picture from the Roman side is confused or formulaic the details on the Macedonian rational and detailed and has a high command perspective, complete with an apologist angle it is highly unlikely that any of this could come from a Roman source basing his report on prisoner de-briefings which were not part of ancient warfare once a campaign had concluded.”
This is simply ‘special pleading’ ! It is hardly likely that hostages and prisoners, often for many years, didn’t discuss battles etc with their Roman ‘hosts’.
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Re: Antigonid : Play misty for me: Kynoskephalai

Post by Xenophon »

Pos tby agesilaos » Tue Feb 17, 2015 5:53 pm
“I will leave Paralus to defend himself but must comment on the latest trip down fantasy lane.

Since it is being claimed that Polybios’ discussion of the phalanx is specific to Kynoskephalai I think it best to post his text ; the Greek can be accessed by following the link and pressing the ‘focus’ button toppish right.”
It’s a bit rich you referring to my posts as “fantasy lane”, considering some of the considerable error-ridden and mistaken statements that you post......
To clarify, while Polybius is generalising about ‘Phalanx versus Legion’, he uses the battle just described, Kynoskephalae, as prime example of many of his specific points......
For the purposes of this post I have cut down Agesilaos’ full text, to just relevant parts....since it can be read immediately above. I have removed the headings too, as they are not part of the original text

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... apter%3D28
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 is 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 distance between the two hands holding it, and to balance the weight in front; it follows clearly that each hoplite will have ten cubits of his sarissae 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 Homer1— “"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."
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.
This formation was that of Philip at Kynoskephalae, and is the obvious reference here. However, it is possible that the Macedonian phalanx also formed ‘double depth’ 16 deep at Pydna as well, as Frontinus [II.3.20] tells us in an otherwise somewhat garbled account.This detail may be true, since ‘double depth’ of 16 fits the respective frontages best.
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.[
/i]

This rather unconvincing rationalisation for the ‘double depth’ is obviously untrue, for the sloped pikes would in reality deflect few if any ‘pila’, and was hardly an effective use of the pikemen.Nor can a man in rank 16 have any effect on the leading ranks, no matter how hard he may lean on those in front.

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 armour 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.


This is likely incorrect, and may be another example of Polybius’ surprising failure to grasp military information at times. It is true that the legionaries generally operated in ‘open order’ for the bulk of a battle, but it was in order to apply their tactics of small units rushing out to launch pila. For hand-to-hand combat, with drawn swords, they would likely have ‘closed up’ to the usual close order, 3 ft frontage per man....Still, it is quite possible that the legionaries at Kynoskephalae and Pydna gave ground in ‘open’ formation while still utilising pila.....

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 vigour 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.

Again, not strictly true, for the phalanx could and did fight on rough slopes – such as at Kynoskephalae, or Sellasia...
......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.


i.e. actual examples.

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.


A reference to the famous ‘triplex acies’....

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.


This, of course, is exactly what happened, uniquely, at Kynoskephalae - the only time the Legions attacked the phalanx in the rear.
........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.



Apologies for the long read but a ‘holistic’ approach demands considering ALL the evidence; most of you will have noticed that just after describing the phalanx as ‘charging sixteen ranks deep’ and the function of the rear rankers in proving missile cover with their densely packed pikes, he concludes XVIII 30 v
‘Such is the arrangement, general and detailed, of the phalanx.’
[5] τοιαύτης περὶ τὴν φάλαγγα διαθέσεως καὶ καθόλου καὶ κατὰ μέρος οὔσης,


Actually, if you think about it, the pikes are hardly 'densely packed' being at least 3 feet apart in 'close order'. The slender shafts, compared to the large spaces between mean that they are certainly NOT going to provide 'missile cover', or anything like it !! :lol:


No mention of closing up to eight deep in this detailed programme, nor can any manoeuvre be executed once the phalanx is charging. Polybios clearly considers sixteen deep in close order the normal combat formation. Nor does he ever describe this as double depth.

You seem rather inconsistent, or else confused, since earlier you agreed that Philip’s right wing phalanx fought at Kynoskephalae 16 deep, as the frontages demonstrate, and this of course is the ‘double depth’ Polybius refers to. Have you changed your mind? In addition, for the same reasons, Frontinus’ “double phalanx” at Pydna must also be 16 deep. Of the three major ‘Phalanx versus Legion’ battles of Polybius’ era (Kynoskephalae 197 BC; Magnesia 190 BC; and Pydna 168 BC), in none did the phalanx adopt ‘normal’ pyknosis of 8 deep, instead fighting at ‘double depth’ 16 deep, and in the case of Magnesia placing 16 deep phalanx units in 'open order' behind one another to form a formation 32 deep, with elephant gaps, which were likely intended to be filled by the rear units once the elephants had ‘done their thing’.[ c.f Scipio's Zama tactics] If, as many believe, Polybius was the ultimate author of the original manual then he knew perfectly well that ‘close order/pyknosis’ was 8 deep – but not when fighting Romans.

Agesilaos wrote:
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 (τῶν μερῶν ) 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.



Whilst some of this might apply at Kynoskephalai, the flank attacks on a disordered phalanx suit Pydna more and the attack on a retreating phalanx losing formation Magnesia. Polybios is drawing on all the battles where the Romans faced the phalanx.


See above. It only applies to Kynoskephalae. At Pydna there were no ‘flank attacks’, the Romans took on the phalanx frontally and were forced back, with their elephants making the breakthrough.
The main phalanx lost cohesion as it pushed the Romans back onto broken ground in the foothills, and the flexible maniples then worked their way into the resulting gaps, the phalanx broke and was driven into the sea to their rear.
At Magnesia the phalanx, retreating in good order in a box formation was once again broken up by elephants – this time their own !!


‘Holistic’? More of a homeopathic approach I fear, Xeno’, trace amounts of evidence watered down with wishful thinking to fit a pre-ordained model. LOL!!

Actually a very apt description of your own approach, rather than mine, which is very different !
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