Back on Aug 27 I posted what has become the first post in this thread in the “Ear, Springtime for Arrian....and Diodorus” thread and it was intended to correct a quotation by Agesilaos from Diodorus regarding Polyperchon’s army at Athens which must be erroneous.
Originally, I had not intended to participate here despite some ‘howlers’ in the posts of Agesilaos and Paralus due to the fact that military matters are, shall we say, not their strongest suit as is evident from other threads. – but no-one can be an expert in every aspect of Greek/Macedonian/Hellenistic history, I certainly am not.
Moreover, the subject of ancient army numbers, whether nominal strengths or casualties or any other aspect is fraught with difficulty, not to mention that strengths varied enormously in practise, and were invariably less than their nominal ‘paper’ strengths, sometimes drastically so, as we can gather from known strengths of Roman Legions.
The first error stems from not properly understanding the way in which Graeco-Macedonian states raised their armies, which Agesilaos and Paralus seem to have overlooked. Generally speaking, Phalanxes were raised from CITIZENS, who were typically recruited from late teens (often referred to as ‘Ephebes’) and being liable for service until their fifties – though on occasion those older and younger could be ‘called up’ [e.g. Philip V calling up 15 year-olds prior to Kynoskephalae and very likely Perseus doing much the same before the Pydna campaign]. In Macedon ( and other States ), a Phalanx going on campaign, or forming part of a field campaign army abroad was drawn from the experienced men in their prime – roughly 21 to 40 or so, whilst the young were regarded as too inexperienced and the elderly as not fit enough for the rigours of campaign and forced marches. These only served in ‘Home Defence’ for the homeland could not be left undefended, and as a rule of thumb, in practice approximately half those called up for service would go on campaign, though again there were exceptions. Because Macedon was surrounded by predatory and hostile states, a proportion of the Army sufficient to defend it had always to be present at home, thus the whole Macedonian phalanx could only take the field in defence of Macedon, as at Kynoskephalae and Pydna. Alexander took only 6 taxeis, ( excluding Guard units) some 12,000 men at most - less still if you are one of those who believe, like Berve and Brunt et al that the taxis numbered only 1500, which is probably incorrect – I have thought so since the 1970’s. See discussion here by Luke Ueda-Sarson [ http://lukeuedasarson.com/GranicusNotes.html
] who sets out the evidence for taxeis of 2,000.
Half the phalanx, the remaining 12,000, were left with Antipater to defend Macedon’s European Empire, and control subject peoples ( and half the cavalry too).
POLYPERCHON Macedonian numbers
As with most things ‘that [are ] certain’ , it is by no means certain that Polyperchon could not raise 20,000 Macedonian troops.
I hope to demonstrate that it is certain, and in truth I was surprised that you and Paralus did not recognise this !
It is not certain either, that Antipatros was left with 12,000 Macedonian foot, Diodoros does not say what sort of infantry remained with him; XVII 17 v just says
The soldiers who were left behind in Europe under the command of Antipater numbered twelve thousand foot and fifteen hundred horse.
Again this is to misunderstand ancient military matters. No-one in their right mind would leave hearth, family and homeland to be ‘protected’ by mercenaries whilst the native army marched off overseas for obvious reasons – there are a number of examples of what tended to happen if mercenary troops were relied on for protection ( e.g. The Mamertines in Sicily).
Diodorus doesn’t mention mercenaries, and I think he obviously means Macedonian troops when unspecified.( Where mercenaries are present Diodorus usually mentions them separately)
We might try to resolve matters empirically, http://ourworldindata.org/data/populati
... on-growth/ gives Macedonia a population density of 4.86 per km2 in the year 0 (clearly astronomers rather than historians) and Blackwell’s ‘Companion to Ancient Macedonia’, p 76, makes Philip II’s realm 43,210 Km2 which yields a population of 210,000, which is not dissimilar to that of fifth century Athens, which could raise 25,000 hoplites, already 9,000 more than Bosworth allows Macedon, yet Athenian hoplites had to meet a property requirement that Macedonian phalangites did not, making to pool of potential recruits much larger.
I don’t think this method is valid. The size of Macedon was in constant flux, other estimates for its size at the end of Philip’s reign are 30,000km2 or a little more. Since exact borders are not known, all we can do is make a rough estimate. Other estimates for total population at this time are 1.2 million ( based on a figure of 40 odd per km2 ) give or take a couple of hundred thousand and of course not all the population were ethnic Macedonians and fewer still were citizens/Makedones.
Even the 13,000 Diodoros says Antipatros fielded against the rebels in the Lamian war is doubted by Bosworth, who is understandably concerned with the corollary that ‘Macedonia was short of citizen soldiers’ XVIII 12 ii;
I think it fair to say that Bosworth’s views on this subject are not widely accepted, and are certainly an exaggeration. We neeed consider them no further.
As soon, however, as he learned of the movement concerted against him by the Greeks, he left Sippas as general of Macedonia, giving him a sufficient army and bidding him enlist as many men as possible, while he himself, taking thirteen thousand Macedonians and six hundred horsemen (for Macedonia was short of citizen soldiers because of the number of those who had been sent to Asia as replacements for the army), set out from Macedonia to Thessaly, accompanied by the entire fleet which Alexander had sent to convoy a sum of money from the royal treasury to Macedonia, being in all one hundred and ten triremes.
Bosworth points out that Diodoros frequently uses a for x number of Macedonians, x number of mercenaries x number of cavalry and posits that the number of Macedonians has dropped out together with the mention of mercenaries. He fails to consider that 13,000 may have been small for a Macedonian levy! This would certainly be the case if the total in 334 had been 24,000.
You seem to have overlooked the fact that the bulk of the Macedonian phalanx troops were in Asia at the time. It is certainly true that Alexander drew off the bulk of new drafts, and therefore Antipater’s available manpower remained static at around 12-13,000.
There would be other causes for Antipatros’ troop shortage; Zopyrion had recently lost a whole army; the Odrysians were in revolt, again (Lysimachos had to fight Seuthes on his return); nor was Sippas left without a force.
It is perhaps likely that Zopyrion’s army included few if any actual Macedonian phalanx troops.....
Just to keep matters in chronological order in 318 Polyperchon DID have a monopoly over Macedonian resources; some Macedonian troops remained in Asia but he alone could call on the native levy, Kassandros had fled to Antigonos and the split within the kingdom was yet to arise. Could Macedonia supply 20,000 infantry in 318? I should think almost certainly.
You and Paralus have misinterpreted what I said. I didn’t mention ‘resources’, I said “ Polyperchon did not have a monopoly on Macedonian troops.” By which I meant the fact that the other Diadochi also fielded parts of the total Macedonian phalanx. In addition to what we may term the ‘Home defence force’, the field army, or expeditionary force was still largely in Asia – but I’ll go into more detail below.......
The later Antigonids had slimmer resources to work with yet still raised appreciable forces; Doson’s force at Sellasia was hardly the full levy, but an expeditionary force; it was Philip V not Perseus who called up veterans and striplings, yet his own diagramma still exempts whole groups from being drafted, so hardly ‘scraping the barrel’; the reason being the defeat at Aous the previous year.
Antigonus Doson fielded a Macedonian phalanx of 10,000 men at Sellasia in 222 BC ( plus 3,000 Guard Peltasts. Since Polyperchon, inheriting Antipater’s army, had no Guard units I shall quote only figures for the ‘ordinary’ phalanx.) I think you’ll find Philip V was indeed ‘scraping the barrel’. At all times in history certain essential groups must be exempted from conscription – it is never possible to draft every able-bodied man! Philip’s casualties were less than 2,000 in 198 BC at the Aous, [Livy XXXII.12..9] which loss would have been largely made good by next year’s normal draft before the Kynoskephalae campaign, and he wouldn’t have needed to conscript 15 year-olds and aged veterans for that reason. Rather, he was stretching every sinew to defend Macedon against the Romans, and their vastly superior potential manpower.
The performance of the new recruits gives the lie to your notion that one can train phalangites overnight (Alexander seems to have allotted four years for the purpose if one considers the gap between his Asiatic training programmes being initiated and the troops joining the army). Peter Connolly only worked with, what twenty people? Not really a comparison. When someone works with 64 or more people it is will still be less than most cities would be training, judging from the honorary stele from Beroia (I think).
As I have remarked elsewhere, you have little knowledge of military drill, either how it is done, or how long training takes.The point is that phalanx drill and handling a pike are not rocket science, and can be learnt quickly as Connolly demonstrated. Even today, drill is learned in small squads, and once basic drill is learnt, these ‘building blocks’ are then put together to achieve mass drill – which is also easily and quickly learnt. I remember in my army days a Scots ex-British army RSM wagering the other NCO’s that he would have raw recruits perform the tricky right and left forms of the Brigade of Guards at their annual Trooping the Colour, at the recruits passing out parade some two weeks hence. Given their other training commitments, the recruits had but an hour a day for drill, and that not every day, so that there was only a total of 10-12 hours drill training. The 800 recruits performed flawlessly at the passing out parade, replicating the Trooping the Colour ceremony every bit as good as Guardsmen.
It is poor logic to assume that the four (six?) years before the ‘epigoni’ joined Alexander’s army was needed to train them as a phalanx. Consider that when Philip II initiated his phalanx reforms after his brother King Perdiccas III was killed and the army largely destroyed in the summer of 359 BC, he was starting from scratch, with new weapons and drill. After training the new conscripts in the Spring of 358 [it is unlikely they were called up over the dead of Winter], Philip led his ‘New Model Army’ against the hitherto victorious Illyrians, completely destroying them, and their King Bardylis died in turn. Obviously a high pitch of training could be achieved in a few months at most.
Perseus managed 21,000 because after Kynoskephalai Philip V put all his efforts into re-building the kingdom’s strength and promoting population growth.
Indeed, there was a period of relative peace after the defeat at Kynoskephale ending the second Macedonian war in 197 BC, with its heavy casualties (8,000 dead and 5,000 prisoners according to Livy XXXIII.6.7, relying on Polybius),and Perseus’ defence of Macedonia at Pydna in 168 BC – time enough for Macedonian numbers to build up again. Perseus seems to have fielded an ‘ordinary’ phalanx of 16,000 ( plus an Agema of 2,000 and 3,000 other Guard Peltasts), though exact numbers are uncertain. The total of 21,000 or thereabouts was certainly the largest single Macedonian phalanx ever fielded, consisting as it did of a united ‘Field Army’ and ‘Home Defence Force’ and ‘Royal Guard’. This alone makes Polyperchon’s Macedonian phalanx at Athens ( i.e. ‘Field Army’ only ) being 20,000 strong extremely unlikely. But there is even more concrete evidence.
At Babylon, Alexander had a maximum of some 16,000 or so phalangites if at full strength ( 8 taxeis of 2,000 ), plus his Guard units, of whom he sent 10,000 or so veterans home to Macedon under Craterus, retaining at most 6,000 if all units were at full paper strength (unlikely), and in fact there we probably 4,000 judging by the numbers needed to fill his proposed mixed Macedonian/Persian phalanx [Arrian VII.23.3 ] . For the Lamian War which immediately followed Alexander’s death in 323 BC, Antipater had an army of some 13,000 infantry ( probably a phalanx of 12,000 plus 1,000 Macedonian archers/light troops – who were not citizens. In the absence of allies, Macedonian native light troops were needed ) He left Sippas in Macedon with perhaps at most 2,000 phalangites and orders to raise more. [Diod xviii.12.2]. This period saw the largest number of Macedonian phalangites to ever be under arms, and was still less than 30,000 in total. Many of Alexander’s phalanx in Asia will have been non-Macedonians, recruited along the way in the course of the campaign, diluting Macedonian ethnicity, as occurred in the cavalry.
When Antipater was defeated by a 25-30,000 strong Greek army, Antipater was penned up in Lamia, having sent for help. The first to come was Leonnatus, who recruited in Macedon, probably taking over Sippas’ troops. In all he was able to gather an army of 20,000, but only a few were Macedonian phalangites. Before he could join Antipater, he was defeated and killed by a larger Greek army. Antipater succeeded in joining the survivors and took command.
Next, Craterus brought over 6,000 of the ten thousand veterans from Cilicia plus 4,000 other troops enlisted in Cilicia, as well as 1,000 Persian archers and slingers and 1,500 cavalry. This swelled the three combined forces to over 40,000 heavy infantry, 3,000 archers and slingers and 5,000 cavalry( few of whom were ethnically Macedonian). The Macedonian phalanx portion will have numbered something like 20-22,000 (estimated). Antipater defeated the Greeks at Crannon in September 322 BC. In 321 BC he took probably half the army across to Asia to attend the conference at Triparadeisos in upper Syria, leaving Polyperchon with ‘a considerable army’ to fend off the Aetolians ( who had been allied to the now dead Perdiccas). The Aetolians defeated and killed Antipater’s general Polycles and “no small number of his soldiers”. Antipater returned to Macedon, having appointed Antigonus as General of the ‘Royal Army’ in Asia, with his son Kassander as ‘Chiliarch’ to Antigonus. He also left 8,500 phalangites with Antigonus to bolster the ‘Royal’ Army’s strength [Arrian Fr. XI.43 ; Diod XIX.29.3]
Antipater’s army in Macedon now contained 12-13,000 phalangites once again, or perhaps even less depending on how large Polycles’ losses had been.
That is the number that Polyperchon inherited in 319 BC on the death of Antipater, and even if Polyperchon denuded Macedon of every phalangite – unlikely in the extreme, for the reasons explained above – he had nothing like 20,000 Macedonian phalangites at Athens in 318 BC. ( as Diod XVIII.68.2 gives him). Diodorus, or rather his source, is clearly in error here, just as I said in my original post.