Books on Military Organization and Institutions

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Xenophon
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Re: Books on Military Organization and Institutions

Post by Xenophon »

Sean wrote:
Well, I don't think that there is any "alleged" about it. Petroboloi "stone throwers/stone-throwing" can be either men or machines, and its hard to explain what stone-throwing engines are doing that early in that context.
The completely unsubstantiated allegation is that the Phokians are described by Polyaenus as throwing “large stones/petros” by hand, routing the Macedonians by doing so. As I stated in my previous post, it is not ‘early’ but rather half a century or so after the introduction of catapults, and some 20 years after they are recorded as used in mainland Greece ( e.g. in an Athenian inventory c.370 BC)
If you think that in Polyaenus' day, petroboloi were always machines, you are welcome to show how you worked with sources like the TLG and the Packard Humanities Institute to prove it! (Because you would have to go through every passage using that word or a variant). In any case, Polyaenus is drawing on sources from the fourth century BCE, possibly through intermediaries, so Xenophon is just as relevant as Diodorus. We agree that in classical Greek as a whole, "petroboloi" can be either men or machines. So deciding whether machines or men fit the context is a matter of judgement based upon our understanding of the technical details of ancient warfare.
Whilst ‘petrobolos’ is not a common word, the LSJ’s Greek Word study tool reveals that Xenophon’s usage appears to be the last time the word occurs in the known literature to mean hand-thrown stones.....though the LSJ is not exhaustive.
People who have studied the early history of catapults seem to think that stone-throwing catapults were new in the 330s.
That is when we first hear of them in action, and refers to the then-new much more powerful Torsion catapults damaging walls. Obviously, non-torsion stonethrowers/petroboloi existed before this, and are referred to by the technical author Biton. The doyen of ancient artillery scholars E W Marsden reckoned that stonethrowers were introduced some time before 353 BC,( when Onomarchus defeated Philip) but they were essentially anti-personnel weapons like arrowshooters/oxybeles, not being powerful enough to damage walls. Although there is no evidence either way, my suspicion is that they existed from the outset, because our sources mention machines which could throw either stones or bolts.
There are none in the descriptions of Philip's sieges, and the first sources are from, I believe, Alexander's siege of Tyre about twenty years after this battle (Diodorus 17.42.7, Marsden says there is a passage in Arrian on the siege of Halicarnassus).
Catapults are certainly mentioned in Philip’s sieges, both in use by him and by the enemy defenders (e.g siege of Perinthus and Byzantium 340 BC [D.S. XVI.74], where catapults clear the battlements [which perhaps implies stonethrowers capable of destroying crenellations] but battering rams are needed against the actual walls)
Alexander uses powerful stone throwing catapults from the outset against walls at Miletus [D.S. XVII.22], then Halicarnassus [Arrian I.20; D.S.XVII.24] where the defenders too had artillery in the City’s towers. Tyre has already been mentioned.
In the Alexander historians, it is always Alexander who uses them, not his enemies.
This too is quite incorrect. It seems that most cities were defended by artillery, probably the earlier non-torsion types. Tyre had “a wealth of catapults”[D.S.XVII.41]. At his next siege, of Gaza, Alexander himself was wounded in the shoulder by a catapult bolt which penetrated his shield and armour.[Arrian II.27] The Persians even used catapults in field fortifications as part of their defences of the Persian Gates, a narrow pass on the route to Persepolis.
There was a long process of development between the first small dart-shooting catapults powered by bows and the large, winch-drawn, skein-powered catapults which are more familiar to us today. And for the purpose of this story, the question is whether catapults capable of throwing large stones existed at the time in question.
The fourth century BCE was a period of rapid change in catapult technology, and our sources are very limited and not interested in chronology. Scholars try to find dates for the names in the catapult manuals and hope for the best. The history of catapults before the siege of Motya in Sicily is even more of a blank, but we have traces of other traditions than the one in Diodorus (see, say, Campbell's Besieged pp. 25-29, 50-51). But the last time I checked, the first solid evidence for stone-throwing catapults is stories about the sieges of Alexander.
Again, inaccurate. Alexander’s sieges are the first solid evidence for catapults capable of destroying walls and creating breaches.

Even Campbell acknowledges there is no evidence for catapults before 399 BC......
People are welcome to check their libraries for the evidence that catapults had limited ability to shoot downwards (before reconstructions we had Plutarch, Marcellus, 15.5 http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/R ... .html#15.5), or at steep upwards angles (just look at the length of the slider), and the size and concealability of stone-throwing catapults. Marsden's Greek and Roman Artillery, Campbell's Besieged, Kern's Ancient Siege Warfare, and Connolly's Greece and Rome at War are the books I am most familiar with. Here is one modern interpretation of a Hellenistic "three-pounder" at maximum elevation:
That illustration is wholly inappropriate, being a reconstruction of a large Roman torsion-powered machine – a type which did not exist in Onomarchus’ day! The non-torsion powered early stonethrowers were much smaller, being 8-10 feet or so long, and a similar bow width and stood no more than 3-4 ft high ( see below - the diagram is from Marsden and a 'dactyl' on the scale is about 0.75 ins)
So in this case my judgement agrees with that of Duncan B. Campbell, who has been studying the technical details of ancient sieges for thirty years and has published books, peer-reviewed articles, and academic reviews on the subject. Other people have other opinions.
That reasoning is a logical fallacy of the type called “argument from authority” and invalid. However, if you are going to bandy about “authorities”, the greatest is Marsden who is in no doubt that Onomarchus used machines/petroboloi. For that matter, I have studied ancient artillery and siege warfare for over 50 years, and was published on the subject long before Campbell (20 years or so!). I and respected authorities on the subject such as Alan Wilkins agree with Marsden.

But let us go ‘the horse’s mouth’ so to speak and see what Polyaenus actually said :

Polyaenus (2. 38. 2) writes: "Onomarchus, drawing up his men in battle order against the Macedonians, occupied a crescent shaped mountain in his rear. After he had concealed large stones/petros
and stone-throwers/petroboloi in the heights on both sides, he led his forces into the underlying plain. When the Macedonians, coming against them, hurled their javelins , the Phocians pretended to flee into the midst of the mountain. The Macedonians in spirited and quick pursuit pressed against them, but the Phocians by discharging/hurling/shooting/ballontes stones from the heights shattered the Macedonian phalanx. Then Onomarchus signalled the Phocians to turn around and close with the enemy. The Macedonians, with their adversaries attacking them from the rear and discharging/hurling/ballonton large stones at them from above, were put to flight and retreated with much suffering."


But your post is a bit of a 'Gish Gallop' and its hard to pick out the arguments which are worth replying to!
I take exception to this ‘Americanism’, which means the fallacious debating tactic of simply drowning your opponent in a torrent of small, interlocking arguments intended to prevent your opponent from being able to rebut your conclusions. In one definition it is defined as “spouting bullsh*t”. I sincerely hope you were not using the term as a euphemism, for that is an offensive ‘ad hominem’ insult and certainly not what I do. Secondly, there is no multitude of arguments in my post. I simply refuted Campbell’s three flimsy points. Since we cannot get a linguistic conclusion, I then offered two reasons from the context that support the ‘machines’ viewpoint – the Macedonians refusal to take the field after their defeat [D.s.XVI.35.2-3] and Philip’s great interest in artillery in the succeeding years.

One final point. We have but a single very imperfect manuscript of Polyaenus from the 13 C AD, with lacunae of all sorts. The Excerpta Polyaeni 36,3,3 dates from the 9 C AD, and we have 4 or 5 copies which all contain the word “mechanas”. Perhaps this is what Polyaenus actually wrote, and in the much later copy that has come down to us, the copyist has carelessly left out the word?
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Re: Books on Military Organization and Institutions

Post by sean_m »

Paul, I may reply to that one day, but I am not sure. I have clearly said many times (back to the original blog post ) that I see a distinction between catapults (which includes things like the katapeltikon or gastraphetes which were held and operated by one man and shot arrows similar to those shot by a hand bow) and ones which could throw heavy stones (with a weight in mnas not drachmas). You keep responding by citing texts which show the existence of catapults, or dart-shooting catapults, at an earlier date. That is a straw man, because I never said that it is suspiciously early for catapults, but rather for "a large train of stone throwing engines."

I added the Greek text from the 1887 Teubner (including the note about the excerpts, and the editor's explanation of why he prefers the main manuscripts) and a scan of the appropriate page of Marsden to my blog post, so people away from a big library can look at both for themselves.

Marsden's main evidence for the existence of stone-throwing catapults before the 330s was this very anecdote. He also cited arguments that some of the early machines in Biton could have existed that early and thrown heavy stones, but again there is not a lot of evidence for the date of those engineers and Biton's descriptions are famously difficult to interpret. Some scholars today would put them into the last quarter of the 5th century BCE, but I have not read any of their arguments.

Pritchett's Greek State at War volume 5 cites Josephus BJ 3.7.18 on Syrian slingers and λιθοβόλοι and Appian Hannibal chapter 4/section 21 on Hannibal πρῶτον μὲν αὐτῶν οἱ τοξόται καὶ σφενδονῆται καὶ λιθοβόλοι προδραμόντες (placing the archers and slingers and stone-throwers before his other troops). On pages 29 and 30 he interprets the rock throwers of Onomarchus as men not machines. To Pritchett, lithoboloi and petroboloi mean more or less the same thing- and he had spent a long time considering how people talked about throwing stones in Classical Greek. If anything, I think that the hoary chestnut is claiming that the passage clearly means either men (Pritchett, Campbell, Shepherd's translation from 1793) or machines (Marsden, the new translation from Ares Publications), rather than saying it is ambiguous!

For the people on this forum who read German, there is a handy article by Hans Michael Schellenberg on the problem of the early history of the catapult at http://s145739614.online.de/fera/ausgab ... enberg.pdf It cites all the inscriptions and literary references, the arguments that some of Biton's early engineers were active in the last quarter of the 5th century, etc. So even if you can't read German, you might be able to mine the citations.
Last edited by sean_m on Sun Dec 04, 2016 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Books on Military Organization and Institutions

Post by sean_m »

Xenophon wrote:
But your post is a bit of a 'Gish Gallop' and its hard to pick out the arguments which are worth replying to!
I take exception to this ‘Americanism’, which means the fallacious debating tactic of simply drowning your opponent in a torrent of small, interlocking arguments intended to prevent your opponent from being able to rebut your conclusions. In one definition it is defined as “spouting bullsh*t”. I sincerely hope you were not using the term as a euphemism, for that is an offensive ‘ad hominem’ insult and certainly not what I do. Secondly, there is no multitude of arguments in my post. I simply refuted Campbell’s three flimsy points. Since we cannot get a linguistic conclusion, I then offered two reasons from the context that support the ‘machines’ viewpoint – the Macedonians refusal to take the field after their defeat [D.s.XVI.35.2-3] and Philip’s great interest in artillery in the succeeding years.
Well, if I had known of a politer name I would have used it, but I also take exception to the style of argument in that post! It has a lot of details and a lot of invitations to digress (Does this correspond to one of the battles in Diodorus 16.35? Was it the troops who forced Alexander to turn back in India rather than the other way around? What did Diodorus think was first invented in Sicily under Dionysius, and what did his sources think was invented there, and were they right?), but many of them are irrelevant or straw men. Humans are very good at inventing plausible-sounding stories (and very bad at asking themselves "what other stories could explain this evidence? how could we decide between those hypotheses?"), but it does not matter if this battle did not take place the way that you think it did.
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Re: Books on Military Organization and Institutions

Post by sean_m »

Also, for the record: when Alexander besieges Miletus at Diodorus 17.22.2-3, we are told that the defenders had many soldiers, projectiles (βέλοι), and everything else useful in a siege, but Alexander persisted, in a way which was very eager for honours (φιλοτιμότερον), and among other things rocked the walls with his machines (ταῖς τε μηχαναῖς ἐσάλευε τὰ τείχη). The machines which most often rock walls are rams in wheeled tortoises, and beloi include both darts and balls, but more commonly the former.

Readers can decide for themselves whether that is evidence that "Alexander uses powerful stone throwing catapults from the outset against walls at Miletus."

I don't much care whether I am right or not (the evidence for the history of catapults before 341/340 BCE is very limited!), but I very much care that the sources are honestly represented.
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Re: Books on Military Organization and Institutions

Post by Xenophon »

Sean wrote:
I have clearly said many times (back to the original blog post ) that I see a distinction between catapults (which includes things like the katapeltikon or gastraphetes which were held and operated by one man and shot arrows similar to those shot by a hand bow) and ones which could throw heavy stones (with a weight in mnas not drachmas). You keep responding by citing texts which show the existence of catapults, or dart-shooting catapults, at an earlier date. That is a straw man, because I never said that it is suspiciously early for catapults, but rather for "a large train of stone throwing engines."
DS XIV.42:
In fact the catapult/ ‘katapeltikon’ was invented at this time in Syracuse, since the ablest skilled workmen had been gathered from everywhere into one place. ............[2] Consequently the workmen brought unsurpassable devotion to the devising of many missiles/projectiles/ ‘bela’ and engines of war/machines/’machinamata’ that were strange and capable of rendering great service.”
Again, generic terminology is used, whose meaning is not clear on the face of it, until we look at the context – these earliest machines are used at the siege of Punic Motya. It then becomes clear that these earliest machines are ‘gastraphetes’/belly-bows [described in detail by Heron, who tells us these were the first catapults] Later, as the machines grow in size, they are able to hurl stones – as I mentioned earlier some machines with a simple change of bowstring could hurl both bolts and stones. All are called catapults/ ‘katapeltes’ which are defined as “an ancient military engine for hurling stones, arrows, etc.” which can refer to any type of projectile, including pots of snakes! The word means ‘hurler’ or ‘projector’ [ not the common myth of its etymology meaning ‘shield piercer’]. So whilst originally referring to bolt-shooters, the term 'catapult/katapeltes' extended to include all 'projectiles once the stone-thrower entered service. Technically a bolt-shooter/arrow-shooter was called ‘oxybeles’, whilst a stone-thrower was called ‘lithobolos’ or ‘petrobolos’.

Actually it was me who first mentioned “too early” and “a large train of stone throwing engines” quoting Campbell. [post on P.1 Thur Nov 24], which I immediately refuted; “It is not ‘too early’, for Philip’s defeat occurred roughly half a century after catapults had been invented.” Perhaps I should have elaborated that catapults evolved very quickly over the next 60 or so years, into the powerful torsion wall-smashers of Alexander[ from around 340 ], hence non-torsion stone throwers must have appeared some considerable time earlier. In fact Marsden reckoned that large non-torsion stone-throwers such as the machine invented by Isodorus and described by Biton, likely appeared within 30 years of the invention of the ‘gastraphetes’ [i.e. in the 360’s] and certainly before 353 when Onomarchus used them.
Pritchett's Greek State at War volume 5 cites Josephus BJ 3.7.18 on Syrian slingers and λιθοβόλοι and Appian Hannibal chapter 4/section 21 on Hannibal πρῶτον μὲν αὐτῶν οἱ τοξόται καὶ σφενδονῆται καὶ λιθοβόλοι προδραμόντες (placing the archers and slingers and stone-throwers before his other troops). On pages 29 and 30 he interprets the rock throwers of Onomarchus as men not machines. To Pritchett, lithoboloi and petroboloi mean more or less the same thing- and he had spent a long time considering how people talked about throwing stones in Classical Greek. If anything, I think that the hoary chestnut is claiming that the passage clearly means either men (Pritchett, Campbell, Shepherd's translation from 1793) or machines (Marsden, the new translation from Ares Publications), rather than saying it is ambiguous!
It is not really ambiguous, since the term is neither obscure nor does it have a double meaning. It means either men or machines, a single meaning depending on context.

Whilst both ‘lithous’ and ‘petrous’ can be translated as “stone”, they are not completely synonyms, contra Pritchett. For ‘lithous’ refers to stones generally, especially those of a size hurled by a warrior, and goes back to Homer, whilst ‘petrous’ can imply something bigger, a rock, and can mean a boulder, or even cliff ! ( hence it is frequently translated as ‘large stones’.)Thus Appian and Josephus’ usage of ‘lithoboloi’ for light troops throwing stones by hand is quite correct. But my statement that Xenophon is the last time in our surviving literature that ‘petroboloi’ is used to refer to stones thrown by hand is essentially correct.

I see that having falsely accused me of embarking on a “Grish Gallop”, you now set about showing me exactly how it is done with your numerous irrelevant digressions. It is the easiest thing in the world to criticise any source material with " X says such-and-such, but how can we know this is true?"as you do here. The guiding principle is that we should accept what our sources say, unless there is good reason otherwise. Otherwise one can "Grish Gallop" almost every line of any source.

I shall take the trouble to answer those of any significance.
Does this correspond to one of the battles in Diodorus 16.35?
Yes, of course. Onomarchus took the field against Philip in 353 BC, and there is no dissent on this. He was killed at the battle of Crocus Fields the next campaigning season in 352 BC, so his defeat of Philip described by Polyaenus must be one of the two battles of 353 BC, which I’m sure you know.
Was it the troops who forced Alexander to turn back in India rather than the other way around?
A pointless digression, and irrelevant to boot. All of our sources and modern authorities agree the troops refused to go farther at the prospect of what lay ahead, particularly the elephants. [ one minor source, Megasthenes, in an epitome quoted in Diodorus does not mention this, passing over the reason] All other sources are unanimous about this. I shall quote only Plutarch and Arrian – which should suffice.

Plutarch Alexander 62.
"As for the Macedonians, however, their struggle with Porus blunted their courage and stayed their further advance into India. For having had all they could do to repulse an enemy who mustered only twenty thousand infantry and two thousand horse, they violently opposed Alexander when he insisted on crossing the river Ganges also, the width of which, as they learned, was thirty-two furlongs, its depth a hundred fathoms, while its banks on the further side were covered with multitudes of men-at-arms and horsemen and elephants. For they were told that the kings of the Ganderites and Praesii were awaiting them with eighty thousand horsemen, two hundred thousand footmen, eight thousand chariots, and six thousand fighting elephants."

Arrian:
( Coenus, hero of the battle against Porus speaks out as the Army’s representative, and tells Alexander the unpalatable truth that the Army will not go on, and that they should return, and Alexander raise a fresh army....)

"[5.28.1b] Alexander for the moment was annoyed at Coenus' plain talking and at the lack of courage of the other leaders, and dismissed the meeting.
[5.28.2] Then he summoned again the same men for the next day and angrily declared that he was going to pursue his advance, but would not compel any Macedonian to follow him against his will; for he would have men to follow their king of their own volition; as to those who wanted to return home, it was open for them to do so and report back that they had returned leaving their king in the midst of enemies.
[5.28.3] With these words he withdrew to his tent and would not admit to his presence any of his Companions for the whole of that day and for another two days after. He expected that the Macedonians and the allies would experience a change of mind, as often happens in a crowd of soldiers, and would then be more easily brought over to his point of view.
[5.28.4] But when there was profound silence through the camp and it was clear they were annoyed with his show of temper, though not prepared to change their minds because of it, then, according to Ptolemy the son of Lagus, he nonetheless offered sacrifice to cross the river, but did not obtain favorable omens.
[5.28.5] At this he called together the eldest of his Companions and especially those who were closest to him, and since everything was now pointing to withdrawal, he declared to the army that he had decided to turn back.
[5.29.1] At this there arose a loud shout such as you would expect from a large and joyful multitude, and many of them wept. Some drew near the royal tent and called for many blessings on Alexander, since he had allowed himself to be defeated by them and them alone. Then he divided the army into twelve parts and gave orders to build twelve altars, as high as the biggest towers and broader even than towers would be. These were meant as thank offerings to the gods for having brought him victorious so far, and as memorials of his labors.”

What did Diodorus think was first invented in Sicily under Dionysius, and what did his sources think was invented there, and were they right?), but many of them are irrelevant or straw men.
See above. The ‘gastraphetes’/belly bow was the first catapult according to Heron, and he describes it in detail.
Humans are very good at inventing plausible-sounding stories (and very bad at asking themselves "what other stories could explain this evidence? How could we decide between those hypotheses?"),


A pity you did not apply this reasoning yourself. Having looked only at the etymology which indicates ‘petroboloi’ can mean ‘human stone throwers’ or ‘mechanical large stone-throwers’ in isolation, you should have sought elucidation in context, as I have said several times now. The surrounding context is this:-
We have two sources for the passage. An excerpta of the 9C AD which says ‘petroboloi mechanous’/mechanical stone-throwers of which there exists 5 or 6 manuscripts. There is also a single manuscript of the 13C AD, in very poor condition and containing many ‘lacunae’, in which the word ‘mechanous’ is missing.
Of the two sources, on balance of probability, we might expect the ‘excerpta’ manuscripts to be more likely to be correct than the single corrupt manuscript of the whole.

The circumstances are that Onomarchus places the ‘petroboloi’ together with large stones on a horseshoe shaped ridge, then lures the Macedonians into the crescent by a feigned retreat, drawing the Macedonians into a trap, and the Macedonian phalanx is routed.[ see earlier quotation of Polyaenus’ passage] Note that the ‘petroboloi’ are twice referred to as shooting from the heights (implying a considerable distance). Throwing “large stones” by hand is physically impossible beyond about 25 metres, and would not clear the Phocian troops, let alone reach pursuing Macedonian troops, from heights above. Even if human ‘stonethrowers’ were directly in the Phociaan rear, it would be physically impossible by hand. The ‘petroboloi’ also continue shooting (from the heights) as the Phocians “close with the enemy”. Again, it would be physically impossible from the original position on the heights to reach the Macedonians as they retreated, as we are told they did.
Nor would hand-thrown stones against protected/armoured men cause “much suffering”.
Further, whilst hand-thrown stones were common on ancient battlefields, there is no recorded instance of ANY army being put to flight by such, let alone the vaunted Macedonians.
Afterward, and even worse, the Macedonian army is “despondent” and “deserts”.[D.S.XVI.35.2] Philip harangues his men, but only with “great difficulty” persuades them to obey orders. Philip then withdraws his demoralised army to Macedonia, leaving Onomarchus free reign to defeat the Boeotians.
Could hand-thrown stones have achieved this ? Of course not! But exposure to a new and terrifying weapon in the field would,[c.f. Alexander's army after meeting elephants] nor would it necessarily take many catapults to achieve this result.

Therefore, ‘petroboloi mechanous’ is the only meaning which fits both the circumstances, and the better source.

To persist in asserting that Onomarchus’ ‘petroboloi’ were, or could have been, human stone-throwers based purely on a hypothetical possible meaning of the word, when there is absolutely no evidence for this assertion, and which goes against the surrounding circumstances of the context, is illogical to the point of perversity.
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Re: Books on Military Organization and Institutions

Post by Xenophon »

Sean wrote:
Also, for the record: when Alexander besieges Miletus at Diodorus 17.22.2-3, we are told that the defenders had many soldiers, projectiles (βέλοι), and everything else useful in a siege, but Alexander persisted, in a way which was very eager for honours (φιλοτιμότερον), and among other things rocked the walls with his machines (ταῖς τε μηχαναῖς ἐσάλευε τὰ τείχη). The machines which most often rock walls are rams in wheeled tortoises, and beloi include both darts and balls, but more commonly the former.

Readers can decide for themselves whether that is evidence that "Alexander uses powerful stone throwing catapults from the outset against walls at Miletus."

I don't much care whether I am right or not (the evidence for the history of catapults before 341/340 BCE is very limited!), but I very much care that the sources are honestly represented.
Once again you impugn and insult me by stating that I represent the sources dishonestly. In fact it is you, not I, who misrepresent what our sources say, either carelessly through poor methodology, or deliberately.
Whilst it is correct that Diodorus is not too specific about which machines “rocked the walls”, you have omitted what Arrian has to say:
[Arrian I.19] “...He then proceeded to order up his siege engines; the walls were bombarded at close range [ clearly catapults, to breach a wall the stone-thrower needed to be less than 150 metres from the target], and long stretches of the wall were breached with battering rams; he then brought his men up to be ready to get a foothold wherever the wall was breached or shaken down so as to allow an entry....”
...which is exactly as I said. An apology for your false accusation would be appreciated. Given your poor methodology more than once, your obvious unfamiliarity with source material, and not least your false ‘ad hominem’ attacks, I don’t propose to discuss the subject of Onomarchus’ ‘petroboloi’ any further.
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Re: Books on Military Organization and Institutions

Post by Paralus »

Xenophon wrote: [Arrian I.19] “...He then proceeded to order up his siege engines; the walls were bombarded at close range [ clearly catapults, to breach a wall the stone-thrower needed to be less than 150 metres from the target], and long stretches of the wall were breached with battering rams; he then brought his men up to be ready to get a foothold wherever the wall was breached or shaken down so as to allow an entry....”
I think you may be relying on what is a very free translation - De Delincourt's. I'm not at all certain where he finds "bombarded" in the passage or "battering rams" for that matter(1.19.2). Arrian uses μηχανάς (engine of war) and describes the walls as "thrown down" (καταβαλὼν) and "rocked" and / or "shaken" (ἐσεσάλευτο). Arrian also writes that a small (ὀλίγου) section of wall was thrown down rather than "long stretches". "Bombarded" and "battering rams" are De Selincourt's additions - essentially his gloss on what Arrian has written. Pamela Mensch's Landmark translation is rather less florid:
Personally directing the placement of the siege engines near the wall, Alexander soon broke down part of it and caused many other parts to shake; he then led the army up to launch an attack where the wall had either been thrown down or shaken...
Chinnock also does not embellish with terms such as "bombarded" or "battering rams" :
He then stationed his military engines near the wall, and having in a short time partly broken and partly shaken down a large piece of it, he led his army near, that the men might enter wherever the wall had been thrown down or shaken.
Whether catapults capable of throwing down walls or battering rams were used cannot be proven from the text I'd think.
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Re: Books on Military Organization and Institutions

Post by Xenophon »

There are not many translations of Arrian around ( though I note a new one by M.Hammond has been published by Oxford University Press in 2013), and I have ready access to just three - the Penguin one by De Selincourt, the version by Chinnock, and the original Loeb one by E. Iliff Robson. ( there is a newer Loeb by P A Brunt, and the Landmark and now OUP versions).

After looking carefully at the Greek, I'd agree the Landmark is better than De Selincourt. Of the three I looked at, two say "bombarded" ( The Loeb and the Penguin) - but that is a word of the gunpowder age, and not what an ancient would actually say.The Greek word used is 'esesaleuto' = 'cause to rock, make to vibrate or oscillate', a reasonable description of what a stone-thrower does (which Arrian uses only this once) when hurling rocks into a wall. This sounds a little clumsy in English, hence the translators use of the modern English 'bombard' - a reasonable translation.

I quoted De Selincourt as the best of the three ( though it is curious he missed 'small' part of the wall).

I don't think that changes anything however. The machines are brought up 'near' to the walls, and only catapults can attack walls from any distance at all - see my interpolated note in the post you refer to ( battering rams have to be touching the walls). Note also that two types of attack are made on the walls, resulting in part of the wall being 'thrown down/breached', and other parts 'shaken down/rocked'. The former suggests battering rams, and the latter catapults. Interestingly D.S.XVI.22.3 also says "rocked" the walls, implying catapults.

For completeness, here are other translations I have access to, plus my own attempt at a fairly literal translation.....

Penguin: De Selincourt
[Arrian I.19] “...He then proceeded to order up his siege engines; the walls were bombarded at close range [ clearly catapults, to breach a wall the stone-thrower needed to be less than 150 metres from the target], and long stretches of the wall were breached with battering rams; he then brought his men up to be ready to get a foothold wherever the wall was breached or shaken down so as to allow an entry....


Chinnock
He then stationed his military engines near the wall, and having in a short time partly broken and partly shaken down a large piece of it, he led his army near, that the men might enter wherever the wall had been thrown down or shaken.”

Loeb: E. Iliff Robson
“He personally saw to engines being set [establish]against the walls and partly by bombarding the wall at close quarters ,and partly by battering it over a great distance[length], he brought up his force to be ready to rush in wherever the wall was breached or shaken.”

Landmark
Personally directing the placement of the siege engines near the wall, Alexander soon broke down part of it and caused many other parts to shake; he then led the army up to launch an attack where the wall had either been thrown down or shaken..


Me; literal
"He himself set up near the [city]wall machines[of war] and indeed threw down/ overthrew a small section of wall and shook down many other parts. He then brought up the army[troops] to set foot upon/gain a foothold on the thrown down[breached] and shaken /rocked parts of the wall."
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Re: Books on Military Organization and Institutions

Post by Xenophon »

POSTSCRIPT:

Just to tidy up loose ends, should anyone have any lingering doubts about whether Alexander used catapults to destroy walls at Miletus, let us note that both Diodorus and Arrian say that Alexander used engines to "rock/shake down" the walls (using the same Greek word 'esaleue' =cause to rock or vibrate, shake down ). Even if Arrian had not told us directly that the machines were brought up 'near' the walls ( and pounded them from close range) , we should be able to deduce it from indirect evidence.

At Halicarnassus, Arrian is quite explicit that catapults are used to breach the walls: "....the towers/purgous from which to bombard the defenders of the walls, the artillery and battering rams [generic 'mechanous'=engines of war] for breaching the defences/walls...." and later "..brought up his siege artillery/mechanous' =engines of war to attack it...." [an interior crescent shaped wall constructed behind the breach, inaccessible by ram ]. Later [I.22] we are told the towers contained both stone-throwing catapults and bolt-shooters.
There is general agreement that at Halicarnassus, Alexander used stone-throwing catapults to create breaches, as well as rams.

Now this siege train, whose main elements are the towers, catapults and battering rams is the same one used at Miletus, which was roughly 50 miles/80 km, say 3 days easy march, from Halicarnassus, and much shorter by sea. ( which is how the siege train was transported [D.S.XVII.24]).
Alexander moved directly from Miletus to Halicarnassus, so that the siege train must be exactly the same, and the same stone-throwers that battered the walls of Halicarnassus must also have been used against Miletus.
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