Did Alexander command the PHALANX at Chaeronea?

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Fiona
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Post by Fiona »

I don't have anything of value to add, I just wanted to say thank you to all contributors, because it's such an interesting thread to read. I've learned a lot.
I have a question, though - if I've understood this correctly, once the young nobleman had done some service with the infantry, he would then perhaps change to a cavalry role, but would be unlikely, once he had done this, to return to the infantry? If this is right, is there any evidence about what role Alexander played in campaigns of Philip's earlier than Chaeronea? There was a campaign north towards the Danube, wasn't there, as well as the occasion when he was left as regent?
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Post by Paralus »

That evidence is rather sketchy Fiona. The Alexander historians don't interest themselves too much in his father.

Yes, they did "return" to the infantry. Perdiccas led battalions as did Craterus, Atalus, et al. This does not necessarily mean that a Craterus or Perdiccas stood in the taxeis as a phalangite but, as with later French and English nobles, most likely commanded same from horseback. Another nit-pick with Stone's film. It does indicate how the noble learned phalanx/infantry warfare and what it takes to lead. Hence Seleucus, prior to Alexander's death, is the last attested commander of the agema of the hypaspists (royal hypaspists).

As to the argument advanced by Heckel dealing with the Royal hypspists and the Macedonian nobility, I think I still have the files I compiled for another on the forum (from Marshals). If you've a reasonable braodband connection I'll float them to you.

Do you want the Rahe article?

Send me an email address via PM.

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Post by marcus »

Fiona wrote:I have a question, though - if I've understood this correctly, once the young nobleman had done some service with the infantry, he would then perhaps change to a cavalry role, but would be unlikely, once he had done this, to return to the infantry?
I agree largely with Paralus - as he says, the evidence is sketchy; but I'm not sure we really have the evidence that some nobles went into the cavalry first, in the first place. If we take Craterus, for example, we are aware of him as a taxiarch in the pezhetairoi, but I don't think there's any record of him serving in the cavalry. We can only conjecture that, as a nobleman's son, he probably did do a tour of duty in the cavalry before being elevated to command the infantry from his local area.

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Post by amyntoros »

marcus wrote:
Fiona wrote:I have a question, though - if I've understood this correctly, once the young nobleman had done some service with the infantry, he would then perhaps change to a cavalry role, but would be unlikely, once he had done this, to return to the infantry?
I agree largely with Paralus - as he says, the evidence is sketchy; but I'm not sure we really have the evidence that some nobles went into the cavalry first, in the first place. If we take Craterus, for example, we are aware of him as a taxiarch in the pezhetairoi, but I don't think there's any record of him serving in the cavalry. We can only conjecture that, as a nobleman's son, he probably did do a tour of duty in the cavalry before being elevated to command the infantry from his local area.
You've set me to thinking about the whole infantry/cavalry and "status" matter again, except that I need to check some information first and a blinding headache is making it difficult. So ... can you tell me offhand who else was an infantry commander - solely or otherwise?

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Post by marcus »

amyntoros wrote:
marcus wrote:
Fiona wrote:I have a question, though - if I've understood this correctly, once the young nobleman had done some service with the infantry, he would then perhaps change to a cavalry role, but would be unlikely, once he had done this, to return to the infantry?
I agree largely with Paralus - as he says, the evidence is sketchy; but I'm not sure we really have the evidence that some nobles went into the cavalry first, in the first place. If we take Craterus, for example, we are aware of him as a taxiarch in the pezhetairoi, but I don't think there's any record of him serving in the cavalry. We can only conjecture that, as a nobleman's son, he probably did do a tour of duty in the cavalry before being elevated to command the infantry from his local area.
You've set me to thinking about the whole infantry/cavalry and "status" matter again, except that I need to check some information first and a blinding headache is making it difficult. So ... can you tell me offhand who else was an infantry commander - solely or otherwise?

Best regards,
Craterus, Amyntas son of Andromenes (and later his brothers Simmias and Attalus), Perdiccas, Coenus, Meleager, Polyperchon ... er ... there was a Ptolemaios, who was killed at Issus ...

er ... that's all I can think of off the top of my head, and my books are upstairs and I'm ill, so I'm not going to go running up now ... sniffle, sniffle ... :cry:

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Post by Fiona »

Paralus wrote: That evidence is rather sketchy Fiona. The Alexander historians don't interest themselves too much in his father.
That's a shame. I was wondering if there was some source I hadn't come across yet, that dealt more with Philip than Alexander, but that might have mentioned in passing what Alexander did when he was 16 or 17, because that might have shed light on what he might have done at Chaeronea. But it sounds as if there isn't any such thing.
Paralus wrote: Yes, they did "return" to the infantry. Perdiccas led battalions as did Craterus, Atalus, et al. This does not necessarily mean that a Craterus or Perdiccas stood in the taxeis as a phalangite but, as with later French and English nobles, most likely commanded same from horseback. Another nit-pick with Stone's film. It does indicate how the noble learned phalanx/infantry warfare and what it takes to lead. Hence Seleucus, prior to Alexander's death, is the last attested commander of the agema of the hypaspists (royal hypaspists).
I remember, Perdiccas commanded infantry at Granicos, didn't he. But that would be promotion, wouldn't it - to command, I mean, either cavalry or infantry, as opposed to serving in the cavalry. But once you'd moved on to serving in the cavalry, you wouldn't be likely to go back to serving as a phalangite, would you?
So - my thinking was - if we knew that Alexander had served as cavalry on the Danube, it would be an argument against his serving as a phalangite at Chaeronea, though not against his commanding a section of it.
The trouble is, that what was normal practice wouldn't necessarily apply to Alexander himself. It sounds as if even in these early battles, whether he was with the phalanx or with the cavalry, he was in command or at least in nominal command. I can see Philip wanting him to have the opportunity of getting as much experience as he could, while also making use of his youthful talents to help achieve the objective at hand.

Paralus wrote: As to the argument advanced by Heckel dealing with the Royal hypspists and the Macedonian nobility, I think I still have the files I compiled for another on the forum (from Marshals). If you've a reasonable braodband connection I'll float them to you.
Do you want the Rahe article?
Send me an email address via PM.
Michael.
That would be very kind, thank you. I'll do that.
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Post by Fiona »

marcus wrote:
I agree largely with Paralus - as he says, the evidence is sketchy; but I'm not sure we really have the evidence that some nobles went into the cavalry first, in the first place. If we take Craterus, for example, we are aware of him as a taxiarch in the pezhetairoi, but I don't think there's any record of him serving in the cavalry. We can only conjecture that, as a nobleman's son, he probably did do a tour of duty in the cavalry before being elevated to command the infantry from his local area.

ATB
Thank you, Craterus is a good example, then, of a man of noble family who may not have served in the cavalry at all, or if he did, possibly for only a short time. (I've heard this before, though I'm not sure where it comes from, that Craterus was indeed a nobleman and not, as in the OS movie, promoted from the ranks.)
It makes sense to me - such men would have had the upbringing, education, etc to make good officers, and why should the cavalry have all the good officers?
One thought that strikes me is to wonder how much it mattered precisely where in Macedonia you came from. Just how tribal the army was, and how important it was to the men to be commanded by someone from their own area. Perhaps Perdiccas, Seleucus and Craterus came from areas that produced good infantrymen rather than calvarymen, and so, once they were ready for command, their 'arm' was predetermined?
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Post by Fiona »

amyntoros wrote: You've set me to thinking about the whole infantry/cavalry and "status" matter again, except that I need to check some information first and a blinding headache is making it difficult. So ... can you tell me offhand who else was an infantry commander - solely or otherwise?
Nicanor, too, and that's interesting, because wherever he came from, it must have been the same place as Philotas, and he was cavalry.

Hope your headache gets better soon, that's not much fun. :(
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Post by Callisto »

Fiona wrote:One thought that strikes me is to wonder how much it mattered precisely where in Macedonia you came from. Just how tribal the army was, and how important it was to the men to be commanded by someone from their own area. Perhaps Perdiccas, Seleucus and Craterus came from areas that produced good infantrymen rather than calvarymen, and so, once they were ready for command, their 'arm' was predetermined?
Fiona
I believe its generally accepted that the cavalry as well as the phalanx were recruited on a a territorial basis constituted by the districts (if i recall right Arrian uses the phrase "kata ethne"). These were subdivided in their turn into cities of groups of cities in Lower Macedonia and into Ethne or groups of Ethne in Upper Macedonia. For instance, recruits from Lynkos and Orestis form a single 'taxis' during Alexander's Asian campaign and the same most likely happens with Tymphaia and Parauaia.

Originally the territorial principle applied not only to the recruitment of the soldiers but also to the appointment of the officers who were designated within the framework of the regional and the city (or ethnos) organisations. By the time of Alexander at least, if not earlier, there was an exception to this rule with regard to the highest commands, the so-called "army corps generals". Its true that some of the biggest Upper Macedonian units were consistently given commanders from the same territorial units, but this was not mandatory in principle and in fact didnt occur in the rest of the army.
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Post by marcus »

Fiona wrote:I remember, Perdiccas commanded infantry at Granicos, didn't he. But that would be promotion, wouldn't it - to command, I mean, either cavalry or infantry, as opposed to serving in the cavalry. But once you'd moved on to serving in the cavalry, you wouldn't be likely to go back to serving as a phalangite, would you?
The thing is, we don't know in what capacity Perdiccas served prior to Alexander's accession. He was one of the "guards" who cut down Pausanias after the assassination of Philip - which probably means that he was one of the hypaspists (he certainly wasn't a somatophylax). Whether he had previously served in the cavalry would be pure speculation, with no evidence.

Perdiccas then turns up as the taxiarch of pezhetairoi, in which position he rushes the gate at Thebes and gains access (and therefore victory) for Alexander. It is, therefore, quite possible that he was made taxiarch as a reward for his elimination of Philip's assassin; he might also have been put in that position by Alexander simply because he was one of Alexander's loyal friends; but he was almost certainly a high ranking nobleman of Orestis, otherwise (so it is implied by almost all commentators) the Orestians were unlikely to have accepted him as their commander.

What we don't know is who commanded the Oresteian taxeis before Perdiccas. Nor have we any evidence that he ever served in the cavalry (unless his position when Philip was killed was as a hetairos, possibly in the agema).

To move from serving as a rank and file cavalryman to commanding a battalion of infantry would most certainly be a promotion.

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Post by marcus »

Fiona wrote:
amyntoros wrote: You've set me to thinking about the whole infantry/cavalry and "status" matter again, except that I need to check some information first and a blinding headache is making it difficult. So ... can you tell me offhand who else was an infantry commander - solely or otherwise?
Nicanor, too, and that's interesting, because wherever he came from, it must have been the same place as Philotas, and he was cavalry.
More to the point, they were both sons of Parmenion. More than anything else, I imagine that's the "interesting" bit. Having said that, of course, they must have been talented commanders, otherwise they wouldn't have lasted in their commands, irrespective of who their father was, until 330BC.

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Post by amyntoros »

Arrgh! Am terribly sick now. Can't be the flu (or shouldn't be the flu) because I had a shot, but it certainly feels like the flu. Fiona, thanks for your good wishes - and Marcus, hope you're feeling better.
marcus wrote:
Fiona wrote:
amyntoros wrote: You've set me to thinking about the whole infantry/cavalry and "status" matter again, except that I need to check some information first and a blinding headache is making it difficult. So ... can you tell me offhand who else was an infantry commander - solely or otherwise?
Nicanor, too, and that's interesting, because wherever he came from, it must have been the same place as Philotas, and he was cavalry.
More to the point, they were both sons of Parmenion. More than anything else, I imagine that's the "interesting" bit. Having said that, of course, they must have been talented commanders, otherwise they wouldn't have lasted in their commands, irrespective of who their father was, until 330BC.
I suspect that Philotas proved himself as a very capable commander early on (perhaps even before Alexander became king?). I find it worthy of note that when Alexander first arrived at Thebes he demanded the surrender of a couple of people and the Thebans counter-demanded that Alexander surrender Antipater and Philotas to them! (Plutarch Alexander 11) Surely they wouldn't have asked for a non-entity alongside Antipater, so Philotas must have already gained a reputation as a notable commander.

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Post by marcus »

amyntoros wrote:Arrgh! Am terribly sick now. Can't be the flu (or shouldn't be the flu) because I had a shot, but it certainly feels like the flu. Fiona, thanks for your good wishes - and Marcus, hope you're feeling better.
Poor you! Thanks for your expression of sympathy. I'm certainly better than I was, but by no means 100%. Typical, that I should be completely out of it at the weekend, but not too sick to go to school!
amyntoros wrote:I suspect that Philotas proved himself as a very capable commander early on (perhaps even before Alexander became king?). I find it worthy of note that when Alexander first arrived at Thebes he demanded the surrender of a couple of people and the Thebans counter-demanded that Alexander surrender Antipater and Philotas to them! (Plutarch Alexander 11) Surely they wouldn't have asked for a non-entity alongside Antipater, so Philotas must have already gained a reputation as a notable commander.
Indeed, a good point. We can only assume it is Philotas son of Parmenion, of course; but if it was someone else so distinguished that the Thebans demand his surrender, one wonders why we haven't heard of him in another context.

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Post by amyntoros »

marcus wrote:
amyntoros wrote:I suspect that Philotas proved himself as a very capable commander early on (perhaps even before Alexander became king?). I find it worthy of note that when Alexander first arrived at Thebes he demanded the surrender of a couple of people and the Thebans counter-demanded that Alexander surrender Antipater and Philotas to them! (Plutarch Alexander 11) Surely they wouldn't have asked for a non-entity alongside Antipater, so Philotas must have already gained a reputation as a notable commander.
Indeed, a good point. We can only assume it is Philotas son of Parmenion, of course; but if it was someone else so distinguished that the Thebans demand his surrender, one wonders why we haven't heard of him in another context.
Very good point, which sent me running to Heckel's Who's Who. Hmmm, I think in the future I need to follow a variation of the Hippocratic Oath before I post. Instead of 'First, do no harm' it should be 'First, check with Heckel!' :wink: Apparently, there was a Philotas who was phrourarchos of the Cadmea in 338 and it is this Philotas whom the Thebans demanded be surrendered - at least according to Heckel. He has a footnote to this entry wherein he claims " ...it is highly unlikely that Plutarch is referring to Philotas son of Parmenion, since that man will have been too junior to have attracted the attention of the Greeks." However, Heckel gives Philotas (son of Parmenion) a probable birthdate in the late 360's, so by my reckoning if Philotas was born in say 368 he would have been 33 when Alexander attacked Thebes. Hardly that junior, IMO. Unless of course, by late 360's Heckel really means the early 360's because of that darn backwards calendar. But that doesn't seem likely - or does it? :?

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marcus wrote:
The thing is, we don't know in what capacity Perdiccas served prior to Alexander's accession. He was one of the "guards" who cut down Pausanias after the assassination of Philip - which probably means that he was one of the hypaspists (he certainly wasn't a somatophylax). Whether he had previously served in the cavalry would be pure speculation, with no evidence.
Just going off at a tangent, here, but do we know that the guards would be the same in peacetime as in battle? I was just wondering whether there might have been a permanent palace guard, who might have been on duty at the wedding festivities. Perhaps it might even have been the pages? But then, if senior pages were serving as hypaspists anyway, that brings us back to where we started.
marcus wrote:
Perdiccas then turns up as the taxiarch of pezhetairoi, in which position he rushes the gate at Thebes and gains access (and therefore victory) for Alexander. It is, therefore, quite possible that he was made taxiarch as a reward for his elimination of Philip's assassin; he might also have been put in that position by Alexander simply because he was one of Alexander's loyal friends; but he was almost certainly a high ranking nobleman of Orestis, otherwise (so it is implied by almost all commentators) the Orestians were unlikely to have accepted him as their commander.

What we don't know is who commanded the Oresteian taxeis before Perdiccas. Nor have we any evidence that he ever served in the cavalry (unless his position when Philip was killed was as a hetairos, possibly in the agema).
I like this image of Perdiccas with the men of Orestis, it's very appealing.
marcus wrote:
To move from serving as a rank and file cavalryman to commanding a battalion of infantry would most certainly be a promotion.
That such a career progression was possible, says a lot in favour of young men with officer potential gaining experience in both cavalry and infantry, so that they could be called upon to lead either, without the men grumbling that they'd got a leader who'd never done it himself.

Fiona

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