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The Makedonian phalanx -- why such depth?
#1
I've been looking at lurvely illustrations of the Makedonians like this one and something isn't clicking for me. The sarissas were meant to keep the enemy at a distance, and the first five ranks or so could all reach the points of their weapons past the front rank of shields. But what were the ranks behind the fifth or maybe sixth for? If I understand correctly, increased depth in a Classical phalanx was used to increase momentum when shoving forward shield-on-shield but I thought a Makedonian phalanx didn't function this way, thus the longer spears. Am I mistaken? Or did the "extra" ranks provide pushing power in some other way, or strengthen the formation against breaking up?
Dan D'Silva

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#2
If we trust Polybios, the "forest" od pikes was offering some degree opd protection from missiles. I can imagine from javelines but I have doubts about arrows.

Kind regards
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#3
It was probably for morale and the ability to stand up to armoured cavalry. Later fights between pike phalanxes did come to a phase where the men were entangled at close range, and the same may have been true in the Hellenistic period, but I doubt the extra ranks would help with pushing. But there is little research on the mechanics of combat between two pike phalanxes (or between a spear phalanx and a pike phalanx). As with most things martial and Hellenistic, not many scholars seem to be interested.

Also, with a depth of 16 you could advance to locked shields (synapsimos, with 1 cubit of width per file) and still have a respectable depth of 8 men.
Nullis in verba

I left this forum around the beginning of 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value
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#4
Another good reason for the depth could be psychological. It would be morale boosting to know you have 15 ranks of guys backing you up. And another would be to continuously replace losses so that the phalanx can keep the enemy fixed in place for as long as possible.
Michael D. Hafer [aka Mythos Ruler, aka eX | Vesper]
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#5
It is my belief ( for reasons too complex to explain in a brief post) that Greek authors always described depths in 'open' order - 6 feet per man frontage ( which the authors of the Hellenistic manuals call 'normal' order, hence having no special name.) It was this 'open/normal' order in which the Phalanx, pike or spear armed, carried out battlefield manoeuvres . Once within 'charge distance' (100 yards or closer), the formation moved into close order (pyknosis) at 3 feet frontage per man, by means of the rear half of the 16 man file closing up in between the existing ranks, to form a phalanx now 8 deep, with 3 feet frontage per man. I believe this was the normal fighting formation for the Macedonian phalanx, with the sarrisae of the first 5 ranks protruding, and the rear 3 ranks raised. This formation was more than sufficiently deep ( re-enactors experience has shown that a line just 3 ranks deep is extremely difficult to break), and does not 'waste' the fighting strength of the formation in excess, and generally (but not always) useless depth, but is sufficiently deep to replace casualties in the front 5 'fighting' ranks from the 3 behind......
"Synapsismos'/locked shields was just 18 inches frontage per man, and in my view the formation was then just 4 ranks deep, with all 'sarissae'/pikes protruding. This latter was largely a defensive formation that could not manoeuvre, but could shuffle forward/back.

Similarly, an 'average' depth for a Hoplite spear armed phalanx was 8 deep ( though 12 and 16 and even deeper by the Thebans are known, the latter when using 'column' against line) and this too is in 'open' order, so that when 'closed up' into 'pyknosis' the line is just 4 deep, with each man on a 3 foot frontage, as Xenophon famously tells us. The front 3 ranks of Hoplites could use their spears, with a rear rank of 'file closers', again not wasting the 'fighting strength' of the formation.....

In the case of the Hoplite spear armed phalanx, I believe the terms 'pyknosis' /close order and 'synaspismos'/locked shields were synonymous, since on a 3 ft frontage, the 3 foot or slightly larger 'aspides'/shields would be just touching/overlapping.....
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
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#6
I just came across an ancient source on the subject. The following is from Aelian's tactical manual written during Trajan's reign (tr. A.M. Devine). He describes a phalanx drawn up in close order (2 cubits per file) with pikes lowered and says: “[14.5] Therefore for each of those stationed in the front rank five sarissas project, presenting a forbidding aspect to the enemy, and thus each man is hedged about by five sarissas and pushes forward reinforced with the strength of five men, as can easily be seen. [14.6] And those behind the fifth rank, though not able to extend their sarissas, by pressing heavily with the weight of their bodies make the force stronger and deprive the front-rank-men of the opportunity to flee.” He was drawing on lost Hellenistic manuals.

It loooks like all of us have been forgetting the coercive factor! I suspect that's why very thin lines work in reenactment combat but not historically. And he seems to believe that the rear ranks helped by pushing somehow.
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#7
Yes, that is one of the three manuals I was referring to ( Aelian, Asclepiodotus and Arrian).....each author's work is very similar and all appear to be based on a single 'lost' original Hellenistic work. As is known from more modern drill manuals, (e.g. Prussian) a single line of 'file closers' is sufficient to co-erce/prevent runaways, and as the manuals state, three is more than sufficient to 'lean/push', along probably with ranks 2-5, as and when necessary. This 'othismos' probably occurred as both sides tired and the sarissae were, for the most part, embedded in the enemy shields.......
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
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#8
Quote:It loooks like all of us have been forgetting the coercive factor!

This has been addressed at length in a number of papers. It is the heart of the argument against 'pushing' by rear rankers by those who see the term used figuratively.
Paul M. Bardunias
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#9
Quote:Once within 'charge distance' (100 yards or closer), the formation moved into close order (pyknosis) at 3 feet frontage per man, by means of the rear half of the 16 man file closing up in between the existing ranks, to form a phalanx now 8 deep, with 3 feet frontage per man. I believe this was the normal fighting formation for the Macedonian phalanx, with the sarrisae of the first 5 ranks protruding, and the rear 3 ranks raised...

Well now, there’s an interesting notion. The only real description of this that we have is from Callisthenes – as paraphrased by Polybius in his ill-considered attack. Here the thinning of depth – intricately described for an ancient source – had absolutely nothing to do with “falling out” from open to pyknosis order and everything to do with occupying the width of the field so as not to be outflanked.

Have you anything that backs up this notion?
Paralus|Michael Park

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#10
As I said to begin with, my reasons for thinking that Greek authors when describing depth speak of open/normal order, (4 cubits/6 feet per man), which depth is subsequently halved just before combat when they 'close up' into pyknosis/close order( 2 cubits/3 feet per man), are quite complex - far too many to set out succinctly here.( it would require an in-depth analysis of various sometimes lengthy passages, cross-referenced to the manuals)

The passage of Polybius (XII.21) you refer to is one of the clues. Suffice to say it is a common fallacy that Polybius/Callisthenes has Alexander 'broaden' his phalanx to fill the width of the battlefield. In fact, Polybius scorns Callisthenes because even in close order 8 deep, the phalanx would be too wide to fit into the narrower battlefield (on Callisthenes stated distances). Bear in mind that a phalanx 16 deep, on closing to 8 deep will be exactly the same frontage/width as before.....
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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#11
Quote: Suffice to say it is a common fallacy that Polybius/Callisthenes has Alexander 'broaden' his phalanx to fill the width of the battlefield. In fact, Polybius scorns Callisthenes because even in close order 8 deep, the phalanx would be too wide to fit into the narrower battlefield (on Callisthenes stated distances). .....

Polybius is utterly wrong: his logic is flawed. This passage is not his "high point" by any stretch.

Regardless of the complexities I'd love an inkling of your source material. I imagine the basis of your assertion is the lack of effect on the frontage of the phalanx?
Paralus|Michael Park

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Wicked men, you are sinning against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander!

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#12
Quote:Yes, that is one of the three manuals I was referring to ( Aelian, Asclepiodotus and Arrian).....each author's work is very similar and all appear to be based on a single 'lost' original Hellenistic work. As is known from more modern drill manuals, (e.g. Prussian) a single line of 'file closers' is sufficient to co-erce/prevent runaways, and as the manuals state, three is more than sufficient to 'lean/push', along probably with ranks 2-5, as and when necessary. This 'othismos' probably occurred as both sides tired and the sarissae were, for the most part, embedded in the enemy shields.......
Well, it looks like Aelian thought that the file-closers could use some help! Two to four ranks seems to have been sufficient for infantry fighting with muskets and rifle-muskets, but they didn't engage in prolonged hand-to-hand combat. Combat at a distance is different from hand-to-hand combat and is probably psychologically easier. There is an interesting comment in the Strategikon of Maurice that two or three ranks of cavalry would maximize fighting power, but in practice 6-10 are needed because there are only so many brave men on good horses able to fight in the front ranks successfully. I should do some research on pike formations in other cultures, but I don't think a depth of 16 is particularly unusual.
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I left this forum around the beginning of 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value
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#13
Paralus wrote:
Quote:Regardless of the complexities I'd love an inkling of your source material.
Well to deal with Polybius XII.19-22, I'll set it out and add comments to show that it is evident that Polybius believes that when a depth is specified by a writer, in this case Callisthenes, it refers to troops in 'open' or 'normal' order. Accordingly, readers would know that the formation would 'close up' just before contact, and that the depth would automatically be halved....For our present purpose, we can ignore his criticisms since we are here concerned purely with the descriptions of troop formations.
Translated Text courtesy of 'Lacus Curtius'
19 Very similar are his statements about Alexander. He says that when he crossed to Asia he had forty thousand foot and four thousand five hundred horse, 2 and that when he was on the point of invading Cilicia he was joined by a further force of five thousand foot and eight hundred horse. 3 Suppose we deduct from this total three thousand foot and three hundred horse, a liberal allowance for those absent on special service, there still remain p357forty-two thousand foot and five thousand horse. 4 Assuming these numbers, he tells us that when Alexander heard the news of Darius's arrival in Cilicia he was a hundred stades away and had already traversed the pass. 5 In consequence he turned and marched back through the pass with the phalanx in front, followed by the cavalry, and last of all the baggage-train. 6 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 approached 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.
Quite correct and consistent with the manuals, a stade being aprox. 200yds/600 ft, so that 1600 men are on a front of 100 X 16 deep, at 6 foot intervals, which is open order. Polybius has here chosen to refer to the 16 depth, because, as the manuals tell us, this was the standard depth of a Macedonian Phalanx.
Note here that Polybius takes it as read that the stated depth applies to ‘open ’order, with each man on a six foot front…

8 It is evident, then, that ten stades will hold sixteen thousand men and twenty stades twice as many.
…so he is saying that 32,000 men drawn up the usual 16 deep, in open order, occupy a front 20 stades/4000 yds…
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.
i.e. only 32,000 of the 42,000 infantry make a line 20 stades/4,000 yards long…
20 After this he says that Alexander led on his army in an extended line, being then at a distance of about forty stades from the enemy. 2 It is difficult to conceive anything more absurd than this. Where, especially in Cilicia, could one find an extent of ground where a phalanx with its long spears could advance for forty stades in a line twenty stades long? 3 The obstacles indeed to such a formation and such a movement are so many that it would be difficult to enumerate them all, a single one mentioned by Callisthenes himself being sufficient to convince us of its impossibility. 4 For he tells us that the torrents descending the mountains have formed so many clefts in the plain that most of the Persians in their flight perished in such fissures. 5 But, it may be said, Alexander wished to be prepared for the appearance of the enemy. 6 And what can be less prepared than a phalanx advancing in line but broken and disunited? How much easier indeed it would have been to develop from proper marching-order into order of battle than to straighten out and prepare for action on thickly wooded and fissured ground a broken line with numerous gaps in it 7 It would, therefore, have been considerably better to form a proper double or quadruple phalanx, for which it was not impossible to find marching room and which it would have been quite easy to get into order of battle expeditiously enough, as he was enabled through his scouts to receive in good time warning of the approach of the enemy. 8 But, other things apart, Alexander did not even, according to Callisthenes, send his cavalry on in front when advancing in line over flat ground, but apparently placed them alongside the infantry.
21 But here is the greatest of all his mistakes. He tells us that Alexander, on approaching the enemy, made his line eight deep. 2 It is evident then that now the total length of the line must have been forty stades.

This is the important part. In ‘open’ order, a phalanx 8 deep would be twice as long, hence 40 stades/8,000 yards. Again, Polybius is taking it as read that any stated depth is of troops in open order…
3 And even if they closed up so that, as described by Homer, they actually jostled each other, still the front must have extended over twenty stades.
..he now goes on to say that even if they were in close order, ( 2 cubits/3 ft per man) they would occupy 20 stades/4,000 yards. The clear implication again being that depth normally refers to ‘open’ order
4 But he tells us that there was only a space of less than fourteen stades, and as half of the cavalry were on the left near the sea and half on the right, the room available for the infantry is still further reduced. Add to this that the whole line must have kept at a considerable distance from the mountains so as not to be exposed to attack by those of the enemy who held the foot-hills. 6 We know that he did as a fact draw up part of his force in a crescent formation to oppose this latter.
I omit to reckon here also the ten thousand infantry more than his purpose required. 7 So the consequence is that the length of the line must have been, according to Callisthenes himself, eleven stades at the most, and in this space thirty-two thousand men must have stood closely packed and thirty deep, whereas he tells us that in the battle they were eight deep. 8 Now for such mistakes we can admit no excuse. 9 For when the actual facts show a thing to be impossible we are instantly convinced that it is so. 10 Thus when a writer gives definitely, as in this case, the distance from man to man, the total area of the ground, and the number of men, he is perfectly inexcusable in making false statements.


From this, it is possible to see that what Polybius reports Callisthenes as saying is almost certainly correct, contrary to Polybius' ridicule. Alexander's Phalanx began it's deployment in the usual formation, namely 'normal'/'open' order, initially on a fairly narrow front of 'double' phalanx 32 deep. As they approach the Persians, they deploy into the usual 16 deep formation. Finally, "in the battle" they move into 'close order' formation 8 deep, for Polybius is surely correct that Callisthenes could not mean that they were 8 deep in 'open' order, for that would have involved doubling his total front to an unbelievable 8,000 yds - over 4.5 miles, which would have taken over half an hour to carry out, with the enemy close at hand. ( the eight deep was only carried out "on approaching the enemy", that is, with contact imminent).This is consistent with other Greek writers, and also resolves the apparent anomaly that Polybius describes Roman legionaries as being on a 6 foot frontage, while Vegetius, admittedly much later, says they fought on a 3 ft frontage - Polybius is describing 'open' order, - 'normal' or march/manouevre order, in Greek fashion, while 'Vegetius' is describing 'close' order, or battle formation.
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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#14
Quote: From this, it is possible to see that what Polybius reports Callisthenes as saying is almost certainly correct, contrary to Polybius' ridicule. Alexander's Phalanx began it's deployment in the usual formation, namely 'normal'/'open' order, initially on a fairly narrow front of 'double' phalanx 32 deep. As they approach the Persians, they deploy into the usual 16 deep formation. Finally, "in the battle" they move into 'close order' formation 8 deep, for Polybius is surely correct that Callisthenes could not mean that they were 8 deep in 'open' order, for that would have involved doubling his total front to an unbelievable 8,000 yds - over 4.5 miles, which would have taken over half an hour to carry out, with the enemy close at hand.

Firstly it needs to be stated that the reason Alexander extended and lessened the depth of his phalanx is, indeed, due to his requirement to fill the field. Secondly, Polybios' material – capriciously edited though it is – preserves salutary details of Kallisthenes original account (propaganda and all). These details – aside from a few minor differences – tallies with Ptolemy / Arrian – even unto the “fissures filled with Persian dead” over which the Macedonians pursued the Persians. It is, to me, reasonably plain that Ptolemy has followed Kallisthenes in this description.

Polybios, in his righteous outrage at what he perceives as foolish historians, makes several errors and these you have followed. Whilst you suggest that his criticism of Kallisthenes can, for these puroses, be ignored it is, unfortunately, the root of his error.

To begin with Polybios’ concern is how one fits the numbers of men from each army into the field width given. His first credulous error is believing the numbers – in the order of 600,000 – for the Persian array. This is plain propaganda and it says something about Polybios’ critical nature that he did not recognise it. His next manifest error is to total, in holier than thou fashion, the numbers of the Macedonians even accounting for those on “other special duties”. These he gives as 42,000. This then becomes Polybios’ Macedonian line of battle which must be fit into the field of Issos. This is utter bunkum.

There are three accounts of this battle: Arrian, Curtius and Diodorus. Diodorus is formulaic and cursory. Curtius, derived from the same “vulgate” tradition is full and Arrian’s is quite full as well. Polybios provides Kallisthenes’ set up to the battle narrative; as I noted it is, to all intents, Arrian / Ptolemy’s. Curtius and Arrian are clear on the make up of the Macedonian battle line:

Quote:First, upon the right wing near the mountain he placed his infantry guard and the shield-bearers, under the command of Nicanor, son of Parmenio; next to these the regiment of Coenus, and close to them that of Perdiccas. These troops were posted as far as the middle – the position of the heavy infantry. On the left wing first stood the regiment of Amyntas, then that of Ptolemy, and close to this that of Meleager. The infantry on the left had been placed under the command of Craterus; but Parmenio held the chief direction of the whole left wing (Arrian 2.8.2)

Quote:Alexander set his phalanx - the strongest element in the Macedonian army - at the front. Parmenion's son, Nicanor, held the right wing and next to him stood Coenus, Perdiccas, Meleager, Ptolomaeus and Amyntas, all leading their respective units. On the left wing, which reached as far as the sea, were Craterus and Parmenion, but Craterus had been instructed to take orders from Parmenion. The cavalry was deployed on both wings, the Macedonians reinforced by the Thessalians to the right, the Peloponnesians on the left (Curtius 3.9.7-8)

The Macedonian battle line – as at Granicus and at Gaugamela – was made up of the national levy of Macedon; this was the force, plus cavalry and its attendant light armed (Agrianes, archers and Thracians) that then filled the available space on the field.

Alexander, the night prior, had occupied the southern pass onto the field. Even after a forced march he ordered his army to rest where they were armed for battle. This will be because he saw the enemy occupied the plain below and he did not wish to be caught “naked” so to speak. The next day he moves – in column – from the pass into the plain. When the plain – a triangle widening as he progressed – opened enough he formed from column into battle order 32 deep. This with the enemy ahead and in occupation of the plain with his cavalry deployed across the river. The following advance – with its constant stops to dress the line – was carried out “closed up for action” as the enemy is at hand. It would be foolish for it to be otherwise.

So we approach the Pinarus, finally, eight deep and occupying some 1,371 metres of a field some 2,590 metres wide. This, then, leaves room for the cavalry and any light armed that were not deployed before the phalanx.

Plainly there were not 42,000 foot in the battle line. Polybios in his fevered and sanctimonious assault on Kallisthenes has dropped the sarisa.
Paralus|Michael Park

Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους

Wicked men, you are sinning against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander!

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#15
Although we are getting off the topic of the depth of Alexander's phalanx, your Post raise a number of points that merit a detailed response. The easiest way for the reader to follow this is if I quote you in full, and interpolate my own comments..... Smile
Paralus/Michael wrote:
Quote:Firstly it needs to be stated that the reason Alexander extended and lessened the depth of his phalanx is, indeed, due to his requirement to fill the field.
What is your source for this? None of the sources you refer to say this, nor would Alexander (or any other competent commander for that matter) ‘stretch’ a line to fill a front/geographical location – for your comment implies that Alexander halved the Phalanx’s usual depth simply to match Darius’ frontage, which would have been insane. A competent commander would simply take steps to secure his flanks, rather than try to match fronts – a case in point being Alexander’s next clash with Darius at Gaugemala. Further, if it be correct that the Greek Allies/Mercenaries did not form part of the front line, Alexander had ample troops to fill the field without thinning them so much ( though I think there are some grounds for believing the Greeks were in the Phalanx too -see post)
but Secondly, Polybios' material – capriciously edited though it is – preserves salutary details of Kallisthenes original account (propaganda and all). These details – aside from a few minor differences – tallies with Ptolemy / Arrian – even unto the “fissures filled with Persian dead” over which the Macedonians pursued the Persians. It is, to me, reasonably plain that Ptolemy has followed Kallisthenes in this description.

Agreed !....though Arrian, Curtius and indeed Ptolemy may have had other sources too.

Polybios, in his righteous outrage at what he perceives as foolish historians, makes several errors and these you have followed. Whilst you suggest that his criticism of Kallisthenes can, for these purposes, be ignored it is, unfortunately, the root of his error.
Actually I haven’t followed Polybius’ errors regarding Callisthenes. Rather they are irrelevant to the case in point, namely that Polybius categorically states that a Macedonian phalanx is 16 deep in ‘open’ order, and that “X” number of men ( in this case 32,000) occupy a front of “Y” distance

To begin with Polybios’ concern is how one fits the numbers of men from each army into the field width given. His first credulous error is believing the numbers – in the order of 600,000 – for the Persian array.

Agreed !

This is plain propaganda and it says something about Polybios’ critical nature that he did not recognise it. His next manifest error is to total, in holier than thou fashion, the numbers of the Macedonians even accounting for those on “other special duties”. These he gives as 42,000.
Which I agree is also manifestly incorrect for the Battle of Issus…. Although our major sources don’t give exact figures, it is possible to deduce that Alexander’s Phalanx consisted of 2,000 Hypaspists, six Taxeis of Asthetairoi/Pezetairoi each approximately 2,000 strong (12,000) and perhaps as many as 7,000 Greek Allies and Mercenaries, giving a total Phalanx strength of 20-21,000 at Issus.
This then becomes Polybios’ Macedonian line of battle which must be fit into the field of Issos. This is utter bunkum.
Agreed – Polybius bases his whole criticism of Callisthenes on incorrect numbers – but these patently incorrect numbers for Issus apparently also come from Callisthenes.There are broadly two sets of possible figures for Alexander’s army crossing into Asia – Plutarch records Aristobolos as giving 30,000 foot and 4,000 horse; Arrian “not much more than” 30,000 foot and 5,000 horse ( derived from Ptolemy’s figures); Diodorus (who gives a detailed breakdown) 32,000 foot and 5,100 horse. The other broad figure is Anaximenes via Plutarch again at 43,000 foot and 5,500 horse and Callisthenes via Polybius 42,000 foot and 4,500 horse. Doidorus tells us that all these ultimately derive from Alexander taking an accurate count on landing in Asia. The discrepancy between the two sets of figures can be accounted for when it is remembered that an ‘advance force’ originally sent by Philip was already in Asia, which probably numbered around 10,000 and probably included a Taxis of Macedonian pezetairoi and some cavalry. This advance force had seen action against the Persians under Memnon prior to Alexander’s arrival.

There are three accounts of this battle: Arrian, Curtius and Diodorus. Diodorus is formulaic and cursory. Curtius, derived from the same “vulgate” tradition is full and Arrian’s is quite full as well. Polybios provides Kallisthenes’ set up to the battle narrative; as I noted it is, to all intents, Arrian / Ptolemy’s. Curtius and Arrian are clear on the make up of the Macedonian battle line:
Quote:
First, upon the right wing near the mountain he placed his infantry guard and the shield-bearers, under the command of Nicanor, son of Parmenio; next to these the regiment of Coenus, and close to them that of Perdiccas. These troops were posted as far as the middle – the position of the heavy infantry. On the left wing first stood the regiment of Amyntas, then that of Ptolemy, and close to this that of Meleager. The infantry on the left had been placed under the command of Craterus; but Parmenio held the chief direction of the whole left wing (Arrian 2.8.2)

Quote:
Alexander set his phalanx - the strongest element in the Macedonian army - at the front. Parmenion's son, Nicanor, held the right wing and next to him stood Coenus, Perdiccas, Meleager, Ptolomaeus and Amyntas, all leading their respective units. On the left wing, which reached as far as the sea, were Craterus and Parmenion, but Craterus had been instructed to take orders from Parmenion. The cavalry was deployed on both wings, the Macedonians reinforced by the Thessalians to the right, the Peloponnesians on the left (Curtius 3.9.7-8)



The Macedonian battle line – as at Granicus and at Gaugamela – was made up of the national levy of Macedon; this was the force, plus cavalry and its attendant light armed (Agrianes, archers and Thracians) that then filled the available space on the field.
…and there is a strong possibility that the Greek Hoplite Allies/Mercenaries, something less than 7,000 because of detachments, formed part of the Phalanx, even though they are not directly referred to….but both Curtius and Arrian have Alexander riding along the front of the Phalanx/Army and addressing Greeks/Mercenaries as well as Macedonians. If the Greeks were 'in reserve', then Alexander had enough troops to extend without halving the depth of his Phalanx....

Alexander, the night prior, had occupied the southern pass onto the field. Even after a forced march he ordered his army to rest where they were armed for battle.

Not quite –Curtius has Alexander bid them to be armed and ready “at the third watch” that is, some hours before dawn. Arrian has him set off “just before daylight”.

This will be because he saw the enemy occupied the plain below and he did not wish to be caught “naked” so to speak. The next day he moves – in column – from the pass into the plain.

…during the night sometime, actually – see above.

When the plain – a triangle widening as he progressed – opened enough he formed from column into battle order 32 deep. This with the enemy ahead and in occupation of the plain with his cavalry deployed across the river. The following advance – with its constant stops to dress the line – was carried out “closed up for action” as the enemy is at hand. It would be foolish for it to be otherwise.

This is simply incorrect – the Phalanx marched/moved/ manoeuvred in ‘open’ order, as Polybius tells us, and also the manuals. ‘Close’ order is only adopted when contact is imminent, around a 100 yards or so from the enemy.

So we approach the Pinarus, finally, eight deep and occupying some 1,371 metres of a field some 2,590 metres wide

How do you arrive at these figures? If the most commonly identified location of the battle is used it was around 3 miles/4.8 kilometres wide at the river between sea and hills. The 20-21,000 man Phalanx would occupy a frontage of 2,500 yards -2,625 yards, whether in ‘open’ or ‘close’ order…..
This, then, leaves room for the cavalry and any light armed that were not deployed before the phalanx.
Agreed!

Plainly there were not 42,000 foot in the battle line. Polybios in his fevered and sanctimonious assault on Kallisthenes has dropped the sarisa.
Also agreed !
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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