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The Roman Fleet of the Republic
#46
Nathan wrote:

They would not have attacked the leading Roman squadrons from the rear, as they would be presenting their own sterns to the Roman third squadron, and would have been enveloped in turn.
 
That depends on the distance between the second squadron and the third squadron. Using Tipps vee formation, with the third squadron dropping behind, the Carthaginian left wing could have gotten right inside that vee and made havoc.
 
Nathan wrote:
The Roman third squadron, having dropped their towing cables, appear to have shifted northwards to keep the Sicilian coast on the right flank and prevent the enemy from encircling them to the northwards. So this part of the action happened very close in to shore.
 
How many ships do you envisage the third squadron had?
 
Nathan wrote:
I've seen quite a few different diagrams of how the battle might have unfolded, and all seem to follow more or less that pattern without problems.
 
Most don’t have a problem because they simply lack detail. The size of the fleet is just given as a number, yet no one goes into how many ships in each squadron. Most accounts of Ecnomus I have read are very general. Even Tipp’s paper on the battle generalises in places. Were all the ships in the third squadron towing horse transports?
 
It is easy to show movements with arrows on a schematic level as is the norm. My diagrams of the Roman fleet are 1:1. However, my battle account shows the Carthaginian left wing moving down the coast line, but I have also included an alternative and that is the Carthaginian left wing could be Hanno’s left wing.
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#47
(02-17-2017, 03:31 PM)Steven James Wrote: Using Tipps vee formation, with the third squadron dropping behind, the Carthaginian left wing could have gotten right inside that vee and made havoc.

Once the battle was joined I doubt there was anything much left of the Roman V; keeping any kind of regular formation in a close-quarters naval battle on the open sea is next to impossible.

But if the Carthaginian left-wing had attempted to 'get inside' the V while it still existed, they could have found themselves trapped by the third squadron coming up fast behind them to close the triangle, so to speak. Far better to confront the third squadron directly and keep them out of the fight.


(02-17-2017, 03:31 PM)Steven James Wrote: How many ships do you envisage the third squadron had?

No idea! Polybius doesn't tell us. The Romans could have divided their ships more or less equally, giving about 80-85 in each squadron (if P's fleet numbers are close to accurate), but we have no evidence for this, as far as I know, nor for the type of ships involved.


(02-17-2017, 03:31 PM)Steven James Wrote: my battle account shows the Carthaginian left wing moving down the coast line, but I have also included an alternative and that is the Carthaginian left wing could be Hanno’s left wing.

Polybius says (in the English translation on Livius) that the left flanking squadron were that part of the Carthaginian force which was posted near the shore. Since Hanno and his right-flank ships were in the open sea, I don't think we need to imagine that P was referring to them. The description seems to make relatively perfect sense, as these things go...
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#48
Nathan wrote:

No idea! Polybius doesn't tell us. The Romans could have divided their ships more or less equally, giving about 80-85 in each squadron (if P's fleet numbers are close to accurate), but we have no evidence for this, as far as I know, nor for the type of ships involved.
 
Ok, let’s work with 80 ships in the third squadron. Polybius has 50 Carthaginian ships captured while trying to hem in the third squadron, with a few Carthaginian ships managing to escape along the coast. So we have 50 or more Carthaginian ships belonging to the extreme Carthaginian left wing, sail down between the Roman first and second squadron and the coast and then attack the third squadron 80 ships wide. The Carthaginian ships have to then get on the left flank of the Roman third squadron and then begin hemming them against the coast. Does this mean for the Carthaginian ships to get onto the flanks of the Roman third squadron, the Carthaginian ships have to sail across the face of the third squadron with the port side of the Carthaginian ships exposed to the rams of the Roman third squadron?
 
Nathan wrote:
Polybius says (in the English translation on Livius) that the left flanking squadron were that part of the Carthaginian force which was posted near the shore. Since Hanno and his right-flank ships were in the open sea, I don't think we need to imagine that P was referring to them. The description seems to make relatively perfect sense, as these things go...
 
Well of course it will make sense if you do not involve numbers and the frontages of the ships. So far no one has gone down this road. It’s all done with some neat little diagram and some arrows and all so possible in the author’s mind’s eye.
 
Polybius’ description may make perfect sense to you but academics have been debating this battle and many are not in agreement.
 
By having Hanno’s left wing attack the Roman third squadron, and his right wing the fourth squadron, means the fourth squadron cannot support the third squadron, and the Hanno’s left wing can then also manage to hem in the remnants of the third squadron against the coast.
 
Besides Ecnomus I also wrote about the anomaly with the number of ships captured and sunk for the various Punic battles. Nothing to say Nathan?
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#49
(02-18-2017, 08:10 AM)Steven James Wrote: 50 or more Carthaginian ships... attack the third squadron 80 ships wide... then get on the left flank of the Roman third squadron and then begin hemming them against the coast...

80 was an estimated figure. If 50 were captured there may have been 80 Carthaginian ships, or 100, or 150. We have absolutely no way of working this out.

I suggested above that the Roman third squadron might have shifted northwards to keep the Sicilian coast on their right flank and stop the Carthaginian left squadron from getting around them. This would cause the battle to swing towards the shore, and separate it from the conflicts going on between the different squadrons elsewhere.


(02-18-2017, 08:10 AM)Steven James Wrote: numbers and the frontages of the ships... neat little diagram and some arrows

There's plenty that Polybius does not tell us about this battle.

He doesn't tell us the direction of the prevailing wind, or the tide (vital considerations in a sea battle).

He doesn't tell us how far from the coast of Sicily the fleets were sailing, nor how far the lines extended, nor how far the first two Roman squadrons moved west from the others. And, of course, he doesn't give a breakdown of numbers of ships in each squadron or division.

As we lack these important details, it is pointless to consider things like 'frontages of ships', or to use estimated numbers to try and plot the course of the battle accurately. All we have is the general description Polybius provides, and anything beyond that is our own hypothesis.



(02-18-2017, 08:10 AM)Steven James Wrote: number of ships captured and sunk for the various Punic battles. Nothing to say


No. We have no way of confirming the numbers provided by Polybius etc; they can only give us a general idea.

Others may be interested in discussing your calculations, but I've found in the past that these topics just lead us into pointless arguments.
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#50
Nathan wrote:

And, of course, he doesn't give a breakdown of numbers of ships in each squadron or division.
 
Information to the above can be found in the primary sources. It is a matter of compiling them and studying them. I have done this, and there is a repetitive of information that is informative and enlightening. But as academics and historians have not bothered to do this in an extensive manner, then the public are aware that such information does not exist.
 
Nathan wrote:
Others may be interested in discussing your calculations, but I've found in the past that these topics just lead us into pointless arguments.
 
And going from memory here, you made the comment when discussing the Late Roman legion that you found number crunching to be fun. If Orosius has 125 Carthaginian ships sunk and Polybius 50, that is a difference of 75 ships, and yet Orosius claims of 63 Carthaginian ships captured and 12 Roman ships sunk does add up to 75, which indicates Orosius could have accidentally included them in his calculations. That is not a pointless argument but something to consider and possibly explain the discrepancy between Orosius and Polybius. But I guess if an anyone else made that point, that would be acceptable.

Ask a mathematician if what I present about the numbers is a pointless argument. This is suppose to be a forum of people wanting to investigate and find out more about the Roman military and yet it is a forum more about suppression of ideas when those ideas do not conform to some people's views.

Have you notice how slow RAT is becoming lately and how long a posting stays on the first page. Once upon a time they would stay on the first page for a day. Now they stay around longer and longer, and there is also less and less postings.  Ross Cowan once said RAT was a good forum until I came. Maybe I am to blame, but I don't think so.
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#51
(02-18-2017, 12:48 PM)Steven James Wrote: you found number crunching to be fun

Yes, in that case I did - we had an official imperial inscription (from Perge) giving hard data within certain parameters, from which we could extrapolate - and I think the discussion was very fruitful. However, in the case of numbers given in ancient literary sources these parameters are less certain. I know we've discussed this before, and mine might be a contrary view, but I do not consider Polybius, and certainly not Orosius, to be primary sources on this battle: both are taking their figures from elsewhere, and we don't know from where or how accurate they might be.

I added my notes above to this topic purely as I've developed an interest in ancient naval tactics. However, we must be aware that historians tend to describe naval battles as if they happened on land, or on a fixed surface (like your garage floor!) - when in fact, as we know, a battle in an open sea and moving currents is very different from the neat diagramatic depictions we might come up with. Once battle was joined, individual ships would ram and grapple, and all regular formation would soon vanish. The available battle area, speeds and distances, and other crucial factors are largely unknown. In cases where there are such measurements available, we can make estimates - how many ships would it take to block the straits of Salamis, for example, or the Hellespont - but we have nothing like that here.

So we could assume, for example, that the battle took place during a calm, or with a prevailing wind from the west - as the Romans had to tow their transports. But were these oared hippogogi transports, or 'round ships'? How strong was the current? Was there a land breeze, or did the fleets have a lee shore to their north? How far did the Roman advance squadrons need to advance before meeting the Carthaginian centre? The Olympios trireme replica could only make about 3 knots into a headwind, as opposed to 8 or more with the wind under her stern. Were the Romans in the central squadrons even able to see what was happening to their east, or were the three battles too far distant? - there's about 13kms radius of vision from the topmast of a trireme, but the ships probably had their masts lowered to fight...

With all of these unknowns, the exact number of ships involved seems the least of our worries!


(02-18-2017, 12:48 PM)Steven James Wrote: Have you notice how slow RAT is becoming lately and how long a posting stays on the first page.

It is, certainly, but there are various factors involved - partly the changeover to the new board last year (many regular posters, I suspect, have not (yet?) transferred their old accounts), partly the rise of Facebook RAT, which allows a much wider set of responses from an enlarged membership (although I find this counts against detailed discussion, and the lack of any archiving/search facility is annoying - this version of RAT continues to be an invaluable resource, with 15 or so years of often high-quality material available.) Partly also a change in the culture of the internet generally - we are in the twitter era now, and I suspect many internet users prefer a faster and less in-depth type of debate, sadly!
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#52
Nathan wrote:

Yes, in that case I did - we had an official imperial inscription (from Perge) giving hard data within certain parameters, from which we could extrapolate - and I think the discussion was very fruitful. However, in the case of numbers given in ancient literary sources these parameters are less certain.
 
I would not describe the numbers given in the primary sources as less certain. There are more numbers in the primary sources to work with on the same topic than the Perge inscription. You and I do see the primary sources at different ends of the spectrum.
 
Nathan wrote:
However, we must be aware that historians tend to describe naval battles as if they happened on land, or on a fixed surface (like your garage floor!) - when in fact, as we know, a battle in an open sea and moving currents is very different from the neat diagramatic depictions we might come up with.
 
Let’s not overlook that if wind and weather become a feature of an ancient naval battle, the ancient historians do mention this.
 
Nathan wrote:
Once battle was joined, individual ships would ram and grapple, and all regular formation would soon vanish.
 
That was once my point of view. However, Polybius’ comment that Regulus managed to take those ships of the second squadron that were not damaged to come to the aid of the fourth squadron, indicates command and control was still possible, and that maybe not all of the second squadron had been engaged in defeating Hamilcar’s force, which I believe must have been outnumbered. Following Polybius that the wedge was formed by the first and second squadron, it was Hamilcar’s force that was the first to flee, and for Hamilcar to commit his left wing to attack the third squadron does not make tactical sense as this action did not help his situation with the first and second squadron. It is truly a waste of resources.
 
Nathan wrote:
With all of these unknowns, the exact number of ships involved seems the least of our worries!
 
I have to disagree, but I don’t think that would surprise you. Knowing how many ships were in a squadron and how many horse transports there were will improve our understanding of the battle. If we knew the exact number of men in a Late Roman legion, it would give me insights into the officer structure and help with army numbers. Every door opened, is a new room of information to explore.
 
We are most fortunate in that the Romans are very formalistic regarding their military and follow strict doctrines. The primary sources are laced with these military patterns that have not been properly compiled and researched. If the triarii are left to guard the camp, I have found from the data in the primary sources that the light infantry allocated to the triarii also remain in the camp. I have found this also applies to the cavalry, as the number of cavalry allocated to the triarii also remains in the camp.
 
There are a set number of ships allocated to a consular fleet, and one quarter of a consular fleet is left behind to protect the anchorage, when the consul is at sea. The varying fleet sizes for the Roman fleets in the primary sources more than support this, they prove it. Most approach the data in the primary sources and see contradiction. I see a pattern showing their military doctrines. However, how this information is compiled and used makes the difference.
 
Nathan wrote:
It is, certainly, but there are various factors involved - partly the changeover to the new board last year (many regular posters, I suspect, have not (yet?) transferred their old accounts), partly the rise of Facebook RAT,
 
But why hasn’t RAT in the past been able to attract more academics and ancient military historians. Why aren’t Goldsworthy, Lazenby, Spiendel, Hoyos, Erdkamp, Rich, Wheeler and Strobel just to name a few, participants of this list. Why has it failed to attract them?
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#53
(02-19-2017, 08:16 AM)Steven James Wrote: But why hasn’t RAT in the past been able to attract more academics and ancient military historians. Why aren’t Goldsworthy, Lazenby, Spiendel, Hoyos, Erdkamp, Rich, Wheeler and Strobel just to name a few, participants of this list. Why has it failed to attract them?

That's easily anwered.
In part due to time - academics simply don't have the time to get into discussions on forums. 
Also, academics usually don't move around in circles outside their own 'comfort zone'.  We had a few academics here and they were gone within a very short time after the usual things that happen on a forum: after they write their view they are usually confronted by members who did not read a single book (let alone a specialised article) on the topic. The academics are not used to that. They don't have the time to explain their point of view, nor are they prepared to get into endless (and often uncivilised) discussions with opinionate people who think their view is as important as the view of a professional who studied the subject for decades. In that sense the process foreshadowed 'opinionated discussions' we so often see on modern social media today.
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#54
Robert wrote:

We had a few academics here and they were gone within a very short time after the usual things that happen on a forum: after they write their view they are usually confronted by members who did not read a single book (let alone a specialised article) on the topic.
 
Wow, who in their right mind would go after an academic without having the knowledge to back them up? It’s like going into a gun fight with no bullets.
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#55
(02-19-2017, 08:16 AM)Steven James Wrote: if wind and weather become a feature of an ancient naval battle

Wind and weather were always a feature of every naval battle before the advent of steam power!


(02-19-2017, 08:16 AM)Steven James Wrote: command and control was still possible, and that maybe not all of the second squadron had been engaged in defeating Hamilcar’s force, which I believe must have been outnumbered.

Of course - once the enemy centre had broken, the Romans were able to rally their ships and regroup. That doesn't mean they were fighting in a set formation.

Why do you think Hamilcar must have been outnumbered?



(02-19-2017, 08:16 AM)Steven James Wrote: Knowing how many ships were in a squadron and how many horse transports there were will improve our understanding of the battle. If we knew the exact number of men in a Late Roman legion...

But we don't know these things (hence this discussion, and others like it!). We can make guesses and estimates, based on the evidence we do have, but we cannot claim any certainty.


(02-19-2017, 11:18 AM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: endless (and often uncivilised) discussions with opinionate people who think their view is as important as the view of a professional who studied the subject for decades. In that sense the process foreshadowed 'opinionated discussions' we so often see on modern social media today.

Yes. Reminds me of the infamous comment from the UK referendum debate last year: 'people in this country have had enough of experts'! [Image: sad.png]


(02-19-2017, 12:29 PM)Steven James Wrote: who in their right mind would go after an academic without having the knowledge to back them up? It’s like going into a gun fight with no bullets.

I'm afraid this seems to point to the problem. Academic debate is not a fight, and shouldn't be about 'going after' people or their ideas. Public internet fora (and fb, twitter etc) do encourage this sort of aggressive competitive attitude though. Not surprising that professionals prefer to use other channels to communicate.

Professional historians (or 'academics') are engaged in a constant ongoing conversation with others in their field - that conversation happens though publication, peer-reviewed papers and conferences. It's a slow and often unspectacular process - but that's history for you. Why would historians want or need to start sharing their ideas and research on public fora, where they would constantly have to explain the first principles of their field to random anonymous strangers like us? Most of them have undergraduate classes for that sort of thing!
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#56
Steven James Wrote: if wind and weather become a feature of an ancient naval battle

 
Nathan replied
Wind and weather were always a feature of every naval battle before the advent of steam power!
 
Why have you selectively edited my comment? Trying to make me look stupid? I wrote “Let’s not overlook that if wind and weather become a feature of an ancient naval battle, the ancient historians do mention this.” Here I was saying that if the wind and weather had an affect on the outcome of a battle, the ancient historians make us aware of such a fact. So if the wind changed and caused discomfort to one side then it gets reported.
 
Nathan wrote:
Why do you think Hamilcar must have been outnumbered?
 
The thinness of the Carthaginian fleet prompted the Romans to advance. It could be that Hamilcar place most of his squadrons under the command of Hanno, and this was where Hamiclar was hoping for victory.
 
Also it cannot be ruled out that Polybius could have been using a Carthaginian source for part of his battle, and has mistaken Hanno’s left wing for Hamiclar’s left wing. Also this source could be reports from interrogated Carthaginian prisoners. I have for the book followed Polybius but also included the possibility it could also be Hanno’s left wing. I don’t see any problem doing this.
 
Nathan wrote:
I'm afraid this seems to point to the problem. Academic debate is not a fight, and shouldn't be about 'going after' people or their ideas.
 
But they do (academics) go after people and their ideas. Aren’t you yourself going after my idea of Hamilacar’s left wing being confused for Hanno’s left wing.
 
Nathan wrote:
Why would historians want or need to start sharing their ideas and research on public fora, where they would constantly have to explain the first principles of their field to random anonymous strangers like us? Most of them have undergraduate classes for that sort of thing!
 
Most undergraduate classes are being taught by that very academic and will not be critical. After all they want to pass, and to pass, one must conform. Too many university students have told me this and they learn fast how to play the game, that is become a sycophant.
 
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#57
(02-20-2017, 05:06 AM)Steven James Wrote: Why have you selectively edited my comment? Trying to make me look stupid?

Of course not.

I was quoting a snippet of your comment. I don't think the bits I cut out for brevity alter the sense of it.


(02-20-2017, 05:06 AM)Steven James Wrote: if the wind and weather had an affect on the outcome of a battle, the ancient historians make us aware of such a fact.

That's a little different. But we're not talking about the outcome of the battle. Polybius tells us what happened, but not how or why it happened. That would depend (to an unknown extent) on weather conditions, distances and other things that we have no way of judging.


(02-20-2017, 05:06 AM)Steven James Wrote: The thinness of the Carthaginian fleet prompted the Romans to advance. It could be that Hamilcar place most of his squadrons under the command of Hanno, and this was where Hamiclar was hoping for victory.

I understood that the Carthaginians were pretending to withdraw their centre to goad the Romans into attacking? Surely the point of such strategems is deception - they weren't really withdrawing, and if their centre looked weak, it wasn't really.

Perhaps they did put most of their strength on the right - although Polybius doesn't tell us this. It sounds from his description like a straightforward right hook/left hook double flanking tactic.


(02-20-2017, 05:06 AM)Steven James Wrote: Aren’t you yourself going after my idea of Hamilacar’s left wing being confused for Hanno’s left wing.

Nope - I'm disagreeing with your interpretation, that's all. Surely we can disagree without having to be confrontational about it?


(02-20-2017, 05:06 AM)Steven James Wrote: to pass, one must conform.

Not a philosophy I've ever encountered at any university around here, I must say.
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#58
This is a basic summary of my findings for the battle of the Aegates Island. It does not go into the full detail as found in the book. There are so many varying numbers of ships sunk and captured as given by various sources for the Aegates Island that it is a mathematical orgasm.

 
For the Aegates Island Eutropius has 32,000 Carthaginians captured and 14,000 killed, for a total of 46,000 men. Orosius has 32,000 captured and 13,000 killed, for a total of 45,000 men. There is only a difference of 1,000 killed between both authors. Again, Eutropius and Orosius are using a source that double counts the numbers by adding the sub totals to the grand total. The number of Carthaginians killed as given by Eutropius and Orosius are included in the total of the 32,000 captured.
 
In relation to the 32,000 Carthaginians captured as given by Eutropius and Orosius, by taking the figure of 13,000 men, and by doubling this number and then adding Philinus’ figure of 6,000 Carthaginians captured, the result is 32,000 men (13,000 x 2 + 6,000 = 32,000). This is not the first time I have found this same mathematical signature in Eutropius and Orosius’ numbers.
 
Polybius has 50 Carthaginian ships sunk and 70 Carthaginians ships captured, but only 10,000 Carthaginian prisoners, which should ring alarm bells. Diodorus claims there were only 20 Carthaginian ships captured with their entire crew. Are you seeing what I am seeing? Yep you are right. Polybius also has subtotals added to grand totals.
 
The Romans losses are also counted with the Carthaginians. Diodorus’ reference to other sources of 4,040 Carthaginians prisoners and Philinus figure of 6,000 Carthaginian prisoners is how Polybius arrives at 10,000 Carthaginian prisoners. However, those 4,040 prisoners are most likely Roman. With a Roman quinquereme having a crew of 420 men (300 rowers and 120 soldiers), the 12 Roman ships lost at the Aegates Islands (as per Eutropius and Orosius) require a crew of 5,040 men. The 12 Roman quinqueremes required 3,600 rowers and 1,440 soldiers. It seems the figure of 4,040 men most likely relates to the 12 Roman ships lost, and 1,000 Roman soldiers has been omitted, so one ends up with this, 3,600 rowers and 440 soldiers, for a total of 4,040 men.
 
As I found Eutropius is using the same system or source of rounding the numbers as Polybius, Eutropius total of 14,000 Carthaginians killed or captured, includes Polybius’ figure of 10,000 Carthaginian prisoners and those 4,040 Romans (rounded to 4,000 men). However, Polybius 10,000 also includes the 4,000 Romans, which brings it back to Philinus’ figure of 6,000 prisoners. Now as a quinquereme requires 300 rowers, when 6,000 prisoners are divided by 300 rowers, the result is 20 quinqueremes. Now could these 20 quinqueremes be the same 20 quinqueremes Diodorus claims were captured with their entire crews?
 
I have found many of the losses given in the primary sources relating to naval actions to be accidentally inflated due to those being sunk, captured, repaired and put back into service being confused by the ancient authors that as I have explained, subtotals are double counted, grand totals are double counted and Roman losses get confused with Carthaginian losses. When a source does not give the Roman losses, you can be sure they are included in the Carthaginian losses.
 
The whole naval records for the First Punic War are such a mess, but also a great challenge, that can show the number of losses occurred on both sides is not as great as has been believed.
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#59
I've now put the battle of the Aegate Islands to bed. Because of the varying number of ancient historians and their contradictory numbers, this has actually help determining how they arrived at every total they have presented.

For the battle of the Aegate Islands in 242 BC, Diodorus gives the Romanm losses at 80 ships, 30 of them completely, and 50 ships partially destroyed. In a nutshell the Romans have lost 80 ships. However, in 249 BC, Dionysius has the consul Junius also incur a loss of 80 Roman ships (17 sunk, 13 disabled, and 50 transports disabled). The number of ships disabled amounts to 63 ships and is the same number of Carthaginian ships captured in 242 BC as given by Orosius. The Carthaginians also have 63 ships lost at Ecnomus in 256 BC.
 
According to Diodorus, the consul Junius also lost 105 warships in a storm near Camarina in 249 BC. This would mean that two Roman fleets were destroyed near Camarina, one fleet in 254 BC and now another in 249 BC, which again shows that Dionysius has completely confused his sources. Now if we subtract the 105 ships supposedly lost near Camarina from Dionysius’ total of 117 ships lost in 242 BC, the difference is 12 ships, which is the number of Roman ships sunk as per Eutropius and Orosius for 242 BC. Part of the 105 ships is made up of the 63 Carthaginian ships captured as given by Orosius for 242 BC.
 
When you compile Junius’ losses in 249 BC of 5 Roman ships captured, 17 sunk, 13 disabled, which were later burnt by the Romans, and 50 large Roman transports disabled, and 2 warships that escaped, this gives a total of 87 ships, and when subtracted from Dionysius’ 117 Carthaginian ships captured, this leaves a residue of 30 ships, which is the number of Roman ships lost as given by Diodorus.
 
Notice that Diodorus informs us the 13 ships disabled were later burnt; and this is a clue to that in some accounts they have been doubled (13 disabled and 13 lost). When you calculate the numbers of each ancient historian individually, they are both working with the correct numbers, and rounded numbers. The 12 Roman ships lost is rounded from 13 ships. In some sources it is rounded to 10 ships and another 14 ships. My personal conclusion is the ancient historians has mixed rounded number sources with unrounded number sources, and taken this figures from each believing them to be different data and not one and the same. Added to this the number of Carthaginian ships captured, lost of incorporated into Roman service, and these sub totals added to the totals, we have an inflated understanding of ship losses. In the end, all ancient historians, when the sub totals are removed produce the same number of Carthaginian ships lost of captured for the Aegates Island. This is because in two sources, the correct number has been given.
 
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#60
Hopefully, I think I am finished researching the Roman fleet from the First Punic War to the end of the republic.

 
After the First Punic war the data indicates the Roman have mastered transporting horses and the fleets are now transporting all the cavalry for a consular army. The number of ships transporting the cavalry for a consular army does not divide into the number of legions. This is because both Roman and allied cavalry ships have odd number totals, so therefore are not divisible by 2. The size of a fleet for 2 legions is given at 100 ships and this fleet size has a different organisation for the Roman cavalry. To get around the odd number of ships for a fleet of 2 legions (1 allied and 1 Roman), they simply divide the Roman cavalry into 3 parts, so once I understood how that works, the rest of the fleet data fell into place. Most fleet sizes during the Second Punic war and after vary from 100 ships, 50 ships and 55 ships, which are common numbers, and means they are all following a set organisation. When the Roman fleet faced Antiochus III, the Roman fleet had 80 ships of which 22 were Rhodian, so that leaves the Romans with 58 ships. Again, the number indicates they are working within the same parameters.
 
What caught my eye was Plutarch has Pompey sail to Africa with 120 warships, 800 transports and 6 full legions. However, when fighting Octavius, Appian has Lepidus set sail with a fleet consisting of 70 warships and 1,000 transports, carrying 12 legions and 500 Numidian cavalry.
 
So Pompey requires 800 transports for 6 legions, but Lepidus requires 1,000 transports for 12 legions. This is one major disparity and the sort of thing that gets my attention. What I have come to understand is that the ancient historian has to make his own calculations from their source material, and the mistake lies with Plutarch.
 
The reason why Pompey is sailing to Africa is to put down a revolt by Domitius, reported by Plutarch to have an army of 20,000 men. And that is the problem. Plutarch has factored in the number of ships required for Domitius’ 20,000 men into Pompey’s fleet numbers. When this is correct, you get the right ratio of ships for 6 legions and 12 legions, and both accounts correlate to other data found in the primary sources.
 
Other examples of this happening can be found in the First Punic war where you have 120 warships and 800 transports, and 300 warships and 700 transports. The 800 transports, or about 800 transports as stated in the primary sources, amounts to 840 transports, and by adding the other fleet data for that campaign, it will come to 840 ships. So there was not 800 transports being protected by 120 ships. When how this happened is explained, it becomes quite obvious to the reader.

In 25/26 BC, Aelius Gallus sailed to Arabia Felix with “no less” than 80 biremes, triremes and phaseloi ships, 130 transports and about 10,000 Roman infantry, 500 Jews and 1,000 Nabataeans. I applied Roman naval organisation to this and came up with 130 transports and 81 biremes, triremes and phaseloi ships, which approximates to “no less than 80.” 
 
In relation to naval matters, the greatest blunder has to go to Polybius, who confuses the number of ships in a fleet as being the number of men on a ship. Now that is priceless, and this guy has been regarded for the last 400 years as the most reliable historian. And the reason for that is Polybius has not been properly scrutinized.
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