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I thought I might take a poll of those interested to get your opinions on what the hoplite phalanx looked like when engaged in combat.
Gioi - I think the key to these diagrams is the way the shields overlap (or dont).
Quote:Gioi - I think the key to these diagrams is the way the shields overlap (or dont).

Thanks. I don't want to say too much because I am interested in peoples' "common" perception of how hoplites fought based on their previous reading. Each image represents an alternate spacing or shield overlapping scheme. I think the four images cover all of the prevailing opinions, but if someone has another feel free to share it.
What is the point of this ? To show that people often have false perceptions?....such a poll is only valid among those familiar with the sources !
A. represents (roughly) open, or 'natural' order, the formation in which the phalanx normally maneouvred, changed formation etc
B. represents 'close' formation, that which the phalanx closed up to before combat. Naturally, a long line in this formation could not maneouvre as freely. But there should be an option to show close order, side on/left foot forward too.
C. and D. represent alternate variations/explanations of the alleged 'rightward drift'.Again, there should be options for side on, left foot forward........

Please read the sources before you vote !!! And demand the other options ( each of the formations could be 'front on' or 'side on/left foot forward) ' Confusedhock:
Given the option, I would vote B. side on/left foot forward...... Smile

The majority are not always right ! ( or even most of the time...... Sad )
....a simple calculation also shows that C. and D. are so unlikely as to be impossible! Armies of the 4th century typically numbered 13,000 -20,000 or more Hoplites. Drawn up in th 'natural'/open order i.e. 6 ft aprox per man, say, 8 deep this gives a frontage of around 1600 - 2500 men, and around 3,200-5,000 yards, or two-three miles roughly. A quick look at Paul's diagram for C. and D. shows that for each 4 men, the 'line' slants back half a yard (D.) or more (C.) That means that one flank or other will be refused by at least 400-625 yards (over a quarter of a mile!) or more ! i.e that far behind the other flank. Assume 12 deep then.... frontage 1000 -1700 men, or 2000-3400 yards in 'natural'/open order - and one flank or other refused by at least 250-425 yards !

O.K.....assume that when the sources speak of '12 deep' or '8 deep' they mean in close order ( highly unlikely, as that would then have them 24 or 16 deep in open order.....too deep to maneouvre effectively, )......the lines are still refused by hundreds of yards!

What looks plausible on a diagram a few figures long becomes impossible when extended to real life lengths ! 8) 8)

As the Americans say, Go figure !!! :? ? )
Paul M, I think you took C and D for granted.They're just about to show how the shields yould be overlapped,not the body station and not the position of each hoplite further in front of the next.At least I hope so.The shields in C,for instance would actually be a little to the side,so each hoplite would be exactly next to the one in his right. And before you vote for B,think that the shields have to overlap in close order.
Paul B,there is another option,too. I will try to make some drawings.In the mean time go to Osprey Greek Hoplite p26
Khairete
Giannis
Quote:The shields in C,for instance would actually be a little to the side,so each hoplite would be exactly next to the one in his right.
Giannis, my point exactly.

I voted for C because in D, the rim of the shield would harm the shield-arm of the man to his right.
The hands of course are normally covered by the shield, unlike as drawn in this diagram. Therefore this would be my option, call it C2, E:
...that's precisely my point, Giannis...the options offered don't even begin to exhaust the possibilities....for example , C. and D. and variations thereon can be made to work much better if the shields are held at a more 'natural' angle i.e. not at 90 degrees to the Hoplite's axis, (0 degrees to a hypothetical 'line') but rather with the left edge of the shield sloping slightly to the rear, compared to the right, say 15-30 degrees to an imagined front horizontal line......
Quote:C. and D. and variations thereon can be made to work much better if the shields are held at a more 'natural' angle i.e. not at 90 degrees to the Hoplite's axis, (0 degrees to a hypothetical 'line') but rather with the left edge of the shield sloping slightly to the rear, compared to the right, say 15-30 degrees to an imagined front horizontal line......

Which is what my solution above is based on. I think you and Gianni are thinking of the same thing.
Ok,here we are.Forgive my ridiculous drawings.But I think they help more in the comprehension.First of all,I think it has much to do with the deployment of the phalanx.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[size=150:3ajhby0s]C[/size]
[Image: Phalanx-C.gif]
deployment
[Image: Deployment-C.gif]
[size=150:aq2j1cpf]D[/size]
[Image: phalanx-D.gif]
deployment
[Image: deployment-D.gif]
And one more way,shown some times in art
[size=150:29g155ja]E[/size]
[Image: phalanx-E.gif]
deployment
[Image: deployment-E.gif]
LOL, I thought I would be accorded at least the deference to artistic style we accord ancient potters!

Yes, my D should look more like what Giannis described above, but I did not want to confuse the picture by skewing the figures- and evidently did so even more n the process. Rather than the position slanting the line into a slope, the overlap with a slant as shown by Giannis above translates into a built in rightward drift- which we know was a feature of hoplite combat.

I hoped to provide as little info as possible since the purpose of the poll is really to see how the various hypotheses of different authors have penetrated into the common perception, but I'll elaborate.

A) Represents the opened order espoused most recently by Van Wees, but earlier by Cawkwell and others.

B) Is a portrayal of "close order" but not the overlapping aspises we associate with othismos. In this order, side-long or squared forward is irrelevant since either stance does not effect the formation with this much space. The true side-long stance is a myth in any case since the right shoulder surely came forward in the strike.

C) Hanson and others who push for othismos describe a plan like this with the side-long stance and shoulders used in pushing. The men could be packed much tighter than this crude drawing suggests.

D) Is the scheme that I described recently. If you take a look at Johnny's excellent illustration in AW you'll see that I had him draw them this way.
At this point we have to mention that the vast majority of phalanxes in art have the shields shown like ©. Paul B suggests that this is because it is easier to depict them like that.This may be true in some early crude depictions of phalanx in black figure potery,but it doesn't excuse its use through the centuries by all sculptors and painters.
Also,as I've already said,the key is in the way of deployment.
First they formed a 16 deep phalanx in loose order and then the 8 rear came to the front. This is very difficult in (D) and (E),as the shields of the first 8 have to be already in battle position wile the rear come forward.Their shields would be a problem leaving no space for the rear hoplites' shields.
In ©,however, all the hoplites have their shields to the side until everybody is in position.Then the signal comes and the only they have to do,is bring their shield in dront of them.Given that they've taken position close enough to the hoplite in the right,their shields overlap as shown.
Paul B,in othismos they would stick their chest in the shield,exactly the same as in (D).The right sjowlder would be deeper in the bowl of the shield,and thus the shields are slightly to the side.
It is strange that up till now in the poll (d) wins.Even if I'm wrong for supporting ©, this is what art always shows (with very few exceptions) and thus this should be the most probable candidate for the poll.I think your original drawings have been misleading,as most people know the shields were overlapped and heard of the notion of the phalanx to push to the right. This notion has nothing to do with how the shields were overlapped.Or it has...only in © you are able to come closer to the man in the right and push him that way.
Khaire
Giannis
Hi Giannis,

I think your 'D' is costing you spear length range because the right arm is further back than in 'C' or 'E'.

'E' I see as superfluous. If you put a column between two others, they can turn their shields a bit while the columns deploy between them, so that the shields end up overlapping.
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