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Arrian (Anabasis) briefly writes about a change Alexander makes to the phalanx at 7.23 but does not say anything more about it (and most obviously because Alexander dies shortly after without being able to implement this new formation in battle).

Arrian writes:
Quote:The Persians then were enrolled in the various Macedonian units, so that the 'decad' -- or section -- now consisted of a Macedonian leader, two of his compatriots, one of them a 'double-pay' man, the other a 'ten-stater' man (so called from the pay he received, which was less than that of the 'double-pay' soldiers but more than that of the ordinary rank and file), twelve Persians, and last another Macedonian 'ten-stater'. Four Macedonians, that is -- the section-leader and three others on extra pay -- and twelve Persians. The Macedonians wore native equipment; the Persians were armed either with bows or light javelins.

From what I've read, little is made of this change by modern authors. It might be mentioned in a passing statement, but is quickly forgotten. This type of change would have been huge to how we think of the Macedonian phalanx and its role in battle. If Alexander only thought it was necessary to have three Macedonians in the front of the phalanx equipped with "native" gear (i.e. the sarissa, etc.) to attack/drive back to enemy, then shouldn't our perception of the Macedonian phalanx gaining its strength by its depth (and by sheer numbers) have to be rethought?

To me, this new formation seems like it's purpose was for a lightning quick and utterly debilitating attack: kill/wound as many as possible from a long-medium range with the missile troops while the entire formation marches quickly towards the enemy with sarissas extended to finish off/hold in place/drive back any that remain standing, and finally perhaps with the cavalry coming in to finish off the annihilation.

Thoughts?
Or maybe it was intended to stand in place, bombarding the enemy with arrows and javelins and fending them off with the hedge of pikes? Its also significant that all the 'NCOs' are Macedonians. Alexander tended to keep the most important positions for Macedonians when he handed out offices.

Its frustrating to have no idea if this mixed phalanx was ever used in battle, under Alexander or one of the Hellenistic warlords.
Quote:Or maybe it was intended to stand in place, bombarding the enemy with arrows and javelins and fending them off with the hedge of pikes? Its also significant that all the 'NCOs' are Macedonians. Alexander tended to keep the most important positions for Macedonians when he handed out offices.

Its frustrating to have no idea if this mixed phalanx was ever used in battle, under Alexander or one of the Hellenistic warlords.

True, but then that assumes that the Macedonian phalanx (or at least this one) was a more defensive weapon and, hence, not to be used for attack. If attacked from the front eventually the missile troops will run out of ammunition, or the enemy will simply stay out of firing range leaving the stationary phalanx vulnerable to a counter-attack. If the phalanx stood in place there is no way the enemy would simply run into a hedge of spears while being pelted with arrows or javelins. For the Macedonian phalanx to be effective it needs to be moving forward at a non-stop pace, forcing the enemy to either give up ground or attempt to overthrow the wall of pikes.

I too find it frustrating that we never hear of this being used in battle. Too bad the Successors were hung up on creating larger and larger armies consisting of soldiers in a phalanx equipped in the Macedonian fashion.
This formation is actually nothing that innovative as many think it is. What Alexander planned on doing was a formation that would facilitate bow use, as had the Persians done before and the Byzantines, the Sassanids etc after him. A mixed formation with "entetagmenous" bowmen and spearmen in the front and the back to protect the lighter armed (maybe even double armed) men in the middle. Such formations were particularly effective in Asia, where heavy armor was not that abundant and so arrows were a serious threat. Although not much detail is known about this formation, I would assume that the Macedonians would not be equipped with the sarisssa but with a more flexible spear (possibly a long spear), like the hypaspists. The sarissa demands not so much depth (8 is enough) as density of men and pikes. I would suggest that in order for a sarissa bearing phalanx to be able to defend against an assailant (and just from frontal attacks), 4-5 ranks should be able to lower their pikes in order to have a good density of spear points. Just 2 ranks would be quite easy to outmaneuver and compact density (synaspismos) would not be feasible, since the ranged weapons in the mid ranks would require more space. This would make the density of spear points 1/2 to 1/3 normal and 1/5 of what would be during synaspismos.

On the other hand, if the Persians were also trained in the use of the sarissa (as were the Persian youths Alexander had ordered trained), I am sure that a system would have been devised for them to be double armed and be able to somehow leave their sarissae (down? stuck in the ground? held by a single man in the rear?) and take it when demanded to engage in close combat. A drawback here would be the sheer volume of the bow and arrows, which could hamper the use of sarissa, especially in compact formation. Such a deployment could be suggested by the decad being comprised of 16 men, who are typical of a sarissa bearing phalanx (allowing for an 8 man deep synaspismos with Macedonian leaders), yet a little bit too much for a spear bearing one (2+6+2, 2+8+2 would be more "normal"). Again, one could argue that if the Persians were also equipped with the spear, then, a 16 man file can also be used for an 8 man synaspismos of spearmen (although spearmen did not, at least at the age of Alexander fight in synaspismos, they fought in simple close order).

No matter what the exact (and unfortunately unknown) tactical details of this formation, mixed formations (spear with bow) are nothing peculiar in history.
Quote:No matter what the exact (and unfortunately unknown) tactical details of this formation, mixed formations (spear with bow) are nothing peculiar in history.
Yes. I've seen a few classicists write on this phalanx (and Xenophon's imaginary Persian one, and Arrian's) who don't seem very aware of mixed formations of spearmen and archers in other cultures. Although they aren't very well documented in the Greek and Roman worlds, they were common and effective in some times and places.

I've also wondered if Persian foot in this period carried bow and spear at the same time. Other than the reliefs from Susa (showing guards with Elamite robes, Elamite shoulder quivers, bows, and spears) I don't know of any evidence. I'd think a butt-spike would be handy for that, and Persian spears didn't usually have them.

A 16th century Englishman tried to come up with a way to equip infantry with both longbows and pikes.
I’d think that this was simply “making do” with what was available. The conqueror had just superannuated some 10,000 or so from his phalanx and had, as yet, no replacements. Certainly Antipater seemed in no position to replace an “army” (by city state standards) as the Lamian war would shortly demonstrate. This was filling out the sixteeen deep phalanx unit with what was available: the 20,000 odd Asians brought to Babylon.

This phalanx might well have been destined to become the police troops of empire whilst Alexander was off subjecting those with the temerity not to acknowledge who he was. Likely enough he will have taken (in the absence of Macedonian reinforcements) a core group of Macedonians and the epigoni as his main phalanx. I’d think the plan would be that the Persians loose their arrows as the mixed phalanx approaches and then lend weight and depth to it as close combat ensues. They might prove helpful in a more open order with Persian spears as well. Truth is we won’t know as it is nowhere described in action; the successors appropriated the epigoni and continued “business as usual”.

Quote:I would assume that the Macedonians would not be equipped with the sarisssa but with a more flexible spear (possibly a long spear), like the hypaspists.


The armament of the hypaspists aside - another fifty page thread - why would these Macedonians be armed with a "more flexible" spear? Arrian describes the Macedonians as being armed in their "native" or "hereditary" fashion. This would mean they were armed with the sarissa. Thus sarissa- armed Macedonians occupy the first three and last ranks.

Quote:Such a deployment could be suggested by the decad being comprised of 16 men, who are typical of a sarissa bearing phalanx (allowing for an 8 man deep synaspismos with Macedonian leaders) [...] Again, one could argue that if the Persians were also equipped with the spear, then, a 16 man file can also be used for an 8 man synaspismos of spearmen (although spearmen did not, at least at the age of Alexander fight in synaspismos, they fought in simple close order).

That presupposes file insertion as the reduction to synaspismos. The problem with that is that all the Macedonians (aside from the file closer) are in the front three ranks. A simple rear eight, stepping to one side and then advancing, would result in a Persian bowman in the front rank. If the file closer "countermarched" up between ranks then we have three - one - three Macedonians in alternate files and no file closer. Or we could have every second bloke step right and march forward. A difficult proposotion in such a phalanx particularly if casualties are taken in the ranks - most particularly the front.

That the phalanx condensed to synaspismos by file insertion is, in my view, extremely debatable and, on the only extant descriptions (Pol 12.21.1-3; 18.24.8), not likely. This will have been acheived via closing up to a given side so that frontage reduced and depth only to the extent that ranks also closed up.
Quote:I’d think that this was simply “making do” with what was available. The conqueror had just superannuated some 10,000 or so from his phalanx and had, as yet, no replacements. Certainly Antipater seemed in no position to replace an “army” (by city state standards) as the Lamian war would shortly demonstrate. This was filling out the sixteeen deep phalanx unit with what was available: the 20,000 odd Asians brought to Babylon.

Alexander may have superannuated 10,000 from the phalanx, but he had received 30,000 Persian troops trained and equipped in the Macedonian style of war (i.e. the sarissa-phalanx). This was more than enough to perform what had been undertaken with the small amount of Macedonian phalangites at the beginning of the Asian invasion almost 10 years before. So I have to respectfully disagree, I don't think Alexander was simply "making do" with what he had. I think that Alexander realized that the sarissa-phalanx was only good for very limited purposed (especially after the Indian invasion). By adding in a second offensive element to the wall of spears (i.e. the missile troops), he was creating a formation that, when used alongside cavalry, would absolutely devastate the enemy.
That depends upon what he was using and for what purpose. He was, at the time, readying to depart for nations yet to acknowledge him a god amonst them. Just what armament would he take? My guess is the epigoni and a nucleus of Macedonians: the royal army would do the conquering and the rest the beat cop work. That latter might well have been the duty of units of mixed phalanx. It was the relgation to police work that was in the offing at Opis and sparked the "rebellion".

Personally I believe it was the use of combined arms - in separate units - that lay at the core of the conqueror's success. Mixing the phalanx was a means to an end and I can't really see any compelling advantages over a full phalanx combined with light armed, javelin men and cavalry (both "light" and "heavy"). That he'd trained the epigoni - 30,000 of them supposedly and we need not believe these were the only ones - in the "Macedonian manner" clearly indicated that he would continue to use this arm as a basis of that mixed force. The "mixed phalanx" was a way to eke out minimal Macedonian strength in the forces left behind.
First of all here is the text, so that we all know what we are talking about:

He distributed these foreign soldiers among the Macedonian ranks in the following way. Each company was led by a Macedonian decurion, and next to him was a Macedonian receiving double pay for distinguished valour; and then came one who received ten staters (monthly), who was so named from the pay he received, being somewhat less than that received by the man with double pay, but more than that of the men who were serving as soldiers without holding a position of honour. Next to these came twelve Persians, and last in the company another Macedonian, who also received the pay of ten staters; so that in each company there were twelve Persians and four Macedonians, three of whom received higher pay, and the fourth was in command of the company. The Macedonians were armed in their hereditary manner; but of the Persians some were archers, while others had javelins furnished with straps, by which they were held (mesangula).

Paralus is right about the text. I should have looked it up, but I didn't and so my whole thinking was wrong (the text is much more specific than I remembered it...) It says that there would be three ranks of pikemen in front and one in the back. I would not agree with his opinion that Alexander only did this out of necessity, I still believe that he thought of forming a mixed phalanx to better tackle the Asian peculiarities in warfare. As for the "hypaspists" question, yes, I know that there is a debate regarding their armament, I am a proponent of the theory that has them fight with a long spear instead of a sarissa, although very capable of using one if necessity demanded it.

Lastly, regarding the reduction to synaspismos, it was also performed by having the epistates forming a new file. In this context, a Macedonian would be the file leader. Of course, now, we would have a problem with the file closer, who would be a Persian... Under these circumstances, we could only assume that synaspismos would be possible only by condensing the line (very usual) or not at all. Doubling the ranks (in length and depth) by file is not debatable, in my knowledge, as a tactic and is well presented in ancient literature (Ael.28, Ascl.10.17). The ancient commander had the option of either performing synaspismos by drawing his files closer together and thus reducing the frontage of his phalanx or reducing the depth of his files, thus keeping the frontage (or just doubling it).

Yet in this specific case, I would not think that synaspismos would be ordered, unless the Persians in between were also equipped with a pike, which, according to the text, does not sound possible. These men were not trained in using the pike, nor is any such training suggested. So, this formation would have been used in a static way, with the 3 ranks of pikemen (few but it seems an absolute minimum, since it is a very rare example of a non-symmetrical formation) shielding the bows from frontal assault and a single rank shielding them from a non-infantry (I do not think that a single rank of pikes could really stop any infantry) assault against the back of the formation without some kind of countermarch. Another question arises when we think about the use of javelinmen inside those ranks. Javelins in such order would only have a very short range (no room for the men to run and hurl them) and would be useless as a harassing weapon in contrast to the bow. Again, there are many hypotheses (educated guesses) we could make. Maybe the javelinmen would act as screening skirmishing infantry only taking their place among the ranks when the enemy would close up (an also well known tactic in later years), or would hold their positions just behind the front three ranks to use their javelins in a "Roman" way, just before a charge. It is a pity that there is no attested use of this phalanx...
It can be difficult to know just when the "tacticians" are referring to a Macedonian phlalanx or hoplite. They write of movements one cannot imagine a Macedonian phalanx performing (stabbing over the front rank is one that comes to mind i think - in the middle of the "Cleomenic War" and Aratus at present and wouldn't begin to know where to find that reference).

We only have, to my knowledge, two descriptions preseved of the Macedonian phalanx "closing up". Both are revealing and both show the phalangites compacting rather than doubling or file insertion:

Quote:Pol 18.24.8
while he ordered the peltasts and heavy armed to double their depth and close up to the right

Pol 12.21.1
But the greatest blunder is still to come. "As soon as Alexander," he says, "was within distance of the enemy he caused his men to take up order eight deep," which would have necessitated ground forty stades wide for the length of the line; and even had they, to use the poet's expression, "laid shield to shield and on each other leaned," still ground twenty stades wide would have been wanted, while he himself says that it was less than fourteen.

Both of those are clear. In the first Philip V aorders his phalanx to close up to the right. In the second Polybius, near the end of his diatribe against Callisthenes, clearly takes it as understood that Alexander's phalanx, closing up to synaspismos, would lessen its frontage going so far as to give the distance contracted. I don't know of any extant literary material that describes a Macedonian phalanx performing this movement via file insertion.
Here you are wrong Michael. Both Aslcepiodotus and Aelian describe the tactics of the Macedonian phalanx (which they of course call Greek) and not this of the hoplites. Of course there are many common elements with any other kind of phalanx but their absolute basis is in both cases clearly the Macedonian phalanx. For example Aelian writes ch.12 "The arms of a phalanx are shields and pikes. The Macedonian shield, made of brass, is the best. It must be eight hand-breadths in diameter. The pike should not be shorter than eight cubits (12 feet), and the longest pike ought not to exceed such a length as may allow a man to wield it with facility." He also writes (in his address to Hadrian) "you will see the way in which Alexander of Macedon drew up his troops". Asclepiodotus also talks ch.1 of "the long spears of the type which will here be called "Macedonian"". In ch.v he also talks of the arms of the phalanx and he gives them a Macedonian brass shield and a long spear between 8 and 10 cubits (12-15 feet). They both describe the various types of doubling the ranks and there is no reason to doubt that any Macedonian phalanx was able to perform all.

And of course Arrian is also clear in this matter (Art of War p.25). Arrian also has the phalanx doubling its density by intersecting the epistates (not half-files).
Found it. From Hoplites and Orthodoxy (Cawkwell):

Quote:There is a remarkable statement in Arrian (Tact.12.3) which runs as follows: 'those who stand behind the file-leaders must be second to these in valour, for their spear reaches up to the enemy...' The version of Aelian, to which this is cognate (13.3), runs as follows: 'one must pay attention by every means possible to the second rank as well, for the spear is also extended in front of these men and being nearby in the array keeps watch and renders service".W hat is remarkable about this is that it simply cannot apply to the Macedonian phalanx which both writers proceed to discuss (Arr. Tact.. 12.4, Aelian 14- passages which plainly derive ultimately from Polybius 18.29); there were five rows of sarissas extended before that phalanx. The spear (dory) is the weapon of hoplites, and the Tacticians must here be talking about the files in a hoplite army.

It relies on the use of doru but, in a technical treatise, one might expect the term sarissa to be used?

And, yes, I'm well aware they discuss a Macedonian phalanx and that other forms of evolution are discussed in these treatises. The only attestations of this - in action not in a theoretical treatise - are those I noted. In both cases of a phalanx discussed in action the closing up is by compaction (and the opposite by extension). Polybius is clear as a bell in describing the phalanx as closing up by compaction. In fact, if one reads the entire passage Polybius has the phalanx - in open order - and sixteen deep occupying 20 stades (12.19.8). Then he says when Alexander ordered them "to take up order eight deep" they will have occupied 40 stades (12.21.2). Seems they extended the line by the opposite movement. Closing it up then reduces back to 20 stades.

Difficult to find an inserted file in that lot!
As for Pol 12.21.1

Quote:But the greatest blunder is still to come. "As soon as Alexander," he says, "was within distance of the enemy he caused his men to take up order eight deep," which would have necessitated ground forty stades wide for the length of the line; and even had they, to use the poet's expression, "laid shield to shield and on each other leaned," still ground twenty stades wide would have been wanted, while he himself says that it was less than fourteen.

This is a very interesting text, which does not though say what you claim. Polybius here scorns Callisthenes for his lack of military knowledge and calculates the space necessary for deploying Alexander's army, not phalanx, and he does not really give any evidence as to whether any change in density affected the frontage of the phalanx or not. I would in contrast support that the whole situation is an example of a phalanx marching in open order, closing up in close order and then to synaspismos keeping its initial frontage (and thus the army formation). Yet, what is most interesting in this text is the blunder of Polybius himself to forget to take into account the numerous skirmishing infantry in Alexander's army. If this is taken into account, then suddenly, Callisthenes calculations are not that faulty anymore, since the total number of the heavy infantry would now be about 22.000 men instead of 35-40.000. So now, the 9.000 strong phalanx would require in synaspismos less than 3 stades, the mercenaries (12.000?) some 7,5 stades in regular compact order, leaving some 3,5 stades for cavalry deployment (not improbable for about 5.000 cavalry). And all this not allowing for camp duty, any reserves (like the horse Alexander used to thwart any attempt of the Persians on the mountain to dare skirmish down the heights) or any non-linear deployment. This might be one of the main arguments for scholars who doubt the military expertise of Polybius himself (although I would like to believe that he was quite knowledgeable in the field, so that we can rely on his numerous detailed descriptions of battles).
Quote:It relies on the use of doru but, in a technical treatise, one might expect the term sarissa to be used?

No, doru was used as a synonym to sarissa. Yet, this is why they also give measurements. It is also interesting that the word "sarissa" was used during the Byzantine years as a synonym to "doru" too. Regarding the Polybius-Callisthenes account, I have written some things above. I would only say here that Polybius is giving the number of an 8-man line in close order and then in synaspismos. It is not the same thing as having a 16 deep phalanx in close order close up to an 8 man synaspismos as could very well be the case here. The initial 32 men deep phalanx is most possibly deployed in open (marching) order anyways... So, a 32 men deep phalanx in open order takes up as much space as a 16 men deep phalanx in close order and as much space as an 8 man deep phalanx in synaspismos. Should the phalanx be 8 man deep AND in close order, then Polybius would be right and in order for them to keep depth and perform a synaspismos, a narrowing of the frontage would be necessary (as also attested in the manuals). So, it seems, that Callisthenes is actually describing a phalanx changing in density but not in length (if only we had the original text...).

Quote:In fact, if one reads the entire passage Polybius has the phalanx - in open order - and sixteen deep occupying 20 stades (12.19.8) . Then he says when Alexander ordered them "to take up order eight deep" they will have occupied 40 stades (12.21.2). Seems they extended the line by the opposite movement. Closing it up then reduces back to 20 stades.

(See! You yourself mix up the density-frontage-depth relation here. If Polybius is talking about a 16-deep phalanx in open order here, then this phalanx has the same frontage as an 8-man line in close order. Your calculations are only valid if we have the exact same densities. Then a 16-deep line would occupy half the frontage of an 8-deep one.

As for examples of a phalanx in action, maybe there are more, maybe not, I cannot say right now, but one or two examples cannot really be considered enough to call the manuals an unrealistic approach on the subject.)

Now that I read your text again, I think I may have misunderstood what you wrote. So, do you propose that Alexander had his 16 deep phalanx in open order first change into an 8 deep phalanx in open order and then close? This would take hours and there would be no point in doing so, especially close to the enemy, as Polybius suggests... Polybius is not commenting on the method the maneuvers were made, just the space the formations would occupy.

Quote:Found it. From Hoplites and Orthodoxy (Cawkwell):.................

Yep, I know of this, but I think that Cawkwell here is a little bit too desperate to discover more information about the hoplite tactics than is really available... He admits that the writers claim to describe the Macedonian phalanx, but he tries to have them not do that... His argument here is, in my opinion, not that well thought. He finds it peculiar that the writers have the second man reach the enemy too, while this is not peculiar at all. First of all, the swinging of the second pike would indeed be able to reach the enemy, even if not special provisions were made (like shortening the pike of the man forward or lengthening the one behind - this also attested). For the next ranks, such provisions should be taken for this to be possible, but then, it would be more difficult to defend against those who penetrated the spearhead wall. And of course he also maintains that the synaspismos (as described in the manuals) was not performed by hoplites (as the ancients also supported).

He then goes on to produce his own perception of the open order formation (seemed also very problematic to me, not to mention unhoplitic...). Yet, apart from synaspismos, my opinion is that the hoplite phalanx also utilized most, if not all, other tactics described (doubling of ranks, countermarches etc) in exact the same manners. So did the Byzantine spear bearing phalanxes too, since these exact tactics are also presented in their treatises also.
Quote:(See! You yourself mix up the density-frontage-depth relation here. If Polybius is talking about a 16-deep phalanx in open order here, then this phalanx has the same frontage as an 8-man line in close order. Your calculations are only valid if we have the exact same densities. Then a 16-deep line would occupy half the frontage of an 8-deep one...

Now that I read your text again, I think I may have misunderstood what you wrote. So, do you propose that Alexander had his 16 deep phalanx in open order first change into an 8 deep phalanx in open order and then close? This would take hours and there would be no point in doing so, especially close to the enemy, as Polybius suggests... Polybius is not commenting on the method the maneuvers were made, just the space the formations would occupy.

Sorry George, perhaps what I wrote wasn't as clear as it otherwise might have been. That is exactly what Polybius is saying. The passage without the “crass” bits and simply the discussion of the phalanx:

Quote:He gave general orders to form up into a phalanx, at first thirty-two deep; then sixteen; and lastly, when they were nearing the enemy, eight deep.” A stade, allowing for the distances which must be kept on a march, and reckoning the depth at sixteen, admits of one thousand six hundred men, each man covering six feet. It is plain, therefore, that ten stades will admit of only sixteen thousand men, and twenty twice that number. Hence, when Alexander caused his men to form sixteen deep, he would have wanted a width of ground of twenty stades; "As soon as Alexander," he says, "was within distance of the enemy he caused his men to take up order eight deep," which would have necessitated ground forty stades wide for the length of the line; and even had they, to use the poet's expression, "laid shield to shield and on each other leaned," still ground twenty stades wide would have been wanted, while he himself says that it was less than fourteen.

So, yes, Polybius states the phalanx sixteen deep – at six foot intervals – requires 20 stades – and then 40 stades when it is eight deep at six foot intervals. This is double that of the sixteen deep phalanx. As he quotes Callisthenes this is likely how the later recorded it and so Polybius questions his knowledge.

Quote:Polybius is not commenting on the method the maneuvers were made, just the space the formations would occupy.

The frontages Polybius gives indicate the method he's applying. What Polybius clearly assumes - as a natural given - is that the adoption of a density to form “shield to shield and on each other leaned” necessarily shortened the frontage of the phalanx. The fact that Polybius has this contraction from an eight deep "open order" formation leads Walbank to comment that the final formation is “closed up” or pyknosis rather than synaspismos. Were it to reduce - in the same fashion - from open order to synaspismos one would expect the frontage to reduce to 10 stades. Just on this, Polybius nowhere uses the technical term of the manuals “synaspismos”; rather he uses a more general verbs to “pack” or to “close together”. Either the term, as a technical term, was unknown to him or he is not utilising technical terminology. Whatever one makes of that, plainly this closing up - to whatever formation - that he describes would, clearly in Polybius' view, reduce the frontage and is thus, in his mind, performed via contraction.

As you note, these movements would take time. The march and deployment up the plain from the pass clearly took considerable time - as the sources narrate. Alexander began at daylight and, given that night ended to carnage and pursuit of Darius, the battle must have taken place in the afternoon - early or otherwise.

Polybius’ real error is that he only had to find room for the Macedonian infantry in the Issos line – along with the usual cavalry, Agrianes, etc. He attempts to put all of Alexander’s infantry into phalanx and into the main battle line. Arrian’s (and Curtius') description clearly shows this wasn’t the case.

As for the manuals George, I would, all things considered equal, prefer the description of an animal in action to one in a museum or zoo. Whilst the manuals do indeed describe insertion and countermarching it is fascinating that the only surviving literary evidence (again, to my knowledge) describes contraction. Pity there isn't more.

In any case we agree George that no such contraction via insertion was possible for the mixed phalanx. Perhaps it contracted to one side just as Polybius assumes at Issos?
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