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Lucian writes this in one of his stories:

Quote:I had brought, I may add, two soldiers with me, a pikeman and a spearman borrowed from the Governor of Cappadocia, then a friend of mine, to escort me to the sea

The time would have been mid- second century. What is the difference between a pikeman and a spearman?
In order to answer such questions we always have to see the original text, for usually translations are profoundly misleading, especially regarding matters of war. The text is
from Lucianus' "Alexander", 55.4 and in Greek it reads :

"ἐπηγόμην δὲ καὶ στρατιώτας δύο, λογχοφόρον καὶ κοντοφόρον, παρὰ τοῦ ἡγουμένου τῆς Καππαδοκίας"

So, it talks about loghoforos and a kontoforos (armed with a loghi and a kontos respectively). Now, what exactly Lucian means by these two terms is also a bit vague. Generally, a loghi is a spear that is used in melee BUT can also be thrown, while a kontos is a sturdier spear that is used in melee. It is almost impossible though to say how long these spears would be or whether this kontos was 8 or 12 feet.
So basically one had a lighter weapon than the other? Okay, that seems simple enough. Thanks!
But note the inversion in the translation. Assuming that the nearest we can get to kontos is 'pike', it should read, "a spearman and a pikeman".
Quote:But note the inversion in the translation. Assuming that the nearest we can get to kontos is 'pike', it should read, "a spearman and a pikeman".
How is that significant? The translator did a good job here: I can't think any better way of translating kontophoros and longxophoros to English than "pikeman" and "spearman."
In English, and especially for people who occupy themselves with military history like us, a pikeman is someone who is armed with a pike, in those days a sarissa. It is only logical for anyone to assume, after reading that specific translation, that the Greek word used was a sarissa, but it was not. I guess that if detail did not matter anything could pass, but this is why this thread was opened in the first place as I see it. What is more, the text does not specify if these men were infantry or cavalry. Both terms could be used for both. A pikeman can only be a footsoldier. Lucian's kontophoros could as well be a horseman.

So, I do not think that such a translation would be enough for people like us and maintain that it can be very misleading. I would prefer a translation that would keep the Greek terminology like "a soldier armed with a loghe and another with a kontos". I agree that such a translation whose target group is the general public would be awkward and difficult to follow, but this exact lack of such translations led me to never voice an opinion on a translation alone without first having read the original.
Quote:In English, and especially for people who occupy themselves with military history like us, a pikeman is someone who is armed with a pike, in those days a sarissa. It is only logical for anyone to assume, after reading that specific translation, that the Greek word used was a sarissa, but it was not. I guess that if detail did not matter anything could pass, but this is why this thread was opened in the first place as I see it. What is more, the text does not specify if these men were infantry or cavalry. Both terms could be used for both. A pikeman can only be a footsoldier. Lucian's kontophoros could as well be a horseman.
Arrian uses the same terms to describe his 2nd-c. Roman troops. It's clear beyond doubt that his kontophoroi do not use the sarissa, but he describes in his another Tactica (Tactica IV: 7-9) not infantry but cavalry being divided in kontophoroi (who charge in the manner of Alani and Sarmatians) and lancearii (who hurl their weapons at long range or use it in hand-to-hand combat). So maybe not a sarissa, but a long thrusting spear used by both infantry as well as cavalry.
Quote:
Renatus post=289194 Wrote:But note the inversion in the translation. Assuming that the nearest we can get to kontos is 'pike', it should read, "a spearman and a pikeman".
How is that significant? The translator did a good job here: I can't think any better way of translating kontophoros and longxophoros to English than "pikeman" and "spearman."

I am surprised that you have to ask the question. The purpose of translation is to get as close to the sense of the original as possible. Macedon tells us that a loghi is a spear that can be thrown; a pike is not a throwing weapon. Thus, a loghophoros is not a pikeman.
But AND (and the Greek equivalent kai) is a symmetrical relation, so "a spearman and a pikemen" means the same as "a pikeman and a spearmen". Unless there is something which refers to the pikeman in the English and τόν λογχοφορόν ἐν τἠν Ἐλληνικήν, its a correct translation.

When the soldiers are just background scenery to a work of fiction, its probably not worth worrying too much about the nuances of the translation. There is no perfect way to render the half dozen Greek words for "spear" into English, and many authors use them loosely.
Just one more piece of context: I believe the original quote (link) is from the A.M. Harmon translation for Loeb published 1921; believe me when I say that if you want to criticize old Loeb translations, you will grow old before you get to this passage. Loebs are written for a general audience on the assumption that if readers care about nuances they will check the Greek or Latin on the left-hand page. Sites that just have the English translation give a very different user experience than the physical books.

Back in 1921, the translator had few resources to learn about the niceties of Greek military jargon. If he used Liddell and Scott, the standard ancient Greek-English dictionary since Queen Victoria's day, he would find that a λογχοφόρος is a "spearman, pikemen" and κοντοφόρος is "carrying a pole or pike."
Quote:...he would find that a λογχοφόρος is a "spearman, pikemen" and κοντοφόρος is "carrying a pole or pike."

When Galen uses the word κοντος it means "crutch". I bet Lucian actually meant "a soldier with a lancea and one with a crutch" :mrgreen:
Thanks for your help, everyone.

I had tried to find other translations, like this one by Fowler and Fowler, but as you can see it didn't help.

Quote:On a certain occasion I was passing through Abonutichus, with a spearman and a pikeman whom my friend the governor of Cappadocia had lent me as an escort on my way to the sea.
Well... as I have already confessed I can perfectly well understand that translations are and will most always be made by individuals who are not interested or well versed in ancient military matters, it is inevitable to have to deal with misunderstandings or/and oversimplifications. This is why we need to examine any translation regarding these matters very carefully in order to really understand and evaluate it. I once read a translation about the battle of Raphia by Polybius (many many years ago) in which the translator wrote that one side threw down their pikes and charged the enemy... For days I pondered... could it be that they actually threw down the sarissae and then charged in with sword in hands effectively breaking the enemy??? Then (a year later) I read the original text, which actually had the Lagides LOWER their pikes, which under circumstances, as a verb, could mean "to throw down" but not when used with pikes... Such incidents are very common and can lead to many misconceptions. For example the various verbs used to describe a simple "attack" are often translated as "charge", which makes the reader think of violent charges into the melee. This often happens in translations regarding hoplite and cavalry warfare and only serves to propagate the "myths" of the ancient ferocious charges.... The same applies when I read "shortsword" instead of "gladius" or "javelin" instead of "pilum". Anyways. This is why we have this forum here, so that we can get to the bottom of such things.
At least the Fowler and Fowler translation has the spearman and the pikeman in the right order.
This is how Arrian describes the Roman "kontos": "The impact of the spear will make the flexible iron point stuck in their shield and body armour and the weight will make the horseman useless." (kai thyreooi kataphraktooi thooraki empagentos tou kontou kai dia malakotèta tou sidèrou epikamphthentos archeion ton anabatèn poièsontes.)

And this "kontos" can be used for throwing as well as for thrusting: "The fourth rank will throw their javelins overhead and the first rank will stab or throw spears at them and their horses without pause." (tèn tetartèn de hyperakontizein tas lonchas: kai tèn prootèn paiein è akontizein tois kontois apheidoos es te hippous kai autous.)
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