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Having been happily pointed at the specific book fragments of Polybius that are the source of the belief that the Romans fought in a much looser, more open, way than the Greek and Macedonian phalanxes (with particular reference to the Pike-armed); in arguing against my suggestion that the Romans fought shield-to-shield in their own version of the 'phalanx'.

I therefore attach the relevant portions of Polybius (the bolded elements are my own) from the available online translation; so that it can be easily accessed to help the discussion.

My contention is that Polybius clearly knows how the pike-phalanx is formed and was used - not that, in fact, it is particularly difficult to determine. He is then keen to explain why, when previously it was considered unstoppable, that it always lost against the Romans when the Roman soldiers, he understands, are trained to fight in a much more open order (with 3ft gaps between each man as opposed to fighting closed up and touching).

Whilst he then points out all the possible reasons of unfavourable ground, this has, of course, always been the case and would apply to both sides in a conflict, albeit it is particularly true for a pike-armed phalanx when there is normally just the one and only direction of travel possible once started and engaged in combat. Other than that he simply gives, effectively, the 'manipular tactic' as the reason. Whilst I have no disagreement with this in any way, it simply cannot be the whole story, but the devil is in the detail - which is what I argue for.

As it is explained, using the flexible centuries and maniples the rigid phalanx can be broken up until the point when the pikes are useless and the Romans, who can move and turn and fight flexibly, either individually or formed, will gain the upper hand - each and every time. What is less obvious to the reader and not explained in that way by Polybius, is that he describes how the phalanx is broken up by:

"Afterwards whether the phalanx drives back by its charge the force opposed to it or is repulsed by this force, its own peculiar formation is broken up."

with the one element of great importance that I have bolded. For, as Polybius clearly explains, if the Roman troops are deployed in open-order (3ft gaps all round) then the 10-pike heads and 32 men behind them are marching forwards he will be pushed back, marched over and killed.

My conclusion, driven by simple physics, is that there is only one way that the phalanx can be resisted and that is by the Romans adopting a similar close-order and resisting, even perhaps forcing back, a portion of the phalanx. This is entirely workable and I (please jump in) cannot think of anything else they could do to otherwise achieve that.

One the advance is stopped, then the 'posterior' centuries of every maniple can start a gentle retreat to bring that portion of the phalanx forward just as described. Depending on the discipline and cohesion of the phalanx this may take some time and the pair of centuries in the maniple can manipulate the element of the phalanx between them until such time that it is broken up - at which time the pikemen drop their pikes and it's all over. This can happen all the way up and down the line of the phalanx. More broken ground will only assist this happening sooner.

This, it seems obvious to me, is the secret. So, why this apparent assumption that the Romans fight 3ft apart that Polybius attests and has become accepted?

I believe in the simplest and most likely solution. Firstly that the Romans did deploy and march in that 3ft (one pace more likely) separation, but closed up for actual fighting - no real difference to the Greek manuals there; but secondly that Polybius, whilst he wouldn't have been able to actually see the detail of the actual fighting from a General's perspective (no telescopes and no satellite/game-style overviews), he would have seen them training and, just like any martial arts demonstrations people would have seen, let alone training at the post (cf Vegetius), that's is how he has seen the Romans train. You cannot train individual shield and sword drills when sandwiched next to each other; you train open and then further train to fight closed, along with all the drill movements to help you.

I offer this for discussion and will happily defend it. Moreover I offer it, given the last week's discussions, as a clear example where the ancient sources do not contain all the details we might want and that, sometimes, a degree of logical interpretation must happen if we are to progress in our knowledge. Smile

logic - a science that deals with the principles and criteria of validity of inference and demonstration : the science of the formal principles of reasoning


[attachment=7315]Poly18_28-31_Advantages_and_Disadvantages_of_the_Phalanx.pdf[/attachment]
Small addition: repulsion does not necessarily mean repulsion by physical force. It can mean the effect, when individual roman get inside the long pikes, rendering them almost useless and giving them an opportunity to hack n slash. This event can repulse the phalanx, in which the soldiers try to backpace a bit, avoiding inevitable death.
So , here we go! In regard to Roman's formation I think(I will show the sources that could support my hypothesis) that maniples could deploy themselves in three different way:
1) a sort of wedge, a deep and close-order formation (substantially with an half lenght frontage and a double depth) indeed the use of this formation is recorded when there was need to have gaps in the battle line, in order to host levy troops(Frontino 2.3.20) or because there were obstacles on the battlefield ( see Tacitus, historiae 2.42 )
2) the open order formation. It could been obteined, distancing the files( in other words opening the ranks, that is the same thing), it probably was the formation described by Polybios, in wich we have pairs of soldiers ( figthingh one behind the other, see pictures 1 and 2- maybe prior and posterior??? ). The order to open the maniple could have been: "Laxare manipulos!"' as did Caesar fighting at the Sambre ( De Bello Gallico, 2, 25, 2)
3) then the rear soldier of each of these couples, moved diagonally( to the left or to the right ) . In this way we have another close formation, but with a wider front, so there are no gaps in the battle line.

these movement could be compared to those described by Vegetius ( 2. 26 ) and are pretty similar ( except maybe for the open formation ) to those described in Muarice's Strategikon

The close formation were a good way to protect the men inside, and has an essentially defensive aim ( it is the deployment used by security forces ), while an open formation could by good to deal with a slower enemy, like a phalanx. All of these three formations were probably used by Romans according to circumstances.( see Caesar's example, above).This could also explain the existence of gaps.

Finally, I don't think that the centuries had a tactical role in the battle, but the role you appointed to the posterior one could be carry out by skirmishers between maniples in wedge formation ( see the example of Frontinus, 2,3,20 )
I hope I have been clear!
Mark Hygate wrote:

Having been happily pointed at the specific book fragments of Polybius that are the source of the belief that the Romans fought in a much looser, more open, way than the Greek and Macedonian phalanxes (with particular reference to the Pike-armed); in arguing against my suggestion that the Romans fought shield-to-shield in their own version of the 'phalanx'.

If you want to learn how the Romans fought during a specific time, read the sources that describe it, and look at what few archaeological remains still survive. While doing this, contemplate the mindset and experiences of the author or artist.

Polybius had a first hand look at how the Romans fought. If they fought in a close ordered "phalanx" like you describe, he probably would have mentioned it. Not only that, he also lived in the household of the man who conquered the last Macedonian army at Pydna. It can be easily argued that he probably spoke with one or more "old timers" who not only fought in the battle but also commanded large bodies of men during it.

Also, what sources do you provide that lend to your hypothesis that the Romans fought shield to shield during the Republican period?

Mark Hygate wrote:

My conclusion, driven by simple physics, is that there is only one way that the phalanx can be resisted and that is by the Romans adopting a similar close-order and resisting, even perhaps forcing back, a portion of the phalanx. This is entirely workable and I (please jump in) cannot think of anything else they could do to otherwise achieve that.

What simple physics are involved? Just because you use words like "force" and "push", doesn't mean physics become involved. You could easily substitute attack for both of those words. Warfare is about men with weapons trying to kill each other, not force equations.

To paraphrase Polybius:
Each sarrisa was held by a man, stuck in a rigid formation that needed order and strict cohesion to work. When order breaks down, whether it be from terrain, chaos, gaps, casualties, etc., and cohesion is lost, it allows other men, fighting in a looser decentralized method of fighting (Latin manipular tactics), to break inside the ranks of the phalanx. This is the primary fault of any phalanx unit, but especially of the Macedonian phalanx due to the length of their sarrisa, which prohibits movement. Once the breakthrough occurs, the unit cohesion is lost, rank and files become jumbled and confused, sarrisa become impossible to move and the Macedonians will break and run when the men realize they will never get order again, which is necessary for their formation to succeed. It becomes a simple option, stay, fight and die, or run and live.

On the other hand, if unit cohesion and good order is maintained, the Macedonian unit wins and pushes the Roman maniples they face back (they do not steamroll or overrun, these are humans we're speaking of, who have the ability to walk, ie. backwards). There are many examples of this during Pyrrhus' wars and in the wars against Macedonia and Syria, where for whatever reasons the Romans didn't prosper.

However, and this is the key, for the Macedonian phalanx to win the infantry fight, all of the Macedonian units have to maintain good order and cohesion. If one fails, the whole line fails, unless the reserve can respond in time to halt the breakthrough. This is the point that Polybius is trying to make, the Macedonian system was too rigid compared to the Roman method. It didn't matter if one Roman had to face 5 or 10 spear points. Because sooner or later, one of the men carrying those sarrisa he faces will trip, or be forced to move away from his mates because of terrain (walking around trees, a ditch, a draw, crossing bad terrain, etc.). Once that happens, a gap will appear. Due to their weaponry and formations, the Macedonians will not be able to properly defend these gaps, which favor a man carrying a scutum and gladius. At the individual and unit/formation level, one is rigid (phalanx), the other is flexible (manipular).

Mark Hygate wrote:

I believe in the simplest and most likely solution

Then read what Polybius said and take it to heart. Unless you know of something that can discount Polybius as a reliable source. If not, what other ancient source states the Romans fought in a phalanx during the Republican era?

Mark Hygate wrote:

This, it seems obvious to me, is the secret. So, why this apparent assumption that the Romans fight 3ft apart that Polybius attests and has become accepted?

It's not an assumption. Its evidence in the form of a primary source. And its a reliable source because not only was Polybius an officer in the Greek military before he became a hostage, he lived in the house of the victor of Pydna and later marched with his son and saw first hand how the Roman army fought and was organized. Also, other sources provide similar information about the loose style of the Roman units. And because it was the Latin tradition to fight in this manner, for centuries past, vice the phalanx, an obsolete method of fighting. And because you weren't there to tell the Roman Senate that you had a better way of fighting. Tongue

Mark Hygate wrote:

Moreover I offer it, given the last week's discussions, as a clear example where the ancient sources do not contain all the details
we might want and that, sometimes, a degree of logical interpretation must happen if we are to progress in our knowledge.


See highlighted for the problem. Because Polybius provides evidence opposite to your hypothesis, you want to discount him and find a "degree of logical interpretation" that will invalidate his words.

Mark Hygate wrote:

logic - a science that deals with the principles and criteria of validity of inference and demonstration : the science of the formal principles of reasoning

"Scientific evidence is evidence which serves to either support or counter a scientific theory or hypothesis."
In this case, Polybius counters your hypothesis. Provide new evidence from primary or secondary sources, that isn't opinion based.

Also, I advise you to be careful with your "logic." Like Macedon mentioned in the last thread, what you think is perfectly logical and "common sense" isn't for others, including other educated "military men." I have this funny feeling that previous to finally having read the rest of Polybius, you had already formed a complete picture in your head as to how the Romans fought during the mid-to-late Republican period. But now you are in a conundrum, Polybius contradicts your hypothesis. Based off the methods of history, either provide another source to support your hypothesis (without cherry picking) or go where the evidence leads you.
Francesco,

Good post. One observation: Could the wedges that Frontinus describes simply be normal formations of maniples, operating in open order, at a distance from each other (gaps)? If the Roman line isn't constant (as the sources indicate), then each formation would serve as a wedge to break into the enemy line (which is nearly continuous).

Diverting the thread somewhat, here is the full text of Frontinus 2:3.20:
"When Perseus, king of the Macedonians, had drawn up a double phalanx of his own troops and had placed them in the centre of his forces, with light-armed troops on each side and cavalry on both flanks, Paulus in the battle against him drew up a triple array in wedge formation, sending out skirmishers every now and then between the wedges. Seeing nothing accomplished by these tactics, he determined to retreat, in order by this feint to lure p121the enemy after him on to rough ground, which he had selected with this in view. When even then the enemy, suspecting his ruse in retiring, followed in good order, he commanded the cavalry on the left wing to ride at full speed past the front of the phalanx, covering themselves with their shields, in order that the points of the enemy's spears might be broken by the shock of their encounter with the shields. When the Macedonians were deprived of their spears, they broke and fled."

What are some opinions about the idea of the cavalry breaking the spear points with their shields down the entire line of the phalanx? Me thinks this could have been an isolated innocent or an example of the telephone game, as Frontinus lived two centuries after the battle. Embellished or just fiction? Is this even possible?
Some remarks and personal opinions:

1. The Macedonian phalanx lost a number of major battles against the Romans but only once did it have a problem frontally and that was at Pydna, possibly after it was outflanked by the Romans, which at least added to its confusion, if it was not the main reason. At Cynoscephalae for example, the phalanx had no problem crushing the Romans and at Magnesia it certainly was not defeated while the Romans did gain both victories through other means. Historically, the Roman system proved inferior to the phalanx of Greek armies on the battleground as line against line and superior in its resilience and general tactical value. This is what Polybius is describing. Do not think that it was easy to break a phalanx just because the ground was not as even as a soccer field. This tactic was invented, employed and proved superior first and foremost in the rough land of Greece, rougher even than that in Italy and more than once performed efficiently if not admirably well in what would be considered unfavorable terrain (Selassia, Granicus, Issus, etc).

2. Polybius and others often describe the Romans as a "phalanx". Many times when you read about a "Roman line" in the translations, the Greek text reads "phalanx".

3. The Romans are attested to have fought both in close and in open order. Since you tend to include in your discussion later descriptions, you all know of the close ordered formations employed against the Parthians, for example, as well as at Cannae and Heracleion per Polybius.

4. To me a cuneus is most possibly a kind of column rather than always a wedge, so, yes, what Frontinus is describing to me resembles what Bryan supports. However, he specifically states the reason why he thinks that Paulus chose this formation and to me he is describing something that he thought was not a regular offensive tactic against the Macedonian phalanx but one that facilitated retreat.

5. Regarding open order, I personally support that it was the preferred density to employ when the Romans wanted to fight defensively. It allowed them to more easily retreat in front of an advancing enemy, which is (as I have supported in another of Mark's threads) the peculiarity of the Roman system as described in the sources. This tactical withdrawal is what Paulus also did in Pydna. There is no reason to assume that the Romans had no experience in fighting in close order. They would use both when each one offered more advantages.

6. Frontinus' account of the cavalry braking the sarissas is, to my view, a "myth". Something like that would have been documented by others too and would have been imitated. I just cannot see the possibility of any substantial number of horsemen galloping between two battle-lines which in most places would be anyways engaged as I do not see it possible to do any serious damage to the 5 rows of sarissas projecting from the phalanx to different lengths anyways. On the other hand I can see horses suffering from stabs.

7. One more thing to keep in mind is that the Romans fought with absolute discipline. It was forbidden to run before their first rank or to leave their position in the line and the penalty to such offenses was death. If you guys read the battle of Pydna very carefully, you will see that the Romans did not view it as a normal, acceptable tactic to just pour in any small gap in the Macedonian line. They only did so, when Paulus rode along the ranks ordering them to do so. Their standard order was to keep their cohesion, their posts, their lines and, at the time, tactically retreat in front of the enemy.

8. A well-trained phalanx was not "rigid" on the battlefield. There is a misunderstanding here. It was more rigid than the Roman formation because it needed order to be effective, while the Romans could run away and still have a chance to survive, because the Romans could more effectively be used in an irregular manner. However, on the battlefield, they could act in smaller units, they could march oblique, they could break in multiple phalanxes and join again, they could tactically also retreat and advance, form squares, open up lanes for friendly and enemy troops to pass through then close them up again etc, etc. A good phalanx could "dance" on the battlefield, but on the battlefield only.

9. MGL is also correct in saying that when we read about" pushing", "forcefully pushing" etc in battle-accounts of Greek authors, they almost never describe physical pushing. The relevant Greek words (usually "otheo" and "biazo") are used as the verbs "push" and "force" are used in English.

- In all, the Romans at the time of the Macedonian wars had an army that was on the whole more effective in the demands of a campaign. However, this has nothing to do with the phalanx vs Roman line comparison itself.
Quote:4. To me a cuneus is most possibly a kind of column rather than always a wedge, so, yes, what Frontinus is describing to me resembles what Bryan supports. However, he specifically states the reason why he thinks that Paulus chose this formation and to me he is describing something that he thought was not a regular offensive tactic against the Macedonian phalanx but one that facilitated retreat.

.

If I have understood Bryan' s tought about wedge, then you aren't expressing the same concept: Brayan is suggesting that wedges are simply maniples in open order distanced each other :in this way the legion has a twice frontage, this is plausible, even if it couldn' t be easy to close the gaps; while you, macedon, are saying that the wedge is a column( with a riduced frontage and an extended depth )... this is also plausible, if we double the ranks of an open formation. In this way, if we follow my model with three formations, we could have a close order formation four deep, an open order formation 8 deep ( because we have two soldiers one behind the other), and , with "your" wedge, we have another open order formation 16 deep, while with "my" wedge we have a close order formation 8 deep

I am inclined to think that a wedge was a close order formation because Vegetius says the basis of the wedge is a "quadrata acies":
XXVI. Nihil magis prodesse constat in pugna, quam ut adsiduo exercitio milites in acie dispositos ordines seruent necubi contra quam expedit aut conglobant agmen aut laxent. Nam et constipati perdunt spatia pugnandi et sibi inuicem inpedimento sunt, et rariores atque interlucentes aditum perrumpendi hostibus praestant. Necesse est autem statim metu uniuersa confundi, si intercisa acie ad dimicantium terga hostis accesserit. Producendi ergo tirones sunt semper ad campum et secundum matriculae ordinem in aciem dirigendi, ita ut primo simplex et extenta sit acies, ne quos sinus, ne quas habeat curuaturas, ut aequali legitimoque spatio miles distet a milite. Tunc praecipiendum, ut subito duplicent aciem, ita ut in ipso impetu is, ad quem respondere solent, ordo seruetur. Tertio praecipiendum, ut quadratam aciem repente constituant, quo facto in trigonum, quem cuneum uocant, acies ipsa mutanda est. Quae ordinatio plurimum prodesse consueuit in bello. Iubetur etiam, it instruant orbes, quo genere, cum uis hostium interruperit aciem, resisti ab exercitatis militibus consueuit, ne omnis multitudo fundatur in fugam et graue discrimen immineat. Haec si iuniores adsidua meditatione perceperint, facilius in ipsa dimicatione seruabunt.

the meaning of the word "quadratus" in latin is not only "squared" but also "proportioned" and "regular" : so, I think, the soldiers in an acies quadrata were all at the same distance each other, and that could be reached if the "acies duplicata"
closes the ranks. In this way we have a close order formation with the same number of ranks of an open order formation... wath do you think?
A "column" could be any formation that has a "reduced" frontage. It need not have a depth that is more than its frontage because the comparison is made with the line, that is by default (in our case) extended for hundreds of yards - see Napoleonic columns for example. Of course you are right too, since sometimes terms may have multiple meanings, in which case, like now, clarification is necessary.

Unfortunately I do not know Latin, although I wish I could say "it was Greek to me", so I cannot comment on your interpretation. However, I wrote in the "Early Republic Army Depl." thread that "

"Thickening of the ranks would have been implemented in all ways proposed, even by lengthening the line for hundreds of yards, which often happened in antiquity for tactical reasons. Open maniples in open formation 24 deep would easily reform into open maniples in close formation 12 deep, which in turn as easily would reform into closed maniples in close formation 6 deep once the skirmishers had been recalled. And if open order was preferred for any tactical reason one could propose or imagine, closed maniples in open order 12 deep would be a choice. And then of course one should also think of the option to array in an internal checkerboard formation, which would mean that the files would not side step into the files next to them but just retreat to half the distance of the back rank, effectively forming a line 6 deep with 12 ranks in open formation. "

In my opinion, all these would have been used as circumstances dictated (march, advance at a distance of the enemy, charge - attack, retreat, open terrain, rough terrain, marching up a slope etc etc). As for the depths I choose to use, they are of little importance, as I simply take 6 as a base and you 8, which plays no role in the interpretation of the mechanics.
I endorse wath you wrote. It is interesting to note that in this way we are able to solve the ( apparently) unsolvable gaps' issue...
regarding wedge: it could also be that the wedge was a crowded column and not a crowded "acies duplicata". In other words the doubt is about the meaning of acies quadrata: was it obtained by closing an acies duplicata( an open formation )as I said in the previous post, or by deplyng four men one behind the other( wich then could have been able to close ranks and finally form a wedge)? Now i am pretty doubious about it... maybe each of this formation were used.( Any way I lean toward the first hypothesis)
[Aside - you know, I'm now not surprised that this forum is often quiet - so yes, I do dare to question some of the things I read as my intention is to learn, hopefully by discussing - but boy some of you are dismissive. I can only assume that some have published as 'professional' scholars and cannot conceive that they could be doubted. So - if you can't take the heat.......I shall persevere and see if it's possible to get some real thought - here and in the cavalry discussion]

Most important point - if I could find sources then I wouldn't need to. My main contention is fairly simple - the sources we have do not give us every detail. If anyone can please help by pointing to sources that discuss the detailed mechanics of infantry fighting (cavalry in the other thread please) - then please do! I don't think there are any. Just about every battle description I've seen may note the initial deployments and significant gross tactical movements and reactions - but that's it.

So - I have no issue with what Polybius writes - it is all entirely reasonable. But, I do not think he adequately explains why the Roman formation (that he is positive isn't enough) is then always successful. Macedon's post, whilst not supporting, denying or querying mine, is otherwise very useful, thank you. In fact, by supporting the 'phalanx' I would venture to say that Macedon may actually disagree with Polybius when he says that the Romans "always had the upper hand".

@Mark GL - whilst I think I understand what you mean - that's simply terms. You kill people with 'physics' I assure you. All warfare of this time period (apart from 'Biological' in sieges) is kinetic in nature. It is not wrong to use terms like 'force' or push' - and the pike phalanx is designed to do just that - keep the enemy away at the end of long pointy spears - it's when that fails there are problems. I will take issue with 'hack and slash' - which is Hollywood and not Roman Smile .

@Francesco - indeed and I would also refer to the 'Saw formation' I have seen attested - saws in the ancient world tended not to be sharp and jagged - but actually resemble exactly the shape of a line with a prior century slightly advanced and the posterior back somewhat, whilst still being side-by-side, so columnar is perfectly supported. I am surprised at your assertion that the century probably didn't play a tactical role on the battlefield, as I had always understood the flexibility of the maniple to be dependant on tactical control of the centuries. It certainly has a complete command structure and can operate individually when required.

@Bryan - fine, please read the opener above and help me to the sources that do describe how (the detail) the Roman, indeed any ancient infantry (cavalry the other thread) did fight. My absolute point is that I don't think the sources help much there and we have to think for ourselves. I apologise if I am a military man who has taught drill and selected and trained and am also an engineer qualified to design land-war machines - it does engender a certain mind-set. But, when initially entering this subject area I had no preconceived notions, just those from what I had read - but yes, trained in riot tactics it seemed completely reasonable for the Romans to have fought shield to shield - their shields for over 500yrs seem to have been designed for just that, reaching their peak with the squared-off scutum. And I support Polybius entirely when he points out that the Romans seemed to fight in a way that guaranteed loss.

For unlike Bryan and MarkGL I have more respect in a phalanx-system that had been used for several hundred years and developed the Pike Phalanx. For if it was as easy to disrupt as you both suggest, then it would have happened earlier and everyone would have transitioned to a 'Heavy Peltast' type much sooner than copying the Romans. Macedon, I am sure, can support the power and might of the phalanx and why it was so good from a myriad of examples.

So, whilst it would be lovely to try and get a whole set of re-enactor supported tests - on this one subject is there no one else who might agree with Polybius and that the Roman 3ft apart style cannot stop a phalanx? Or is everyone happy that, whilst admittedly very motivated, it's just no problem for one man to step through the 10 pikes? Or that battle-grounds are so broken up that phalanxes are only useful in very limited situations and that Greece is covered by perfect flat plains? Finally, given relatively even numbers of troops, I could have imagined that the Romans always fought 'Cannae-like' and gave way with their wider-spaced infantry and the phalanx was then always out-flanked and destroyed - but I know also (no sources to support that as a regular occurrence) that didn't happen - the phalanx has to be stopped and disrupted - just as described.

Let alone that this open order (my belief) would also be as useless against a mass of charging vicious Celtic chaps....

That the testudo is not just an extension of the normal fighting style with additional shields placed on top?

And - I will ask - is there no one here who might also think that the sources don't contain everything? I love the sources (well, part from one that's becoming personal due to the name........) - please help me understand if you genuinely believe I have it wrong. Arrow
Regard the role of the century: I said the centuries didn't play any role because I think the tactical unit was only the maniple: Polybios says that (6. 24 I'm not sure about the place of this quote ) the centurio prior led the right side of the maniple, while the centurio posterior the left one; he don't says that each centurion led in battle his own century. This is why, for example, I'm not persuaded about Keppie's idea...

Anyway we are not saying the Romans didn't fought in close order; I personally think they adapted themselves to the circumstances:if a phalanx was charging, then they would have adopted a close formation, otherwise, if the phalanx had a more passive attitude, they would have chosen an open formation...

I'm agree with you about the sources. all we can do is read a great number of ancient authors' work and try to compare them, like a puzzle, and build a coherent syistem

PS: if I seems dismissive, or inchoerent, or obscure I can assure that it isn't my porpouse... it is pretty difficoult and laborious for me to write in English :-)
Macedon wrote:
Do not think that it was easy to break a phalanx just because the ground was not as even as a soccer field. This tactic was invented, employed and proved superior first and foremost in the rough land of Greece, rougher even than that in Italy and more than once performed efficiently if not admirably well in what would be considered unfavorable terrain

No enemy formation is easy to break. But Polybius clearly states the limitations of the Macedonian styled phalanx.

Polybius 18.25: 6-7:
"The Macedonians now, having no one to give them orders and being unable to adopt the formation proper to the phalanx, in part owing to the difficulty of the ground and in part because they were trying to reach the combatants and were still in marching order and not in line, 7 did not even wait until they were at close quarters with the Romans, but gave way thrown into confusion and broken up by the elephants alone."
Battle of Cynoscephalae

Pol 18.31:5-11
" Again, it is acknowledged that the phalanx requires level and clear ground with no obstacles such as ditches, clefts, clumps of trees, ridges and water courses, 6 all of which are sufficient to impede and break up such a formation. p1557 Every one would also acknowledge that it is almost impossible except in very rare cases to find spaces of say twenty stades or even more in length with no such obstacles. 8 But even if we assume it to be possible, supposing those who are fighting against us refuse to meet us on such ground, but force round sacking the cities and devastating the territory of our allies, what is the use of such a formation? 9 For by remaining on the ground that suits it, not only is it incapable of helping its friends but cannot even ensure its own safety. 10 For the arrival of supplies will easily be prevented by the enemy, when they have undisturbed command of the open country. 11 But if the phalanx leaves the ground proper to it and attempts any action, it will be easily overcome by the enemy."
Comparison of Macedonian Infantry vs Roman Infantry

Macedon wrote:
Polybius and others often describe the Romans as a "phalanx". Many times when you read about a "Roman line" in the translations, the Greek text reads "phalanx".

Where? In what context. I only know of one, Pol 11.23. But I did find this part interesting...

Pol 29.17
"Aemilius the consul, who had never seen a phalanx until this occasion in the war with Perseus, often confessed afterwards to certain persons in Rome that he had never seen anything more terrible p73and dreadful than a Macedonian phalanx, and this although he had witnessed and directed as many battles as any man."
Lucius Aemilius Paullus Macedonicus at the Battle of Pydna

Macedon wrote:
A well-trained phalanx was not "rigid" on the battlefield. There is a misunderstanding here.

Polybius provides information to the contrary.

Pol 18.30:4
"But these men by the sheer pressure of their bodily weight in the charge add to its force, and it is quite impossible for the first ranks to face about."

Pol 18.31:9
"Now in all these matters the Macedonian formation is at times of little use and at times of no use at all, because the phalanx soldier can be of service neither in detachments nor singly, while the Roman formation is efficient."

Macedon wrote:
There is no reason to assume that the Romans had no experience in fighting in close order.

I agree to an extent. But what source do you provide that prove the Republican era Romans and Socii aligned in close order? Other than Cannae, where Polybius says:

"He stationed the Roman cavalry close to the river on the right wing and the foot next to them in the same line, placing the maniples closer together than was formerly the usage and making the depth of each many times exceed its front." 3.113

I know that are plenty of other sources that discount some of the things Polybius wrote about. I only bring up these to show that not everyone thought alike back then as well. Opinions are like a certain orifice, everyone has one and thinks theirs smells better than the next...

Mark Hygate wrote:
I will take issue with 'hack and slash' - which is Hollywood and not Roman

Pol 6.23:7
"This (the Gladius) is excellent for thrusting, and both of its edges cut effectually, as the blade is very strong and firm."

Pol 18.31: 6-9
"Now in the case of the Romans also each soldier with his arms occupies a space of three feet in breadth, 7 but as in their mode of fighting each man must move separately, as he has to cover his person with his long shield, turning to meet each expected blow, and as he uses his sword both for cutting and thrusting it is obvious that a looser order is required, 8 and each man must be at a distance of at least three feet from the man next him in the same rank and those in front of and behind him, if they are to be of proper use."

Mark Hygate wrote:
That the testudo is not just an extension of the normal fighting style with additional shields placed on top?

Pol 28.11
"Heracleum was taken in a peculiar manner. The town had a low wall of no great extent on one side, and to attack this the Romans employed three picked maniples. 2 The men of the first held their shields over their heads, and closed up, so that, owing to the density of the bucklers, it became like a tiled roof. The other two in succession..."

To me, this means that in this situation, the Roman maniple in question lifted their shields up and then moved closer to one another (into close order from open order). Note: This does not descibe how they always did it, just how they did it in this incident.

Mark Hygate wrote:
You kill people with 'physics' I assure you.

No, people die in battle from cardiac arrest caused from blood loss, the result of a sharp metal objects penetrating their skin (cut or thrust, piercing organs, veins and arteries). Or from trauma to their nervous system (head wounds and spine). Or from heart attacks caused by excitement. Smile

Mark Hygate wrote:
Bryan - fine, please read the opener above and help me to the sources that do describe how (the detail) the Roman, indeed any ancient infantry (cavalry the other thread) did fight. My absolute point is that I don't think the sources help much there and we have to think for ourselves. I apologise if I am a military man who has taught drill and selected and trained and am also an engineer qualified to design land-war machines - it does engender a certain mind-set. But, when initially entering this subject area I had no preconceived notions, just those from what I had read - but yes, trained in riot tactics it seemed completely reasonable for the Romans to have fought shield to shield - their shields for over 500yrs seem to have been designed for just that, reaching their peak with the squared-off scutum. And I support Polybius entirely when he points out that the Romans seemed to fight in a way that guaranteed loss.

I read the opener you provided and nothing you provided supported your argument. As a historian, I believe I should use the sources as evidence after weighing the value of the evidence. In the case of the Macedonia fighting system and the Roman military machine, Polybius actually knew what he was talking about. Think about it. He was a military cavalry commander in Megalopolis. Later, as a hostage, he lived in the home of Lucius Aemilius Paullus, the Consul who defeated Perseus V and the last Macedonian army. I imagine he gathered much of his information about the 2nd Punic Wars directly from the man, as well as the other conflicts Rome fought during his lifetime. For wars before his time, he would have listened to anecdotal stories from people like L. Aem. Paul. and other Senatorial/Consular men, whose ancestors fought and led great armies. It would be these stories that you can question the accuracy, they happened outside of the lives of even his benefactor, in the ages of their grandfathers. Over time, the stories would change, parts left out, other parts that are inaccurate would be remembered. Later, Polybius went on campaign with Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemlianus as a friend and tent mate. He would have seen nearly everything that Scipio did and anything he didn't know as an outsider would have been explained to him. Its up to the reader whether to emphasize the accuracy of his works. I for one give credence to them.

Mark Hygate wrote:
I apologise if I am a military man who has taught drill and selected and trained and am also an engineer qualified to design land-war machines - it does engender a certain mind-set. But, when initially entering this subject area I had no preconceived notions, just those from what I had read - but yes, trained in riot tactics it seemed completely reasonable for the Romans to have fought shield to shield - their shields for over 500yrs seem to have been designed for just that.

The military drill you taught was not what the Romans were taught. Its not even what the Americans are taught, or the Germans, or the Indians, or the Chinese, etc. Additionally, there is a great debate within the military today over why drill is even still taught considering the drill is based off of 18th and 19th century battle tactics, not ancient battle tactics nor modern ones.

And the riot training you had was based off of modern day tactics, using modern day equipment against threats typically faced by riot police in a modern day riot situation. On the outside, yes, it could look like tactics used by an ancient army. But up close the similarities are grossly different. The riot shield you carried weighed what? 5 pounds? And it was strapped onto your arm. A Roman shield weighed three times more and was held in a single horizontal center grip. That right there changes everything, how you hold the shield is indicative in how you fight with it. Furthermore, like I mentioned in the other thread, the role of riot police is completely different from any role a soldier faces.

Mark Hygate wrote:
And I support Polybius entirely when he points out that the Romans seemed to fight in a way that guaranteed loss

Winning battles is more than small unit tactics. Besides, according to Polybius those same tactics worked pretty good:

Pol 18.31:10-11
"For every Roman soldier, once he is armed and sets about his business, can adapt himself equally well to every place and time and can meet attack from every quarter. 11 He is likewise equally prepared and equally in condition whether he has to fight together with the whole army or with a part of it or in maniples or singly."

Mark Hygate wrote:
For if it was as easy to disrupt as you both suggest, then it would have happened earlier and everyone would have transitioned to a 'Heavy Peltast' type much sooner than copying the Romans

You fight in the manner of your fathers until someone tells you otherwise. When new innovations come, if successful, the people who invented them are lauded historically as reformers and military geniuses. The Greeks and Macedonians had them, and the Romans did. The Roman system was constantly evolving.

Mark Hygate wrote:
Let alone that this open order (my belief) would also be as useless against a mass of charging vicious Celtic chaps....

Weren't the Romans just as vicious? Name a battle that the Romans just stood there and let the enemy attack them, without at least counter-charging.

Here's what Polybius has to say about the war loving Romans:

Pol 32.13:5-9
"For to begin with they had never once set foot in those parts of Illyria which face the Adriatic 6 since they expelled Demetrius of Pharos, and next they did not at all wish the Italians to become effeminate owing to the long peace, 7 it being now twelve years since the war with Perseus and their campaigns in Macedonia. 8 They, therefore, resolved by undertaking a war against the Dalmatians both to recreate, as it were, the spirit and zeal of their own troops, and by striking terror into the Illyrians to compel them to obey their behests. These, then, were the reasons why the Romans went to war with the Dalmatians, but to the world at large they gave out that they had decided on war owing to the insult to their ambassadors."
Quote:No enemy formation is easy to break. But Polybius clearly states the limitations of the Macedonian styled phalanx.

Polybius 18.25: 6-7:
"The Macedonians now, having no one to give them orders and being unable to adopt the formation proper to the phalanx, in part owing to the difficulty of the ground and in part because they were trying to reach the combatants and were still in marching order and not in line, 7 did not even wait until they were at close quarters with the Romans, but gave way thrown into confusion and broken up by the elephants alone."
Battle of Cynoscephalae

At Cynoscephalae, Philip attacked the Romans with his left wing, which had enough time to be properly deployed before the advance of the Romans. Now, these men were deployed on the same battlefield which was not as you and most non-Greeks, or better non-Southerners imagine. Greek hills are much rougher than what most believe them to be, even our valleys and plains are mostly broken with countless ravines and streams. There is almost no terrain like that you mainly meet in the US and in northern Europe. Now, staying with Polybius and not trying to bring outside paradigms which are aplenty, Philip crushed the legions in front of him and was defeated only when outflanked by the legions on the right, which, and this is also important, did NOT believe it their duty and standard tactic to attack the Macedonians on their rear. It took the initiative of a certain unnamed Roman officer to do so. The right wing of the Romans attacked the Macedonians as the latter were still deploying in phalanx. This means that most of their phalanx was still in columns taking position as they reached the ridge from the road from their camp, which, I hope you do not disagree, is considered one of the most advantageous circumstances for an organized enemy to attack. So, where the Macedonian phalanx was ready for battle, they defeated the Romans, where they were not, they were defeated. Would you use this as an example of the "superiority" of the Roman system in the battle-field? I certainly would not. On the contrary. The difficulty of the ground mentioned, for it certainly was one of the reasons why the phalanx could not deploy more quickly. only proves that the whole hill(s) was not even, which shows how an ordered phalanx fared in such a terrain.

Plus, we are not talking about easiness. We are talking about simple statistics. Just make a list of the battles in which the Republican Romans defeated a Greek phalanx face to face and then make one of battles which they simply won. You will easily find out, that the one was not a per-requisite for the other.


Quote:Pol 18.31:5-11
" Again, it is acknowledged that the phalanx requires level and clear ground with no obstacles such as ditches, clefts, clumps of trees, ridges and water courses, 6 all of which are sufficient to impede and break up such a formation. p1557 Every one would also acknowledge that it is almost impossible except in very rare cases to find spaces of say twenty stades or even more in length with no such obstacles. 8 But even if we assume it to be possible, supposing those who are fighting against us refuse to meet us on such ground, but force round sacking the cities and devastating the territory of our allies, what is the use of such a formation? 9 For by remaining on the ground that suits it, not only is it incapable of helping its friends but cannot even ensure its own safety. 10 For the arrival of supplies will easily be prevented by the enemy, when they have undisturbed command of the open country. 11 But if the phalanx leaves the ground proper to it and attempts any action, it will be easily overcome by the enemy."
Comparison of Macedonian Infantry vs Roman Infantry

So? This is exactly what I am saying. On the battle-field, the phalanx was superior when frontally engaged. The Roman system was superior in the overall campaign demands. Isn't this what I supported? I will also point out that a problem most researchers have is to understand what a Greek means by the anyways subjective words "open" or "even" country. Polybius was Greek. He mostly traveled in countries with similar topography (Italy, maybe Asia minor). This is why he talks about battlegrounds as wide as 20 stades (about 3.8 km). And there was no open ground without certain difficult geographical features, mostly because these few level areas were used for agriculture. Also keep in mind that the Romans also fought their battles in "open" ground as did most armies. The problem for the Greeks was that when the Romans came, wars stopped being won by single battles as was done before them. This was their great power. And, as I also pointed out, although some strongly support that the Romans took advantage of little gaps in the enemy army and so on, Polybius certainly does not support this idea as a standard Roman tactic. The reason for that, in my opinion, is that it is a very big decision to take for any officer. If every Roman centurion was free to take initiative, many would make the wrong call which would lead to disaster. Initiatives were not welcome in any army, especially that of the Romans, and those who took them would mostly be executed should they not calculate things well with their limited perspective of things...


Quote:Where? In what context. I only know of one, Pol 11.23. But I did find this part interesting...

Pol 29.17
"Aemilius the consul, who had never seen a phalanx until this occasion in the war with Perseus, often confessed afterwards to certain persons in Rome that he had never seen anything more terrible p73and dreadful than a Macedonian phalanx, and this although he had witnessed and directed as many battles as any man."
Lucius Aemilius Paullus Macedonicus at the Battle of Pydna

Macedon wrote:
A well-trained phalanx was not "rigid" on the battlefield. There is a misunderstanding here.

Polybius provides information to the contrary.

Pol 18.30:4
"But these men by the sheer pressure of their bodily weight in the charge add to its force, and it is quite impossible for the first ranks to face about."

Pol 18.31:9
"Now in all these matters the Macedonian formation is at times of little use and at times of no use at all, because the phalanx soldier can be of service neither in detachments nor singly, while the Roman formation is efficient."

Although I did not only speak of Polybius, you can check Pol.3.73.7., 3.115.12, 11.22.9, 15.12.8. etc etc. All these are examples, in which the Romans are "formed in phalanx." Btw, mainly for the rest following this thread, the term that Arrian uses for a legion is "phalanx", interesting even if it has nothing to do with the legion of Scipio.

Your other quotes I guess go against my objection as to the notion of "rigidness". I think you mix up battle-field tactics with non-battle-field tactics. When most people call the Macedonian phalanx "rigid", they mistakingly mean that it was a steam roller set on the field and then allowed to stampede on everything in front of it but that was it. Maybe this is what you also think. This is wrong and Polybius' quotes have nothing to do with that. On the battle-field, a well-trained phalanx (no ill-trained army was really efficient anyways) could easily change its formation and do stuff other than just push forward. The examples are too many to count, I think that anyone who studies the sources knows of at least some. Chaeronea, Arbela, Sellasia, Magnesia, these are some examples and of course talking only about the Macedonian (pike-armed) phalanx. There are many more examplesas well as the testimony of the manuals themselves as to the tactical capabilities of the phalanx. Polybius talks about armies that have to send out detachments to do a number of tasks, from ambushes to forage gathering, from pursuits to convoy protection. For such tasks, the Macedonians simply used their auxiliaries or cavalry and these could never be as effective as the real backbone of an army as were the legionaries. As for the first ranks being unable to turn, this is an advantage on the field but a disadvantage once you have been broken, which is why a broken phalanx was a much easier prey than a broken Roman formation.


Quote:I agree to an extent. But what source do you provide that prove the Republican era Romans and Socii aligned in close order? Other than Cannae, where Polybius says:

"He stationed the Roman cavalry close to the river on the right wing and the foot next to them in the same line, placing the maniples closer together than was formerly the usage and making the depth of each many times exceed its front." 3.113

I know that are plenty of other sources that discount some of the things Polybius wrote about. I only bring up these to show that not everyone thought alike back then as well. Opinions are like a certain orifice, everyone has one and thinks theirs smells better than the next...

I brought up Heracleion of which I will again speak later.

Regarding Polybius, I love him. He is one of my favorites. However, this has nothing to do with whether he, or any other author, has made mistakes or not. I never base my deductions on such arguments as you should not base yours on Polybius alone. Unfortunately, Polybius does make some strangely silly mistakes (valuable in themselves since even mistakes can be used to understand how an author interprets certain facts), like for example in his very important and interesting attack on Callisthenes.


Quote:Pol 28.11
"Heracleum was taken in a peculiar manner. The town had a low wall of no great extent on one side, and to attack this the Romans employed three picked maniples. 2 The men of the first held their shields over their heads, and closed up, so that, owing to the density of the bucklers, it became like a tiled roof. The other two in succession..."

To me, this means that in this situation, the Roman maniple in question lifted their shields up and then moved closer to one another (into close order from open order). Note: This does not descibe how they always did it, just how they did it in this incident.

The Greek text reads :

Τὸ Ἡράκλειον ἥλω ἰδίαν τινὰ ἅλωσιν. ἐχούσης τῆς πόλεως ἐφ’ ἑνὸς μέρους ἐπ’ ὀλίγον τόπον ταπεινὸν τεῖχος, οἱ Ῥωμαῖοι τρεῖς σημείας προεχειρίσαντο. καὶ
τῇ μὲν πρώτῃ τοὺς θυρεοὺς ὑπὲρ τῆς κεφαλῆς ποιήσαντες συνέφραξαν, ὥστε τῇ τῶν ὅπλων πυκνότητι κεραμωτῷ καταρρύτῳ γίνεσθαι παραπλήσιον. ἐφεξῆς δ’ ἕτεραι δύο

This is a very good example of how a source could be misunderstood when one cannot really read the original. The translation reads "bucklers"... Imagine someone trying to form an opinion on the Romans having abandoned the thyreos for a buckler... However, regarding the bolded part, it is indeed the men who closed up in a formation that they would not have used for the first time. It only shows that, as circumstances dictated, the Romans could employ denser formations which is enough to prove that they did sometimes deploy in close formation. I said nothing more and nothing less. Knowing that they did employ both open and close order, as Polybius attests, it is then up to us to decide when they employed which, without really coming at odds with the author. Plus, you use the word "always" wrongly. If the Romans deployed in close order even once then they did not "always" employ open order. I guess you mean "most often" or "usually", which does not exclude close order as you seem to try to do. In all, the fact that Polybius describes the Roman battle system as lines interchanging is at odds with, for example, Cannae and Zama, both battles that he described in length, but this does not mean that these battles didn't take place in the manner he described, which also clearly shows that the Romans adopted their tactics to circumstances rather than stubbornly adhering to some adamant principle.
Macedon wrote:
Now, staying with Polybius and not trying to bring outside paradigms which are aplenty, Philip crushed the legions in front of him

"Flamininus, seeing that his men could not sustain the charge of the phalanx, but that since his left was being forced back, some of them having already perished and others retreating slowly, his only hope of safety lay in his right, hastened to place himself in command there..." Pol 18.25:4

Clearly, the Roman left was crushed. If you stop exaggerating, I will too. Deal?

Macedon wrote:
Just make a list of the battles in which the Republican Romans defeated a Greek phalanx face to face and then make one of battles which they simply won.

Roman Battles against Macedonian Style Phalanx:
Heraclea (Pyrrhic War) - Cant find the actual source but secondary sources indicate the Romans performed well against the Phalanx but lost due to elephants.

Asculum (Pyrrhic War) - Romans kicked the crap out of Pyrrhus' army but lost due to elephants and cavalry. Fought hard enough against the phalanx and other forces that the term "Pyrrhic Victory" is coined. (Source: Plutarch, Life of Pyrrhus: 21)

Beneventum (Pyrrhic War) - Roman infantry destroys Pyrrhus' best units (source is unclear about which one but my guess is Macedonian phalanx but they could be mentioning the Samnites for all we know). (Source, Plutarch, Life of Pyrrhus:25, Dionysius of Halicarnassus)

Cynoscephalae (2nd Macedonian War) - As stated above, the Roman retreated against the Macedonian left. Roman right shattered Macedonian left, 20 maniples peal off and route the rest of the Macedonian army. Where were the Macedonian reserves while this was happening? (source, Polybius, 18. 25)

Magnesia - Phalanx is interspersed with elephants yet somehow the Roman infantry beats them. (Source Livy 37.42)

Pydna - Already discussed that one in my earlier posts. Phalanx soundly beaten by the Romans after encountering bad terrain. (source Plutarch: Life of Aemilius

Macedon wrote:
On the battle-field, the phalanx was superior when frontally engaged.

Not always, especially against the Romans. I guess the Gods favored Italy over Greece. Check the above sources.

Macedon wrote:
Your other quotes I guess go against my objection as to the notion of "rigidness". I think you mix up battle-field tactics with non-battle-field tactics. When most people call the Macedonian phalanx "rigid", they mistakingly mean that it was a steam roller set on the field and then allowed to stampede on everything in front of it but that was it. Maybe this is what you also think.

What I mean by rigid is: deficient in or devoid of flexibility. As in, the Macedonian phalanx was inflexible when compared to certain other military forces, such as the Romans. Which I and Polybius both seem to agree with. But this is an opinion on both Polybius and my end.

Macedon wrote:
If every Roman centurion was free to take initiative, many would make the wrong call which would lead to disaster. Initiatives were not welcome in any army, especially that of the Romans, and those who took them would mostly be executed should they not calculate things well with their limited perspective of things...

You mean like the dozen or so examples of personal initiative and bravery by centurions that Caesar describes in his Commentaries? Was his plan to execute them by weighing them down with crowns, torques and gold and silver coin?

Macedon wrote:
I never base my deductions on such arguments as you should not base yours on Polybius alone.

I only used Polybius as an example of sources in this thread because as the title suggests, it is about Polybius.

Macedon wrote:
Imagine someone trying to form an opinion on the Romans having abandoned the thyreos for a buckler

But I thought Romans carried a scutum? 8-) The word buckler is the anglicized version of the French word "bouclier", meaning shield. As for as I know, the word is commonly used to refer to a shield with a central grip, mostly small parrying shields. If your going to fault the translator of the Polybius line for choosing to use buckler, you are just as guilty for using a Greek word to describe a Roman (Latin) piece of military equipment, though they are almost the same thing.

Overall, we can go all day and night with this topic, Roman manipular vs. Macedonian Phalanx. The ancients couldn't agree, we probably wont agree. However, I just wanted to point out SOME of the quotes and sources, specifically those that wrote about the Republican era legions and lived during the time period of the Republic, pertaining to the formations used by the Romans.

This is for everyone reading: Polybius, a major source when it comes to the organization and functioning of the Republican era Roman army and its enemies, definitely had an opinion about how the Roman maniples fought and how the Macedonian phalanx fought. Read his works!

I said my peace and can't do anything more than that. Time for bed.

antiochus

Mark wrote:
[Aside - you know, I'm now not surprised that this forum is often quiet - so yes, I do dare to question some of the things I read as my intention is to learn, hopefully by discussing - but boy some of you are dismissive.

With all due respect Mark, from my dealings with you I have placed you in the dismissive basket, along with many others. You could save yourself some grief and conform to traditional thinking because history has shown us the road followed by original thinkers is the most difficult to travel because traditionalist make it that way.

If you let me indulge you, from my research of the Roman legion facing the Macedonian phalanx, I found it intriguing that Philip V bought up his 8000 Macedonian phalangites and after surveying the battlefield he then “halved the front and gave twice the depth to the files, so that the depth might be greater than its width (Livy 33-8).”

As the Roman left wing was already deployed, Philip V has deployed in this manner so as to match the frontage of the Roman left wing. The result of this showed me that Flaminius has reduced the frontage of his two legions so as to increase their depth. And for me this explains why when facing the Macedonian phalanx at Pynda the Romans increased the legion to 6000 men. The next step I investigated was to see how Flaminius increased his depth, which was an increase of one third. In fact Flaminius has create the forerunner of what will be the model legion introduced in 102 BC. Also the figure of 8000 Macedonians is not rounded. And funny enough when I did a study of how many Romans face a sarissa, Polybius is right on the money.

Franceso wrote:
Polybios says that the centurio prior led the right side of the maniple, while the centurio posterior the left one.

I don’t remember Polybius stating the centurion prior and the centurion posterior. Isn’t it the senior centurion and the junior centurion? And what evidence is there for a prior and posterior century for this period when facing the Macedonian phalanx?

Steven
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