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Full Version: Pila
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Ave,

Forgive me if I am in the wrong area for this topic this is my first post. I was wondering if anyone knows of any good sources of info on how the Legions (first and second century) would throw their pilum, and how they would get into formations to do this. I am looking into the works of Polybius and Vegetius, but I was wondering if there were any other sources out there.
On Caesar (bello gallico & civil) there are some words of pila throwing soldiers as well.
e.g. bello gallico I,25, bello civili II, 46

Also Flavius Iosephus say some words: IV, 3,32

But dont expect a discreption how they did it like a sportal report. The details of throwing arent described.
Probably needs to go into the military history forum.

However, to give it a Ref & Rev slant, has anyone seen a movie where the pilum is used correctly? There are some that show some good stabbing-not-slashing action with the Gladius (like the recent "Rome" series, in their one battle scene) -- but I can't think of one where they show a good pilum volley, followed up by close combat.

rkmvca/Rich Klein
Quote:Probably needs to go into the military history forum.

However, to give it a Ref & Rev slant, has anyone seen a movie where the pilum is used correctly? There are some that show some good stabbing-not-slashing action with the Gladius (like the recent "Rome" series, in their one battle scene) -- but I can't think of one where they show a good pilum volley, followed up by close combat.

rkmvca/Rich Klein

The only good pilum volleys I can remember are in the Persia battle in FOTRE. Pretty good depiction of legionnaires unleashing pila on attacking cavalry.
In the film Scipio Africanus (Italy, 1935(?)), Scipio instructs the legions in how to throw the pilum correctly against Hannibal's elephants at Zama. He does this with the cry 'Victory or Death' . Looks a little like javelin practice but you do then get volleys of pila thrown which is quite impressive and you would never get it today - an OH&S nightmare. Other than that I suspect it is the attitude of 'throwing is throwing'. Haven't read it recently but is there anything in Xenophon's Cavalry Commander on how to throw - I know he states that the commander should be the best at it (he repeats the advice in the Cyropaedia).

Otherwise I thought the unbelievable throw of Brad Pitt's Achilles in Troy was a good technique for throwing although it was flat and its effective distance would have been low.

Now I have to trundle off and re-read my Xenophon.


Cheers

Murray
@niedel: thanks, I will have to rent FOTRE at some point sooner rather than later.

@murray: I can't comment on techique, but in Troy they had to have photoshopped the javelin flights. Both Achille's and Boagrias (sp?) javelins flew dead flat, which as you point out would be impossible, at least without some kind of lifiting body. I did enjoy Troy, however.

rkmvca/rich klein