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Phalanx warfare: Closing of the ranks
#3
Several authors have put forward the theory that they "doubled" the formation as described here. There are some later (Macedonian) descriptions of units doing it that way. As for whether the Classical era Hoplites did that, there is not much evidence one way or the other.

There is also conflicting data about what formation they were in. It appears that whether they advanced at open, intermediate, or close ranks depended on the tactical situation and their army's individual strategy. There are many accounts that claim the Spartans were especially fond of advancing slowly in close ranks formation... And I tend to think the Spartans knew what they were doing.

I have a hard time imagining a group suddenly stopping to change formation at the last minute, given the difficulties of hearing and seeing what was going on. I don't recall any references to such a maneuver, but it is certainly not impossible.

But I have two further caveats: (1) No drill manuals survived so we really don't know for certain what they did. Much of what we have is interpretation of literature and experimentation, so all we can offer is a best guess. (2) Anyone who asks "What did a hoplite do?" is asking about hundreds of cities fighting anywhere from Syracuse to Egypt over the course of about 500 years or more. It is unlikely that everyone did their business the exact same way.
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RE: Phalanx warfare: Closing of the ranks - by Justin Boyle - 08-10-2016, 12:07 AM

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