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Phalanx warfare: Closing of the ranks
Paul Bardunias wrote:
"You need to reread the 2011 article.  There is no such thing as a tactic called "othismos".  I redefined the term as a state in which jostling pushing etc. occurs.  At Marathon we proved that all of your objections about men in files not being able to generate force, not being able to have an arm free to fight while doing it, and not being able to survive with aspis intact were completely unfounded."

No I don't. I am thoroughly familiar with it, as you might expect Wink Tend to mostly agree with it, except for the last part, mostly on the last page. There you describe an imaginary phase of battle, for which there is no evidence whatever, whereby individual files press forward in 'othismos', a crowd-like state, instigated by the 'ouragos/file closer' at the rear. I always laugh at this point at the thought of the front rank/promachoi, who are the Officer file leaders/lochagoi, and the best men in the phalanx, as all the manuals agree [e.g. Arrian Tactica 12 "the brawniest and strongest, those most experienced in warfare....which holds together the whole phalanx....the cutting edge"] finding themselves suddenly and unexpectedly propelled forward remorselessly onto the points of their opponent's weapons, no doubt kicking and screaming, by the grinning squaddies behind them in an ancient form of 'fragging'.

You have always been short on the mechanics of how this co-ordinated pushing/leaning could be achieved, which you say is done by 'Taxeis'/units, and by individual files. At least you recognise  "the difficulty [impossibility?] in co-ordinating such deep files of men to push in unison." And the files are not so deep, for the evidence suggests fighting was in half-files 4-6 deep.

Furthermore, the things you 'proved' at Marathon are a mere 'straw man', for I don't recall ever having raised those particular objections - you have confused me with someone else. My objections, going back to 2007 were much more fundamental.

Paul Mac wrote:
"Xenophon in his Anabasis uses the word just once to describe the jostling and struggle of panicked troops trying to get through a gate, Polybius also uses it in this way ( and no other). In fact the word is used more frequently to describe jostling/struggling of crowds to get through doors and gates than in battle contexts."

YES!! Finally we agree! Othismos is not a combat term or a tactic, it simply describes a crowded condition like in the pit at a rock comcert or trying to get a crowd through a door when fleeing a fire."

Well we can certainly agree the latter point, though in your 2011 article and later you say things such as: "The crowding of 'Othismos' and periods of active intense pushing could last for a long time...." implying that co-ordinated pushing or leaning could take place while in a disorganised crowd jostling and shoving one another - a rather obvious contradiction.

Well, Grasshopper, you have come a long way from your initial hypothesis that hoplite battle was all 'othismos/shoving', to a point where you now recognise that few battles were 'deadlocked', and that your supposed co-ordinated pushing would only take place as a last resort in such cases. Soon you will come to accept that it simply never occurred at all as a deliberate tactic ( I don't say that 'othismos'/jostling and shoving didn't ever occur, just not deliberately).

[Digression: Just as the British Public school classicists saw familiar 'Rugby ' analogies, are you not echoing this, given your 'Gridiron' experience, when you envisage an unevidenced change of stance from the well-evidenced three-quarter stance to a square on stance, with shield flat across the chest like a 'lineman's' pushing stance? ] Big Grin
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
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"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff

Messages In This Thread
RE: Phalanx warfare: Closing of the ranks - by Paullus Scipio - 09-16-2016, 04:22 AM

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