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The Timing and Development of the Ouragos
#1
Hello - I have searched the forum and found several references to the Ouragos and the Ouragoi.  I recently finished reading Roel Konijnendijk's new book Classical Greek Tactics.  In it, he mentions the Ouragos, and argues that the position of Ouragoi may have developed fairly late around the time of the Ten Thousand.

I'm curious what the people here think.  I expected ouragoi to have emerged before then.

I am not using the term "ouragos" to refer to the last rank in each file of hoplites.  Rather, I am using term as a sort of officer to assist the Lochagos from the rear.

Please let me know what you think.

I appreciate your time and consideration of my question.
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#2
Konijnendijk's hypothesis is probably based on this:

οὐρα_γ-ός , , (οὐρά, ἄγω)
A.leader of the rearguard, X.An. 4.3.26, Cyr.2.3.22, Plb.6.24.2 and 35.6.
2. rear man in λόχος, Ascl.Tact.2.2, Ael. Tact.5.1, Arr.Tact.5.4.
3. in cavalry, rear man in ῥόμβος, Ascl.Tact.7.2.
4. one of the ἔκτακτοι attached to a τάξις, ib.2.9, Ael.Tact.9.4, Arr.Tact.10.4; to a ἑκατονταρχία of light-armed troops, Ascl.Tact.6.3.

Notice that Xenophon is the earliest known usage, because he is the first to write about the phalanx in a technical sense. However, the phalanx was in use much earlier, and like the 'file leader', the rearmost man was essential.
I would venture to suggest that 'ouragoi' had been around as long as the phalanx itself......

Konijnendijk's hypothesis is probably based on this:

οὐρα_γ-ός , , (οὐρά, ἄγω)
A.leader of the rearguard, X.An. 4.3.26, Cyr.2.3.22, Plb.6.24.2 and 35.6.
2. rear man in λόχος, Ascl.Tact.2.2, Ael. Tact.5.1, Arr.Tact.5.4.
3. in cavalry, rear man in ῥόμβος, Ascl.Tact.7.2.
4. one of the ἔκτακτοι attached to a τάξις, ib.2.9, Ael.Tact.9.4, Arr.Tact.10.4; to a ἑκατονταρχία of light-armed troops, Ascl.Tact.6.3.

Notice that Xenophon is the earliest known usage, because he is the first to write about the phalanx in a technical sense. However, the phalanx was in use much earlier, and like the 'file leader', the rearmost man was essential.
I would venture to suggest that 'ouragoi' had been around as long as the phalanx itself......
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"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
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#3
Wow, that's an expensive book!
Joe Balmos
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#4
Here's a book review from the well regarded Bryn Mawr Classical Review: http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2018/2018-11-48.html

I have to say I missed this book and plan to buy it asap as it seems to offer some interesting insights. I may not agree, but it's always good to know what others think regardless. The author, Roel Konijnendijk, obviously takes the subject seriously and we need more, not less, voices on the subject of Hoplite Battles.
Joe Balmos
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#5
One thing which this touches is on Connolly's idea of the archaic lochos. There are signs that Greek organization was based around 50s (6 x 8, 4 x 12, 2 x 25), but there are also signs that most classical Greek armies had no formal internal organization beyond "contingent - taxis - lochos" at all and that files etc. were created ad hoc (similarly, its pretty clear that the groups which shared a fire in the Ten Thousand were the most important groups for solving everyday problems, and had no connection whatsoever to the tactical and administrative arrangements of the army- see John Lee's book for details).

Obviously, as soon as they started lining up in ranks and files (5th century? late 6th?) there was a guy at the back who was really important when the guys in the middle started to get weak in the knees, but giving people a formal title and authority to punish made Greek amateur soldiers very uncomfortable.

This is why Thucydides goes to so much trouble to explain a chain of command with small steps and how it works to his readers, and Xenophon has to go to such pains describing the Spartan drill in the Constitution of the Laconians. We take it for granted that each group in an army needs a formal leader with a title and authority who is combined with 2-5 similar groups under their own leader (2 fire teams make a section, 3 sections make a platoon, 5 platoons make a company ...), to the Classical Greeks that was one a big step on the road to slavery.
Nullis in verba

I have not checked this forum frequently since 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value
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#6
We seem to be in danger of losing our topic focus of 'ouragoi' and drifting off into the early phalanx instead. We have little evidence prior to Herodotus ("The Father of History") born c.484 BC. Some further snippets occur in Thucydides born c.460 BC history of the Peoloponnesian War. Our first technical information about the phalanx comes in Xenophon ( born c.431 BC). The Greek phalanx - men fighting in line and close order, together rather than as individuals - existed prior to 650 BC, as shown in iconography such as the Chigi vase, and the Berlin and MacMillan Aryballoi (c.650 BC). Earlier Aryballoi – the Lechaion aryballos (c.690 BC) and the Perachora Aryballos (c.675 BC) both show phalanxes fighting, save that the hoplites have a mix of ‘aspides’ and Boeotian violin shaped oval shields. Both Aryballoi also show archers supporting the phalanxes in the rear, and one has a piper piping the beat to march to. It may be that the phalanx goes back even further for Homer, believed to be writing c.800 BC writes for example:
When Achilles had chosen his men (2,500)and had stationed them all with their (five)captains,........As the stones which a builder sets in the wall of some high house which is to give shelter from the winds- even so closely were the helmets and bossed shields set against one another. Shield pressed on shield, helm on helm, and man on man; so close were they that the horse-hair plumes on the gleaming ridges of their helmets touched each other as they bent their heads.”
 That they fought together rather than individually occurs in another passage where a group of Myrmidons force back Hector.
Certainly sounds like a phalanx, and of course organised bodies of infantry went back to Sumerian times.

"Tribesmen or clansmen do not feel any great concern for their kinsfolk in time of danger, but a band which is united with ties of love is truly indissoluble and unbreakable, because one is ashamed to be disgraced in the presence of another, and each stands his ground at a moment of danger to protect the other."          Plutarch, Pelopidas 18   

"It has been seen, that a troop never be stronger than when it is formed of  fellow-combatants that are friends."            Xenophon, Cyropaedia 7.1.30 
The same is true today, as the author can vouch from personal experience.

Morever, in the early days of the phalanx we hear of sub-units called 'phratries'/kinship groups which would obviously have been of different sizes. Later as armies became more organized and professional, they are organised into 'enomotia'/sworn bands of equal size.

 As to the so-called 'archaic lochos' devised by Connolly, something must have evolved but it may not have necessarily been based on units of 'fifty'.( see "Greece and Rome at War "pp37 on) Connolly's idea is solely based on the etymology of the word 'pentekostys' which can mean fifty. But while we hear of a variety of different sized 'pentekostys' and 'lochoi' - which could vary from a single file to hundreds of men, we never hear of a 50 strong 'pentekostys' !!
In fact 'pentekostys' can also mean "one fiftieth" ( of an army) and this fits the context better here.
There is no evidence for this "archaic lochos" and it probably never existed outside Connolly's imagination.

As to discipline, it was obviously necessary to fight in 'phalanx' in the first place. One should remember that "the past is a foreign country.  They do things differently there". Ancient Greeks whether in the field or on the sporting ground submitted themselves to corporal punishment, albeit resentfully. As an example at the end of the march of the ten thousand, when they reached safety Xenophon was accused of 'hubris' for having struck his soldiers. He was threatened with stoning but opted for a trial. His defence was that he acted as a parent or teacher for their own good. He admitted he struck one man with his fist "so that the enemy would not do so with a spear." Xenophon was acquitted, and late in life advocated that men "responded best to reason."
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"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
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#7
(03-07-2019, 05:33 AM)Paullus Scipio Wrote: We seem to be in danger of losing our topic focus of 'ouragoi' and drifting off into the early phalanx instead.
No, I think it is a question of method.

Generally speaking, until the 1990s researchers tried to find one early Greek way of war and extrapolated practices from Thucydides and Xenophon backwards into the archaic (Roel K's "Prussian school").  To this way of thinking, of course there were files, front-rank officers and rear-rank officers from an early date, just like the first warriors with an Argive shield and crested helmet 'obviously' fought like Agesilaus' troops.  Connolly's idea that early Greek armies were organized around 50s was a beautiful example of this method: he postulated one common Greek practice, introduced at some vague time in the 7th or 6th century, based on texts written after 430 BCE.

Beginning in the 1990s this switched to a much more scientific approach which emphasized that if we look at the actual sources from the archaic (mostly art and weapons) its clear that warfare changed over time and space, that its possible that the style of warfare in Thucydides was a creation of the middle of the 5th century BCE, and that previous theories about what was "typical" were based on cherry-picking evidence.  To this way of thinking, if you want to argue that ouragoi existed before the first source which mentions them, you have to argue, you can't just assume that it was so.

That battle over how to use evidence is all over but the dying, even though people can still disagree whether they see a phalanx of ranks AND FILES on the Chigi vase and whether the difference between men on the Chigi vase armed with two spears, one to throw and the other to thrust, and Sophocles' hoplite with just a single ashen spear to defend himself from death reflects a different kind of fighting: I tend to sympathize with Peter Krentz, Hans van Wees, and Josho Brouwers.
Nullis in verba

I have not checked this forum frequently since 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value
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#8
Thank you for these very insightful and helpful replies.

I am inclined to agree that the ouragoi existed for as long as the phalanx did.  It seems natural to place sturdy veterans at the rear to keep the less experienced in the middle of the phalanx in check.  Regardless of whether these veterans were officers or non-commissioned officers as we might think of them today, there were likely stalwart men of experience toward the rear to help keep the phalanx moving forward and deter a rout.

At the risk of venturing off-topic, I worry that we sometimes make too much of the apparently cultural resistance Greeks to having officers over them.  Debra Hamel has an excellent book on the subject of military authority at Athens including a lengthy description of examples of Athenian strategoi disciplining soldiers in the field.  See Hamel, Athenian Generals: Military Authority in the Classical Period pages 59-63.  Hamel even outlines the authority of the Strategos to exercise capital punishment for certain military offenses while on campaign – limited, of course, by the fact that any individual citizen could bring forth judicial proceedings against the Strategos when the expedition was over.  Hamel’s book is excellent, and I recommend it for anyone interested in the military institutions at Athens during the second half of the 5th century.

Thank you again for your thoughts on the ouragoi.
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