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The "Fred thread": the Argead Macedonian Army
#1
Hi Fred / Old Husker.

Thought to transport this discussion to a new thread so as to leave the othismosmatics to their devices – with or without Ventolin. Just a couple of thoughts to start the ball rolling. Likely it will develop into a world cup...

Quote:Your observation that Alexander's small armament crossing the Danube clearly included phalangites/sarissaphoroi is a very important point. My view on this is that the common ratio of hypaspists/hoplites to pikemen in the Macedonian army at this time was 1-to-3, with hypaspists organized in 1,000-man units and phalangites in 3,000-man units, the number of units of each maintaining this same 1-to-3 ratio (3 phalangite units for every one of hypaspists). Thus, the advance force at the Danube was a fully integrated 'mini-phalanx' in proper proportion, its 4,000 heavy infantry including one unit of hypaspists […] With such a diverse force, Alexander was ready to meet any sort of threat by deploying in Philip's standard fashion (hoplites and heavy cavalry on the right for offense, phalangites at center and left to hold the line, light horsemen to seucure the left flank, and light footmen for screening the cavalry on both ends of the line and post-battle pursuit). When deployed for action, Alexander would have taken charge of the left/center of the phalanx (as he had at Chaeronea and would continue to do until such time as he reorganized his methods for the Asian campaign) and Nicanor the right (with his own hypaspists and any Companion horse on hand).

I often wonder at our predilection for mathematical harmony. Rzepka, in his paper "The Units of Alexander's Army", too advances his thesis partly on Diodorus, partly on his (incorrect in my view) belief in a constitutional federal Macedonian state and partly on the basis of mathematical ratios. Whilst I agree the Parthenon was made with the latter in mind I don’t always agree that Greek and Macedonian armies were predicated on such strict operational mathematical ratios.

We actually aren’t told much about this advance force – unit details are not recorded. All we are told here is that Alexander managed to get across 4,000 phalanx infantry and 1500 horse. Once there he orders the “infantry to lean upon the corn with their pikes held transversely” – not infantry so armed but “the infantry”. The cavalry followed behind the advancing sarisa-armed infantry. When out of the corn he “commanded Nicanor to lead the phalanx in a square whilst Alexander himself led the horse round to the right wing” and so he commanded from the right and on horse rather than the centre.

Why a square? The only logical reason is that this was, in fact, no “mini phalanx” but simply what was got across as the square is more usually formed for defence (I could do a “Rzepka” here and point out the coincidence of the Silver Shields performing this at Gabiene…). We are told that the Getae did not “sustain even the first charge of the cavalry” and so the initial confrontation was won by cavalry only – the infantry squared with the “closely-locked order of the phalanx” terrifying them. What happens after is instructive: Alexander led “his phalanx carefully along the side of the river, to prevent his infantry being anywhere surrounded by the Getae lying in ambush” and so we can readily assume no light infantry nor light cavalry – they are nowhere attested.

It is unlikely in the extreme that the first troops taken were not the hypaspists – all or most – as the foot commander is the archihypaspist Nikanor. Even if they are half or one quarter, the above action description is redolent of a sarisa-armed phalanx.

Other attested “advance” forces do not necessarily comply with a one to three ratio. This same army makes its way to Illyria to confront Glaucius. Here, after their terrifying drill display, Alexander makes an assault after recrossing the river with “the shield-bearing guards, the Agrianians, the archers, and the brigades of Perdiccas and Coenus”. Alexander is unconcerned about ratios and mini-phalanxes in this action. Indeed he would be as unconcerned when he made it to Asia as his force for Hydaspes and other actions show.

Your figure of 3,000 as “normal” phalanx brigade matches Rzepka’s. Although he doesn't say so, he must base this on the only preserved numbers for the Macedonian army before the anabasis – those of Diodorus (17.17.3-5) where he states that Alexander took 12,000 Macedonian foot. He then states that Antipater was left with 12,000 foot; “the soldiers left in Europe, which fell under the command of Antipater, amounted to 12,000 foot and 1,500 cavalry”. This has been near universally accepted to mean that the Macedonian infantry was 24,000 strong (hence we have such a figure postulated for Chaeronaea). Bosworth (Legacy of Alexander) pointed out that it is nowhere stated that the 12,000 left with Antipater were all Macedonian – they most likely were not. Diodorus lists the contingents of the inavasion army and gives only a total for the home army: only the size and not the composition is compared. The “home” army was little more than a third of the invasion force and – as he notes – if it were composed similarly Macedonians might represent some 4,500 or so.

I have no disagreement with the notion of six recruiting districts as Rzepka and many others postulate but I do not think that the normal phalanx unit was 3,000 (and therefore hypaspists to the number of 6,000). I’d think that the basic “tactical unit” (or syntagma) of the phalanx was the 16x16 unit of 256. If so, this is also the likely recruiting unit. Perhaps 10 of these existed per district and so, agreeing with Rzepka’s eminently logical view that units of the entire army were taken east rather than some whole districts, we may guess that three standing syntagma from each were left with Antipater (some 4,600)?

Truth is we don’t know and likely won’t.

Hypapsists, phalanx and other bits anon...
Paralus|Michael Park

Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους

Wicked men, you are sinning against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander!

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#2
Wow, this should generate some comments! Actually, while I do believe that the Greeks had a strong tendency toward mathematical ratios in all things (military as well as archetectural), I also think that the 3-1 ratio of sarisaphoroi to doryphoroi (hypaspists) in the armies of Philip II and Alexander III was an idealized, 'nominal' composition reported in the literature and that actual 'parade' ratios might well have varied somewhat. Still, seeking a fixed ratio of troop types probably wasn't a mere numerical fetish, but rather reflected tactical objectives of the early Macedonian phalanx. A 'strike wing' on the right which constitued at least 25% of the phalanx seems to have been a key component to link with the Companion horse in providing the offensive 'push' that broke enemy left wings on the way to victory after victory for the Macedonians. At times either the horsemen or the hoplites might play the larger role, depending on circumstances and opponent capabilities, yet it was a combined effort in the overall scheme of things. As for ratios outside of major actions, where only small forces were employed for a variety of tasks, I don't see why a fixed ratio of troop types would be applied. Surely, these 'task' forces were put together with a mind toward customizing them for the job at hand. That the force under discussion here was composed of 1,000 hypaspists and 3,000 phalangites is no sure thing, but the 4,000-man total certainly does fit suspiciously well with the aforementioned ratio and makes sense if even a semi-fixed combat were anticipated. I must say, however, that to think of committing cavalry against missile armed oppositon without screening light foot seems odd indeed (if this was the case - as suggested earlier, it's possible that skirmishers were included but simply not noted separate from the cavalry to which they were 'organically' attached).

Actually, Diodorus does provide some numbers for the Macedonian army prior to Alexander's expedition, citing 10,000 foot and 600 horsemen (XVI.4) in the expedition against Bardylis of Illyria in 358 (presumably used in the immediately preceeding campaign in Paeonia as well). I believe that the infantry cited here contained a heavy merceneary component as Philip is unlikely to have had much more than 6,000 native foot from Macedonia's lowland districts on hand (10,000 less the 4,000 'lost' as causalties and within captured highland districts as a result of his brother's recent defeat against Bardylis). The logical composition of this army was two 4,000-man increments of heavy foot (essentially one Macedonian and one mercenary, though there might have been some seeding of the latter into the former's ranks to steady men 'green' in the ways of phalanx fighting) plus 2,000 foot skirmishers for flank security and to screen in front of the cavalry. Later, after battlefield victory had restored the upland districts siezed by Bardylis, Polyaenus noted that Philip was able to double his manpower, though I would propose that this applied only to his native forces (another 4,000-man increment plus additonal horse and light foot) since his acquisition of the precious metal mines of Crenides still lay in the future and he probably lacked funds to do more than retain the hired men already had on hand.

As for the number of Macedonians at Chaeronea, I too wonder if the 24,000 figure applies, though it should be given some serious consideration. I certainly feel that there was a strong mercenary contingent present and that this could have been enough of a force to allow considerable reduction in estimates of native Macedonians required for this action. In particular, the number of hypaspists might be lower, since mercenary hoplites could easily be substituted for a part of their function in Philip's battle plan. Chaeronea is something on which my thoughts are still in the formative stage and I'm quite eager to hear what anyone has to say about it. At any rate, I do see a long tradition of mercenary employment by Philip II and wouldn't be at all surprised to find that his son used hired men for a portion of the guard left behind when he headed off to Asia (again, the hypaspist component of the army would have been one area especially well suited for filling with mercenaries). Regards, Fred
It\'s only by appreciating accurate accounts of real combat past and present that we can begin to approach the Greek hoplite\'s hard-won awareness of war\'s potential merits and ultimate limitations.

- Fred Eugene Ray (aka "Old Husker")
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#3
Quote: I also think that the 3-1 ratio of sarisaphoroi to doryphoroi (hypaspists) in the armies of Philip II and Alexander III was an idealized, 'nominal' composition...

Hi Fred,

The term doruphoros is not used in any technical sense: it is descriptive (as is somatophylakes very often). Interestingly the "Alexander" historians do not use it aside from Diodorus in his famous description of Philip's last day. Here describes the hypaspists (royal) as doruphorus and describes how Philip orders them to be kept back from him as he does not wish the Greeks to think he needs such and to equate him with tyrannos. Diodorus utilises the descriptive word doruphorus to denote bodyguards - almost always the retinue of tyrants or despots (Xerxes for example). Diodorus thus describes Philp's hypaspists from the Greek perspective: the bodyguard of a tyrant or king.

The word used elsewhere (Diod. 9.4.2; 11.69.4; 11.86.4) clearly is not describing dory-armed hypaspists. Nor should it be seen so here. It is simply a general term to denote a bodyguard. To describe hypaspists as dory-armed because they are colloquially referred to as doruphorus (bodyguards - which duty was their remit) is akin to saying a Somali warlord is protected by Uzzi armed men because he is protected by "gunmen" or that 21st shipping is attacked in the South China Sea by cutless weilding pirates!

Quote:At any rate, I do see a long tradition of mercenary employment by Philip II and wouldn't be at all surprised to find that his son used hired men for a portion of the guard left behind when he headed off to Asia (again, the hypaspist component of the army would have been one area especially well suited for filling with mercenaries). Regards, Fred

I agree that Philip made heavy use of mercenaries: the source material (such as it stands) attests to that. I can't see him having the readies (in 359-8) to hire significant mercenaries though. Which doesn't mean there were none. Though he might convince the MAcedonians to back up for another tilt at Bardyliss, the mercenaries (after Perdiccas' disaster) can have had litte faith in a stunning reversal of tyche one thinks.

I can't ever see the hypaspists - the premier foot unit - being added to or filled out (if that's your meaning) with mercenaries. What evidence exists (the famous Theopompus and Demosthenes passages)indicates that this unit - Philip's pezhetairoi - were likey the original "professional" core of the Macedonian army. Opis indicates just how the Macedonians saw the status of their units. If the king led an army there is, to my mind, precious little chance of any mercenaries (hoplites or not) filling any space in the line allotted to the hypaspists.

As to ratios, I don't disagree with their tactical basis, I just don't think those ratios were always the deciding factor in a force's make-up. I agree the "task forces" or "army groups" used by Alexander (and Philip) will have been chosen for the requirements at hand. The forces selected in Asia consistently show this rather than a set ratio. I don't think that the Danube was an example of that. That there were no light troops (Agrianes, archers and the like) is surely confirmed by the two strictly defensive postures of the ever "assaulting" Alexander: the phalanx infantry marched in a square and, when later deployed, marched with the river protecting its evidently exposed left flank. I'd still wager the greater number of that infantry will have been the king's foot gurad.
Paralus|Michael Park

Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους

Wicked men, you are sinning against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander!

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#4
I would propose that the hypaspists (I agree that this more common term is preferable, though I would point out in defense of Diodorus' alternate terminology that he is closer to being a contempory of Alexander than our other surviving sources) likely grew from a small base of professional bodyguards that Philip had retained prior to his becoming king (Parke in Greek Mercenary Soldiers, cites an ancedote from Carystius to suggest this contingent dated from at least 364). As for when the Macedonian army turned fully professional, I am not sure, but a date later than 358 would seem preferable. While Philip could have scrapped together the funds to hire a few thousand mercenaries on the cheap (see below), he surely lacked the greater sum required to pay his entire army, However, this would have soon become a necessity due to training demands and keeping his men well motivated alongside mercenaries doing the same jobs and getting money for doing them. Quite possibly, the campaign to Crenides in 356 was inspired almost entirely by his need for cash to pay both mercenaries and Macedonian regulars alike.

With regard to the mercenary force in 358, I don't think that there is a better way to explain either the sudden expanson (a virtual doubling) of Philip's infantry manpower compared to the previous campaign season nor the relatively high level of performance by his native troops, who (with the presumed exception of his personal guards) had absolutely no previous experience of phalanx warfare. And this was a unique moment for inexpensive hiring as well. Thousands of mercenary Greeks had begun losing their jobs in nearby Asia Minor when the Great Satraps' Revolt had run out of gas in 360; more specifically, a crucial group of these had just come free in 359 with the assasination of the last rebellious satrap, Datames. Datames is likely to have retained the Greek troops he inherited in Egypt from Iphicrates and these included not only hoplites but also a substantial force of men that Greek general had outfitted with sarissai and peltai. These were prototypes for the improved phalangites that Iphicrates' adopted brother, Philip II, later led to fame. Thus, we have a host of unemployed mercenaries returning from Asia via Macedonia and desperate for work at any price during the exact time Philip needed troops and with their precise skills (both hoplite and phalangite). It's far too much of a combination of circumstances to dismiss as mere coincidence. Philip would also have needed these men (especially the sarissaphoroi) to instruct and provide examples for his raw national levies. Indeed, this reflected a hard lesson learned by way of his maternal ancestor, Arrhabaeus (late 5th century warlord of Upper Macedonian Lyncestis), who had armed a large force of his skirmishers in 423 with hoplite gear only to see these green spearmen quickly routed by a better-drilled Greek phalanx.

I think that it's important in talking about the events of 359 to note that the native hypaspists were indeed 'picked men', but not yet 'elites' in any functional sense of that word. I don't have any problem with seeing nervous troops who had never before held spear or shield or stood in formation being quite glad to have a scattering of mercenary 'old sweats' in their ranks, whether these be members of the king's pezhetairoi or grizzled vets of the satrapal wars. This would apply with even greater force to the neophytes holding sarissai in Philip's new-style phalanx.

As for the lack of light infantry across the Danube, my suggestion remains that these might have gone unmentioned in being organically attached to the cavalry. This is not based on any posture assumed by the heavy infantry but rather by the description of an effective mounted action. Horsemen, especially 'shock' cavalry, would be committing suicice by charging at light missilemen of any sort without a preceeding screen of their own missile-armed skirmishers. Any riders not killed outright would likely have been rapidly turned into foot soldiers after their mounts (horses being huge targets) were shot down before ever being able to carry their masters into fighting range. - Regards, Fred
It\'s only by appreciating accurate accounts of real combat past and present that we can begin to approach the Greek hoplite\'s hard-won awareness of war\'s potential merits and ultimate limitations.

- Fred Eugene Ray (aka "Old Husker")
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#5
Ha! We’ll likely not agree on the force across the Danube. Arrian actually states that “the Getae did not sustain even the first charge of the cavalry” and that “terrible to them also was the closely-locked order of the phalanx, and violent the charge of the cavalry.” This all suggests to me that they didn’t contest the cavalry charge or the infantry: they broke as Alexander set after them. As Rahae notes in his paper: horse won’t charge an immovable shield wall of infantry; they will destroy those who do not stand their ground and break in fear.

Arrian never fails to note the participation of the Agrianes (who were on this campaign) and they are thus notable by their absence.

Quote:I would propose that the hypaspists (I agree that this more common term is preferable, though I would point out in defense of Diodorus' alternate terminology that he is closer to being a contempory of Alexander than our other surviving sources) likely grew from a small base of professional bodyguards that Philip had retained prior to his becoming king (Parke in Greek Mercenary Soldiers, cites an ancedote from Carystius to suggest this contingent dated from at least 364).

Diodorus has almost certainly found the usage of this word in his source. As a rule he does not change such words preferring to elaborate his moralistic themes or add a moralistic colour (most particularly on the outrageous turns of tyche and the just or otherwise nature of man and laws). The description of the hypaspists as “spearmen” will have been a Greek city state “slur” on Philip: tyrants and despots are the regular employers of such squads of doruphoron.

Hammond, in his Philip of Macedon, summarises his quellenfoschung on Diodorus 16. The Greek narrative (from about the Social War on if I remember) he cogently argues was based on an Athenian source (Dyillus) as it is strongly pro-Athenian and, as such, writes from the city state perspective. Such a source is most likely to have seen Philip as the destroyer of city state autonomy and to present him as the tyrannos replete with his “gunmen” for escort.

Your points about the availability of mercenaries are well taken. I doubt exactly how much money Philip nay have had but the old standby of plunder will have been useful. I see the army that Philip took to confront Bardyliss as a core of his own infantry – his ‘pezhetairoi’, the “flower” or “picked men” – as well as a levy of Macedonian traditional “peltasts”, his cavalry and those mercenaries he could hire.

You are dead right concerning Crenides: this was vital insofar as Philip was able to afford some form of “standing army”. He needed it as Macedonia was in no way stable on any front.
Paralus|Michael Park

Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους

Wicked men, you are sinning against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander!

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#6
Yes, indeed, there was no way a peltast was going to stand his ground against hetairoi horsemen once they got near enough to stick you with a lance. The problem was getting that close without having good health or mount eliminated by a flying missile. I actually don't think that these hardy tribesmen were nearly as panic-prone as our pro-Alexandrian source would paint, certainly not enough to stop chucking javelins until either having expended their supply (down to that last one for close defense) or the cavalry was nearly on top of them. It was vital, therefore, for supporting light foot to thin them out and exhaust their supply of darts before the cavalry went into action. Even then, had the tribesmen formed a standard Thracian-style battle array, there would likely have been at least a modest force of men with spear and pelte to address such a cavalry threat from posts at the formation rear. This is where the phalanx came into play, advancing to scatter the enemy's main body of infantry, which would have beat a very hasty retreat long before the deadly spears and sarissai could ever contact their poorly shielded bodies. They might stand up to lightly protected riders and their extremely vulnerable, unarmored horses, but were quite defenseless against heavy infantry. In fact, I believe that variations on this three-part sequential exercise of combined arms (light foot screening first and then a cavalry charge on the flanks, followed by advance of the heavy foot to finish claiming the field) was the method used not only here (where it is best described in our sources) but also in numerous of Philip's victories over Thracian and similar tribal armies for which we, sadly, have no detailed description. - Regards, Fred
It\'s only by appreciating accurate accounts of real combat past and present that we can begin to approach the Greek hoplite\'s hard-won awareness of war\'s potential merits and ultimate limitations.

- Fred Eugene Ray (aka "Old Husker")
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#7
Quote: In fact, I believe that variations on this three-part sequential exercise of combined arms (light foot screening first and then a cavalry charge on the flanks, followed by advance of the heavy foot to finish claiming the field) was the method used not only here (where it is best described in our sources) but also in numerous of Philip's victories over Thracian and similar tribal armies for which we, sadly, have no detailed description. - Regards, Fred

The problen is that it isn't described here (the Danube). It is, though, described in every other action of this campaign where Arrian has much to say about the actions of the light troops (paricularly archers) against the "independent Thracians", the Triballians and the campaigns to follow against Glaucias and Thebes. Strange, in the extreme, that he is utterly silent about them when describing the force that Alexander managed to get across the Danube. I'd continue to argue that is because they weren't there.
Paralus|Michael Park

Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους

Wicked men, you are sinning against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander!

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#8
You make an excellent point regarding this particular engagement; indeed, by "here" I was referring to Alexander's European campaigns in general rather than the specific action at hand and should have so qualified my remark. Your take might well be absolutely correct, making this something of a 'freak' engagement in Alexander's canon. My personal approach to reconstruction has always included a bias toward modeling upon better documented analogs when faced with a dearth of hard data (a habit grown out of my past career in geology). This takes the position that 'absence of proof' is not 'proof of absence', at least where what otherwise appears to be common practice is concerned. Indeed, failure to mention the participation of light infantry that must have been present in a battle was extremely common among those writings I've previously studied regarding the 5th and early 4th centuries B.C. (including Diodorus, who was reflecting sources more contemporary with the events being retold) - it seems that the poor foot skirmisher rarely got any literary attention unless he played a particularly prominent role, more than simply doing his usual job in victory or screwing up royally in defeat. In this case, I'm just guessing that Alexander would have done what he usually did, both in terms of composing his forces and how he used them. Mind you, one critic of my work has suggested that this pragmatic methodology makes my more speculative reconstructions about as exciting as a "weather report" - a characterization that I won't deny (hopefully, these dull projections of highest probability are interspersed with enough better documented and more exciting 'storm stories' to keep a reader at least semi-awake). All this having been said, the alternative interpretation that I've posed is just a 'guess', and even a 'best guess' is still no more than that and often wrong. - Regards, Fred
It\'s only by appreciating accurate accounts of real combat past and present that we can begin to approach the Greek hoplite\'s hard-won awareness of war\'s potential merits and ultimate limitations.

- Fred Eugene Ray (aka "Old Husker")
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#9
Quote: My personal approach to reconstruction has always included a bias toward modeling upon better documented analogs when faced with a dearth of hard data (a habit grown out of my past career in geology). This takes the position that 'absence of proof' is not 'proof of absence'

With which I would not usually disagree. The total absence in this engagement is distinctly remarkable and begs an explanation (see below).

Quote:Indeed, failure to mention the participation of light infantry that must have been present in a battle was extremely common among those writings I've previously studied regarding the 5th and early 4th centuries B.C. (including Diodorus, who was reflecting sources more contemporary with the events being retold) - it seems that the poor foot skirmisher rarely got any literary attention unless he played a particularly prominent role, more than simply doing his usual job in victory or screwing up royally in defeat.

Now that is well true of the "light armed" of the classical period. These are, to classical armies, what the thetes were to the Athenian navy: rarely written of but the bulk of the calcium on the bottom of the eastern Aegean from 411 onwards. As you say they are recorded usually when it is impossible to leave them out or they "stuff up" - Demosthenes' use of them being the salutary example from the classical period (and even then Thucydides - that inveterate hoplite - has to remark on the outstanding nature of the hoplites who fell in Acarnania).

Arrian's Anabasis, though, is an entirely different matter. In this monograph the light armed are rarely (if ever to my recollection) left out when actions are described: set piece or otherwise. The premier unit - the Agrianes - are attested at least fifty times in Arrian's Anabasis from the Thracian/Danube campaign to India. They (and others) are mentioned either side of this engagement but not in it. It is possible that Arrian was lazy in this description; the descriptions of engagements immediately preceding and following in no way make it probable though. If there is one thing the “disciple” of Xenophon is reliable for it is the enumeration of taxeis or units that take part in actions – even if he confuses matters more than once. Arrian only describes phalanx infantry and cavalry and, without even the odd aside about other troops, this was all Alexander managed to get over the Danube.

Diodorus “reflecting” more contemporary sources is problematic. I’m not sure he can be relied upon to be a “mirror” for those sources he might have used – though I might misread that for “utilising”. The current “Hieronymean industry” (for books 18-20) is a case in point: just how far Diodorus is a “mirror” for Hieronymus is extremely debatable. There is a good likelihood that the Cardian was not his direct source.

Quote: I still maintain that the bulk of the evidence points to these troops being armed with hoplite gear as both Nick Sekunda ("wearing the dress and equipment of a Greek hoplite prior to Philip's re-armament")…

“Prior to Philip’s re-armament” – not having the publication I can’t check: to exactly what and when?

Quote: This data includes a number of literary references to them carrying large, aspis shields…

I’m unaware of such. I’d have thought the high priest of hypaspist-hoplites, Minor M. Markle, might have adduced them in his papers on this (and the distinct lack of use of the infantry sarisa by Alexander).

Markle, in his “quest”, has made much of the source material (Arrian) including the hypaspists in the “lighter armed” troops of the army at times. Aside from his (understandable) predilection for translating certain terms as “lightest armed”, the evidence does not support him. Markle’s centrepieces are the march on the Cilician Gates where the Agrianes and the hypaspists are taken by night for a surprise attack. This Markle says “explicitly distinguishes the hypaspists from the "taxeis" of the phalanx proper, which were more heavily armed because they carried the sarissa” (The Macedonian Sarissa, Spear, and Related Armor American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 81, No. 3. p. 330). He goes on to say that the same is indicated by the march on the Persian gates where Alexander left “the Grecian allies, the Mercenary auxiliaries, and the rest of the more heavily armed soldiers” whilst taking with him the “Macedonian infantry, the Companion cavalry, the light cavalry used for skirmishing, the Agrianians, and the archers”.

We later find out that the hypaspists are amongst the “Macedonian infantry” but they are not alone: several battalions of the previously “more heavily armed” phalanx infantry are also in this force. Markle skirts this by claiming that the phalanx infantry were armed with javelins. Nothing like having your pike and eating it too eh?

Seems that the phalanx could be armed for the occasion; suggesting that the reverse applied for hypaspists is, somehow, heresy. That, though, is another post.
Paralus|Michael Park

Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους

Wicked men, you are sinning against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander!

Academia.edu
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#10
Re: using doruphoroi and sarissophoroi to mean "hoplites armed in the Greek fashion" and "hoplites armed in the Macedonian fashion," I think its better than redefining hoplite and phalangite to mean the same things. The fact that doruphoroi sometimes means "bodyguards" or "bully boys" does make it a little complicated. Probably the best would to go straight to English terminology: spearmen, pikemen, swordsmen.

What about Luke Ueda-Sarson's argument for an Alexandrian taxis with a paper strength of 2,048?
Nullis in verba

I left this forum around the beginning of 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value
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#11
I certainly agree with your comments on Diodorus, both in general and as to Hieronymus' work, since I also suspect that the Sicilian was either using an intermediate (error filled) source or (at times) heavily embroidering the truth with what Delbruck called "guard room" stories (though, not nearly to the extent that Plutarch used such tall tales - that otherwise marvelous writer seems to have rarely met an anecdote that he didn't like, no matter how wild). Also, Sean's suggestion about using English terminology sounds like a good idea to me, a way to reduce confusion (and irritation) where there is a fundamental disagreement over what the Greek terms actually denote/connote. Of course, that doesn't mean that a little friendly friction over differing beliefs will just go away, since I suspect that our various assumptions about the mysterious hypaspists will never coincide. Nor, indeed, should they; after all, the ability to look at the fragmentary ancient record and offer different and creative speculations is one of the things that makes working in this area so interesting. If the data was all that clear and conclusive, it simply wouldn't be much fun! - Regards all, Fred (P.S. I'll go back and take a fresh look at Ueda-Sarson, Sean, as per your recommendation)
It\'s only by appreciating accurate accounts of real combat past and present that we can begin to approach the Greek hoplite\'s hard-won awareness of war\'s potential merits and ultimate limitations.

- Fred Eugene Ray (aka "Old Husker")
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#12
Quote: I think its better than redefining hoplite and phalangite to mean the same things. The fact that doruphoroi sometimes means "bodyguards" or "bully boys" does make it a little complicated. Probably the best would to go straight to English terminology: spearmen, pikemen, swordsmen.

I don’t see any problem with that. The issue remains though: usage. If Hammond is correct about Diodorus’ source for these passages – and I think he is, if not the person then certainly the strong pro-Athenian colour – then “spearmen” is more than likely being used in the way we’d describe a criminal’s guard of “gunmen”.

Quote: What about Luke Ueda-Sarson's argument for an Alexandrian taxis with a paper strength of 2,048?

That’s eminently possible. Rzepka (and many others) likely are correct in that Macedonia possessed six recruiting “districts” – certainly by later in Philip’s reign. His movement of peoples speaks to his “adjusting” population levels throughout the kingdom and likely for more than one reason. If that is correct then Rzepka is probably again on the mark when he writes that the invasion army will not have taken whole districts away; more likely a given number from each. If we suppose (as I did earlier) that the lochos or 256 man unit was the basic phalanx unit then taking six per district and leaving two of the “standing army” is practical. That would leave Antipater a little over 3,000 and, of necessity, some recruiting and calling up to do if the Macedonian levy was required. Without checking, the notices of Alexander’s requests for national reinforcements have the flavour of combing up what is available or enrolling those not called up.

Another point on that passage adduced as proof of hoplite-armed hypaspists by Markle (3.18.1-2):

Quote:Alexander despatched Parmenio with the baggage, the Thessalian cavalry, the Grecian allies, the Mercenary auxiliaries, and the rest of the more heavily armed soldiers, to march into Persia along the Carriage road leading into that country. He himself took the Macedonian infantry, the Companion cavalry, the light cavalry used for skirmishing, the Agrianians, and the archers…

Now, the heavy armed infantry are separated out and left behind and the hypaspists (as we find out later) are not among those. Therefore Markle deduces they are hoplite armed. It seems to have escaped his attention that the Greek allied hoplites are here described as being amongst the “more heavily armed”. If this passage is proof of hoplite armed hypaspists then one must suppose their hoplite arming was lighter than the Greek city state hoplite?
Paralus|Michael Park

Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους

Wicked men, you are sinning against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander!

Academia.edu
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#13
Like Ueda-Sarson I am of the view that the Macedonian taxeis in Philip/Alexander's day were some 2,000 or so strong. His articles make the case better than I could .....both for Infantry and cavalry organisation. As to Hypaspist armament, we have had that debate elsewhere, suffice to say I am firmly of the belief that they were indeed armed with 'doru' and 'aspis' in Philip and probably most, if not all of Alexander's reign and up to perhaps the demise of the originals by Antigonus ( as 'Argyraspides' - use of aspis again). 'Hypaspists' weren't restricted to Macedonia in Philip/Alexander's time either, the King of the Agrianes having a bodyguard of Hypaspists also, undoubtedly a flattering imitation of the Macedonian originals, and these at least would be most unlikely to be 'sarissa' armed for obvious reasons. Later Macedonian Royal Guards, the successors of the 'Hypaspists/Argyraspides' had become 'sarissaphoroi' ( The 'Peltasts' of Philip V certainly were).

As to 'light armed', perhaps the analogy should be with Roman/Latin usage. 'Light-armed' ( expedita) should more properly be described as 'lightly equipped', and means a force unburdened with baggage (impedimenta). Arrian and Curtius, both Roman writers, were familiar with this usage and may well have applied it to Alexander's expeditions in appropriate circumstances........

As to origins, the Macedonians, like other tribes of the region were likely 'peltasts' armed with 'pelta' and a pair of dual purpose 'longche'. Philip's change was to add the 'sarissa' and the drill that went with it. That they still carried their 'longche' on campaign with them is confirmed by the tale of the duel between a Macedonian and an Athenian armed with a club. The 'sarissa' was almost certainly restricted to pitched battle, and the 'longche' used on other occasions, such as siege assaults etc. Whether the 'Hyapaspists' also used it as well as the 'doru' is unknown. Hoplites seem to appear with the coastal colonies of Greeks, and are referred to by Thucydides in Macedonia from the late 5 C BC as forming part of Macedonian armies....
"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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#14
Quote:As to 'light armed', perhaps the analogy should be with Roman/Latin usage. 'Light-armed' ( expedita) should more properly be described as 'lightly equipped', and means a force unburdened with baggage (impedimenta). Arrian and Curtius, both Roman writers, were familiar with this usage and may well have applied it to Alexander's expeditions in appropriate circumstances........

That's possible though the passages used to describe the hypaspists as "light armed" are far more appropriately rendered as "agile" or "mobile" - either of which might fit with "unburdened". Possibly euzonous might have been more apt for unencumbered? Diodorus uses this for Antigonus’ force sent to confront Eumenes in Cilicia (18.73.1).

I'd see it more as agile or mobile troops rather than strictly unburdened (though clearly in pursuit mode this was the case). I would need to go find all the passages brought to bear by Markle and others but, from memory, we have the best armed and lightest (to go with Markle) of the phalanx infantry at one stage as well as the "lightest armed" of the light armed (or archers). Plainly Arrian (or his source) mean to imply "mobile". If we are able to select the most agile or mobile (as well as best armed) of the phalanx then such a description hardly implies much about the hypaspists.

Markle goes on to say that "on the other hand, sarissa-armed Macedonian foot had no need of the corselet since they were protected by their serried mass of pikes and small telamon shields" and later "the name itself of this special corps (hypaspists) suggests that its most significant piece of equipment was the shield, which would distinguish them from sarissa-armed foot whose twenty four-inch target was relatively insignificant." The clear implication being that sarisa-armed infantry were ill-equipped to complete the roles performed by the hoplite-armed hypaspists. Yet he has these same troops armed with the doru in a subsequent paper and even gives them the hoplite aspis. This is, of course, a neat way to skirt the issue of the "relatively insignificant" twenty four inch target. Seemingly, in the world envisioned here, one can have the entire phalanx armed as hoplites when the occasion arises but hypaspists could not have stood in the pitched battle line sarisa-armed whilst using something approaching the hoplite panoply elsewhere. It seems odd that the basic infantry grunt is so well cross trained but the elite hypaspist knows only one form of arms.

Markle at least acknowledges the clear description by Arrian of the conflicting stories of the weapon used in the murder of Cleitus. Here - depending on source - Alexander runs him through with a spear or a sarissa. The murder is the same, simply the weapon is different. Aside from the somatophylakes and pages, only the hypaspists performed this duty and will have held such a weapon. As well there is Phylarchos' description of the Argyraspids bearing sarisae whilst attending Alexander's tent. Markle dodges those sarisa-points by suggesting that the sarisa was a "ceremonial" guard weapon and questioning the relationship between the Argyraspids and the hypaspists. I don't think the latter is seriously questioned nowadays.

The argyraspids, in my view, clearly were sarisa-armed at Gabiene (and just as likely Paraetekene). The dispositions make plain that they (and Eumenes' "hypaspists") were confronted by somewhere between 7,500-7,900 Macedonian phalanx infantry. That they "charged" such a formation in hoplite panoply will have seen them suffer somewhat severely. Yet here, for once, we do not have Diodorus' favourite battle topos of "the battle was hotly contested for a long time and many fell on both sides" before the victory. The tradition is clear that the argyraspids drove the Antigonid Macedonians into disarray and killed many of them outright.

The issue of the name is nowhere as significant as Markle makes out. Negelected are the references to Philip's pezhetairoi by Theopompus and Demosthenes: at some stage the unit's nomenclature changed. There was no significance - arms wise - to that original title. To go with Sean Manning's earlier post, unless it can be proved that the use is technical, we should likely see such as a shield is a shield is a shield. The leukaspides and the chalkaspides are, to my knowledge, never claimed to have sported Argolic aspides due to their names. That will be because the "aspide" is used simply to denote a shield. The argyraspids will have been no different; aspide simply indicating that their shields - be they 66cm, 76cm, or 80cm in diameter - were silvered not that they were Argolic aspides.
Paralus|Michael Park

Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους

Wicked men, you are sinning against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander!

Academia.edu
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#15
Michael wrote:

Quote:That's possible though the passages used to describe the hypaspists as "light armed" are far more appropriately rendered as "agile" or "mobile" - either of which might fit with "unburdened". Possibly euzonous might have been more apt for unencumbered? Diodorus uses this for Antigonus’ force sent to confront Eumenes in Cilicia (18.73.1).

But in Polybius, ‘euzanoi’/unencumbered or lightly equipped, tends to have a more technical meaning – though as with ‘speira’ Polybius uses it in both a technical and a more generic sense at different times.(e.g. ‘euzanoi’ as a specific troop type – Polybius V.79.3 “armed in the manner of euzonoi” but also describing troops as ‘euzanoi’ who include thorakitai, psiloi, cretans and thureophoroi – so must be in a generic sense) Euzanoi has also been plausibly explained as a term used to describe ‘peltasts’ who have set aside their sarissa( and perhaps body armour too?) for expeditions/mobility, thus reverting to true peltasts – see Duncan Head “Slingshot” 205, 1999 pp.58-59 and Ueda-Sarson “Infantry of the Successors pt “2 online)

Quote:I'd see it more as agile or mobile troops rather than strictly unburdened (though clearly in pursuit mode this was the case). I would need to go find all the passages brought to bear by Markle and others but, from memory, we have the best armed and lightest (to go with Markle) of the phalanx infantry at one stage as well as the "lightest armed" of the light armed (or archers). Plainly Arrian (or his source) mean to imply "mobile". If we are able to select the most agile or mobile (as well as best armed) of the phalanx then such a description hardly implies much about the hypaspists.
As you say, “mobile/agile” troops must be unencumbered, especially if they are the ‘best armed’ – if they don’t lay aside weaponry, then it can really only be baggage etc.
Also, troops don’t come any more lightly armed than shieldless, unarmoured archers/light armed, so who can the ‘lightest armed’ of these be , if not those who leave their bagggae behind with the remainder? Troops still do this today – dropping their packs to become ‘lighter armed’ and leaving them for others to bring up…..


Quote:Markle goes on to say that "on the other hand, sarissa-armed Macedonian foot had no need of the corselet since they were protected by their serried mass of pikes and small telamon shields" and later "the name itself of this special corps (hypaspists) suggests that its most significant piece of equipment was the shield, which would distinguish them from sarissa-armed foot whose twenty four-inch target was relatively insignificant." The clear implication being that sarisa-armed infantry were ill-equipped to complete the roles performed by the hoplite-armed hypaspists. Yet he has these same troops armed with the doru in a subsequent paper and even gives them the hoplite aspis. This is, of course, a neat way to skirt the issue of the "relatively insignificant" twenty four inch target. Seemingly, in the world envisioned here, one can have the entire phalanx armed as hoplites when the occasion arises but hypaspists could not have stood in the pitched battle line sarisa-armed whilst using something approaching the hoplite panoply elsewhere. It seems odd that the basic infantry grunt is so well cross trained but the elite hypaspist knows only one form of arms.
I would agree with you that Markle’s arguments are illogical and his reasoning is not very plausible, which isn’t to say that Hypaspists were not ‘dory/aspis’ armed ( and perhaps ‘longche too, like the ‘pezhetairoi’)

Quote:Markle at least acknowledges the clear description by Arrian of the conflicting stories of the weapon used in the murder of Cleitus. Here - depending on source - Alexander runs him through with a spear or a sarissa. The murder is the same, simply the weapon is different. Aside from the somatophylakes and pages, only the hypaspists performed this duty and will have held such a weapon. As well there is Phylarchos' description of the Argyraspids bearing sarisae whilst attending Alexander's tent. Markle dodges those sarisa-points by suggesting that the sarisa was a "ceremonial" guard weapon and questioning the relationship between the Argyraspids and the hypaspists. I don't think the latter is seriously questioned nowadays.
Plutarch refers to a 'dagger'. Arrian gave two variant accounts of Alexander getting hold of a weapon, and Curtius put the two accounts in tandem. N. Hammond summarise the various weapon possibilties and says 'According to Arrian (4.8.8-9) "some say that Alexander snatched a blade from one of the Somatophylakes, and others say that he snatched a pike( sarissa) from “one of the Guards(Hypaspists)”. Curtius reported that Alexander snatched a light spear( lancea = latin for longche ) from the hands of an "armiger"(one of his words for a Somatophylax), but he was deprived of it (8.1.45); whereupon he seized a "spear"(hasta = latin for Dory) from one of the "vigiles"(Guards/Hypaspists)', so you can take your pick of the different weapons!
FWIW, a sarissa is probably the worst weapon for a Guard to carry, especially inside a tent! The most suitable weapon for a Guard would be a 'longche' - the short ( hence handy) dual purpose spear/javelin.......
The ‘sarissa’ story seems unlikely and probably comes from later knowledge that the ‘sarissa’ was the Macedonian weapon. Alexander in remorse is supposed to have put the weapon butt first aginst the wall, meaning to fall on it – and this seems all but impossible with a 16 ft long pike!
All in all, not very impressive evidence for sarissa armed Hypaspists ( Phylarchus is not very credible, according to Polybius,(II.56 etc) who charges him with falsifying history, inter alia....)

Quote:The argyraspids, in my view, clearly were sarisa-armed at Gabiene (and just as likely Paraetekene). The dispositions make plain that they (and Eumenes' "hypaspists") were confronted by somewhere between 7,500-7,900 Macedonian phalanx infantry. That they "charged" such a formation in hoplite panoply will have seen them suffer somewhat severely.
This is something of a ‘myth’ – Hoplites held their own and more on numerous occasions against sarissaphoroi – Chaeronea, Issus etc

Quote:Yet here, for once, we do not have Diodorus' favourite battle topos of "the battle was hotly contested for a long time and many fell on both sides" before the victory. The tradition is clear that the argyraspids drove the Antigonid Macedonians into disarray and killed many of them outright.
The quick victory with few Argyraspid casualties argues for little fighting, and maybe none at all before the slaughter….since battle is largely a state of morale, consider for example that opposing hoplites sometimes gave way before contact with the Spartans. The young Macedonians, inexperienced, will have quailed before the grizzled veterans, conquerors of the World ! Consider your own favourite quote and its effect :- “you are sinning against your fathers, you degenerates! “…the Argyraspids could have been armed with anything, and the result would have been the same – certainly there was no “must have been armed with sarissa to fight sarissa” about it, so I reject such a weak argument.

Quote:The issue of the name is nowhere as significant as Markle makes out. Negelected are the references to Philip's pezhetairoi by Theopompus and Demosthenes: at some stage the unit's nomenclature changed.
I strongly doubt that this is true either. I have argued before that it is unlikely that Guards would relinquish a proud title to ordinary troops…it just does not happen. Especially when the source in question is Theopompus, who, while fairly contemporary with Philip, was an orator rather than a historian – and whose “Historiae Philipicae” even in ancient times was cut down from 58 books of wild digressions to 16 by Philip V. He tells us that Philip’s guards were called ‘pezhetairoi’. Theopompus was also known for his wild stories, so he is hardly a reliable source. Demosthenes does not in fact refer to Hypaspists as ‘pezhetaroi’. That is pure inference.

Theopompus is in any event contradicted by another source contemporary with Philip – Anaximenes ( who incidently wrote a lampoon of Theopompus), who tells us that the Macedonian army reform were started by ‘Alexander’ II (Alexander II reigned 370-368 BC; he and Perdiccas were both Philip’s elder brothers who were killed). He tells us that Alexander bestowed the name ‘Hetairoi’ on all the heavy cavalry ( probably no light at that time)and ‘all’ the infantry were called ‘pezhetairoi’. He describes the infantry being organised in units ( lochoi) cositing of files ten deep. (decades). Whether it was in fact Alexander who initiated use of the sarissa, or Philip, later as he is commonly credited with, is unknown.
The evidence of Anaximenes is probably to be preferred to Theopompus who was careless about facts, or perhaps confused about nomenclature ( c.f. Dionysus of Halicarnassus, who clearly describes Roman ‘Triarii’ but mistakenly calls them ‘principes’ – here we have Philip’s ‘Foot-companions’, and Theopompus probably was aware that ‘hetairoi/companions were a guard unit, so such a mistake would be easy.)

Quote:There was no significance - arms wise - to that original title. To go with Sean Manning's earlier post, unless it can be proved that the use is technical, we should likely see such as a shield is a shield is a shield. Not quite…see post.
The leukaspides and the chalkaspides are, to my knowledge, never claimed to have sported Argolic aspides due to their names. That will be because the "aspide" is used simply to denote a shield.
At that time the specific Argive aspis as a weapon had disappeared two generations or more before in Greece ( 250 BC -225 BC at latest), earlier in Macedon, and ‘aspis’ came to be a generic name, used in this instance in contrast to the elite ‘Peltasts’ /Guards of Philip V and Perseus.
Quote:The argyraspids will have been no different; aspide simply indicating that their shields - be they 66cm, 76cm, or 80cm in diameter - were silvered not that they were Argolic aspides.
The earlier ‘Hypaspists/Argyraspides’ were around at a time when the Argive Aspis was definitely in use in Macedon (down until the beginning of the third C BC at least). Shields above 75 cm or so diameter cannot be those of sarissaphoroi – physically impossible – and are now usually ascribed to Hellenistic cavalry.

Even so, I would concede your point here ( “What’s in a name?” ), and certainly not rely on nomenclature alone – but put together with other evidence, it does point to the probability in many experts view that the Hypaspists were most likely ‘Dory/Aspis armed.

However, it seems to me that there is much ‘jumping around’ on this thread so far. If we are to use it to discuss logically the evolution of the Argead Macedonian army, I think we should begin at the beginning and outline the probable form of the Macedonian army before ‘Philip’s reforms’ sketchy though it is. That will be the subject of a post soon……
"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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