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Othismos: Classical vs Crowd Theory Othismos
#61
Paul B. wrote:
Quote:Now if we found a lost text by Xenophon describing side-on pushing in detail,.......

Surely a side-on stance like a fencer is a 'non sequitur', and not under realistic consideration ? Confusedhock:

Quote:If hoplites did not do something that a later shield wall could not, then the special designation of "othismos" becomes frivolous, and the phalanx is simply a wall of shields that pushes against its opposite at times an might even find itself acting a bit crowd-like for short periods like every other shield wall in history.

Ah, Grasshopper !! At long last enlightenment is dawning !
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#62
Quote:Surely a side-on stance like a fencer is a 'non sequitur', and not under realistic consideration ? Confusedhock:

This whole thread was predicated on the use of the side-on fencer's stance, which is supported by Van Wees for fighting and the orthodoxy for pushing. That is what the thread title called "Classical". You and I, I know, believe in at most a 3/4 fighting stance.

Quote:If hoplites did not do something that a later shield wall could not, then the special designation of "othismos" becomes frivolous, and the phalanx is simply a wall of shields that pushes against its opposite at times an might even find itself acting a bit crowd-like for short periods like every other shield wall in history.

Ah, Grasshopper !! At long last enlightenment is dawning !

Now, be fair. I have always stated that it is possible that there was no othismos. What I am attempting to present is that IF there was an all-ranks coordinated and sustained push, then it had to occur through the Crowd Model. There are many problems with discarding, or reducing, the role of physical pushing in hoplite combat, but my belief in it is based on the functionality of the panoply. Too many elements are best explained by at least the threat of a literal pushing phase in battle.
Paul M. Bardunias
MODERATOR: [url:2dqwu8yc]http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/viewtopic.php?t=4100[/url]
A Spartan, being asked a question, answered "No." And when the questioner said, "You lie," the Spartan said, "You see, then, that it is stupid of you to ask questions to which you already know the answer!"
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#63
Quote:Well, they have to have taken some sort of specific actions in order to achieve what you propose. My question to you is how you think that action was terminated. If the protostates saw he was advancing too far, how would he be able to stop this advancement since the reason of this advancement was the pressure exerted on him from the rest of the file? The pressure you describe was not only applied to the enemy but to him too.

To understand this, you have to visualize what it was like in a crowd in othismos. You are packed belly to back with an aspis on your right overlapping yours by something like 25%. Because your body is behind the right side of your own aspis, the left extending like a wing past your body to the left, you are pushing into the overlapping shield of your neighbor. You are also pressed with your aspis tight to your chest when the push is strong, occupying a depth of less than 0.5m and unable to move your shield arm. Only when in the periods between strong pushes can you adjust your shield, draw your sword, etc., but even then, you cannot turn your body much. Any big movements would have to wait until both sides became exhausted and stopped pushing at all, leading to lulls where the crowd opens up a bit or may actually pull apart.

So in order to get out of line with your rank during the press, you would have to push through the overlapping shield in front of you because you cannot turn your body enough to slip around it. This is made more difficult because the overlapping shields lock the phalanx into a mutually supporting group. Thus when you are pushing the shield in front of you, it is also being supported by the shield on its right that overlaps it and so on down the line. The same holds true for the enemy. The shield pushing on your shield is being supported by all those coming up behind on its left. So as long as your ranks are properly overlapped, and your foes ranks are also overlapped, pushing any single file back is unlikely. If in some way you did manage to slip forward a rank you would only find yourself 0.5m ahead of your line. I don't know that this is enough to really make a difference, probably you do not penetrate the enemy, they just bend around you.

As to pressure from the rear pushing him out of line with the ranks, his file would have to intentionally do so, because they would all have to somehow each move out of rank themselves, and they would know they were doing so just as he would. They are not pushing "blindly", because they can feel the men of their own rank beside them and know they are breaking away.

Quote:Do you think that your model can be applied to a line of a thousand files and somehow make the protostates able to control their movement?

Coordination along ranks is actually quite easy for the crowd-model. But coordination is not the same thing as simultaneous movement. Along a phalanx front, the simple rule is something like "advance when the man to my right advances". This is made simpler by the fact that with the right over left overlap that we both use, the right hand man, usually an officer, is free to move forward against the enemy at will because there is no shield over his. So eash man steps forward in coordination, but delayed by the moment it takes to sense that the man on your right has moved and initiate your own movement. The result would look like one of those waves that go around sports stadiums, or a real wave crashing on a beach that starts on one end and moves to towards the other. But the situation is proably more complex with a parataxeis. Small subunits might move in complete unison by listening to a shouted order or other signal. The "wave " pattern would then arise as each unit along the parataxeis pushed. This could be coordinated as I described above, but probably quickly breaks down into a sinuous "wave front" as units along the whole front are pushed forward and back but still interact with the friendly units long side. Because the whole goal of the othismos was to push units out of line with their neighbors, the depth and breadth of these peaks and valleys will govern when a unit routs.

Quote:I think that all discussions and theories on othismos are anyways overrated...Maybe the most important reason for all these exaggerations is the fact that whenever anyone sees the word "othizein" or any of its derivatives in a battle description, he automatically links it with "othismos" which, I guess at least 90% of the time is wrong.

I agree that you cannot simply look at the occurrence of a word and assume it is always used literally- though the reverse is true as well. One thing that I think is important is that the root of othismos is also used to describe crowds of non-combatants pushing against one another.

Quote:It must have happened orderly as everything else that has to do with the Greek phalanx. I guess that it could be performed both in unison along the phalanx and piecemeal along some units. As for the sarissa, why do you think that it could really counter othismos as you propose it? Do you think that the pressure applied on the hoplon would not be able to force back some sarissas?

I have yet to read a satisfactory description of what occurred when hoplites faces sarissaphoroi, and I certainly have not produced one myself, but I think we can determine some elements. Most likely a hoplite phalanx would find their aspides "pinned" by sarissa stuck in them like the Roman scutii at Pydna. This would lead to a struggle, perhaps with a hoplite pushing forward the aspis and the sarissa being pushed forward in a two-handed grip. But how hard can you push on a spear point that is already transfixing your shield? My guess is that usually you would force the point through before you push the other end out of the hands of the sarissaphoroi. Then if you do manage to push back the sarissa a few feet, you will face another one jabbing at you in any case. Even if some hoplites could force their way between the sarissa, it is unlikely that many in a row along the first rank could simultaneously. This means that to exploit such a break in, you would have to break ranks, something that hoplites were loathe to do.
Paul M. Bardunias
MODERATOR: [url:2dqwu8yc]http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/viewtopic.php?t=4100[/url]
A Spartan, being asked a question, answered "No." And when the questioner said, "You lie," the Spartan said, "You see, then, that it is stupid of you to ask questions to which you already know the answer!"
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#64
Quote:I have yet to read a satisfactory description of what occurred when hoplites faces sarissaphoroi, and I certainly have not produced one myself, but I think we can determine some elements. Most likely a hoplite phalanx would find their aspides "pinned" by sarissa stuck in them like the Roman scutii at Pydna. This would lead to a struggle, perhaps with a hoplite pushing forward the aspis and the sarissa being pushed forward in a two-handed grip. But how hard can you push on a spear point that is already transfixing your shield? My guess is that usually you would force the point through before you push the other end out of the hands of the sarissaphoroi. Then if you do manage to push back the sarissa a few feet, you will face another one jabbing at you in any case. Even if some hoplites could force their way between the sarissa, it is unlikely that many in a row along the first rank could simultaneously. This means that to exploit such a break in, you would have to break ranks, something that hoplites were loathe to do.

I have thought about this and from my point of view (untested) is that the only way to avoid the sarissa poking through is to raise the aspis overhead. The pushing forward by the rear ranks of hoplites I think would generate enough force to drive the point into the hoplite. If you raise the aspis though you are susceptible to the next rank of sarissa points and negates any advantage the hoplite might have at attacking his immediate opponent that is off balance and his weapon at the moment unusable.
It's just a theory so please if any faults elaborate. Big Grin
Craig Bellofatto

Going to college for Massage Therapy. So reading alot of Latin TerminologyWink

It is like a finger pointing to the moon. DON\'T concentrate on the finger or you miss all the heavenly glory before you!-Bruce Lee

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#65
Quote: If you raise the aspis though you are susceptible to the next rank of sarissa points and negates any advantage the hoplite might have at attacking his immediate opponent that is off balance and his weapon at the moment unusable.

This is why the length of sarissa is so important: it allows 5 points to extend beyond the first rank of men. I don't think the one or two ranks of spears that can be brough to bear by hoplites are sufficient to keep other hoplites from closing. Since we have a number of descriptions of hoplites fighting shield to shield this either must be true or the two ranks closed by tacit agreement. But fighting through 5 ranks of spears would destroy the cohesion of a linear hoplite phalanx even if some scattered few managed to do so. As we read in that Euripides quote above for example, dory breakage and sarissa breakage would have been a problem for either type, so more points the better.
Paul M. Bardunias
MODERATOR: [url:2dqwu8yc]http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/viewtopic.php?t=4100[/url]
A Spartan, being asked a question, answered "No." And when the questioner said, "You lie," the Spartan said, "You see, then, that it is stupid of you to ask questions to which you already know the answer!"
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#66
Quote:As we read in that Euripides quote above for example, dory breakage and sarissa breakage would have been a problem for either type, so more points the better.

I see your point... :wink:

I was only mentioning the 1st and 2nd ranks of either contingent for descriptive purpose. I favor the Sarissa opposed to Hoplite as well, In this instance... The main issue I have is: "Wouldn't the Hoplites be able to push the Sarissa men if they got past the point? I would imagine "Crowd Theory" or not the Hoplite weighs more man to man because of armor and shield; thus more inertia,momentum,etc. The overall weight of each unit is (I think) a factor as well in pushing. A test of two people of the same weight one with armor and the other with no armor might prove interesting if anyone wanted to try.
Craig Bellofatto

Going to college for Massage Therapy. So reading alot of Latin TerminologyWink

It is like a finger pointing to the moon. DON\'T concentrate on the finger or you miss all the heavenly glory before you!-Bruce Lee

Train easy; the fight is hard. Train hard; the fight is easy.- Thai Proverb
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#67
Quote:"Wouldn't the Hoplites be able to push the Sarissa men if they got past the point?"

Its important not to sell the pelta too short. At a diameter of 65-70 cm, the bowl of the shield is not all that much smaller that the "bowl" of a small aspis if we subtract the 8-10cm of offset rim. Although we are told they should not be, many were very deep as well. Thus although I have never tested one, it is possible that they may be somewhat useful in pushing as well. I should point out though that the domed shape would primarily be for withstanding the impact of an incoming sarissa point, the depth giving the man "stand-off" distance from the penetrating point. A better shape would be more cone shaped, but then pressing into the back of filemates becomes problematic.

But if a hoplite and got within 5 feet of a rank of sarissaphoroi, othismos would be the least of their problems. At that distance the far more nimble dory would be devastating considering that the only point in front of him at that distance was being stabbed almost blind from many ranks back. In fact my guess is that it would be the sarissaphoi who would go to the sword and close first because his only other options would be whipping him with the shaft of his sarissa to perhaps tangle the dory or grabbing one of the sarissa behind him and helping to guide it.
Paul M. Bardunias
MODERATOR: [url:2dqwu8yc]http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/viewtopic.php?t=4100[/url]
A Spartan, being asked a question, answered "No." And when the questioner said, "You lie," the Spartan said, "You see, then, that it is stupid of you to ask questions to which you already know the answer!"
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#68
Quote:
Quote:"Wouldn't the Hoplites be able to push the Sarissa men if they got past the point?"

Its important not to sell the pelta too short. At a diameter of 65-70 cm, the bowl of the shield is not all that much smaller that the "bowl" of a small aspis if we subtract the 8-10cm of offset rim. Although we are told they should not be, many were very deep as well. Thus although I have never tested one, it is possible that they may be somewhat useful in pushing as well. I should point out though that the domed shape would primarily be for withstanding the impact of an incoming sarissa point, the depth giving the man "stand-off" distance from the penetrating point. A better shape would be more cone shaped, but then pressing into the back of filemates becomes problematic.

Okay that makes sense; but isn't the grip of the aspis (argive) and pelta (strap?) a factor in pushing? The sarrisaphoi would also have the added encumbrance of wielding the (2 handed?) sarissa and not be able to commit as much force into pushing right? Was the aim of the Macedonian sarissa phalanx to push in the first place?
Craig Bellofatto

Going to college for Massage Therapy. So reading alot of Latin TerminologyWink

It is like a finger pointing to the moon. DON\'T concentrate on the finger or you miss all the heavenly glory before you!-Bruce Lee

Train easy; the fight is hard. Train hard; the fight is easy.- Thai Proverb
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#69
Quote:but isn't the grip of the aspis (argive) and pelta (strap?) a factor in pushing?

The grip inside is basically the same, so no this would not be a problem, the additional strap would not get in the way.

Quote:The sarrisaphoi would also have the added encumbrance of wielding the (2 handed?) sarissa and not be able to commit as much force into pushing right? Was the aim of the Macedonian sarissa phalanx to push in the first place?

This is a difficult question. Some of the clearest statements we have about the additional "weight" of the rear ranks comes from a context of sarissaphoroi, but I do not think they did anything like othismos unless something went very wrong. They could push through their sarissa on an individual basis and surely did when they found it stuck in something, but there are limits to how hard you can push. Like the "push of pike" in later centuries this would largely have been a limited and more figurative push, with men in the rear ranks simply impeding their fellows from moving back.

If it all went FUBAR and they did find themselves shield to shield with another phalanx, then they could push with the shield, but by then the sarissa would have been dropped.
Paul M. Bardunias
MODERATOR: [url:2dqwu8yc]http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/viewtopic.php?t=4100[/url]
A Spartan, being asked a question, answered "No." And when the questioner said, "You lie," the Spartan said, "You see, then, that it is stupid of you to ask questions to which you already know the answer!"
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#70
Quote:If it all went FUBAR and they did find themselves shield to shield with another phalanx, then they could push with the shield, but by then the sarissa would have been dropped.

That's what I thought. Thanks for the confirmation.
Craig Bellofatto

Going to college for Massage Therapy. So reading alot of Latin TerminologyWink

It is like a finger pointing to the moon. DON\'T concentrate on the finger or you miss all the heavenly glory before you!-Bruce Lee

Train easy; the fight is hard. Train hard; the fight is easy.- Thai Proverb
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