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Othismos: Classical vs Crowd Theory Othismos
#1
Hetaeroi kai Hetaerae,

We wrapped up our latest Plataian event last weekend, which contained a fairly significant amount of the usual entertainments: fighting, games, eating, drinking, and general rowdy behaviour. That said, we made a co-ordinated effort to put together an experiment to test the relative pushing force of two different pushing methods:

- A push from the "classic" stance described in Arrian and observed on Greek vases
- A push from the stance in "crowd-theory" othismos

Methodology

We evolved the test in several steps:

- 2 on 2 pushing
- 4 on 4 pushing
- Adjust numbers based on the results above.
- Add spears to see what the impact of the two stances was on their use

Round 1: 2 on 2 pushing

Given the bio-mechanical advantages of the "classic" stance as described by our physical trainer, our starting line for the "classic" stance were Aurora and Bethany, weighing in at a collective 280 pounds. Opposite were yours truly weighing in at 280 lbs, and Chris Ryall, at 240 for a collective 520 pounds. All bore aspides.

The results were a decisive advantage for the girls, who could push Chris and I back pretty much at will despite our best efforts.

Round 1a: 2 on 4 pushing

Given the girls edge, we added 2 more in a second rank of the "crowd theory" side, Christian and Chase weighing in at 160 and 200 respectively.

With all four of us pushing in the "crowd theory" stance we could hold our own if we planted our feet and leaned, but if we tried to actually push ahead we lost ground to the 2 girls.

Round 2: 4 on 4

We added John at Royce at 220 and 240 to the "classical" stance side to see if there was an impact of their collective pushing in Arrian's stance.

The result was devestating. Even at even numbers, but with the "classical" side underweight, the "crowd theory" side would have been on their collective backsides several times if we had not stopped.

Round Three: 2 on 7

Our "crowd-theory" side was having a rough go, so we rejigged things for the next round. John and Royce, representing something of our average size, formed the new, 2-man "classical" stance team. The remaining 7 hoplites formed the, "crowd-theory" team, and pushed with all their might.

We ran this several times, as there were a number of developments as we proceeded.

In the earlier pushes, the mid-rankers in the "crowd theory" team found their aspides being shoved up vertically into their necks, literally choking them. So their breathing was being impeded by the rim of their shield, rather than aided by the bowl.

Forcing the aspis down in subsequent pushes in an attempt to counteract this had another unanticipated result. While ameliorating the choking to some extent, Christian and Chase were literally lifted off their feet by the resulting pressures of the rank behind and the rank in front. So not only were they not contributing to the push, they were out of action for all intents and purposes.

The seven on the "crowd theory" side were never able to make the "classical" side give ground, but were edged back repeatedly.

Round 4a: Spears for the "Crowd Theory" Side

Balancing the sides back out again, we added spears to "crowd theory" side to see if they could be deployed effectively.

What was found was that the stance forced by "crowd theory" would not allow the spear to be effectively deployed. In fact, even the front rankers couldn't put a shot into the classical side, as having been forced up only allowed us to deliver overhand shots, and the pressure on our backs meant our shots went over the heads of the "classical side"

Second rankers were completely out of the game, they couldn't even see their opponents, let along take a stab at them.

Round 4b: Spears for the "Classical" Side

We now armed the classical side, and the push advantage of the "classical" side became a rout.

Both "classical" ranks could effectively deliver shots overhand, and the front rank could readily switch up to deliver underhand just as well, while still being able to maintain the pressure.

A final round with uneven sides ended the experiment. When combining pushing and stabbing the "classical" side could quite literally roll up the "crowd theory" side, even outnumbered 7:2.

Conclusions

Based on our experiment, the Arrian's stance for pushing seems to be supported as a functional method for both pushing and spear combat in the hoplon, and hence it will serve as a valid mechanic for interpreting physical pushing in the phalanx. This of course does not rule out other mechanisms such as pushing by morale or spear combat attrition, or some combination of the above, which are also possible interpretations of the period sources.

In addition, a number of problems were found in the "crowd-theory" othismos model, such as choking by the shield rim, lifting of mid-ranks, inability to attack with the spear, and inability to generate significant pushing pressure, which have not previously been identified.

Have fun!
Cole
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#2
Many thanks for posting the results of your testing! The results are pretty much what one would have expected.....but it is good that someone has done some practical testing, since otherwise debates tend to go on indefinitely!

Your tests re-inforce similar practical results, in that rioting mobs, no matter how deep, seem unable to push back lines of police never more than three or four deep, and 'Society of Creative Anachronism' combat results which show that 'wedges', 'columns' etc are unable to 'break through' lines three or four deep.

I remember one such 'debate' among ancient history lovers many years ago that ran and ran, as to whether Romans could really have worn gladii on the right as depicted on Trajan's column, and managed to draw them ( this was long before the first Roman re-enactors! ). The debate was only eventually resolved when someone did some experimenting with on old long bayonet, of gladius length, and published photos of same being drawn easily on the right...... Smile D lol:

Hopefully others will also conduct similar experiments of a practical nature too.....I have no doubt that Paul B. for one, and perhaps others, will have a number of questions...... :wink:
"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
My question is : isn't it difficult to speak of "crowd" ou "classical" with respectively 7 and 2 people ? or am I missing something ?
I guess I won't be able to read your further comment before we have our own September camp tomorrow and try on our side.
We will be no more than 8 hoplites and we aim at keeping the lines in order. I doubt we can draw any conclusion about classical or crowd theory.

We already tried othismos 5 against 5 (only men) and it was difficult to say which side turned into crowd or not. In 2 minutes bot phalanx ended with a common mess. Difficult to draw conclusions for a more numerous attempt.
FROESSEL
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#4
Cole,thanks much for posting this review. Definately food for more thought.

Demetrios,"classical" and "crowd theory" are just two terms that Cole chose to describe the side on stance where one pushes with one shoulder and the "crowd theory" stance the one whose Paul B. is the most typical representative,where men push with their body facing foreward, and where what really happens is that the mean almost simply lean forward and add pressure with their body.

Cole,my question is: could more than two ranks be added to the push in the "classical" stance? Don't men*or women) tend to slip in either side of the man in front while pushing him,causing a mess? And where exactly do they place theis shield on the front ranker's body
Khaire
Giannis
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
[Image: -side-1.gif]
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#5
This is what I feared most. I wish you had not done this test without James to advise. I can tell from what you have described that you have done something very wrong in your "crowd". Did you just have these men stand upright and get pushed??? One on one a man pushing face on will out push one side-on every time, I have done this many times. But you have to do this properly, the way a football player pushes through the shoulder. What usually occurs is that the side-on man tries to get lower and gets pushed into the dirt, or he gets bucked up on his rear leg and ends up being knocked aside. The men in the crowd do NOT simply stand straight up when pushing!!!! James and I discussed this extensively, and I know this has been misunderstood in the past. I specifially warned him that you were going to do this if he did not advise otherwise.

Quote:Round 1: 2 on 2 pushing

Given the bio-mechanical advantages of the "classic" stance as described by our physical trainer, our starting line for the "classic" stance were Aurora and Bethany, weighing in at a collective 280 pounds. Opposite were yours truly weighing in at 280 lbs, and Chris Ryall, at 240 for a collective 520 pounds. All bore aspides.

The results were a decisive advantage for the women, who could push Chris and I back pretty much at will despite our best efforts.

This is impossible if you men were low enough and not standing straight up, which you must have been. The fact that your physical trainer saw the square to fore stance as disadvantageous is another indication that you were doing this wrong and probably just standing up. Any trainer with a knowledge of football or rugby would know that you never push side-on, but forward and low.

Quote:Round 1a: 2 on 4 pushing

Given the girls edge, we added 2 more in a second rank of the "crowd theory" side, Christian and Chase weighing in at 160 and 200 respectively.

With all four of us pushing in the "crowd theory" stance we could hold our own if we planted our feet and leaned, but if we tried to actually push ahead we lost ground to the 2 girls.

Here is an example of what you did wrong. The rear rankers are free to push in any style, as I have diagrammed. Thus what you would have had was two ranks of side-on pushers facing front ranks of men square to fore and rear ranks side-on or in an extremely low stance. Planting your feet and leaning is exactly what the front ranks should do, while the rear ranks actively push- perhaps even in a side-on stance. By doing so you are adding your body weight to the pushing force of the men at your own rear of the file. Rather than the crowd using its weight to magnify the push of its own side, my guess is that your weight was actually being thrown back in to your own rear ranks!


Quote:Round Three: 2 on 7
In the earlier pushes, the mid-rankers in the "crowd theory" team found their aspides being shoved up vertically into their necks, literally choking them. So their breathing was being impeded by the rim of their shield, rather than aided by the bowl.

Forcing the aspis down in subsequent pushes in an attempt to counteract this had another unanticipated result. While ameliorating the choking to some extent, Christian and Chase were literally lifted off their feet by the resulting pressures of the rank behind and the rank in front. So not only were they not contributing to the push, they were out of action for all intents and purposes.

Far from unanticipated this is something I discussed with James. The men off their feet should be contributing their weight forward, but because of your stance they again may have been aiding their foes.

Ah, well, there is always next time. In the 4 on 4 test what happened to the women when the men pushed them from behind? Could they remain standing side on the whole time? Where exactly was the shield from the man behind them resting? Any pictures would be welcome.
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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#6
Quote:Your tests re-inforce similar practical results, in that rioting mobs, no matter how deep, seem unable to push back lines of police never more than three or four deep, and 'Society of Creative Anachronism' combat results which show that 'wedges', 'columns' etc are unable to 'break through' lines three or four deep.

Both of these statements are untrue. Crowds only fail to break lines of police because there is no coordinated pushing against them, crowds much shallower than these can break steel guardrails. Police "herd" rioting crowds by beating and slamming into those at the perifery who then in turn push into the interior, they do not push the mass of people. This type of herding of the perifery into the center is what occurred at Cannae for example- which is obvious because horses don't push like men.

You are confused on the SCA experience. It is well known that a rush of men- like the running hoplite charge- will not break a line of three or more, but a purpose designed compact column will. You can see how it is accomplished by SCA types on my blog.
Paul M. Bardunias
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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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#7
Paul M-S:

You're welcome!

Gianni:

Good response to Demetrios' question, you have encapsulated the experiment nicely.

I don't have an answer to your question, but it is a good one. It will certainly be something worth trying at our next get together.

Paul B:

You have a private message from me regarding your post. I will be glad to discuss this with you further once you have read and responded.

Thanks
Cole
Cole
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#8
Cole,

I apologize for the vehemence of my first response. I can assure you it was bourne of frustration and not animus. I see now that you were unaware how much I had invested through James, weeks of emails and multiple phone calls, in the originally planned study before the event was cancelled and evidently restarted. What went wrong in the tests is exactly what James was supposed to be there to correct.

Based on the results, I can fairly well predict what was done and do something of a post-mortem. A similar test was done a few years back by, if I recall, Stefanos' group. There again, they stood men upright and packed in ranks, then ran a hoplite into them. One result was that the rear rank of the "crowd" was knocked off his feet. This is exactly what we would predict and is the mechanic behind what is called a Newton's Cradle, those hanging balls seen as desk-toys.

In this case, it seems that you stood up a file of varying length of men belly to back as if in a crowd. You are correct that in othismos this is what most of a file would look like, but in your case it was "disembodied" from what would be the rear of the file. To understand what happened we need to look closer at just how the original system would have worked. In a crowd force is generated in large part when people simply lean in one direction. The force derives mainly from their weight resting on the person in front. You can envision this as a line of dominoes, each leaning against the next and adding a bit of weight to whatever the last one rests against. In this they are something like an arch, transferring their mass laterally. In crowds this happens spontaneously and accidentally. Hoplites would coordinate this leaning.

The key to making a file a crowd is the rear rankers, who themselves are not under such crowded conditions, but may in fact be just like the file of 2 or 4 you had opposing the "crowd". If I stand at the back of a crowd and push them tight together and leaning towards you, then to my pushing force all of the weight in the file of "dominoes" gets added. Thus my force is magnified as if I were pushing a battering ram into you. This actually occurred in your tests, but in the middle of the "crowd" file where men were lifted off their feet. I would imagine that force that can lift a man like this is also enough to asphyxiate him over time if sustained, so it is nice to see that less that so few men can generate this. As you can see from the domino analogy, if your front rankers get pushed back on their heels they are actually adding to your foes' force. So what was needed is at least one rank of men, but probably more, in the rear not standing up and more importantly a coordinated wave of force projected forward. This is why they held their own when leaning forward, but when they attempted to push they were in fact pushed back.

Also, it should be clear that at low file number this system breaks down and is in fact worse than other types of pushing. Thus you mixed up crowd pushing, with Square-to-fore pushing. They are very different. In a crowd you are square forward and forced to simply lean forward, but one on one you do not stand up like in a crowd. What you do it get low and blast forward from the legs. Had you done this the women would very likely have gotten hurt and surely not stood their ground. In my own experiments this always beats a side-on stance when done properly- you have to stay low and drive through your opponent. The problem is that you cannot add many ranks together doing this, or rather if you do, they end up like the leaning crowd above. The same is true for side-on pushers, they don't add their efforts in longer files. I would like to have derived a force curve for side-on and forward pushing to see at what rank number this breaks down. This is why I am curious as to what the pose was of the women in the front ranks when pushed from behind. In my experience, under enough pressure, the side-on stance cannot be maintained and you end up squashed into your shield in a forward stance in any case.

I have other questions about spear use, but pictures would be worth many thousands of words.
Paul M. Bardunias
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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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#9
Paul,

Thanks very much.

First, lets see if I can paraphrase your description to see if I am clear on where you are coming from as a result.

The phalanx closes into fighting range, and commences fighting with spears. Gradual pressure from the rear ranks slowly drives the phalanx into a more or less upright position. The rearmost rank continues to push from an effective stance, and while the compressed hoplites lean in on their toes, adding a component of their "falling" weight to the pushing force of the rearmost rank.

If you think I haven't summarized accurately, perhaps you could draw a side view illustrating a file pushing as your model proposes.

I also have a couple of questions based on this and your previous posts.

At what angle do you see the compressed hoplites being able to lean in this situation?

You refer to football, in your attempt to where the line pushes up and locks into their opponents, attempting to topple them over, and rugby, where bent at the waist and locking at the shoulders in the scrum they attempt to push their opponents away. Neither of these is analagous to the crowd theory, where the pushing comes from an upright lean. Thus, are they really valid comparisons for this discussion? Or are you simply referring to the rearmost man in the file pushing in this way?

Thanks,
Cole
Cole
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#10
Thanks Cole. First we have to establish some basic terms for the discussion. I’m not sure what you are calling a “classical stance”. Since we are considering pushing here I want to limit the discussion to othismos, but we need to define it.

There are three basic takes on the concept of othismos:

First, there is the notion that all mention of “pushing” is figurative, and the depth we see in hoplite formations is due to morale and/or mobility consequences.

The second is a literal “pushing” of all ranks in a coordinated and sustained manner. This does not deny morale and mobility benefits, but adds a phase of battle where the primary aim of a unit in a parataxis is to physically push their opposite out of line with adjacent friendly units. It is primarily a psychological tactic as a parataxis break due to loss of cohesion more than loss of life.
The third grouping is broader and covers everything from simply bashing and pushing by the front rankers alone to shoving that occurs only along part of files or sporadically. I describe this by two terms: Pre-othismos, if the limited pushing is in preparation for a more general othismos within a battle, or Proto-othismos if this is the extent of pushing for a given troop type. The reason for this is that surely there was a stage in the history of othismos where this type of limited pushing occurred and was later built upon. I think Proto-othismos occurred in most armies of heavy, line infantry, probably going back to Sumer. There are a variety of Roman examples.

For this discussion we will only consider full, literal othismos. As a side note, I use the term parataxis, which is how Thucydides described hoplite formations, because it is a far more informative word than “phalanx” and implies the fact that these were individual discrete units arranged side by side.

Now on to stances, and as you will see, there is no single stance supported by ancient imagery.

Because we are focused on pushing, we will look at stances from the point of view of generating or resisting pushing force, as opposed to their utility in doratismos. Because of this the shoulder position is only of secondary importance. Any good martial artist, or even dancer, will tell you that all motion in generated from the hips or the “center” midway between them below the navel. We will look at the hips and feet.

1) The first stance to consider is what is called “side-on”, “the fencer’s stance”, “The ‘T’ stance”, etc. (A below in the red box). This is seen on some vases and statues- mostly on late 5th and 4th century images. In this stance the body is perpendicular to the shield. Note that the hips are perpendicular to the shield. You should be able to draw a line from the rear heel through the shoulders and front foot to the middle of the aspis. This is a great defensive stance because the aspis covers the maximum amount of your body. It is also very good at resisting being pushed back. Rather than relying on the muscles of your leg, you lock the rear leg and use the strength of your bones to resist force. The rear foot is turned sideways to increase traction and the body is lowered to form an optimal angle for the rear leg to form a buttress that transfers the force directly into the ground. The foreleg adds little to resisting a push, and its main function is in steadying the body as it is lowered for mechanical advantage. Because only one leg pushes, the force generated is weak, but you can move forward quickly and reset to move ahead against a force.

The problem with this stance is that it is difficult to strike from with a weapon because the body is in the exact wrong orientation to strike with the right hand- note that fencers lead with the right leg. Also, the body is unstable from side to side. There is a danger in getting too low and being pushing down into the ground or standing too high and being bounced up on the back leg if the force exceeds your body weight.

This stance became popular for othismos perhaps because of the fact that some authors likened it to a “reverse tug-o-war”. I did a long time ago too, but the mechanics of pushing are very different. In a tug-o-war, the force it transferred from man to man through the inflexible rope. Thus, the spacing between men is not important as long as they all hold the rope. In pushing, spacing is all-important, but I will address this later.

2) The second stance is called the “striding stance”, and as the name implies it is simply a walking step or stride. Some authors have confused this stance with the side-on stance, but they are very different. (compare the Dodona statuette in A below with the Frieze at the center top for the obvious differences) This stance is by far the most commonly seen on vases.

In this stance the hips are parallel to the shield and the feet point towards the shield as well. In this it is similar to what is known as a “boxer’s stance” or “fore-square”, which is the same stance with less distance between the feet. This is the best pure pushing stance because you can bring the muscles of both legs to bear, and is the way a football player pushes. Obviously humans are designed to move forward, so moving forward while pushing engages all of the strongest muscle groups. You can do a leaning/resting version of this position by angling the body forward and the legs back the way that wrestlers do. The big problem with this “laid out” position, and even the initial two legged push (C below), is that there is nothing supporting you and if pressure suddenly decreases, you fall on your face. I think the Greeks called such a tactic the “Thessalian feint” and hoplites were said to have succumbed to it.

3) It is a curious fact that what I and others consider the most likely fighting stance for a hoplite is perhaps the least frequently seen in imagery. This is the “3/4” stance common to almost all martial arts. This is basically midway between the two above stances. The hips are not parallel to the shield and the foe, but at a 45 degree angle away. The rear leg is held back and the foot is also at a 45 degree angle. In terms of pushing, this stance benefits from neither of the mechanics of the two above, and a hoplite would probably shift to either a side-on or fore-square to push. Also, the ¾ stance probably turns into a for-square stance as you strike forward with a weapon, and the reverse occurs as you rear back to strike from a fore-square stance. They may be essentially the same.

Note that there are artistic conventions that make looking at any imagery for these stances difficult. The early striding stance vases may in fact be 3/4 stances that are stylized in the oriental manner to have the feet point forward for example. Some of the later vases showing the side-on stance are surely conforming to some convention that wants to show the torso and gentical because the feet are actually pointing away from one another in extreme examples and sometimes men facing eachother are both shown with their torsos and hips facing us. As I mentioned, I find imagery very unreliable due to these conventions. Also, a lot of hoplites that we think are in combat are probably shown moving to combat, the Chigi for example.

Now I think all of these stances were used. Remember how easy it is to shift between stances. But I think the ¾ stance the most likely doratismos stance and the fore-square the pushing stance- while the side-on was used to recieve a shield bash. You’ll notice there is no “crowd-stance”. This is because you cannot assume a crowd stance; you have to be forced into it. If you are in a ¾ or fore-square stance, as pressure builds behind you, you will be forced belly to back. In my experience this will also happen in a side-on stance with great pressure. Think of it this way, if you are in a ¾ stance, with a shield on your back, the only thing keeping you from collapsing into your shield is the strength of your left triceps. It does not take much pressure to cause such a collapse.

So we need now to consider crowds. Because I have presented a complete system with many elements that differ from the orthodoxy on othismos, I think there has been an assumption that all of the pieces are needed for a crowd-othismos to function. This is not the case. The basic mechanic of a crowd is not tied to any “stance”. I merely present it with the most likely. All that the crowd mechanic requires is that there is a minimal space between hoplites. Unlike a tug-0-war, men must directly push against one another, and any space between them and the men ahead will sap the force of the push as it moves through the file. Rugby players know this and they literally lock their bodies together in a manner that hoplites cannot. This is analogous to the way a cushion saps force by requiring compression over space. You waste energy accelerating the man into the next man prior to collision.
If it could be shown that hoplites can push in complete files in a side-on stance, then this changes nothing in the basic crowd dynamic. I simply don’t believe they can from what I have seen so far.

In crowds, force travels in waves. A push from the back will move forward like falling dominoes. In order to maximize force, you want to have all of the men in the file push forward in unison. Because of the constrained position, most hoplites will be simply leaning forwards. They are essentially falling into the men ahead of them. The more extreme the lean, the more of their body weight they are transferring forward, and the wave-like nature of the system means they will probably be moving from almost vertical to a marked lean. Remember though that the hoplites must be forced into this position by the rear rankers pushing on them.

Why is the crowd mechanic superior? At short file length it is not. Remember though, our assumption is that all 8-16 ranks are pushing. Only with a crowd mechanic can you add the force of each hoplite in such deep files to the total pushing force. At 12 ranks for example, you would have rear rankers (1, 2, 3 ranks? I don’t know) who are not so compressed pushing hard and each of the compressed men adding some fraction of their body weight to the push. The force could be quite large.

One of the benefits of the crowd-othismos is that it eliminates the need for a powerful initial charge. Because force is much greater when generated by a compact mass than running men, if hoplites were to go directly into othismos from a charge, they would need to pull up short and pack in tight. The concept can be seen here where SCA types have independently hit upon the need for packing to break a shield wall:
http://hollow-lakedaimon.blogspot.com/2 ... nsity.html

But if you have to pull up from a charge anyway, now we have a period of time that can be used for doratisos, and we eliminate much of the either/or argument. A long time ago, the notion that there was a period of doratismos followed by othismos was a common thought. In this scenario, a period of doratismos may be limited to the time it takes to get your files packed in, or could be quite long, with the transition to othismos occurring due to some factor. The ability of hoplites to prevent their foes from closing has in my opinion been wildly overrated, if for no other reason than that we know hoplites did clash shield to shield. Probably this was a time for swords, since an 8’ dory, with a 5’ reach cannot be brought to bear on the man in front of you in othismos in any stance. You are basically face to face or cheek to cheek with your foe, smelling his breakfast, but this works in your favor, for his head protects you from lateral strikes. Strikes from above are still effective and may explain the popularity of the pilos.

As to what the file would look like in profile, it is hard to say. One thing you don'e want is any of your men leaning backwards (see that link above where the guy leans back to provide pressure on the front of his little file because as I said a crowd cannot be formed without pressure). I drew up a simple diagram that should give some idea below.
Paul M. Bardunias
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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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#11
Here are a couple of additional images that may clarify the stance issue. One is simply the position of the feet in each that I found online someplace and modified by adding the red lines to indicate a line from hip to hip. The other is an excellent drawing done by Paul McDonnell-Staff to show the way a hoplite moves between two orientations as he strikes. Since he's posted it here before, I hope he does not mind me doing so again. I modified it by adding the left side image to show a side-on stance as well.
Paul M. Bardunias
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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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#12
I found this clip of a riot yesterday that shows many of the issues I have discussed above. [url:1ch8meiu]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQkjrO1UJvk[/url]

The clip is interesting because it shows a very good point of view for discerning the movement and poses of the policemen who at times push into a crowd in more than 3 ranks. Also, the crowd itself is not very deep, not much more than 12 ranks, though not in neat files. The clip benefits from the fact that the "rioters" are largely attempting to be peaceful, they hold their hands over their heads and actually chant "this is not a riot". Most of what you will see is the police attempting to move the crowd through "herding", that is beating the people at the perifery who then press back into their own crowd-mates, and not actually pushing against the crowd. Beginning at about two minutes into the clip we see a closeup of a section of crowd that is putting some pressure on the police line of initially a single rank. The initial reaction is to bash the crowd members with their riot shields, showing how much freedom of movement can be had even at pretty close quarters.

What occurs next is more interesting from our point of view. At 2:24 there is a whistle and police move up in support to form 3, sometimes 4 ranks. Initially the pushing is easy and at 2:27 you can see that the police are pushing each other without being packed belly to back and advancing. There follows a little interlude where the camera focuses on a salient formed as the police move to join with a column of police at the top of the screen in yellow. At 2:38 you can see a flow of people that looks like an eddy in a stream as the police move into the crowd.

Just after that we see the main line of police still pushing the crowd, but now they are not making headway and their own ranks collapse belly to back. This is something I described back in my original article on crowds and othismos. The police initially push the crowd easily because it is not near maximum density, there is room for the individuals at the edge to simple shuffle back to the core. But the very act of pushing the crowd has increased its density, so now the police must push the whole as one. More importantly, early on, much of the crowd is simply "milling" not pushing towards the police line in unison. Once they are pushed against though, the natural reaction is to resist the direction of pressure. Thus the crowd spontaneously achieves and order that it lacked on its own. The police have focused the crowd against them. The result is a stalemate and the police quickly give up on pushing the crowd and simply hold the line. At about 2:53 you can see the type of tidal back and forth, almost "bouncing" that occurs in such collisions.
Notice that there is no unity of action along the front, in some places the crowd is resisting more than others and all order is spontaneously generated or as we say "emergent". For this discussin an important point is that many of the single rank of men are standing at 3/4 if not side-on when simply resisting the crowd. When the whistle blows and the pushing starts they are all facing the crowd and pushing forward (see below, the man in the red circle just before and after the whistle blows). Its important to note that in this clip the crowd is not really pushing all that much and still they resist the police. The pressures seen in this clip on both sides are very low. I'm pretty confident that if they were organized and pushing they could blow the police line out. (So if you are planning a riot, read your ancient Greek!) I would like to see how much force a file of 12 of those police could generate.

The "fighting" being done by the police in yellow is interesting as well, for it shows the sort of dead space that can form between two colliding crowds, even if each is pretty densely packed. It also shows how easily weapons can be used in these situations. I think such a salient would be very dangerous for hoplites. The enemy line could easily fold in on you and severely limit your movement, then slaughter you. I don't hold much faith in hoplites forming wedges.

Here's a second clip. [url:1ch8meiu]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgcwkNLY814&feature=related[/url] Not so useful, but it does show some nice footage of a coordinated and very close ordered advance...and retreat. Perhaps more like Dacian falxmen vs Romans. It does beg the question of where the South Korean's rubber bullets are- these guys with the staves are begging for sting-balls. Note how the police are reluctant to break from the line to engage. This is a great weakness of such linear formations in that they are easy to harrass. There is an almost Homeric stuggle over a fallen man at 2:04
Paul M. Bardunias
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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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#13
First off, I'll make it clear that I am not a believer in the 'pushing' theory. Ive read numerous arguments for it and I have yet to be convinced.

Sorry Paul, I don't see how the two clips you have posted are relevant to Greek warfare. The re-enactors don’t even make an attempt to defend themselves with their weapons... there is no way that you would just let someone run into you like that. In the 'riot' clips, no one is trying to kill each other and only one side is armed. Although it is interesting watching the behaviour, I do not believe that riot conditions are reflective of warfare.

You just cannot fight with someone pushing you from behind, especially when you are trying to use an 8 foot spear!
I would also argue that the 'T' stance is ideal for using a spear. You can bear the weight of your shield across your arm and shoulder and still be able to move it to deflect blows. Your spear arm is unrestricted, and being unprotected, it is furthest away from your opponent. Most of the force against you would be onto your shield, so the side stability is not much of an issue. I do think that Hoplites would change stance as the situation dictated as you have noted.

If you have a few ranks behind you pushing, what happens if you lose your footing or is killed? Does the whole column of men fall on their faces?

If it interests you I will write my theory in full along with illustrations?
Stephen May - <a class="postlink" href="http://www.immortalminiatures.com">www.immortalminiatures.com
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#14
Quote:I don't see how the two clips you have posted are relevant to Greek warfare.

But do you think that the exercises that started this thread are relevant to Greek warfare? I can see that a handful of hoplite reenactors performing different techniques could well be used to refine or illustrate a theory, but I wouldn't call it an experiment. Testing the hypotheses fairly would off course demand way more participants. In the absence of proper experiments surely riot clips can be used to illustrate more general aspects of pushing mechanics?

Riots have some definite advantages as they have a lot of people pushing and striking, with little regard for the opponents' health. The absence of epic casualty rates in riots doesn't mean that hostile intents couldn't be severe enough to approach the mechanics that emerged during ancient warfare. It seems to me that reenactors could provide illustrations of how weapons and equipment made pushing different from modern riots whereas modern riots are great illustrations of pushing mechanics.
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#15
Daniel wrote:
Quote:It seems to me that reenactors could provide illustrations of how weapons and equipment made pushing different from modern riots whereas modern riots are great illustrations of pushing mechanics.
.....I'd say that those two clips demonstrate why pushing tactics would be a failure!

Mind you, Paul B. could have chosen far better examples, such as the Korean riot footage featured on RAT some time ago, as an illustration of Roman combat! In those clips both sides were armed, and using close to lethal force! Being a 'civilised' British demonstration, the demonstrators offer no more than passive resistance, nor do the police act aggressively - there is little use of their batons, and the most aggressive weapon used is the edge of the shield.

On second thoughts, perhaps the lack of actual fighting allows illustration of 'pure' pushing. And against an unresisting crowd it is a total failure for the most part. The 'herding' Paul refers to produces, as he says, a crowd more difficult and denser to try and move. The failure of the flanking column of 'yellow-jackets' to drive down the flank ( and presumably the intention was then to turn in and 'herd' the crowd from two directions) illustrates that excessive depth isn't much help either.....

As you can see, such clips are open to interpretation, but I would agree that clips of riots, particularly the more vicious ones ( and see how successful 'pushing' is in them !) are as close to ancient combat 'en masse' as we are likely to see.....
"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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