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Article draft \"Fighting Greeks, Naked Celts\"
#1
I have posted a working paper about depictions of Roman victories in the Greek east (specifically Magnesia and Pydna). I would welcome comments and critiques from members of the forum.

https://www.academia.edu/6618284/Fightin...ing_Paper_

Best,

Michael J. Taylor
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#2
An updated version of this paper has been posted. Thanks for the feedback!

https://www.academia.edu/6618284/Fightin...ing_Paper_
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#3
The battles involving Rome and the Hellenic nations are very interesting. The Romans showed to the world that the fighting methods that won Alexander and empire were outdated. The Legionaries took the field, becoming the dominant power in the western Mediterranean. Magnesia was the turning point, so many Seleucid dead followed by the second battle of Pydna in Greece that completely destroyed Macedon. The Greeks surrendered their place as rulers of the world to the Romans.
Regards, Jason
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#4
Were Alexander's tactics really outdated? Alexander did use phalanx as a core and main "holding the ground" unit, but he used various other types of units to fill any gaps in line and his genius combined all elements of his army in a very efficient and flexible way... I think quick roman conquest of hellenistic Macedonia, Greece and near east has more to do with uninspired and inflexible use of hellenistic armies and lack of some of Alexander's useful units such as hypaspists than with Alexander's tactics being "outdated".
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#5
The Macedonians did lack a force of Hypastpists and that did cause the battles to sway to the favor of the Romans. The Romans used their flexible maniples to separate, encircle, and destroy the rigid Macedonian and later Seleucid phalanxes.
Regards, Jason
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#6
The Macedonians didn't need hypastpist because by the 2nd cent BC they were an obsolete fighting type. After earlier wars against the Italians and Gauls the various Hellenic kingdoms and states learned the value of the thureophoroi, a new style of infantry that could fight as line infantry or as a skirmisher. These types present in many of the battles facing the Romans.

More so, the Romans didn't win because their infantry was better than the Hellenic infantry, but because overall the Roman armies (well over half not even Roman) were superior or luckier than their enemy.

Pick the usual tactics used constantly by Alexander, pinning or creating gaps with infantry and flanking or penetration attacks with heavy cavalry, and try to see how that would work against a roman consular or double size consular army, which would have its largest contingent of allied cavalry facing the best of the Hellenic cavalry.

Romans weren't Persians.
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#7
The Thureophoroi were good troops, able to defend and attack with javelins or swords. They were used by the Macedonians, but had little effect against the Romans. The Macedonians tried to win a war by defending their homeland with defensive phalanxes, letting the Romans use their superior attack infantry... But that went bad for them... It went bad for the Seleucids too...
Regards, Jason
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#8
Roman infantry were Thureophoroi.
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#9
Roman Hastati had the same weapons as Thereophoroi but did not fight the same. The Roman javelins were much more powerful, with the ability to pierce shields or bodies. The Thereophoroi were almost a Hellenic copy of the Hastati, as the Hellenic nations started to base their militaries on Rome's. Still, Roman infantry was superior, as it did not just have Thereophoroi like troops, but instead had a whole selection of soldiers all good for various tactics and fighting styles.
Regards, Jason
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#10
Thureophoroi means the bearer of a thureos, a type of shield. The word scutum is Latin but it means the same as thureos, so says Polybius. Therefore, all Roman infantry who carried a scutum can also be classified as thureophoroi. Additionally, those Romans that were armored cuirass can also claim to be thorakitai, if you choose to use the Greek word.

There is no "way" that thureophoroi had to fight. They could have been used as independent skirmishers, as many of them carry multiple javelins, as well as a fighting with spear and/or sword. They can fight in a loose fighting line, or as a compact force. The Roman way was one method, the various Gallic methods another, the Hellenic way a third way, as well as the Spanish, North Africa, etc, all of whom used thureos/scutum style shields.
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#11
The Thereophoroi were Hellenic. Romans were Italian. They might have fought similarly, but they are not the same. Also, the Thereophoroi sometimes just skirmished, and other times just fought in a formation. Roman infantry always engaged the same way on the battlefield. Romans never used Greek names for their soldiers either, so in Greek minds the Romans could be Thereophoroi, but never in Roman eyes.
Regards, Jason
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#12
Thureos is the Greek word for a type of large oval shaped shield, it means something like "door" or "door stone," depending on who you ask. Modern historians and aficionados commonly use the term to describe the shields used by Hellenic, Gallic, and other non-Roman infantry, preferring to use the Latin Scutum for the Romans, to avoid confusion (actually making it more confusing). However, the ancients didn't appear to really have a distinction between the shields, as some knowledgeable ancient historians like Polybius refer to the Roman infantry shield as a thureos. Furthermore, an infantryman that carries a thureos can be referred to as a thureophoroi, θυρεοφόρος, which literally means "bearer of a thureos" or "shield bearer."

The distinctions you are making is another one of those "modernisms" that are used frequently on the internet to differentiate the different nationalities and fighting types but in reality those differences don't seem to have been noticed in the ancient period. For instance, a Roman speaking Greek would refer to the Roman scutum as a thureos. Though I am not 100% of any Romans being actually described as thureophoroi (possibly used by Plutarch to describe Roman infantry in Life of Aemilius Paulus, 19), the comparison between a Roman carrying a scutum (literal scutari/bearer of scutum), compared to a thureophoroi, is still valid.

Also, Roman infantry did not always engage in the same way on the battlefield. Caesar makes this pretty clear in his commentaries, when describing the differences between Pompey's Spanish Legions and his own:

"The method of fighting adopted by the enemy's troops was to charge at first at full speed, boldly seize a position, take no particular trouble to preserve their ranks, but fight singly and in loose order; if they were hard pressed they did not consider it a disgrace to retire and quit their position, for, waging a continuous warfare against the Lusitanians and other barbarous tribes, they had become used to a barbarous kind of fighting, as it usually happens that when troops have spent a long time in any district they are greatly influenced by the methods of the country."
JC DBC, 1.44

Clearly, it was known that Roman troops adopted their fighting tactics to reflect the enemy they faced.
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#13
It would be truer to say that Roman troops adapted eventually in theatre to the enemies that they faced . The Pompeians cited above had been in Spain a long time and had adapted to the more skirmishing warfare of the Iberians. However Caesar's troops, newly arrived in Spain found this difficult to counter. I doubt that a legion could just arrive in any theatre and have in place drills for anything that standard legionary methods were not suited for. Hence they struggled to cope with Numidians and Parthians.
Roy
Roy Boss
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#14
few mistakes i'd like to mention:

Thureophoroi are not like Hastati. Hastati were young legionaries, while Thureophoroi were not specifically formed from younger men. Roman Hastati were not lightly armored. They had very similar armor composition to Principes or Triarii. After all, age doesnt automatically grant you wealth. Wealthy families would not send their young sons into war unprotected... while just because you are 40 years old, it doesnt automatically mean you can afford a car - in ancient world terminology - a bronze breastplate or mail.
Thureophoroi were more like Macedonian Peltasts/Phalangites. Those either fought in Phalanx, but if it was needed, they could fight in open order using javelins. Thureophoroi main purpose was to use their light javelins, but they could be also equipped with spears. But of course, they couldnt use both at the same time (unless they had 3 hands)

Roman Scutum is not the same as Thureos. Thureos was Greek name for oval shield used by Celts. Yet, ancient historians specifically mention Roman Scutum being much larger than Celtic or Greek Thureos. Livy for example mentioned Celtic shields to be much less useful against missiles than Parmae used by Velites...


And regarding Romans not facing Alexander, true. But they faced Pyrrhus and Hannibal. and while they both managed to defeat Romans, in the end, Romans defeated both of them. Was Alexander better than Hannibal? or Pyrrhus? hard to say. Just recently i read about Hannibal meeting Scipio at Ephesus, where Scipio asked him who he thinks was the greatest general of all.. Hannibal said Alexander, then Pyrrhus and then he mentioned himself. Scipio, clearly surprised by the answer, told him - and yet i defeated you.. who would you say, if you defeated me? and Hannibal answered - "If I defeated you, i would be the greatest of them all..." and while some historians think this meeting didnt happened, it was mentioned by two separate ancient historians (Plutarch and Livy) so it might be true..
Jaroslav Jakubov
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#15
Quote:few mistakes i'd like to mention:

Thureophoroi are not like Hastati. Hastati were young legionaries, while Thureophoroi were not specifically formed from younger men. Roman Hastati were not lightly armored. They had very similar armor composition to Principes or Triarii. After all, age doesnt automatically grant you wealth. Wealthy families would not send their young sons into war unprotected... while just because you are 40 years old, it doesnt automatically mean you can afford a car - in ancient world terminology - a bronze breastplate or mail.
Thureophoroi were more like Macedonian Peltasts/Phalangites. Those either fought in Phalanx, but if it was needed, they could fight in open order using javelins. Thureophoroi main purpose was to use their light javelins, but they could be also equipped with spears. But of course, they couldnt use both at the same time (unless they had 3 hands)

Roman Scutum is not the same as Thureos. Thureos was Greek name for oval shield used by Celts. Yet, ancient historians specifically mention Roman Scutum being much larger than Celtic or Greek Thureos. Livy for example mentioned Celtic shields to be much less useful against missiles than Parmae used by Velites...

See part in bold? That isn't true, according to Polybius. He described the Roman's shield as a thureos. Considering that he was highly experienced in both Greek and Roman military matters, chances are if there was a distinction between the two, he would have known about it. He doesn't say the Romans carried a shield similar to a thureos, he stated in Pol. Hist. 6.23 that Roman infantry carried a thureos. Other ancient authors that wrote in Greek likewise referred to the scutum as a thureos, because one word was Latin, the other Greek, but they meant the same thing as far as they were concerned. It was similar to the difference between the early Latin use of clipeus shield and an aspis. Same shield, different name for different language.

The Roman and Italian scutum was wider and curved, compared to Hellenic, Gallic, or Spanish versions, and often better made, and non-Italian thureos shields are always shown to be flat, but they all were the same type of shield. If the Greek language was used they are called Thureos. If the Latin language was used then the shield was a scutum. I'm sure the Gauls, Punics, and Celtibernians had their own name for the style of shield but but whatever it was never was recorded or didn't survive.

Thureophoroi have been classified by some modern military history buffs as a style of infantry, specific to the Hellenic world. They were not. They are simply the Greek name for soldiers who carry a thureos style shield. The following peoples could be said to possess thureosphoroi: Romans, Greeks, Macedonians, Seleucids, Pontic, Gauls, Galatians, Libyans, Punics, Lusitanians, etc. Because all of them carried thureos shields.

All the differences being stated are modern day distinctions to help classify different soldier types, in English. In their own language, they all meant the same. Similar would be this: In the Napoleonic era, the English had Rifle Regiments, the Prussians had Jäger regiments, and the Americans had Sharpshooters regiments. All did the same thing, they used rifled firearms to fight in loose order in battle. In their own language, all would have classified the other in a similar term. But in the modern day, many would make a distinction between the three, placing a nationality to them based on the language used to describe them. In reality, no distinction existed.
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