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Phalanx warfare: Closing of the ranks
#16
Paul B wrote:
Quote:How the hell did I end up a Tiro?  I seem to have been broken in the ranks.


Possibly because the software has treated you as a 'novus hominem', and has you 'joining' in February 2016, and having made a mere 6 posts to date!

I had endless difficulties 'activating' my long-dormant membership to the point where I almost gave up and joined anew.....
"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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#17
In this video we form the phalanx from a marching line, and we also double like Xenophon says. Doubling accurs in 3:30
From Marathon 2011.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaOJ48Dyomg
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
[Image: -side-1.gif]
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#18
Paul: one thing regarding the Othismos theory - what exactly would be the tactical benefit of it? As always, i dont think they would use something without a clear combat advantage, yet, as i see it, pushing own men against enemy presents quite a lot negatives of its own - pushing a man towards danger is quite a good way how to make that man rout and become ineffective in combat, psychological effect of being forced against a line of presented enemy weapons was always quite problematic, no matter the era, or soldier equipment..

Therefore i think if such a thing was supposed to be used, it would have to have some clear tactical benefit.. yet, i kinda don't see any. From your previous descriptions, you said it would be not lethal the front rank, therefore it would be also not lethal to the enemy. If it was not used to create a hole in enemy line, then what would it be used for then?
Jaroslav Jakubov
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#19
(09-12-2016, 03:23 PM)JaM Wrote: Paul: one thing regarding the Othismos theory - what exactly would be the tactical benefit of it? As always, i dont think they would use something without a clear combat advantage, yet, as i see it, pushing own men against enemy presents quite a lot negatives of its own - pushing a man towards danger is quite a good way how to  make that man rout and become ineffective in combat, psychological effect of being forced against a line of presented enemy weapons was always quite problematic, no matter the era, or soldier equipment..

Therefore i think if such a thing was supposed to be used, it would have to have some clear tactical benefit.. yet, i kinda don't see any.

Have you ever fought a man pushing you backwards?  Tactically the whole thing starts with two men, shield on shield, both attempting to push each other back while fighting.  Rapidly men come up in support to keep their comrade from being forced back on his heels.  Rather than being pushed into danger, you are being rescued from being bowled over.  In any army in history, giving ground before a foe is a sign of defeat and crushing to morale.  Why do you think we give such value to forces that can pull off a feigned retreat.  The hardest thing to do is get men moving backwards moving forwards again.  Usually an army recoils because its own front ranks move back into the ranks behind as they are "pushed" and by this in quotes I mean something more akin to herded back, shying away from enemies stabbing or cutting at them.  Physically pushing the front rank back on their own men has the same effect. 

Why did Greeks take this pushing thing to the extreme?  Such pushing is a factor in any line combat with shields, but usually it is limited to either the front rankers bashing each other, or very brief spats of multiple ranks together. Two factors we see in descriptions of Greek combat may account for why it happened in Greece.  First, going back to the Illiad and seen as late as Coronea, there is the need to fight for control of a fallen leader.  To do this they had to control a spot on the battlefield and push the other force back away from it.  They could fight their way to that spot, but pushing is faster.  I think this mentality became, shall we say democratized, to the point that the winner of a battle was not the side that killed the most men, but the side that held the corpses on the field.  The story of the battle of 300 champions from Sparta and Argos is all about this- 2 to 1 advantage in survivors, but the 1 held the field.  This the idea of fighting for control of ground rather than fighting to maximize the enemies casualties seems natural.

Also: It was not like a wedge, there was no attempt to break into a taxis, or unit of the phalanx. The point was for your taxis to push back the whole opposite taxis, breaking its morale. When this happened, your job as a unit was done and through most of this period you would not even turn and attack the flank or rear of other Taxies you were moving past- see how the picked Argives could have changed history if they had this tactical skill set.
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#20
but my point is - if we assume you use spear overhand to get over shield, then you have a means to attack approaching men.. so its quite natural for them want to be outside of your lethal reach.. truth to be told, i dont really care what some ancient greek historian wrote, if it actually doesnt have sense from military perspective, as these men could not even have any military experience.

Look at it from battle perspective - two lines, both equipped same way, with the same weapons and tactics. Why would it end up with the pushing match exactly? what would be the tactical gain from getting so close to the enemy, practically through the effective reach of his spears? I would understand this, if it gave some advantage, like for example opening a hole so men could pour in and and attack enemy from back, or similar.. but pushing shield to shield, just to gain few meters of ground? Why would that resolve anything? Lets not forget that even Hoplite battles usually ended up with one side routed and running away from battlefield. So how exactly would that occur with the pushing match?

And let me explain - i'm looking for answers, not attacking your theory. I just want to find clear military purpose behind this..
Jaroslav Jakubov
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#21
(09-12-2016, 04:38 PM)JaM Wrote: but my point is - if we assume you use spear overhand to get over shield, then you have a means to attack approaching men.. so its quite natural for them want to be outside of your lethal reach..  truth to be told, i dont really care what some ancient greek historian wrote, if it actually doesnt have sense from military perspective, as these men could not even have any military experience.

Look at it from battle perspective - two lines, both equipped same way, with the same weapons and tactics. Why would it end up with the pushing match exactly? what would be the tactical gain from getting so close to the enemy, practically through the effective reach of his spears?  I would understand this, if it gave some advantage, like for example opening a hole so men could pour in and and attack enemy from back, or similar.. but  pushing shield to shield, just to gain few meters of ground? Why would that resolve anything? Lets not forget that even Hoplite battles usually ended up with one side routed and running away from battlefield. So how exactly would that occur with the pushing match?

And let me explain - i'm looking for answers, not attacking your theory. I just want to find clear military purpose behind this..

Remember, I have dismantled the notion that men charged into battle like horseless knights and slammed into each other to begin othismos right away in my writing.  Men stopped at spear length and fought, and often one side broke at this point.  But if you look at a 4th century hoplite, he has an spear of about 8' and a sword with a blade that can be not much more than one foot.  Armed like this, what would you do if a) your spear broke (and was balanced exactly wrong to bring the sauroter to bear by the way), or b) you were hoplessly out classed as a spear-fencer?  Since I can't reach him with my foot long sword, I would close within his reach, making his spear useless and stab him to death if he did not also drop his spear and go to the sword.  You could say, "but how do I get past his spear?"  The question is irrelevant because we know that they did find themselves fighting shield on shield.  This cannot be done with an 8' spear.  So, this is why I advocate a late othismos, that did not have to occur in all battles, but was a threat in any battle.

Also: "like for example opening a hole so men could pour in and and attack enemy from back" Hoplites for some reason did not do this. Imagine, in almost every battle, there is a unit that has won next to a unit of their own line that has lost. You never read of them turning in support at taking them in the rear. There are reasons for this, but the point is that whatever we may think now would be a great tactic, they did not, or could not do it. I am not convinced that the Thebans even did this at Leuktra, more likely the Spartan line broke simply because the Spartan unit opposite the Thebans gave way.
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#22
Quote:Armed like this, what would you do if a) your spear broke (and was balanced exactly wrong to bring the sauroter to bear by the way), or b) you were hoplessly out classed as a spear-fencer?

Question actually is, how would a rear rank know my spear is broken, or i'm outclassed at spear fencing.. because whole push would have to be initiated from rear rank. Unless Othismos was actually something performed by first rank, while other ranks moved in support.. but then it has to be the first rank that dictates the movement, not the rear rank (which would have no clue what front rank is doing if formation is  over 8 ranks deep) i assume. plus, commanders were typically in the front rank, therefore i would guess they would be the one deciding.


Also, in regards to sword fighting - if I have to overcome the enemy spear hitting from above to get over my shield, i would rather be able to rise my shield to block such spear and get under it, then close the distance, so i could use my sword while his spear point is already behind, or deflected by my shield. This way i could chose which part i would attack with the sword, but most likely  i would go down, and try to cut the femoral artery on enemy leg, than going up and thrust the sword into his upper torso.
Yet, to do that, i would rather not have somebody behind me pushing me into my back, but instead would want to have some space so i could chose the pacing of that attack. Having somebody behind pushing me in my back with his shield would just make me a bit ineffective with the sword which actually requires some space to operate.
Jaroslav Jakubov
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#23
YES!  you got it.  Othismos was ALWAYS initiated by the front rank, with the subsequent ranks coming up in support.  Even if you had a man behind you who started pushing you, yo would still have the ability to lean back on them rather than forward, and unless they are real jerks and trying to get you killed, they would ease off.  This surely is what happens in almost any linear battle with a shield.  Only if you want to enter into what we call othismos, and accept the support from behind rather than push back, can it occur.  If you did not have an aspis you would push back hard and try to make the guy behind you back off because you would be crushed.  Only the shape of an aspis allows you to accept the force of the men behind without crushing the breath out of you.
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#24
FYI, for those reading, the femoral artery is on the inside of the femur bone. To severe it with a sword thrust or cut is very hard, especially if the opponent is leading with the left leg and the sword held in the right hand. A better target would be the Popliteal Artery, located at the back of the knee area, which can be severed with a draw cut or wrap cut, which will not only sever the artery but also the tendons, hamstringing the opponent, incapacitating them while also delivering a likely mortal wound. 

But this isn't as easy as it sounds. As seen by this image, the size of the aspis and the area it is held (upper rim resting on shoulder) means that to maneuver the sword under the aspis for a an attack against an enemy would be difficult to execute at best. Not only that, but in close quarters, with rear pressure, there will not be much room between the hoplite's aspis and body, so one can not simply change guards, low to high, or vice versa. The high guard, with the blade held on the upper portion of the shield, is the safer position. Lastly, the enemy's leg is also largely protected by their own aspis, or else the high Greek greeves, which wrapped around the contours of the leg slightly giving more protection against a cut to the side of the hamstring.

Understanding ancient warfare means understanding the limitations of weaponry and how best to use them.
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#25
(09-12-2016, 06:17 PM)Bryan Wrote: FYI, for those reading, the femoral artery is on the inside of the femur bone. To severe it with a sword thrust or cut is very hard, especially if the opponent is leading with the left leg and the sword held in the right hand. A better target would be the Popliteal Artery, located at the back of the knee area, which can be severed with a draw cut or wrap cut, which will not only sever the artery but also the tendons, hamstringing the opponent, incapacitating them while also delivering a likely mortal wound. 

But this isn't as easy as it sounds. As seen by this image, the size of the aspis and the area it is held (upper rim resting on shoulder) means that to maneuver the sword under the aspis for a an attack against an enemy would be difficult to execute at best. Not only that, but in close quarters, with rear pressure, there will not be much room between the hoplite's aspis and body, so one can not simply change guards, low to high, or vice versa. The high guard, with the blade held on the upper portion of the shield, is the safer position. Lastly, the enemy's leg is also largely protected by their own aspis, or else the high Greek greeves, which wrapped around the contours of the leg slightly giving more protection against a cut to the side of the hamstring.

Understanding ancient warfare means understanding the limitations of weaponry and how best to use them.

I don't believe hoplites could strike below the shield when in formation.  This is why we so commonly see strikes that are either above the shield or would be above the shield even when the hoplite does not have one.  This strike is so commonly seen, it has been called the "Harmodios blow" and whole papers have been written on it.  The khopis is chopper that like the kukri knife can be snapped down at the wrist to provide a powerful blow with little gross arm movement, while the overhand strike with a xiphos, stabbing down beside the neck can also be seen.  I posted about this on my blog.
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#26
(09-12-2016, 07:05 PM)Paul Bardunias Wrote:
(09-12-2016, 06:17 PM)Bryan Wrote: FYI, for those reading, the femoral artery is on the inside of the femur bone. To severe it with a sword thrust or cut is very hard, especially if the opponent is leading with the left leg and the sword held in the right hand. A better target would be the Popliteal Artery, located at the back of the knee area, which can be severed with a draw cut or wrap cut, which will not only sever the artery but also the tendons, hamstringing the opponent, incapacitating them while also delivering a likely mortal wound. 

But this isn't as easy as it sounds. As seen by this image, the size of the aspis and the area it is held (upper rim resting on shoulder) means that to maneuver the sword under the aspis for a an attack against an enemy would be difficult to execute at best. Not only that, but in close quarters, with rear pressure, there will not be much room between the hoplite's aspis and body, so one can not simply change guards, low to high, or vice versa. The high guard, with the blade held on the upper portion of the shield, is the safer position. Lastly, the enemy's leg is also largely protected by their own aspis, or else the high Greek greeves, which wrapped around the contours of the leg slightly giving more protection against a cut to the side of the hamstring.

Understanding ancient warfare means understanding the limitations of weaponry and how best to use them.

I don't believe hoplites could strike below the shield when in formation.  This is why we so commonly see strikes that are either above the shield or would be above the shield even when the hoplite does not have one.  This strike is so commonly seen, it has been called the "Harmodios blow" and whole papers have been written on it.  The khopis is chopper that like the kukri knife can be snapped down at the wrist to provide a powerful blow with little gross arm movement, while the overhand strike with a xiphos, stabbing down beside the neck can also be seen.  I posted about this on my blog.
I agree. 

I think that JaM is re-imaging how he would construct a hypothetical hoplite force, based on his own biases, instead of accepting it for what it was, based on actual evidence.
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#27
Here are some screenshots from some videos we filmed years ago. It actually was our first experimentation with spear and sword, and we both did quite some stupid things, but it also shows what untrained men can do with the weapons. I chose these screenshots because they may enlighten us with what it looks like dynamically using the equipment and weapons. 
The strikes were full force too. We dented helmets and bruised sculls even under padding.
A more interesting test would be to do it in confined space (a corridor) and with a number of men in each side, say three and three in a file, and three and three in a rank.

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Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
[Image: -side-1.gif]
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#28
Very interesting pictures, these are the perfect type of things that should be posted on this website. Are you ever releasing the videos? I'd like to see them, with commentary if possible.

Noticing a lot of leg attacks to the hamstring. Did it seem like a suicidal attack, where the neck was too exposed when crouching?
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#29
I don't plan to release these old one, but if a chance presents itself I might make new ones.

Notice that each caption is a different attempt/attack, they are not instances of the same attack.
It must have seemed to me too vulnerable a spot not to try an attack. Also you have a general lack of good targets once you have a Hoplite with his shield and helmet in front of you.
If you don't miss, it is a good idea, in one of the photos I have missed, and am receiving a powerful blow on the side of the helmet.

At that time it was impossible to determine if the blows to the back of my neck were fatal, but from the videos it is obvious that none of them would have been fatal and perhaps wouldn't have inflicted even the smallest wound to me. The neck guard of the helmet is expertly designed to either deflect, or "contain" the blows, so that they are guided towards empty space and not my back. This happened again and again. The shield and its domed shape and rim also protect from powerful strikes. Finally, the spolas has an additional neck guard, which now makes clear what kind of blows it protected you from. The bell cuirass has a collar all around the neck and throat.

The downside is that you make yourself vulnerable when you bent down with s big shield and helmet. You are not so quick to stand up and if your attempt fails, it is possible that you are hit hard or even fall.
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
[Image: -side-1.gif]
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#30
There is a story about a duel that I think takes place in Thrace where one opponent cut to the back of the knee if I recall. Can't recall the author.

I don't think I linked to this on RAT: http://hollow-lacedaimon.blogspot.com/20...y.html?m=1
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