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Phalanx warfare: Closing of the ranks
#1
I have from "warfare in the classical world" 2001 by John Warry that in order to close the ranks, the rear half of the emotiai would move up in between the files of the front half, like this; http://imgur.com/darrnBB Was this how it was done? 

(As I've understood it - the basic enomotiai was earlier made up of 4 files of 8 men in each, later when the mora became the larger standard unit, the basic enomotiai was made up of 3 files, each with 12 men. So to close the ranks, the initial columns of 8 - or 12 deep, would then become 4 - or 6 deep. Several references claim the standard depth of the phalanx formation usually was 8 men deep though, but not whether this was in closed or open formation - before or at the initial clash of shields. Either way, I can't get the numbers right.)

Also, did the opposing phalanxes at the battlefield marsch towards each other in closed formation, or did they close the ranks just before the  clash?
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#2
recently, Chris Mathew released few books about Hoplite and Phalangite combat, definitely worth reading, at least for slightly different perspective, and he actually spends a lot of time in his books trying to figure out exactly what was possible and what was not, while bearing the full panoply in the formation.
Jaroslav Jakubov
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#3
Several authors have put forward the theory that they "doubled" the formation as described here. There are some later (Macedonian) descriptions of units doing it that way. As for whether the Classical era Hoplites did that, there is not much evidence one way or the other.

There is also conflicting data about what formation they were in. It appears that whether they advanced at open, intermediate, or close ranks depended on the tactical situation and their army's individual strategy. There are many accounts that claim the Spartans were especially fond of advancing slowly in close ranks formation... And I tend to think the Spartans knew what they were doing.

I have a hard time imagining a group suddenly stopping to change formation at the last minute, given the difficulties of hearing and seeing what was going on. I don't recall any references to such a maneuver, but it is certainly not impossible.

But I have two further caveats: (1) No drill manuals survived so we really don't know for certain what they did. Much of what we have is interpretation of literature and experimentation, so all we can offer is a best guess. (2) Anyone who asks "What did a hoplite do?" is asking about hundreds of cities fighting anywhere from Syracuse to Egypt over the course of about 500 years or more. It is unlikely that everyone did their business the exact same way.
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#4
    Anatol Wyss wrote:
Quote:I have from "warfare in the classical world" 2001 by John Warry that in order to close the ranks, the rear half of the emotiai would move up in between the files of the front half, like this; http://imgur.com/darrnBB Was this how it was done? 

(As I've understood it - the basic enomotiai was earlier made up of 4 files of 8 men in each, later when the mora became the larger standard unit, the basic enomotiai was made up of 3 files, each with 12 men. So to close the ranks, the initial columns of 8 - or 12 deep, would then become 4 - or 6 deep. Several references claim the standard depth of the phalanx formation usually was 8 men deep though, but not whether this was in closed or open formation - before or at the initial clash of shields. Either way, I can't get the numbers right.)

Also, did the opposing phalanxes at the battlefield marsch towards each other in closed formation, or did they close the ranks just before the  clash?


Although I left RAT many years ago, I occasionally look in (annually? LOL!) and noticed Anatol's thread, which did not answer his question, but instead 'hijacked' the thread onto another subject - perhaps a moderator might care to move everything from JaM's second post onward to its own thread on the subject of Christopher Matthews books? I was one of many who tried to assist Christopher, but alas he preferred his own convictions and 'interpretations' and produced  very flawed works, both in their data and methodology. [digression: I regard his works and the equally flawed work of Aldrete, Bartell et al in respect of the non-existent Greek so-called 'linothorax' as the worst and most misleading works on hoplite matters ever written - and I speak as someone who has studied and been published on the subject for over 40 years.]

It was I who contributed the section on Hoplite closing of ranks, and much else, in "Warfare in the Classical" World by John Warry (1980) but I was not the first to make this discovery. Both J.K.Anderson "Military Theory and Practice in the Age of Xenophon"(1970) and Peter Connolly "Greek Armies"(1977) also refer to this drill, which comes from the works of Xenophon, who refers to aspects of drill frequently in several works. The best description is in a book of advice about many subjects, disguised as a work of fiction ( the "Cyropaedia") and I attach a diagram of how this worked, together with Xenophon's words, below. The beauty of this simple system for 'closing up' is that it did not involve any change to frontage, and being basically 'follow-the-leader', could be learned and performed by amateur citizen hoplite militias. Note that it works for a depth of 12 too - or any even number. ( I published this and discussed it on a thread here many years ago but cannot now access it due to RAT's many metamorphoses) As to moving from marching in column in 'open order', the deployment into phalanx is also described by Xenophon. The phalanx would then generally advance in 'open' order until at a suitable distance (often 'charge distance' - 100 yards or so) it would halt, close up, and then launch an attack.....
"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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#5
Welcome back Paul!

Indeed you are correct - thread split as a result.
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
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#6
Thank you Robert - I was prompted to post again by Sean Manning drawing attention to the publication of the excavation of an intact Thracian tomb containing an intact leather  - covered in scales - Tube-and-Yoke  corselet. This intact tomb is perhaps second only to the Vergina tombs in importance, and it had a curious connection to Philip iI's tomb there. Very exciting! ( see "Unusual Thracian corselet" thread ) 

I don't expect I'll post often. Much of the subject matter on RAT these days reminds me too much of 'Groundhog Day', LOL!


Anyway, to get back to the subject, I attach another diagram, this time from Xenophon's "Constitution" giving a brief description of Spartan drill, for the later 12 deep (in 'normal' or 'open' order) 'enomotia'/platoon.........

As can be seen from these two postings, it is incorrect to say we have no descriptions of 'hoplite drill'. Wink


Attached Files Thumbnail(s)
   
"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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#7
Good! What about later manuals however, which among others, list in their sources classical manuals now lost, and which organize the file in epistates and parastates?
This system points to the halving and doubling of the phalanx by each man stepping behind or next to the man in front of him.
It should be noted that this is an even easier way to do the maneuver for untrained men.
And also that in this case also you can double or half the depth of the phalanx without influencing its frontage.

Perhaps Xenophon's thorough description of how the phalanx in that case was formed is an indication that there were other ways too.

Of course, if you are in the March from a single line and need to form quickly into a phalanx then the 'traditional' method is more efficient and quick. But if you are already formed up and you need to change your depth stepping behind or next to the man in front is easier.

At Marathon last November we practiced a lot the Spartan countermarch. It is not exactly the same maneuver but it is very similar since you have to form in open order and then march between the two files. I have to say that although we were many hoplites from many countries never practiced before, we looked pretty impressive in the countermarch! No videos unfortunately.

Of course we also performed the doubling and halving described above, with the half file leaders leading forward.

Khaire
Giannis
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
[Image: -side-1.gif]
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#8
Greetings Giannis! Smile

I did not mention the later Hellenistic manuals, detailed as they are, for several reasons, Firstly Anatol's original post specifically referred to the diagram in "Warfare in the Classical World", secondly it was incorrectly claimed we had no information on classical drill, and thirdly these are specifically designed for the later Macedonian pike phalanx.

The other, no longer extant, treatises which Arrian and Aelian refer to are almost all post-classical as well.

I wouldn't necessarily agree that the system of closing up by having every second man step out and forward to form close order is 'easier', because in a noisy chaotic battlefield situation some might miss the order. Further, once the men have stepped out, the two half-files newly formed must 'close up' vertically to restore the correct interval of the men behind one another. Getting back into 'open order' is even more difficult, because as  a  preliminary the half-files must 'open out' fore and aft.....

'Follow-the-leader' is simplest. 

As you mention, the 'Laconian' counter-march is not at all difficult. ( It is the same as the way every High-School and Military band counter-marches, and again is 'follow-the-leader'.)

Given the rarity of an international gathering of Hoplite re-enactors, I am very surprised that no videos were taken, especially when these days everyone seems to have a camera-phone......

I haven't seen anything in the way of reports from the second Marathon gathering anywhere, and would certainly like to.....perhaps a report for the benefit of all those not present might be appropriate on its own thread?
"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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#9
So great to see you back here.  I have been pretty scarce myself since you left.  That image looks so familiar...like it was drawn for a hard headed guy who did not understand it.

My book with Fred ray goes to press this week, so I think I am ok sharing some figures.  Here you can see the "dinner drill" based in fact on Paul's teachings.


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#10
Hi Paul, oh such a pleasure to revive some of the old rat feeling!

Yes you may be right that a report from the second Marathon deserves a new thread, but I too have been visiting here once a month or so, and then just to check for any interesting topics.

I am indeed a bit dissapointed about the relative lack of documentation of our event, especially videos, and part of it is my fault, because i was one of the organisers. 

However, i hear that Paul Bardunias will include the results of our single scientific experiment in his upcoming book, so this will compensate somewhat for the lack of other videos.

Now i'm sure that dozens of schoolkids will have hours of footage from our presentations but it is impossible to obtain them!

And to remain on topic, it is quite hard to go into open order once the ranks have closed, with the follow the leader method. It is a nightmare to have one file about face between two unmoved files, and even worse to walk backwards. 
The phalanx is a very organic thing, it can shift shape very quickly if individual men move fast to avoid an obstackle and take their position again, without disrupting the general cohesion. Having a few men move few steps backwards to acomodate one man to their front doesn't sound too bad, especially since the front rankers remain virtually unmoved. 
But all this becomes too technical when you dercribe it, and besides we know it was used at some time, but men who formed formations very similar to that of the classical hoplites.
And one or two sources we in fact classical, not even hellenistic i think.


Khaire
Giannis

Paul, it seems we were writing at the same time! Nice figures!

On the early sources of Arrian, the earlierst mentioned is Pyrrhus of Epirus and his son Alexander. He also mentions Klearchus, not the one who lead the ten thousand but another, unspecified who.
Other source is Eupolemus, who must be the Macedonian general who led Cassander's forces, so he's 4th century bc, and the rest are probably later.
However later on Arrian specifies that of the infantry there are three types of soldiers, first of which are the hoplites (not phalangites), and their weapons are the shield (not pelte,who spevifies is lighter and smaller than the aspis) and the spear,like the greeks, or Sarissa like the Macedonians.
In other words, Arrian doesn't distinguish between the hoplites and phalangites, and he believes that according to his sources the same maneuvers were used by both greek and macedonian phalanxes.

I'm sure you are aware of all this, but when we say that there are not drill manuals for the greek hoplites, this is only half true, because neither Arrian nor Asklepiodotus really distinguish between macedonian and greek style phalanxes for their work. In contrast they specify that their manuals are written for both. And their earlier sources are 4th and 3rd centuries bc, a time when the classical type hoplite was still a major presence on the battlefields!

EDIT: Xenophon too uses technical terminology about the formations in Cyropaedia, which are explained in Asklepiodotus and Arrian, although Xenophon is not listed among their sources, since he didn't write a manual. But it is to say that the terminology was very precise and very old, is Xenophon uses it for his general audience in the 4th century

Khaire
Giannis
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
[Image: -side-1.gif]
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#11
I have video of doubling, charging, different overlap styles, and the othismos tests. Some mine, some others have sent.
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#12
....And Greetings to Paul B. as well ! Smile

I had noticed over the years that your interest in ancient warfare seemed to have waned somewhat, which I assumed was due to pressures of time due work, family etc - even your blog was not so active - so it is good to hear that you have found time to collaborate with Fred Ray on a forthcoming book!

Giannis wrote:
Quote:I'm sure you are aware of all this, but when we say that there are not drill manuals for the greek hoplites, this is only half true, because neither Arrian nor Asklepiodotus really distinguish between macedonian and greek style phalanxes for their work. In contrast they specify that their manuals are written for both. And their earlier sources are 4th and 3rd centuries bc, a time when the classical type hoplite was still a major presence on the battlefields!



The three versions of the "Hellenistic Manuals" that have come down to us (Arrian, Aelian and Asclepiodotus) are believed to be derived from that of Poseidonius (floreat circa 100 BC), and perhaps go back ultimately to Polybius (floreat 150 BC - late second century). They were certainly written with contemporary Macedonian - type phalanxes in mind, but since the process of phalanx drill was evolutionary they could be said to cover classical hoplites as well. We must be careful however for some of the manoeuvres described are complex and certainly theoretical, and never happened on a battlefield, as can be seen from comparisons with historical accounts. It is probably best to stick with the contemporary Xenophon for 'Classical Hoplite' practise, rather than speculate how much of the Hellenistic manuals may relate to earlier times.
As to reforming in 'open order' from 'close order', it is certainly more difficult than 'closing up', but that it was done is certain for both Arrian [32] and Aelian [42] provide verbal commands for this.....



The classical 'Hoplite' seems to have disappeared in Greece from the second quarter of the third century onward, for example Thebes adopted the Celtic 'long shield'/thureos not long after the Galatian invasion of 279 BC, which in turn gave way to their phalanx being armed 'in the Macedonian fashion' circa 245 BC. Other Greek states will have followed suit, even the conservatively minded Spartans fielding a phalanx 'armed in the Macedonian fashion' by the 220's BC.

(08-22-2016, 12:22 AM)Paul Bardunias Wrote: I have video of doubling, charging, different overlap styles, and the othismos tests. Some mine, some others have sent.

Have you put these up anywhere ( e.g. YouTube) ?
"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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#13
Nice to see some of the famous posters from yesterdays posting again.
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#14
For the sake of completeness here is yet another of my old diagrams, again based on Xenophon, showing how a Spartan army of six 'Morai'/regiments deployed from the march, in column of threes, into phalanx. Note that the column is some 3,000 yards/2 miles/2,743 metres aprox long. This could be shortened by having two or more columns marching side by side in parallel. Deploying from a single column would take half an hour aprox, and the resulting phalanx would have a frontage of around 1300 yards, depending on age-classes called up. Phalanx was formed by by halting the leading 'enomotia'/platoon, called the 'Agema', and deploying successive 'enomotia' to their left, leaving the 'Agema' holding the 'place of honour' on the right flank.

The phalanx would then march on the enemy, halting to 'close up' at an appropriate distance, typically around a 'stade'/ 200 yds/180 metres or less, when a she-goat was sacrificed to Artemis Agrotera/Wild Artemis - [see e.g. Xenophon IV.2.20] before the assault/ attack was launched on the enemy, sometimes a charge at the run, but in the Spartan case a steady advance in step, with flutes playing to keep time.

digression: Justin Boyd referred to an 'intermediate' order in his post. There was no such thing according to our sources . It is one of Christopher Matthew's many inventions


Attached Files Thumbnail(s)
   
"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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#15
I'll be bringing the blog back once the book comes out. So much of the info I worked on for the blog is now in the book. Many of the things we used to conjecture about, I now have some real evidence for. As Giannis said, and you always believed, the "follow the leader" drills, like doubling and laconian counter marches are really easy. You would have to believe the Greeks to be rank incompetents to not be able to double by simply knowing the man when they stood behind. I, a Greek who is close to rank incompetent at military drill, did this with 10 min instruction.

I got verbal consent to use the tests we did an images from them for the book, but I did not for posting any of it online in another format. I did not know if there were official plans for use of the video, but I can surely post it along with explanation of what we did and why. I have great video of a charge of two ranks where I trip over my own sandal strap. Not sure if that will make it online ever, but it did show that the man behind me did not simply fall over me. In fact he just stopped and went around me.

How the hell did I end up a Tiro?  I seem to have been broken in the ranks.
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