Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Phalanx warfare: Closing of the ranks
#76
I'm resuming this old (but really interesting and exhaustive) post. From what I've read in it, it seems there is a general consensus that a hoplite in close order would have occupied, more or less, 3 feet, while in open order the space would be 6 feet (wich is, by the way, the same spacing many primary sources attribute to roman soldiers as well) and that the measure of the synaspismos given by Aelian and Asklepiodotus, in wich men were arrayed in just 1.5 foot, must be seen as a prerogative of the later macedonian phalanx.

I would like to know if Xenophon, or some other author, gives us the exact space occupied by a man in close or open order in a hoplite phalanx, or if we can just speculate about that.

Thanks in advance.
Francesco Guidi
Reply
#77
(01-04-2019, 01:53 PM)Cesco Wrote: I'm resuming this old (but really interesting and exhaustive) post. From what I've read in it, it seems there is a general consensus that a hoplite in close order would have occupied, more or less, 3 feet, while in open order the space would be 6 feet (wich is, by the way, the same spacing many primary sources attribute to roman soldiers as well) and that the measure of the synaspismos given by Aelian and Asklepiodotus, in wich men were arrayed in just 1.5 foot, must be seen as a prerogative of the later macedonian phalanx.

I would like to know if Xenophon, or some other author, gives us the exact space occupied by a man in close or open order in a hoplite phalanx, or if we can just speculate about that.

Thanks in advance.

Sorry to take so long to reply, but I only pop in very irregularly!
The answer to your question is that Xenophon does indeed refer to close order distance for hoplites more than once: e.g."A History of my times (Hellenica)"VII.4.24

Describing a fight between a Spartan column in double file led by Prince Archidamus, attacking a line of Arcadians who were "in close order, shield to shield (suntetagmanoi)"
Shield-to-shield is also described as "sunaspismos" and with aspides being 85-95 cm in diameter, that means each man occupying a roughly 3 foot frontage.
Obviously, they did not use a measuring stick to form their order, hence the use of shields.

Note that "sunaspismos"/locked shields for a Macedonian pike phalanx was a little over a 'cubit', because the 66-75 cm diameter 'peltai' were held at a sloping angle, and the 'sarissaphoroi' stood side on.....
A Macedonian phalanx at 3 foot intervals/close order (or 2 cubits) was described as "pyknosis" and the natural or normal order of 4 cubits (6 feet/open order) had no special name, according to the Hellenistic manuals

"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
Reply
#78
It makes sense.
Some depictions on pottery seem to suggest a more thight formation, see for instance the Chigi vase, but that could be seen as a perspective attempt by the artist. In particular, we know from Diodorus Siculus (16.3.2) that Philip II made the phalanx πυκνότητα (thighter): so, it could be possible that the 1 cubit synaspismos hellenistic manuals refer to was a later macedonian innovation, while the synaspismos in the hoplite phalanx was a looser 2 cubit (or three feet) formation.
Francesco Guidi
Reply


Possibly Related Threads…
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  [split] Phalanx warfare: use of the spear JaM 247 63,655 12-03-2016, 02:39 PM
Last Post: Bryan

Forum Jump: