The reconstruction of the battle is based on Polybius account from Histories,book 18 , 24-27. Raised in ancient Greece, Polybius fought in Hellenic battles before being sent to Rome as a hostage, though he was given great freedoms during his stay. One army (which was smaller!) Cole’s work spans a time period from approximately the 3rd through the 2nd century BC battlefields with a discipline focus. The author has quite a few thoughtful insights into the nature of classical warfare. This book is exactly what I expected when I picked it up, a fun opportunity to geek out about to technical aspects of ancient warfare, in this case the relative merits of the Macedonian Phalanx vs the Roman Legion. The tight formation with the average phalangites taking up a frontage of three feet meant that, theoretically, the average soldier, who needed twice the frontage to operate with sword or spear, faced a total of ten spear points. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Built to sustain a Legion, it was far too large to be garrisoned by a mere Chapter of Space Marines. One player takes the role of Pyrrhus and his Greek, Siracusan, and Tarentine forces, while the other controls Rome and her allies. Legion Versus Phalanx: The Epic Struggle for Infantry Supremacy in the Ancient World, by Myke Cole, Osprey Publishing, Oxford, U.K., 2018, $30. The expanding early Roman Republic found the Greek phalanx formation too Armed with spears or pikes, standing shoulder to shoulder with shields interlocking, the men of the phalanx presented an impenetrable wall of wood and metal to the enemy. From the time of Ancient Sumeria, the heavy infantry phalanx dominated the battlefield. Which would win a pitched battle—a phalanx or a legion? The two armies lined up, each splitting the cavalry on the wings and the Macedonian phalanx advanced. had half the troops missing for much of … The Macedonian phalanx took the concept of cohesive group warfare to another level with the sarissa armed phalangites and under Philip and Alexander, steamrolled every opponent in front of them. Each of the battles mention featured varying skill and experiences for the commanders and the armies in general. The battle is considered the main example of manipular roman legion superiority over the macedonian phalanx in terms of flexibility and combat maneuvering. Not purely a defensive formation, the phalanx could advance forward with pikes churning through virtually any opponent with ease. Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms. Romans were fiercely brave, and it took quite a feat of bravery to be among the first to jump into an enemy formation bristling with spears to open up gaps for your fellow soldiers. By William McLaughlin for War History Online, Concentration Camp Guard Who Hid in US for 75 Years Will Be Deported. Meanwhile, the remaining Roman right wing advanced up the hill and met the rest of Philips army as they were arriving in bunches. Myke Cole uses six battles where the two fighting systems clashed, along with the history surrounding them, to discuss this. The pliability of the Roman maniple allowed them to fight in any size group from whole legion advances to the individual soldier, ready for any occasion on the battlefield with two javelins, a large shield, and an effective gladius. With three lines, one behind the other the Romans deployed in separate maniples with each line having a maniple-sized gap between units, with those gaps covered by the next line back creating a checkerboard formation. You need variety; missile and cavalry troops give you options. As the long phalanx line pushed forward, they began to break formation as some areas pushed forward more than others and the uneven ground began to break the formation. The battle is considered one of the best examples of manipular Roman legion superiority over the Macedonian phalanx in terms of flexibility and combat maneuvering. Phalanx vs Legion: Battle of Cynoscephalae. While Alexander’s empire grew and fragmented, The Romans were busy with their arduous task of conquering Italy. The organization from Homeric style hero warfare to tightly packed hoplite warfare was world changing. At Heraclea and Asculum the tried and true Macedonian phalanx faced the Roman maniple that had only been established 40-100 years before. Initially adopting a hoplite style phalanx due to influence from Southern Italian Hellenic colonies, the army eventually transformed into the flexible manipular legion. This last battle shows the small unit tactics for which the maniple was built towards but also shows how well the maniple fit the Romans as a people. Numerous educational institutions recommend us, including Oxford University and Michigan State University and University of Missouri. I'm often asked questions such as this: $4.5 million buys you a P51 Mustang & twenty, yes TWENTY Merlin engines! (2000-year-old spoiler alert: The legion wins) The question explored in this book is: Why. Both are brilliant commanders but Alexander never faced an equal commander, Caesar did, Vercingetorix or Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus to Name the most famous ones. This victory was mainly due to poorly commanded troops on Perseus's name (note, not Alexander hehe). USS Nevada Found Off Coast Of Pearl Harbour, Special Forces Jerry “Mad Dog” Shriver Packed as Many as Six Revolvers, Sawn off Shotgun & His Regular Machine Gun. https://www.ancient.eu/video/1830/. Initially adopting a hoplite style phalanx due to influence from Southern Italian Hellenic colonies, the army eventually transformed into the flexible manipular legion. The decisive battle happened on flat ground not too far from the site of Thermopylae. We have also been recommended for educational use by the following publications: Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization registered in Canada. As gaps grew, more, presumably fresh, men from the rear lines were fed through to completely infiltrate dozens of segments of the phalanx and the Macedonians soon broke. The armies of Rome and Philip’s phalanx army met at Cynoscephalae, with a large hill separating the two camps. Even a minimally equipped and trained phalanx was still a forward moving force to be reckoned with. The individual soldier of the phalanx was tied to the cohesion of his unit, but had the safety of multiple spearheads between the front row and the enemy. Some Rights Reserved (2009-2020) under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license unless otherwise noted. The Roman infantry met the phalanx and did not break, but were steadily forced back towards the broken ground behind them. The game covers the invasions of Southern Italy and Sicily by Pyrrhus, and his campaigns against Rome and Carthage. My negative thoughts on … At the battle of Beneventum a few years later the Romans finally prevailed, with help from Pyrrhus’ elephants which charged back into his own lines. In Rome I I'd make sure to field as much missile troops as I could to decimate the phalanx before they got to my infantry. The maniple was fluid, with each maniple led by centurions who were encouraged to take initiative and lead by example. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/video/1830/. True? The first combats were during Pyrrhus’ invasion of Italy in 280 BCE. The titanic struggle between Rome and Carthage had prevented the Roman's from pursuing a policy of all out war against the Greeks. “Legion vs.Phalanx: The Credibility of Polybius 18.28–32,” paper delivered at the 124th Annual The battles certainly showcase the manipular legion’s flexibility over the powerful but stiff Macedonian phalanx, but it would have been impossible with all the different variables to find a perfect battlefield matchup of the two formations. In small groups at first, the Romans dove into these narrow gaps in the lines and fought to widen them. Syntagma, . The individual Roman had more room to operate, with a large shield and effective sword allowing them to confidently engage and defend individually and as a group by locking shields. Problem is that phalanx is a formation, 'legion' is a unit..it's like comparing apples to elephants. In a straight up fight which would win, the legion or the phalanx? A policy of all out War against the Greeks and Roman military unit formations with a discipline focus Articles Member! Romans dove into these narrow gaps in the armies of Rome and Carthage phalanx dominated the battlefield rigid but... Steadily forced back towards the broken ground behind them in Canada back the Romans dove these. Against the Greeks happened on flat ground not too far from the historian Polybius ( s for. Broken ground behind them packed hoplite warfare was world changing website claims no authorship of this ;. 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