Jump to content

Ancient History


Kloster

Recommended Posts

...

True. The concept of a sword being used for both is something that postdates swords actually being used to any large extent on the battlefield. Actual swords are designed to do one or the other and are not balanced properly to do both. I don't allow the option in my RQ games. Big swords are slashing weapons, strictly, and short swords are thrusting weapons...though they can be used either way.

The kopi (greek shortsword) is a purely chopping weapon.

The roman gladius is as good for chopping (Macedonians were horrified by the wounds made at Cynocephales, where it was used mainly as a slashing weapon) as for thrusting (after Marius, the roman doctrina was to use thrust to cause bleeding wounds that will kill sooner or later).

Runequestement votre,

Kloster

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 51
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Just out of curiousity, what is your source for the statement that the gladius was used primarily as a slashing weapon at Cynocephales?

According to Polybus, in "General History of the roman Republic", about the battle of Cynoscephales (chapter 18 to 33), (I'm translating my french translation to english, so some words may be different to one direct latin to english text":

"Each roman legionnaire also uses only 3 feet of terrain; but to be able to both cover themselves with their shields and give cutting strike, they need some space to be given to them, having between them, wether on the side or front to back, at least 3 feet of free space if they want to be able to move freely."

So, the order of battle is made to allow cutting strikes.

After Marius, the rule is to use thrusting strikes to provoke bleeding wounds, but this is 100 years later (Cynoscephales is -197, marius is around -100).

Runequestement votre,

Kloster

Link to comment
Share on other sites

According to Polybus, in "General History of the roman Republic", about the battle of Cynoscephales (chapter 18 to 33), (I'm translating my french translation to english, so some words may be different to one direct latin to english text":

"Each roman legionnaire also uses only 3 feet of terrain; but to be able to both cover themselves with their shields and give cutting strike, they need some space to be given to them, having between them, wether on the side or front to back, at least 3 feet of free space if they want to be able to move freely."

So, the order of battle is made to allow cutting strikes.

After Marius, the rule is to use thrusting strikes to provoke bleeding wounds, but this is 100 years later (Cynoscephales is -197, marius is around -100).

Runequestement votre,

Kloster

Dayum... Thanks! Now I'm going to have to go dig out my copy of Polybius to see if thats the way it reads in an English translation! ;-)

SDLeary

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmmm... found the passage. Reads the same. This had never registered when I first read it.

Such is the arrangement, general and detailed of the phalanx. It remains now to compare with it the peculiarities and distinctive features of the Roman arms and tactics. Now, a Roman soldier in full armor also requires a space of three square feet. But as their method of fighting admits of individual motion for each man---because he defends his body with a shield, which he moves about to any point from which a blow is coming, and because he uses his sword both for cutting and stabbing---it is evident that each man must have a clear space, and an interval of at least three feet both on flank and rear if he is to do his duty with any effect. The result of this will be that each Roman soldier will face two of the front rank of a phalanx, so that he has to encounter and fight against ten spears, which one man cannot find time even to cut away, when once the two lines are engaged, nor force his way through easily---seeing that the Roman front ranks are not supported by the rear ranks, either by way of adding weight to their charge, or vigor to the use of their swords. Therefore, it may readily be understood that, as I said before, it is impossible to confront a charge of the phalanx, so long as it retains its proper formation and strength.

-Polybius, The Histories, Chapter 34

I wonder though if this was the case during the initial engagement, or after the charge and wall has broken apart.

Here is the link ( I couldn't find my own copy ):

Ancient History Sourcebook: Polybius: The Roman Maniple vs. The Macedonian Phalanx

SDLeary

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The passage doesn't mean that the gladius was necessarily used as a cutting weapon in the battle though, just that it was spaced out far apart so it could be. The open space formation was typical against the phalanx because of it's superior mobility. It was easy for the Legion to wrap around a flank. The Phalanx's big weakness was it's inability to maneuver quickly.

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...

I wonder though if this was the case during the initial engagement, or after the charge and wall has broken apart.

Here is the link ( I couldn't find my own copy ):

Ancient History Sourcebook: Polybius: The Roman Maniple vs. The Macedonian Phalanx

SDLeary

As this is a group of chapter that compares the different merits of the phalanx and the maniple, and that the phalanx is clearly described as having a better push and a stronger organization, each legionnaire having to face 10 sarissa, and although that the roman organization proved better, I presume this is about the main battle. This is an educated guess, of course, furthered by the fact that the roman commanders deliberately choosed to oppose maniples to the phalanx led by Philippe.

I can't imagine the roman tacticians choosing voluntarily an organization that has a clear disadvantage but allows something without using it.

Runequestement votre,

Kloster

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The passage doesn't mean that the gladius was necessarily used as a cutting weapon in the battle though, just that it was spaced out far apart so it could be. The open space formation was typical against the phalanx because of it's superior mobility. It was easy for the Legion to wrap around a flank. The Phalanx's big weakness was it's inability to maneuver quickly.

Yes, true, but in this case, why does Polybius states that those 3 feet are needed to maneuver the shield and the sword.

And the maniples were used even where the phalanx was organized and on flat terrain. This was a choice.

But I nevertheless agree, it does not NECESSARILY means it was used as a cutting weapon.

Runequestement votre,

Kloster

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think they might not have if the pilums had not begun the process of breaking up the phalanx pretty good. I wonder how the battle would have turned out if Alexander or his father had been in command, as I have read somewhere that Philip V did not have nearly as good a grasp of tactics and strategy, although his army was very similar in structure and organization to the army Alexander led into Persia...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've read that the battle is not considered a good example of legion vs. phalanx combat because of how poorly managed the phalanx was, so Badcat may be onto something. Some soruces I've read claim that the main failing wasing with the Phalanx per say, but with the lack of Calvary.

Then again, this was a pre-Marius Legion, too.

As for the "cutting distance" maneuvering room, there were several reasons for the Romans to spread out like that. Cutting is one option, but Polybius considered the weapon a cut & thrust weapon, so thrusting wounds were probably just as common at the battle. Another reason for the spread out formation has to do with a particularly nasty tactic the Romans used against Phalanxes- the front rank to lock weapons and shields, and the second rank to dart in and wreak havoc on the Phalanx, who couldn't move their weapons. I suspect the cuts inflicted at the battle including a lot of hamstringing.

Overall, I think the reason was that it allowed them the ability to excercise all these options, plus more.

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree that the english text shown is different from the french one I've found.

I've also found an article about Livy describing the shock of the macedonians seeing the mutilated corpses of their comrades, but as I can't find the original article, it does not count (yet).

Runequestement votre,

Kloster

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Found it:

"Philip's men had been accustomed to fighting with Greeks and Illyrians and had only seen wounds inflicted by javelins and arrows and in rare instances by lances. But when they saw bodies dismembered with the Spanish sword [gladius hispaniensis], arms cut off from the shoulder, heads struck off from the trunk, bowels exposed and other horrible wounds, they recognised the style of weapon and the kind of man against whom they had to fight, and a shudder of horror ran through the ranks." [Livy 31.34].

I knew I had it. I focused on Polybius, and it was Livy. For me, clearly, it is wounds caused by slashing, and not thrusting strikes.

Runequestement votre,

Kloster

Link to comment
Share on other sites

History is written by the victors, and they don't often agree with each other.

I think the story you get depends on which historian you are reading, as well as which translation of his account.

When I was in High School, I was sick and missed ssome classes (I was sick a lot). When I got back, I had to catch up, and needed to cover the material in my history class. Fortunately for me, my study peroid was goverened by the head of the histroy department who was more than happy to bring me up to speed, as inqusitive stundents interested in the subject matter were rare. Then I went to my class and got the worst grade ever in that class.

My history teach held to a different intpretation of the events covered. When I asked why I did so bad, it ended up turning into a argument between the two teachers over which interpretation was correct.

Good news was that the teacher upped my grade as I had impressed him with my effort to make up the work, he just didn't care for my source (:eek:), but agreed that my reasoning for using it was sound.

So, unless you were there, it all depends on what version you are reading.

I've read and seen some stuff recently that claims that the early Roman emperors weren't quite the crazed lunatics that they have been accused on being, pointing out that the accusations of excess came from political rivals, with their own agenda.

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think they might not have if the pilums had not begun the process of breaking up the phalanx pretty good. I wonder how the battle would have turned out if Alexander or his father had been in command, as I have read somewhere that Philip V did not have nearly as good a grasp of tactics and strategy, although his army was very similar in structure and organization to the army Alexander led into Persia...

If I remember (Again Polybius), the gladius hispaniensis was a new weapon introduced during the 2nd punic war to replace the greek sword (kopi or hoplite sword?) and the pilum has not yet been introduced, although it was used at Pydna.

Runequestement votre,

Kloster

Link to comment
Share on other sites

History is written by the victors, and they don't often agree with each other.

I think the story you get depends on which historian you are reading, as well as which translation of his account.

...

I completely agree here.

..

When I was in High School, I was sick and missed ssome classes (I was sick a lot). When I got back, I had to catch up, and needed to cover the material in my history class. Fortunately for me, my study peroid was goverened by the head of the histroy department who was more than happy to bring me up to speed, as inqusitive stundents interested in the subject matter were rare. Then I went to my class and got the worst grade ever in that class.

My history teach held to a different intpretation of the events covered. When I asked why I did so bad, it ended up turning into a argument between the two teachers over which interpretation was correct.

Good news was that the teacher upped my grade as I had impressed him with my effort to make up the work, he just didn't care for my source (:eek:), but agreed that my reasoning for using it was sound.

So, unless you were there, it all depends on what version you are reading.

...

You're lucky to have learned that from school, even if the conditions were not so lucky. I had to learn that the hard way, by myself, and against most of my history teachers.

Runequestement votre,

Kloster

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey, Kloster, sounds familiar. My ancient history professor in college AVOIDED military aspects like the plague. What I know I had to dig up on my own...I might as well have saved my money for the bookstore, instead of wasting it on tuition, to some extent.:ohwell:

I didn't had the monetary problem, because here in France, schooling is mostly free, but, although I had 2 fantastic history teachers, the others were oscillating from awful to very bad.

The worst one tried to explain 1st world war through official comunications.

I showed her "Paths of Glory" from Kubrick, as another point of view (even If I know it is a romance), and got a 0 (on 20) when I gave her the number of airplanes engaged in France (over 5000 for France, as much for Germany, several thousands for US and England) as she told us that some planes were used for spying and observations. The names of Guynemer, Rickenbacker or Von Richthoffen were unknown to her. That episode teached me the lesson to never, ever, contradict a teacher.

Runequestement votre,

Kloster

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Found it:

"Philip's men had been accustomed to fighting with Greeks and Illyrians and had only seen wounds inflicted by javelins and arrows and in rare instances by lances. But when they saw bodies dismembered with the Spanish sword [gladius hispaniensis], arms cut off from the shoulder, heads struck off from the trunk, bowels exposed and other horrible wounds, they recognised the style of weapon and the kind of man against whom they had to fight, and a shudder of horror ran through the ranks." [Livy 31.34].

I knew I had it. I focused on Polybius, and it was Livy. For me, clearly, it is wounds caused by slashing, and not thrusting strikes.

Runequestement votre,

Kloster

Except for the bowels exposed bit. That could be thrusting strikes. IMO probably a mix was used. If someone is open to a slash, you slash, if they are open to a thrust you thrust.

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You're lucky to have learned that from school, even if the conditions were not so lucky. I had to learn that the hard way, by myself, and against most of my history teachers.

I double lucky then, as I learned that in school twice. Our History teach got sick, and we had a replacement. When he came back, he was so upset by the classes answers to certain questions on the test that he basically went back and retaught us all the answers that he wanted to hear.

In a nutshell he was a big Alexander Hamilton fan, she wasn't and we were taught two different views on the Hamilton-Burr duel.

From what I hear the Japanese history classes gloss over Manchuku, the rape of Nanking and other stuff that doesn"t show their ancestors in the best light.

I think that a lot of the political tensions in the world are due to just how much people's "facts" have been selected for them by the schools they went to.

Most people in the US are never told that the majority of Americans were against breaking away from Britain during the colonial era, and just how big a factor money played a part in it.

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Few points.

First the Army of Philip V was unlike that of Alexander lacked good Cavalry. The Romans had a low opinion of Macedonian Horsemen. Alexander, companions on the other hand where perhaps the best shock cavalry of their era.

And as far as the difference a good general makes, well the best example of that would be Hannibal. Be for Hannibal the mercenaries that made up the Carthaginian army where not very good and the Greeks and Romans never had too hard a time defeating them in the field even when the army of Carthage was much larger. But under Hannibal the same Gauls, Spanish and African suddenly became an army to fear.

And as far as the victors writing history. I think the history I was taught about WWI was a perfect example. In class I was taught the Germans alone where responsible and attacked the rest of the world just to be mean. Reading on my own I feel it was more of a brawl that everyone want to start and everyone was just looking for an excuse to start a fight with no innocents around, at least among the big powers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Few points.

...

And as far as the victors writing history. I think the history I was taught about WWI was a perfect example. In class I was taught the Germans alone where responsible and attacked the rest of the world just to be mean. Reading on my own I feel it was more of a brawl that everyone want to start and everyone was just looking for an excuse to start a fight with no innocents around, at least among the big powers.

Same experience for me.

Runequestement votre,

Kloster

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ehem...

What is the Hamilton-Burr duel?

Runequestement votre,

Kloster

It is American history. Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr were rivals and fought a duel with pistols in 1804. Burr was mortally wounded and died the next day from his wound. Burr was the Vice President at the time and Hamilton was the Secretary of the Treasury. Hamilton later became one of American's greatest presidents.

Burr-Hamilton duel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

BRP Ze 32/420

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is American history. Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr were rivals and fought a duel with pistols in 1804. Burr was mortally wounded and died the next day from his wound. Burr was the Vice President at the time and Hamilton was the Secretary of the Treasury. Hamilton later became one of American's greatest presidents.

Burr-Hamilton duel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ah drohem,

I think you got stuck in the wrong universe!

In this universe, Hamiltion was mortally wounded and died, not Burr. Hamilton never became President of the United States. He did become the poster child for the $20 bill, due to his role in starting the Federal Treasury.

A quick gloss over of the details for Kloster,

Arron Burr was would could probably be best described as an opportunist. He and Hamilton had a long running disagreement. It got so bad that Hamilton started to insult Burr and his reputation, go so far as to put some strong slurs into print. Now, while Burr had his bad points, he took his honor very seriously, and believed strongly that gentlemen should behave as such.

Burr actually went out of his way to try and smooth things over with Hamilton, giving him the benefit of the doubt, and giving him several chances to retract the statement or apologize. But Hamilton wouldn't, and so Burr challenged him to a duel. Dueling was still the way gentlemen setting things, and Hamilton had to accept or else he could have kissed his political aspirations goodbye.

The major point of contention between my two teachers at High School was over just what happened and who was to blame. You see as dueling was illegal (but popular), in order to protect all those involved, elaborate arrangements were made to give all involved a way to plead ignorance of the events and so avoid prosecution. One such step was that the seconds had turned away from the duel so they could honestly claim under oath to have not seen a duel. This led to each second giving a different account, and my teachers didn't agree on whose account is the more accurate one.

One teacher blames Hamilton, stating that Burr gave the man every chance to save face but that Hamilton was determined to ruin Burrs reputation, forcing the duel. At the duel Burr was the better shot, or got lucky.

THe other teacher didn't care for Burr, and believes that Hamilton couldn't have backed down without losing face, and that Burr took advantage of what was really only supposed to be a formality. You see one common practice was for the duelists to fire into the air. Both would be considered to have proven their valor, defended their honor, and the matter (hopefully) settled. The teacher believes that Hamilton fired into the air quickly, but Burr, upon realizing that his opponent was now defenseless, held his shot, took careful aim, and fired...right into Hamilton.

I remeber the duel partly becuase of the conflict between the teachers (a rarity) AND because our teacher was really into it and reenacted the scene in the classroom, pacing across the floor and turning to fire. It was a helluva lot more interesting than "Arron Burr mortally wounds Alexander Hamilton in a duel on July 11th, 1804. Hamilton dies the next day."

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...