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William P




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PostPosted: Fri 19 Dec, 2014 4:55 am    Post subject: the use of hoplites in hellenistic warfare/ city states???         Reply with quote

the question is asked partly by the title

my qurstion is mostly spurred by the recent total war game by creative assembly (which is centred around the punic wars and begins its campaign in 270BC)

the question being, how prevelant were hoplites, aka aspis and spear wielding spearmen, used in the hellenistic period , by around the time as the punic wars, in addition to that, were hoplite, -like/ inspired, armies stilll being used by, say, the carthaginians? i know that the italians obviously abandoned hoplite style warfare by the punic wars, ad were instead using the maniple system..

as it is in game, massalia, athens, pergamon, sparta (wernt they pretty much neutered after luectra ?) and to a lesser extent epirus, as well as every other hellenic style faction, playable or not, will feature aspis and dory wielding, hoplites,athens, syracuse, etc feature almost purely hoplite armies, with phalangites and such taking a backseat...

unless i am sorely mistaken, even if athens and sparta and epirus could somehow been seen as seperate entities


would i be right i thinking that their army roster would be, pretty much indistinguishable from the macedonian style of combat, their levies, once being hoplites, now being trained to fight in the macedonian style as phalangites?

or was there perhaps even a resurgance in the greek city states of fighting in the hoplite style at the hellenistic period dragged on and the successor kingdoms started to fracture after the constant civil wars?
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William P




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PostPosted: Fri 19 Dec, 2014 6:10 am    Post subject: Re: the use of hoplites in hellenistic warfare/ city states?         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
the question is asked partly by the title

my qurstion is mostly spurred by the recent total war game by creative assembly (which is centred around the punic wars and begins its campaign in 270BC)

the question being, how prevelant were hoplites, aka aspis and spear wielding spearmen, used in the hellenistic period , by around the time as the punic wars, in addition to that, were hoplite, -like/ inspired, armies stilll being used by, say, the carthaginians? i know that the italians obviously abandoned hoplite style warfare by the punic wars, ad were instead using the maniple system..

as it is in game, massalia, athens, pergamon, sparta (wernt they pretty much neutered after luectra ?) and to a lesser extent epirus, as well as every other hellenic style faction, playable or not, will feature aspis and dory wielding, hoplites,athens, syracuse, etc feature almost purely hoplite armies, with phalangites and such taking a backseat...

unless i am sorely mistaken, even if athens and sparta and epirus could somehow been seen as seperate entities


would i be right i thinking that their army roster would be, pretty much indistinguishable from the macedonian style of combat, their levies, once being hoplites, now being trained to fight in the macedonian style as phalangites?

or was there perhaps even a resurgance in the greek city states of fighting in the hoplite style at the hellenistic period dragged on and the successor kingdoms started to fracture after the constant civil wars?


sorry, i should add that, most of said factions make use of theurophoroi, either sword based or spear based.

http://www.honga.net/totalwar/rome2/faction.php?f=rom_athens to give an idea of the 'athenian' faction roster

and the epirus roster http://www.honga.net/totalwar/rome2/unit.php?...rom_epirus

http://www.honga.net/totalwar/rome2/unit.php?...om_macedon and macedon
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Fri 19 Dec, 2014 12:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just to complicate matters, "hoplite" means an armed man, and was apparently used at times to describe what we would call a phalangite. That's probably contributing to the debate.

BUT it does seem that the old-style hoplite armed with aspis and spear never entirely went away. And no reason he should, given that many troops were spear-armed thureophoroi, or "peltasts" that had no real resemblence to the old-fashioned Thracian javelin-chuckers.

On the other hand, during the Roman invasion of Greece in the second century BC, at least some local levies were indeed pike-armed phalangites, so it seems safe to assume that individual cities such as Athens were fielding such troops on a normal basis.

Carthage is even more tangled. Connolly and Warry follow the idea of the native Carthaginian troops being strictly Hellenistic pikemen. But apparently the main description on which this is based (from Cannae?) is a little more ambiguous and could be interpreted as something much more Roman-looking, basically thureophoroi with javelins. There was some kind of essay online about that, a few years back, probably long gone. And I probably didn't save it, but I can dig around and see. Bottom line, the idea of Carthaginian pikemen is far from certain. Of course, most of Hannibal's army was Celtic, in any case.

Dunno if this old discussion will help:

http://www.romanarmytalk.com/25-allies-a-enemies-of-rome/143071

It shames me to admit it, but I'm having trouble remembering my early Roman history. *Were* there any Greek city-states in Italy at Hannibal's time that were NOT official Roman allies? I know there were some that deserted the Roman side--I don't *think* there were any that were still completely independent but I honestly don't recall. In any case, cities like those might still retain more Greek or Hellenistic vestiges than the Roman and allied armies did. Aspis shields and images of them are common features of Italian tombs, but those may all be earlier than the late 3rd century BC.

Hopefully that muddies the water some, ha!

Matthew
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Shahril Dzulkifli




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PostPosted: Fri 19 Dec, 2014 5:12 pm    Post subject: The use of hoplites in Hellenistic warfare/ city states???         Reply with quote

I thought this topic is on the use of hoplites in real battles during the Hellenistic period before realizing that this is about the video game Total War: Rome II. Anyway, you guys can continue with your discussions and I apologize for the interruption. Wink

“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength”

- Marcus Aurelius
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Fri 19 Dec, 2014 7:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Razz Silly man! I was trying to ignore the gaming references and be all historical-wise! But now I'm going to go play Assault Cube for a while. With grenades.

Matthew
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William P




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PostPosted: Sat 20 Dec, 2014 3:48 am    Post subject: Re: The use of hoplites in Hellenistic warfare/ city states?         Reply with quote

Shahril Dzulkifli wrote:
I thought this topic is on the use of hoplites in real battles during the Hellenistic period before realizing that this is about the video game Total War: Rome II. Anyway, you guys can continue with your discussions and I apologize for the interruption. Wink


well the purpose of the topic WAS to try and determine if and when old style hoplites were used in the hellenistic period

It just so happens that the question comes up to determine fact from fiction based on whats shown in game.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 20 Dec, 2014 4:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I thought that the Macedonian hypaspists were equipped as old-style hoplites and fought as hoplites.
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Sat 20 Dec, 2014 7:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
I thought that the Macedonian hypaspists were equipped as old-style hoplites and fought as hoplites.


That's the general interpretation, I just don't know what it's based on. It just means "shield bearers", but then sarissa-armed phalangites can also be called "peltasts" because they carry small shields! I'm pretty sure there are clear depictions of hoplite-style spearmen in combat, with the old aspis--maybe there is a concrete description of what the hypaspist carried, or maybe the idea is, "Well, what else can it be?"

Sorry, my research is still stuck on sword hilt construction!

Matthew
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sat 20 Dec, 2014 8:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We . . . don't know for sure.

That might sound trite coming from me, but it's true. This thread made me read Polybius for the nth time (still haven't managed to read his histories from start to finish, but I think I've read his comparison between the Macedonian phalanx and the Roman legions repeatedly) and confirm that he uses "hoplites" for the phalangites and "thyreophoroi" for the legionaries. So when he mentioned "hoplites" repeatedly in his account of the battle of Sellasia (mentioned in some wargames as the last battle that saw the appearance of Classical hoplites with aspis and spear), there's really no way to tell whether he really meant hoplites in the classical style or Macedonian-style phalangites (although Occam's razor favours the latter).

Epirus having so many old-style hoplites is definitely a little odd, since the battles between Rome and Pyrrhus are traditionally cited as some of the main examples of interactions between Roman legions and the Macedonian-style phalanx.

And no, Lacedaemon/Sparta wasn't entirely knocked out after Leuctra. It lost a great deal of prestige, but it was still a significant power at the local level. It had a brief resurgence under Cleomenes in the 220s (BC) until the defeat at Sellasia and the fall of Lacedaemon itself to the Antigonid Macedonians. Afterwards it was ruled by a series of petty tyrants, including Nabis who ran afoul of Rome a couple of decades later. It's worth noting that Plutarch said Cleomenes changed the way Spartans fought by replacing their arms and teaching them to fight with the sarissa, but we don't know how true it is since I don't think we have any corroboration of this from earlier sources written closer to the time of Cleomenes' life.

And that's enough rambling for one night, I guess....
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Sat 20 Dec, 2014 9:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great stuff, Lafayette, thanks!

Matthew
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William P




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PostPosted: Sat 20 Dec, 2014 3:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

the other thing that i was unsure about is the nature and political affiliation of the greek city states around that 270bc mark,

and also the status of sparta, my assumption is that sparta lost it's ability to creat it's famous fighters when a large chunck of the spartan soldiers were destrroyed at luectra. did they keep supplying troops to the macedonians anmyway?
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Sat 20 Dec, 2014 7:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
and also the status of sparta, my assumption is that sparta lost it's ability to creat it's famous fighters when a large chunck of the spartan soldiers were destrroyed at luectra. did they keep supplying troops to the macedonians anmyway?


Sure. I think even before Leuktra they were fielding perioikoi and even helots armed as hoplites. It had certainly been a while since a "Spartan" army was mostly full Spartan citizens.

Matthew
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Michael G.





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PostPosted: Sun 21 Dec, 2014 5:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Re: Macedonian hypaspists as being armed as hoplites, I've heard many arguments about why they "must have been" armed this way, but no real evidence for it. Arguments in favor include that they were supposed to be a more mobile hinge between the sarissa phalanx and the companion cavalry (are hoplites really that much more quick and maneuverable than sarissa-armed troops?), that they covered the vulnerable flank of the phalanx (apparently the left flank didn't need such protection), and that they were used in siege assaults and in rough terrain (I would think that the heavy hoplite shield could be a disadvantage in these situations). I don't really see any reason why the hypaspists would need to be armed that differently from the phalanx, except maybe using javelins or other lighter spears for certain missions, which the rest of the pezhetairoi may have done as well (unless they just sat out sieges and the like).

Some have argued that the infantry depicted on the Alexander Sarcophagus were hypaspists, but I don't see how this is necessary. They are certainly carrying hoplite-style shields (as are some of the Persians), but it could be members of some other unit (more on this presently) or just that the Greek sculptor(s) were more used to the hoplite shield.

There is also the issue of several unit names that have (to me) slightly unclear roles and degrees of overlap. There are the hypaspists, the royal hypaspists, and the somatophylakes. Some have argued that the hypaspists and royal hypaspists are one and the same, some have argued that the royal hypaspists and somatophylakes are one and the same, and some believe them all to be separate units. In any case, it seems possible that there was a small "core" guard unit that actually defended Alexander, and these could have been armed in hoplite fashion, rather than with the sarissa. These could be the men depicted on the sarcophagus. Arrian gives two versions of the murder of Cleitus, in one Alexander takes a longche from a somatophylax ("bodyguard") and in the other he takes a sarissa from a phylax ("guard"). This brings up the question of if either the bodyguard or the plain guard are hypaspists. Some see the phylax as synonymous with the hypaspists and use this as evidence for their use of the sarissa.

Moving on to the Spartan army under Cleomenes III, I see no reason to doubt Plutarch's claim that this king rearmed the Spartans in Macedonian fashion. The passage is oddly full of detail--he taught them to use the sarissa with two hands instead of the spear ("doratos"), and to carry their shield by the strap("ochanis") rather than with the porpax. It would seem strange to me for Plutarch to put in this amount of specificity about the rearmament process unless he took the info from a source that he trusted. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary it seems safest to assume that Cleomenes did indeed rearm the Spartan citizens in the Macedonian style.

Regarding the shrinking Spartan citizen army, Plutarch ascribes this largely to the increasing concentration of land and wealth in the hands of a few Spartans, which led to the majority of the citizens being dropped out of full citizen status. Agis IV and Cleomenes III aimed to restore the citizen army by redistributing land, cancelling debts, and allowing perioikoi and foreigners to be enrolled as full citizens.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Sun 21 Dec, 2014 8:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks, Michael! That's also great stuff. Yeah, I kinda suspected that was the case with the hypaspist identification.

I will say that, having handled a sarissa, and (17th century) 12-foot pikes in formation, the old-fashioned hoplite kit does seem pretty maneuverable by comparison! Not that they were exactly *reknowned* for maneuverability--I agree that one would expect thureophoroi or skirmishers to be better in those roles.

History's mysteries!

Matthew
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William P




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PostPosted: Mon 22 Dec, 2014 4:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

so to sum up., my suspicions about the unit rosters of sparta, athens, massilia, syracuse and other 'greek' city states ( http://www.honga.net/totalwar/rome2/faction.php?f=rom_athens to give an idea of the 'athenian' faction roster ) being something more suited to the pelleponesion war, not the hellenistic period, and therefore being more or less completely anachronistic...

were pretty much dead on

(probably the developers going, theyre greeks, they need hoplites, and we need spartans because everyone loves the spartan hoplites)
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 22 Dec, 2014 10:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael G. wrote:
I don't really see any reason why the hypaspists would need to be armed that differently from the phalanx, except maybe using javelins or other lighter spears for certain missions, which the rest of the pezhetairoi may have done as well (unless they just sat out sieges and the like).


Yeah. I'm also a fan of the theory that the bog-standard phalangites were trained to perform multiple roles with various different armaments, too, and the hypaspists probably differed from them only in being even better at it.


Quote:
Moving on to the Spartan army under Cleomenes III, I see no reason to doubt Plutarch's claim that this king rearmed the Spartans in Macedonian fashion. The passage is oddly full of detail--he taught them to use the sarissa with two hands instead of the spear ("doratos"), and to carry their shield by the strap("ochanis") rather than with the porpax. It would seem strange to me for Plutarch to put in this amount of specificity about the rearmament process unless he took the info from a source that he trusted. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary it seems safest to assume that Cleomenes did indeed rearm the Spartan citizens in the Macedonian style.


My beef with Plutarch isn't about the rearmament of the Lacedaemonian hoplites in Macedonian style, but about the ascription of the change entirely to Cleomenes. The Lacedaemonians weren't militarily idle between Leuctra and Cleomenes' days; they were part of several important military alliances, and they obviously came into frequent contact with the "Macedonian" style of warfare practiced by both their allies and their enemies. So it's a little hard to believe that the Lacedaemonians weren't already experimenting with the "Macedonian" phalanx before Cleomenes. If anything, I find it more likely that he just put an official stamp upon changes that had already begun to take place before his reign and/or extended those changes to the whole army rather than just a part of it.
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Michael G.





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PostPosted: Tue 23 Dec, 2014 1:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:

Yeah. I'm also a fan of the theory that the bog-standard phalangites were trained to perform multiple roles with various different armaments, too, and the hypaspists probably differed from them only in being even better at it.

Yes, the question of whether the mass of sarissa-armed infantry also used different weapons for situations where the sarissa was unwieldy is a tough one. It does seem a bit much to expect the general levy to be masters of pike formation drill, as well as javelin marksmen, and swordsmen depending on the situation. I do honestly wonder what they did in situations where the sarissa was not wanted or needed. Perhaps during sieges they fulfilled more defensive duties, while the more mobile troops were used for the actual assault. In a pinch, they still had their swords and shields in any case.

However, it doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility that a more elite unit like the hypaspists would have some cross training. Various famous personages in the army, including Alexander himself, seemed comfortable fighting as lancers on horseback one day, then picking up a shield and storming fortified cities on foot the next.

Quote:
My beef with Plutarch isn't about the rearmament of the Lacedaemonian hoplites in Macedonian style, but about the ascription of the change entirely to Cleomenes. The Lacedaemonians weren't militarily idle between Leuctra and Cleomenes' days; they were part of several important military alliances, and they obviously came into frequent contact with the "Macedonian" style of warfare practiced by both their allies and their enemies. So it's a little hard to believe that the Lacedaemonians weren't already experimenting with the "Macedonian" phalanx before Cleomenes. If anything, I find it more likely that he just put an official stamp upon changes that had already begun to take place before his reign and/or extended those changes to the whole army rather than just a part of it.


I see what you're saying. Yes, it seems possible that the process may have started earlier. On the other hand, other Greek states seemed slow to adopt the sarissa--the Boeotians around 240, the Achaeans around 208, others possibly never. Of course it's possible that our sources on the conversions of the Boeotians and Achaeans to the sarissa could be flawed as well. Indeed, Pausanius says that Philopoemon converted the Achaeans from the thureos and short spears to the long dory and Argive aspis, that is changing them from thureophoroi to hoplites! Plutarch, Polybius, and Polyaenus all have him instead converting them to sarissa. If the ancients couldn't agree on these things, why should we!

I still feel that, on balance the evidence points to the hypaspists using the sarissa, and the Spartans being rearmed under Cleomenes, but I will readily admit that this is more of a judgement call than a scientifically reasoned conclusion.

Back to the original question of this thread, in general most of the evidence I can think of points to a trend towards thureophoroi and macedonian-style infantry, while there is less evidence of hoplites as the Hellenistic period progressed. However, the evidence is far from exhaustive, so it's hard to know the breakdown of how soldiers were armed in different places at different times.

P.S. I was just looking at pictures of the propylon of the Athena temple of Pergamon (dated to around 180) which has one or two shields that look like hoplite shields mixed in with the various thureos and Macedonian shields. So there's that.
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