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Ancient light troops in the field – The living history perspective

27/07/2014

Onasander (1) states that the phalanx should be set in open order with its files open if the light troops are to pass through the ranks of the heavy infantry. Most commands are based on Asclepiodotus

If you want your light troops to be stationed and skirmish in front of the phalanx then the command: ΠΡΟΤΑΞΙΣ- PROTAXIS should be issued (2)

Protaxis of peltasts. Courtesy Hetairoi

If you want your light troops to be stationed and support behind of the phalanx then the command: ΥΠΟΤΑΞΙΣ -YPOTAXIS should be issued should be issued (3)

If you want your light troops to be stationed and skirmish at the flank of the phalanx then the command: ΠΡΟΣΕΝΤΑΞΙΣ – PROSENTAXIS  should be issued (4)

If you want your light troops to be stationed and skirmish so that each light troopers pairs with a heavy trooper inside the phalanx then the command: ΠΑΡΕΝΤΑΞΙΣ – PARENTAXIS  should be issued (5)

NOTE! Onasander probably advices this only for archers, as the slingers and peltasts cannot operate effectively between the narrow space of the phalanx files. (6)

If you want to combine different types of light troops (i.e. archers and peltasts) then the command:ΠΑΡΕΜΒΟΛΗ should be issued 7

The hoplomachos commands «ΤΟΥΣ ΖΥΓΟΥΣ ΛΥΣΑΤΕ –TUS ZIGUS LISATE» to dismiss the troops.

Sources

1 Onasander “Strategikos” 19 Loeb Classical Library edition, 1928

2 Asclepiodotus “Taktika” 6.1.2 Loeb Classical Library edition, 1928

3 Asclepiodotus “Taktika” 6.1.3 Loeb Classical Library edition, 1928

4 Asclepiodotus “Taktika” 6.1.3 Loeb Classical Library edition, 1928

5 Asclepiodotus “Taktika” 6.1.4 Loeb Classical Library edition, 1928

6 Onasander “Strategikos” 17 Loeb Classical Library edition, 1928

7 Asclepiodotus “Taktika” 6.1.6 Loeb Classical Library edition, 1928

One Comment
  1. dimitriosgeorge permalink

    Interesting articles. Thank you.

    You might be interested in our 8 episode television documentary on the Greco-Persian Wars called *The First War for the West *in which approx. 400 warriors took part in the most comprehensive depiction of ancient warfare ever filmed (short of actually killing each other!). You can watch the free 22 minute ‘making of’ featurette in which the ancient warfare expert describes how they choreographed the extensive battle scenes.

    Kind regards, James

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