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Bill Thayer

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Chapter 3

This webpage reproduces a chapter of the


(Loeb Classical Library edition, 1928)

The text is in the public domain.

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Chapter 5
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 p267  IV. Intervals

Asclep. iv.1 = Ael. XI.1‑41 Now that the parts of the army have been brought into due relation with the entire force, we may well speak of the intervals in both length and depth. The needs of warfare have brought forth three systems of intervals: the most open order, in which the men are spaced both in length and depth four cubits apart,19 the most compact, in which with locked shields each man is a cubit distant on all sides from his comrades, and the intermediate, also  p269 called a 'compact formation,' in which they are distant two cubits from one another on all sides.20

Asclep. iv.2 = Ael. XI.1‑42 As occasion demands a change is made from one of these intervals to one of the others, and this, either in length only, which, as we have noted before, is called forming by rank,21 or in depth, i.e., forming by file, or in both rank and file, which last is called 'by comrade-in‑rank' and 'by rear‑rank-man.'

Asclep. iv.3 = Ael. XI.53 The interval of four cubits seems to be the natural one and has, therefore, no special name; the one of two cubits and especially that of one cubit are forced formations. I have stated22 that of these two spacings the one of two cubits is called 'compact spacing' and the one of a single cubit 'with locked shields.' The former is used when we are marching the phalanx upon the enemy, the latter when the enemy is marching upon us.

Asclep. iv.4 = Ael. XI.64 Now since the file-leaders, forming the front of the phalanx, number 1024, it is clear that, drawn up in the most open formation,23 they will cover 4096 cubits, which is 10 stades and 96 cubits; in the compact formation, 5 stades and 48 cubits; and with locked shield 2½ stades and 24 cubits.24  p271 It will be necessary, therefore, for you to select your terrain with all this in mind.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

19 The cubit may be taken as approximately eighteen inches.

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20 It must be borne in mind that one soldier is included in the interval, i.e., the distance is from right shoulder to right shoulder or from breast to breast. The interval of one cubit seems hardly enough, but it was used only in receiving a charge (cf. § 3 below) and is the interval of the Swiss pikemen of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (cf. R. Schneider, Legion und Phalanx, 70).

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21 The reference is to ii.6.

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22 Cf. § 1, above.

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23 Τάττω ('draw up') is used here without qualifying phrase, since the formation has no special name (cf. § 3 above).

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24 That is, the phalanx of 16,384, drawn up 16 deep, would occupy 2048 yards, 1024 yards, and 512 yards respectively.

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Page updated: 28 Nov 12