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Chapter 4

This webpage reproduces a chapter of the
Tactics

by
Asclepiodotus

(Loeb Classical Library edition, 1928)

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 6
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

Asclepiodotus
Tactics

p271 V. The Character and appropriate Size of Arms

Asclep. v.1‑2 = Ael. XII; XIV1 The best shield for use in the phalanx is the Macedonian, of bronze, eight palms25 in diameter, and not too concave; and their spear, moreover, is not shorter than ten cubits, so that the part which projects in front of the rank is to be no less than eight cubits — in no case, however, is it longer than twelve cubits, so as to project ten cubits. Now when the Macedonian phalanx used such a spear in a compact formation it appeared to the enemy irresistible. For it is obvious that the spears of the first five ranks project beyond the front, since the soldiers in the second rank, being two cubits back, extend their spears eight cubits beyond the front, those in the third rank six cubits, those in the fourth rank four cubits, those in the fifth rank two cubits, and so five spears extend beyond the first rank. 2 And the Macedonians, men say, with this line of spears do not merely terrify the enemy by their appearance, but also embolden every file-leader, p273protected as he is by the strength of five;26 while the men in the line behind the fifth, though they cannot extend their spears beyond the front of the phalanx, nevertheless bear forward with their bodies at all events and deprive their comrades in the front ranks of any hope of flight. But some, who wish to bring all the projecting spear-points to the same distance in front of the line, increase the length of the spears of the rear ranks.27


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

25 The 'palm' may be considered as approximately three inches.

[decorative delimiter]

26 This includes the file-leader himself.

[decorative delimiter]

27 Cf. Aelian XIV.7 and the Scholiast on the Iliad, Ν 130; but it is very doubtful if this was ever actually done.


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Page updated: 28 Nov 12