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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a chapter of the


(Loeb Classical Library edition, 1928)

The text is in the public domain.

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Chapter 2
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.


 p247  I. The different Branches of the Army​1

Asclep. i.1 = Ael. II.1‑31 Whereas the complete equipment for warfare is of two kinds, namely land and naval forces, we are now to speak of the land force. This, then, consists on the one hand of the fighting men, and on the other of those who serve their needs, as, for example, surgeons, baggage-carriers, and the like.

Of the fighting men, some are infantry, the others mounted; for some fight on foot, the others on their mounts.

Asclep. i.2 = Ael. II.7‑92 The infantry is divided into the corps of hoplites, the corps of targeteers, and the corps of so‑called light infantry (psiloi). Now the corps of hoplites, since it fights at close quarters, uses very heavy equipment — for the men are protected by shields of the largest size, cuirasses, and greaves — and long spears of the type which will here be called 'Macedonian.' The corps of the light infantry on the contrary uses the lightest equipment because it shoots from a distance, and is provided with neither greaves nor cuirasses, but with javelins and slings, and in general  p249 with these missiles which we call 'long-distance missiles.' The corps of the targeteers stands in a sense between these two, for the targe (pelte) is a kind of small, light shield, and their spears are much shorter than those of the hoplites.

Asclep. i.3 = Ael. II.11‑133 In the same way there are three branches of the mounted force: the first is cavalry, the second is furnished with chariots, and the third with elephants; but let the consideration of chariots and elephants, since they are not naturally well adapted for fighting purposes, be deferred to a later time, and we shall now discuss the cavalry, since it is much employed and upon many occasions more useful in battles. There are, then, three branches of the cavalry service: the first which fights at close quarters, the second which fights at a distance, and the third which is intermediate. Now the cavalry which fights at close quarters uses, similarly,​2 a very heavy equipment, fully protecting both horses and men with defensive armour, and employing, like the hoplites, long spears, for which reason this arm of the service is also called the spear-bearing and the lance-bearing cavalry, or even the shield-bearing cavalry, when it, sometimes, carries unusually long​3 shields for the purpose of protecting the mount as well as the rider. The branch which fights at long range is called both the archer-cavalry and the Scythian cavalry; and the intermediate variety, the skirmishers. These latter are posted on the flanks and do their fighting,  p251 some with bows and some with javelins, the former using the general equipment of the light cavalry, the others that of the heavy cavalry. Of the intermediate variety some, who in a narrower sense are called the light cavalry, after hurling their javelins fight at close quarters, but when they merely hurl their javelins from a distance, they are called Tarentine cavalry.4

Asclep. i.4 = Ael. III.34 These, then, are all the different military forces, each one of which is called a phalanx and includes divisions of a suitable size and officers sufficient in number to put orders into effect easily, both in daily exercises and in service upon the march, in camp, in battle formation, and in actual fighting.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 For this use of φάλαγξ as applying to any kind of military fighting force (not recorded in the lexica) see below, ch. i.4.

[decorative delimiter]

2 That is, like the heavy-armed infantry.

[decorative delimiter]

3 For ἀσπίς used of long shields, as here, compare Xenophon, Anab. I.8.9, who says that the Egyptian γερροφόροι were equipped with ποδήρεσι ξυλίναις ἀσπίσιν (cf. ibid. II.1.6).

[decorative delimiter]

4 There seems to be no trace in actual practice of this threefold division in the cavalry. The author seems especially fond of such groupings by three, even to the point, one is inclined to suspect, of inventing some. Compare x.15 and xi. This seems to be a trace of earlier rhetorical training.

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