The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by sean_m » Sat May 14, 2016 12:22 pm

Nicator wrote:In general, there is good reason for the length of swords in ATG's era. The quality of the steel available, was still too primitive to produce length with strength. This would come later with the Roman legion's infamous short sword. Spear points, daggers, short swords (shorter and heavier, if memory serves) than the Roman short sword (itself quite heavy), all stand testament to the primitive state of metallurgy of the Phil-Alexandrian era.
The tumulus from Golyamata Mogila excavated by Daniella Agre contained a ferrous sword with a single, curved edge (κόπις, μαχάιρα) 81 cm long. That is longer than most Roman gladii of any period, but shorter than many bronze swords a thousand years older.
Xenophon wrote:Nicator wrote:
Where do you get this stuff from [, Nicator]? It couldn't be more wrong!! :evil:
To begin with, swords weren't "steel", which had yet to be developed.
Among objects excavated from stratum II of Kaman-Kalehöyük in Turkey was an arrowhead of high-carbon steel. It was deposited in a layer dating to roughly 800 BCE; neighbouring layers contained plenty of ferrous objects with a significant carbon content (see Anatolian Archaeological Studies, volume 17). I don't have data on early ferrous swords handy, but I have no doubt that some of them had a respectable carbon content, at least in the parts which the swordsmith wanted to be hard. As you say, early metalworking was not necessarily primitive; they did things with trained eyes and hands which we try to imitate with sensors and chemical tests and trying to make every batch of metal the same as the last.
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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by Nicator » Sat May 14, 2016 2:35 pm

Jeanne Reames wrote:Amyntoros, that quote reminds me just a tad of Homer's epithet for Agamemnon, "a great spear-fighter." Also, somewhere in the literature is a reference not only to the aigis of Athena, but also her spear. Any quick glance at artwork, especially pre-Hellenistic, shows mostly spears with soldiers, not swords, including several statues of ATG. Unfortunately, spears last less well than swords, due to the wooden shaft. The preference for swords is a reflection of modern bias (and Hollywood). :|
Ok, first off, it seems we're having a problem with posting simple truths, only to see the post deleted. In this way, we are our own worst enemy.

...again, who runs Hollywood?

The entirety of Stone's 'Alexander' was produced overseas. That makes one significant film on Alexander, since 1956. One noteworthy film about the man, still considered to be the most popular secular figure in history. And, perhaps, several heavily censored and propagandized films about Jesus Christ, the most popular figure in history. The last, and perhaps most significant, being "The Passion..." produced and developed overseas entirely. The career of it's creator, who was also bandied about for a starring role as Alexander, in a ten part mini series in the 90s, destroyed utterly.

This is a not complicated question, nor is it offensive (unless, you're a Hollywood producer or part of the same sinister cult, which runs Hollywood).
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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by Nicator » Sat May 14, 2016 3:36 pm

Xenophon wrote:Nicator wrote:
Curtius provides detail about the pikes being dropped and short swords being drawn at Issus. And this makes sense, as the purpose of the sarissa was to penetrate the enemy front. After that initial strike, it indeed becomes quite useless. The close quarter fighting would be with the spear and sword.
What complete nonsense! You clearly have no idea of what a pike phalanx was for or how it functioned. The point of the phalanx was that there was NO close-quarter fighting as such. The foe was kept at a distance, and completely outreached. Pikes were certainly not generally 'dropped', nor was a pike useless after an initial strike......
The pike was indeed effective at keeping the enemy away from your front line. It's main use was as a penetration weapon. Once the initial strike was inflicted, the point would penetrate into the man or men driving from behind and driven into the point, after it passed completely through. In this manner, the pike became embedded and trapped in the body (or bodies) of the enemy, until it was no longer capable of being used further. The weight of the opposing forces, pushing into one another, as at Issus on the Persian left, with the Persian forces in the rear pushing the Persian forces at the front, into the pikes. This would go on, until the last row of pikemen had exhausted his last sarissa (assuming, spares were brought up, as the engagement ensued). After this transpired, spears and/or swords were to be drawn and brought to bear. So, the opening contact again shows the usefulness of the lengthened array of pikes, as a weapon for outreaching and penetrating the front rows of the enemy. But after this penetration was made, it would become a hindrance. As the spear and finally, the sword would now be drawn to finish the job. The assumption that the enemy could not reach the Macedonian phalangyte et al, is simply literary fanciful treatment of, what would otherwise be, a bloody, chaotic, grappling, affair.

There are many scenarios that could be considered for the usefulness of the sword in such a battle and surely this was not missed by an army trained and equipped by Philip (who very likely received considerable input from Greek (and other) mercenaries throughout the developmental stage). Also, consider that it was well known that the phalanx was always vulnerable on its flank. This, being well known by both the Macedonians and Greeks, forced the necessity of keeping a sidearm. Typically, the sword.

In the center, we must take into consideration that the opposing Greeks, were by now, familiar with the Macedonian piked phalanx and had developed countering tactics (like knocking the point down, and breaking it off in the dirt, for instance). And it seems quite clear, that the Greeks penetrated and infiltrated the Macedonian phalanx, yet, the phalanx was not thoroughly dismantled nor did it disintegrate. Had sidearms not been available, and put to use, we may have seen a quite different outcome.

Being an engineer, I like to think things through, where possible, beyond the source material. And, since I am an engineer, I have that capability. 8)
Curtius provides detail about the pikes being dropped and short swords being drawn at Issus. And this makes sense, as the purpose of the sarissa was to penetrate the enemy front. After that initial strike, it indeed becomes quite useless.
More nonsense. ( see above) Also, Curtius does NOT refer to pikes being dropped at Issus. It is the Persians who draw swords after throwing their javelins [Curtius III.11.4]
In general, there is good reason for the length of swords in ATG's era. The quality of the steel available, was still too primitive to produce length with strength. This would come later with the Roman legion's infamous short sword. Spear points, daggers, short swords (shorter and heavier, if memory serves) than the Roman short sword (itself quite heavy), all stand testament to the primitive state of metallurgy of the Phil-Alexandrian era.
Where do you get this stuff from? It couldn't be more wrong!! :evil:
To begin with, swords weren't "steel", which had yet to be developed.Some races DID use long swords e.g. the contemporary Gauls. Short swords were preferred by troops who fought in close order ( as the Macedonians and Romans did) as being handier in a press. Macedonian swords were generally of two types; the 'kopis' or 'machaira', a machete-like sword designed as such and which was quite capable of lopping off arms and legs, and the 'xiphos', a straight-bladed cut-and-thrust sword. Neither Macedonian nor Roman swords were 'heavy', but well balanced. Just as the Macedonians primary weapon was the pike, the Romans primary weapon was the 'pilum'/heavy javelin, which was launched in relays by small groups dashing out, and sometimes kept up for hours until the enemy broke. Only then was the secondary gladius drawn for the pursuit.( as a generalisation, battles were individual, of course.)
Metallurgy was certainly not 'primitive', but quite advanced, and many items could not be surpassed even by modern metallurgy
Sure, being 'iron', is not the same as being 'steel'.

Sorry, don't remember where I read this about the steel being less capable than during the Roman era. But glad you were able to provide some input regarding the Macedonian sword, nonetheless. My thinking, in lieu of my old aged memory, is that the the pike was about a foot and half in length, the spear tip, perhaps 7 inches, and hence, the sword was kept shorter due as much to metallurgical limitations, as to cost...until the Roman era. That Philip had to equip thousands of soldiers with arms, may have also played a part in their length and quality. But that could work both ways.
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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by Nicator » Sat May 14, 2016 3:56 pm

From Livius.org...note from the battle of Issus (November 333 BCE)
Massacre

Alexander's victorious right wing now swung left towards the center, hard pressed as it was by Darius' Greeks; they forced them back from the river and then, outflanking the broken enemy left, delivered a flank attack on the mercenaries and were soon cutting them to pieces.

In this way, Alexander attacked the flank of the Persian center. In the meantime, the right wing of the Macedonian army continued the slaughter of the kardakes, who were less heavily armed than the Macedonian soldiers. The only disadvantage for the Macedonians was that they could use their lances only once. However, their swords were equally lethal.

But the fact that their equipment was inferior, was not the only problem of the Persian soldiers; they were unable to retreat, because the light armed in their rear were pushing them forward. When they were killed by the Macedonians, they fell on the ground, and became obstacles to the living. If the Persian soldiers wanted to fight, they needed to step over the bodies and expose themselves to the Macedonian swords; they were killed on top of the other men. The next warrior fell over these two, and in the end, the Macedonians were standing in front of something like a low wall of dead kardakes. Those who were not dead yet, were suffocated under the pressure of the others.

From their side of the macabre parapet, the Persians kept coming, pushed to their death by the people behind them, who did not see what happened at the front. This was not the kind of reinforcement the first line of fighters was waiting for. Only in the foothills, at the extreme left of their array, did the Persians have a chance to survive this bloody mêlée, but here, the Macedonian archers, who were standing a bit higher, were terrible opponents. The massacre may have lasted about a quarter of an hour, and hundreds, even thousands of men were killed. After this, the Persian army no longer had a left wing.
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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by Nicator » Sat May 14, 2016 4:03 pm

sean_m wrote:
Nicator wrote:In general, there is good reason for the length of swords in ATG's era. The quality of the steel available, was still too primitive to produce length with strength. This would come later with the Roman legion's infamous short sword. Spear points, daggers, short swords (shorter and heavier, if memory serves) than the Roman short sword (itself quite heavy), all stand testament to the primitive state of metallurgy of the Phil-Alexandrian era.
The tumulus from Golyamata Mogila excavated by Daniella Agre contained a ferrous sword with a single, curved edge (κόπις, μαχάιρα) 81 cm long. That is longer than most Roman gladii of any period, but shorter than many bronze swords a thousand years older.
Xenophon wrote: To begin with, swords weren't "steel", which had yet to be developed.
Among objects excavated from stratum II of Kaman-Kalehöyük in Turkey was an arrowhead of high-carbon steel. It was deposited in a layer dating to roughly 800 BCE; neighbouring layers contained plenty of ferrous objects with a significant carbon content (see Anatolian Archaeological Studies, volume 17). I don't have data on early ferrous swords handy, but I have no doubt that some of them had a respectable carbon content, at least in the parts which the swordsmith wanted to be hard. As you say, early metalworking was not necessarily primitive; they did things with trained eyes and hands which we try to imitate with sensors and chemical tests and trying to make every batch of metal the same as the last.

I guess as an old (former) machinest, I should have done some digging in a steel manual. Who knows, might have found some useful content about early steelworks. Like I mentioned above to Xenophon, I would think that the economies of the day and general industrial capability may have limited the quantity and quality available to a full scale army. But that's also, not necessarily true.
Last edited by Nicator on Sat May 14, 2016 11:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by Nicator » Sat May 14, 2016 6:27 pm

Xenophon wrote:Nicator wrote:
Curtius provides detail about the pikes being dropped and short swords being drawn at Issus. And this makes sense, as the purpose of the sarissa was to penetrate the enemy front. After that initial strike, it indeed becomes quite useless. The close quarter fighting would be with the spear and sword.
Curtius provides detail about the pikes being dropped and short swords being drawn at Issus. And this makes sense, as the purpose of the sarissa was to penetrate the enemy front. After that initial strike, it indeed becomes quite useless.
Curtius does NOT refer to pikes being dropped at Issus. It is the Persians who draw swords after throwing their javelins [Curtius III.11.4]

The origin of my belief that it was Curtius, which I have admittedly not read, was from the livius.org description of the battle. The reason I believed it to come from Curtius, was because I did not recognize it from the sources that I have read, and had to ask (on pothos) where it came from several years back. Someone then said that it was, in fact, from Curtius.

Speaking of which, can you recommend a good version of Curtius? I've seen enough of his work to gain an interest in digesting it. Whereas, earlier, I avoided it because I did not want his 'negative' outlook upon ATG to affect my book.
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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by sean_m » Sat May 14, 2016 7:00 pm

Nicator: I live in Austria, and just down the valley there is a beautiful little town where some road workers uncovered an unmarked cemetery. It turned out that that town had been a centre for the T4 murder program, where the Nazis got their start murdering children and old people and the disabled. I take the denial of Nazi crimes very seriously.

Mods: Can you shut this down? It has nothing to do with Alexander the Great, and posting on a site with holocaust denialism makes me feel dirty. If people want to explore the evidence for the Holocaust there are plenty of books, groups, and websites for that such as remember.org.
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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by Paralus » Sat May 14, 2016 10:52 pm

sean_m wrote:Mods: Can you shut this down? It has nothing to do with Alexander the Great, and posting on a site with holocaust denialism makes me feel dirty. If people want to explore the evidence for the Holocaust there are plenty of books, groups, and websites for that such as remember.org.
Agreed. This is going nowhere regarding Alexander and where it is going is of no interest to this site. The most recent post simply confirms it. There are plenty of conspiracy sites for such rubbish; this isn't one of them.
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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by Xenophon » Sun May 15, 2016 12:14 am

Sean M. wrote:
Xenophon wrote:
Nicator wrote:
Where do you get this stuff from [, Nicator]? It couldn't be more wrong!! :evil:
To begin with, swords weren't "steel", which had yet to be developed.
Among objects excavated from stratum II of Kaman-Kalehöyük in Turkey was an arrowhead of high-carbon steel. It was deposited in a layer dating to roughly 800 BCE; neighbouring layers contained plenty of ferrous objects with a significant carbon content (see Anatolian Archaeological Studies, volume 17). I don't have data on early ferrous swords handy, but I have no doubt that some of them had a respectable carbon content, at least in the parts which the swordsmith wanted to be hard. As you say, early metalworking was not necessarily primitive; they did things with trained eyes and hands which we try to imitate with sensors and chemical tests and trying to make every batch of metal the same as the last.
I was generalising, Sean. In fact occasional 'steel' items go back to the bronze age c.1200 BC. Iron requires higher temperatures[1400 degrees c. aprox] than bronze,[1083 degrees c. aprox] and steel higher temperatures still.[over 1500 degrees c. aprox].
By 500 BC, using wind driven fans, a type of steel was being produced in Sri Lanka and southern India, but it was rare and very expensive. In China a form of 'steel' was produced by quench hardening. Real steel came about with the development of the Blast Furnace in the High Middle ages, still difficult to make and expensive but gradually becoming more widespread through the industrial revolution, and finally becoming relatively cheap in the 19C. with the development of the Bessemer process.......

Your examples were most interesting Sean - thanks for posting - but are really more "the exception that proves the rule"..... :D

By the way, in the age of Alexander, Greek cavalry 'kopides', as recommended by Xenophon, could be quite long, up to 70cm overall....

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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by Xenophon » Sun May 15, 2016 12:38 am

Nicator wrote:
The pike was indeed effective at keeping the enemy away from your front line. It's main use was as a penetration weapon. Once the initial strike was inflicted, the point would penetrate into the man or men driving from behind and driven into the point, after it passed completely through. In this manner, the pike became embedded and trapped in the body (or bodies) of the enemy, until it was no longer capable of being used further. The weight of the opposing forces, pushing into one another, as at Issus on the Persian left, with the Persian forces in the rear pushing the Persian forces at the front, into the pikes. This would go on, until the last row of pikemen had exhausted his last sarissa (assuming, spares were brought up, as the engagement ensued). After this transpired, spears and/or swords were to be drawn and brought to bear. So, the opening contact again shows the usefulness of the lengthened array of pikes, as a weapon for outreaching and penetrating the front rows of the enemy. But after this penetration was made, it would become a hindrance. As the spear and finally, the sword would now be drawn to finish the job. The assumption that the enemy could not reach the Macedonian phalangyte et al, is simply literary fanciful treatment of, what would otherwise be, a bloody, chaotic, grappling, affair.
Once again, you are showing your ignorance of ancient warfare, and Macedonian methods and tactics in particular. The above is utter nonsense. Spears and pikes were simply not 'single use' weapons.

Livius.org is not a good source when it comes to ancient warfare and that account of Issus is just fanciful.

I agree with Paralus and Sean (and doubtless others). Conspiracy theories and rampant anti-semitism have no place on Pothos. You will convince no-one here of such lunacies, there are plenty of websites for that sort of thing elsewhere where you can discuss such subjects to your heart's content. If you persist, not only are you likely find your posts deleted, but ultimately it can only have one ending . Stick to the subject matter of the forum only if you wish to continue to post here.....

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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by amyntoros » Sun May 15, 2016 3:02 am

sean_m wrote:Nicator: I live in Austria, and just down the valley there is a beautiful little town where some road workers uncovered an unmarked cemetery. It turned out that that town had been a centre for the T4 murder program, where the Nazis got their start murdering children and old people and the disabled. I take the denial of Nazi crimes very seriously.

Mods: Can you shut this down? It has nothing to do with Alexander the Great, and posting on a site with holocaust denialism makes me feel dirty. If people want to explore the evidence for the Holocaust there are plenty of books, groups, and websites for that such as remember.org.
Paralus wrote:
sean_m wrote:Mods: Can you shut this down? It has nothing to do with Alexander the Great, and posting on a site with holocaust denialism makes me feel dirty. If people want to explore the evidence for the Holocaust there are plenty of books, groups, and websites for that such as remember.org.
Agreed. This is going nowhere regarding Alexander and where it is going is of no interest to this site. The most recent post simply confirms it. There are plenty of conspiracy sites for such rubbish; this isn't one of them.
I understand the need for our members to post as above. Yes, Sean_m, Paralus, Xenophon and everyone else who is offended, we are shutting this down. Any remaining posts referring to antisemitism, holocaust denial, conspiracy theories and the like have been deleted and will continue to be removed from the forum. It should be enough for me to say that this is a forum about Alexander the Great and said subjects are off-topic. The truth is that the posts removed are also extremely offensive. So, please everyone bear with us. Any further posts of this ilk will be removed as soon as they are seen by a moderator.

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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by sean_m » Sun May 15, 2016 8:34 am

And back to metalworking ...

Unfortunately, quite a lot of the things written about Greek and Macedonian and Thracian arms and armour are not based on solid evidence. When J.K. Anderson quoted a line in Shakespeare about "two rogues in buckram" to support his ideas about the shoulder-flap cuirass, or Victor Davis Hanson proudly described the sets of hoplite kit weighing 60 ibs or more (! modern estimates based on weighing surviving pieces and careful reconstructions are half or a third of that) which he and his students made (! armouring is not the kind of trade you can teach yourself in a summer), they were not so far from hobbyists outside the university. Until recently there was little available in English that was based on careful examination of surviving armour or comparison with armour from better-recorded places and times, and the things written in Greek or German did not always make their way into wider discussions. That is too bad, because a lot of academic theories start from the premise that Greek kit was specially designed for a particular kind of fighting, or was necessary for it, or forced the Greeks to fight a certain way. If you think that Greek hoplites were different from other hoplites because they had different shields, then you had better understand those shields as best as you can!

Some people want to believe that later technologies were better than earlier ones (so bronze is worse than iron is worse than steel, and steel replaces iron replaces bronze with no backsliding), but we have seen that sometimes new ways win because they are cheaper, or because tastes change. French dragoons rode into combat in the Napoleonic wars wearing brass helmets, and French infantry marched with swords at their side which were better for cutting brush than fighting ... not so different from a Roman legionary.

For Roman arms and armour we have Dr. David Sim, and Dr. Barry Molloy is studying Mycenaean arms and armour, but for Greek and Macedonian and Thracian and Carian things there is plenty of room for people to make new discoveries whether they are archaeologists or smiths or martial artists. I have mentioned some of the ones I know about on my blog, but it is not a focus of my research.
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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by Jeanne Reames » Tue May 17, 2016 8:14 am

Some of the stuff being quoted here is sorta weird.

Modern bibliography of import: Hanson, who most folks here seem to know, but also Hans van Wees, and while I may not agree with some of his conclusions, he has several key correctives to Hanson. Those are the two heading the different versions of hoplite warfare. Kagan and Viggiano's Men of Bronze (2013), a collection of essays from a conferences concerting the Hanson-van Wees conflict must also be read for some of the most recent work on Greek hoplite warfare. Make note of the authors in the collections.

Heckel remains seminal on ATG's army, along with Ed Anson, but the work of Heckel's students Graham Wrightson (infantry) and Carolyn Willekes (cavalry) must be considered, as both were involved in experimental archaeology including recreations of the sarissai and work with horses. Wrightson has several articles and Willekes's book on the Horse in the Ancient World should be out soon. She's up there with Anderson as an expert on horses and cavalry.

As for "steel"--all iron in the west was wrought iron, which means a certain amount of carbon would be in it, but it was still brittle. Long, thin pieces (such as swords) were inclined to chip, break, and even shatter. That's WHY these swords tended not to go beyond 2'. They were stabbing weapons or, sometimes, from horseback, slashing--but in a simple way. The falcata or kopis was perfect for this. It was very effective...but still a secondary weapon.

And Willekes has pretty much put paid to Markle's notion of a cavalry sarissa, even a shortened version. it's just not practical on horseback for reasons she explains far better than I can. That said, they certainly carried a spear and/or javelins.

We also should not forget the rising importance of light-armed troops in the 4th century. (Think Iphikrates....)

Finally, of course all units would be armed appropriately for the particular battle. So no, when in the middle of a siege, they're not likely toting sarissai! But the preference for the spear as the weapon of choice for hoplites has ample textual evidence back to Homer, and it continued even in the era of (as mentioned above) the rise of light-armed troops. Iphikrates may have been Athens's Great Hope, but his troops never replaced the Athenian hoplite. Nor did it change with Thebes. It took Philip to lighten the armor, but I wouldn't call the Pezhetairoi "light-armed"...quite. They're something else again. The Hypaspists appear to have been armed as hoplites much of the time, while other troops (including Pezhetairoi) no doubt varied armament at need.

So yes, sometimes (most often in siege warfare) the sword was quite useful. But again, the *preference* of Greek troops is for the SPEAR. I'm sure Alexander had a wonderful sword. Again, I think we probably have it from the Vergina stash. But I'd also point to his military statuary, where most of the time, it appears he's got a SPEAR in his hand. And official portraits of him armed show him standing with a SPEAR to brace his weight--not a sword.

ALL these things must be taken into consideration.

Again, the spear was, and remained, the primary weapon of a Greek infantryman. Even the light-armed troops often had javelins. The sword was what they used when down to the hack-and-slash of close in-fighting (which as somebody pointed out above, rarely happened with a Macedonian phalanx, especially under Philip or Alexander).
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Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by Paralus » Tue May 17, 2016 9:42 am

Jeanne Reames wrote:Again, the spear was, and remained, the primary weapon of a Greek infantryman. Even the light-armed troops often had javelins. The sword was what they used when down to the hack-and-slash of close in-fighting (which as somebody pointed out above, rarely happened with a Macedonian phalanx, especially under Philip or Alexander).
Can't say I disagree with the sum of that. The sword (xiphos for the 'average' phalangite) was most definitely a secondary weapon and, one might say, almost the weapon of last resort. The pitched battle phalangite simply was not conceived as a close quarter, hand to hand combat infantryman. In every clear instance we have of phalangites being reduced to such fighting they lose horribly. Yes, this is against infantrymen conceived and armed for such, the Roman legionary, but it is rather instructive.

I've not read Willekes but certainly have read Wrightson's recent contributions. I have to say that I find Ed Anson's Asthetairoi somewhat off the mark. Debate will continue anon with respect to the meaning of the term (a nickname of sorts seems to me likely) but the entire phalanx was able to be used in situations hardly requiring the sarisa unless we suppose that half of it sat out these actions. The hypaspists, too, were dual armed and here Anson is more on song with his "professional soldiers" notion. Arrian's description of Gaugamela notes that Alexander made something of wedge of his cavalry and the " nearby portion of the phalanx" indicates to me these troops are using the sarisa (3.14.2-3). The "nearby" phalanx can only include the hypaspists.

I'm yet to read Heckel's most recent work but am given to understand that he's modified his view on the hypaspists somewhat. Must catch up with that. Often the less said of some of Markle's work, the better.
Paralus
Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους;
Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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sean_m
Pezhetairos (foot soldier)
Posts: 212
Joined: Mon Nov 17, 2014 4:00 pm

Re: The Sword of Alexander in the Batman vs Superman film

Post by sean_m » Tue May 17, 2016 3:46 pm

I don't enjoy generalizing, but we do have one ancient source (Plut. Al. 32) which says that the man in question ἠσκημένος τὰ πολλὰ χρῆσθαι μαχαίρᾳ παρὰ τὰς μάχας (had been trained in most things to use a machaira in fights). I'm not sure whether "secondary weapon" would have been part of his thought-world, or if he would have thought about the things that a sword is good for, the things that a long spear is good for, the things that a short spear is good for, ...
Jeanne Reames wrote:As for "steel"--all iron in the west was wrought iron, which means a certain amount of carbon would be in it, but it was still brittle. Long, thin pieces (such as swords) were inclined to chip, break, and even shatter. That's WHY these swords tended not to go beyond 2'. They were stabbing weapons or, sometimes, from horseback, slashing--but in a simple way. The falcata or kopis was perfect for this. It was very effective...but still a secondary weapon.
Could you give me your source? There have been big changes in our understanding of ancient metallurgy over the last decade or two, and a lot of things written earlier turned out not to be based on solid evidence. The contents of publications like Die Angriffswaffen aus Olympia are only now moving into the awareness of the English-speaking public, and there must be all sorts of archaeological reports in Greek and Turkish which hardly anyone has heard of.

I am not aware of any studies of the metallurgy of ferrous swords in the Aegean in the middle of the first millennium BCE (there might be something in Die Angriffswaffen aus Olympia which I have not yet read, but that covers earlier periods and a more southerly region). I am not aware of any studies of cavalry swords in Macedonia in the fourth century BCE, but the closest thing I have data on is 81 cm long. So if someone has solid evidence that most cavalry swords at that place and time were short and of wrought iron and that their length was due to technical limitations, that would be wonderful! But as a historian, this is a topic where I try to be humble and ask metallurgists and archaeologists what they know.

Edit: added translation for the convenience of readers.
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