Hannibal vs. Julius Caesar: Better Military tactician

Hannibal vs. Caesar

  • Hannibal

    Votes: 20 69.0%
  • Caesar

    Votes: 9 31.0%

  • Total voters
    29
Jul 2017
2,237
Australia
#51
My bad @Salaminia , I didn't properly read your post. You're talking about Livy's passage about the hastati moving back mid-battle into the line of the principes. I thought you were saying that Delbruck didn't think that the Romans had intervals in which maniples moved into during battle. No, I do not believe this maneuver was exactly possible in a battle situation. In terms of what Delbruck thinks:

The only point that might be erroneous in Livy's account and which again is to be attributed to pure exaggeration is that the hastati were supposed to pull back while the principes moved up. To carry out such a movement to the rear in orderly fashion with a company of 120 men is hardly possible and moreover completely purposeless. Rather, the maneuver probably was executed in such a way that the hastati stood still and the principes continued to move forward. Livy necessarily reversed this, since he imagined the whole action not as a drill but as a combat maneuver and described it accordingly.
 
Nov 2011
865
The Bluff
#52
My bad @Salaminia , I didn't properly read your post. You're talking about Livy's passage about the hastati moving back mid-battle into the line of the principes. I thought you were saying that Delbruck didn't think that the Romans had intervals in which maniples moved into during battle. No, I do not believe this maneuver was exactly possible in a battle situation. In terms of what Delbruck thinks:

The only point that might be erroneous in Livy's account and which again is to be attributed to pure exaggeration is that the hastati were supposed to pull back while the principes moved up. To carry out such a movement to the rear in orderly fashion with a company of 120 men is hardly possible and moreover completely purposeless. Rather, the maneuver probably was executed in such a way that the hastati stood still and the principes continued to move forward. Livy necessarily reversed this, since he imagined the whole action not as a drill but as a combat maneuver and described it accordingly.
Yes, Delbruck argues that the Roman lines could not interchange during battle (Geschichte der Kriegskunst im Rahmen der politischen Geschichte, Vol. I, 279-288). The Roman formation clearly allows for this though and given that battles are described as long (Pydna, at two hours, is "short"), it is not really possible to imagine hastai engaged in sword fighting for hours at a stretch.
 
Jul 2017
2,237
Australia
#55
Okay, so here's the relevant passage and citation from the paper:

H. Delbruck argued that the Romans did not interchange the lines of heavy infantry in the battles, since he believed that men fighting with the enemy at close range could not perform such manoeuvres.[42] This powerful argument is left unanswered by other scholars. Indeed, it is difficult to understand how the hastati withdrew from hand-to-hand fighting and what the enemy did while they retreated step by step through the principes' line. Delbruck's opinion seems to be correct, but these manoeuvres were of course possible if the hastati fought with throwing weapons at some distance from the enemy.

42. Delbruck (as in n. 2) 279-288.

It seems like you've misinterpreted what Zhmodikov is talking about. He extrapolates after the first sentence that Delbruck's meaning was that it seemed unrealistic that the hastati withdrew into the principes whilst engaged in hand-to-hand fighting. In fact, Zhmodikov goes as far as to say that Delbruck's exposure of Livy's rather fantastical description is a powerful argument that has been left unchallenged by scholars. If anything, this helps highlight the importance of Delbruck's early insight into separating the exaggerations from the sources. Regardless, Zhmodikov acknowledges that Delbruck is correct, but that Delbruck didn't consider that in situations where the hastati would be firing their pila and engaged in missile combat for extended periods of time, that they would have been able to fall back and join the principes. This means that Livy may have been referring to an actual battle maneuver wherein if the hastati unengaged in hand-to-hand combat, that the maniples could move back into the intervals of the principes. But, as Zmhodikov implies, Delbruck is ultimately correct that the hastati would have been incapable of performing such a maneuver whilst in hand-to-hand combat; and you explicitly said:

Yes, Delbruck argues that the Roman lines could not interchange during battle
This may have been a translation error in the paper, but in the translated version of Delbruck's book that I possess, he says this:

The only point that might be erroneous in Livy's account and which again is to be attributed to pure exaggeration is that the hastati were supposed to pull back while the principes moved up. To carry out such a movement to the rear in orderly fashion with a company of 120 men is hardly possible and moreover completely purposeless. Rather, the maneuver probably was executed in such a way that the hastati stood still and the principes continued to move forward. Livy necessarily reversed this, since he imagined the whole action not as a drill but as a combat maneuver and described it accordingly.

Delbruck, Warfare in Antiqutiy, 293.

In no place does Delbruck claim that the lines couldn't "interchange" during battle. This would be implying that he thought each battle line was completely independent from the other, which is totally incorrect. Delbruck accepts Livy's description, but of course notes that the aforementioned maneuver is fantastical.
 
Nov 2011
865
The Bluff
#56
Yes: that the hastai did not retreat through lines to be replaced by the principes (and ditto for the principes through the triarii) but that the pricipes advanced through the hastai. Though it is plainly implied by the sources that the three lines could and did fight. Zhmodikov supposes this happened in missile fighting. There is no possibility of the hastai fighting continuously for hours on end. A clue is given at Zama where Scipio signals for the hastai to stop a pursuit. This would be normal battlefield drill and behaviour as would, I think, having the principes advance into the gaps between the hastai maniples after which the latter could retire - essentially reversing places. At battle's outset, the Roman line would look constant from across the field. As the lines engaged the enemy would find the maniple gaps but would be loathe to penetrate with the principes immediately in the rear and the fact the hastai could, and did, fight on the flank of each maniple. Ditto during retiring with the principes. This is why the Punic lights did not follow the elephants down the lanes at Zama. Unfortunately, the evidence is not unambiguous.
 
Jul 2017
2,237
Australia
#57
I would guess that the principes advanced into the intervals if the hastati were unable to defeat their enemies initially, but as Delbruck says, and no scholar seems to have disputed since, is that the hastati were not drilled to maneuver backwards into the principes whilst engaged hand-to-hand. Livy seems to be either exaggerating or misrepresenting drill and what that drill was meant for.
 
Nov 2011
865
The Bluff
#58
No, Livy doesn't exaggerate, he misunderstands as he does on several military matters for he was no military man. There were three lines for a very good reason and you either believe that they could, in some fashion, interchange or the triarii simply waited for the front two lines to run away before taking part. That is not sensible. As I said, even engaged enemy infantry are going to baulk at being drawn into lanes formed by either an advancing second line or retiring first line. Polybios is plain that these maniples could fight on any front. Metaurus shows you how the manipular legion could redeploy maniples as needed while in contact. That is years in advance of Kynoskephalai and nothing to do with Scipio and some major tactical reform.
 

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