Spartacus....

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,745
USA
Regarding the issue of a single line of cohorts... Well, yes, it would have happened on occaision depending on circumstance. Such a line has a fundamental weakness - if the troops waver and flee at any point, the line is disrupted and open to exploitation.

However the Romans were not keen on leaving a battle line so unsupported. At the very least they would try to provide a second line, or better three, or if you're spoilt for numbers, four (though I can't think of any battle off hand other than Cannae when that happened). The deployment was typically in a chequerboard manner, the Roman quincunx.
There are only a few occurrences that Romans ever deployed in a single line, usually it was to extend their line outward to prevent envelopment by mobile enemy, predominately cavalry. Ross Cowan's Roman Battle Tactics lists five examples: Ruspina, Forum Gallorum, it was recommended by Cassius at Carrhae but not done (and quite possibly would have saved the army), and it was used at Nisibis.

The Romans typically aligned their own infantry into two or three lines, especially against enemy armies made up largely of line infantry. With that system their secondary line would plan to relief the first line, while the third line would be held in reserve and not used unless the army failed, was routed, and needed to fall behind the third line for protection protection, or if the the first and second line of infantry routed their enemy counterparts and the third line could come and support them.
 

caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,308
I don't think you can be quite so specific about the function of each line. The idea was support, which applies to morale as much as fighting capability. The Romans used to order their forces in three lines of varying experience, the valuable veterans at the rear, the newbies at the sharp end, with good reason. But that system was dropped in favour of a more consistent and conformal idea. Of course the actions of any part of the Roman line would depend on the events during the battle rather than some prepared plan or expectation.
 

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,745
USA
I don't think you can be quite so specific about the function of each line. The idea was support, which applies to morale as much as fighting capability. The Romans used to order their forces in three lines of varying experience, the valuable veterans at the rear, the newbies at the sharp end, with good reason. But that system was dropped in favour of a more consistent and conformal idea. Of course the actions of any part of the Roman line would depend on the events during the battle rather than some prepared plan or expectation.
I can be specific, because many sources specifically write things like "The third line of reserves" or "it came down to the Triari." So yes, we do know why they formed into three lines. We know why even though both the first and second lines would be planned to be committed to battle they were split up too, because the sources say the second line could remain outside danger range, watching, yelling encouragements, and when the first line gave out they could reinforce them and be completely fresh. And the third line would remain uncommitted until victory or loss occurred. Also coming from the sources.

In the Republic, Hastati were first to fight to prove their courage. Principes were second, but they were still expected to participate, just not right away. Triari were last, they weren't supposed to fight unless everything fell apart, which is where the Latin saying of "It came down to the triari" came from; they are literally the reserve.

Later, when cohorts were made up of a single class of line infantry, a modified Hastati/Principes infantryman, it changed tactics by giving commanders more options. A traditional three classes of infantry, each of ten maniples, was meant to be used for triplex acies, it could form other ways but with difficulty. Having been replaced by the cohortal system a simpler 4-3-3, 4-3-2, etc. forming of cohorts was possible, as demonstrated by Caesar's commentaries. Four cohorts for the first line but of a limited depth that makes them equal to the width of the second line of three cohorts, which are a bit thinner. Supported by a reserve of two or three cohorts, who would either reinforce success or prevent failure through a holding action if the rest of the force routed.

Or they could fight Duplex Acies. Or they could fight Quadruple Acies (Pharsalus).
 

macon

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
4,074
Slovenia, EU
Please what is a difference between rows and lines?

I think that it is logical that Spartacus' body should be found if he would be coming close to Crassus.
 

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,745
USA
Please what is a difference between rows and lines?
Mind you, this is based on terms used in English language, using terms common in British, Aussie, American military history, drill manuals, etc.

Rank are a collection of soldiers formed up abreast to one another.



All the soldiers aiming their rifles? They are a single rank. (the next rank behind them is loading).

Individual units, that is a collection of soldiers placed in one cohesive group under a single leader, form up in a collection of ranks.

Like this:



Now when tactically these units seldom operate independently. When joined by other units they formed abreast to one another. Similar to a rank, but its referred to as a Line. Or being on Line.

So let's say hypothetically, following Varro, that a century has 100 Roman soldiers in it. They are in battle and formed with a frontage of 10 files (The columns of soldiers front to back are commonly referred to as files). That means they have ten ranks, each with ten men in it. 10x10.

Now let's say that the cohort that century belongs to is also present. They too are formed 10x10, on line with the abovementioned century. So the cohort is in Line formation, with the centuries formed 10 abreast, 10 deep.

If there was a reserve (which the Romans typically used) they would form another line behind the first line of units. In Latin this was called Duplex Acies, which means Two Lines. If they formed three lines, the first two intending to fight the battle, the third in reserve, it was called Triplex Acies (Three Lines).

Rows is not a term used in this subject. Period. Bringing it up only shows that the person using the term actually hasn't studied the subject.

Its like saying you're a NASCAR fan and then referring to the racing car as a "Motor buggy". Or saying your into guns and calling a magazine a clip. For people that actually know the subject, people that say such things wave a red flag, indicating that the person is making stuff up and is ignorant of the subject.

Just in case Mr. Row decides to state that the Aussies call it differently, here is the Australian definition found in their drill manual LWP-G 7-7-5:

"rank: A line of soldiers side by side."

You wont find Row used in the manual to describe a formation.

I think that it is logical that Spartacus' body should be found if he would be coming close to Crassus.
Not if anybody recognized his armor when it occurred and immediately after the battle (clean usually starts the following day, though looting starts that night). We're talking about a battlefield with tens of thousands of corpses littering the ground. Nobody was photographing the bodies. The only way to find the bodies of notable fallen was to know by and large where they fell and then search the dead in that area until you found them by identifying a known physical description (for strangers, this usually came down to being able to identify them by their distinctive armor).

This is a theory, but its one that easily explains why nobody ever identified his body (but they did find it). The story of Spartacus attempting to kill Crassus likely came from post battle interrogations, where captives were tortured for info on the whereabouts of Spartacus (as Crassus wanted to ensure Spartacus was dead and hadn't run off). By the time they had an accurate description of where he would have fallen they had already policed the area, buried the bodies, and centrally collected the enemy arms and armor. So no armor, no body identified, just a single or multiple corroborating accounts that Spartacus died, that he had cut down two centurions trying to reach Crassus (who himself was unlikely to stayed in one spot the whole of the battle).
 

Caesarmagnus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,572
Australia
Please what is a difference between rows and lines?

I think that it is logical that Spartacus' body should be found if he would be coming close to Crassus.
For the purposes of this thread there is no difference between a row and a line, because we're using the terms as a reference point to the distance between the general and the enemy. Aggie is just being anal as a way to distract from the real issues, and his own errors (I am also baffled by his constant refrain to how "even Australia" should know this... does he not get Australia is a 1st world country with the same books and internet everyone else can possess?).

Aggie's bizarre scenario doesn't add up at all. I can't think of any other instance of an important enemy leader just disappearing during a battle. Either the body was found, or they escaped. Also while a general clean up might not take place until the next day, that didn't mean the battlefield was left utterly undisturbed for that day. If Spartacus truly made it near Crassus, then he'd have been easy to find (because he'd have fallen on ground the Romans held the entire battle. If they could spot him well enough to see him try to attack Crassus, then they knew what he looked like well enough to ID him after (especially knowing the spot he fell at in his failed charge). I think we can just chalk the whole thing up to post-hoc narrative hyperbole.
 

Caesarmagnus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,572
Australia
As do you, with your attempts to distract from the actual issues. There is no functional difference between the terms for the purposes of distance, which is what they're actually being used to discuss here.
 

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,745
USA
As do you, with your attempts to distract from the actual issues. There is no functional difference between the terms for the purposes of distance, which is what they're actually being used to discuss here.
The actual issue is you don't know what a row, rank, or line is but still feel qualified to correct others who do.
 

Caesarmagnus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,572
Australia
No, that's just you imagining what I know or don't know, not something that is in any way demonstrated by what I wrote. The terminology is completely interchangeable for the purposes in which it is being used in this thread, just as we might refer to a Roman soldier instead of a Roman legionary. The only one who cares about it is you, probably as an attempt to distract from your own errors and incorrect claims (e.g. not knowing the details of a battle you invoked as an example, and your terrible comparison between generalship and NFL football coaching).