Macedonian phalanx or Roman legion?

The two different ways of organizing the infantry in the later classical years has long tormented the discussion of historians. Which scheme was most effective? The Macedonian phalanx or the Roman legion? On the battlefield they have both proven their strengths. Their presence revolutionized the history of military tactics. But which of the two was more effective? The only way to evaluate them objectively is to confront them. These have been recorded deep in history. The first official clashes between the phalanx and the legions were the clashes between the king of Epirus Pyrrhus, claimant for some time of the Macedonian throne, and the Roman troops in southern Italy. The battles fought at that time were those of Heraklion, Asklos and Venevento. Pyrrhus won, but without his victories clearing the landscape and making Rome defenseless. On the contrary, the senators refused to talk to him about peace… The conclusion of those confrontations was that, despite the strategic genius of the Molossian monarch of Epirus, the phalanx could not overthrow the organization of the Roman legion. Despite Pyrrhus’ victories, the Roman army remained militant and, with the ability to recruit new men, continued to pose a serious threat. At a purely regular level, the phalanx did not succeed in inflicting the overwhelming blows it used to inflict on its opponents until then. Legion Initially, the Romans clashed with the Seleucid king Antiochus’s forces in the legendary Straits of Thermopylae. The phalanx, in the narrow spaces there, had a serious disadvantage, unable to maneuver. The forces of Antiochus were shot down by the Roman legions and he took refuge back on the opposite shores of the Aegean. The next confrontation of the Romans was with the Macedonians of Perseus. For two years the two armies were consumed in skirmishes between Larissa and Katerini. Eventually a phalanx and a legion met near the port of Pydna. There the weakness of the first was clearly seen. With little tactical flexibility and without the possibility of men’s initiatives, the Phalangists could not cope with the legionnaires’ ability to break into small groups and attack the openings created by the battle. Perseus was left with 5,000 men out of 40,000, while the Romans (under Emilius Paulus) lost less than 1,000 warriors! So every innovation dominates until a new one overturns it. * From time to time we will refer to some, not so well known, aspects of it. Follow it on Google News and be the first to know all the news. See all the latest news from Greece and the world, at

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