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Legion versus Phalanx: The Epic Struggle for Infantry Supremacy in the Ancient World

Legion versus Phalanx: The Epic Struggle for Infantry Supremacy in the Ancient World

by Myke Cole


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From the time of Ancient Sumeria, the heavy infantry phalanx dominated the battlefield. Armed with spears or pikes, standing shoulder to shoulder, and with overlapping shields, they presented an impenetrable wall of wood and metal to the enemy. It was the phalanx that allowed Greece to become the dominant power in the Western world. That is, until the Romans developed the legion and cracked the phalanx.

In Legion versus Phalanx Cole weighs the two fighting forces against each other. Covering the period in which the legion and phalanx clashed (280—168 BC), he looks at each formation in detail—delving into their tactics, arms, and equipment, organization and the deployment. It then examines six key battles in which legion battled phalanx: Heraclea (280 BC), Asculum (279 BC), Beneventum (275 BC), Cynoscephalae (197 BC), Magnesia (190 BC), and Pydna (168 BC)—battles that determined the fate of the ancient world. Drawing on original primary sources, Myke Cole presents a highly detailed but lively history of this defining clash of military formations.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781472828422
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 10/23/2018
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Myke Cole has had a colorful and varied career, with a long career in war and crisis response, beginning as a mercenary on contract to the CIA, and transitioning into a federal intelligence position first with DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency), and finally with the ONI (Office of Naval Intelligence). He currently works for the NYPD in cyber threat intelligence and lives in Brooklyn, NY.

He has published extensively in military history and security, including pieces in the journals of the American Association of Museums and the American Historical Association. In addition, Cole writes two popular military science fiction series, Shadow Ops (Ace) and Sacred Throne (Tor). In addition, he was one of the stars in CBS TV's show Hunted. More at and @MykeCole.5

Table of Contents

Preface 7

Chronology 12

Maps 17

Part I And in this Corner … Examining the Legion and the Phalanx

I Who Would Win in a Fight? The Eagle and the Lion 27

II Not Your Father's Phalanx: The Legacy of Iphicrates 45

III Mules That Kill: Under the Eagle of Rome 76

Part II Fight! The Legion Versus the Phalanx in Six Battles

IV Heraclea, 280 BC: Rome's First Test 99

V Asculum, 279 BC: "One more such victory, and we are undone." 117

VI Beneventum, 275 BC: Pyrrhus' Last Gasp 132

VII Cynoscephalae, 197 BC: The Legion Triumphant 150

VIII Magnesia, 190 BC: No Refuge for Hannibal 177

IX Pydna, 168 BC: The Fall of the Antigonids 208

X Legions and Phalanxes 243

Glossary 257

Bibliography 273

Index 283

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