Legion versus Phalanx

The Epic Struggle for Infantry Supremacy in the Ancient World

Legion versus Phalanx cover

Legion versus Phalanx

The Epic Struggle for Infantry Supremacy in the Ancient World

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Taking a populist approach to a serious subject, Myke Cole combines a novelist's flair for drama with an ancient historian's eye for detail to create a unique book that delves into one of the most popular areas of the Ancient World.

From the time of Ancient Sumeria, the heavy infantry phalanx dominated the battlefield. Armed with spears or pikes, standing shoulder to shoulder with shields interlocking, the men of the phalanx presented an impenetrable wall of wood and metal to the enemy. Until, that is, the Roman legion emerged to challenge them as masters of infantry battle.

Covering the period in which the legion and phalanx clashed (280–168 BC), Myke Cole delves into their tactics, arms and equipment, organization and deployment. He draws on original primary sources to examine six battles in which the legion fought the phalanx – Heraclea (280 BC), Asculum (279 BC), Beneventum (275 BC), Cynoscephalae (197 BC), Magnesia (190 BC), and Pydna (168 BC).

Cole shows how and why the Roman legion, with its flexible organization, versatile tactics and iron discipline, came to eclipse the hitherto untouchable Hellenistic phalanx and dominate the ancient battlefield.

Table of Contents


PART I: And in this Corner . . . Examining the Legion and the Phalanx
1. Who Would Win in a Fight? The Eagle and the Lion
2. Not your Father's Phalanx: The Legacy of Iphicrates
3. Mules that Kill: Under the Eagle of Rome

PART II: Fight! The Legion versus the Phalanx in Six Battles
4. Heraclea (280 BC): Rome's First Test
5. Asculum (279 BC): "One more such victory, and we are undone."
6. Beneventum (275 BC): Pyrrhus' Last Gasp
7. Cynoscephalae (197 BC): The Legion Triumphant
8. Magnesia (190 BC): No Refuge for Hannibal
9. Pydna (168 BC): The Fall of the Antigonids
10. Legions and Phalanxes


Product details

Published 23 Jan 2020
Format Paperback
Edition 1st
Extent 288
ISBN 9781472841124
Imprint Osprey Publishing
Dimensions 234 x 153 mm
Series General Military
Short code GNM
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing

About the contributors


Myke Cole

Following a long career in the military, intellige…


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