What do you think were some of ATG’s biggest/best innovations in warfare? Additionally (and this is kind of a thought more than a question) I thought it was incredibly fascinating how quickly he took to naval warfare despite most Macedonian military expertise being land-based (although I might be wrong)
It took him a while to catch on to naval power, actually—perhaps not surprisingly as Macedon was never that sea focused. Some recent archaeology suggests Pydna was a Macedonian port from way back, and certainly Archelaos moved the capital from Aegae to Pella in order to get a protected port on the Thermaikos Gulf. Later, Kassandros would combine several old settlements NE of Pella into Thessaloniki. Yet the goal of all these seems to have been trade more than military, albeit by Kassandros’ time, he was thinking military too, and certainly the Antigonids did.
Philip rather famously had to retreat his own “navy” (essentially a bunch of pirate-type pentakonters) when only about 20-30 Athenian triremes showed up during one of his campaigns in the north. He would manage to seize over 200 triremes when they were beached but couldn’t take them on the water. The non-Athenian boats he freed, but the Athenians ones? Did he use them himself? Nope, he broke them down for siege engine timber. As we’ll see, siege engineering is where he threw money.
He did realize he needed a better navy before going up against Persia, but his solution was to use Athens’, not build his own—despite owning acres upon acres upon acres of perfect ship timber. It still takes money to build those ships, even if not paying for the timber, and ol’ Phil just didn’t have it then. Plus, navies have to be maintained (ships deteriorate), and I’m not sure Philip cared enough to make that sort of long-term commitment. Alexander is the first Macedonian king (that we know of) to invest significantly in building warships, not just borrowing other people’s, and that wasn’t until late in his career, India forward.
Why the change? I’m about 90% convinced his real next target (before his death) wasn’t Arabia, but Carthage. So obviously, he needed a huge navy, and Persia’s navy (which he was now responsible for) had been famous. Yet he was also building boats for trade linking India back to Asia, specifically Babylon, which is why he made the whole Gedrosia trek in the first place. Baloney on him trying to outdo Cyrus and Semiramis. That’s largely imposition by later authors. He was looking for trade routes.
I do find it curious that the nation who supplied Athens with such copious amounts of ship timber that it became the 3rd front in the Peloponnesian War was not, herself, a naval power.
In terms of military innovation, Philip did more with basic equipment. He created the sarissa, devised the hammer and anvil tactic, and employed combined arms in a masterful way. He’s also the one who invested in artillery. That’s where his extra money went, instead of into ships. Alexander largely refined technology.
Alexander’s military innovations were more in the realm of ideas. Philip had made a few moves towards advancement on ability (not birth). Alexander pushed that forward post-Gaugamela. If he couldn’t touch the highest positions (and may not have wanted to right then), he did introduce advancement on bravery and ability with the lower-level offices among both infantry and cavalry. Especially with cavalry, this would have been tough to force through, as cavalry was traditionally for the elite (who could afford horses). Naturally, they expected to advance based on family connections. Also, following the downfall of Philotas, the cavalry was divided up into increasingly independent units. It started with the division between Hephaistion and Kleitos, but after Kleitos’s death, Alexander broke down the Companions into six hipparchies…not unlike the way the infantry taxeis were each under the command of a single general, who then answered to the man in charge of that wing of the army (Parmenion or Alexander, or later, Krateros or Alexander). This both allowed the army to operate more efficiently, but also prevented too much power concentrated in the hands of any one person. AND it rewarded ability, which tied the receiver to the king, breaking down mini-family dynasties within the army. (Such as Parmenion’s.) Philip had tried this a bit with the Pezhetairoi (later called Hypaspists), who were selected for size and courage. Alexander really expanded it, and renovated how the army command structure worked.
Likewise, Alexander had a rare ability to come up with, on the spot, new ways to use old toys. So, for instance, he put siege engines on boats to attack Tyre. In Thrace, earlier, he used a turtle (and gravity) to break apart carts rolled down on troops from above. He also used sarissai to “mow” down a big wheat field to attack the enemy from an unexpected direction. He built ginormous ramps all around Gaza to bring his machines up to the level of the walls. In India, he used “junk” from the countryside to fill in “impossible” ditches and construct a causeway to attack a mountain fort. Etc. Basically if somebody told him, “You can’t do that,” he figured out a way to do it anyway.
Militarily, he was the ultimate problem-solver, and he was brilliant at military organization. But Philip was more the innovator when it came to the tools of war, from weapons and armor to artillery, even if his son would then use that artillery in ways he hadn’t thought of.
The Greek gods and what they’d order at Starbucks:
Zeus: Caffe Americano and a steak and cheese panini
Hera: One shot skinny iced latte and an almond croissant
Poseidon: Cool lime refresher and a tuNAH sandwich
Amphitrite: Just a bottle of water
Athena: Iced Latte and a butter croissant
Hestia: Gingerbread Latte and a cinnamon swirl
Demeter: Matcha tea iced latte and a spinach and pea falafel wrap
Hades: Cappuccino and an all day breakfast wrap
Persephone: Pink coconut Starbucks refresher and a cherry crown
Aphrodite: Strawberry açai refresher and a white chocolate and rapsberry Blondie
Ares: Cold Brew coffee and a traditional sausage sandwich
Hephaestus: Chai Latte and a s’mores muffin
Artemis: Flat White and a blueberry muffin
Apollo: Orange mango refresher and a lemon loaf cake
Hermes: Espresso Americano and a bacon sandwich
Dionysus: Peach Iced Tea and a birthday cake cookie
Eros: Strawberries and cream Frappuccino And a chocolate brownie
Hecate: Pumpkin Spiced Latte
Eris: Cookies and Cream Frappuccino and a no meat-ball marinara wrap
Someone once said that the titles of jane austen's novels are the name of the problems in the books. For example: in pride and prejudice the biggest problem is the conflict between pride and prejudice. So that makes Emma the biggest problem in Emma and, now that I have started reading the novel, I have never agreed more with something than I agree with this.
Do you ever think about how many of the items now considered priceless artifacts were once commonplace items? The coins we now marvel at from behind the glass at a museum were once tossed around, stepped on, and traded around. The pottery painstakingly pieced back together was somebody’s favorite wine jug. The decorative pin now rusted and bent once held together the shoulder of someone’s chiton. History is simply a trail of ordinary people going about their day, and I think there’s an odd sort of beauty in that.