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queenmegumi
June 18th, 2005, 07:25 PM
I couldn't find an exact thread like this so I thought I'd start one. I'm working on a series about the Greco-Persian war but having NEVER been in or seen battle of any kind (nor do I want to!) I don't know how to approach it. I don't know military terms, or the feeling of being in battle, etc. Does anyoone have recommendations for authors/works who are great at describing battle scenes? Is there an online resource, etc. It doesn't even have to be specific to ancient times but I don't know how to command an army unless it's "charge" or retreat" A little help? :confused:

Meghan R. Sullivan
The Owl and The Eagle

UberDarkLord
June 18th, 2005, 07:59 PM
I couldn't find an exact thread like this so I thought I'd start one. I'm working on a series about the Greco-Persian war but having NEVER been in or seen battle of any kind (nor do I want to!) I don't know how to approach it. I don't know military terms, or the feeling of being in battle, etc. Does anyoone have recommendations for authors/works who are great at describing battle scenes? Is there an online resource, etc. It doesn't even have to be specific to ancient times but I don't know how to command an army unless it's "charge" or retreat" A little help? :confused:

Meghan R. Sullivan
The Owl and The Eagle

Victor Davis Hansen's s The Western Way of War is an easy-to-read, comprehensive, relatively short (250p.) scholarly work on the Hoplite battles of classical Greece. Very well-written and the battles are really well-evoked (think Gates of Fire by Pressfield).
It doesn't really deal with Persians but still it is an amazing text on the Greek side.

Ward
June 18th, 2005, 09:54 PM
Keegan wrote a classic book called The Face of Battle that trys to get close to what the first hand experience of battles may have felt like. The book covers different battles in different eras--the first of which is hoplite warfare: worth checking out.

John Warry's Ancient Warfare is a good general source for Greek and Roman battles, and has some detailed accounts of the conflict you are interested in (Thermopyle, Marathon); though it doesn't try to capture first hand experience it gives you an idea of what armies and tactics were used. it is a good, introductory level book.

If you are really trying to write something for this period there is no substitute for research, and that includes more in depth books than the ones above and primary sources, starting with Herodotus and Thucydides.

Osprey has a few nice books on specific battles, armies, and soldiers of this conflict, with illustrations: it will give you a more 'material' feel for what the soildiers looked like. Also, the types of soliders used and what tactics were used in different battles.

queenmegumi
June 19th, 2005, 08:05 PM
Thanks guys that's a really big help. Do you know where I can find exact definitions for words like

company
platoon
flank
unit

etc. I don't want to sound dumb just throwing words like that around :rolleyes:

Ward
June 19th, 2005, 10:43 PM
well, if you are writing about the Greco-Persian Wars you won't need to worry about companies and platoons that's for sure (though perhaps a few looser translations might use such words, don't know). try an online encyclopedia for definitions of army organizational hierarchies (division, company, ect.), keeping in mind they differ from army to army and from time to time.

in modern armies a unit (squad) is something like 10 or so men, a platoon is three or four squads, a company is three or four (or five?) platoons.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_Rank

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/army%20unit

http://usmilitary.about.com/od/army/l/blchancommand.htm

keep in mind seeing a word such as 'division' or 'regiment' in an ancient source or a book about ancient warfare doesn't neccessarily mean the author is using that word in accordance with any one modern definiton; ie. there are basic, general pupose ways to use a word (a divsion as a smaller part of a larger force) and a rigidly precise way to use it (ie. in the modern US Army an infantry division consists of X number of men divided into 2 or more brigades). In general you don't find these kinds of rigid heirarchies in pre-gunpowder armies, ancient armies were organized and operated under different principles.

check out the John Warry book for a good intro, it is profusely illustrated and contains many maps of battles that communicate the idea of ancient organization. I got the name wrong above, its actually called Warfare in the Classical World.

link to amazon listing for Warfare in the Classical World (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0806127945/ref=pd_sxp_f/002-9397131-0759236?v=glance&s=books)

kater
June 20th, 2005, 05:46 AM
It depends on how detailed you wish to be with your battles, as an example of what I think is a fair level of detail that doesn't hinder the story trying reading David Gemmell's Lion of Macedon. It's a fantasy take on the rise of Phillip of Macedon and should give you a useful indication of how to use terms and battles without over-doing it.

Hereford Eye
June 20th, 2005, 08:32 AM
Recommend Steven Pressfield's Gates of Fire, a fictionalized account of the Battle of Thermopylae. Has a remarkable descritption of the life of a grunt in the Spartan ranks.

queenmegumi
June 20th, 2005, 05:17 PM
thanks you guys! GREAT sites they helped me get a basic concept of the chain of command. Obviously things would be different in 500 BC but it's a start. I read Pressfield and agree it's good but I don't want to copy it totally :p

I need lots of info because i'm covering several key battles and want to sprinkle in enough details to make them seem real (the details are spread out also to avoid info dumping and to make sure the chapters aren't slowed to a halt).

If you guys know any additional websites or books that give the chain of command in the Athenian/Spartan/Persian army let me know!

Thank you/Muchisimas Gracias/Arigatou gozaimashita!

Meghan R Sullivan
The Owl and The Eagle

TheEarCollector
June 21st, 2005, 09:14 PM
Look up info on the "phalanx," it was the battle formation used by the Greeks/others of that time period. Researching that will probably lead you to the structure of the military at the time, which is MUCH different than it is now.

Holbrook
June 22nd, 2005, 12:34 PM
http://www.netsword.com/cgi-bin/Ultimate.cgi

This is the forum version of "grumpy old men" but they are very knowledgeable "old" men and if you tread carefully :D :eek: They love to talk about battles from the big bang to the present day, even though the forums state Medieval.

Use the search function and you will be surprised what you turn up.

Sadly one of the mainstays of the forum died about this time last year and I still miss his humour and friendship.