Polybian Views on Tactics: The Problem of Traditions and Innovations

Teitelbaum Evgeny G.

The article is devoted to the problem of traditions and innovations in Polybian views on tactics. Remaining generally within the framework of the traditional Greek view of tactics, the historian introduced a number of new elements. In his work Polybius demonstrated the growing significance of cavalry, elephants and light infantry, and of their coordination with heavy infantry. Polybius believed that the generals must not only choose a favorable position before the battle but also be competent enough to use the favorable terrain depending on the circumstances of the battle. Such views resulted from the realities of the Hellenistic period when importance of military leadership of all ranks increased. The key factor for success was an effective centralized command which was combined with the autonomous actions of individual units and flexibility in their use. The historian clearly showed the understanding and the possibility of using such innovations in the Hellenistic world. At the same time, they did not become the generally accepted norm among the Hellenes. On the contrary, Romans used the above mentioned improvements systematically and methodically. As a result, the Roman army became an effective mechanism capable of defeating different adversaries.

Keywords: Hellenistic Age, historiography, military science, military theory, strategy, tactics, legion, phalanx

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