The power of what?

$ cat nano/Inaros_advancing_20051128.txt | perl wc.pl
W: 82227 (MP: 328.908, PP: 164.454), %: 68.5225

According to the on-line, official validator, I'm 41,525 words into the Nano... This throws a grand totale of 8,475 words left. Will I get there? I'm pushing for it! We'll see, anyway...

As for the story, after a really nice Gymnopaideia ceremony, and a meeting with one of the Ephoros of Sparta, I fell exhausted, and decided to skip the rest of the story for the time being... A big jump ahead, two years, and we are back in Sidunnu (Sidon), where preparations for the final assault are being conducted.

I currently have the army leaving southwards. Artabazos has contributed with 10,000 infantry, 2,000 cavalry and 1,000 engineers, while Megabyzos has put into the field some 6,000 cavalry and 16,000-18,000 infantry, plus another division (1,000) of engineers, food, and so on... The fleet has settled in 30 trirremes and 50 pentekonterae, because a bigger one to fight the yaunâ (Greek) fleet would be too much a nurden in terms of training and food (specially). My calculations are, anyway conservative. Total numbers, thus, run about this:

* 28,000 infantry
* 8,000 cavalry
* 8,500 sailors

Far from the half million assembled at Memphis, I know, but those numbers are simply impossible, and I won't pay more attention to them. I will join the Eastern army, sited in the East river bank fortress and Heliopolis with this army, I may try to get some more troops off Pelusion once is re-taken, though I'm not sure about it, and I may manage, probably, to get the Memphis army out for the final battle as well, but I'm not sure about it... No way near 300,000-500,000, but a pretty big army anyway, and I pre-visualize a huge battle, jay! :-)

Original numbers I attempted were closer to the 44,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry, but moving that huge army through the desert down the Way of Horus is unthinkable, even if the whole of the fleet is devouted to carrying the food, which it is anyway.

Army size in ancient armies was not limited by the amount of men or food you could gather, but by the amount of food available in the places your army moved and were deployed. Not having any ways of refrigerating food, or maintaining fresh water, licquours and other spirits would have been mixed with the water to avoid corruption, and food should be mostly dried fruits, hard bread and fish, but a good part of the Way of Osiris runs away from the sea, I need the army to move and not die, therefore I must make it smaller... Even then, reducing the slaves to the minimum, the final size of the army with those numbers given above raises over 40,000 people, plus well over 10,000 animals, which is an unthinkable amount of daily water. I shudder only thinking about it.

Anyway, we'll start sweetly, warming up the less experimented troops by pacifying Syria and Judea (at this moment in the novel, I have most of what's south Dor in rebellion, or taken over by the Greeks, which means Dor, Samaria, Gaza, Jerusalem, and most of the important sites north the Sinai. If my calculations are OK, I'll have to pay a visit to byblical administrator Ezra, in order to put things into perspective, (hehe) before moving down to the full desert, and finally Pelusion.

The more I think about the size and complexity of all the operations I'm writing about, the more I get astonished by what was performed by our distant ancestors... Just incredible.

Well, back to work, still lots to write and think as well... Sparta will wait until Nano-pressure is a bit off and I can set my mind into political games mode...

Power to the Nanoers!



Pacal said...

I,m glad to see from what I've read that my book was of some use. I agree that the numbers given by Ktesias, Diodorus are a joke, in real bad taste.

A side issue is the role of these numbers in creating the myth of the huge "Oriental horde" and the small "European" army fighting it off.

I suspect that the strength of the Persian army was its cavalry. From Herodotus and others it appears that most Persian infantry was no match for Hopilite infantry in close combat.

Regarding logistics while I agree that the central determining factor for ancient armies was the "carrying" capacity of the lands they were campaigning through. Transportation by land was real expensive, however transportatyion by sea was a lot less expensive. So a army having some sort of logistics support by sea had a logistics advantage. To illustrate if the price figures in Diocletion's edict on prices are anything to go on, it was cheaper to transport a load of grain from one end of the mediterrian to the other than 100 miles overland. In fact it appears that transporting grain c. 60-150 miles, depending on area, in effect doubled its price.

The importance of Egypt in terms of grain was not simply its grain production but its very easy access to relatively inexpensiver river transportation. In other words it was cheaper to transport grain from Egypt to Rome than to transport it more than c.50 miles overland to Rome. (This is disputed but you get the point)

As for the battle that relieved the "White Castle" at Memphis. Both Thucydides and Ktesias mention a battle. Ktesias with a doubling of the old wounding story about the battle a Pampris, thatr is very dubious. Diodorus ignores it, probably because Ephorus, Diodorus' source didn't want to sully the Heoic image of the Greeks and the Barbarians being in awe of them, by having Megabyzus beating them badly.

I have no idea how Megabyzus did it. I suspect he avoided a close order infantry engagement, or attacking the Greeks and their allies. I strongly suspect he lured them away from Memphis into the desert where he could use his calvary to advantage. He may have used his calvary to launch raids to disrupt his enemaies supply lines and dispostions and so provoke his enenamy to attack him.

Once lured from Memphis Megabyzus could have kept the attention of the Greeks with mock / holding attacks and concentrated on the Egyptians / Libyans, which the Persian infantry was at least equal too in terms of fighting power. Or he could have lured the Greeks into a trap by faking a retreat from an attack of the Greek infantry against his own and then flanking them with his calvary. and / or puting them in a untenable postion where the Greek infantry was attacked by burt unable to get at infantry bowman.

It is important to remeber that calvary at this time did not have sturrips which limited their effectivness has shock forces. This is a common mistake in describing ancient battles esspecially when Calvary charges infantry.

So I like the numbers you gave they are reasonable but of course we don't know. The side trip to Judea is of interest. Ezra was from his own account engaged in helping to maintain Judea has a part of the Persian Empire. THe Egyptian revolt provides a context for Persian concern and Ezra and later Nehemiah's mission.

Just some of my thoughts.


Excalibor said...

Pierre, your book's been a huge help, as well as your contributions, thanks a bunch!

While I agree that cavalry was probably the stronghold of Persian army, I don't think their numbers were very high... For the same reason the army cannot be too big, the same apply to horses. They drink a lot more water than humans, and need lots of food that wouldn't be generally available when camping. I'll rework all my numbers in the PHR, but I think my first shot is reasonable enough. I'll have to review ancient battles, but you don't need too big numbers of cavalry to defeat an infantry army, just enough and good strategy.

A second factor is that most historians we have from the times were Greek or cited Greek sources: if you win against a foe, you'll want it to make it big, so your victory is liekwise big; if you lose, you'll make it bigger, so you can't be blamed! :-)

Another thing to take into acount is that Persian infantry wasn't necesarily that bad, remember that the center of the Persian army, composed basically of sparabara (archers and shield bearers armed with javelins) was able to force the center of the Athenian army back (granted, it was an unusually thin phalanx just three or four ranks deep, but they simply had light shields, javelins and arrows, which all basically would be useless at close quarters against fully armed hoplites).

About transport, I have actually put most of the Phoenician fleet as cargo ships (hehe), not all of them because trirremes were huge food-demanding machines! The only problem I have to solve is how the army managed to walk through the Sinai while the fleet moved towards Pelusion, as my undestanding is that you cannot move too close to the coast in that region.

I haven't really bogged down the battle at Memphis, therefore I'll just log your ideas and have them on my tactical screen for the time I have to plot it all down and write it... :-) You offer some interesting ideas, though, I'll have to think carefully about 'em.

Finally, the trip to Judea comes actually from two things: despite obvious agenda and partiality, those parts of of the Book of the Jews looks to be based on historical facts, which makes it historical sources to be taken into account (with care, but hey!); the second is just plain common sense: if you move down and leave ports and walled towns in rebellion, you are inviting disater by taking your army off your place, with your neighbors angry, and then you won't have a place to go back or retire if needed. The only logical solution is to move down and secure your backs in your way.

Megabyzos is a great general after all... :-)

Thanks for all, now's back to the novel, or I won't make it to the 50K of Nano!