We'll Always Have Prosopitis


OK, the crisis is over, sort of. My long time reader and collaborator, Pierre (pacal), has shaken a bit my foundations and self-pityness, and he was about right, anyway.

So, I'm back into The Libyan. I'll update the sidebar of this new layout to contemplate this one of these days.

Where were we? We were in Memphis (Libyan rebellion army and Delian League, Greek navy) and in Pelusion (Persian army).

Our impressive Satrap of Syria and General of the Armies Megabyzos (Bagabuxsha) has conquered Pelusion back from the paws of the Rebellion after a long trip through Palestine, and the Sinaí desert, and is getting ready to defeat the Rebellion once and for all.

The Greeks, led by stratégos Kharitimides, and the Rebellion army, led by the recently (self-)crowned King Ienherru (Inaros) of Libya, Son of the Sun Psammetik IV, Pharao of the Two Lands, are licking their wounds, still trying to break through the solid defenses of the White Castle of Memphis, which has been resisting a siege for almost four years.

Our "starrings" are also well positioned: Libyan Prince Amyrteos is in Bubastis, preparing a line of defense on the river, while Argyros, the Greek psiloi, and Leucon, the Sacred Band mercenary, are coordinating the efforts of the Greeks in effectively blockading the Phoenician, Persian fleet in the Pelusiac branch of the Nile. In the meantime, our young general Megabazos (Bagâbigna) is preparing the path for the Army to move to Memphis, securing the Eastern bank of the river all the way upstream to Memphis and the Eastern Fortress little army.

Now, the pieces are almost in place, and the big battle is ready to begin: the Persians will destroy the Rebellion in Memphis, and force the Delian League navy to drydock in the river island of Prosopitis, near the town of Papremis where the first big battle happened, four years ago. The remnants of the Rebellion will hide in the Libyan marshes beyond Mareia, while the Persians will siege the Greeks for 18 months before destroying them, securing the whole of the Delta and returning the normality to the Lower Egypt.

Now, the trick is, how did they do that??? You'd like to know, eh? :-)

Well, I'd love to as well! I am, however, examining different possibilities. I'll move for the more plausible one, but not if it's extremely complex to do so. The most probable path, nevertheless, is usually the fastest, but that rarely means the shortest, just the easiest to travel through...

The Persians will have to be able to win the battle (not an easy feat, as the Rebellion's been fighting and working for years, and count with a formidable army of 5,000 Greek hoplites) and force the 200 Greek triremes to land on the island instead of escaping down through Kanopos or Naukratis... I'm about to setle and start writing. I'll let you know how it goes, but experts and friends alike, you are welcome to share your thoughts... Let's discuss!

And thanks for being out there... :-)



Pacal said...

Well I hope I didn't jar you too much.

Regarding your thoughts about the battle of Memphis. I myself am not sure if there were any Greek Hopilites at Memphis at this time. They may have returned before the battle of Tanagara. however its your novel so do what seems right, besides the Athenians and Delian League could have sent reinforcements to Egypt including some Hopilites.

If you remember a post I sent you a while back there are a couple of options you have for the battle at Memphis. My personal suggestion is some sort of luring the Greeks and Libyans, Egyptians into the Desert where the Persian calvary can be used to best advantage. Or and this is an idea that occurred to me reading about the Hundred Years war, The Greeks, Egyptians and Libyans get trapped between an attack from outside and a attack from the White Castle and so are routed.

One thing to avoid is the Greeks were betrayed by their allies nonsense, (as per Diodorus, although he mentions Protopitis in this connection), it would be such a twist if it turns out that the Greek commander, in fact let his allies down. But that is unfair. I frankly suuspect they were simply no match for Megabyzus, who out smarted them. For example I wonder if he instead of marching along the Nile to Memphis, he marched across the desert and so caught them with their pants down. Rather dangerous but the stategic dislocation it caused may have made it a risk worth taking.

And Has I suggested in another post perhaps he sent another force through the swamps to block the way back to Maira. In otherwords a massive strategic turning movement. Once Megabyzus won at Memphis the defeated allies found out that forces under his control held various blocking positions on the west Nile branches leading to Maira and Pharus. The audacity of Megabyzus in ignoring Greek Naval superiority will of course take the Greeks breath away. The Greeks have concentrated their fleet near Memphis to block a crossing by Megabyzus near Memphis. Megabyzus will take extreme advantage of this slip, but in a incrediabily audacious manner. I can't emphasize enough that according to the rules of warfare at the time what I am propossing for Megabyzus is really audacious. Its a so foolish, its a brillant idea in that I strongly suspect no one would think someone would do it. Which is why it would likely work, and precisely what Megabyzus would count on.

So the Greeks, Egyptians and Libyans find out that after the Battle of Memphis that their retreat up the Nile is blocked, much to their total surprise. Moral takes a real beating. The Egyptians abondon the Nile road and get around the blocking positions by going through the desert, to get to Maira, which causes huge losses.

The Greeks then do something that Megabyzus does not expect, refusing to abandon their ships they camp on Protopitis and wait for relief. Megabyzus doesn't exdpect this because it is frankly both incrediabily dangherous and not particularily bright. The best bet would be for The Greeks (with some Egyptians)to abandon their ships and journey through the desert to get to Maira.

The Persians have no particular problem keeping the Greeks with some Egyptians bottled up on the island. looking at a map its damn obvious breaking the seige of Protopitis is going to be a damn difficult undertaking. Since the Greek commander is dead you can choose who you like to make this rather boneheaded decision.

Just my thoughts.


Excalibor said...


not jarred at all... :-)

By hoplites I really meant the Dealian fleet epibatai, which were, effectively, hoplites in disguise. I was overcome by enthusiasm, though, as the likely number is closer to 2,000 (about 10 per ship). I'd say the Greeks could be able to put some 1,500 epibatai into battle, as well as some 600 toxotai and then a varied number of rowers as generally armed psiloi... The Libyans would be able to put a varied numbers of Greek mercenaries from Kyrenaika, plus its own forces, composed of different numbers of Libyans, Egyptians, Greek citizens from Naukratis, and other sources.

The Rebel army won't be huge, but with enough money, they would be able to arm a big number of levied Egyptians and Greek rowers... I have a (relatively) important contingent of light cavalry from Libya, as well, as some old-fashioned war chariots from Sais and Papremis.

The Persians have a considerable army. However, a good part of it will be needed to secure the Nile at the different sites, and for the final confrontation, with the Rebels controlling the last year's crop, not big numbers will be available to fight.

I'll expose the armies compositions in a later post, as it's not trivial, I have several troops scattered over the place, in all parties... :-)

I really love your idea about Megabyzos's crossing through the desert instead of using the Nile! You are absolutely right, it's such an unexpected and bold movement, it's a possible explanation of why the Greeks were caught off guard, and how...

I'll leave Prosopitis for later, but you are right, the best would have been to abandon the ships and retreat by foot, but we must consider that most Greeks were rowers (and therefore hardly soldiers, unless armed for that) and that the cost of simply abandoning the Fleet for Athenians and Delian allies alike was surely impossible to accept! While it's easy to see this now, we must get into the time frameset and available information: if Megabyzos made something unexpected, they did the same. We know Athens still thought they had the control of the Delta 18 months after the battle of Memphis, so it's perfectly possible that the replacement was something done regularly, and that the Greeks in Prosopitis thought they would be able to hold until such a time when they'd break free moving from the sea and from the island. Only that Megabyzos took them before they could do so... :-)

I'm working over the map, I'll be ready to resume writing pretty soon, I'll let you know.


Gabriele C. said...

Your working on the Alaric novel had one advantage - I knew what was going on. :)

Excalibor said...

Gabrielle, aww...

I'm sorry, I am, obviously, not leaving you down, but I had to get out of that hole...

I'd actually love to discuss with you some things about Alaric and the whole project, as I'd love to save as much of it as I can, but I don't think I can do it justice at the moment (I found myself rushing so I can have time/space to tell everything, and it just felt evil to History, and the the characters, because I am dealing with people who lived, felt, thought, sensed... I just want to make it right).

I'll concentrate on Inaros, because I think I can finish that (and finally say I have finished something, besides it's a period of time I just love), and I know I will be able to do a good job with that draft, even if my best is a crappy novel, I'll have something to be proud of my work...

But stay with me, I need you as well, even if you claim to know nothing about this, it's actually about writing, and about writing history, and of that you know a great deal...

thanks for all!

Gabriele C. said...

David, I can understand why you put poor Alaric to have a nice little break somewhere in Illyricum. You have to work on the project that calls to you.

And it's a lot more difficult to write about the entire life of a historical character than making him a character in a book that deals with other, fictive main characters, and only covers a few years. For me, the siege of Rome is only the background for the story of Alamir, Aurelius Idamantes, and some others (Manius Aurelius, Raginamer, Vinicius, Mataswintha), including Alaric, Stilicho and Athaulf.

And here's to Germany/Spain in the semi finals (I think it's the earliest point we can meet).