II
 

Given, then, that your troopers are thoroughly trained in all the above particulars, it is necessary, I presume, that they should further be instructed in a type of evolution the effect of which will show itself not only in the splendour of the great processions[1] in honour of the gods, but in the manouvres of the exercising-ground; in the valorous onslaught of real battle when occasion calls; and in the ease with which whole regiments will prosecute their march, or cross a river, or thread a defile without the slightest symptom of confusion. What this formation is--essential, at least in my opinion, to the noblest execution of their several duties--I will now, without delay, endeavour to explain.[2]

We take as our basis, then, the constitutional division of ten tribes.[3] Given these, the proper course, I say, is to appoint, with the concurrence of the several phylarchs, certain decadarchs (file-leaders)[4] to be selected from the men ripest of age and strength, most eager to achieve some deed of honour and to be known to fame. These are to form your front-rank men;[5] and after these, a corresponding number should be chosen from the oldest and the most sagacious members of the squadron, to form the rear-rank of the files or decads; since, to use an illustration, iron best severs iron when the forefront of the blade[6] is strong and tempered, and the momentum at the back is sufficient.

The interval between the front and rear-rank men will best be filled supposing that the decadarchs are free to choose their own supports, and those chosen theirs, and so on following suit; since on this principle we may expect each man to have his trustiest comrade at his back.

As to your lieutenant,[7] it is every way important to appoint a good man to this post, whose bravery will tell; and in case of need at any time to charge the enemy, the cheering accents of his voice will infuse strength into those in front; or when the critical moment of retreat arrives, his sage conduct in retiring will go far, we may well conclude, towards saving his division.[8]

An even number of file-leaders will admit of a greater number of equal subdivisions than an odd.

The above formation pleases me for two good reasons: in the first place, all the front-rank men are forced to act as officers;[9] and the same man, mark you, when in command is somehow apt to feel that deeds of valour are incumbent on him which, as a private, he ignores; and in the next place, at a crisis when something calls for action on the instant, the word of command passed not to privates but to officers takes speedier effect.

Supposing, then, a regiment of cavalry drawn up in this formation: just as the squadron-leaders have their several positions for the march (or the attack[10]) assigned them by the commander, so the file- leaders will depend upon the captain for the order passed along the line in what formation they are severally to march; and all being prearranged by word of mouth, the whole will work more smoothly than if left to chance--like people crowding out of a theatre to their mutual annoyance. And when it comes to actual encounter greater promptitude will be displayed: supposing the attack is made in front, by the file-leaders who know that this is their appointed post; or in case of danger suddenly appearing in rear, then by the rear-rank men, whose main idea is that to desert one's post is base. A want of orderly arrangement, on the contrary, leads to confusion worse confounded at every narrow road, at every passage of a river; and when it comes to fighting, no one of his own free will assigns himself his proper post in face of an enemey.

The above are fundamental matters not to be performed without the active help of every trooper who would wish to be a zealous and unhesitating fellow-worker with his officer.[11]

[1] e.g. the Panathenaic, as depicted on the frieze of the Parthenon.

[2] Or, "what this best order is, the adoption of which will give these several features fair accomplishment, I will without further pause set forth."

[3] See "Revenues," iv. 30.

[4] Decadarchs, lit. commanders of ten, a "file" consisting normally (or ideally) of ten men. Cf. "Cyrop. II. ii. 30; VIII. i. 14. It will be borne in mind that a body of cavalry would, as a rule, be drawn up in battle line at least four deep (see "Hell." III. iv. 13), and frequently much deeper. (The Persian cavalry in the engagement just referred to were twelve deep.)

[5] See "Cyrop." III. iii. 41, 57; VI. iii. 24, 27; VII. i. 15; "Pol. Lac." xi. 5. These front-rank men would seem to correspond to our "troop guides," and the rear-rank men to our serre-files to some extent.

[6] Cf. Aelian Tact. 26, ap. Courier.

[7] {ton aphegoumenon}, lit. "him who leads back" (a function which would devolve upon the {ouragos} under many circumstances). Cf. "Cyrop." II. iii. 21; "Hell." IV. viii. 37; Plat. "Laws," 760 D. = our "officer serre-file," to some extent. So Courier: "Celui qui commande en serre-file. C'est chez nous le capitaine en second."

[8] Or, "the rest of the squadron." Lit. "his own tribesmen."

[9] i.e. all find themselves in a position of command, and there is nothing like command to inspire that feeling of noblesse oblige which is often lacking in the private soldier. See Thuc. v. 66; "Pol. Lac." xi. 5.

[10] Lit. "where to ride," i.e. in what formation whether on the line of march or in action.

[11] Cf. "Hiero," vii. 2; "Cyrop." II. iv. 10.