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Cyrus' Revolt against the Medes

Started by rodge, March 23, 2020, 10:00:03 PM

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rodge

What kind of force would Cyrus have led against the Medes (before the defection of Harpagus and part of the Mede army)?
Persian nobles and their retinue; seperate spear and bow foot units, the odd chariot, a very few light and heavy cavalry? I know this will be informed guesswork in the main...

Duncan Head

Read the Cyropaidia for Xenophon's version. Allegedly Cyrus invented Persian heavy infantry...  And he reckons the Persians originally had few or no cavalry, but Cyrus organized a cavalry force only after overthrowing the Medes.  There seems to be no supporting evidence for any of this, though.
Duncan Head

rodge

Thanks. Been looking at the Cyropaidia today. Just wondered if there was any new thinking on Cyrus.

rodge

#3
Cyropaidia reminds me of the kind of rhetoric I used to write in O level mocks. Still, it's what we have.
Duncan, when do you think a corps like the Immortals emerged? Post the Babylon campaign?

Duncan Head

QuoteAccordingly he selected ten thousand lancers (doruphoroi) from among them, to keep guard round the palace, night and day, whenever he was at home, and to march beside him whenever he went abroad. ... This royal guard that he established there ... survive to this day unaltered.
- Cyropaedia VII.5.68-70

So Xenophon thinks after the conquest of Babylon, yes. I don't think we have any non-Greek evidence to check against it.
Duncan Head

rodge

Thanks. What do you think the bulk of his infantry were for the Lydian Campaign? On the Mede model of seperate bow and spear units or combined?

Duncan Head

No idea. Even "the Mede model" is pretty hypothetical.
Duncan Head

rodge


Andreas Johansson

I don't think we've got any non-Greek evidence that the Immortal corps even existed.

Given that mixed formations of spearmen and archers seem to have had a long history in Mesopotamia, I'd be tempted to assume Persian infantry was sparabarah style from very early on. It seems more likely they adopted the style before rather than after the conquest of Babylonia, because conquerors are rarely in much hurry to copy the system they'd just defeated.

(That said, there's a lot of time between the conquest of Babylonia and Herodotus' battle-accounts, so maybe hurry wasn't needed.)

I'm disinclined to put much store in the story about Cyaxares' reform, because mixed formations of spearmen, archers, and cavalry would be decidedly odd. More likely we're seeing a folk memory of Cyaxares as a culture hero bringing order to society in general. And while it's prima facie plausible the early Persians were more influenced by their Median overlords than by their Mesopotamian neighbours, if we assume they used separate units of spearmen and archers under Median influence, we must then also assume a switch (?back) to mixed formations, which isn't terribly parsimonious.
Lead Mountain 2024
Acquired: 146 infantry, 55 cavalry, 0 chariots, 14 other
Finished: 72 infantry, 2 cavalry, 0 chariots, 3 other

rodge

Thanks Andreas
This sums up the Immortal debate nicely: http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/immortals
However, nothing a gamer likes more than a handy classification, however spurious.

I'm very new to this period, hence the questions. Armati lacks a detailed army list 553-526BC and virus isolation offers a perfect excuse.

Your Sparabara idea makes a lot of sense, do you therefore think the Medes followed the same mixed unit organisation?

Andreas Johansson

Quote from: rodge on March 25, 2020, 08:45:03 AM
Your Sparabara idea makes a lot of sense, do you therefore think the Medes followed the same mixed unit organisation?
I'd rather not guess what pre-Achaemenid Median infantry were like!

If I were writing an army list, I might go for a global choice; either all mixed, or all separate units of archers and spearmen. That would allow players to choose whether they believe in Cyaxares' reform, or prefer to project the sparabarah style they used in Persian Wars back to the pre-Achaemenid era.

If your rules happen to have something for mixed mounted and foot units, one might allow it as a third option - presumably with a date-limit to not after the reign of Cyaxares - but I wouldn't suggest coming up with such a classification just to handle early Medes.
Lead Mountain 2024
Acquired: 146 infantry, 55 cavalry, 0 chariots, 14 other
Finished: 72 infantry, 2 cavalry, 0 chariots, 3 other

rodge

Quote from: Andreas Johansson on March 25, 2020, 09:19:03 AM
If I were writing an army list, I might go for a global choice; either all mixed, or all separate units of archers and spearmen. That would allow players to choose whether they believe in Cyaxares' reform, or prefer to project the sparabarah style they used in Persian Wars back to the pre-Achaemenid era.

That is where I'm at.

aligern

Is it worth giving some consideration to the Elamites. They are a major military force and have a 'style' that would presumably become incorporated into the Persian army  which could be seen as a meld of Persian, Mede and Elamite.

Roy .

Andreas Johansson

7th century Assyrian reliefs show Elamite infantry as unshielded archers, while Herodotus has the Cissians - i.e. the people of lowland Elam around Susa - in Xerxes' army equipped like the Persians with spear, shield, and bow.

The Nigels tell me that Assyrian inscriptions mention shielded archers. While they don't show up on reliefs, one could imagine them being proto-sparabara with pavises.
Lead Mountain 2024
Acquired: 146 infantry, 55 cavalry, 0 chariots, 14 other
Finished: 72 infantry, 2 cavalry, 0 chariots, 3 other

Duncan Head

I have the vaguest of memories of Nigel T saying somewhere that the source is ambiguous and might just mean "archers and shield-bearers".

Here is an article on Elamite bows, which looks interesting in its own right but may not help much.
Duncan Head