Greek Soldiers On Campagin
A Reflection Of Society
Without a doubt the nature of Greek armies seem primitive, even by early Imperial Roman standards. Outside Sparta, the weakness of state authority was carried into the military. Officers had a difficult job of trying lead and steer a communal sense of discipline amongst soldiers that did not appreciate being told what to do. Athenian generals could bind, bar, or fine disorderly soldiers, and execute traitors. Informal punishments consisted of punching a soldier, or using a stick or spear to beat an individual. But this was viewed as extreme. Cowardice or deilia was considered a profound morale failure and could also be punished. Spartans were different, having made a virtue of obedience. They had formal sub-units, officers, centralised baggage, supply officers, doctors and mandatory physical training, and their system was refined on campaign. Macedonian excellence also took time to develop.
Xenophon gives his ideal army with ten man files called decades. The dekas could be split in two five man pempades, singular pempas. Soldiers were lined up for meals as on the battlefield. In "The Cavalry Commander" he also suggests a ten man dekas within the Athenian tribal cavalry regiments. Macedonians took this file system further, with units of ten and later sixteen men, and Romans also adopted either an eight or perhaps ten man tent party. But rather than been a military organisation, the suskenia mirrored the aristocratic symposium or drinking party. Indeed the army councils mirrored the citizen assemblies. As such the army was a reflection of Greek society. Friends, family and colleges drinking and eating together, making sacred fire together, and going without together.