Miniatures Talk

Did the Greeks carry flags?

Posted by Ochoin on 14 Apr 2021, 03:04

Specifically , a question for Pyrrhus' army : my current project.

I've started working on P.'s Companion cavalry (his agema or bodyguard) & I want to know if I can include a flag-bearer.

I've actually found a suitable Pyrrhic paper flag but what's stopping me is confirmation that flags were carried in this period of history.

Some of the very clever Benno members are sure to know.

donald
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Ochoin  Scotland
 
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Posted by Bluefalchion on 14 Apr 2021, 04:55

The first answer that springs to mind is "no." But I would consult our ancients masters like Cryns, Kostis, Mr. Andrea, MABO, and the like.
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Posted by despertaferro on 14 Apr 2021, 09:07

I think iconic totemic elements (preferably of animal or mythological origin) would work better and be much more reliable.
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Posted by Michael Robert on 14 Apr 2021, 11:15

Well Donald, I'll have a try and give my 3 cents.
I would view it in the spirit of purpose and tactics of the time.
The classic Greeks were citizens - they lived in the first democracies! The armies consisted of free individuals, with commanders more like "first among equals" than Kings or generals. To me this indicates that these guys had individual signs - their shields - but no real tactical field signs. They reckognized each other in their Phalanx formation. That's it. They had some flute music, but was it used to command or simply to encourage? I opt for the latter.
Now this certainly changes during the hellenistic period and successor states. Here there were real Kings who needed to "show" their existence and power. No idea what these signs looked like, but i also would opt for field signs and not flags. Look what the Romans used. Inspiration can come from the totem of King Pyrrhus.
Please show the result
Michael
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Posted by Mr. Andrea on 14 Apr 2021, 12:37

I concur with Micahel. I do not recall any archeological finds, historical tales or figures on vases referencing on the use of flags. I also went through my Osprey publication on ancient greeks and there is no reference of sort to the use of flags in battles. Some banners or carved wooden tablets (dokana) were maybe used for religious ceremonies, but nothing related to war. Some historians suggested that Lakonian dokana may have been carried into battle before the king (yes, Sparta was ruled by kings). So the shields, decorated with the owner's individual crest, were the only emblems brought to battle. So to say, don't bother with flags for your army, work on the shields. If you don't want to spend money on decals, you can colour-print on thin paper. Looking forward to seeing your Pyrrhic army completed.

Ahahahaha, and now to the end, I realized your painting Pyrrus' army and not greeks. So my post is meaningless.
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Posted by Ochoin on 14 Apr 2021, 14:24

Mr. Andrea wrote:I work on the shields. If you don't want to spend money on decals, you can colour-print on thin paper. Looking forward to seeing your Pyrrhic army completed.
.


I've been hand painting shield designs so far. My two units of Greek spearmen (HaT) have individual shield designs as befits free citizens of Taras, whilst the Epirote phalanx (Newline) has the Macedonian sun, evidently favoured by Pyrrhus. Not bad, so far.

If Linear A produces acceptable phalangites, I'll make them a second, inferior, phalanx of Tarentines....not sure what I'll do about their shield designs....probably the Macedonian star as they were raised, equipped & trained by Pyrrhus.

And Gentlemen, I found this:

https://www.fotw.info/flags/gr_ancgr.html

Whilst in no way contradicting your views on military flags, it does seem that naval ships may have carried them.

The foinikis, a banner used by a general to signal the start of a battle is interesting. Pyrrhus, in the manner of Alexander, was a very commanding figure who controlled his army quite tightly. I'd imagine signals using horns would have been his preference, though.

I've noticed some wargamers putting Pyrrhus' "initials" on shields ( & even banners). This is based on contemporary coins:

https://ancientbattles.com/Vendel_eleph ... e_coin.jpg

I should say, researching your armies & the period is sometimes frustrating but always rewarding.

donald
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Ochoin  Scotland
 
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Posted by Mr. Andrea on 14 Apr 2021, 15:21

Thanks for sharing, Donald. Interesting readings.
And now I shall paint my third ancient Greek DBA army: the Spartans. Also because for my 50th birthday I got this

Image

and I will wear it when playing the Spartans!
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Posted by Michael Robert on 14 Apr 2021, 17:26

Happy birthday Mr Andrea,
and no, you must wear the helmet when you paint your army. I insist. Only then you can obtain the graal in figure painting :-) ;-)
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Posted by Peter on 14 Apr 2021, 17:48

Does this count? In 2004 they did! ;-)

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:-D
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Posted by MABO on 14 Apr 2021, 18:10

Michael Robert wrote:Happy birthday Mr Andrea,
and no, you must wear the helmet when you paint your army. I insist. Only then you can obtain the graal in figure painting :-) ;-)


He has to wear his glasses. Otherwise he only paint extreme camo everywhere. So no helmet possible. :-D
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Posted by MABO on 14 Apr 2021, 18:24

I oonly found hints on standartbearers in the Phyrric armies and also for the Macedonian troops. Comparable to the Roman ones. But I will have a look in my books at home.
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Posted by ToneTW on 14 Apr 2021, 22:39

My view Donald is, if you want your Pyrrhic army to have flags or a vexillium then go for it!
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Posted by MABO on 15 Apr 2021, 20:05

Maybe that helps: :yeah:

Image

Image
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Posted by Ochoin on 15 Apr 2021, 23:01

Thank you very much. That is excellent.

I need to think it over but it may be OK to have Pyrrhus' heavy cavalry (his agema) carrying a standard hung from a crosspiece.

I might - if I ever get a suitable figure - give a Pyrrhus command stand a standard bearer too.

donald
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Ochoin  Scotland
 
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Posted by Hobbyinovator on 21 Apr 2021, 10:43

Michael Robert wrote: They had some flute music, but was it used to command or simply to encourage? I opt for the latter.


Straight out of memory i recall reading in Anabasis - The Persian expedition by Xenofon that the Greek mercenaries recruited by the Persian King/Prince Cyrus were training advancing in Phalanx formation at the camp. They advanced thowards their the part of the camp where their Persian allies were and gaining momentum in the advance they were almost running rather than walking thowards the theoretic enemy, the persian allies starting to panic whilst in their normal camp duties when seeing the Greeks almost running against them. Suddenly the horn signal for stop advancing was called and the Hoplites stopped dead in their tracks amongst a crowd of laughter.
So there definitely seems to have been horn command signals.
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Posted by Xantippos on 18 Jul 2021, 15:02

I would say definitely some kind of identifying apparel was used, Pyrrhus was using a very heterodox army, and many times fighting against armies which would look very very similar! if this was achieved just by painted shields, some kind of metallic standard, crude flags, or proper banners, is hard to say. But if I had to, I would make one, it just looks fun!
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Posted by SurudRump on 26 Oct 2021, 16:08

I can add to historical reference - the 1st flag made of cloth appeared in 480 BC in ancient Greece on the day of the Battle of Silamina. At that time it was a signal to attack. If to talk about whole history - about 5 thousand years ago in ancient Egypt one of the totems was a falcon. Firstly, during the campaigns the warriors carried long staves with special badges - symbols of their units, the top of which was topped with a figurine of falcon. Later, only a few falcon feathers were attached to poles; then they added a long ribbon that fluttered in the wind. The result was a flag... It`ll be really hard to find a flag similar to that period. As an option you can check unique lights for flag pole and see if it fits you.
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