Monday, October 22, 2012

Questions answered, B. Eagle 1892

January 7, 1892

To the Editor of the Brooklyn Eagle:
Can you inform me who has exercised the greatest influence (apart from religion) on the world's history? STUDENT.

Answer - There is probably no one in history who has influenced the world to such an extent as Alexander the Great. It is not too much to say that had Alexander never lived European civilization - at any rate in its present form - would not have existed. The state of the world when Alexander succeeded his father, Philip, as king of Macedon, was briefly as follows: The Greek states of Athens, Sparta, and Thebes had, in turn, sunk into decrepitude. Rome had not yet become a great power and the rest of Europe was occupied by half civilized tribes of Gauls and Teutons. Persia was a powerful empire and in the weakened condition of European states must, in course of time, have become mistress of the whole of Europe, had she not met with a check from an unexpected quarter. Macedon was a half Greek, half barbarian state, which, under its king, Philip, became the dominant power in Greece. On the death of Philip, his son, Alexander, turned his attention to the great empire of the East, and set out on a career of conquest unexampled in the history of the world. The importance of the victories of Alexander lies in the fact that wherever he went he carried with him the language, the literature, and the arts of Greece; Greek civilization. Greek energy and Greek love of freedom instead of Asiatic indolence and despotism became the ruling forces in Europe. Although, in course of time, Rome became mistress of the world, yet the Greek influence remained, and it is upon the union of Greek civilization is based. But for the genius of Alexander the whole of Europe, including the young republic of Rome, would have been overwhelmed by the tide of Asiatic invasion.

August 21, 1892

To the Editor of the Brooklyn Eagle:
What was a Greek phalanx, and how many men formed it? COMPANY B.

Answer - A phalanx in the military affairs of Greece was a square battalion or body of soldiers formed in ranks and files compact and deep, with their shields joined and pikes crossing each other, so as to render it almost impossible to break it. At first the phalanx consisted of 4,000 men, but this number was afterward doubled by Philip of Macedon, and the double phalanx is, hence, often called the Macedonian phalanx. Polybius describes it thus: "It was a square of pikemen, consisting of sixteen in flank and 500 in front: the soldiers stood so close together that the pikes of the fifth rank extended three feet beyond the front: the rest, whose pikes were not serviceable, owing to their distance from the front, couched them upon the shoulders of those who stood before them, and so locking them together in file, pressed forward to support and push on the former rank, by which means the assault was rendered more violent and irresistible." The spears of those behind also stopped the missiles of the enemy. Each man's pike was twenty-three feet long. The word phalanx is also use for any combination of people distinguished for solidity and firmness. A grand phalanx consisted of 16,384 men.


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