The scar of the sword cut that disappeared behind the eye patch and reappeared again on his cheek below it gave the speaker a sinister appeal as the fire light cast its shadows over his face. His companions hung on his every word. Phillip had been a charismatic speaker even as a lowly mercenary officer in the employ of the Carthaginians he now professed to despise. That Paonean bandit’s sword stroke that had cost Phillip his eye four years earlier had put him in the healer’s hands for two months as infection and fever wracked his wounded body had done more than scar his face. He had risen from his sick bed a changed man – some said a possessed man. Some said a madman.
“We must strike now, my friends. The dogs from the South are weakened by their attempts to hold onto their positions on Sicily, Crete and Italy. There are few of our precious overlords inside the borders of Macedonia at this moment, and fewer still of them bear arms.”
His lieutenants, noticed the way the proud Macedonian leader was aping the speech patterns established by the Carthaginian nobility. Here on a hillside above Pella, the old capital of an independent Macedonia, the man who would be king was finally talking open rebellion.
“If we strike now, there will be little enough forces to react here. By the time the mercenary forces have been pulled in from Paonia and from Chalcidice we will have established a capital of our own nation here on the site of the old one. By the time they are closing on us, we will be ready and the passes will be blocked.”
“But what of their new technologies? What of their new bows, their new chariots?” The only foreigner around the fire spoke up. The wizened old Spartan was known for his wisdom and his courage and his absolute dedication to the overthrow of Carthage, the nation that had destroyed his own, indeed had subjugated the whole of the Greek peninsula.
“Do not worry, old friend. How can their mass produced bows, made in a month, be better than our own artisan-crafted ones which take eighteen months to harden. Their technology is a myth. These new Egyptian style chariots they use are lighter and faster true. But they carry only two men not three and there is no way they can stand against us one on one.”
The old Spartan kept his silence. His worries might well be groundless. He knew though, that the reason the Carthaginian bows were made so quickly was because the resin that bound the wood and horn together set in a fraction of the time. Similarly, he very much doubted that the local Carthaginian commander would meet the few Macedonian chariots one on one. Hanno, the son of the legendary conqueror of Greece, Handro, and the great grandson of the founder of the modern Carthaginian navy, Hanno for whom he was named would not make a beginner’s mistake.
That greater speed and manoeuvrability would give them an advantage over the heavier three-man model to counter the advantage of having the spearman on board as well as the archer. Phillip was, as usual ignoring the lessons from history that didn’t suit his view of things. Seven hundred years earlier, the Egyptians had proved that lighter chariots superior in their crushing victory over the Hittites at the Issus. He knew that Phillip would brook no argument on this subject so kept his peace. In any case, there was nothing Phillip could do to change his equipment let alone retrain his troops.Click here to return to book