In the first place, however, he changed the faulty practice of the Achaeans in drawing up and arming their soldiers. For they used bucklers which were easily carried because they were so light, and yet were too narrow to protect the body; and spears which were much shorter than the Macedonian pike. For this reason they were effective in fighting at a long distance, because they were so lightly armed, but when they came to close quarters with the enemy they were at a disadvantage.
Moreover, a division of line and formation into cohorts was not customary with them, and since they employed a solid phalanx without either levelled line of spears or wall of interlocking shields such as the Macedonian phalanx presented, they were easily dislodged and scattered. Philopoemen showed them all this, and persuaded them to adopt long pike and heavy shield instead of spear and buckler, to protect their bodies with helmets and breastplates and greaves, and to practise stationary and steadfast fighting instead of the nimble movements of light-armed troops.
After he had persuaded those of military age to arm themselves in this manner, in the first place he inspired them with confidence that they had thus become invincible, and then made most excellent reforms in their luxurious and extravagant ways of living. For it was not possible to remove altogether their empty and idle emulation from a people long addicted to it.
They were fond of costly apparel, the coverings of their couches were dyed purple, and they vied with one another in banquets and table array. But he made a beginning by diverting their love of show from what was unnecessary to what was serviceable and honourable, and speedily persuaded and incited them all to check their daily expenditures upon bodily wants, and to find their chief adornment in military and warlike equipments.
And so one might have seen the workshops filled with goblets and Therycleian plate1
which were being broken up, with breastplates being gilded, with shields and bridles being silvered over, while in the places of exercise colts were being broken in and young men were learning the use of heavy armour, and in the hands of women there were helmets and plumes for dyeing, and horsemen's tunics or soldiers' cloaks for embroidering.
The sight of all this increased men's courage, called forth their energies, and made them venturesome and ready to incur dangers.
For extravagance in other objects of display induces luxury and implants effeminacy in those who use them, since something like a pricking and tickling of the senses breaks down serious purpose; but when it is seen in the trappings of war it strengthens and exalts the spirit, just as Homer represented Achilles, when his new armour was laid down near him, as exulting at the sight and all on fire to get to work with it.2
After he had thus arrayed and adorned the young men, Philopoemen exercised and drilled them, and they eagerly and emulously obeyed his instructions.
For the new order of battle pleased them wonderfully, since it seemed to secure a close array that could not be broken; and the armour which they used became light and manageable for them, since they wore or grasped it with delight because of its beauty and splendour, and wished to get into action with it and fight a decisive battle with their enemies as soon as possible.