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Being retarded had nothing to do with it. It’s an incredibly inflexible way to fight battles. There is a reason the Roman legions changed to the maniple system and there is a reason why Greece and Macedonia were conquered by Romans.
Put simply you need incredibly flat ground to fight effectively with hoplites. And even if you found such an area to fight in, there is no reason why an attacking force should meet you while at a clear disadvantage. Even if you did decide to meet the phalanx in battle, you could very easily preoccupy the phalanx line with a fairly small amount of men, while others exploit any gap in the line, any flank. The phalanx only worked because of how rigid and unmoving it was, this is all well and good if youre fighting in a phalanx, against other phalanx, or tribes of barely trained people, but not against a regimented but flexible army.
“The Roman order on the other hand is flexible: for every Roman, once armed and on the field, is equally well-equipped for every place, time, or appearance of the enemy. He is, moreover, quite ready and needs to make no change, whether he is required to fight in the main body, or in a detachment, or in a single maniple, or even by himself. Therefore, as the individual members of the Roman force are so much more serviceable, their plans are also much more often attended by success than those of others.”