Both of those weapon can be used easily in a tight formation, in a shield wall, or individually. Other weapons like the axes and maces need a bit more elbow room to be truely effective.
How do you have room to use your spear when you have friends pressed at your back and enemies pressed at your face? Do you lift it to stab downwards? That can't have been very effective...
Overhand stab. As the enemy gets closer, you move your hand closer to the spearhead. It is possible to crowd a spearman so he cannot use his spear, the problem is that you have to crowd him until you are to close to use axes, maces or most swords.
It was used frequently during the English Civil War, though they didn't mix pike and musket troops. The musketmen would wait until the pike blocks met and became embroiled in the 'push at pike', then flank and enfilade the enemy pikemen (unless their opposite number got in the way, in which case they'd need to be driven off first).
That only works in small skirmishes (i.e. it works at the level of a battlion, but when you have tens of thousands of men facing each other only the musketeers located on the extreme flanks could do this), and requires your musketeers to defeat the enemy musketeers in fight with swords beforehand. Come to think of it, it would probably be best to have your musketeers fire a single volley, and then charge with draw swords into the pikemen's flank. Anyway, IIRC it was the dragoons Cromwell used to outflank and enfilade the enemy in the major engagements, not the footslogging musketeers.
The disrupting effect of a volley of pila is almost always underestimated. The roman formations would have been much less successful without the holes opened by the pila.
That depends who their enemies were.
AFAIK Romans beated the Macedonian phalanx by their superior maneuverability. What i believe is that they encircled or overflanked the phalanx divisions, i think they couldnt have outmanuevered them if they didnt have alternative divisions for distractions and strikes. Thats why i think that they outnumbered the Macedonians.
What i meant by schiltrom was a round/circle wall of spears, by that way the Macedonians could have rendered the superior numbers of Romans obsolete.
And by the way i think it would be the shields what would allow a swordsmen division to breakthrough a wall of spears, not their swords. You COULD chop or deflect the spears with a sword but i think it wouldnt be easy since the enemy should be constantly trying to thrust them. You would need a strong shield to push furher.
Allegro, you don't seem to realise the difference bewteen a pike and a spear. A pike is a two-handed weapon, normally held below the shoulder, and is extremely long and extremely unwieldy. Some pikes can be braced using a single hand, leaving the other free for a shield, but they cannot then be directed effectively. A spear is a single-handed weapon, most often combined with a shield and most commonly (and effectively) wielded by means of an overhand thrust. Despite superficial resemblances and the fact that one of them grew out of the other, these are very different weapons.
Did you ever wonder why the phalanx was so deep? Because it was incredibly deep. The Macedonian phalanx was at least 16 ranks deeps, and the hoplite phalanx was often even deeper. In the Renaissance, this was taken even further, and phalanxes more then fifty ranks deep were not unheard of. This, however, in no way contributed to their solidity against cavalry charges. At the battle of Dreux (1562), it was seen that, should a heavy cavalryman break through the initial wall of lowered pikes, he could then litterally plough through an almost unlimited number of men. Indeed, although the Swiss pikemen accomplished at Dreux one of the greatest feats of infantry against cavalry in all of military history, they were unable to prevent the Huguenot gendarmes from riding straight through their formation, not once but several times. Nevertheless, the courage of the Swiss, who kept reforming their phalanx in the face of repeated, determined charges by the enemy cavalry resulted both in significant losses to the Protestant cavalry, and, more importantly, the physical exhaustion of their horses.
To get back to the general case, the depth of the phalanx was required because, quite simply, a single soldier cannot actually thrust his pike with killing force; thus, it was necessary for the soldiers in the rear to propel their comrades in the van forwards bodily, in order to achieve enough momentum to drive a pike through an enemy soldier; by comparison, a single swordsman, axeman or spearman can deliver killing blows without being supported. The Romans did not outflank the Macedonians due to their superior numbers, but because their weapons were more efficient, allowing them to deploy in a much thinner line without decreasing their formation's strength.
Moreover, you may have noticed that the phalanx is something that keeps popping up in military history, and then disappearing. It is possibly even older than the shield wall, meaning it could be the oldest tactic in the book. Sumerian reliefs from the 3rd millenium BCE show soldiers fighting in a phalanx formation. Around 1200 BCE, the Mycenaeans replaced their rectangular shields with 'figure-eight' shields, which like the later aspis shields were the first step towards phalanx warfare. What the phalanx required was a surplus of youg men for the draft, enabling massive formations. It should also be noted that a phalanx was hardly a battle-winning tactic in itself. The phalanx served as the mainstay of the line, and in this capacity was highly effective due to it's solidity. The phalanx could hold the enemy in place, and provide a protection behind which lighter units could regroup. But the light infantry and the cavalry were very much necessary in order to achieve victory.