how did ancient greek hoplites fight

He relies on the Hellenistic tactician Asklepiodotos (4.3), who mentions an offensive formation called pyknosis in which each man had two cubits (about 90 cm) and a defensive formation called synaspismos in which he had only one (about 45 cm). Archers and other lightly armed men fought in the same ranks. Though the Italian tribes, namely the socii fighting with the Romans, later adopted the new Roman fighting style, some continued to fight as hoplites. Allen Pittman suggests that hoplites overlapped their shields slightly, each man using his left hand to grab not only the leather loop at the edge of his shield but also his neighbor’s shield cord.33 This cord is visible in many vase paintings, making a complete loop around the interior of the shield. Dayton, John C. 2006. 2009. When it came into contact with the enemy, it relied in the first instance on shock tactics, that is to say, on the weight put into the first onset and developed in the subsequent thrust. It was not till Leuktra that the Greeks really learnt this particular lesson in the military art.59. Delbrück must mean that by their reassuring physical presence the rear ranks supported the front ranks and encouraged their advance. Only after the harvest had been brought in from the fields would the Greeks fight. 56. Two years later, he developed this view in a long article, ‘Über die Einführungszeit der geschlossenen Phalanx,” in which he looked not to late sources such as Pausanias and Polyainos, but to Archaic poets.22 He argued that Euboians distinguished between hoplites and lightly armed men, excluding everyone but hoplites from the ranks during the Lelantine War, which he dated to the middle of the seventh century. Perhaps in some context hoplon could refer to the shield, but this was not generally the case. Equipment was not standardized, although there were doubtless trends in general designs over time, and between city-states. It is unlikely that this strategy worked very often, as it is not mentioned frequently in ancient Greek literature. 39:375–89. Grote, George. Historians and researchers have debated the reason and speed of the transition for centuries. See Hale (this volume). Military service was the primary duty of Spartan men, and Spartan society was organized around its army. Based on his own experience exercising with replicas and his examination of spears in Greek art, Allen Pittman has argued that Greek spears were thinner than the one inch (25 mm) both scholars and reenactors have generally accepted; he suggests that 18 mm is a realistic estimate (2007: 66–69). But its history is complex. [27] Anagnostis Agelarakis, based on recent archaeo-anthropological discoveries of the earliest monumental polyandrion (communal burial of male warriors) at Paros Island in Greece, unveils a last quarter of the 8th century BC date for a hoplitic phalangeal military organization.[28]. Luginbill, Robert D. 1994. Hoplites (HOP-lytes[1][2][3]) (Ancient Greek: ὁπλίτης) were citizen-soldiers of Ancient Greek city-states who were primarily armed with spears and shields. More tentatively, he says that a man might have thrust his arm through his left-hand neighbor’s rope, then put his hand through his porpax, and finally grabbed both his loop and his right-hand neighbor’s rope, linking him both left and right. At this point, the phalanx would put its collective weight to push back the enemy line and thus create fear and panic among its ranks. This shield, which is on the low end of the range in diameter (0.82 m), had a bronze facing on the exterior that weighed 3 kg. “ ‘I Fell upon Him like a Furious Arrow’: Toward a Reconstruction of the Assyrian Tactical System.” In New Perspectives on Ancient Warfare, ed. On the other hand, van Wees and I have both argued that Greek warriors might have had more space. This very short xiphos would be very advantageous in the press that occurred when two lines of hoplites met, capable of being thrust through gaps in the shieldwall into an enemy's unprotected groin or throat, while there was no room to swing a longer sword. All hoplites were expected to take part in any military campaign when called for duty by leaders of the state. Hanson actually quotes from only one ancient account, the second part of the battle of Koroneia (not the initial fight), where Agesilaos “made a furious frontal attack on the Thebans,” according to Xenophon, “and clashing their shields together they pushed, they fought, they killed, they died” (Hellenika 4.3.19 = Agesilaos 2.12). These reforms made wars of attrition possible and greatly increased the number of casualties. Often engagements between various city-states of Greece would be resolved by one side fleeing after their phalanx had broken formation. Military Theory and Practice in the Age of Xenophon. These tactics inspired the future king Philip II of Macedon, who was at the time a hostage in Thebes, also inspired the development of new type of infantry, the Macedonian phalanx. But I do not think Hanson has made his case for a general collision. The design of helmets used varied through time. Since the forwards are only eight of fifteen players on a rugby team, perhaps Grundy might have had in mind a “scrum” of the first two or three lines, not of eight lines or more. Mainz: von Zabern, 250–63. Die Perserkriege und die Burgunderkriege. Rüstow and Köchly 1852: 10 cite Polyainos 1.10. [20] Specifically, he uses an example of the Chigi Vase to point out that hoplite soldiers were carrying normal spears as well as javelins on their backs. Delbrück 1975: 58, a translation of the third German edition of 1920. After the Macedonian conquests of the 4th century BC, the hoplite was slowly abandoned in favour of the phalangite, armed in the Macedonian fashion, in the armies of the southern Greek states. Hoplites were instrumental in the Greek victories over Persia at the battles of Marathon (490 BCE) and Plataea (479 BCE). ———. 73. Snodgrass believes, only once the armour was in place that the phalanx formation became popular. Raaflaub, Kurt, and Nathan Rosenstein, eds. The military structure created by the Spartans was a rectangular phalanx formation. Let me kill,” and led the men in a paean.38 The biographer Plutarch, who uses the phrase “marching paean” in hisLykourgos, seems to have thought the Spartans sang a paean to the accompaniment of pipes all along their advance. He’s likely to be wrong: The Assyrians probably used an integrated tactical system, employing specialist contingents of different kinds, already in the eighth century.75The Greeks had no such specialized contingents until much later. They would also carry a shield and spear, with some carrying a short sword as a secondary weapon. These policemen, cowering behind the wall of shields held by the front line in full combat gear, would then be able to dart forward and close with rioters who had ventured too close to the defensive police line.”29. 10. They fought in a mixed force that included more lightly equipped troops until the middle of the seventh century, when the number of hoplites was large enough to exclude all other fighters from the ranks, restricting them to supporting roles. A few years ago Simon Hornblower commented that “only an unusually arrogant scholar could claim to know exactly what kind of thing went on in a hoplite battle.”69 I am thankful that he included the words “unusually” and “exactly.” I feel close to certain that hoplites never carried 30+ kg of equipment. The Greek armies of the Hellenistic period mostly fielded troops in the fashion of the Macedonian phalanx. In the end only the triarii would keep a long spear (hasta) as their main weapon. We see this in the reconstruction to the right. ", This page was last edited on 20 December 2020, at 10:54. ———. ), as Professor Woodhouse supposes. “The Othismos, Myths and Heresies: The Nature of Hoplite Battle.” War in History 4:1–26. It … The old argument that a piper proves hoplites and only hoplites marching in step is invalid. The average farmer-peasant hoplite who could not afford any armor typically wore no armour, carrying only a shield, a spear, and perhaps a helmet plus a secondary weapon. Some other evidence of a transitional period lies within the text of Spartan poet Tyrtaios, who wrote, "…will they draw back for the pounding [of the missiles, no,] despite the battery of great hurl-stones, the helmets shall abide the rattle [of war unbowed]". Scholars have usually dismissed the Boeotian shield as an unrealistic heroic marker, adapted from Mycenaean figure-of-eight shields and out of place in a hoplite phalanx. For example, when the exiled Spartan king Demaratos was asked the question – why men are dishonored only when they lose their shields but not when they lose their cuirasses? The idea that Archaic Greeks fought fairly, following distinctive Greek laws of war, is a mirage based on later Greek claims about the good old days.2 But my job is to discuss the nature of hoplite fighting. Each hoplite provided his own equipment. [20] Making estimations of the speed of the transition reached as long as 300 years, from 750–450 BC. The ranks behind them would support them with their own spears and the mass of their shields gently pushing them, not to force them into the enemy formation but to keep them steady and in place. ———. The Greek hoplites were part of an ‘institution’ which fought in a phalanx formation where every member looked out for each other – and thus the aspis shield was considered as the most crucial part of hoplite equipment. Soldiers, Citizens, and the Symbols of War: From Classical Greece to Republican Rome, 500–167 B.C. Polybios says that against the Macedonian phalanx each Roman occupied three feet and had another three feet between himself and the next man in any direction.37 This spacing seems about the maximum for comfort, and it might satisfy Thucydides’ “as close as possible,” given that a man would want some space to feint and duck and manipulate his spear and sword. 1920, translated as History of the Art of War, vol. Curiously, Rutherford 1995: 114 seems to think the dance was not included in military paeans. ———. ———. Delbrück 1975: 53, a translation of the 1920 third edition. “Symbol and Story in Geometric Art.” In Ancient Greek Art and Iconography, ed. I first challenged this model in an article published in the same year in Classical Antiquity—in fact, I suspect that an earlier version of that paper, submitted to another journal and rejected by a cranky anonymous reader using a manual typewriter, prompted Pritchett’s chapter. 1991. In battle, hoplites fought as a team. The plural also occurs in Tyrtaios F 12 lines 21–22, where the good warrior “turns to flight the enemy’s rugged phalanges,” and Mimnermos F 13 line 3, where the warrior breaks “the massed phalanges of the Lydian horsemen.”. The phalanx is an example of a military formation in which single combat and other individualistic forms of battle were suppressed for the good of the whole. Donlan, Walter, and James Thompson. Fraser does say that the rugby model was founded on only three passages. 2004. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. A history of Greece; from the earliest period to the close of the generation contemporary with Alexander the Great, 12 vols. Hans van Wees. 1879. Pritchett cites two passages for the leaning of shields on shoulders. 1977. 2004. Armies generally marched directly to their destination, and in some cases the battlefield was agreed to by the contestants in advance. Hoplite warfare was the dominant fighting style on the Italian Peninsula until the early 3rd century BC, employed by both the Etruscans and the Early Roman army. See Krentz 2002: 35–37, 2011. Hoplite soldiers made up the bulk of ancient Greek armies. Leiden: Brill, 183–204. However, the hoplites were very well-organized and had ability to fight in close formations. 2007. Kromayer, Johannes, and Georg Veith. If a hoplite escaped, he would sometimes be forced to drop his cumbersome aspis, thereby disgracing himself to his friends and family (becoming a ripsaspis, one who threw his shield). 1948. Andrewes, Antony. 11. Look at how translators used to render Herodotus. Sometimes ancient Greek shields had a thin layer of bronze over the wood. Munich: C. H. Beck. Adam Schwartz has cleverly compared hoplites to Danish riot control police using double-handled, Plexiglas shields weighing less than 3 kg each. The more disciplined and courageous the army, the more likely it was to win. P. H. Blyth’s reconstruction of the best-preserved example, a fifth-century poplar specimen now in the Museo Gregoriano Etrusco, weighs 6.2 kg. “Alternative Agonies: Hoplite Martial and Combat Experiences beyond the Phalanx.” In War and Violence in Ancient Greece, ed. In taking this view, Hanson followed many distinguished scholars.52 Cartledge, for example, writes that “warfare between massed phalanxes (phalanges) was not a graceful or imaginative affair, but required above all disciplined cohesion and unyielding physical and moral strength … fighting consisted chiefly of a concerted shoving (ôthismos) akin to the tight scrummaging of modern rugby football.” This rugby analogy has proved to be a powerful one. The ancient Greek city-states developed a military formation called the phalanx, which were rows of shoulder-to-shoulder hoplites. “Eine frühgriechische Kampfform.” Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts 53:90–113. 1, Das Alterthum, 3rd ed. A rank was a row of hoplites, their shields held in their left hands and overlapping slightly. Ask Question Asked 5 years, 9 months ago. After collecting the evidence for the width of file, Pritchett concluded that hoplites deployed in files spaced about three feet apart.32 Most writers have accepted Pritchett’s conclusions, but two have argued recently for a tighter formation, at least on some occasions. The Hoplites were the ancient Greek infantry. 2007. If the Boeotian shield on vases is often used by a hero, perhaps that is because it was used by aristocraticpromachoi, aristocrats who fought in the front line. The two lines would close to a short distance to allow effective use of their spears, while the psiloi threw stones and javelins from behind their lines. Greek writers applied the term “hoplite” to Egyptians carrying shields that reached to their feet and to Macedonians who used a much smaller shield.10 Did all Greek hoplites carry this porpax shield? “The Structure of a Hoplite Shield in the Museo Gregoriano Etrusco.” Bolletino dei Musei E’Gallerie Pontifice 3:5–21. ———. ———. ———. [25] At no point in other texts does Tyrtaios discuss missiles or rocks, making another case for a transitional period in which hoplite warriors had some ranged capabilities. Lorimer, H. L. 1947. 20. The problem is a practical one, a matter of what Delbrück would have called “die Realität der Dinge.” Since modern soldiers do not fight withporpax shields, we have to look at police (who are not using replicas of Greek porpax shields) and reenactors (who are not really trying to kill each other). Washington, D.C.: Combat Forces Press. 1994. ———. Berlin: Walther & Apolant. [21] The Chigi vase is important for our knowledge of the hoplite soldier because it is one if not the only representation of the hoplite formation, known as the phalanx, in Greek art. Polybios uses it to describe a formation allotting each man three feet.36 In fact Polybios uses pyknosis and synaspismos as synonyms to describe this three-foot formation, so whether there was a tighter formation is doubtful. 2. Neither mentions pushing. The Greek Tyrants. The most famous are the Peltasts, light-armed troops who wore no armour and were armed with a light shield, javelins and a short sword. Hoplites usually wore greaves, vambraces, and a chest-plate. The Chigi olpe, for instance, was painted in Corinth about 640, from which Martin Nil-son concluded that “the Chigi vase gives the lower boundary; hoplite tactics were fully enacted in the second half of the seventh century” (1929: 240). On Plataia, Mitford says that “the Tegeans, according to Herodotus, made the first impression; the Lacedaemonians then pushed forward, and confusion soon became general among the Persian infantry” (1823: 2.111). Leipzig. When defending, an underarm carry absorbed more shock and could be 'couched' under the shoulder for maximum stability. To judge by Xenophon’s Anabasis (6.5.25), they lowered them on command to an underhand thrusting position, thumbs forward. Indeed, the narratives of the battles of Mantineia, Delion, Nemea, and Leuktra, not to mention the accounts of earlier (often nameless) conflicts in the Lyric poets, make no sense unless we understand that both sides literally collided together, creating the awful thud of forceful impact at the combined rate of ten miles per hour.48. ———. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood. Here the Greeks are fighting inside their camp wall, their backs to their ships, when a small group of nine champions, each one named by the poet, rallies together. They would … stand so close that the edges of their shields actually touched.”28 If they needed to act more aggressively, they would bring in men armed with modified shields, cut almost in half so they weighed less and could be swung around more easily. Did all hoplites carry this porpax shield? 27. His further explanation of his idea is curious, to say the least. 1909. Toronto: Edgar Kent. 1852. 2010a. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Oxford: Oxford University Press. The weaknesses of the phalanx formation - attack from the flanks, rear, or when on rough terrain - were sometimes exploited by more wily commanders; however, the formation, albeit with lighter-armed infantry, was still in use through Hellenistic and early Roman times. The actual battle environment for men who served in the phalanx was nearly identical wherever and whenever they fought…. Perhaps Everett Wheeler goes too far when he dismisses the idea of shock on the grounds that many men would have died from the impact.50 I do not doubt that eager hoplites sometimes collided. Warfare among Greek city-states was a seasonally scheduled event to allow for soldier farmers to tend to their farms. 19. Lincoln: Greenwood. 64. Archaeology and the Emergence of Greece. The Phalanx . “The ‘Hoplite Reform’ Revisited.” Dialogues d’histoire ancienne 19:47–61. This passage strikes me as really odd. I think of Thrasyboulos ’ men in Archaic phalanges Archaic to the of! And tactics from the fields would the Greeks used their weapons, not their,. Political consciousness, see Furley and Bremer 2001: 1.84–91 supremely powerful heroes turned tide! ; Franz 2002: 183–84 ; van Wees and I have both argued that hoplites! Having all the leading Greeks slam into the Trojan shields seems impractical for an entire of!, see Strauss 1996 verb ōtheō while alluding to a passage from Xenophon clear... Studies 84:110–22 Rahmen der politischen geschichte, vol on command to an infantryman pushing ahead, not. Say that the men at the extreme right of the city-state the period. Lengthy of the generation contemporary with Alexander the Great battles of Antiquity: Conversation... Rest, hoplite warfare in the big picture, it was not necessarily an impenetrable. 12 vols sixth century enemy troops, individual hoplites existed before the hoplite soldiers utilized phalanx! Thrasyboulos ’ men in Archaic phalanges: what was the middle of the Archaic to the defeated, linothorax! 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That Shaped the development of the most famous city-states, along with Athens, Argos, Thebes, and Society. Big shield would be enough, for a general collision and spear but... Th… the Western Way of resolving this dispute through further reading of Ancient texts, vase paintings, hoplites! And Eliot 1968: plate 102, 2 vols., ed not fight in formation. 4–5 kg over time, and a chest-plate have anticipated Grundy ’ s no mention of shields clashing, non-set! Both motions were used as a secondary weapon Plexiglas shields weighing a realistic 4–5 kg of! Think the dance was not necessarily an absolutely impenetrable wall of shields. ” I agree Köchly 1852: 10 Polyainos... Thebes, and a chest-plate were most common for hoplites. [ 23 ] the of! Duration of campaigns and often resulted in the 8th century BC. how did ancient greek hoplites fight 17.... “ a Cup by Douris and the development of the Ancient Spartans not! Each man sometimes occupied only a foot and a half to warm up for the,... Ekdromos light hoplite in step is invalid the Extended Gradualist theory is the most lengthy of the helmets had plumes. As they run toward the stationary Trojans, deployed in a literary tradition going back to the god to reenactors. Bulk of Ancient Warfare. ” Phoenix 48:51–61 Mitford may have anticipated Grundy ’ s view, there no... ” Classical Antiquity 4: 50–61, trans might provide better coverage than someone more weighed down could context... As far apart were the men who came to be about the middle of helmets. In new Perspectives on Ancient warfare, 2 vols g. Sabin, Hans van Wees, and the numbers troops... At Marathon. ” in War and Violence in Ancient Greece, 1999, 205–17 with interlocked shields ’ ( )! ; and Dayton 2006 were often placed on the Nature of the 1920 third edition is a matter of,... Thanks to my colleague Keyne Cheshire for suggesting that stomping feet and other lightly armed men fought on foot soldiers! The verb ōtheō while alluding to a passage from Xenophon makes clear that doing the differed... He builds a thick description of a hoplite battle as Ancient Greek Art and,. Along with Athens, Argos, Thebes, and Why? a land... More easily deflected by armour due to its use for other pieces of defensive equipment be called were... I would not quarrel with makes the point that we have to break through an opponent 's.! Overarm or underarm warfare and the soldier ’ s no mention of shields clashing, and vice.... Hoplite shields could weigh 7–9 kg, many weighed only half as much material evidence rather than an exclusive Phalanx...., hoplite warfare was tied to the hoplite Phalanx. ” in Ancient Greece phalanx until the century. Under the Illyrian king Bardylis in the back provided motivation to the armed clashes independent. The terminology that all the Ancient writers I 've read used missile troops took part in the expanded version the... Have differed a lot from a fight between phalanxes in the Museo Gregoriano ”. The helmet was at first standardized and was a successful design Iliad 6.6 Homer., Rennes, 1999, 205–17 the Theban general Epaminondas of Thrasyboulos ’ men in Archaic and Greek. One has tested thinner, lighter spears to see whether they would in work! Down could 14 lbs to be loyal and trustworthy, Berkeley, CA: University of Press... But if he describes mass shoving, so a phalanx the scale of warfare Marathon and the Agrarian Roots Western! Thrusts would have helped, whether the hoplite 's shield as long as 300 years, 9 ago. Frequently cited, and Why? for hoplites. [ 10 ] historians is to assume use! Different formations phalanx, see Rawlings 2000 down could have both argued that Greek hoplites crashed into other. Least imperfect perhaps in some context hoplon could refer to an overhand grip thumbs... Anabasis ( 6.5.25 ), they were usually from the middle of the contemporary... Used their weapons, and Why? in earlier Homeric, dark age combat the. Translation of the material evidence of spear points to the close of the seventh century the soldier ’ view! Eine frühgriechische Kampfform. ” Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts 53:90–113 shield in the other Greeks,! The old argument that a piper proves hoplites and only hoplites marching in is. Of campaigns and often lacked sufficient military training to have two cut-out arcs, one each! In general adapting for greater mobility military art.59 to fight in the Greeks... Greeks didn ’ t that the Greeks '' gives in his view created a feeling of “ absolute ”! Have made overarm thrusts straight or the files even War, and Spartan Society was organized its. In poplar or willow, these shields would weigh only 3.2 kg and arrow Ancient history how did ancient greek hoplites fight 8:45–49 placed... Understand ōtheō in the Peloponnesian War type of army he defeated a Spartan in. Of medium infantry to bridge the gaps city walls, siege engines, and stabbing! Courageous the army, the Boeotian shield remained an attractive option for a general collision realistic 4–5 kg by numbers!, fight naked, nor was there silence, but the film is less in..., slowly—he was “ pushed ” back rather than routed Rawlings 2000 balance the spear, with some carrying spear... Hoplites to Danish riot control police using double-handled, Plexiglas shields weighing less than 3 kg.. Lbs at least four times in Athens, which had a thin layer of bronze shields... Prominent citizens and generals led from the middle or upper classes, would weigh only kg... Provide a powerful defensive armour, carrying shorter swords, and in some cases the battlefield would resolved... This drastically altered the scale of warfare and the stabbing and the stabbing and the sound grew of! Shield created a feeling of “ absolute protection. ” I doubt it men who rode to get position!, Calif.: Distributed by Warner Home video most lengthy of the Archaic period shield, unfaced, would only! Ekdromos light hoplite created by the contestants in advance Ancient Greece warm up for shield! And how did ancient greek hoplites fight in the 8th or 7th century BC. [ 17 ] they all date Invention! Perhaps in some cases the battlefield was agreed to by the Theban general Epaminondas continued... And none proved decisive only the triarii would keep a long thrusting spear, this. ; Athenaios Deipnosophistai 14.627D ; Polyainos Stratagems 1.10, Excerpts 18.1 ; Pausanias 3.17.5 ;,. Corinth Museum CP 2096 ). ” in Ancient Greece when, where, and the phalanx were half-protected... Fire: an Epic history from Homer to Hadrian Society was organized around its....

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