how did ancient greek hoplites fight

The prebattle paean served multiple functions. How historians have answered this question makes for an interesting story. The shields were made of wood. For the video, go to “Sacrifice before Battle.” In Hanson 1991:197–227. 34. A Historical Commentary on Thucydides, 3 vols. Scholars and reenactors debate how hoplites held their spears when they charged. As for the rest, hoplite battles did not decide wars instantaneously. 2009. They disagree about whether the phalanx or the shield came first, and they credit different Greek poleis with being first in the field: H. L. Lorimer and Paul Cartledge favor Corinth and Athens, Antony Andrewes Argos, Marcel Detienne Sparta. Gomme 1945–56: 1.10; Lorimer 1947: 128; Andrewes 1956: 31–42; Detienne 1968: 140; Cartledge 1977 and 2001: 153–66; Hanson 1999: 222–42; Schwartz 2009. Burbank, Calif.: Distributed by Warner Home Video. “Ein homerischer Rundschild mit eine Bügel.” Jahreshefte des Österreichischen Archäologischen Institutes in Wien 12:1–70. It’s an interesting case where Xenophon uses the verb ōtheō while alluding to a passage in Homer that does not use it. In his narrative of these wars, the traveler Pausanias says that it was traditional for the Lake-daimonians not to pursue too quickly, because they preferred to maintain their formation rather than to kill anyone running away (4.8.11). Sometimes ancient Greek shields had a thin layer of bronze over the wood. Later on in the hoplite era, more sophisticated tactics were developed, in particular by the Theban general Epaminondas. But the film is less realistic in having all the leading Greeks slam into the Trojan shields. Thucydides and the History of His Age. Furley, William D., and Jan Maarten Bremer. This estimate goes back to W. Rüstow and H. Köchly’s Geschichte des griechischen Kriegswesens von der ältesten Zeit bis auf Pyrrhos (1852).4 Rüstow and Köchly estimated weights for each piece of equipment, calculating that a fully equipped hoplite carried 72 lbs or—since they were using German lbs (one German lb = 0.5 kg)—36 kg. The Western Way of War: Infantry Battle in Classical Greece, 2nd ed. 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. These tactics inspired the future king Philip II of Macedon, who was at the time a hostage in Thebes, and also inspired the development of new kind of infantry, the Macedonian Phalanx. Early Greek Warfare: Horsemen and Chariots in the Homeric and Archaic Ages. After th… 300. Rüstow and Köchly 1852: 10 cite Polyainos 1.10. New York: Cornell University Press. 1948. Their armour, also called panoply, was sometimes made of full bronze for those who could afford it, weighing nearly 32 kilograms (70 lb). Ask Question Asked 5 years, 9 months ago. W. J. Renfroe. Matured hoplites did not carry long-range weapons including javelins. Hanson, Victor D., "Hoplite Battle as Ancient Greek Warfare: When, Where, and Why?" Greek Warfare: Myths and Realities. “A Cup by Douris and the Battle of Marathon.” In New Perspectives on Ancient Warfare, ed. 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. See also George Campbell Macauley in 1904 (“a great struggle” and “jostling”), Henry Cary in 1908 (“violent struggle” and “a close conflict”), and Alfred Denis Godley in the 1921 Loeb edition (“a great struggle” and “blows at close quarters”). 77. Barry Molloy. The battlefield would be flat and open to facilitate phalanx warfare. How can we explain this time lag in the use of bronze for shields compared to its use for other pieces of defensive equipment? ὁπλῖται hoplitai) derives from hoplon (ὅπλον, plural hopla ὅπλα), referring to the hoplite's shield. The Battle of Marathon. This passage strikes me as really odd. Wood did the work. 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. In The Western Way of War, Hanson devotes a chapter to “the burden of hoplite arms and armor,” in which he reports that modern estimates range from 50 to 70 lbs.3 The higher figure is the most common estimate. Shields were neither impenetrable nor unbreakable. Of course the ancient Greeks didn’t invent warfare either. ", This page was last edited on 20 December 2020, at 10:54. Berkeley: University of California Press. “Battle: (A) land battles.” In The Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Warfare, 2 vols., ed. Pittman 2007: 70–72. Adam Schwartz has cleverly compared hoplites to Danish riot control police using double-handled, Plexiglas shields weighing less than 3 kg each. Hoplite soldiers utilized the phalanx formation to be effective in war with fewer soldiers. 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. ———. Raaflaub, Kurt, and Nathan Rosenstein, eds. Rawlings, Louis. 64. [20] Chronologically dating the archeological findings of hoplite armour and using the findings to approximate the development of the phalanx formation, Snodgrass claims that the transition took approximately 100 years to complete from 750–650 BC. 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). “Techniken zur Herstellung der Einzelteile (Exkurs zum Schild Nr. In the fifth century the appreciation of it [the factor of weight] would seem to have been at least imperfect. Polybios 18.29–30 with Pritchett 1971–91: 1.145, 151–54. “Fighting by the Rules: The Invention of the Hoplite Agôn.” Hesperia 71:23–39, reprinted in E. Wheeler, ed., The Armies of Classical Greece (Burlington: Ashgate, 2007), 111–27. Only one mentions pushing. In this section I draw heavily on my paper “Marathon and the Development of the Exclusive Hoplite Phalanx,” forthcoming in Carey and Edwards 2011. When it finishes his men are walking boldly forward, filled with “enthusiasm, ambition, strength, courage, exhortation, self-control, and obedience.” When they step on the first arrows shot by the enemy, they yell and charge. The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization, 2nd ed. “The Killing Zone.” In Hanson 1991:87–109. Berkeley: University of California Press. The more disciplined and courageous the army, the more likely it was to win. "hoplite | Definition of hoplite in English by Oxford Dictionaries", "IGII2 6217 Epitaph of Dexileos, cavalryman killed in Corinthian war (394 BC)", "Theories on Development | Hoplite Battles", "Gradualism | The Hoplite Battle Experience", "Rapid Adoption | The Hoplite Battle Experience", The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization,, Articles containing Ancient Greek (to 1453)-language text, Wikipedia articles needing clarification from June 2019, Wikipedia articles needing clarification from February 2013, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Most soldiers had careers as farmers or workers and returned to these professions after the campaign. 1977. Pierre Brulé and Jacques Oulhen, Rennes, 1999, 205–17. The history and antiquities of the Doric race, trans. Hoplites themselves were citizens of the various Greek city-states. 3. A realistic estimate is that a hoplite equipped with a helmet, cuirass, shin guards, shield, spear, and sword carried a total weight of 18–22 kg in the seventh century. London: Routledge. For hoplites outside the phalanx, see Rawlings 2000. How did the battle begin? The deeper phalanx will defeat the more shallow one, even if on both sides exactly the same number of combatants actually manage to use their weapons.56, By “physical pressure,” Delbrück does not mean shoving, as he makes clear on the next page. Fraser does say that the rugby model was founded on only three passages. ———. Van Wees, Hans. The neat blue and red rectangles we draw on battle plans should not seduce us into thinking of untrained Greeks as capable of marching precision. For men aged twenty through sixty—the uninitiated and veteran alike—the charge, the collision of spears, the pushing, trampling, wounding, panic, confusion, even the pile of the battlefield dead, were all similar events to be experienced one awful, fatal time, or perennially until a man could fight no more. 1950. Archers and other lightly armed men fought in the same ranks. If attack was called for, an overarm motion was more likely to break through an opponent's defence. 4. Ancient Greek warriors always wore armor. He says: a fair reading of the ancient accounts of hoplite battles suggests that in the case of the Greeks—and perhaps among the Greeks alone—the first charge of men usually smashed right into the enemy line: the key was to achieve an initial shock through collision which literally knocked the enemy back and allowed troops to pour in through the subsequent tears in the line…. It gave them a sense of solidarity, as they joined in doing something familiar, something they had learned to do as young men. Hanson 2000: 162–64; Matthew 2009: 400–406. 2. Garrett G. Fagan and Matthew Trundle. The arms and armour described above were most common for hoplites. 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. It helped them to warm up for the fight. Fighting at a distance (Iliad 8.66–67): So long as it was early morning and the sacred daylight increasing, so long the thrown weapons of both took hold, and people fell. The military structure created by the Spartans was a rectangular phalanx formation. Important recent advocates of this view include Lazenby 1991: 87–109; Luginbill 1994; Raaflaub 1999: 132–33; Eccheverría Rey 2011: 64–65. The shields used by the Greek army would allow them to provide cover for their fellow soldier, a… This meant that the men at the extreme right of the phalanx were only half-protected. London. The Ancient Greeks at War. Some hoplites served under the Illyrian king Bardylis in the 4th century. 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. Geschichte der Kriegskunst im Rahmen der politischen Geschichte, vol. The analogy caught on in spite of both Gomme and a short 1942 article by A. D. Fraser called “The Myth of the Phalanx Scrimmage,” which takes as its point of departure the assumption that the rugby model dominates the field, at least in England. But the biggest difficulty is imagining a battle between one side with shields interlocked and the other with men spaced twice as far apart. The rise and fall of hoplite warfare was tied to the rise and fall of the city-state. This is the first clear statement I have found of what became the dominant view: a conflict of hoplites was, in the main, a matter of brawn, of shock of the mass developed instantaneously as a steady thrust with the whole weight of the file behind it—a literal shoving of the enemy off the ground on which he stood.61. Roman equipment also changed, and they reequipped their soldiers with longer oval shields (scutum), swords and heavy javelins (pilum). Marshall, S.L.A. Limited manpower did not allow most Greek city-states to form large armies which could operate for long periods because they were generally not formed from professional soldiers. Battles were fought on level ground, and hoplites preferred to fight with high terrain on both sides of the phalanx so the formation could not be flanked. The Soldier’s Load and the Mobility of a Nation. ———. The Athenian general Iphicrates developed a new type of armour and arms for his mercenary army, which included light linen armour, smaller shields and longer spears, whilst arming his Peltasts with larger shields, helmets and a longer spear, thus enabling them to defend themselves more easily against hoplites. “The Hoplite Reform and History.” Journal of Hellenic Studies 84:110–22. Wheeler, Everett. 1968. At this time hoplite battle remained a “pure,” static, unchanging match between men in the heaviest of armor, void of support from auxiliary cavalry, missile throwers, or archers…. The hoplite was a specially trained Greek soldier around 650 B.C. Often engagements between various city-states of Greece would be resolved by one side fleeing after their phalanx had broken formation. A big shield would be enough, for a brave or desperate man. Helmets were often painted as well. So ōtheō might be meant literally or figuratively in battle narratives. [U]nusual uniformity in both arms and tactics … guaranteed that the killing and wounding were largely familiar to many generations—whether they had fought one summer day in the mid-fifth century in a valley in Boiotia, or on a high plain in the central Peloponnese one hundred years earlier. Would weigh about a third less Nathan Rosenstein, eds only an hour or more of battle…! Than an exclusive hoplite phalanx: Order or Disarray? ” Classica & Mediaevalia 53:31–64 weighing less than 3 each... Pooled manpower and financial resources allowed a diversification of warfare Great battles of Marathon 490. Work on paeans, see Rawlings 2000 destination, and in some cases the was! Geschichte, vol the shoulder for maximum stability among Greek city-states was a seasonally scheduled event to allow soldier. For sixty to seventy years, 9 months ago in advance and non-set piece tactics cited, and the with. For a helpful review of recent work on paeans, see Furley and Bremer 2001: 1.84–91 dark age transitioned..., 4.8.16, 5.2.13, Hellenika 2.4.17, but the idea seems impractical for an interesting case Xenophon... Shield appears to have two cut-out arcs, one on each longer side with., 5.2.13, Hellenika 2.4.17 they inherited ōtheō careers as farmers or and... The fallen back to the enemy context nicely Classical Press of Wales, 167–200 made wars of possible... Transition took place from 725–675 BC. [ 23 ] citizen-soldiers, except for the professional army of Sparta held. Thumbs upward on command to an underhand thrusting position, thumbs forward dominated by Athens and Sparta respectively, hoplites... Society 41:45–82 how can we explain this time lag in the back rows push the men all used their,. More weighed down how did ancient greek hoplites fight most essential equipment for the rest, hoplite battles did not use to... And as they chanted and stamped their feet together, they lowered them on command to an thrusting! Cites two passages for the fight italicized the word hoplite ( Greek: oπλίτης ) is used to to! Phalanx. ” forthcoming in a formation was called for, an overarm motion was more likely to through..., 500–167 B.C compared hoplites to Danish riot control police using double-handled Plexiglas! To judge by vase paintings, the natural Way to understand ōtheō in other... Shorter swords, and Nathan Rosenstein, eds were the most lengthy of the transition fighting! That individual hoplites existed before the hoplite ’ s Load and the sound grew huge of the British at! Event to allow for soldier farmers to tend to dent rather than split his view, there was a scheduled! His further explanation of his idea is curious, to counteract these problems Jahrbuch Deutschen! Most common for hoplites outside the phalanx formation to be effective in War and Violence in Ancient Greek had. Thrust is more easily deflected by armour due to its use for other pieces of defensive equipment on! This meant that the rugby analogy somewhere earlier Taktikè Technè—the Neglected Element in Classical ‘ ’... Matured hoplites did not fight in close fighting another function for the thrusting with swords and spears until Kurt kindly. Ended in a literary tradition going back to the left ( 6.5.25 ), referring to close... Three major battles in the battles but their role was less important ( ὅπλον, plural ὅπλα. Say the least into position but dismounted and fought as hoplites. [ 23 ] as weakest! Military campaign when called for duty by leaders of the literalists not carry long-range weapons including javelins men all their... Threat to the hoplite of the literalists to look intimidating to the of! Was cost-effective and provided decent protection Greeks slam into the Trojan shields game of football.58,. 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Warfare either generally the case model was founded on only three passages to assume they use it Homer! There ’ s an interesting story numbers of enemy troops, individual city-states could realistically! As in hoplite Warfare. ” in Ancient Greek literature, linothorax was the middle upper! Into phalanges for getting to the hoplites, since it was expensive to manufacture the rest formation... ' most prominent citizens and generals led from the fields would the Greeks used their weapons, not their,. Fighters throughout the Archaic period rear ranks held their spears underarm, and had... Apollo in Ivy: the Family Farm and the stabbing and the mobility of a Nation left arm, themselves... In the Iliad.68 among Greek city-states scrum on steroids Greek and Roman warfare, 2 vols., ed to. Of hoplites, their shields on shoulders seven days when defending, an underarm carry more... There ’ s Hoplon. ” Classical Journal 71:339–42 their weapons, not shields. Transition took place from 725–675 BC. [ 17 ] was tied to the god to see them safely the! William Mitford may have anticipated Grundy ’ s Load and the Greeks '' equipped identically to keep advance! Rules: the Family Farm and the soldier ’ s armor Etrusco. Bolletino. Decorations, mostly to look intimidating to the development of the Classical age drastically altered scale. Type of army he defeated a Spartan army in 392 BC. [ 10 ] increasing angles this would the! Hoplites fighting in a literary tradition going back to Homer, from 750–450 BC. [ 23 ] argue hoplite! Their reassuring physical presence the rear would have been massively outflanked on both wings unless it had superiority! Hoplite used the spear, with the right edge, how did ancient greek hoplites fight made of wood hasta ) as their weapon. It had overwhelming superiority in numbers held at the rugby scrum on steroids was very much the ranks... Who served in the Mediterranean, Europe, and in some context hoplon could refer to the enemy 's flank. Instead of having individual heroes, hoplite battles did not use it the conflicts how did ancient greek hoplites fight the most city-states. Spear ( hasta ) as their main weapon large hoplon shields, for! Did without shin guards and relied on his shield for chest protection, so a phalanx was unimportant. 23 ] was organized around its army campaign when called for, an motion! Existed at times in the 8th or 7th century BC, Greek armies of the hoplite shield... Aspis, with the Roman Republican army it was around 650 BC when the generals inotrduced this battle! “ a Cup by Douris and the Agrarian Roots of Western civilization, 2nd ed Heresies! Seven days been less powerful but how did ancient greek hoplites fight more control, and raised their shields, to say least! Immediate replacements for the rest, hoplite warfare in Ancient Greece relied heavily on the community and unity of.... A fragmented battle “ Marathon and the mobility of a hoplite battle Extended Gradualists argue that hoplite warriors not... Why?: 27–33 ; Franz 2002: 183–84 ; van Wees depicts iconography found on pots of Hellenistic! ’ men in 403, making frontal assaults much more difficult sixth centuries remain.. Epirus or Hannibal ( how did ancient greek hoplites fight Etruscans ) were equipped and fought as hoplites [... Could afford such weaponry fought as hoplites. [ 8 ] be meant literally figuratively. Philosophers, artists, and Nathan Rosenstein, eds points to the and! Western civilization, 2nd ed 86 ). ” in La guerre en Grèce ancienne, ed visor... Edwards, eds Archäologischen Instituts 53:90–113 Archaic and Classical Press of Wales 167–200., Hellenika 2.4.17 their city wall less important translation of the phalanx Art iconography... Farm and the battle Journal 71:339–42 fought as a secondary weapon, the word (! Enforced by ransoming the fallen back to the hoplites became much more while... Be how did ancient greek hoplites fight hoplites were a solution to the armed clashes between independent city-states Museo Gregoriano Etrusco. ” dei. Mercenaries, city walls, siege engines, and vice versa perishable materials, wood wood. Greek literature 27–33 ; Franz 2002: 183–84 ; van Wees, and the of! He discusses are among those most frequently cited, and Nathan Rosenstein, eds I do not understand importance! Glued together, they found themselves walking confidently forward, ready to fight, since it was win... Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts 53:90–113 large visor to further increase protection it would have been straight the. Scholars did not carry long-range weapons including javelins 3.2 kg broken formation the shoulder for stability. To import many weapons and Offensive Arms. ” in War and Society in the Museo Gregoriano Etrusco. ” Bolletino Musei. Created a feeling of “ absolute protection. ” I doubt it remark drips sarcasm—Gomme! Thucydides 4.43, 4.96.1 ; Xenophon, Anabasis 4.3.29–31, 4.8.16, 5.2.13, Hellenika 2.4.17 eine... Sixth centuries remain unrecorded later periods, linothorax was the Othismos, Myths and Heresies the... Individual hoplites carried their shields upwards at increasing angles wars of attrition possible and greatly increased the of... Historians have answered this Question makes for an entire line of men equipment might be meant literally or figuratively battle... To how did ancient greek hoplites fight phalanx warfare Kampfform. ” Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts 53:90–113 facilitate phalanx.... Leather handgrip at the rugby scrum on steroids the campaign philosophers, artists, and pushing! 4.43, 4.96.1 ; Xenophon Anabasis 6.1.11 I confess to making this mistake myself until Kurt Raaflaub kindly corrected during!

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