Terms for Study hoplite hoplon panoply phalanx othismos Marathon Thermopylae
The Hoplite vs. the Phalanx some general observations: average Greek soldier 5’6”, 150 lbs average weight of gear 50-70 lbs generally agreed phalanx is in use by 650 BC not everywhere! some northern Greeks fight like Homeric heroes during the Peloponnesian War men with hoplite gear not necessarily forming a phalanx things to remember all early Greek armies are completely AMATEUR!! except Sparta! phalanx battle takes little training, as long as formation is retained
bronze bell-cuirass with matching helmet “ Argos panoply ” 8th century tomb
greaves abundant in Homer re-introduced late not common until later 7th century BC early ones knee to ankle later ones lower thigh to ankle also found 7th century onwards ankle guards foot guards arm guards especially upper arm Apulian Greek, ca. 550 BC
Spears and Swords Spear (doru) length: anywhere from 6.5 to 9 feet average approx 8 ft ash or cornel wood weight approx 2.2 lbs not for throwing Sword (ksiphos) secondary weapon variety of types by ca. 500 BC most are 2ft in length, leaf shaped spear point spikes
the “ hoplite ” ὁ πλίτης named for his shield, the “ hoplon ” ὅ πλον the phalanx φάλαγξ, closely packed hoplites
Questions…... what do men do before battle? how does a phalanx ‘ line up ’ ? how when do the men begin to approach each other do they run, walk, quick-march? how well do they retain cohesion during the ‘ charge ’ ? how are skirmishers employed? what happens during the collision? what exactly is the othismos? what functions did other, non-hoplites, serve on the battlefield?
Pre-Battle breakfast Sparta comb their hair Xenophon mentions donning gear at last minute dismissal of hypaspistai (shield bearers), skeuophoroi (baggage carriers), akolouthoi (attendants) sphagia: pre-battle sacrifice rooster, lamb, sheep harangue from general? “ Not for me a huge general, one with long, straddling legs vaunting in his aristocratic locks and fancy beard. Give me a small man, knock-kneed, but firm on his feet and full of heart. ” ---Archilochos
Line - Up! how many deep depends on polis in question Sparta = 8 (traditional); 12 (by ca.370) Thebes, Boeotians = 25, 50 standard = 8-16 phrase ‘ eight shields deep ’ reserves? mere weight? “ it is very hard to find men willing to stand, when they see some of their own side in flight ” --Xenophon Array itself not perfectly understood Front two or three ranks only have spears protruding beyond promachoi Final arrangements may be made when opposing armies are VERY close together Spartans at Nemea sacrificed with enemy 200 yds away singing, yelling, clanging
Dispositions Right flank (column) reserved for the best ‘ flank of honor ’ front row, right column in single polis force, best men/general in allied forces, hegemon or recognized best fighters far right flank
Approach how to signal the charge? (or, how to signal anything!) paean trumpets, aulos general balance running too much vs. lack of steam run, walk, quick time, or double quick? perhaps full run begins at 200 yds? can a phalanx maintain its cohesion with members running at 4-6 mph over moderately uneven ground for 100 yds? why does it veer to the right as it progresses? how to navigate trees, rocks, streams, depressions Aristodemus at Plataea? skirmishers? cavalry? what are they used for? pyknosis (3ft), synapsismos (18in), ‘ most open ’ (6ft)
Use of Skirmishers? peltast probably ‘ out-of-style ’ in early days of phalanx warfare or at least not mentioned seen again in large numbers during Peloponnesian War importance increases during 4th century
Othismos means: “ push ” literal or figurative? how open or closed is actual battle? can this change during/after the charge? what would determine victory or defeat in either? length? what are the ‘ mechanics ’ ? does weapon skill mean anything? evidence from Hanson and Van Wees?
Death and Wounds 5% for winners 14% for loser 10% of total forces chasing down fleeing enemies not easy in full gear after a battle! cavalry! wounds: exposed thighs, face, groin unexposed head, chest VDH: always infection casualties later
Innovation “ the spirit for competition gave way to the desire for utter destruction ” esp. during Peloponnesian War manpower shortages, extended, long-distance, or multiple campaigns Epaminondas place best guys on the LEFT staggered (oblique) approach Leuktra (371 BC)
Innovation: Lachaeum Athenian general Iphikrates 391/0 BC, Corinthian War Athenian peltasts destroy 600 Spartans hit and run speed and mobility of Spartan cavalry not utilized Iphikrates ’ use of peltasts half-way point btw classical hoplite phalanx and Macedonian phalanx
Phalanx and Tyranny basileus (Big Man) of Dark Age gradually replaced by aristocracies and oligarchies tyrants ‘ replace ’ aristocracies 670 - 500 BC very common opportunistic usurpation of polis ’ executive power illegal, but not negative term usu. short lived (there are exceptions of hereditary tyrannies) Pheidon, King of Argos semi-legendary sources put him in the 8th century; likely he fl. in 7th (attended Olympic Games in 668 BC?) Aristotle tells about his land reforms and land protection laws gain popularity among non-aristocratic but moderately wealthy farmers? use of a phalanx to rival the power of the aristocrats he overcame Battle of Hysiae, 669 BC Do tyrants encourage use of phalanx to incorporate untrained, unskilled warrior-farmers? Do untrained, unskilled warrior-farmers who have been fighting for some time prop up tyrants who ‘ speak for them ’ ?
Phalanx and Polis The Questions How does phalanx warfare affect the existing social conditions? What happens between Homeric-style social order and the introduction and widespread adoption of phalanx battle order? Which comes first: semi-wealthy but politically voiceless farmers agitate for reform, support tyrants, fight in phalanges? are non-aristocratic farmers eager to serve in a phalanx, or are they compelled to serve by their social betters? kleos, kudos, still important! may be earned within the phalanx! service to one ’ s polis more important, personal gain and glory less important (but still present!)
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