Hoplites: The Classical Greek Battle Experience

Hoplites: The Classical Greek Battle Experience

Hoplites: The Classical Greek Battle Experience

Hoplites: The Classical Greek Battle Experience

Synopsis

Incorporating research found in ancient literary, iconographic, epigraphic, and archaeological sources, this book explores the experiences of the soldiers who conducted battle on the small plains of ancient Greece.The volume, which draws on the accumulated expertise of nine American and British scholars, emphasizes the actual techniques of fighting and practical concerns as the use of commands, music in warfare, the use of "dog-tags", and ritual on the battlefield.

Excerpt

Over twenty years ago Le Centre de Recherches comparées sur les Sociétés anciennes published a collection of seventeen essays on Greek warfare under the direction of Jean-Pierre Vernant, entitled Problèmes de la guerre en Grèce ancienne. This present volume on hoplites differs in at least three fundamental ways from that earlier important study. First, our collection focuses primarily on the Archaic and Classical Periods, the great age of hoplite battle between 650 and 338 BC; Mycenaean, Dark Age and Hellenistic warfare are therefore excluded entirely. Those battles were among Greeks, and often in Greece, but otherwise they were quite different phenomena. Moreover, we have also deliberately ignored all types of conflict other than purely infantry battle; there is little here concerning cavalry, chariots, naval warfare, artillery, archers, or other missile troops. All such fighting presupposed specialized skills, where mastery of technology, rather than muscular strength and unshakeable nerve, was essential, not incidental, for military success. Lastly, whereas the former book studied Greek warfare from a variety of approaches—tactical, strategic, religious, and sociological—we have, as the title of this book suggests, a very narrow angle of vision: the view of fighting from the eyes of the Greeks who did the actual killing and dying. Our volume, then, is not merely an English updated version of earlier work; only by narrowing the confines of our military history can we hope to widen understanding of the true nature of Greek warfare.

Yet, it is also quite different from a number of recent illustrated accounts and anthologies published in the United Kingdom, France, and America, and primarily aimed at the so-called (and elusive) general audience. While we hope these essays are enjoyable for scholar and non-scholar alike, they seek to incorporate research found primarily in academic journals and especially in ancient sources— . . .

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