Greek and Roman Military Writers: Selected Readings

Greek and Roman Military Writers: Selected Readings

Greek and Roman Military Writers: Selected Readings

Greek and Roman Military Writers: Selected Readings

Synopsis

Brian Campbell has selected and translated a wide range of pieces from the ancient military writers who tell us about the technical aspects of military practice and the management of armies.The pieces cover a fascinating range of topics - battle formations and manoeuvres, different types of troops, the art of generalship, methods for conducting and resisting a siege, the construction of artillery and fortifications, and every kind of ploy used by generals to defeat their opponents.Each piece is annotated with further explanation and context, making this an essential resource for everyone studying the army and warfare in the classical age.

Excerpt

In early Greece around 1200 BC battles were probably decided by a relatively small number of aristocratic warriors using heavy thrusting spears. Chariots are also recorded in the Linear B tablets from the palace centres at Pylos and Cnossus, but seemingly these were normally used for transport to and from battle. The mountainous terrain of mainland Greece with its small plains is unsuitable for large-scale chariot manoeuvring. The Homeric poems shed further light and perhaps indicate the situation in the ninth to eighth centuries BC. Then aristocratic warriors fought individually as infantry, using throwing spears and swords, supported by groups of the less well off, who were poorly armed and equipped. The aristocrats fought for their honour and prestige, but also served their communities, and by doing so confirmed and enhanced their political and economic domination of society, since apart from fighting they ran the government, conducted diplomacy, and acted as priests. In this kind of warfare, which was virtually arranged between aristocratic élites, casualties could be kept to a minimum. One significant development in the course of this period was the adoption of iron instead of bronze, certainly no later than the eleventh century, especially in the manufacture of swords and spears, though bronze was later to reappear.

After c. 750 BCas the Greek world was progressively opened up to outside influences, new ideas and opportunities in turn influenced the nature of warfare. Communities in Greece developed as independent city-states, each with its individual system of government, fiercely loyal to its own identity and traditions. So there was no Greek army as such. However, these communities often fought against one another, and consequently warfare was a constant factor in Greek society. The citizens of each city-state were part-time soldiers and therefore armies

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