Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Warfare in the Ancient Greek World

The armies of Ancient Greece were originally citizen forces where the individual was expected to equip himself with the majority of his supplies, weapons and armor.

The Hoplite armed with and eight foot thrusting spear and curved short sword was the main fighting man of any Greek city state army.  His protective gear consisted of the best armor each man could personally afford.  The minimum would included a large round, wooden shield covered in bronze and a bronze helmet.  Those that could afford the best would also have a bronze (leather and stiffened linen were common for those with lesser funds) cuirass covering their chest and back and bronze greaves covering their lower legs.
File:Greek Phalanx.jpg
The Hoplite Heavy Infantry Phalanx was the standard fighting formation.  Its strength was based on the coordinated defense of the overlapping shields and viscous killing power of the spears and swords.  Training, strength, stamina and bravery were key elements in the success of the phalanx. Battle were won or lost through the success of the phalanx.

The light infantry were armed with javelins or slings (occasionally with bows), a long knife or short sword was often carried for close combat. Their protection might include as much as a light curved shield and helmet (these were often called Peltast's) or as little as their normal clothing.  The job of the light infantry was to skirmish with the enemy and protect the flanks of the phalanx.

Unlike other armies of the time period, cavalry played a very limited role in Ancient Greek armies.  They were usual light cavalry with little or no armor and armed with javelins.  Their main role involved scouting and limited skirmish tactics.

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