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The History and Legacy of the Ancient Greek Soldiers Who Revolutionized Infantry Warfare
Narrated by: Scott Clem
Length: 1 hr and 6 mins
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Although the armies of the ancient Greek, or "Hellenic", city-states (poleis, singular polis) included both cavalry (hippeis) and light infantry (psiloi, peltastes, gymnetes), their mainstay was undoubtedly the heavy infantry known today as hoplites. Armed to the teeth with their distinctive round shield (aspis or hoplon), high-crested helmet (corys) and long spear (dory), the hoplites were some of the most efficient soldiers of their time. They fought in the tight phalanx formation, and beyond the confines of their small poleis, Greek hoplites were also prized as mercenaries throughout the ancient world.

Most historians believe that the hoplite became the dominant infantry soldier in nearly all the Greek city-states around the eighth century BCE. Hoplites were responsible for acquiring their own equipment, so not every hoplite might have been equally armed, but considering the style of warfare, they needed as much uniformity as possible. Like most infantry outside of Greece, the hoplites also carried spears, but while the Persian weapons were short and light for example, the Greek spears were thick shafts anywhere between seven and nine feet long. These spears were topped by a nine-inch spearhead, with a "lizard-sticker" buttspike at the bottom which could be used as a secondary spearhead if the main weapon was snapped off, or to plant the spear upright when at rest. Each hoplite also carried a shortsword, designed specifically for thrusting in the close confines of a melee (the Spartan weapon, the xiphos, was so short as to be virtually a dagger, its blade barely over a foot long).

©2017 Charles River Editors (P)2017 Charles River Editors

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  • 01-08-17


the readers hard S was distracting and tone too robitic. Coverage of information was basic.