Ancient Warfare Vol VI, Issue 1: From heroes to hoplites: Warfare in Archaic Greece

Ancient Warfare Vol VI, Issue 1: From heroes to hoplites: Warfare in Archaic Greece

Ancient Warfare Vol VI, Issue 1: From heroes to hoplites: Warfare in Archaic Greece

This issue of Ancient Warfare magazine focuses on the nature of warfare in Homer's Illiad, how things changed by the Archaic period and the birth of the hoplite and the phalanx, as well as looking at the contrast between the organised group fighting of the hoplite and the individual exploits of the Homeric hero.

In order to do this we start with a look at the reality of warfare in the Illiad. A picture emerges of low-intensity fighting between very open formations, short bursts of intense combat often between named individuals, an important role for the hero, an acceptance of ambushes and sneak attacks, and a world in which prisoners were killed and enemies left unburied.

Greek warfare of the Classical period couldn't have been much different from this. The phalanx required the individual to act entirely as part of a group and had no real place for the hero as portrayed in Homer. Battles were short but decisive. The fate of prisoners might still be uncertain, but formal truces were arranged to allow for the burial of both side's dead. This change probably took place during the Archaic period, and so the articles here look at Archaic warfare, the origin of the hoplite and of the phalanx (both never-ending debates as far as I can tell!).

There is also a useful examination of the First Messenian War, in which Sparta conquered its helots and became a major military power for the first time. This is tied back into the wide topic as the lengthy duration of the war and its lack of major battles suggests that it followed the low intensity format of Homeric warfare more than the high intensity decisive battle of the Classical world.

Away from the main topic there are articles on the Germanic pirates of the 3-4th century and their role in the crumbling of the Western Roman Empire, and on the underground warfare during the Sassanid siege of Dura-Europos in c.255 AD.

Go to Ancient Warfare Magazine Website

The Source - Poetic licence
The Reenactor - Walking Statues
Age of 'Heroes'? The rules of war in Archaic Greece
Where the Fighting in Hand to Hand: The origins of the hoplite phalanx
Dawn of Spartan Expansionism: The First Messenian War
From Rags to Riches: Tyranny and the hoplite reform
The Find: Twins, Chariot Warfare and Late Geometric Art
Assault from the Sea: Germanic piracy during the 3rd and 4th centuries AD
The Debate: Death in the dark at Dura-Europos

Go to website

Help - F.A.Q. - Contact Us - Search - Recent - About Us - Privacy