Ancient Greek Warfare

Ancient Greece is known for its warfare tactics. The earliest record of Ancient Greek warfare may be traced back to the Bronze Age. After the Dark Age, Greece witnessed an increase in its population and the rise of independent city-states. And, the Greek warfare began to witness changes.

Ancient Greek Warfare

The Greek was the first legendary warriors of the ancient world.They indulged in group fighting among themselves. But when there was a need to defend Greece against a common enemy, the city-states united together and fought as a single power. This was evident during the Persian invasion of Greece.

Ancient Greek Warfare

Ancient Greek Armour

The Greek warriors were called hoplites. They were the heavily armored citizen soldiers. Hoplites were well armed and were proficient in war tactics. Hoplite played an important role in ancient Greek warfare. They were primarily armed as spear-men and fought in a phalanx.

Ancient Greek Warfare

They were named after their shield, the hoplon. Hoplons were heavy bronze covered wooden shields. They could be supported on the shoulders. They were simple and convenient. The hoplites would lock their shields together, and the soldiers would project their spears out over the shields.

It, therefore, presented a shield wall and a mass of spear points to the enemy. In a war, the two shields smashed into each other. These hoplite armors were expensive and were passed from generations to generations.

Ancient Greek Warfare

Ancient Greek Military Weapons

An important and strong military formation was the hoplite phalanx. The soldiers had to be well trained and brave enough. This system of fighting in lines was a unique development of ancient Greece. Phalanxes could be 4, 8, 16 or more men up to 50 rows.

Another weapon of the hoplites was long spears, called doru. Spears were carried by the soldiers in their right hands. Doru often had curved leaf shaped spearheads and had a spiked point, called a Sauter, at the opposite end.

Greek Wars Timeline

From the writings of Homer and Herodotus, we understand that there were four important wars in ancient Greece. They were the Trojan War, the Persian wars, the Peloponnesian war and the campaigns of Alexander the great. The Trojan War was between Mycenae and Troy, between Priam and Menelaus.

The period of Greco- Persian wars was from 499 to 448 BC. The Peloponnesian War from 431 to 404 BC was fought between the Athenian dominated Delian League and the Spartan dominated Peloponnesian League. It was a battle to attain supremacy in Greece by the two city-states.

Ancient Greek Warfare

Sparta Legendary Warriors

The Greek city-state of Sparta had legendary warriors, perhaps more than any other city-state. The state was ruled by the small group of warriors. Sparta was famous for its military strength. Spartans were brave, capable warriors. It was not a center of art and philosophy, unlike Athens.

The most important feature of Sparta is the importance given to warfare and military training. Boys were given training from the age of 7. Children were whipped and small fights were encouraged in order to make them capable warriors. Even the women were warriors.