Sekunda, Nicholas Victor. The Ancient Greeks.

(Elite series, 7) London: Osprey Publishing Co, 1986.

The coverage here is warfare in classical Greece from the Persian wars at the beginning of the 5th Century to the death of Alexander the Great, a period of roughly two centuries. The Greek situation changed dramatically during that time, both socially and politically, but the military arts really didn’t.

Mostly, the state came to play a more central role, which lead to increased uniformity in dress and equipment, at least by region. Nearly everything we know about the armies of this period comes from the works of Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, and a few others, augmented by sculptures and illustrations on ceramics, and a very few archaeological finds. The hoplites of the earlier period were heavy infantrymen armed with spears and round shields, and the Spartans were masters of the method. They didn’t wear armor at first (or even much clothing), but helmets, leather jerkins, and bronze greaves gradually were introduced. In most engagements, there were no missile weapons worth mentioning (other than single-use javelins), and the cavalry (without stirrups) never played more than a limited role in actual combat, so war was very much a hand-to-hand affair on foot. The text provides a useful survey of military and political events over the time span covered. The color plates this time are taken from surviving illustrations or are entirely a work of the artist’s imagination, but they give one the flavor of the period.

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Published in: on 17 August 2012 at 2:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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