From the moment Greeks started fighting with "bronze shields and in the phalanx," they must have regularly been drawn up in rank and file and not just crowded together. War also stimulated production because of the sudden increase in demand for weapons and armor. One of these is particularly notable however; at the Battle of Lechaeum, an Athenian force composed mostly of light troops (e.g. Van Wees, Hans, Greek Warfare: Myths and Realities, London: Duckworth, 2005. Hoplites were armored infantrymen, armed with spears and shields, and the phalanx was a formation of these soldiers with their shields locked together and spears pointed forward. Each shield protected the left side of the man holding it and the right side of the man next to him. Krentz, Peter, "Deception in Archaic and Classical Greek Warfare," in Hans van Wees, War and Violence in Ancient Greece, London and Swansea: Duckworth and the Classical Press of Wales, 2000, pp. Trained thoroughly, the hoplites were as skilled at their melee combat as the Athenian oarsmen were at their precision ramming and rowing. Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2018. At the decisive Battle of Leuctra (371 BC), the Thebans routed the allied army. The scale and scope of warfare in Ancient Greece changed dramatically as a result of the Greco-Persian Wars, which marked the beginning of Classical Greece (480–323 BC). It’s easy to see where the “tortoise” formation got its name. The Athenians kept pace with rising territorial commitments by greatly increasing the size of their military. Prezi’s Big Ideas 2021: Expert advice for the new year; Dec. 15, 2020. Between 356 and 342 BC Phillip conquered all city states in the vicinity of Macedon, then Thessaly and then Thrace. Cavalry had always existed in Greek armies of the classical era but the cost of horses made it far more expensive than hoplite armor, limiting cavalrymen to nobles and the very wealthy (social class of hippeis). One major reason for Phillip's success in conquering Greece was the break with Hellenic military traditions that he made.  In addition to maiming, if not immediately killing, the enemy, the attacker is given another advantage to ram the opponent. Along with the rise of the city-state evolved a brand new style of warfare and the emergence of the hoplite. Conversely, another defeat and loss of prestige meant that Sparta was unable to regain its primary position in Greece. Although alliances between city-states were commonplace, the scale of this league was a novelty, and the first time that the Greeks had united in such a way to face an external threat. An Athenian army of c. 10,000 hoplites marched to meet the Persian army of about 25,000 troops. Tactics implement strategy by short-term decisions on the movement of troops and employment of weapons on the field of battle. Although by the end of the Theban hegemony the cities of southern Greece were severely weakened, they might have risen again had it not been for the ascent to power of the Macedonian kingdom in northern Greece. One way opponents countered the diekplous was by retreating their fleet into a tight circle with the hulls of their ships facing outward. Morrison, J.S. Connolly, Peter, Greece and Rome at War, London: Greenhill Books, 1998. Undoubtedly part of the reason for the weakness of the hegemony was a decline in the Spartan population. Greek history is one of the most well-known stories across the world. This was one advantage that Athens held over Sparta in the Peloponnesian war. Thermopylae provided the Greeks with time to arrange their defences, and they dug in across the Isthmus of Corinth, an impregnable position; although an evacuated Athens was thereby sacrificed to the advancing Persians. The “Age of the Hoplite” is the one of the first instances in which we can directly look at tactics and use of written accounts to somewhat recreate what actually happened on this spot of Greek soil. The ancient Greek city-states developed a military formation called the phalanx, which were rows of shoulder-to-shoulder hoplites. A. M. and Scullard, H. H., (eds. Lazenby, John F., Spartan Army, Warminster, Wiltshire: Aris & Phillips, 1985. This established a lasting Macedonian hegemony over Greece, and allowed Phillip the resources and security to launch a war against the Persian Empire. (Mnemosyne, Supplements 409). Several similarities existed between them, suggesting that the mindset of the Greeks flowed naturally between the two forms of fighting. Defying convention, he strengthened the left flank of the phalanx to an unheard of depth of 50 ranks, at the expense of the centre and the right. An uncommon tactic of Ancient Greek warfare, during the hoplite battles, was the use of ambush. Hammond, Nicholas G. L., A History of Greece to 322 B.C., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. The arrows of the seagoing archers were deadly and efficient and could decrease the enemy’s fighting power considerably by picking off officers and men on the enemy ship. The Phalanx therefore presented a shield wall and a mass of spear points to the enemy, making frontal assaults much more difficult. Although both sides suffered setbacks and victories, the first phase essentially ended in stalemate, as neither league had the power to neutralise the other. This allowed diversification of the allied armed forces, rather than simply mustering a very large hoplite army. From the start, the mismatch in the opposing forces was clear. 1988. It also allowed a higher proportion of the soldiers to be actively engaged in combat at a given time (rather than just those in the front rank). to the Present, New York, NY: Free Press, 1989. Unable to maintain professional armies, the city-states relied on their citizens to fight. One of the most prominent formations of … Along with the rise of the city-states evolved a new style of warfare: the hoplite phalanx.  These subunits worked as smaller pieces of an overall picture of military power. Darius was already ruler of the cities of Ionia, and the wars are taken to start when they rebelled in 499 BC. The peace treaty which ended the Peloponnesian War left Sparta as the de facto ruler of Greece (hegemon). During this battle, the Athenian navy was attacked before it could transition into its battle formation. War also led to acquisition of land and slaves which would lead to a greater harvest, which could support a larger army. This opportunity occurs while the attacked vessel stops rowing to evaluate the strength of each side of oarsman, leaving it in a standstill. In. 57–82. Their massed ranks of men wore body armor and helmets. This abreast formation acted as both an offensive and defensive tactic. Opposition to it throughout the period 369–362 BC caused numerous clashes. There was increased emphasis on navies, sieges, mercenaries and economic warfare.  This tactic became so well known that in 217 BC the Stratian army declined to pursue the Akarnanians during their retreat in fear that they would face an ambush. Van Wees, Hans, "The Development of the Hoplite Phalanx: Iconography Reality in the Seventh Century," in Hans van Wees, War and Violence in Ancient Greece, London and Swansea: Duckworth and the Classical Press of Wales, 2000, pp. The city-states of southern Greece were too weak to resist the rise of the Macedonian kingdom in the north. The battle would then rely on the valour of the men in the front line, while those in the rear maintained forward pressure on the front ranks with their shields. A united Macedonian empire did not long survive Alexander's death, and soon split into the Hellenistic kingdoms of the Diadochi (Alexander's generals). ", Strauss, Barry S. 2000. At the time, naval warfare had primarily consisted of attempting to either board an enemy's ship, or set it on fire. , Melee, or hand-to-hand combat, occurred most often after the tight formation of the phalanx dispersed. Stories like the Battle of Thermopylae demonstrate the strength and skill Greeks had in land battle. Engels, Donald, Alexander the Great and the Logistics of the Macedonian Army, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1978.  However, at first sight of enemy ships, the Greek navy would turn to starboard or port to form its line for battle. Following the death of Epaminondas and loss of manpower at the Battle of Mantinea, the Theban hegemony ceased.  One example of melee combat is described by Herodotus during a battle at Thermopylae. Lazenby, John F., "Hoplite Warfare," in John Hackett, (ed. The maneuver consisted of Greek ships, in line abreast, rowing through gaps between its enemy's ships. The strength of hoplites was shock combat. Each soldier carried a shield in his left arm, which he used to protect both himself and the man on his left. To counter the massive numbers of Persians, the Greek general Miltiades ordered the troops to be spread across an unusually wide front, leaving the centre of the Greek line undermanned. To fight the enormous armies of the Achaemenid Empire was effectively beyond the capabilities of a single city-state. Sekunda, Nick, Warrior 27: Greek Hoplite 480–323 BC, Oxford: Osprey, 2000. ", Morrison, J.S. Although tactically there was little innovation in the Peloponessian War, there does appear to have been an increase in the use of light infantry, such as peltasts (javelin throwers) and archers. The next year, starved by an impenetrable blockade, Athens capitulated. Raising such a large army had denuded Athens of defenders, and thus any attack in the Athenian rear would cut off the Army from the City.  One reason why the tactic became less useful was that enemies quickly developed defensive tactics against it. Greek naval actions always took place near the land so they could easily return to land to eat and to sleep, and allowing the Greek ships to stick to narrow waters to out-maneuver the opposing fleet. Best, Jan G. P., Thracian Peltasts and their Influence on the Greek Warfare, Groningen: Wolters-Noordhoff, 1969. One of the most effective and enduring military formations in ancient warfare was that of the Greek phalanx. Lazenby, John F., The Peloponnesian War: A Military Study, London : Routledge, 2004. The remaining Athenian fleet was thereby forced to confront the Spartans, and were decisively defeated. Evolving from armed bands led by a warrior leader, city militia of part-time soldiers, providing their own equipment and perhaps including all the citizens of the city-state or polis, began to move warfare away from the control of private individuals and into the realm of the state. This alliance thus removed the constraints on the type of armed forces that the Greeks could use. Unlike the fiercely independent (and small) city-states, Macedon was a tribal kingdom, ruled by an autocratic king, and importantly, covering a larger area. With time the Ancient Greece Military forces in Ancient Greece became much more structured. The Spartans fought in the hoplite style which was the hallmark of ancient Greek warfare. For example, during the Peloponnesian War, there were 4 archers and 10 marines on the deck of a vessel. Only when a Persian force managed to outflank them by means of a mountain track was the allied army overcome; but by then Leonidas had dismissed the majority of the troops, remaining with a rearguard of 300 Spartans (and perhaps 2000 other troops), in the process making one of history's great last stands. He took the development of the phalanx to its logical completion, arming his 'phalangites' (for they were assuredly not hoplites) with a fearsome 6 m (20 ft) pike, the 'sarissa'. The war (or wars, since it is often divided into three periods) was for much of the time a stalemate, punctuated with occasional bouts of activity. Herodotus reports that after the Spartans had lost their spears and swords during the dorarismos, they continued fighting "with their hands and teeth. This 'combined arms' approach was furthered by the extensive use of skirmishers, such as peltasts. Since the soldiers were citizens with other occupations, warfare was limited in distance, season and scale. From the very beginning, the Athenians were compelled to fight for their new democracy. This meant they could make small changes to tactics if need be to make sure success was guaranteed. When this was combined with the primary weapon of the hoplite, 2–3 m (6.6–9.8 ft) long spear (the doru), it gave both offensive and defensive capabilities. Once firmly unified, and then expanded, by Phillip II, Macedon possessed the resources that enabled it to dominate the weakened and divided states in southern Greece. Lazenby, John F., "The Killing Zone," in Victor D. Hanson, (ed. Epaminondas deployed tactics similar to those at Leuctra, and again the Thebans, positioned on the left, routed the Spartans, and thereby won the battle. However, a united Greek army of c. 40,000 hoplites decisively defeated Mardonius at the Battle of Plataea, effectively ending the invasion. With this evolution in warfare, battles seem to have consisted mostly of the clash of hoplite phalanxes from the city-states in conflict. The defeat of a hoplite army in this way demonstrates the changes in both troops and tactic which had occurred in Greek Warfare. ), Hoplites, London: 1991, pp. Gradually, and especially during the Peloponnesian war, cavalry became more important acquiring every role that cavalry could play, except perhaps frontal attack. The second phase, an Athenian expedition to attack Syracuse in Sicily achieved no tangible result other than a large loss of Athenian ships and men.  They had a specific formation in order to execute all of their military maneuvers. The files were regularly brought up on the left, the “shield hand” so t… Now unable to resist him, Phillip compelled most of the city states of southern Greece (including Athens, Thebes, Corinth and Argos; but not Sparta) to join the Corinthian League, and therefore become allied to him. The lochos must be taught to form into several files side by side other lochoi of its taxis. They were masters of the tactic known as the phalanx, which was a rectangular formation of … The war ended when the Persians, worried by the allies' successes, switched to supporting the Spartans, in return for the cities of Ionia and Spartan non-interference in Asia Minor. The Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC), was fought between the Athenian dominated Delian League and the Spartan dominated Peloponnesian League. After the loss of Athenian ships and men in the Sicilian expedition, Sparta was able to foment rebellion amongst the Athenian league, which therefore massively reduced the ability of the Athenians to continue the war. The Athenian general Iphicrates had his troops make repeated hit and run attacks on the Spartans, who, having neither peltasts nor cavalry, could not respond effectively. Ultimately, Mantinea, and the preceding decade, severely weakened many Greek states, and left them divided and without the leadership of a dominant power. However, Thebes lacked sufficient manpower and resources, and became overstretched. They were primarily armed as spear-men and fought in a phalanx (see below).  This maneuver was known as the Othismos or "push." The Hoplites would lock their shields together, and the first few ranks of soldiers would project their spears out over the first rank of shields. The Athenian dominated Delian League of cities and islands extirpated Persian garrisons from Macedon and Thrace, before eventually freeing the Ionian cities from Persian rule. led many to attribute Athenian military success to their political system. We can distinguish the land army into 3 main forces; The hoplites , the cavalry and the skirmishers. In order to outflank the isthmus, Xerxes needed to use this fleet, and in turn therefore needed to defeat the Greek fleet; similarly, the Greeks needed to neutralise the Persian fleet to ensure their safety. Together they formed a formidable wall against enemy attacks. The Athenian army was typically divided into ten taxeis, or tribal regiments, and subdivided into lochoi. The basic Greek formation was made more flexible by Philip II of Macedon and his son, Alexander III the Great. Forced to squeeze even more money from her allies, the Athenian league thus became heavily strained. The scale and scope of warfare in Ancient Greece changed dramatically as a result of the Greco-Persian Wars. After they refused to disband their army, an army of approximately 10,000 Spartans and Pelopennesians marched north to challenge the Thebans. The ships would require more marines because the constricted water would prevent the use of typical tactics, and would increase the risk of the ship being boarded by the enemy.. Yet Athens in its fifth century bc heyday not only fought more than three times as many battles as Sparta, but actually enjoyed a slightly higher overall rate of combat success. Like the navy, a single line was used to establish a walking order to battle. Persia switched sides, which ended the war, in return for the cities of Ionia and Spartan non-interference in Asia Minor. Finally Phillip sought to establish his own hegemony over the southern Greek city-states, and after defeating the combined forces of Athens and Thebes, the two most powerful states, at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC, succeeded. Regardless of where it developed, the model for the hoplite army evidently quickly spread throughout Greece. For more information on this outstanding program, visit Norwich’s Web site. Over the top of this, they thrust with long spears. This was the first true engagement between a hoplite army and a non-Greek army. These developments ushered in the period of Archaic Greece (800–480 BC). The Theban hegemony would be short-lived however. Sekunda, Nick, Elite 7: The Ancient Greeks, Oxford: Osprey, 1986. Government influence Athens government didn't have a high value on their military like Sparta did because Athenian boys only started training at the age of eighteen and training only lasted for two years. Set-piece battles during this war proved indecisive and instead there was increased reliance on naval warfare, and strategies of attrition such as blockades and sieges. ", An uncommon tactic of Ancient Greek warfare, during the hoplite battles, was the use of ambush. The war petered out after 394 BC, with a stalemate punctuated with minor engagements. Greek armies also included significant numbers of light infantry, the Psiloi, as support troops for the heavy hoplites, who also doubled as baggage handlers for the heavy foot. The hoplite was an infantryman, the central element of warfare in Ancient Greece. Recruit drills taught hoplites to fall into single-file lines, and to follow a file leader. Offensively, it allowed the ancient ships' main weapon, the ram, to be easily accessible. "The Diekplous. The battle is famous for the tactical innovations of the Theban general Epaminondas. In contrast to the Athenian grand strategy of exhaustion, based on Athens’s economic power, Sparta followed a grand strategy of annihilation centered around Spartan military might. In fact, Athenians developed the largest and most sophisticated war machine in all of Greece and applied tactic… ), Atlas of the Classical World, London: Nelson, 1959. Adcock, Frank E., The Greek and Macedonian Art of War, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1962. In open sea, the Greek navy would sail in an upside down ship formation, led by the commander's ship.  This formation also provided the Greek fleet with protection by shielding the most vulnerable parts of the ships, which were the sides and the stern.. These included javelin throwers (akontistai), stone throwers (lithovoloi) and slingers (sfendonitai) while archers (toxotai) were rare, mainly from Crete, or mercenary non-Greek tribes (as at the crucial battle of Plataea 479 B.C.)  When battles occurred, they were usually set piece and intended to be decisive. The visionary Athenian politician Themistocles had successfully persuaded his fellow citizens to build a huge fleet in 483/82 BC to combat the Persian threat (and thus to effectively abandon their hoplite army, since there were not men enough for both). The Theban left wing was thus able to crush the elite Spartan forces on the allied right, whilst the Theban centre and left avoided engagement; after the defeat of the Spartans and the death of the Spartan king, the rest of the allied army routed.  The battle line consisted of ships lined up side by side, facing the enemy. ", Lazenby, J.F. Many Greek traditions and cultures have become immortalized in the works of its literary giants and its philosophical minds. 54–81. Sparta was an exception to this rule, as every Spartiate was a professional soldier. Sekunda, Nick, Elite 66: The Spartan Army, Oxford: Osprey, 1998. The Greek navy, despite their lack of experience, also proved their worth holding back the Persian fleet whilst the army still held the pass. This page was last edited on 5 December 2020, at 16:50. The Greek wings then turned against the elite troops in the Persian centre, which had held the Greek centre until then. 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