Athenian military

The Athenian military was the military force of Athens, one of the major city-states (poleis) off Ancient Greece. It was largely similar to other armies of the region – see Ancient Greek warfare.

Athenian empire atheight 450 shepherd1923
The Athenian Empire around 450 BC


In the manner of neighboring city-states the backbone of the Athenian military on land was the hoplite, a soldier primarily armed with a shield and spear.[1] Accompanying every hoplite was a lightly armed attendant, either a poor citizen who could not afford a regular suit of armor (panoplia), or possibly a trusted slave. These attendants carried the hoplite's shield (aspis) until the battle and most of the baggage. While generally armed with javelins, they sometimes had spears, slings or bows. The attendants acted as skirmishers before the pitched battle and were assigned to guard the camp during the actual fight. When the battle was over, they would attempt either to cover the retreat of the main body or slaughter the fleeing enemy forces if their own hoplites were victorious.[2]

During and after the Peloponnesian Wars, the use and importance of light troops increased with the introduction of the peltasts: lightly armoured, if at all, and armed with javelins and a shield, the pelte.[2] Their effectiveness in battle, even against the best-trained heavy hoplites, was demonstrated by the Athenian general Iphicrates, who annihilated an entire Spartan mora with his peltasts.[3]


During the Persian wars Athens developed a large, powerful navy in the eastern Mediterranean that destroyed the even larger Persian navy at the Battle of Salamis. The Athenian Navy consisted of 80,000 men crewing 400 ships. The backbone of the navy's manpower was a core of professional rowers drawn from the lower classes of Athenian society. This gave the Athenian fleets an advantage in training over the less professional fleets of its rivals. The main warships of the fleet were the triremes. With its fleet, Athens obtained hegemony over the rest of the Greek city-states forming the first Athenian Empire. Its fleet was destroyed and empire lost during the Peloponnesian War. Athens regained some of its naval power after the Second Athenian Empire was rebuilt; however, it never fully recovered as its rivals were much stronger than before. The fleet included two sacred ships, the Paralus and the Salaminia used for diplomatic and ceremonial duties.[2]

See also


  1. ^ Neer, Richard T (2012). Greek art and archaeology: a new history, c. 2500-c. 150 BCE. New York. p. 95. ISBN 9780500288771.
  2. ^ a b c Davis, William (1910). A Day In Old Athens. ISBN 9781419100796.
  3. ^ Phillips, David (2004). Athenian Political Oratory: Sixteen Key Speeches. Routledge. p. 230. ISBN 9780415966092.


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Acropolis of Athens

The Acropolis of Athens is an ancient citadel located on a rocky outcrop above the city of Athens and contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance, the most famous being the Parthenon. The word acropolis is from the Greek words ἄκρον (akron, "highest point, extremity") and πόλις (polis, "city"). Although the term acropolis is generic and there are many other acropoleis in Greece, the significance of the Acropolis of Athens is such that it is commonly known as "The Acropolis" without qualification. During ancient times it was known also more properly as Cecropia, after the legendary serpent-man, Cecrops, the supposed first Athenian king.

While there is evidence that the hill was inhabited as far back as the fourth millennium BC, it was Pericles (c. 495–429 BC) in the fifth century BC who coordinated the construction of the site's most important present remains including the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike. The Parthenon and the other buildings were damaged seriously during the 1687 siege by the Venetians during the Morean War when gunpowder being stored in the Parthenon was hit by a cannonball and exploded.

Ancient Greek dialects

Ancient Greek in classical antiquity, before the development of the common Koine Greek of the Hellenistic period, was divided into several varieties.

Most of these varieties are known only from inscriptions, but a few of them, principally Aeolic, Doric, and Ionic, are also represented in the literary canon alongside the dominant Attic form of literary Greek.

Likewise, Modern Greek is divided into several dialects, most derived from Koine Greek.

Athenian coup of 411 BC

The Athenian coup of 411 BC was the result of a revolution that took place during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. The coup overthrew the democratic government of ancient Athens and replaced it with a short-lived oligarchy known as The Four Hundred.

In the wake of the fiscal crisis caused by the failed Sicilian Expedition of the Athenian military in 413 BC, some high-status Athenian men, who for long had disliked the broad-based democracy of the city-state, sought to establish an oligarchy of the elite. They believed that they could manage foreign, fiscal, and war policies better than the existing government.The movement toward oligarchy was led by a number of prominent and wealthy Athenians, who held positions of power in the Athenian army at Samos in coordination with Alcibiades.

Boeotian helmet

The Boeotian helmet was a type of military helmet used in Ancient Greece during the classical and Hellenistic periods, as well as in Ancient Rome; it possibly originated in the Greek region of Boeotia.


Byzantium ( or Byzantion; Ancient Greek: Βυζάντιον, Byzántion) was an ancient Greek colony in early antiquity that later became Constantinople, and then Istanbul. The Greek term Byzantium (or Byzantion) continued to be used as a name of Constantinople during the Byzantine Empire, even though it only referred to the empire's capital. Byzantium was colonized by the Greeks from Megara in 657 BC, and remained primarily Greek-speaking until its fall in 1453 AD.

Cotys I (Odrysian)

Cotys I or Kotys I (Ancient Greek: Κότυς) was born during the reign of Seuthes I. He became king in 384 BC. On gaining the Odrysian kingdom the Athenians made him their ally. In order to make his position stronger Cotys married his daughter to the Athenian general Iphicrates who soon became the second person in command after the king.

With the help of Iphicrates, Cotys managed to unite his territory with those that had been held by Hebryzelmis.As Cotys tried to restore and enlarge his kingdom, including towards the Chersonese, his actions led to increasing tensions with Athens. In the early 370s, the Second Athenian Confederacy was founded with a number of cities and islands joining the Confederacy as a safeguard against the threat from Cotys.In 375 BC probably Cotys supported Hales, leader of Triballi, a powerful Thracian tribe in NW Thrace, in their attack on the city of Abdera. According to Diodorus, the city was saved only after the intervention of the Athenian general, Chabrias, whose forces then garrisoned the city. (Diod. 15.36.1-4)

In 367 BC Ariobarzanes, the Persian satrap of Phrygia, occupied Sestos. Following the revolt by Ariobarzanes against the Persian king Artaxerxes II, in 365 BC, Cotys opposed him and Ariobarzanes' ally, Athens. The Athenians under their general Timotheus were able to gain Sestos and Krithote.

Soon after, Cotys went to war with the Athenians for the possession of the Thracian Chersonese. Several Athenian generals in succession fought unsuccessfully against him and his mercenary commander Charidemus.Around this time, a rebellion took place against Cotys, led by Cotys' treasurer Miltokythes. According to Demosthenes, Iphicrates, with the help of Charidemus, bribed the Athenian military and naval commanders to suppress the rebellion. In 361 BC, Charidemus returned to Athens with a treaty from Cotys, proclaiming him an ally. Cotys had successfully retained his kingdom.

By 360 BC, Cotys controlled the whole Chersonese peninsula. At the end of September 360 BC, he was murdered by two of Plato’s students from Aenus, Python and Heraclides. Thought previously to be advisers to the King, they murdered him during a feast in his palace, under the pretext that he had wronged their father. Upon their return to Athens, they were proclaimed honorary citizens and rewarded with gold wreaths.

Cycladic culture

Cycladic culture (also known as Cycladic civilisation or, chronologically, as Cycladic chronology) was a Bronze Age culture (c. 3200–c. 1050 BC) found throughout the islands of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea. In chronological terms, it is a relative dating system for artefacts which broadly complements Helladic chronology (mainland Greece) and Minoan chronology (Crete) during the same period of time.

Greece in the Roman era

Greece in the Roman era describes the period of Greek history when Ancient Greece was dominated by the Roman Republic (509 – 27 BC), the Roman Empire (27 BC – AD 395), and the Byzantine Empire (AD 395 – 1453). The Roman era of Greek history began with the Corinthian defeat in the Battle of Corinth in 146 BC. However, before the Achaean War, the Roman Republic had been steadily gaining control of mainland Greece by defeating the Kingdom of Macedon in a series of conflicts known as the Macedonian Wars. The Fourth Macedonian War ended at the Battle of Pydna in 148 BC and defeat of the Macedonian royal pretender Andriscus.

The definitive Roman occupation of the Greek world was established after the Battle of Actium (31 BC), in which Augustus defeated Cleopatra VII, the Greek Ptolemaic queen of Egypt, and the Roman general Mark Antony, and afterwards conquered Alexandria (32 BC), the last great city of Hellenistic Greece. The Roman era of Greek history continued with Emperor Constantine the Great's adoption of Byzantium as Nova Roma, the capital city of the Roman Empire; in AD 330, the city was renamed Constantinople; afterwards, the Byzantine Empire was a generally Greek-speaking polity.

Greek Dark Ages

The Greek Dark Ages, Homeric Age (named for the fabled poet, Homer) or Geometric period (so called after the characteristic Geometric art of the time),

is the period of Greek history from the end of the Mycenaean palatial civilization around 1100 BC to the first signs of the Greek poleis (city states) in the 9th century BC.

The archaeological evidence shows a widespread collapse of Bronze Age civilization in the Eastern Mediterranean world at the outset of the period, as the great palaces and cities of the Mycenaeans were destroyed or abandoned. At about the same time, the Hittite civilization suffered serious disruption and cities from Troy to Gaza were destroyed and in Egypt the New Kingdom fell into disarray that led to the Third Intermediate Period.

Following the collapse, fewer and smaller settlements suggest famine and depopulation. In Greece, the Linear B writing of the Greek language used by Mycenaean bureaucrats ceased. The decoration on Greek pottery after about 1100 BC lacks the figurative decoration of Mycenaean ware and is restricted to simpler, generally geometric styles (1000–700 BC).

It was previously thought that all contact was lost between mainland Hellenes and foreign powers during this period, yielding little cultural progress or growth, but artifacts from excavations at Lefkandi on the Lelantine Plain in Euboea show that significant cultural and trade links with the east, particularly the Levant coast, developed from c. 900 BC onwards. Additionally, evidence has emerged of the new presence of Hellenes in sub-Mycenaean Cyprus and on the Syrian coast at Al-Mina.

Hipponicus III

Hipponicus (; Greek: Ἱππόνικος) was an Athenian military commander. He was the son of Callias II and the father of Callias III. His daughter Hipparete was the wife of Alcibiades. Together with Eurymedon he commanded the Athenian forces in the incursion into Boeotian territory (426 BC) and was slain at the Battle of Delium (424).

History of Athens

Athens is one of the oldest named cities in the world, having been continuously inhabited for at least 5000 years. Situated in southern Europe, Athens became the leading city of Ancient Greece in the first millennium BC, and its cultural achievements during the 5th century BC laid the foundations of western civilization.

During the early Middle Ages, the city experienced a decline, then recovered under the later Byzantine Empire and was relatively prosperous during the period of the Crusades (12th and 13th centuries), benefiting from Italian trade. Following a period of sharp decline under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, Athens re-emerged in the 19th century as the capital of the independent and self-governing Greek state.

Long Walls

Although long walls were built at several locations in ancient Greece, notably Corinth and Megara, the term Long Walls (Ancient Greek: Μακρὰ Τείχη) generally refers to the walls that connected Athens to its ports at Piraeus and Phalerum. Built in several phases, they provided a secure connection to the sea even during times of siege. The walls were about 6 km in length, initially constructed in the mid 5th century BC, destroyed by the Spartans in 403 BC after Athens' defeat in the Peloponnesian War, and rebuilt again with Persian support during the Corinthian War in 395-391 BC. The Long Walls were a key element of Athenian military strategy, since they provided the city with a constant link to the sea and thwarted sieges conducted by land alone.


Mascames (also spelled Maskames) was a Persian official and military commander, who flourished during the reign of Xerxes I (r. 486–465). He was the son of Megadostes, and was appointed governor of Doriscus in 480 BC by Xerxes I, succeeding the governor who had been appointed by Darius the Great (r. 522–486 BC). According to Herodotus, Mascames resisted all Greek attacks following the Second Persian invasion of Greece, and remained thus known as the only remaining Persian governor in Europe. Though the Greeks managed to clear other Persian garrisons in Europe, such as Eion, they were unable to take Doriscus from Mascames, which irked the Athenian military.As no one managed to dislodge him, Mascames was highly honored by Xerxes I and received annual gifts from him for his bravery. Mascames's descendants (who succeeded him) continued to receive gifts from Xerxes I's successor, Artaxerxes I (r. 465–424 BC).According to Antigoni Zournatzi (2000), Mascames may have been recalled from Doriscus by ca. 465 BC. The Achaemenid ruler probably recalled Mascames with his garrison around that date, and finally abandonned Doriscus.Miroslav Ivanov Vasilev (2015) states that Mascames may have died by 465 BC.


Olympiodoros or Olympiodorus (Greek: Ὀλυμπιόδωρος) can refer to:

Olympiodoros, son of Lampon, Athenian military commander at the Battle of Plataea in 479 BC

Olympiodorus, eponymous archon of Athens in 294/3 and 293/2 BC

Olympiodorus the Seleucid (c. 178 BC), 2nd-century BC high-priest in Coele-Syria and Phoinike, commissioned by Seleucus IV Philopator

Olympiodorus of Thebes (fl. 412), 5th-century historical writer

Olympiodorus the Elder, 5th-century Peripatetic philosopher and teacher of Proclus

Olympiodorus the Younger (c. 495 – 570), 6th-century Neoplatonist philosopher, last pagan head of Alexandrian School, and astrologer

Olympiodorus the Deacon, 6th-century Alexandrian writer of Bible commentaries


In the culture of ancient Greece, the term paideia (also spelled paedeia) (; Greek: παιδεία, paideía) referred to the rearing and education of the ideal member of the polis. It incorporated both practical, subject-based schooling and a focus upon the socialization of individuals within the aristocratic order of the polis. The practical aspects of this education included subjects subsumed under the modern designation of the liberal arts (rhetoric, grammar, and philosophy are examples), as well as scientific disciplines like arithmetic and medicine. An ideal and successful member of the polis would possess intellectual, moral and physical refinement, so training in gymnastics and wrestling was valued for its effect on the body alongside the moral education which the Greeks believed was imparted by the study of music, poetry, and philosophy. This approach to the rearing of a well-rounded Greek male was common to the Greek-speaking world, with the exception of Sparta where a rigid and militaristic form of education known as the agoge was practiced.

Pausanias of Sparta

Pausanias (Greek: Παυσανίας) was the Agiad King of Sparta from 445 BC to 426 BC and then from 408 BC to 395 BC. He was the son of the Spartan Agiad king Pleistoanax.

His first reign was as a minor after his father, Pleistoanax, was temporarily deposed and exiled after being charged by the Spartans with taking a bribe, probably from the Athenian leader, Pericles, to withdraw from the plain of Eleusis in Attica (Athens) after leading the Peloponnesian forces there following the revolts of Euboea and Megara from the Athenian empire. In 426 BC, Pleistoanax was recalled and restored as Agiad King of Sparta and ruled until his death in 409 BC.

Following the Spartan victory over Athens in the Battle of Aegospotami in 405 BC, the Spartans were in a position to finally force Athens to capitulate. Pausanias laid siege to Athens main city while the Spartan admiral Lysander's fleet blockaded the port of Piraeus. This action effectively closed the grain route to Athens through the Hellespont, thereby starving Athens. Realising the seriousness of the situation, the Athenian statesman, Theramenes, started negotiations with Lysander. These negotiations took three months, but in the end Lysander agreed to terms at Piraeus. An agreement was reached for the capitulation of Athens and the cessation of the Peloponnesian War in 404 BC.

Lysander then put in place a puppet government in Athens with the establishment of the oligarchy of the Thirty Tyrants under Critias which included Theramenes as a leading member. However, in 403 BC Pausanias was able to undermine Lysander's dominance of Athens after Pausanias gained the command of the Peloponnesian League expedition against the Athenian democrats then based in Piraeus. Despite opposition from Lysander, Pausanias took the opportunity to promote a reconciliation between the democratic party in Piraeus and the oligarchs controlling Athens main city, thus allowing the re-establishment of democratic government in Athens. Pausanias was able to restore democracy in Athens while bringing the Athenians, temporarily, into an alliance with Sparta.

Pausanias's actions led to a major conflict with the Spartan ephors. Pausanias was prosecuted, but then acquitted.

Returning to Sparta in 395 BC, Lysander was instrumental in starting a war with Thebes and other Greek cities, which came to be known as the Corinthian War. The Spartans prepared to send out an army against this new alliance of Athens, Thebes, Corinth and Argos (with the backing of the Persians).

The Spartans arranged for two armies, one under Lysander and the other under Pausanias, to rendezvous at and attack the city of Haliartus, Boeotia. Lysander arrived at the city while Pausanias's forces were still several days away. Not willing to wait for Pausanias, Lysander advanced to Haliartus with his troops. In the ensuing Battle of Haliartus, Lysander was killed after bringing his forces too near the walls of the city. Pausanias's army arrived after Lysander's defeat but then left the battle scene primarily due to Athenian military opposition.

Because of his poor leadership at Haliartus, Pausanias was condemned to death by the Spartans and replaced as king by his young son Agesipolis I.

However, Pausanias was able to escape execution and fled Sparta to live in exile in Tegea. While living there he wrote a pamphlet. No fragments of the pamphlet have survived and its contents or purposes are not clear. However, it seems that he wrote the pamphlet to criticise his opponents in Sparta accusing them of violating traditional Spartan laws and advocating the abolition of the ephors.

The year of Pausanias's death is unknown. He was also the father of Cleombrotus I.


In Ancient Greece, phoros (Greek: φόρος) was the name for the membership dues paid to Athens by the members of the Delian League, formed to offer protection from Persian forces. It could be paid in military equipment (such as triremes) or money, most usually the latter. Consequently, a great deal of funds was paid to Athens for the purpose of military initiatives. Athens increased its military forces, resulting in its becoming a dominant and wealthy power.

Sicilian Expedition

The Sicilian Expedition was an Athenian military expedition to Sicily, which took place 415–413 BC during the Peloponnesian War between the Athenian empire on one side and Sparta, Syracuse and Corinth on the other. The expedition ended in a devastating defeat of the Athenian forces.

The expedition was hampered from the outset by uncertainty in its purpose and command structure—political maneuvering in Athens swelled a lightweight force of twenty ships into a massive armada, and the expedition's primary proponent, Alcibiades, was recalled from command to stand trial before the fleet even reached Sicily. Still, the Athenians achieved early successes. Syracuse, the most powerful state in Sicily, responded exceptionally slowly to the Athenian threat and, as a result, was almost completely invested before the arrival of back up in the form of Spartan general, Gylippus, who galvanized its inhabitants into action. From that point forward, however, as the Athenians ceded the initiative to their newly energized opponents, the tide of the conflict shifted. A massive reinforcing armada from Athens briefly gave the Athenians the upper hand once more, but a disastrous failed assault on a strategic high point and several crippling naval defeats damaged the Athenian soldiers' ability to continue fighting and also their morale. The Athenians attempted a last-ditch evacuation from Syracuse. The evacuation failed, and nearly the entire expedition were captured or were destroyed in Sicily.

The effects of the defeat were immense. Two hundred ships and thousands of soldiers, an appreciable portion of Athens' total manpower, were lost in a single stroke. The city's enemies on the mainland and in Persia were encouraged to take action, and rebellions broke out in the Aegean. The defeat proved to be the turning point in the Peloponnesian War, though Athens struggled on for another decade. Thucydides observed that contemporary Greeks were shocked not that Athens eventually fell after the defeat, but rather that it fought on for as long as it did, so devastating were the losses suffered.

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