Hoplites (HOP-lytes[1][2][3]) (Ancient Greek: Ὁπλιτης) were citizen-soldiers of Ancient Greek city-states who were primarily armed with spears and shields. Hoplite soldiers utilized the phalanx formation in order to be effective in war with fewer soldiers. The formation discouraged the soldiers from acting alone, for this would compromise the formation and minimize its strengths.[4] The hoplites were primarily represented by free citizens—propertied farmers and artisans—who were able to afford the bronze armour suit and weapons (estimated at a third to a half of its able-bodied adult male population).[5] Hoplites were not professional soldiers and often lacked sufficient military training. However, some states did maintain a small elite professional unit, known as the epilektoi ("chosen") since they were picked from the regular citizen infantry. These existed at times in Athens, Argos, Thebes (Greece), and Syracuse, among others.[6][7] Hoplite soldiers made up the bulk of ancient Greek armies.[8]

In the 8th or 7th century BC, Greek armies adopted the phalanx formation. The formation proved successful in defeating the Persians when employed by the Athenians at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC during the First Greco-Persian War. The Persian archers and light troops who fought in the Battle of Marathon failed, because their bows were too weak for their arrows to penetrate the wall of Greek shields that made up the phalanx formation. The phalanx was also employed by the Greeks at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC and at the Battle of Plataea in 479 BC during the Second Greco-Persian War.

The word hoplite (Greek: ὁπλίτης hoplitēs; pl. ὁπλῖται hoplitai) derives from hoplon (ὅπλον, plural hopla ὅπλα), the name for the type of shield used by the soldiers. However, the shield was more commonly known as an aspis, so the word hopla may refer to the soldiers' weapons or even their full armament.[9] In the modern Hellenic Army, the word hoplite (Greek: oπλίτης) is used to refer to an infantryman.

A Greek hoplite


Hoplite 5th century
Hoplite, 5th century
Two hoplites
Hoplites shown in two attack positions, with both an overhand and underhand thrust

The fragmented political structure of Ancient Greece, with many competing city-states, increased the frequency of conflict, but at the same time limited the scale of warfare. Limited manpower did not allow most Greek city-states to form large armies which could operate for long periods because they were generally not formed from professional soldiers. Most soldiers had careers as farmers or workers and returned to these professions after the campaign. All hoplites were expected to take part in any military campaign when called for duty by leaders of the state. The Lacedaemonian citizens of Sparta were renowned for their lifelong combat training and almost mythical military prowess, while their greatest adversaries, the Athenians, were exempted from service only after the 60th year of their lives. This inevitably reduced the potential duration of campaigns and often resulted in the campaign season being restricted to one summer .

Armies generally marched directly to their destination, and in some cases the battlefield was agreed to by the contestants in advance. Battles were fought on level ground, and hoplites preferred to fight with high terrain on both sides of the phalanx so the formation could not be flanked. An example of this was the Battle of Thermopylae, where the Spartans specifically chose a narrow coastal pass to make their stand against the massive Persian army. The vastly outnumbered Greeks held off the Persians for seven days.

When battles occurred, they were usually set piece and intended to be decisive. The battlefield would be flat and open to facilitate phalanx warfare. These battles were usually short and required a high degree of discipline. At least in the early classical period, when cavalry was present, its role was restricted to protection of the flanks of the phalanx, pursuit of a defeated enemy, and covering a retreat if required. Light infantry and missile troops took part in the battles but their role was less important. Before the opposing phalanxes engaged, the light troops would skirmish with the enemy's light forces, and then protect the flanks and rear of the phalanx.

The military structure created by the Spartans was a rectangular phalanx formation. The formation was organized from eight to ten rows deep and could cover a front of a quarter of a mile or more if sufficient hoplites were available. The two lines would close to a short distance to allow effective use of their spears, while the psiloi threw stones and javelins from behind their lines. The shields would clash and the first lines (protostates) would stab at their opponents, at the same time trying to keep in position. The ranks behind them would support them with their own spears and the mass of their shields gently pushing them, not to force them into the enemy formation but to keep them steady and in place. The soldiers in the back provided motivation to the ranks in the front being that most hoplites were close community members. At certain points, a command would be given to the phalanx or a part thereof to collectively take a certain number of steps forward (ranging from half to multiple steps). This was the famed othismos.[10]

Amphora phalanx Staatliche Antikensammlungen 1429
Phalanx fighting on a black-figure amphora, c. 560 BC. The hoplite phalanx is a frequent subject in ancient Greek art

At this point, the phalanx would put its collective weight to push back the enemy line and thus create fear and panic among its ranks. There could be multiple such instances of attempts to push, but it seems from the accounts of the ancients that these were perfectly orchestrated and attempted organized en masse. Once one of the lines broke, the troops would generally flee from the field, sometimes chased by psiloi, peltasts, or light cavalry.

If a hoplite escaped, he would sometimes be forced to drop his cumbersome aspis, thereby disgracing himself to his friends and family (becoming a ripsaspis, one who threw his shield).[11] To lessen the number of casualties inflicted by the enemy during battles, soldiers were positioned to stand shoulder to shoulder with their hoplon. The hoplites' most prominent citizens and generals led from the front. Thus, the whole war could be decided by a single field battle; victory was enforced by ransoming the fallen back to the defeated, called the "Custom of the Greeks".

Individual hoplites carried their shields on their left arm, protecting not only themselves but also the soldier to the left. This meant that the men at the extreme right of the phalanx were only half-protected. In battle, opposing phalanxes would exploit this weakness by attempting to overlap the enemy's right flank.[12] It also meant that, in battle, a phalanx would tend to drift to the right (as hoplites sought to remain behind the shield of their neighbour). The most experienced hoplites were often placed on the right side of the phalanx, to counteract these problems. According to Plutarch's Sayings of Spartans, "a man carried a shield for the sake of the whole line".[13]

Vix crater hoplite circa 500 BCE
Probable Spartan hoplite (Vix crater, c.500 BC).[14]

The phalanx is an example of a military formation in which single combat and other individualistic forms of battle were suppressed for the good of the whole. In earlier Homeric, dark age combat, the words and deeds of supremely powerful heroes turned the tide of battle. Instead of having individual heroes, hoplite warfare relied heavily on the community and unity of soldiers. With friends and family pushing on either side and enemies forming a solid wall of shields in front, the hoplite had little opportunity for feats of technique and weapon skill, but great need for commitment and mental toughness. By forming a human wall to provide a powerful defensive armour, the hoplites became much more effective while taking fewer casualties. The hoplites had much discipline and were taught to be loyal and trustworthy. They had to trust their neighbours for mutual protection, so a phalanx was only as strong as its weakest elements. Its effectiveness depended on how well the hoplites could maintain this formation while in combat, and how well they could stand their ground, especially when engaged against another phalanx. The more disciplined and courageous the army, the more likely it was to win—often engagements between the various city-states of Greece would be resolved by one side fleeing after their phalanx had broken formation.


Hoplite armour exhibit at the Corfu Museum closeup
Hoplite armour exhibit from the Archaeological Museum of Corfu. Note the gold inserts around the chest area of the iron breastplate at the centre of the exhibit. The helmet on the upper left is a restored version of the oxidised helmet on the right.

Body armour

Each hoplite provided his own equipment. Thus, only those who could afford such weaponry fought as hoplites; as with the Roman Republican army it was the middle classes who formed the bulk of the infantry. Equipment was not standardized, although there were doubtless trends in general designs over time, and between city-states. Hoplites had customized armour, the shield was decorated with family or clan emblems, although in later years these were replaced by symbols or monograms of the city states. The equipment might well be passed down in families, since it would have been expensive to manufacture.

The hoplite army consisted of heavily armoured infantrymen. Their armour, also called panoply, was made of full bronze, weighing nearly 32 kilograms (70 lb). The average farmer-peasant hoplite typically wore no armour, carrying only a shield, a spear, and perhaps a helmet plus a secondary weapon.The linothorax was the most popular type armour worn by the hoplites, since it was cost-effective and provided decent protection. The richer upper-class hoplites typically had a bronze cuirass of either the bell or muscled variety, a bronze helmet with cheekplates, as well as greaves and other armour. The design of the helmets used varied through time. The Corinthian helmet was at first standardized and was a very successful design. Later variants included the Chalcidian helmet, a lightened version of the Corinthian helmet, and the very simple Pilos helmet worn by the later hoplites. Often the helmet was decorated with one, sometimes more horsehair crests, and/or bronze animal horns and ears. Helmets were often painted as well. The Thracian helmet had a large visor to further increase protection. In later periods, linen breastplates called linothorax were used, as they were tougher and cheaper to make. The linen was 0.5-centimetre (0.20 in) thick.

Ancient athenian warrior
Outfit of an ancient Athenian warrior

By contrast with hoplites, other contemporary infantry (e.g., Persian) tended to wear relatively light armour, use wicker shields, and were armed with shorter spears, javelins, and bows. The most famous are the peltasts, light-armed troops who wore no armour and were armed with a light shield, javelins and a short sword. The Athenian general Iphicrates developed a new type of armour and arms for his mercenary army, which included light linen armour, smaller shields and longer spears, whilst arming his peltasts with larger shields, helmets and a longer spear, thus enabling them to defend themselves more easily against enemy hoplites. With this new type of army he defeated a Spartan army in 392 BC. Nevertheless, the arms and armour described above were most common for hoplites.


Hoplites carried a large concave shield called an aspis (often referred to as a hoplon), measuring between 80–100 centimetres (31–39 in) in diameter and weighing between 6.5–8 kilograms (14–18 lbs).[15][16] This large shield was made possible partly by its shape, which allowed it to be supported on the shoulder. The hoplon shield was put together in three layers: the center layer was made of thick wood, the outside layer facing the enemy was made of bronze, and leather made up the inside of the shield. The revolutionary part of the shield was, in fact, the grip. Known as an Argive grip, it placed the handle at the edge of the shield, and was supported by a leather fastening (for the forearm) at the centre. These two points of contact eliminated the possibility of the shield swaying to the side after being struck, and as a result soldiers rarely lost their shields. This allowed the hoplite soldier more mobility with the shield, as well as the ability to capitalize on its offensive capabilities and better support the phalanx. The large hoplon shields, designed for pushing ahead, were the most essential equipment for the hoplites.[17]


The main offensive weapon used was a 2.4–4.5-metre (7.9–14.8 ft) long and 2.5-centimetre (1 in) in diameter spear called a doru, or dory. It was held with the right hand, with the left hand holding the hoplite's shield. Soldiers usually held their spears in an underhand position when approaching but once they came into close contact with their opponents, they were held in an overhand position ready to strike. The spearhead was usually a curved leaf shape, while the rear of the spear had a spike called a sauroter ("lizard-killer") which was used to stand the spear in the ground (hence the name). It was also used as a secondary weapon if the main shaft snapped, or for the rear ranks to finish off fallen opponents as the phalanx advanced over them. In addition to being used as a secondary weapon, the sauroter also doubled to balance the spear, but not for throwing purposes. It is a matter of contention, among historians, whether the hoplite used the spear overarm or underarm. Held underarm, the thrusts would have been less powerful but under more control, and vice versa. It seems likely that both motions were used, depending on the situation. If attack was called for, an overarm motion was more likely to break through an opponent's defence. The upward thrust is more easily deflected by armour due to its lesser leverage. However, when defending, an underarm carry absorbed more shock and could be 'couched' under the shoulder for maximum stability. It should also be said that an overarm motion would allow more effective combination of the aspis and doru if the shield wall had broken down, while the underarm motion would be more effective when the shield had to be interlocked with those of one's neighbours in the battle-line. Hoplites in the rows behind the lead would almost certainly have made overarm thrusts. The rear ranks held their spears underarm, and raised their shields upwards at increasing angles. This was an effective defence against missiles, deflecting their force.


Hoplites also carried a sword, mostly a short sword called a xiphos, but later also longer and heavier types. The short sword was a secondary weapon, used if or when their spears were broken or lost, or if the phalanx broke rank. The xiphos usually had a blade around 60 centimetres (24 in) long; however, those used by the Spartans were often only 30–45 centimetres long. This very short xiphos would be very advantageous in the press that occurred when two lines of hoplites met, capable of being thrust through gaps in the shieldwall into an enemy's unprotected groin or throat, while there was no room to swing a longer sword. Such a small weapon would be particularly useful after many hoplites had started to abandon body armour during the Peloponnesian War. Hoplites could also alternatively carry the kopis, a heavy knife with a forward-curving blade.

Theories on the transition to fighting in the phalanx

Grave relief of Dexileos, son of Lysanias, of Thorikos (Ca. 390 BC) (4454389225)
Athenian cavalryman Dexileos fighting a naked Peloponnesian hoplite in the Corinthian War.[18] Dexileos was killed in action near Corinth in the summer of 394 BC, probably in the Battle of Nemea,[18] or in a proximate engagement.[19] Grave Stele of Dexileos, 394-393 BC.

Dark age warfare transitioned into hoplite warfare in the 8th century BC. Historians and researchers have debated the reason and speed of the transition for centuries. So far 3 popular theories exist:

Gradualist theory

Developed by Anthony Snodgrass, the Gradualist Theory states that the hoplite style of battle developed in a series of steps as a result of innovations in armour and weaponry.[20] Chronologically dating the archeological findings of hoplite armour and using the findings to approximate the development of the phalanx formation, Snodgrass claims that the transition took approximately 100 years to complete from 750–650 BC.[21] The progression of the phalanx took time because as the phalanx matured it required denser formations that made the elite warriors recruit Greek citizens.[22] The large amounts of hoplite armour needed to then be distributed to the populations of Greek citizens only increased the time for the phalanx to be implemented. Snodgrass believes, only once the armour was in place that the phalanx formation became popular.[21]

Rapid adoption theory

The Rapid Adaptation model was developed by historians Paul Cartledge and Victor Hanson.[23] The historians believe that the phalanx was created individually by military forces, but was so effective that others had to immediately adapt their way of war to combat the formation.[23] Rapid Adoptionists propose that the double grip, hoplon shield that was required for the phalanx formation was so constricting in mobility that once it was introduced, dark age, free flowing warfare was inadequate to fight against the hoplites only escalating the speed of the transition.[20] Quickly, the phalanx formation and hoplite armour became widely used throughout Ancient Greece. Cartledge and Hanson estimate the transition took place from 725–675 BC.[23]

Extended gradualist theory

Detail from the Chigi-vase
Chigi Vase with Hoplites holding javelins and spears

Developed by Hans Van Wees, the Extended Gradualist theory is the most lengthy of the three popular transition theories. Van Wees depicts iconography found on pots of the Dark Ages believing that the foundation of the phalanx formation was birthed during this time.[20] Specifically, he uses an example of the Chigi Vase to point out that hoplite soldiers were carrying normal spears as well as javelins on their backs. Matured hoplites did not carry long range weapons including javelins.[21] The Chigi vase is important for our knowledge of the hoplite soldier because it is one, if not the only one representation of the hoplite formation, known as the phalanx, in Greek art.[24] This led Van Wees to believe that there was a transitional period from long range warfare of the Dark Ages to the close combat of hoplite warfare. Some other evidence of a transitional period lies within the text of Spartan poet Tyrtaios, who wrote, "…will they draw back for the pounding [of the missiles, no,] despite the battery of great hurl-stones, the helmets shall abide the rattle [of war unbowed]".[25] At no point in other texts does Tyrtaios discuss missiles or rocks, making another case for a transitional period in which hoplite warriors had some ranged capabilities. Extended Gradualists argue that hoplite warriors did not fight in a true phalanx until the 5th century BC.[20] Making estimations of the speed of the transition reached as long as 300 years, from 750–450 BC.


Globular aryballos Louvre Ele357
Hoplites on an aryballos from Corinth, c. 580–560 BC (Louvre)

Ancient Greece

The exact time when hoplite warfare was developed is uncertain, the prevalent theory being that it was established sometime during the 8th or 7th century BC, when the "heroic age was abandoned and a far more disciplined system introduced" and the Argive shield became popular.[26] Peter Krentz argues that "the ideology of hoplitic warfare as a ritualized contest developed not in the 7th century [BC], but only after 480, when non-hoplite arms began to be excluded from the phalanx".[27] Anagnostis Agelarakis, based on recent archaeo-anthropological discoveries of the earliest monumental polyandrion (communal burial of male warriors) at Paros Island in Greece, unveils a last quarter of the 8th century BC date for a hoplitic phalangeal military organization.[28]

The rise and fall of hoplite warfare was tied to the rise and fall of the city-state. As discussed above, hoplites were a solution to the armed clashes between independent city-states. As Greek civilization found itself confronted by the world at large, particularly the Persians, the emphasis in warfare shifted. Confronted by huge numbers of enemy troops, individual city-states could not realistically fight alone. During the Greco-Persian Wars (499–448 BC), alliances between groups of cities (whose composition varied over time) fought against the Persians. This drastically altered the scale of warfare and the numbers of troops involved. The hoplite phalanx proved itself far superior to the Persian infantry at such conflicts as the Battle of Marathon, Thermopylae, and the Battle of Plataea.

Squatting warrior Staatliche Antikensammlungen 8966
Crouching warrior, tondo of an Attic black-figure kylix, c. 560 BC (Staatliche Antikensammlungen)

During this period, Athens and Sparta rose to a position of political eminence in Greece, and their rivalry in the aftermath of the Persian wars brought Greece into renewed internal conflict. However, the Peloponnesian War was on a scale unlike conflicts before. Fought between leagues of cities, dominated by Athens and Sparta respectively, the pooled manpower and financial resources allowed a diversification of warfare. Hoplite warfare was in decline; there were three major battles in the Peloponnesian War, and none proved decisive. Instead there was increased reliance on navies, skirmishers, mercenaries, city walls, siege engines, and non-set piece tactics. These reforms made wars of attrition possible and greatly increased the number of casualties. In the Persian war, hoplites faced large numbers of skirmishers and missile-armed troops, and such troops (e.g., peltasts) became much more commonly used by the Greeks during the Peloponnesian War. As a result, hoplites began wearing less armour, carrying shorter swords, and in general adapting for greater mobility; this led to the development of the ekdromos light hoplite.

Many famous personalities, philosophers, artists, and poets fought as hoplites.[29][30]

According to Nefiodkin, fighting against Greek heavy infantry during the Greco-Persian Wars inspired the Persians to introduce scythed chariots.[31]


Achaemenid king killing a Greek hoplite
Achaemenid king killing a Greek hoplite. Circa 500 BC–475 BC, at the time of Xerxes I. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Sparta is one of the most famous city-states, along with Athens, which had a unique position in ancient Greece. Contrary to other city states, the free citizens of Sparta served as hoplites their entire life, training and exercising also in peacetime, which gave Sparta a professional standing army. Often small, numbering around 6000 at its peak to no more than 1000 soldiers at lowest point,[32] divided into six mora or battalions, the Spartan army was feared for its discipline and ferocity. Military service was the primary duty of Spartan men, and Spartan society was organized around its army.

Military service for hoplites lasted until the age of 40, and sometimes even until 60 years of age, depending on a man's physical ability to perform on the battlefield.


Ancient Macedonian soldiers, from the tomb of Agios Athanasios, Greece
Paintings of Ancient Macedonian soldiers, arms, and armaments, from the tomb of Agios Athanasios, Thessaloniki in Greece, 4th century BC

Later on in the hoplite era, more sophisticated tactics were developed, in particular by the Theban general Epaminondas. These tactics inspired the future king Philip II of Macedon, who was at the time a hostage in Thebes, and also inspired the development of new kind of infantry, the Macedonian phalanx. After the Macedonian conquests of the 4th century BC, the hoplite was slowly abandoned in favour of the phalangite, armed in the Macedonian fashion, in the armies of the southern Greek states. Although clearly a development of the hoplite, the Macedonian phalanx was tactically more versatile, especially used in the combined arms tactics favoured by the Macedonians. These forces defeated the last major hoplite army, at the Battle of Chaeronea (338 BC), after which Athens and its allies joined the Macedonian empire.

While Alexander's army mainly fielded Pezhetairoi (= Foot Companions) as his main force, it is known that his army also included some classic hoplites, either provided by the League of Corinth or from hired mercenaries. Beside these units, the Macedonians also used the so-called Hypaspists, an elite force of units possibly originally fighting as hoplites and used to guard the exposed right wing of Alexander's phalanx.

Hoplite-style warfare outside Greece

Etruscan warrior near Viterbe Italy circa 500 BCE
Etruscan warrior, found near Viterbo, Italy, dated circa 500 BC.

Hoplite-style warfare was very influential and influenced several other nations in the Mediterranean. Hoplite warfare was the dominant fighting style on the Italian Peninsula up to the early 3rd century BC, employed by both the Etruscans and the Early Roman army. The Romans later changed their fighting style to a more flexible maniple organization, which was more versatile on rough terrain like that of Samnium. Roman equipment also changed, and they reequipped their soldiers with longer oval shields (scutum), swords and heavy javelins (pilum). In the end only the triarii would keep a long spear (hasta) as their main weapon. However, the triarii would still fight in a traditional phalanx formation. Though the Italian tribes, namely the socii fighting with the Romans, later adopted the new Roman fighting style, some continued to fight as hoplites. Local levied troops or mercenaries serving under Pyrrhus of Epirus or Hannibal (namely Etruscans) were equipped and fought as hoplites.

Early in its history, Ancient Carthage also equipped its troops as Greek hoplites, in units such as the Sacred Band of Carthage. Many Greek hoplite mercenaries also fought in foreign armies, such as Carthage and Achaemenid Empire, where it is believed by some that they inspired the formation of the Cardaces. Some hoplites served under the Illyrian king Bardylis in the 4th century. The Illyrians were known to import many weapons and tactics from the Greeks.

The Diadochi imported the Greek phalanx to their kingdoms. Though they mostly fielded Greek citizens or mercenaries, they also armed and drilled local natives as hoplites or rather Macedonian phalanx, like the Machimoi of the Ptolemaic army.

Hellenistic period

The Greek armies of the Hellenistic period mostly fielded troops in the fashion of the Macedonian phalanx. Nonetheless many armies of mainland Greece stuck with hoplite warfare. Besides classical hoplites Hellenistic nations began to field two new types of hoplites, the Thureophoroi and the Thorakitai. They developed when Greeks adopted the Celtic Thureos shield, of an oval shape that was similar to the shields of the Romans, but flatter. The Thureophoroi were armed with a long thrusting spear, a short sword and, if needed, javelins. While the Thorakitai were similar to the Thureophoroi, they were more heavily armoured, as their name implies, usually wearing a mail shirt. These troops were used as a link between the light infantry and the phalanx, a form of medium infantry to bridge the gaps.


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Ancient Greek warfare

Warfare occurred throughout the history of Ancient Greece, from the Greek Dark Ages onward. The Greek 'Dark Age' drew to a close as a significant increase in population allowed urbanized culture to be restored, which

led to the rise of the city-states (Poleis). These developments ushered in the period of Archaic Greece (800-480 BC). They also restored the capability of organized warfare between these Poleis (as opposed to small-scale raids to acquire livestock and grain, for example). The fractious nature of Ancient Greek society seems to have made continuous conflict on this larger scale inevitable.

Along with the rise of the city-state evolved a new style of warfare: the hoplite phalanx. Hoplites were armored infantryman, armed with spears and shields, and the phalanx was a formation of these soldiers with their shields locked together and spears pointed forward. The Chigi vase, dated to around 650 BC, is the earliest depiction of a hoplite in full battle array. With this evolution in warfare, battles seem to have consisted mostly of the clash of hoplite phalanxes from the city-states in conflict. Since the soldiers were citizens with other occupations, warfare was limited in distance, season and scale. Neither side could afford heavy casualties or sustained campaigns, so conflicts seem to have been resolved by a single set-piece battle.

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). To fight the enormous armies of the Achaemenid Empire was effectively beyond the capabilities of a single city-state. The eventual triumph of the Greeks was achieved by alliances of many city-states, on a scale never seen before. The rise of Athens and Sparta during this conflict led directly to the Peloponnesian War, which saw diversification of warfare. Emphasis shifted to naval battles and strategies of attrition such as blockades and sieges. Following the defeat of the Athenians in 404 BC, and the disbandment of the Athenian-dominated Delian League, Ancient Greece fell under the Spartan hegemony. But this was unstable, and the Persian Empire sponsored a rebellion by the combined powers of Athens, Thebes, Corinth and Argos, resulting in the Corinthian War (395-387 BC). Persia switched sides, which ended the war, in return for the cities of Ionia and Spartan non-interference in Asia Minor. The Spartan hegemony would last another 16 years, until, at the Battle of Leuctra (371) the Spartans were decisively defeated by the Theban general Epaminondas.

The Thebans acted with alacrity to establish a hegemony of their own over Greece. However, Thebes lacked sufficient manpower and resources, and became overstretched. Following the death of Epaminondas and loss of manpower at the Battle of Mantinea, the Theban hegemony ceased. The losses in the ten years of the Theban hegemony left all the Greek city-states weakened and divided. The city-states of southern Greece were too weak to resist the rise of the Macedonian kingdom in the north. With revolutionary tactics, King Phillip II brought most of Greece under his sway, paving the way for the conquest of "the known world" by his son Alexander the Great. The rise of the Macedonian Kingdom is generally taken to signal the beginning of the Hellenistic period, and certainly marked the end of the distinctive hoplite battle in Ancient Greece.

Astylos of Croton

Astylos of croton (Ἄστυλος/Ἀστύαλος ὁ Κροτωνιάτης) was an athlete from ancient Croton who starred in the Olympic Games of the 5th century BC. He was mentioned in records from General Pausanias that claim he excelled in three successive Olympic games from 488 to 480 BC, in the running events of stade and diaulos. Diodorus Siculus calls him Astylos of Syracuse and uses his third victory to date the Persian invasion in 480 BC.."Siculus, Diodorus, Historical Library, University of Chicago, 11.1.2.Some one won all his six wreaths in the Olympics. In Italy Astylos was famous for equaling the achievements of previous champion athlete Chionis of Sparta. Astylos not only matched the achievements of Chionis, in that he won on three separate occasions the stade and diaulos events, he also won the hoplitodromos event, which was running 2 to 4 stadium lengths in full Hoplite Armour(helmet, shield, and spear).

Despite his fame, Astylos died a lonely man. When he agreed to participate in the 484 and 480 BC Olympic games as a Syracusan citizen in honor of the tyrant Hieron, the people of Croton expelled him from the city and demolished his statue in their city. It is also said that Astylos was bribed by officials in Syracuse to compete under their name, giving Astylos the unusual claim-to-fame of being the world's first free agent. His house was also turned into a prison as a sign of disrespect, while his family also renounced him.

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.

Battle of Lechaeum

The Battle of Lechaeum (391 BC) was an Athenian victory in the Corinthian War. In the battle, the Athenian general Iphicrates took advantage of the fact that a Spartan hoplite regiment operating near Corinth was moving in the open without the protection of any missile throwing troops. He decided to ambush it with his force of javelin throwers, or peltasts. By launching repeated hit-and-run attacks against the Spartan formation, Iphicrates and his men were able to wear the Spartans down, eventually routing them and killing just under half. This marked one of the first occasions in Greek military history on which a force of peltasts had defeated a force of hoplites (heavy infantry).

Chigi vase

The Chigi vase is a Protocorinthian olpe, or pitcher, that is the name vase of the Chigi Painter. It was found in an Etruscan tomb at Monte Aguzzo, near Veio, on Prince Mario Chigi’s estate in 1881. The vase has been variously assigned to the middle and late protocorinthian periods and given a date of ca. 650-640 BC; it is now in the National Etruscan Museum, Villa Giulia, Rome (inv. No.22679). The vase stands 26 cm (10.2 inches) tall, which is modest compared to other Greek vases. Some three-quarters of the vase is preserved. It was found amidst a large number of potsherds of mixed provenance, including one bucchero vessel inscribed with five lines in two early Etruscan alphabets announcing the ownership of Atianai, perhaps also the original owner of the Chigi vase.

Corinthian helmet

The Corinthian helmet originated in ancient Greece and took its name from the city-state of Corinth. It was a helmet made of bronze which in its later styles covered the entire head and neck, with slits for the eyes and mouth. A large curved projection protected the nape of the neck.

Out of combat, a Greek hoplite would wear the helmet tipped upward for comfort. This practice gave rise to a series of variant forms in Italy, where the slits were almost closed, since the helmet was no longer pulled over the face but worn cap-like. Although the classical Corinthian helmet fell out of use among the Greeks in favour of more open types, the Italo-Corinthian types remained in use until the 1st century AD, being used, among others, by the Roman army.

Greek military ranks

Modern Greek military ranks are based on Ancient Greek and Byzantine terminology, even though the ranks correspond to those of other Western armies. For example, ancient hoplite unit of approximately 100 men, the lochos, is today the name for a company of soldiers; its commander, as in ancient times, is a lochagos, while his lieutenants are called ypolochagoi — literally, "sub-captains" — a modern neologism. A sergeant is known as a lochias. A tagmatarchis (major) commands a tagma (battalion) and so forth. Thus, every officer or non-commissioned officer is in the land and air forces is generally named after the type of unit he commands, with the suffix -agos (from agein, "to lead") or -archos / -arches (from archein, "to rule").

Hoplite formation in art

The hoplites were soldiers from Ancient Greece who were usually free citizens. They had a very uniform and distinct appearance; specifically they were armed with a spear (dory) in their right hand and a heavy round shield in their left.Hoplite soldiers were organized in battle into the "Phalanx formation". The goal of this formation was to create uniformity and a powerful military force in order to maximize the effectiveness as the army as a whole, rather than use people as individual fighters. With the hoplite formation everyone was the same in battle. The Phalanx formation appeared during the 7th and 8th centuries BC.The representation of hoplites in art show historians how the Greeks used this formation in battle as well as how the soldiers were dressed and what their armor looked like. The hoplite formation is shown in different styles of pottery such as white ground and black figure and also on many different types of pottery such an olpe, krater, alabastron, and dinos. Across all depictions, hoplite soldiers wear the same armor and carry the same weapons in the same position. In addition, the aspect of uniformity is emphasized in these representations.


The hoplitodromos or hoplitodromia (Greek: Ὁπλιτόδρομος, Ὁπλιτοδρομία, English translation: "race of soldiers") was an ancient foot race, part of the Olympic Games and the other Panhellenic Games. It was the last foot race to be added to the Olympics, first appearing at the 65th Olympics in 520 BC, and was traditionally the last foot race to be held.Unlike the other races, which were generally run in the nude, the hoplitodromos required competitors to run wearing the helmet and greaves of the hoplite infantryman from which the race took its name. Runners also carried the aspis, the hoplites' bronze-covered wood shield, bringing the total encumbrance to at least 50 pounds. As the hoplitodromos was one of the shorter foot races, the heavy armor and shield was less a test of endurance than one of sheer muscular strength. After 450 BC, the use of greaves was abandoned; however, the weight of the shield and helmet remained substantial.

At Olympia and Athens, the hoplitodromos track, like that of the diaulos, was a single lap of the stadium (or two stades; about 350-400m). Since the track made a hairpin turn at the end of the stadium, there was a turning post called a kampter (καμπτήρ) at each end of the track to assist the sprinters in negotiating the tight turn — a task complicated by the shield carried in the runner's off hand. At Nemea the distance was doubled to four stades (about 700-800m), and at Plataea in Boeotia the race was 15 stades in total.The hoplitodromos, with its military accoutrements, was as much a military training exercise as an athletic contest. Encounters with squads of expert Persian archers, first occurring shortly before the hoplitodromos was introduced in 520 BC, must have suggested the need for training the Greek armored infantry in fast "rushing" maneuvers during combat. Additionally, the original 400-meter length of the hoplitodromos coincides well with the effective area of the Persian archers' zone of fire, suggesting an explicit military purpose for this type of training.


Hoplitosaurus (meaning "Hoplite lizard") was a genus of armored dinosaur related to Polacanthus. It was named from a partial skeleton found in the ?Barremian-age Lower Cretaceous Lakota Formation of Custer County, South Dakota. It is an obscure genus which has been subject to some misinterpretation of its damaged remains. Although there was a push to synonymize it with Polacanthus in the late 1980s-early 1990s, Hoplitosaurus has been accepted as a valid albeit poorly known genus in more recent reviews.

Mil Mi-2

The Mil Mi-2 (NATO reporting name Hoplite) is a small, lightly armed turbine-powered transport helicopter that could also provide close air support when armed with 57 mm rockets and a 23 mm cannon.


A panoply is a complete suit of armour. The word represents the ancient Greek πανοπλία (panoplía), where the word πᾶν pân means "all", and ὅπλον hóplon, "arms". Thus panoply refers to the full armour of a hoplite or heavy-armed soldier, i.e. the shield, breastplate, helmet and greaves, together with the sword and lance.As applied to armour of a later date, panoply did not come into use till the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th century, and was then used of the complete suits of plate armour covering the whole body.Because a panoply is a complete set of diverse components, the word panoply has come to refer to any complete or impressive collection.


The phalanx (Ancient Greek: φάλαγξ; plural phalanxes or phalanges, φάλαγγες, phalanges) was a rectangular mass military formation, usually composed entirely of heavy infantry armed with spears, pikes, sarissas, or similar pole weapons. The term is particularly (and originally) used to describe the use of this formation in Ancient Greek warfare, although the ancient Greek writers used it to also describe any massed infantry formation, regardless of its equipment. Arrian uses the term in his Array against the Alans when he refers to his legions. In Greek texts, the phalanx may be deployed for battle, on the march, or even camped, thus describing the mass of infantry or cavalry that would deploy in line during battle. They marched forward as one entity.

The term itself, as used today, does not refer to a distinctive military unit or division (e.g., the Roman legion or the contemporary Western-type battalion), but to the type of formation of an army's troops. Therefore, this term does not indicate a standard combat strength or composition but includes the total number of infantry, which is deployed in a single formation known as a "phalanx".

Many spear-armed troops historically fought in what might be termed phalanx-like formations. This article focuses on the use of the military phalanx formation in Ancient Greece, the Hellenistic world, and other ancient states heavily influenced by Greek civilization.


Sauroplites (meaning "saurian hoplite") is a genus of herbivorous ankylosaurian dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of China.

In 1930, the Swedish paleontologist Anders Birger Bohlin during the Swedish-Chinese expeditions of Sven Hedin discovered an ankylosaurian fossil near Tebch in Inner Mongolia.The type species Sauroplites scutiger was named and described by Bohlin in 1953. The generic name is derived from Greek sauros or saura, "lizard", and hoplites, "hoplite, armed foot soldier". The specific name is new Latin for "shield bearer", in reference to the body armour.The specimens were not given an inventory number and are today lost, though some casts are present in the American Museum of Natural History as specimen AMNH 2074. They were found in a layer of the Zhidan Group, probably dating from the Barremian to Aptian stages. The carcass had been deposited on its back and the bones had been eroded away, apart from some ribs and perhaps a piece of an ischium, leaving parts of the body armour in a largely articulated position.At first generally accepted as valid, even though a diagnosis had originally not been provided, Sauroplites was later often considered a nomen dubium because it is based on fragmentary material. Some believed it might actually be a specimen of another ankylosaur, Shamosaurus. However, in 2014 Victoria Megan Arbour discovered a clear unique trait, autapomorphy: the sacral or pelvic shield shows rosettes with a large central osteoderm surrounded by a single ring of smaller scutes. Other species have multiple or irregular rings. She concluded that Sauroplites was a valid taxon.The large central osteoderms of the rosettes are rather flat and have a diameter of ten centimetres. More to the front oval osteoderms, with an asymmetric low keel, cover the back, with a length of up to forty centimetres. Thirty centimetre osteoderms cover the sides.Bohlin placed Sauroplites in the Ankylosauridae. However, Arbour considered it possible that it was a member of the Nodosauridae in view of the possession of a sacral shield consisting of fused rosettes which is unknown with unequivocal ankylosaurids, even though nodosaurid remains from Asia are rare and contentious. In a cladistic analysis she performed, Sauroplites was recovered as a nodosaurid.


The Sciritae or Skiritai (Greek: Σκιρῖται Skiritai) were a people subject to Sparta, whose status is comparable to that of the Perioeci. They lived in Skiritis, a mountainous region located in northern Laconia on the border with Arcadia, between the Oenus and the Eurotas rivers.

According to Stephanus of Byzantium and Hesychius of Alexandria, the Sciritae were of Arcadian origin. Their way of life was essentially rural: they mostly lived in villages, of which the biggest were Oion and Caryai. Their territory was inhospitable, but was of strategic importance for Sparta since it controlled the road to Tegea, which explains why it rapidly fell in Spartan hands. Their status was similar to that of the Perioeci, but Xenophon distinguished between them, writing, 'To meet the case of a hostile approach at night, he assigned the duty of acting as sentries outside the lines to the Sciritae. In these days the duty is shared by foreigners, if any happen to be present in the camp.'In war the Sciritae formed an elite corps of light infantry, a lochos (battalion) of about 600 men, which were used as a complement to the civic army. According to Thucydides (v. 67), they fought on the extreme-left wing in the battle-line, the most threatening position for the hoplite phalanx: "In this battle the left wing was composed of the Sciritae, who in a Lacedaemonian army have always that post to themselves alone". At night, they were placed as sentinels ahead of the army (Xenophon, Constitution of the Spartans, xii. 3) and acted as scouts to open the way for the king, whom they only could precede.

In the Cyropaedia (IV, 2), Xenophon compares them to the Hyrcanian cavalry, used by the Assyrians as rear-guard.

Scutum (shield)

The scutum (English: ; plural scuta; Classical Latin: [ˈskuːtũː]) was a type of shield used among Italic peoples in antiquity, and then by the army of ancient Rome starting about the fourth century BC. The Romans adopted it when they switched from the military formation of the hoplite phalanx of the Greeks to the formation with maniples. In the former, the soldiers carried a round shield, which the Romans called a clipeus. In the latter, they used the scutum, which was a larger shield. Originally it was an oblong and convex shield. By the first century BC it had developed into the rectangular, semi-cylindrical shield that is popularly associated with the scutum in modern times. This was not the only shield the Romans used; Roman shields were of varying types depending on the role of the soldier who carried it. Oval, circular and rectangular shields were used throughout Roman history.


The Spartiates (Greek: Σπαρτιάτες, "Spartans") or Homoioi (Greek: Ὅμοιοι, "those who are alike"; sing. homoios) were the males of Sparta known to the Spartans as "peers" or "men of equal status". From a young age, male Spartiates were trained for battle and put through gruelling challenges intended to craft them into fearless warriors. In battle, they had the reputation of being the best soldiers in Greece, and the strength of Sparta's hoplite forces let the city become the dominant state in Greece throughout much of the Classical period. Other city-states were reluctant to attack Sparta even though it could muster a force of only about 8000 Spartiates during the zenith of its dominance, such was the reputation of its soldiers.

Statuette of hoplite (Berlin Antiquities Collection Misc. 7470)

The statuette of hoplite found at Dodona (Berlin antiquities collection, Misc. 7470, Antikensammlung der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin, Misc. 7470) is an archaeological find which was purchased in 1880 and is hosted today in Berlin at the Altes Museum


Tyrtaeus (; Greek: Τυρταῖος Tyrtaios) was a Greek lyric poet from Sparta who composed verses around the time of the Second Messenian War, the date of which is not clearly established, but sometime in the latter part of the seventh century BC. He is known especially for political and military elegies, exhorting Spartans to support the state authorities and to fight bravely against the Messenians, who had temporarily succeeded in wresting their estates from Spartan control.

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