Military leaders of ancient Greece.

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Greek warriors. Military leaders.

Hoplits. Military leaders of ancient Greece.

The armament of the hoplites was called panoplie (πανοπλία panoplía). Pan[h]oplie means “full armour” (literally: “all-armament”: pan “all”, hoplon “weapon”), more freely translated “heavy armament”. The most important protective weapon was the large, round shield (ἀσπίς aspís), which could cover the entire upper body. It was made of wood, usually first framed with a bronze border, later covered with bronze plate, and measured about one metre in diameter.

The offensive weapons were a dory (thrusting lance) with a steel tip (the so-called sauroter) (in the 7th and 6th centuries BC partly supplemented by a shorter throwing spear) and a sword in case the lance broke. The lance measured about two metres at the time of the Persian Wars, but in Hellenistic times it could measure up to six metres, called a sarissa. Several sword models were in use. In addition to the xiphos, a straight short sword, a heavy cutting sword (κοπίς kopís also called μάχαιρα máchaira), whose blade had a biconvex cross-section, was in use from the 4th century.

Added to this were pieces of armour such as the helmet (often decorated with an imposing crest) and greaves made of bronze as well as a breastplate (initially mostly a bell armour, later also a linothorax). Additions such as upper and lower arm splints as well as ankle, thigh and foot protection were predominantly used by wealthier fighters until the 6th century BC.

Source: Münchener Bilderbogen 1848 to 1898. On the history of costumes. Published by Braun & Schneider. Royal court and university printing office of Dr. C. Wolf & Sohn in Munich.

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