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Posted by: achim finally, this weekend, I had time to read through this Book! and,...what an enjoyable read this was! Well reserched, well written, well ilustrated! I liked it very much! Good work William Shpherd and Peter Dennis!! .. One single issue I like to remark though: It is argued that Hoplites at this time discarded their Bodyarmour and went to Battle only with their Shields and Spears! This was true for the Spartans on the Island of Sphacteria, but in general, it was more the trend to LIGHTER Armour! Hoplites discarded their heavy Bronce Breast and Back Plates for lighter Leather, or, even better, the "new" and quite resistant Linnen Armour! .. Thudicydes does not even say that the Athenian Hoplites who landed on the Island went unarmoured! My personal guess is, that the Spartan were indeed unarmoured as they left Armour behind, so as not to be incumbered during the Sea Travel, or the anticipated short stay on the Island! But, I think, at least the Athenian Hoplites would not have dared face the Spartans unarmoured!! .. Being a Hoplite was a matter of Citizenship, of being a wealthy Citizen at that and it was a mark of Pride! To go into Battle, distinguished from "the rest" of the Cities Warrios ONLY because of an heavier Shield and Spear would not fit the mindset of those Class Conscious Men!! At least at that time!! .. lateron, when Mercenaries were the Bulk of a Cties Army, this surely changed (as did Hoplite Warefare in general), but as long as Hoplites were wealthy Citizen Soldiers, we mus asume that Body Armour (even if linnen armour) was a Mark to distinguish them from all others....
Posted on: 27/01/2014 17:30:00

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Posted by: .George Washington
Total Posts: 164
Joined Date: Friday, 21 June 2013
I own the Essential Histories on the Peloponnesian war and it never mentioned this! if it is half as good as Platea I should get it.
Posted on: 27/01/2014 20:06:00
Posted by: william
Total Posts: 3
Joined Date: Wednesday, 28 January 2009
I’m glad you enjoyed the book, Achim! Regarding the question of armour, a reviewer on amazon also challenged my assumptions, as faithfully represented in the artwork. With more inclusive mobilisation there may well have been more hoplites that did not possess body armour, but I do not now believe that it was generally being phased out. However I do think that tactical circumstances had begun to influence the choice between wearing it or not wearing it when going into battle. I have come across two hints of this in Thucydides. One (at II.81) I refer to on page 28, where I do address the general issue quite briefly. The other (at III.22) occurs in the gripping account of the break-out from Plataea: Thucydides describes the escape force as "lightly equipped" except for a small number armed with daggers/short swords and breastplates whose job was to tackle the enemy sentries posted on the siege-works the escapees had to get over. As to the nature of the armour, I think bronze plate had been almost entirely superseded by “composite” alternatives earlier in the 5th century. But it was the spear and shield that defined the hoplite by the time of the Peloponnesian War. There is evidence that body armour, helmet and sword had become “optional extras”, if they were ever regarded as essential kit to qualify for phalanx service. I now think it probable that the Spartan garrison on Sphacteria had body armour with them and would have put it on that final morning in anticipation of the conventional hoplite battle that Demosthenes never allowed them to engage in. It may too have been body armour that saved them from even heavier casualties in the hours of bombardment by Demosthenes' archers, peltasts and light-armed. I also now think it more likely that body armour would have been worn by the Spartans and their allies in the abortive amphibious assault at the beginning of the campaign... but I'm not going to be asking Peter Dennis to redo any of his fabulous paintings!
Posted on: 28/01/2014 12:20:00
Posted by: achim
Total Posts: 40
Joined Date: Wednesday, 11 September 2013
yeah, well, I brought the issue of the Body Armour up, mainly as to voice my opinión! While Tucydides is one of our best sources on classical Greek Warfare, he is sometimes a Little vague!! Sure, in his time, I'd guess, everybody knew what he meant with "lightly equipped"...., but we..., well we enter into a discussion and have opinions! .. .. I think, after discarding the heavy Bronce Plates, the Hoplites moved through a short time of "lighter" Leather Armour (a heavier versión was surely used side by side with the Bronce Armour in earlier times) and then, via Composite Materials to the light, yet very resistant Linnen Armour! And, I think, during the Peleponessian War, we see early stages of the Linnen Armour used!! .. .. Peter Dennis Artwork captures the open Order clashes, and the confused nature of them very well!! Even without depicting Body Armour....!!! As said, I enjoyed the Book very much....
Posted on: 28/01/2014 15:04:00
Posted by: william
Total Posts: 3
Joined Date: Wednesday, 28 January 2009
Aha, the "linothorax" question, Achim! A couple of months ago I blogged about ancient weapons with very interesting and instructive consequences: see http://www.ospreypublishing.com/blog/ancient_weapons_research_by_william_shepherd/ and I particularly recommend you follow the link to the "Ancient Warfare" site given in the second comment..
Posted on: 29/01/2014 17:13:00
Posted by: achim
Total Posts: 40
Joined Date: Wednesday, 11 September 2013
Quite interesting Article by Mr Brouwers! Actually, this webpage brought me to his book "the Henchmen of Ares" which seems interesting! i will surely order a copy in the next few weeks!! .. .. But on Arguments of the Linnen Cuirass and if the Hoplite Spear was used Overarm or Underarm, we seem to return to Hans Droysen's argumentation on Hoplite Warfare!! And this Gentlemen died 1918!! He already said the Linnen Cuirass was used in the late sixth century and argues the Hoplite Spear was surely used Overarm, so to try to stab over the enemies Shield! But as the Battle went on, Droysen assumed the Grip was changed to Underarm, as he argues the fatigue of the Hoplite would not have allowed him to continue Overarm!! .. .. before you ask..., I don't know what the man meant by "as the Battle went on"! ten minutes? half an Hour? One Hour? and, why will the Hoplite be less fatigued when holding the heavy Spear Underarm?
Posted on: 29/01/2014 22:26:00
Posted by: Amaral
Total Posts: 200
Joined Date: Friday, 8 March 2013
Probably because the shoulder muscles are small muscles and hurt more. But I am just guessing. Anyway, I got curious when the word "amphibious" popped-up as I am a "sea-soldier" and just two days ago was asking the question I am going to do now: what was the difference in armour of the "land-soldiers" and the "sea-soldiers" (epibatos/epibatai)? The only reference I know is from CAM 188 on Thermopylae.
Posted on: 13/02/2014 05:12:00
Posted by: achim
Total Posts: 40
Joined Date: Wednesday, 11 September 2013
Good thought, Amaral! Could well be! As said, it is a Little difficult to get to the bottom of mr Droysens Argument!! He was one of the first to study Greek Hoplite Warfare (I mean not only what was done, but laso HOW and WHY they fought that way, and surely not annother...), but much of his notes were destroyed lateron! We have his books...., but not his research into them! .. .. Can it be that the difference in Armour of a Land Hoplite against the one of a Sea Hoplite isanchored in an earlier time? Maybe during the Persian warsor even earlier? The Delicate balance of a Trireme has to be kept and the heavier the Infantry Men on Board, the more difficult to steer the Ship straight...! .. .. IF (and it's a big IF) the Linnen Thorax was already widespread during the Peleponnesian War...., I think there should not have been any concern towards Ships balance, and therefore no diffrence in Armour between the On Board Marines and the Hoplite on Land!
Posted on: 13/02/2014 21:09:00
Posted by: Amaral
Total Posts: 200
Joined Date: Friday, 8 March 2013
The ships sometimes had 10 marines hoplites, sometimes they had more, I will search for the passage in Nic Fields' books.
Posted on: 16/02/2014 08:29:00
Posted by: Amaral
Total Posts: 200
Joined Date: Friday, 8 March 2013
Found it: "As Burn (1984: 367-68) points out, the number of ten hoplites only, aged between 20 and 30, as marines (epibatai) gives rise to a certain amount of of uneasiness. The number is consistent with that Herodotos (7.185.1, 8.17) appears to have thought was the normal complement of Greek warships at this time, but both he and the decree are probably anachronistic here. It was this number that the swift Athenian triremes of the Peloponnesian War, which maneuvered for an attack with the ram, carried (Thucydides 2.23.2, 3.94.1, 95.2), but it seems that this number must have represented a reduction since earlier times. Thucydides, on the sea-fight between Corinth and Corcyra off Sybota (433 BC), speaks of 'many hoplites, javelin throwers and archers on the decks' as characteristics of 'the old-fashinable kind' (1.49.1). Actually we are reminded of the Chiot triremes at Lade (494 BC), which each carried 40 picked hoplites who served as epibatai (Herodotos 6.15.2). It seems certain that, in the ships of his novel, mass-produced navy which he was so anxious to give battle in narrow waters, Themistokles must have planned to carry many more hoplites than ten per ship. There were certainly no Athenian hoplites at Thermopylae as there had been earlier at Tempe, and it cannot be imagined that those over 30 years of age simply stayed in Attica when the fleet went north." (Thermopylae 480 BC, p. 49) At page 60, while explaining the third day of battle in Artemision and that the fleets entangled in bloody hand-to-hand fighting, the author says the following: "The most formidable fighters that day were the heavily armed Egyptian marines. In Herodotos' catalogue of Persian forces they are described as wearing 'reticulated helmets and were armed with concave, broad-rimmed shields, boarding-spears, and heavy axes, and most of them also wore corselets and carried long knives' (7.89.2) - appropriate arms for close-quarter action aboard ship. By the end of the day they had carried five Greek triremes by boarding and taken them 'with their crews' (Herodotos 8.17)." (p. 61) I don't remember were I saw it, but the Greek 'epibates' ("deck-soldier") had to be trained to fight in cramped spaces and needed some 'special skills' - like throwing a javelin while seated. Another concern that crosses my mind is the danger of falling into water so, while the sea-battle is a different version of the land battle, the marines and oarsmen should keep in mind the need to swim! In Salamis many Greek crewmen saved themselves because they knew how to swim. But even a professional swimmer could find himself in trouble with a heavy armour. Later on, the Romans formed "naval" legions with Greeks and Egyptians, so they must knew their trade better than others. PS: On the shoulder part. To hold something up is uncomfortable and the shoulder gets soared quickly. That's why soldiers make exercises holding the rifle above the head, and usually as a punishment. Also, some people don't like to work-out the shoulders because of the pain (and you have to use light weights). When Loyd says "I hope that I have made a convincing case for under-arm spear use. To date, I have encountered very strong opposition to my case, from academics who have never wielded anything heavier than a pen. " He has a point. The pain in the shoulder of the hoplite was the first thing that came on my mind. In this picture we can see the muscle in red: http://goo.gl/L57DPn
Posted on: 16/02/2014 10:46:00
Posted by: achim
Total Posts: 40
Joined Date: Wednesday, 11 September 2013
I think we must take our ancient sources at face value! 10 specially trained "marine"-hoplites per attic trireme during the peleponnesian war! .. .. But, i find it also very hard to believe this was so during the persian war!! Themistokles had to build or even "found" Athens Navy! Thus, I would say, they had no time to train for complicated manouvres before the Battles at Artemison and Salamis! Also, at Salamis there was little space to manouvre, and many ships crowded into this confined space! When called to hold off the Persian Juggernaut, I am convinced there were many more Hoplites on board!! .. . Between the Persian and the Pelepponesian War was time to train Athens Navy towards absolute Mastery in ancient Ship Handling! Thus they advocated the reduction of Marines, as they no longer relied on boarding and hand to hand combat, but used the Trireme and its Ramm as the ultimate weapon! Once this training was eased, everybody had to embark more Hoplites again as the tactic was back to boarding.....y .. .. The Romans, much later, even admitted they were no match for the Cartaginian Sailors! Thus they invented the Covus and embarked notably more Legionaries and forced the Cartaginians to fight ha d to hand!! .. .. But the Corvus did not occur to the Spartans or the Corinthians, thus Athens outmaouvred them once and again! .. .. Now, even the best swimmer will drown if he wears too heavy an armour! We know far too little about the Linnen Thorax to know if this might have been a solution? As far as we know, sheets of Linnen were glued one over the other, hardening (and thickening) the Linnen until it was as good in protecting the wearer as a Leather Armour (propably still inferior in protection to a Bronce Armour) , but being much lighter and much more confortable! However, we do NOT know if the "glue" used was water resistant or not! Because, if the linnen gets soaked, it's as deadly in the water then a Bronce Cuirass would be! .. .. One word yet to the use of the Hoplite Spear: yes, I see the physical advantade of an underarm use! But ancient sources (earlier then the Pelopponesian War though) tell us, Hoplites tried to stab OVER the enemies Shields! Thus an overarm thrust is needed! Maybe it is as Droysen said all those years ago? Overarm use at the beginning of the Battle, then a switch to Underarm use later in the Battle?
Posted on: 16/02/2014 17:22:00
Posted by: Amaral
Total Posts: 200
Joined Date: Friday, 8 March 2013
I believe Droysen is right, nobody could sustain a spear over-arm for too long.
Posted on: 17/02/2014 09:03:00

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