Hoplite Warfare

From: Joe Mills <mills_at_midohio.net>
Date: Sat, 2 Dec 2000 04:30:38 -0400

>:As far as I know (and I admit I'm not up on current scholarship), the
>:only requirement to stand in a hoplite phalanx was that you were able to
>:afford the equipment. The idea was that no peasants were allowed.
>Where did you get that??? The phalanxes required absolute discipline and
>training. Every man had a number and position in the structure, and knew
>where to step when a man in a certain position to themselves fell.
>The hoplites trained, and trained hard. They were professional soldiers.
> -Adept
>I think I think... Therefore I think I am.

Well, I have a wonderful book by Victor David Hanson, "The Western Way of War". The focus on the book is on the "hoplite experience" as opposed to tactics, but let me quote briefly from p.31, "In this world of perennial battle, fighting in the ranks of the phalanx required utmost courage, excellent physical condition and endurance, but little specialized training or skill with weapons." He later points to Thucydides, who has Pericles chastise the Spartans for "excessive" hoplite drill. Now this book was written in 1989, and I haven't paid much attention since, but I doubt if Hanson was all that far off. In the main, is his point, the hoplites were landowning farmers, not professional soldiers. Yes, every man had an assigned place in the phalanx, but that does not make them professionals or point to use of tactics. Well, I must hedge that. Doesn't the greek word for "tactics" mean the ordering of formations?

Well, I'm way off my field, so feel free to punish my hoplite scholarship. But I do recommend a reading of Hanson if you're interested in hoplite warfare.

Powered by hypermail