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The Hoplites
The Hoplites

Hoplites


The hoplites were warriors from Classical Greece, the soldiers who made up the typical formation of heavy infantry - called a "phalanx" -that dominated the ancient battlefields for centuries. The name comes from the hoplon (shield) they carried. Except for the "professional" spartans, trained from childhood by the state in strict military discipline, the other Greek hoplites were volunteers who answered the call to arms when their city - states were threatened or exposed to armed aggression. 


The wealthier citizens, who could afford to pay for the military panoply, became the heavy infantrymen. Those with few resources fought as light infantrymen, harassing the enemy with javelins and slingshots. The value of the hoplites as soldiers and of the phalanx as a battle formation is evident in the wars against the Persians of the fifth century BCE, where their discipline and comradeship were key to defeating armies increasingly greater in number.

Closed Phalanx


A phalanx was between eight and twelve rows deep. Each hoplite covered himself and his comrade's side.

The Spartan Exception


The military state of Sparta immersed its men into a methodical military discipline from childhood. Professionals in war throughout their lifetimes, the Spartan hoplites were distinguished by their red cloaks and the letter lambda on their hoplons.