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Men of BronzeHoplite Warfare in Ancient Greece$
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Donald Kagan and Gregory F. Viggiano

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691143019

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691143019.001.0001

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Large Weapons, Small Greeks: The Practical Limitations of Hoplite Weapons and Equipment

Large Weapons, Small Greeks: The Practical Limitations of Hoplite Weapons and Equipment

Chapter:
(p.157) Chapter 8 Large Weapons, Small Greeks: The Practical Limitations of Hoplite Weapons and Equipment
Source:
Men of Bronze
Author(s):

Adam Schwartz

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691143019.003.0008

This chapter argues that the defining elements of the hoplite were the spear and, above all, the double-grip shield. Other items of the panoply were subject to much change and innovation over the centuries, but the shield and spear remained essentially unaltered throughout the entire hoplite era. This chapter reasons that the Greeks maintained the shield's original design—circular, concave, and about one meter in diameter—because it was preeminently suited for a specific purpose, fighting in tight formation in a phalanx. It gives a detailed analysis of the Etruscan Bomarzo shield, one of the few hoplite type shields to survive more or less intact from antiquity, and assesses a number of key sources bearing out the burden and cumbersomeness of the hoplite shield, to conclude that its weight, shape, and sheer size in terms of surface area made the shield particularly unwieldy.

Keywords:   hoplite weapons, hoplite equipment, double-grip shield, hoplite shield, spear, Etruscan Bomarzo shield

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