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Hoplites (Greek: Ὁπλιτης): ancient Greek soldiers, armed with spears and shields.

A running hoplite (without greaves)

The hoplites were the main soldiers of the Archaic and Classical Greek armies. They carried a great, heavy shield (the aspis), a helmet, armor, greaves, a sword, and a spear. This equipment was called panoply; their battle line is called a phalanx.

During a battle, these heavily-armed soldiers, were standing in long, parallel lines, close to each other. in the words of Homer:

... Spear, crowded spear,
Shield, helmet, man press'd helmet, man, and shield;
The hairy crests of their resplendent casques
Kiss'd close at every nod, so wedged they stood.note

Every hoplite carried a large round shield which covered his own left side and the right side of the man to his left. A phalanx was, therefore, very densely packed and could not easily turn to the left or right. If its allowed to compare war with sport: a hoplite battle was something like a "scrum" in a rugby match: both sides, armed with spears, tried to push over the enemy, and once a phalanx was victorious, the losses at the other side were extremely heavy, because the victors would use their swords to kill the defeated men.

This page was created in 2018; last modified on 14 April 2020.

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