Ancient Greek Shields

Ancient Greek Shields: The possibility of organized warfare arose when Greece came out from its period of Dark Ages and entered the ancient period. As a result of this, there was the emergence of new city-states which were called as Poleis.

Prior to this, the war took place by way of cattle raiding. Though it is not a necessity that wars should occur but consider the restless nature of the Greeks, wars were inevitable.

Ancient Greek Shields

Ancient Greek Shields

The earliest form of weaponry was called as Hoplite Phalanx. The hoplite was a heavy infantryman. He was the crux of the center of warfare during in ancient Greece. The word hoplite was derived from the word hoplon meaning an item of armor or equipment. Thus, hoplite may also imply an armored man. These hoplites were basically citizen-soldiers of the Ancient Greek city-states.

Ancient Greek Shields

Apsis

One of the most significant inventions of the hoplite was the typical circular shield. This was called as Apsis. It is not sure as to the place where this hoplite developed but it spread rather rapidly throughout Greece. Some of the major advantages of this hoplite include: it had a low cost, comparatively simple to handle and resulted in low fatality rate which was a must especially for the smaller Greek city-states.

While advancing towards the opponents army, the phalanx would break open into a run so as to get that momentum or required pace but at the same time ensured that they didn’t collide. Such battles hugely depended upon the fearlessness of the men in the front line.

Ancient Greek Shields

Ancient Greek Shields

It would be an impossible task to even think that the hoplites did not undergo any formal training to be a part of the army. Though there are no records which point out that there was any drill practice which was carried out but there are glimpses on vases as well as on statues which indicate faintly towards a drill movement.

But one thing which can be stated with much certainty is that there was no formal training for side arms like Axe or sword since these were considered to side weapons.

Hoplite Phalanx

The Hoplite Phalanx belonging to the Archaic and Classical periods of Greece was a formation in which the hoplites would line up in ranks in close order. The hoplites would lock their shields together and then few of the foremost of soldiers would then project their spears out over the first rank of shields.

Ancient Greek Shields

The phalanx presented a shield wall along with a bunch of spears pointing to the enemy thereby actually performing frontal attacks on them. These frontal attacks were very difficult for the enemy to handle. Another advantage of attacking in such a manner was that it kept the army of soldiers alert during a combat at a particular time rather than to just be limited up to the first few ranks.

Peloponnesian War

During the Peloponnesian war, a slight innovation was observed. There were an increase in the use of light infantry like peltasts (javelin throwers) and archers as well. It is believed that many of these would be mercenary troops which were hired from the regions lying on the outskirts of Greece.

Though initially its presence or absence in warfare did not make much of a difference yet in the subsequent wars when more innovations came to be made in these weapons, these weapons proved to be real assets.

The Hoplites, in its diverse forms, remained in vogue for a period of about 700 years and disappeared only during the reign of Alexander the Great that is during the 4th century BC.