In ancient Greece, the hoplites were primarily a citizen militia, meaning they had to equip themselves with the necessary armor and weapons to fight in a phalanx. This was done by either purchasing the pieces themselves or inheriting it from a relative. As a result, there were slight variations in equipment used by each man, an example of this the variety of breastplates. Some breastplates would be forged from bronze while others might wear linen armor.
However, in order to fight in a phalanx, the standard equipment a hoplite needed was a hoplon, an eight foot long spear, a short sword and armor consisting of a helmet, greaves, and a breastplate. These items meant not only the protection of the soldier, but also the success of the formation as a whole. As such, it was of the utmost importance that they be effective in their purpose.
(Section Composed by James Havko)