A reconstruction of a hoplite’s xiphos.
A hoplite carried a short sword, called a xiphos, as a last resort weapon in case their spear was broken or unusable. This could occur for reasons such as the spear shattered on impact or the soldier was disarmed. Swords were not very useful in as primary weapons in battles between phalanxes because of their short reach compared to a regular hoplite spear, making them harder to get past the hoplon. However, using a sword was preferable to fighting with just a shield and an empty fist.