Monthly Archives: March 2014

By the middle of the 7th Century BC, on the Balkan Peninsula of Mediterranean Europe, a new style of warfare started to appear.  Infantry troops, equipped with 8 foot spears, shields, and body armor began to fight in a close order formation, named the hoplite phalanx.  The hoplite, as well as the phalanx that accompanied it, revolutionized the way armies fought in the Dark and Classical Age of Greece.  Close order clashes, most which lasted only a short amount of time, created a distinctive Western style of war that the world had never seen before.  The Greeks would see their style of fighting as a “Western” Style of fighting, because of what it was not.  In particular, it was not the style of the barbarians that occupied Asia Minor and the lands to the east.  Herodotus remarked that the barbarian army was an army of slaves, where all courage has been robbed from them (see Sage 1996).  The new Greek fighting style was also based on a political system, where a consensus had to be reached on military actions, rather than a tyrant or a despot commanding the army to war with no opposition (see Sage 1996).  The fighting style would also bring about a cultural and idealogical change, as soldiers were now taught to fight with honor, courage, and never turn and run from a fight.  As Plato would later remark, peace is only a name, for a constant state of undeclared war always existed between the Greek city-states (see Kagan 2013, 1).

Hoplite battle-Chigi Vase

[1] Image from the Chigi Vase depicting early hoplite battle