The Corinthian Helmet and Body Armor

Critical to the individual hoplite was the presence of the Corinthian helmet and the bronze body armor.  The helmet, which after first designs covered nearly the entire head (except the eyes and mouth), made periphery vision and hearing nearly impossible.  Though this may have been the case, the close order nature of the phalanx may have made operation safe with restricted vision and hearing (see Viggiano 2013, 61).  This being said, it only seems reasonable that the Corinthian helmet would only work exclusively in a phalanx formation.  With such restricted

[7] traditional 6th Century bronze hoplite helmet

[7] traditional 6th Century bronze hoplite helmet

vision and hearing, fast paced, open order combat would have been deadly for the hoplite, and it is only in the relative safety of the tightly packed phalanx that the helmet could be used within reason.  Later designs of the helmet would show a much more open design, and eventually an conical shaped helmet with full vision and hearing became the standard for Greek hoplites.

Body armor for the hoplite consisted mainly on two bronze breastplates that were fitted to the individual’s chest, and attached to each other by leather straps around the shoulder and sides of the chest (see Viggiano 2013, 62).  As critical as the body armor may seem, the presence of it in hoplite battle itself is questioned.  During archeological digs, body armor finds are a rarity compared to shield or helmet recoveries (see Viggiano 2013, 62).  The absence of body armor suggests that

[8] bronze breastplate fitted to a Greek hoplite's chest

[8] bronze breastplate fitted to a Greek hoplite’s chest

it was often too expensive for many poor Greek farmers to afford, and items like shields and helmets were much more important to the individual.


Leave a Reply