The Spear and Sword

Critical to hoplite battle was the presence of the spear and the sword.  Both these weapons were considered short range shock weapons, and helped the phalanx develop a unique fighting style.


[5] traditional design of throwing loop attached to spear

The hoplite spear, weighting between 2 to 4 pounds and measuring 8 feet in length, was primary weapon in Greek battle.  The tip of the spear featured an iron point on the front, and a metal “butt spike”, probably used for impaling enemies who had fallen to the ground as the phalanx would advance.  It has also been noted that there was another design of the spear, one that was shorter in length and appears to feature a throwing loop.  Hans Van Wees, a leading scholar on hoplite warfare, argues that the painting of two spears, one shorter than the other with a throwing loop on the Alabastron from Corinth, clearly implies that one spear was usedfor throwing before the othismos (see Viggiano and Van Wees 2013, 68).  If

[6] hoplites holding spears in the overhand and thrust motion

[6] hoplites holding spears in the overhand and thrust motion

the hoplites did in fact utilize 2 spears in battle, perhaps the hoplite phalanx was not as densely packed as originally thought, and perhaps a more open type of hoplite battle took place.   Aside from the spear, the only other weapon the hoplite would carry was a small sword.  This sword was only ever used out of necessity, such as if the spear was dropped or broken (see Ferrill 1985, 102).

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