This chapter concentrates on the contribution of archaeology to understanding aspects of ancient warfare, archaeological methodology, and its achievements and problems in the context of explaining how men fought and armies were organized in the ancient world. A central aspect of archaeological evidence—arms and armor—is dealt with. Roman Europe has acquired the most extensive and intensively explored archaeological data for ancient campaigns, conquests, and military occupation. The data may sometimes build year-by-year campaign maps, but most often they demonstrate the shape of conflicts, conquests, and military occupations. Roman martial culture, and especially the archaeology of arms and dress, reveals how intimately associated Roman soldiers were with the peoples against whom they fought. Moreover, it is noted that archaeology is important for evaluating the martial culture of the antagonists of Greco-Roman societies.
This chapter explores the Greek armored infantrymen and the weapons they carried. The hoplite shield is called Argive. The Boeotian is a shield that appears on seventh- and sixth-century
Duncan B. Campbell
Lee L. Brice
This chapter discusses the Sicilian Expedition by Athens. Athens sent a large military force to Sicily in what has come to be called the Sicilian Expedition. The expedition, which grew into a massive military effort led by multiple generals, began with multiple leaders, one of whom, Nicias, had opposed it from the beginning. It is noted that the Athenian withdrawal in Sicily initially appears to have been ridiculous given their success, but as Thucydides explained, it was based on the late season and the lack of cavalry, money, allies, and supplies. The final phase of the expedition began with a naval battle. The expedition that had begun in 415 with a grand send-off in Athens ended in 413 with a tortuous retreat and pursuit.
This chapter investigates the mercenaries in the Greek world. Mercenaries became stained with the brush of tyranny. The connection of tyrants and mercenaries continued into the Hellenistic age. Xenophon's Anabasis offers invaluable data on almost every aspect of Greek mercenary life, but it represents a landmark moment in Greek mercenary activity. Mercenaries were priceless in giving specialists to those in need and demonstrating the success of such specialists in war. The mercenary service was alleviated by personal relationships, guest-friendships, and friendship between ordinary Greeks and the powerful men of the eastern Mediterranean. Mercenaries in the ancient world displayed a high degree of military honor and spirit, despite their mercenary nature. It is shown that mercenaries played a central role in the Greco-Macedonian wars.
John W. I. Lee
This chapter introduces the diverse troops, equipment, formations, and tactics that characterized the period from about 500–350
Thomas R. Martin
This chapter describes the ideas of Demetrius Poliorcetes on Hellenistic warfare, specifically taking the conventional position that Hellenistic warfare designates warfare as conducted and conceptualized in the aftermath of the lifetime of Alexander the Great. It also presents the salient events in Demetrius's riches-to-rags history as a commander, king, and god. His career contributes several examples of the momentous scale that Hellenistic battles could attain and also provides evidence for the propensity for large-scale battles to occur in Hellenistic warfare. In addition, it offers notable data for changes in the possible political and religious meanings of war. It is shown that over the long term, the divinization of a living human being who promised liberation was the most enduring and most consequential result of the changes in the meanings of war in the Hellenistic period.
This chapter addresses the time of Theban general Epaminondas at Leuctra, specifically reviewing his battle in Leuctra. Leuctra in 371
Thomas G. Palaima and Lawrence A. Tritle
In this short discussion Tom Palaima explores the literary impact of classical war, warriors, and authors into the modern world, while L. Tritle traces more historical traditions.
This chapter analyzes tactical intelligence, following a division by posture: offensive and mobile, and defensive or localized. There was an increase in the use of vanguards among the Greeks after the fourth century
This chapter focuses on military leadership and military responsibilities. Primarily, the phalanx has been initially employed for territorial defense. Prior to the Peloponnesian Wars, generalship was not regarded in a specific and specialized sense, but had always been concerned with getting others to endanger their lives for the commander's sake, making motivation and discipline very closely intertwined. The generalship of Philip and Alexander was contended by many Greek and Roman commanders. Hellenistic generalship in large part followed the methods used by Philip and Alexander. Marius's influence on Roman generalship was successful in bridging the gap between the Roman nobility and the Italian and Roman soldiery. Real innovation in generalship certainly came from men outside the traditional ranks, namely professional soldiers with variable levels of education and outside traditional loci of power.
Peter S. Wells
Paul C. Millett
This chapter assesses the Greek writing on the subject of warfare. The plausibility of Demosthenes' presentation of Philip's waging of war is also addressed. The issues of orality and performance had directly impacted almost all Greek authors concerned with warfare. The story of archaic poetry had indicated a spectrum of military engagement. It is noted that prosecutions arising out of military offences and death in battle have a relatively high profile in the Orators, and that warfare naturally has a major role in the process of growth and decline. The fullest reflection of Thucydides on the implications of war had combined material with psychological considerations. Xenophon's experience with the Athenian cavalry had been directly reflected in his Hipparchios or “The Duties of a Cavalry Commander,” and in Peri hippikes or “On Horsemanship.”
Daniel P. Tompkins
This chapter examines the Greek military ritual of war. It evaluates the recent interpretations of military ritual, indicating that the term “ritual” in the present day has taken on so many connotations as to reduce its analytic utility, and that the claim that rituals promote “social cohesion” requires careful review. Lunar festivals deeply affected Greek military behavior. Booty from war was traditionally tithed. The burial ritual followed elaborate rules for prothesis, lying in state; ekphora, carrying out to burial, and a feast. The Carneia festival and the temple of Phobos, “Panic Fear,” is then explained. The data presented reveal that the “ritual” offers a useful but often imprecise tool for understanding military behavior. It may be worthwhile to seek a finer-grained understanding of the link between the “rituals” of ancient warfare and “social cohesion.”
This chapter addresses the battle against Achaemenid Persians. Shortly before the fateful battle of Cunaxa, Cyrus the Younger told his Greek officers why they fought and how their lives would improve if they should defeat the army of his brother, Artaxerxes II. Cyrus framed his speech entirely in terms of the Greek/Barbarian dichotomy. The chapter also shows how key aspects of the Greek/Barbarian dichotomy developed. The poetry from Homer until the Persian Wars contains only hints of the Greek/Barbarian stereotypes. In the Persae, Aeschylus presents the victorious Greeks as free men, collectively fighting in disciplined well-organized fashion, their numbers and resources comparatively modest. To many Greeks, Persia was the enemy against whom it was in the best interests of all Greeks to set aside internal differences and unite.
This chapter deals with the significance of siege, not primarily as a phenomenon of ancient military tactics and warfare, but of cultural and social history, concentrating on the challenges it presented for political and military leaders, technological innovators, and authors seeking to instruct and to please. Sieges were common in Greek warfare. Many had no impact on the entire city but only the fortified citadel or the fort of a garrison. They have also constituted a challenge for the emotions of men and women, mortals and gods, those who experienced them, and those who found pleasure in writing or reading narratives about them. The contribution of scientists to the art of siege is considered. The advance of the “art of siege” and the dramatic improvement of fortifications went hand in hand with the introduction of a new genre of technical literature.
This chapter describes the effects of warfare in the Hellenistic period, which influenced nearly every aspect of life for people living in the Greek East at the time. The phalanx remained the basic unit of the Hellenistic army. The Hellenistic world saw a proliferation of technical manuals concerning the art of war. The composition of armies included infantry, cavalry, auxiliary forces, siege warfare, and navies. The Macedonian cavalry was the main striking arm of the combined force. Cavalry in the Hellenistic world were organized largely as in Alexander's day. Hellenistic siege warfare featured its share of exotic weapons. It is shown that the sea became a venue for battle. There was a marked shift in the composition of both navies and armies during the Hellenistic period.
This chapter examines the breeding and sustaining of warhorses. Horses refer to power in military and economic fields, and were sacrificed to the Sun before battle. Xenophon described the ideal warhorse. It was important for warhorses to have a good temperament. Some horses went willingly and repeatedly into battle. In war, horses would encounter camels and elephants, which were often employed in the armies of the east. Army animals could have lameness, injury, endemic diseases, and various common ailments. Puncture wounds were the most severe injuries in these animals. Tack gave the rider control over his horse and consisted firstly of bitting, secondly of saddlery. Seat security over horse could be achieved through a hard treed saddle with retentive front and rear horns. It is observed that some cavalry were armored, both men and horses.
This chapter discusses the war in imperial Rome. The legions in the Principate were highly protected assets, even during an aggressive advance. It is observed that tactical victory on one field did not offer Romans control of the area. Few Roman opponents benefitted from the relatively infrequent battle, even when they picked the ground, often choosing hillsides for gathering momentum. Romans were only defeated by their own former auxiliaries who had broken their camp. Roman military deployment on the northern frontiers had to deal with immigration control, refugee management, river patrol, and prevention of crimes against property. Romans largely obtained resilience and avoided collapse at the strategic level after a tactical or even grand tactical defeat through a synergistic interaction of factors including a military culture of adaptability to local tasks, unit cohesion, and prior success.