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Optimates

(1,147 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle)
[German version] The Latin term 'Optimates', found only in the plural and derived from opti mus, means 'the best'; in the works of Cicero, by far the most important source for the evidence, but also in other authors such as Livy (3,35,4; 3,39,9; 6,39,6), the word 'Optimates' is used to refer to the Roman leadership class, especially when emphasizing the difference between senatores and plebs or between Optimates and Populares . In his speech on behalf of Sestius, Cicero invests the term with considerable moral and political significance and coun…

Media, Wall of

(377 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle)
[German version] The wall of Media (Μηδίας τεῖχος, Mēdías teîchos) is only mentioned with this designation by Xenophon in his Anábasis, initially just in passing in connection with a defensive ditch at the Euphrates, built at the order of Artaxerxes [2] II (Xen. An. 1,7,15). Xenophon gives a comprehensive description of the wall in his report of the events following the battle of Cunaxa in 401BC (An. 2,4,12): it was supposedly 20 feet ( c. 6 m) wide, 100 feet ( c. 30 m) high, and 20 parasangs ( c. 80 km) long, built from fired bricks placed in asphalt. According to Xenophon (An. 2,1…

Mercenaries

(1,073 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle) | Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
[German version] I. Greece Mercenaries (μισθοφόρος/ misthophóros or μισθωτός/ misthōtós, ξένος/ xénos) - soldiers who fought in foreign service as professional soldiers in exchange for payment ( misthós) - had existed in Greece since ancient times. In the 6th cent. BC they served Egyptian or eastern kings (Egypt: Hdt. 2,154; ML, No. 7; Babylon: Alc. 350 Lobel/Page); Greek tyrants like Peisistratus [4] or Polycrates [1] needed mercenaries to protect them (Hdt. 1,61; 3,45). Only from the Peloponnesian War onwards did the po…

Thorax

(592 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle) | Welwei, Karl-Wilhelm (Bochum) | Lohmann, Hans (Bochum)
(θώραξ; thṓrax). [German version] [1] Cuirass Cuirass. As a part of Greek hoplite armour, the thorax protected the chest and the back. In the Geometric and Archaic Periods, it was commonly a bell-shaped armour made of bronze; it consisted of two hip-length plates that widened towards the bottom and were attached to each other at the sides. This thorax offered excellent cover against blows from lances and swords or shots from arrows, but it was extremely heavy and cumbersome and limited the soldiers' mobility to a great extent. It was therefore replaced…

Tactics

(952 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle) | Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] I. Greece Tactics are understood as the planning and execution of military operations, such as marching and battles. Before the emergence of the phalanx , no tactical organization of the army is discernible. The battle formation of the phalanx, however, required the army to be divided into subunits, with a marching order, an ordered array in file and a clear system of orders. Ancient historians and military writers document various marching orders and possible transitions (often probably rather remote from reality) fr…

Aelianus

(806 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle) | Bowie, Ewen (Oxford) | Baltes, Matthias (Münster) | Lakmann, Marie-Luise (Münster)
[German version] [1] Greek military author Greek military author, wrote the τακτικὰ Αἰλιανοῦ; Taktikà Ailianoû, a textbook addressed to Trajan, in which the tactics and structure of the Greek and specifically the Macedonian armies of the classical and Hellenistic eras are explained. A. was a theoretician without any practical experience and it is for this reason that his work appears mechanical. By his own admission (1,2), he drew on the work of many older authors (Aeneas Tacticus, Pyrrhus of Epirus, Posidoni…

Tetrarches, Tetrarchia

(1,200 words)

Author(s): Bringmann, Klaus (Frankfurt/Main) | Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle) | Bleckmann, Bruno (Strasbourg)
(τετράρχης/ tetrárchēs, τετραρχία/ tetrarchía). [German version] I. Definition The noun tetrarches (from τετράς/ tetrás = 'entity of four parts' and ἄρχειν/ árchein = 'rule') designates a military rank, but specifically the head of a tribal area within a fourfold alliance ( tetrás or tetrarchía); subsequently a ruler of lesser rank (see below III.). The two meanings were brought together at the time of Diocletian, so that the term now meant rule in four parts of the Roman Empire, but with differentiated competencies for each ruler (see below IV.). Bringmann, Klaus (Frankfurt/Main) …

Aeneas

(1,657 words)

Author(s): Schmitz, Winfried (Bielefeld) | Heckel, Hartwig (Bochum) | Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle) | Hadot, Pierre (Limours)
[German version] [3] Stratēgos of the Arcadians around 366 BC (Αἰνέας; Ainéas). From Stymphalus. Stratēgos of the Arcadians around 366 BC (Xen. Hell. 7,3,1). Whether identical to  Aeneas [2] Tacticus, cannot be clarified.  Thebae Schmitz, Winfried (Bielefeld) Bibliography D. Whitehead, Aineias the Tactician, 1990, 10-13 A. Winterling, Polisbegriff und Stasistheorie des Aeneas Tacticus, in: Historia 40, 1991, 191-229, 201. [German version] [1] Myth Mythical figure from Trojan war (Αἰνείας, Αἰνέας [Aineías, Ainéas]; Latin Aeneas). Thraco-Illyrian name [17. 311 f.]. Hecke…

Cavalry

(2,665 words)

Author(s): Starke, Frank (Tübingen) | Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle) | Campbell, J. Brian (Belfast)
I. Ancient Orient [German version] A. History With the development of the skill of driving teams of horses in the 1st half of the 2nd millennium BC, the methodological foundations of riding also were in place ( Horse III,  Horsemanship). Although there is definite evidence of mounted messengers and scouts from as early as the 14th/13th cents. BC onwards (Akkadogram LÚPETḪALLUM ‘rider’ in Hittite texts; Egyptian pictorial evidence [10]), the use of the cavalry as an armed force did not develop until during the 9th/8th cents. Decisive in this was the diff…

Prisoners of war

(1,665 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle) | Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient In the early period (4th-3rd millennia), both in Egypt ( sqr-nḫ, 'those tied up for killing' [3]) and in Mesopotamia, POW were often killed on the battlefield. Killing - as a ritualized act - or parading POW and plunder before the ruler was ideological in character and hence a theme of pictorial representation  (southern Mesopotamia in 3100 BC: the killing of chained, naked POW in the presence of the ruler [5. 9]; 24th cent: naked male POW - probably immediately after their…

War booty

(1,607 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle) | Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] I. Ancient Near East In the ancient Near East, the procurement of WB was directed towards obtaining important raw materials (e.g. metals - Egypt: gold from Nubia, silver from Cilicia, copper from Cyprus (Middle Kingdom); Assyria: iron from Iran, silver from Cilicia; Cilices, Cilicia) and items required for further warfare (e.g. horses, chariots in Assyria, 1st millennium BC) or served to supply the royal court with luxury goods for purposes of prestige. WB must be distinguished from '…

Armament

(2,356 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle) | Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] I. Greece The main literary source for the armaments of Greek armies of the Geometric period is the 'Iliad', and the main archaeological sources are weapon finds and vase depictions mostly from grave goods. These genres of source materials cannot always be demonstrated to be consonant, as Homer has some of his heroes use weaponry from the Mycenaean period, and these are no longer archaeologically attested (e.g. boar's tooth helmet, Il. 10,261-265; long or 'tower' shield, Il. 7,219-2…

Taxiarchos

(84 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle)
[German version] (ταξίαρχος; taxíarchos). In Greek and Macedonian armies he was commander of a τάξις/ taxis ; in Athens, the highest military rank after the strategos I (e.g. Aristoph. Ach. 569; Aristoph. Av. 353; Thuc. 4,4,1; 8,92,4; Dem. Or. 4,26; Aeschin. Leg. 169). He commanded the members of his phyle, appointed lochagoi (Aristot. Ath. Pol. 61,3; lóchos), and probably maintained the roll of the phyle (Aristoph. Pax 1172 ff.). The closest Roman equivalent of the taxiarchos is the centurio. Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle)

Hetairoi

(285 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle)
[German version] Hetairoi (ἑταῖροι/ hetaîroi, ‘companions’) constituted the king's retinue in Greek monarchies, even on the battlefield (e.g. Hom. Il. 1,179). In the Classical period hetairoi were especially important in Macedonia: selected by the king himself, they made up his immediate entourage as his closest advisers and as the next generation of leaders. The king went to war at the head of their unit, which probably resulted in the original, military meaning of the term. Hetairoi (often supplemented by βασιλικοί, basilikoí) are attested for the Macedonian cavalry with …

Chiliarchos

(102 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle)
[German version] (Χιλίαρχος). Commander of a 1,000-man contingent in the Macedonian and Ptolemaic armies (e.g. Arr. Anab. 1,22,7). At the same time, the term serves as a Greek translation for the commander of the royal guard in Persia, the 1,000 μηλοφόροι ( mēlophóroi) (Aesch. Pers. 304). After the conquest of Persia the expression came to apply to the most important office in the new imperial order after Alexander's death (Diod. Sic. 18,48,4). The military and political powers attached to it are unclear. With the emergence of the kingd…

Fortifications

(2,871 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle) | Miller, Martin (Berlin) | Blech, Michael (Madrid) | Pingel, Volker (Bochum) | Baatz, Dietwulf (Bad Homburg)
[German version] I. Greece After the massive Mycenaean fortified palaces had been abandoned, several centuries passed before larger fortifications were again built in Greece. During the Geometric Period fortification construction in the motherland remained modest. Simple structures were built that left few if any remains, and the ruins of Mycenaean fortifications sufficed for protection requirements. However, citadels (acropoleis), peninsulas, and other topographically suitable locations were fortif…

Helepolis

(219 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle)
[German version] The helepolis (ἑλέπολις; helépolis, literally ‘city-taker’) was a large mobile siege tower, fitted with wheels, designed to bring up soldiers and catapults to the walls of a besieged city. The term is first attested for a tower built by Posidonius for Alexander the Great (Biton 52f. Wescher; cf. for the siege of Tyre, Arr. Anab. 2,18-24), helepoleis were probably also already used by  Dionysius [1] I of Syracuse (Diod. Sic. 14,51,1). They may be of oriental or Carthaginian origin (Diod. Sic. 13,55). The helepoleis used by  Demetrius [2] Poliorcetes for the sie…

Asclepiodotus

(391 words)

Author(s): Ameling, Walter (Jena) | Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle) | Hadot, Pierre (Limours)
(Ἀσκληπιόδοτος; Asklepiódotos). [German version] [1] Ptolemaean governor of Caria after 305 BC After 305 BC Ptolemaean governor (?) of Caria. Ameling, Walter (Jena) Bibliography R. Bagnall, The administration of the Ptolemaic possessions outside Egypt, 1976, 90f. [German version] [2] Military theoretician (1st cent. BC) Author of a treatise in 12 chapters on military theory (Ἀσκληπιοδότου φιλοσόφου τακτικὰ κεφάλαια; transmitted in the cod. Laur. LV-4 (F) and 11 other MSS dependent from it) and identified with a listener of Poseidonius me…

Lipotaxiou graphe

(133 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle)
[German version] (λιποταξίου γραφή; lipotaxíou graphḗ) in Attic law was a legal action for leaving the line of battle without authorization. The crime was punished like other military offences with atimía (Dem. Or. 15,32; cf. for Sparta Isoc. Or. 8,143). Aeschines attributes the corresponding law to Solon (Aeschin. In Ctes. 175f.), which however remains uncertain. According to Andocides (And. 1,74; cf. Lys. 14,5-7), the prosecution of military offences like the graphḕ astrateías (failure to obey a call-up), the deilías graphḗ (legal action for cowardice) and the graphḕ toû apobeb…

Argyraspides

(106 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle)
[German version] ‘The Silver Shields’, an elite corps of heavy Macedonian infantry, which can be identified with the hypaspists of Alexander the Great. It is not known if the name was already used by the end of his rule (no earlier than the India campaign) or only under the Diadochi. Considered to be particularly loyal to the king, they became part of the army of Eumenes in 318/17. After his end, to which their faithlessness contributed, they were sent to Arachosia by Antigonus and then dissolved. Later a unit in the Seleucid army was called by this name after their example. Burckhardt, Leonhar…
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