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War, consequences of

(1,115 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle) | Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] I. Greece The consequences of a war in Ancient Greece for individuals, cities or kingdoms depended on its duration and size, and a systematic or general assessment is thus not unproblematic. Several authors describe the terrible sight of a battlefield (Xen. Hell. 4,4,12; Xen. Ages. 2,14f.; Plut. Pelopidas 18,5; cf. Thuc. 7,84f.). During a hoplite battle in the classical period, on average 5% of the victors and 14% of the vanquished would fall [4]; in addition there would be the woun…

Epibatai

(191 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle)
[German version] (ἐπιβάται; epibátai) were initially passengers on board ship (Hdt. 8,118,3), or an armed escort of soldiers serving on warships in antiquity; in Greece the epibatai were normally recruited from among the hoplites. Their numbers varied: in 494 BC ships from Chios each carried 40 epibatai (Hdt. 6,15,1), Persian ships in 480 BC carried 30 epibatai (Hdt. 7,184,2); in the Athenian fleet during the Peloponnesian War, 10 epibatai was the normal complement (Thuc. 3,94,1 and 3,95,2; cf. IG II2 1951,84f.: 11 epibatai). More epibatai were necessary on the bigger Hellenist…

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…

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…

Armies

(3,413 words)

Author(s): Fuchs, Andreas (Jena) | Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle) | Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
I. Ancient Orient [German version] A. General The multitude of countries and cultures in the Middle East and Egypt during the period from the 3rd to the 1st millennium BC, each with their own very individual set of conditions, is matched by the variety of their armies in terms of recruitment processes, composition, organization, fighting methods and size. Fuchs, Andreas (Jena) [German version] B. Reference sources The Ancient Orient did not produce any literature on the subject of military theory. Narrative sources are restricted to praising the ruler and his …

Machimoi

(109 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle)
[German version] The term máchimoi (μάχιμοι, ‘the pugnacious’; troops fit for action) was used by Greek authors primarily for non-Greek armies. Herodotus differentiates the machimoi from the retinue of the Persian army (Hdt. 7,186,1) and refers with this word to the class of professional warriors in ancient Egypt (2,164f.). In the Ptolemaic army, machimoi were the native soldiers who performed the duties of auxiliary, guard and police units until c. the end of the 3rd cent. BC, afterwards however, at the latest from the battle of Raphia in 217 BC, also constitute…

Mora

(998 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle) | Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
(μόρα; mόra). [German version] [1] Division of the Spartan army In the Spartan army no later than from 403 to 371 BC mora was the usual term for the six largest divisions of the infantry and cavalry assigned to it (Xen. Lac. pol. 11,4; Xen. Hell. 2,4,31; 4,5,3-19; Diod. 15,32,1). Each mora was commanded by a polémarchos   (Xen. hell. 4,4,7; 5,4,51), had a required strength of more than 1,000 men and was organised into lochoi ( lóchos). Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle) Bibliography 1 J.F. Lazenby, The Spartan Army, 1985, 5ff. [German version] [2] Default in Roman law Default in Roman law. Schiemann…

Deilias graphe

(170 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle)
[German version] (δειλίας γραφή; deilías graphḗ). In Attic criminal law the indictment for cowardice. Although the existence of deilias graphe alongside other military offences (λιποταξίου γραφή, ἀστρατείας γραφή, γραφή τοῦ ἀποβληκέναι τὴν ἀσπίδα) is indicated in various places (And. 1,74; Lys. 14,5-7; Aeschin. 3,175f.; Aristoph. Ach. 1129; Equ. 368), it was disputed by older authorities [2; 5]. However, no concrete case of a deilias graphe is known. Distinction of the generalized deilias graphe from the more precisely defined offences given above is of course probl…

Taxis

(115 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle)
[German version] (τάξις; táxis). In the military sense, the term is primarily used to designate the battle order, the disposition of the army or the individual battle line. As a military unit, it referred at Athens to the army contingent provided by each phyle [1] (431 BC: c. 1,000 men), in Macedonia to the regionally recruited and most imporant tactical unit of the phalanx of the pezhetairoi (Arr. Anab. 3,11,9 f.), and in Asclepiodotus (2,8) to a force of 128 men. The expression was also used for other armies, e.g. that of the Greek mercena…

Peltastai

(457 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle)
[German version] (πελτασταί; peltastaí). The πέλτη ( péltē) was a small, light, round shield made of wood or wicker-work that was covered with fur (schol. Eur. Rhes. 311; Aristot. fr. 498 Rose); a type of lightly-armed soldiers was named p eltastai after it (Diod. Sic. 15,44,3; Nep. Iphicrates 11,1,3f.). Aside from the shield, their weapons consisted of one or two javelins, a sword and a thrusting lance. Peltastai could be deployed both in long-range and in short-range warfare because of their weapons. Initially the peltastai in Greece were mainly foreign mercenaries who came p…

Decas

(89 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle)
[German version] (δεκάς; dekás). From Homeric into Hellenistic times, the basic unit in Greek and Macedonian infantry and cavalry armies (Hom. Il. 2,126; Hdt. 3,25,6; Xen. Hell. 7,2,6; Hipp. 4,9; Arr. Anab. 7,23,3; Anaximenes FGrH 72 F4; P. Cairo Zen. 1,7-11; 2,22-24; Frontin. Str. 4,1,6), which was commanded by a decadarch (Xen. Hipp. 2,2-6). Normally, the unit comprised ten men with a possible further division into groups of five; deviations from this practice occurred. Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle) Bibliography 1 Kromayer/Veith 90f. 2 M. Launey, Recherches sur les armées …

Lochos

(133 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle)
[German version] (λόχος; lóchos). The lochos is attested in many Greek armies as a military unit of varying size; in general the commanders of the lochoi were the lochagoi. 7 lochoi that probably each had 512 men fought on the Spartan side at Mantinea in 418 BC (Thuc. 5,68,3; cf. Hdt. 9,53,2f.; 9,57,1f.); in the 4th cent. BC, Sparta had twelve lochoi (Xen. Hell. 7,5,10). The Boeotian infantry, the táxeis (táxis) of the Athenians and mercenary armies were also divided up into lochoi (Thuc. 4,91; Xen…

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…

Chelone

(93 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle)
[German version] Chelonai (χελώνη; chelṓnē, ‘tortoise’) were for the most part movable, wooden protective devices used by besieging armies. In the form of χ. χωστρίδες ( chelṓnai chōstrídes) they protected sappers as they i.a. levelled the ground by raising dykes; in the form of χ. ὀρυκτρίδες, oryktrídes (Lat. musculi) as they penetrated or undermined walls. ‘Ram tortoises’ protected battering rams. Used in Greece probably since the 5th cent., they were especially widely used during the Hellenistic and Roman periods.  Fortifications;  Siegecraft Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle) Bib…

Parabatai

(104 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle)
[German version] (παραβάται; parabátai). Warriors who fought standing next to to the charioteer ( hēníochos, ἡνίοχος) were called parabatai (Hom. Il. 23,132; Eur. Supp. 677; Xen. Cyr. 7,1,29; Str. 15,1,52: Indians; Diod. Sic. 5,29,1: Gauls; Diod. Sic. 20,41,1; Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 7,73,3). The 300 Boeotians who fought in the first line at Delium in 424 BC were referred to as hēníochoi kaì parabátai (Diod. Sic. 12,70,1); they were probably precursors of the Theban 'Sacred Band'. In the contingent of the Bastarni (2nd cent. BC), the parabatai were soldiers who fought at the side of…
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