The Ancient Library

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On this page: War Gods – War Tribunes – Watchmen – Water-Clock – Weapons



tingent of cavalry, together with the Thes-salian cavalry, and light troops and horsemen and archers. The two wings were reckoned from the centre of the phalanx; the right being generally reserved for the attack, and led by the king. The light troops began the attack, which was followed up by the heavily armed Macedonian cavalry sup­ported by the hypaspistce. The heavy infantry came up in detachments to keep the line unbroken, and formed an oblique battle-array. Thus the main attack was made by the heavy cavalry, and no longer by the phalanx, as with the Greeks. The phalanx formed instead a solid centre of the whole array, which it was impossible for the enemy to break through, and which, in the event of its making the attack, was perfectly irresistible. Under the Diddochi, or suc­cessors of Alexander, the phalanx of heavy infantry formed the centre of the battle array, but less with a view to its taking part in the attack than to lengthen out the formation and give it a solid basis. The battle was decided by the wings, which were composed of cavalry, one wing being destined for the attack, while the other remained on the defensive. The light infantry, and the elephants (q.v.) used by the Diadochi in war, were incidentally brought to bear as occasion required, more especially to cover the preparatory move­ments of the cavalry on the attacking wing.

In the course of the 3rd century b.c. the cavalry declined in numbers and impor­tance ; and the heavy-armed infantry, which was now armed with the long sarissa even in Greece itself, became in­creasingly effective. The phalanx was used independently for purposes of attack, and this attack was generally decisive. During this century, large standing armies of mercenary troops became common. In Greece proper, the only army of importance at this time was that of the Achaean League, after its reorganization by PhllSposmen. Greek warfare succumbed in the struggle with the Romans, mainly because the limitations attaching to the tactics of the phalanx were ill-suited to a hand to hand engagement. (See legion; and cp. castra, dilectus, sacramentum, and stipendium. See also sieges and ship.)

War Gods. (1) Greek. See ares and enyo (1).

(2) Roman. See mars and bellona (1).

War Tribunes. See tribuni militum.

Watchmen. Sue vigiles and

Water-clock. See clepsydra.

Weapons. The weapons of attack and defence employed by the greeks of historic times are essentially the same as those with which the Homeric heroes appear equipped in an earlier age. The changes gradually introduced, especially after the Persian Wars, tended to make the armour lighter and to give greater power of move­ment to the combatants. For defensive armour they used a helmet (q.v.); a cuirass (see THORAX'1; a girdle (zama) of leather or felt, covering the lower part of the body, and reaching down to the middle of the thighs. Sometimes this consisted of narrow strips called pterygls (wings) arranged either in single or double rows, and covered with metal. Sometimes it was a complete coat plated with bands of metal. The greaves (knemls) covered the front part of the legs from the ankles to just above the knee, and consisting of flexible metal plates or leather fastened behind with buckles. The weapons of defence were completed by the shield (q.v.).

For offensive weapons they had, beside the sieord (q.v.), the lance (dor-it), five to seven feet long. This was of iron, some­times broader, sometimes narrower, and sometimes hooked and with an iron joint on the butt end which served to fix the spear more easily in the ground, or could be used as an offensive weapon when the regular head was broken off. The cavalry used a shorter lance (paltSn) for hurling as well as thrusting; this was much shorter than the Macedonian sarissa (q.v.). The other weapons of attack were javelins (dkontion) of different sizes, the longer kinds of which were hurled by means of a thong (see gymnastics, fig 1), bows and arrows (see Bows), and slings (q.v.). On the equipment of the different kinds of troops, sec gymnet.e, hippeis, hoplites,


Among the romans the full equipment of defensive armour similarly consisted of helmet (q.v.), cuirass (see loeica), greaves (ocrea), and shield (q.v.). With regard to the greaves, it must be noted that in later times the infantry wore them only on the right foot, which was unprotected by the shield.

Besides the sword (q.v.), the horse and foot of the legion alike used, as an offensive weapon, the lance (see hasta). It was only the light-armed troops that fought with javelins and slings. Then the plhtm (q.v.) was introduced first for a part and

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