Konijnendijk, Roel, Classical Greek Tactics: A Cultural History. "[23], An uncommon tactic of Ancient Greek warfare, during the hoplite battles, was the use of ambush. It was largely similar to other armies of the region. Armies marched directly to their target, possibly agreed on by the protagonists. The diekplous was an ancient Greek naval operation used to infiltrate the enemy's line-of-battle. To fight the enormous armies of the Achaemenid Empire was effectively beyond the capabilities of a single city-state. The increased manpower and financial resources increased the scale, and allowed the diversification of warfare. The Phalanx therefore presented a shield wall and a mass of spear points to the enemy, making frontal assaults much more difficult. The age of the phalanx may be traced back to Sumeria in the 25th century BCE, through Egypt , and finally appearing in Greek literature through Homer in the 8th century BCE (and since has been generally associated with Greek warfare strategy, the name itself coming from the Greek … Certainly, by approximately 650 BC, as dated by the 'Chigi vase', the 'hoplite revolution' was complete. [citation needed] When battles occurred, they were usually set piece and intended to be decisive. A united Macedonian empire did not long survive Alexander's death, and soon split into the Hellenistic kingdoms of the Diadochi (Alexander's generals). He took the development of the phalanx to its logical completion, arming his 'phalangites' (for they were assuredly not hoplites) with a fearsome 6 m (20 ft) pike, the 'sarissa'. The most known version of this tactic occurred during the Battle of Dyme in 218 BC, when one side pretended to retreat from the fighting and enticed their enemy to follow them into an ambush. Archers were also important in naval battles. They carried round shields fixed by a pair of straps to their left arms. In order to outflank the isthmus, Xerxes needed to use this fleet, and in turn therefore needed to defeat the Greek fleet; similarly, the Greeks needed to neutralise the Persian fleet to ensure their safety. The phalanx was an army tactic the Greeks performed with shields. However, such were the losses of Theban manpower, including Epaminondas himself, that Thebes was thereafter unable to sustain its hegemony. The losses in the ten years of the Theban hegemony left all the Greek city-states weakened and divided. Although alliances between city states occurred before this time, nothing on this scale had been seen before. The secondary weapon of a hoplite was the xiphos, a short sword used when the soldier's spear was broken or lost while fighting. Demoralised, Xerxes returned to Asia Minor with much of his army, leaving his general Mardonius to campaign in Greece the following year (479 BC). The Athenians kept pace with rising territorial commitments by greatly increasing the size of their military. ", Morrison, J.S. [2] The Phalanx also became a source of political influence because men had to provide their own equipment to be a part of the army. When light-armed forces began to be used, ambushing became a recognized scheme. Firstly, the Spartans permanently garrisoned a part of Attica, removing from Athenian control the silver mine which funded the war effort. Morrison, J.S. [18] They had a specific formation in order to execute all of their military maneuvers. Their uniquely large scuta, as the Romans’ shields were called, allowed them to present a 360-degree wall of wood to opponents. This page was last edited on 5 December 2020, at 16:50. As the massive Persian army moved south through Greece, the allies sent a small holding force (c. 10,000) men under the Spartan king Leonidas, to block the pass of Thermopylae whilst the main allied army could be assembled. The next year, starved by an impenetrable blockade, Athens capitulated. Far from the previously limited and formalized form of conflict, the Peloponnesian War transformed into an all-out struggle between city-states, complete with atrocities on a large scale; shattering religious and cultural taboos, devastating vast swathes of countryside and destroying whole cities.[11]. To this end, the Greeks were able to lure the Persian fleet into the straits of Salamis; and, in a battleground where Persian numbers again counted for nothing, they won a decisive victory, justifying Themistocles' decision to build the Athenian fleet. Tactically, Phillip absorbed the lessons of centuries of warfare in Greece. The hoplite was an infantryman, the central element of warfare in Ancient Greece. Many of these would have been mercenary troops, hired from outlying regions of Greece. The Greek navy functioned much like the ancient Greek army. In contrast to the Athenian grand strategy of exhaustion, based on Athens’s economic power, Sparta followed a grand strategy of annihilation centered around Spartan military might. The maneuver consisted of Greek ships, in line abreast, rowing through gaps between its enemy's ships. Kagan, Donald, The Peloponnesian War, New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2004. 1974. The Athenians were at a significant disadvantage both strategically and tactically. [3] While the ramming itself may have caused only a few casualties to the enemy, the majority of the casualties occurred later as the vessel began to sink, forcing its crew into the water. The Athenian army was typically divided into ten taxeis, or tribal regiments, and subdivided into lochoi. One of the most famous troop of Greek cavalry was the Tarantine cavalry, originating from the city-state of Taras in Magna Graecia.[8]. After they refused to disband their army, an army of approximately 10,000 Spartans and Pelopennesians marched north to challenge the Thebans. Over the top of this, they thrust with long spears. The Spartan hegemony would last another 16 years, until, at the Battle of Leuctra (371) the Spartans were decisively defeated by the Theban general Epaminondas. Sileraioi were also a group of ancient mercenaries most likely employed by the tyrant Dionysius I of Syracuse. If a hoplite escaped, he would sometimes be forced to drop his cumbersome aspis, thereby disgracing himself to his friends and family. Although tactically there was little innovation in the Peloponessian War, there does appear to have been an increase in the use of light infantry, such as peltasts (javelin throwers) and archers. led many to attribute Athenian military success to their political system. Raising such a large army had denuded Athens of defenders, and thus any attack in the Athenian rear would cut off the Army from the City. Thermopylae provided the Greeks with time to arrange their defences, and they dug in across the Isthmus of Corinth, an impregnable position; although an evacuated Athens was thereby sacrificed to the advancing Persians. The Athenian general Iphicrates had his troops make repeated hit and run attacks on the Spartans, who, having neither peltasts nor cavalry, could not respond effectively. This established a lasting Macedonian hegemony over Greece, and allowed Phillip the resources and security to launch a war against the Persian Empire. Their massed ranks of men wore body armor and helmets. The battle would then rely on the valour of the men in the front line, while those in the rear maintained forward pressure on the front ranks with their shields. The military of ancient Athens was composed by its own citizens. The Athenian dominated Delian League of cities and islands extirpated Persian garrisons from Macedon and Thrace, before eventually freeing the Ionian cities from Persian rule. One way opponents countered the diekplous was by retreating their fleet into a tight circle with the hulls of their ships facing outward. After the war, ambitions of many Greek states dramatically increased. This opportunity occurs while the attacked vessel stops rowing to evaluate the strength of each side of oarsman, leaving it in a standstill. In. The Greeks' success on land easily translated onto the sea. [25] Athens’ defeat was perhaps the worst casualty in a war that crippled Greek military strength, and thus the most culturally advanced Greek state was brought into final eclipse. It’s easy to see where the “tortoise” formation got its name. Almost simultaneously, the allied fleet defeated the remnants of the Persian navy at Mycale, thus destroying the Persian hold on the islands of the Aegean. Marathon demonstrated to the Greeks the lethal potential of the hoplite, and firmly demonstrated that the Persians were not, after all, invincible. Uprooting trees was especially effective given the Greek reliance on the olive crop and the long time it takes new olive trees to reach maturity. The archers, which wielded longbows, would fire waves of arrows before the battle, attempting to cut the enemy numbers down prior battle. The Theban hegemony would be short-lived however. The Athenian Navy in the Classical Period: A Study of Athenian Naval Administration and Military Organization in the Fifth and Fourth Centuries B.C. Athens in fact partially recovered from this setback between 410–406 BC, but a further act of economic war finally forced her defeat. The tight circle prevented the Greek navy from infiltrating its opponent's squadron because if the navy used the diekplous, the galley would be encircled by its enemy and rammed. Conversely, another defeat and loss of prestige meant that Sparta was unable to regain its primary position in Greece. The second major challenge Sparta faced was fatal to its hegemony, and even to its position as a first-rate power in Greece. Sparta was an exception to this rule, as every Spartiate was a professional soldier. led to the rise of the city-states (Poleis). By the time Demosthenes was a youth Athens had more or less recovered after its major losses in the Peloponnesian Wars, but it never regained the position of power that it used to occupy in Greece at the beginning of the war. Hanson, Victor D., "Hoplite Battle as Ancient Greek Warfare: When, Where, and Why?" The “Age of the Hoplite” is the one of the first instances in which we can directly look at tactics and use of written accounts to somewhat recreate what actually happened on this spot of Greek soil. Defying convention, he strengthened the left flank of the phalanx to an unheard of depth of 50 ranks, at the expense of the centre and the right. To fight the enormous armies of the Achaemenid Empire was effectively beyond the capabilities of a single city-state. [23] One example of melee combat is described by Herodotus during a battle at Thermopylae. The eventual triumph of the Greeks was achieved by alliances of many city-states, on a scale never seen before. The temporarily inoperative ship becomes victim to more ramming and spearing attacks. When advancing towards an enemy, the phalanx would break into a run that was sufficient to create momentum but not too much as to lose cohesion. At the Battle of Mantinea, the largest battle ever fought between the Greek city-states occurred; most states were represented on one side or the other. [16] However, Cimon had forty marines aboard each ship during the battle of Eurymedon. Following this victory, the Thebans first secured their power-base in Boeotia, before marching on Sparta. Each soldier carried a shield in his left arm, which he used to protect both himself and the man on his left. The city-states of southern Greece were too weak to resist the rise of the Macedonian kingdom in the north. 146–176. At the decisive Battle of Leuctra (371 BC), the Thebans routed the allied army. These included javelin throwers (akontistai), stone throwers (lithovoloi) and slingers (sfendonitai) while archers (toxotai) were rare, mainly from Crete, or mercenary non-Greek tribes (as at the crucial battle of Plataea 479 B.C.) An uncommon tactic of Ancient Greek warfare, during the hoplite battles, was the use of ambush. Sekunda, Nick, Elite 7: The Ancient Greeks, Oxford: Osprey, 1986. Although the Spartans did not attempt to rule all of Greece directly, they prevented alliances of other Greek cities, and forced the city-states to accept governments deemed suitable by Sparta. [3] After the galley successfully crossed the opponent's line, the Greek ships would turn around and attack the susceptible side of the opponent's vessel.[5]. Famously, Leonidas's men held the much larger Persian army at the pass (where their numbers were less of an advantage) for three days, the hoplites again proving their superiority. The major innovation in the development of the hoplite seems to have been the characteristic circular shield (Aspis), roughly 1 m (3.3 ft) in diameter, and made of wood faced with bronze. This brought the rebels to terms, and restored the Spartan hegemony on a more stable footing. Hoplites were armored infantrymen, armed with spears and shields, and the phalanx was a formation of these soldiers with their shields locked together and spears pointed forward. They also restored the capability of organized warfare between these Poleis (as opposed to small-scale raids to acquire livestock and grain, for example). Set-piece battles during this war proved indecisive and instead there was increased reliance on naval warfare, and strategies of attrition such as blockades and sieges. Gradually, and especially during the Peloponnesian war, cavalry became more important acquiring every role that cavalry could play, except perhaps frontal attack. Ultimately, Mantinea, and the preceding decade, severely weakened many Greek states, and left them divided and without the leadership of a dominant power. The remainder of the wars saw the Greeks take the fight to the Persians. Amongst the allies therefore, Athens was able to form the core of a navy, whilst other cities, including Sparta, provided the army. Fisher, Nick, "Hybris, Revenge and Stasis in the Greek City-States," in Hans van Wees, War and Violence in Ancient Greece, London and Swansea: Duckworth and the Classical Press of Wales, 2000, pp. [3] The battle line consisted of ships lined up side by side, facing the enemy. The Athenians thus avoided battle on land, since they could not possibly win, and instead dominated the sea, blockading the Peloponnesus whilst maintaining their trade. 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