Ancient Greek Warfare


Many consider Classical Greek warfare the purest from of battle because it is rooted deeply in morals and values. Ideology, peer pressure, and commitment are just a few aspects important to the Greek soldier. Battles were won or lost depending on the strength to hold formation and the ability to not only protect yourself but your neighbor. Unity and camaraderie were the key to holding the phalanx together and evidently, winning the war. Being surrounded by family members in battle made reasons for fighting more acceptable for the hoplite soldier. Fear of failure amongst peers drove the hoplite and strong ties with fellow soldiers made success in battle a more obtainable outcome.
The importance of "unity" in formation cannot be stressed enough in Classical Greek warfare. Weak links in formation could not be tolerated because once the "unit" is broken, the rest on the unit will surely fall. "The key as the successful Spartan general Brasidas reminded his men , was to maintain formation always, to stay in rank, and to preserve the cohesive protection offered by the accumulation of shields." (Hanson: pg.29) Knowing now that holding formation is the key to winning battles, it would seems obvious that the best way to get men to hold formation is to place them with the men they know and trust best.
"Hoplites in nearly all city-states were deployed in their phalanxes by tribe and most likely of course, were well acquainted with those of their own town or deme." (Hanson: pg.121) This meant that the soldiers were not strangers to each other and pretty much knew each other all their lives. The amount of peer pressure received by having friends and family members in battle with you was tremendous. Running away or breaking ranks meant turning your back on the ones you care the most for. Fear of losing a family member or friend can be a great motivator in battle. All these closely knitted ties made the …

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