• Imagining History

What was a Greek Hoplite?

Hoplites were the warriors of Ancient Greece. Each hoplite was a citizen of a city state who could be called upon to don their armour in a time of war. For example, if you were a male living in Athens and were between the ages of 18 – 60 you could find yourself fighting in a Phalanx formation.

Hoplites were armed with a huge spear, measuring a massive 2.5 metres in length and made from ash wood, called a doru. Their side weapon was a short sword, ideal for stabby stabbing, named a xiphos. These two weapons made Hoplites deadly both at long range and up close too. Armour varied over the 300 years that Hoplites were in action; initially the soldier citizens would wear a breastplate made of bronze or leather – called a thorax ­– to stop their innards being removed by a particularly enthusiastic Persian warrior.

Later Hoplites wore armour made from layered laminated linen called a Linothorax. Despite sounding about as effective as going into battle wearing every single one of your t-shits, the Linothorax actually provided increased protection and was much lighter than a thorax.

Hoplites carried large circular shields dubbed Hoplon. They were made from wood or leather and were faced with bronze, which meant a Hoplon weighed the same as a King Charles spaniel! Most Hoplons had an image on the front, a popular depiction was of Medusa – infamous for being able to turn her enemies to stone!

All in a Hoplite would carry some 20kg of gear, that’s like carrying a bag filled with 6,400 t-bags!

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