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EXE´RCITUS (στρατός), army.


The earliest notices which we possess of the military art among the Greeks are those contained in the Homeric poems. The unsettled state of society in the first ages of Greece led to the early and general cultivation of the art of arms, which were habitually worn for defence, even when aggressive warfare was not intended (Thuc. 1.6). But the Homeric poems contain an exhibition of combined military operations in their earliest stage. Warlike undertakings before the time described in them can have been little else than predatory inroads (βοηλασίαι, Il. 11.672). A collection of warriors exhibiting less of organisation and discipline than we see depicted in the Grecian troops before Troy, would hardly deserve the name of an army. The organisation which we see there, such as it was, arose, not from any studied, formative system, but naturally out of the imperfect constitution of society in that age. Every freeman in those times was of course a soldier; but when all the members of a family were not needed to go upon an expedition under the command of their chieftain or king, those who were to go seem to have been selected by lot (Il. 24.400). As the confederated states, which are represented as taking part in the Trojan war, are united by scarcely any other bond than their participation in a common object, the different bodies of troops, led by their respective chieftains, are [p. 1.767]far from being united by a common discipline under the command-in-chief of Agamemnon. A common epithet for allies is “called from afar” (τηλεκλειτοί, Il. 5.491, 6.111). Each body obeys its own leader, and follows him to the conflict, or remains inactive, according as he chooses to mingle in the fight or not. Authority and obedience are regulated much more by the nature of the circumstances, or by the relative personal distinction of the chieftains, than by any law of military discipline. Gifts (δῶρα) were given to them at the end of service; and such may be considered as the beginning of pay being given to soldiers (Il. 17.225). Agamemnon sometimes urges the chieftains to engage, not by commands, but by taunts (Il. 4.338 ff., 368 ff.). Accordingly, nothing like the tactics or strategy of a regularly disciplined army is to be traced in the Homeric descriptions of battles. Each chieftain with his body of troops acts for himself, without reference to the movements of the rest, except as these furnish occasion for a vigorous attack, or, when hard pressed, call for assistance from the common feeling of brotherhood in arms. The wide interval which in the Homeric age separated the noble or chieftain from the common freeman, appears in as marked a manner in military as in civil affairs. The former is distinguished by that superior skill and prowess in the use of his arms, which would naturally result from the constant practice of warlike exercises, for which his station gave him the leisure and the means. A single hero is able to put to flight a whole troop of common soldiers. The account of a battle consists almost entirely of descriptions of the single combats of the chiefs on both sides; and the fortune of the day, when not overruled by the intervention of the gods, is decided by the individual valour of these heroes. While the mass of the common soldiers were on foot, the chiefs rode in chariots [CURRUS], which usually contained two, one to drive (ἡνίοχος) and one to fight (παραιβάτης). In these they advanced against the antagonists whom they singled out for encounter, sometimes hurling their spears from their chariots, but more commonly alighting, as they drew near, and fighting on foot, making use of the chariot for pursuit or flight. The Greeks did not, like the ancient Britons and several nations of the East, use the chariot itself as an instrument of warfare. Cavalry was unknown at that time to the Greeks, and horsemanship but very rarely practised; the ἱππῆες of Homer are the chieftains who ride in chariots. These chiefs are drawn up in the front of the battle array (Il. 4.297, 505, πρόμαχοι, προμάχεσθαι); and frequently the foot-soldiers seem to have done nothing but watch the single combats of their leaders, forming in two opposite, parallel lines, between which the more important single combats are fought. How they got the chariots out of the way when the foot-soldiers came to close quarters (as in Il. 4.427 ff.) is not described.

Though so little account is usually made of the common soldiers (πρυλέες, Il. 11.49, 12.77), Homer occasionally lays considerable stress on their orderly and compact array; the Atreidae are honourably distinguished by the epithet κοσμήτορε λαῶν (Il. 1.15). Nestor and Menestheus were also skilled in marshalling an army (Il. 2.553, 4.293 ff.). The troops were naturally drawn up in separate bodies according to their different nations. It would appear to be rather a restoration of the old arrangement than a new classification, when Nestor (Il. 2.362) recommends Agamemnon to draw the troops up by tribes and phratries. Arranged in these natural divisions, the foot-soldiers were drawn up in densely compacted bodies (πυκιναὶ φάλαγγες)--shield close to shield, helmet to helmet, man to man (Il. 13.130, 16.212 ff.). In these masses, though not usually commencing the attack, they frequently offer a powerful resistance, even to distinguished heroes (as Hector, Il. 13.145 ff., comp. 17.267, 354 ff., 13.339), the dense array of their spears forming a barrier not easily broken through. The signal for advance or retreat was not given by instruments of any kind, but by the voice of the leader. A loud voice was consequently an important matter, and the epithet βοὴν ἀγαθὸς is common. The soldiers advanced and engaged in battle with loud shouting (ἀλαλητός, Il. 4.436, 14.393). The trumpet, however, was not absolutely unknown (Il. 18.219). Respecting the armour, offensive and defensive, see ARMA No engines for besieging are found. There were in the army, besides the hoplites, light-armed troops, archers and slingers (Il. 13.767).

Under the king or chieftain who commands his separate contingent we commonly find subordinate chiefs, who command smaller divisions. It is difficult to say whether it is altogether accidental or not, that these are frequently five in number. Thus the Myrmidons of Achilles are divided into five στίχες, each of 500 men. Five chiefs command the Boeotians; and the whole Trojan army is formed in five divisions, each under three leaders. (Il. 4.295 ff., 16.171-197, 2.494, 495, 12.87-104.) The term φάλαγξ is applied either to the whole army (as Il. 6.6), or to these smaller divisions and subdivisions, which are also called στίχες and πύργοι (Il. 11.90, 4.333).

When an enemy was slain, it was the universal practice to stop and strip off his arms, which were carefully preserved by the victor as trophies. The division of the booty generally was arranged by the leader of the troop, for whom a portion was set aside as an honorary present (γέρας, Il. 1.118, 368, 392). The recovery of the dead bodies of the slain was in the Homeric age, as in all later times, a point of the greatest importance, and frequently either led to a fierce contest (Il. 16.756 ff.), or was effected by the payment of a heavy ransom (Il. 24.502). (Köpke, Krieqswesen der Griechen in heroischen Zeitalter; Wachsmuth, Hellen. Alterthumsk. vol. 2.110; Grote, History of Greece, vol. ii. p. 106; Buchholz, Die Homerischen Realien, 2.1, 303-331.)

After the heroic age considerable impulse was given to the cultivation of the military art by the conquests of the Thessalians (the first Grecian people, apparently, that employed cavalry, to the use of which their conquests were probably in great part owing) and Dorians, among the latter of whom the art of warfare was earliest reduced to system. The distinction of heavy and light armed foot-soldiers of course [p. 1.768]took its rise with the beginnings of military service, the poorer class being unable to provide themselves with the more efficient, but more costly weapons of those who were better off than themselves. Political considerations tended to make the distinction more marked and systematic. The system of military castes was indeed unknown among the Greeks, though something answering the same purpose existed in the earliest times, when the nobles and their more immediate dependents and retainers, having greater leisure for the cultivation of skill in the use of arms and greater means for procuring them, were separated in that respect by a wide interval from the lower class; while conversely, military superiority was the most direct means of securing political supremacy. Hence, as soon as the distinction between the nobles (the privileged class) and the commonalty (demus) was established, it became the object of the former to prevent the latter from placing themselves on a par with them in military strength, and so the use of the full armour of the heavy-armed, infantry was reserved by the former for themselves; and when, in times of distress, it was found necessary to entrust the demus with full armour, the result was not uncommonly a revolution (as was in some degree the case at Mytilene, Thuc. 3.27). But in the democracies this distinction as regards the kinds of service depended merely upon the greater or less ability of the citizens to procure arms. In the Greek commonwealths all those who enjoyed the privileges of citizens or freemen were held bound to serve as soldiers when called upon, and were provided with arms and trained in military exercises as a matter of course. The modern system of standing armies was foreign to Greek habits, and would have been dangerous to the liberties of the different commonwealths, though something of the kind may be seen in the body-guards, usually of mercenary troops, kept by tyrants. The mercenaries in the pay of Alexander of Pherae formed a considerable army. Practically too, from the continuity of the warlike operations in which they were engaged, the armies of Philip and Alexander of Macedon, and their successors, became standing armies. The thousand λογάδες at Argos (Thuc. 5.67; Diod. 12.75), the sacred band at Thebes (Plut. Pel. 18), and the Arcadian ἐπάριτοι (EPARITI) were not considerable enough to be called armies. The employment of mercenary troops might have led to the use of standing armies, had it not been that the use of them characterised the decline of the Grecian states, so that the circumstances which led to their employment also rendered it impossible to provide the resources for their maintenance, except when they were immediately needed. Still, as in the case of the Scythian bowmen at Athens, individual corps of mercenaries might be regularly maintained. Slaves were but rarely trusted with arms; and when it was the case, they were usually manumitted. The Greek armies accordingly were national armies, resembling rather the militia than the regular armies of modern times. Their smallness in comparison with modern armies must be noticed. The largest Greek armies we know of as having operated in Hellas proper were, at Plataea, 38,700 hoplites and 69,500 ψιλοί (Hdt. 9.28 ff.); in the first invasion of Attica by the Lacedaemonians, 70,000 (Plut. Per. 33); in the invasion of Laconia by Epaminondas, 70,000 (Plut. de Glor. Ath. 2). At Mantineia, in 362 B.C., 33,000 Thebans fought against 23,000 Lacedaemonians, according to Diodorus (15.84).

In all the states of Greece, in the earliest as in later times, the general type of their military organisation was the phalanx, a body of troops in close array with a long spear as their principal weapon. It was among the Dorians, and especially among the Spartans, that this type was most rigidly adhered to. See Tyrtaeus passim, who insists on the especial duties of fighting ἐν προμάχοισι, and each keeping his place in the phalanx. The strength of their military array consisted in the heavy-armed infantry (ὁπλῖται). They attached comparatively small importance to their cavalry, which was always inferior (Xen. Hell. 6.4, § 10). Indeed, the Thessalians and Boeotians were the only Greek people who distinguished themselves much for their cavalry; scarcely any other states had territories adapted for the evolutions of cavalry. The Spartan army, as described by Xenophon, was probably in all its main features the same that it was in the time of Lycurgus. The institutions of that lawgiver converted the body of Spartan citizens into a kind of military brotherhood, whose almost sole occupation was the practice of warlike and athletic exercises. The whole life of a Spartan was little else than either the preparation for or the practice of war. The result was, that in the strictness of their discipline, the precision and facility with which they performed their military evolutions, and the skill and power with which they used their weapons, the Spartans were unrivalled among the Greeks, so that they seemed like real masters of the art of war (τεχνίτας τῶν πολεμικῶν), while in comparison with them other Greeks appeared mere tyros (αὐτοσχεδιαστὰς τῶν στρατιωτικῶν, Xen. Rep. Laced. 13.5; ἄκροι τεχνῖται καὶ σοφισταὶ τῶν πολεμικῶν, Plut. Pel. 23). The heavy-armed infantry of the Spartan armies was composed partly of genuine Spartan citizens, partly of Perioeci (e. g. Thuc. 4.8; comp. Grote,

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