Formation & Training
- Spartans were masters of the phalanx.
- It was a rectangular formation of soldiers, 8 rows deep.
- In battle, opposing phalanxes would slowly approach each other with their spears, attempting to hit the opposing soldiers in an unprotected area. If a soldier in the front row died or fell, a soldier from the next row would come forward to maintain the defensive wall.
- The best soldiers would fight in the front row to set an example.
- Each hoplite held his shield in his left hand so they depended on the shield of the person next to them to protect their right hand side.
- If the front row was disrupted, a hole would be ripped in the phalanx.
- The soldiers had to be well disciplined and react quickly to new orders and changes in tactics which is where they were particularly good.
- They trained very hard to keep the shape of the phalanx.
- They would give orders through trumpeters and pipers and the hoplites would learn what the tune meant and react accordingly.
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Chain Of Command
- Chain Of Command:
- The Spartan army was divided into regiments with a regional commander.
- Below the commander there were other officers to easily spread information.
- They would only chase after an opponent who was running away from them until they were sure of victory, they didn't think it was worth it/dignified to chase after the losing side. This meant many other soldiers ran away rather than keep fighting as they wanted to live.
- Leaders also ordered that they should not come up against the same opponents too often so they would not know their tactics and predict what the Spartans were going to do.
- Extra Support:
- If they needed help, the Spartans would use their helots to hold equipment and pass orders and they eventually began to fight with the Spartans.
- In order to make sure the helots didn't rebel, hoplites would carry their spears with them in camp and make sure the weapons store was guarded closely at all times.
- Helots were also responsible for growing food and helping to provide supplies so the hoplites could concentrate on fighting and training.
- The perioeci were also used as craftsmen to repair weapons and equipment.
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Uniform And Equipment
- Basic item of a hoplite's uniform: tunic with bronze/leather corslet to protect the upper body.
- On top of this was a dyed red cloak to make sure that if the Spartan was injured, the enemy would not see any blood and would not know.
- During battle, they wore leather boots (they were usually barefoot) to protect their feet.
- Wear plumed helmet giving good protection to head but sight and hearing would be impaired.
- Hoplites were allowed to have longer hair to make them look frightening and larger in stature.
- They carried three weapons: a round shield with 'L' (to show it belonged to a Spartan); a 3m long spear which was their main weapon; a sword which hung in a belt on the right and would only be used if the Spartan lost his spear or if he had to fight close against the enemy.
- Spartans criticised enemies (e.g. Persians) who relied on bows and arrows to win battles as they thought real courage could only be shown through hand-to-hand combat.
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The Life Of Hoplites
- At 18, boys who didn't join the krypteia stayed in an agoge, had to show more respect to elders: youths had to keep their hands in cloaks, stay silent, and keep their heads down.
- After Lycurgus' rule, Spartans devoted themselves to soldiering, banned from other types of work.
- Helots looked after estates, women looked after finances, perioeci watched trade and craft.
- From 20-30, they lived in soldiers' barracks. They were banned from marketplace, couldn't do their own shopping. They were not trusted to conform without close supervision.
- Elite troop of 300 soldiers selected to become king's bodyguards, but they constantly had to justify their position as they could be replaced at any time.
- Each syssition ('communal eating place') had 15 members and spent a lot of time together. When on campaign, they shared a tent which developed equality.
- Election to a mess was required of a citizen at 20. Members held a ballot and each dropped a ball of bread into an urn. If it was flat, they were rejected. Failure to join meant becoming a social outcast and any member who didn't provide their monthly quota (food) was expelled. Men allowed to miss meals if sacrificing/hunting but encouraged to bring leftovers.
- At meals, men would talk, sing, laugh together and sometimes boys were brought in. Everything discussed would remain confidential: the oldest member would say "not a word goes out through this while pointing to the door.
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