Greek Military

Fernando Echeverría Rey

in Classics

ISBN: 9780195389661
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:
Greek Military

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Warfare may be considered a fundamental activity in Greek civilization: warfare and society interacted in ancient Greece, determining the political, social, and economic institutions of the time. In ancient Greek sources, war figured prominently as a literary and historical topic; in most Greek cities, monuments celebrating or commemorating military events invaded the public spaces. “War,” says Heraclitus, “is the father of all and king of all” (frg. 53 D). This paramount relevance of warfare as a cultural factor was. however, counterbalanced by an early and permanent awareness of war’s catastrophic effects on individuals and communities. The Greeks frequently lamented its inevitable nature and feared its horrific consequences. “War,” says Pindar, “is sweet to those who have no experience of it, but the experienced man trembles exceedingly at heart on its approach” (frg. 110). The Greeks thus had an ambivalent approach to war, and this troubled relationship contributed decisively to shape the material aspects of Greek warfare: weapons, strategy and tactics, military institutions, and the like. Academic research over the previous decades has sought to explain and interpret manifold aspects of Greek warfare. This has led to a considerable increase in the number of academic works in this field. Modern scholars are particularly concerned about some still obscure and elusive aspects (warfare in early Greece, public and private initiatives, logistics), and many controversial issues (the mechanics of combat, the origins of the military institutions, the relationship between warfare and society) still raise lively discussions. The present bibliographical selection, ranging roughly from Mycenaean times to the conquest of Corinth by the Romans (c. 1200–146 bce), tries to do justice to a longstanding academic effort to understand one of the most genuinely human activities.

Article.  20950 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Art and Architecture ; Classical History ; Classical Literature ; Classical Philosophy

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