John F. Lazenby and P. J. Rhodes

in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Classics

Published online December 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780199381135 | DOI:

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In a number of Greek states the aristocracy was known as the ‘hippeis’ (e.g. *Eretria and Boeotian *Orchomenus(1); and cf. the ‘hippobotai’, of *Chalcis and, below, the Spartan élite (§ 3) and Athenian property class (§ 4)). Aristotle (Pol. 1297b17 ff., cf. 1289b36 ff. and 1321a8 ff.), while drawing attention to the fact that only the wealthy possessed *horses, seems to have thought that this was the basis of their political power, since their states depended upon cavalry in war. But although there is some evidence for cavalry in early wars, for example the 8th-cent. bce Lelantine War, it is doubtful whether many Greek states south of Boeotia really had powerful forces of cavalry in early times. No cavalry is mentioned in *Tyrtaeus, for example, and the Athenians notoriously had no cavalry at the battle of *Marathon, despite the existence of a class of hippeis.

Article.  984 words. 

Subjects: Economic History ; Greek and Roman Archaeology

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