Hoplites Grecs Mercenaires - French
Griechische Söldner Hopliten - German
Hoplitas Griegos Mercenarios - Spanish
Opliti Greci mercenari - Italian
Griekse huurlingen (hoplieten) - Dutch
Please note that no spears will be supplied with the box. You must supply your own spears.
The equipment and tactics of the hoplite were adopted by the Greek city-states in the early 7th century BC, and he was still the standard Greek infantryman in Alexander the Great's day. While the original hoplites had been citizen-soldiers, many were by now mercenaries recruited from adventurers and political exiles, particularly from poorer regions like Achaia and Arkadia. Alexander started his Persian war with 5,000 Greek mercenary infantry (perhaps a mixture of hoplites and the lighter peltasts), and the Persians relied heavily on Greek mercenary hoplites, allegedly fielding up to 30,000. Perhaps unusually among mercenaries, they were mostly loyal to their paymaster, several thousand sticking with King Darius III until his death, despite successive defeats.
The distinctive feature of the hoplite was his three-foot wide round "Argive" shield, of wood with a bronze facing. It was usually painted with an emblem, which for mercenaries might be individually chosen or possibly allocated by their employer. The main offensive weapon was an eight-foot thrusting spear, backed by a sword. Most hoplites wore bronze helmets, various sorts of bronze, leather or linen body-armour, and bronze greaves on their shins, but some were unarmoured. Helmets varied from the simple cap-like pilos to more elaborate Attic or Thracian styles with cheekpieces and crests. Mercenaries were perhaps less likely than citizens to wear any armour (some may even have fought bare-headed), but their equipment seems to have varied from man to man even within an army. Their woollen tunics, however, were often a uniform crimson.
Hoplites fought in a closely formed phalanx, usually eight ranks deep. They would normally advance on the enemy at once (though hoplites in Persian service had to conform to their employers' more cautious tactics), breaking into a run for the last hundred or two hundred yards and shouting war-cries. Nothing could withstand such a phalanx frontally - until the introduction of the professional Macedonian phalanx with its longer spears - but its flanks were vulnerable, and it had no way to reply to missile-armed skirmishers.
Text by Duncan Head, UK.
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