The thyreophoroi or thureophoroi (Greek : θυρεοφόροι; singular: thureophoros/thyreophoros, θυρεοφόρος) was a type of infantry soldier, common in the 3rd to 1st centuries BC, who carried a large oval shield called a thureos which had a type of metal strip boss and a central spine. They were armed with a long thrusting spear, javelins and a sword. They also usually wore an iron or bronze Macedonian helmet. The thureos was probably originally an adapted form of a Celtic shield. Thracian and Illyrian infantry probably adopted the shield before the Greeks. However it has been suggested that the thureos was brought to Greece after Pyrrhus of Epirus' campaigns in Italy, as his Oscan allies and Roman enemies used the scutum .
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.
Infantry is the branch of an army that engages in military combat on foot, distinguished from cavalry, artillery, and tank forces. Also known as foot soldiers, infantry traditionally relies on moving by foot between combats as well, but may also use mounts, military vehicles, or other transport. Infantry make up a large portion of all armed forces in most nations, and typically bear the largest brunt in warfare, as measured by casualties, deprivation, or physical and psychological stress.
A soldier is one who fights as part of an army. A soldier can be a conscripted or volunteer enlisted person, a non-commissioned officer, or an officer.
Thyreophoroi are usually distinguished from both skirmishers and the phalanx and seem to have operated in a role intermediate between the two types. They often supported light troops and seemed to be capable of operating in a similar manner to peltasts. The thyreophoroi were well suited to the tactical needs for smaller states, mainly border defense. They were mobile and could rapidly advance over varied terrain. According to Plutarch, they could fight as skirmishers and then fall back, assume spears and tighten the ranks, forming a phalanx.
Skirmishers are light infantry or cavalry soldiers in the role of skirmishing—stationed to act as a vanguard, flank guard, or rearguard, screening a tactical position or a larger body of friendly troops from enemy advances. They are usually deployed in a skirmish line—an irregular open formation much more spread out in depth and breadth than a traditional line formation. Their purpose is to harass the enemy—engaging them in only light or sporadic combat in order to delay their movement, disrupt their attack, or weaken their morale. Skirmishers' open formations and smaller numbers can give them superior mobility over the regular forces, allowing them to fight on more favorable terms, taking advantage of better position or terrain and quickly withdrawing from any threat of superior enemy forces.
A peltast was a type of light infantry, originating in Thrace and Paeonia, who often served as skirmishers in Hellenic and Hellenistic armies. In the Medieval period the same term was used for a type of Byzantine infantryman.
Plutarch, later named, upon becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus, was a Greek biographer and essayist, known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia. He is classified as a Middle Platonist. Plutarch's surviving works were written in Greek, but intended for both Greek and Roman readers.
In the 4th century BC, the main type of mercenary infantry was the peltast, to the extent that this became a synonym for mercenaries in general. A few illustrations of the early 3rd century BC still show a small round pelte shield in use but by the mid-3rd century BC it has been replaced by the thyreos . The thyreos was adopted by the Achaean League and by the Boeotians in the 270s BC. Plutarch describes Achaean citizens equipped with the thureos as skirmishing at a distance like peltasts but also as having spears for hand-to-hand combat. Despite their spears, we are told that the thyreophoroi were not reliable in hand-to-hand fighting owing to their nature as light troops. Mercenary thyreophoroi were not only Greek but could be from other areas such as Anatolia. Alongside this form of fighting, the thyreomachia, fighting with swords and the thyreos, was developed into an athletic event in many Greek competitions. The Achaean League under Philopoemen abandoned the thyreos around 208-207 BC in favor of the heavier Macedonian phalanx,although the citizens of Megalopolis, an Achaean city, had adopted the Macedonian style in 222 BC after Antigonus III Doson gave the city bronze shields to form a contingent of epilektoi armed as Chalkaspides ('Bronze-Shields'). By the end of the 3rd century BC the thyreophoros was no longer the dominant troop type in the smaller Greek states, having been replaced by the Macedonian-style phalanx. A related troop type was the thorakites , which were generally heavier and wore mail armor.
A mercenary is an individual who is hired to take part in a conflict but is not part of an army or other-governmental organization. Mercenaries fight for money or other forms of payment rather than for political interests. In the last century, mercenaries have increasingly come to be seen as less entitled to protections by rules of war than non-mercenaries. Indeed, the Geneva Conventions declare that mercenaries are not recognized as legitimate combatants and do not have to be granted the same legal protections as captured soldiers of a regular army. In practice, whether or not a person is a mercenary may be a matter of degree, as financial and political interests may overlap, as was often the case among Italian condottieri.
A thyreos was a large oval shield which was commonly used in Hellenistic armies from the 3rd century BC on. It was adopted from the Galatians probably first by the Illyrians, then by the Thracians before becoming common in Greece. Troops who carried it were known as thyreophoroi. It was made of wood covered with leather and had a spined boss. It was carried using a central handgrip. Some variants of the shield were nearly rectangular. The name thyreos derives from the word thyra (θύρα), "door," reflects its oblong shape.
The Achaean League was a Hellenistic-era confederation of Greek city states on the northern and central Peloponnese. The league was named after the region of Achaea in the northwestern Peloponnese, which formed its original core. The first league was formed in the fifth century BC. The second Achaean League was established in 280 BC. As a rival of Antigonid Macedon and an ally of Rome, the league played a major role in the expansion of the Roman Republic into Greece. This process eventually led to the League's conquest and dissolution by the Romans in 146 BC.
Thyreophoroi are frequently illustrated in grave paintings from Alexandria and Sidon. They can also be seen in terracottas from Seleucia on the Tigris.
Alexandria is the second-largest city in Egypt and a major economic centre, extending about 32 km (20 mi) along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country. Its low elevation on the Nile delta makes it highly vulnerable to rising sea levels. Alexandria is an important industrial center because of its natural gas and oil pipelines from Suez. Alexandria is also a popular tourist destination.
Sidon, known locally as Sayda, is the third-largest city in Lebanon. It is located in the South Governorate, of which it is the capital, on the Mediterranean coast. Tyre to the south and Lebanese capital Beirut to the north are both about 40 kilometres away. Sidon has a population of about 80,000 within city limits, while its metropolitan area has more than a quarter-million inhabitants.
Terracotta, terra cotta or terra-cotta, a type of earthenware, is a clay-based unglazed or glazed ceramic, where the fired body is porous. Terracotta is the term normally used for sculpture made in earthenware, and also for various utilitarian uses including vessels, water and waste water pipes, roofing tiles, bricks, and surface embellishment in building construction. The term is also used to refer to the natural brownish orange color of most terracotta, which varies considerably.
Hoplites were citizen-soldiers of Ancient Greek city-states who were primarily armed with spears and shields. Hoplite soldiers utilized the phalanx formation in order to be effective in war with fewer soldiers. The formation discouraged the soldiers from acting alone, for this would compromise the formation and minimize its strengths. The hoplites were primarily represented by free citizens—propertied farmers and artisans—who were able to afford the bronze armour suit and weapons. Hoplites were not professional soldiers and often lacked sufficient military training. However, some states did maintain a small elite professional unit, known as the epilektoi ("chosen") since they were picked from the regular citizen infantry. These existed at times in Athens, Argos, Thebes (Greece), and Syracuse, among others. Hoplite soldiers were relied on heavily and made up the bulk of ancient Greek armies of the time.
The Battle of Pydna took place in 168 BC between Rome and Macedon during the Third Macedonian War. The battle saw the further ascendancy of Rome in the Hellenistic world and the end of the Antigonid line of kings, whose power traced back to Alexander the Great. The battle is also considered to be a victory of the Roman legion's flexibility over the Macedonian phalanx's rigidity.
The Battle of Raphia, also known as the Battle of Gaza, was a battle fought on 22 June 217 BC near modern Rafah between the forces of Ptolemy IV Philopator, king and pharaoh of Ptolemaic Egypt and Antiochus III the Great of the Seleucid Empire during the Syrian Wars. It was one of the largest battles of the Hellenistic kingdoms and was one of the largest battles of the ancient world. The battle was waged to determine the sovereignty of Coele Syria.
Iphicrates was an Athenian general, the son of a shoemaker of the deme of Rhamnous, who flourished in the earlier half of the 4th century BC. He is credited with important infantry reforms that revolutionized ancient Greek warfare by regularizing light-armed peltasts. He was married to the daughter of the Thracian King Cotys and had a son with her. His son was named Menestheus, after the legendary King of Athens during the Trojan War. Iphicrates' other son, who was also called Iphicrates, was sent as the Athenian ambassador to the Persian court sometime before 335 BC. He was captured by the Macedonian army along with the Persian court in the aftermath of the Battle of Issus. When Iphicrates the younger died from an unknown disease, Alexander the Great paid for the transportation of his body to his homeland, as an homage to his father.
The phalanx was a rectangular mass military formation, usually composed entirely of heavy infantry armed with spears, pikes, sarissas, or similar pole weapons. The term is particularly used to describe the use of this formation in Ancient Greek warfare, although the ancient Greek writers used it to also describe any massed infantry formation, regardless of its equipment. Arrian uses the term in his Array against the Alans when he refers to his legions. In Greek texts, the phalanx may be deployed for battle, on the march, or even camped, thus describing the mass of infantry or cavalry that would deploy in line during battle. They marched forward as one entity.
Philopoemen was a skilled Greek general and statesman, who was Achaean strategos on eight occasions.
The Battle of Sellasia took place during the summer of 222 BC between Macedon and the Achaean League, led by Antigonus III Doson, and Sparta under the command of King Cleomenes III. The battle was fought at Sellasia on the northern frontier of Laconia and ended in a Macedonian-Achaean victory.
The army of the Kingdom of Macedon was among the greatest military forces of the ancient world. It was created and made formidable by King Philip II of Macedon; previously the army of Macedon had been of little account in the politics of the Greek world, and Macedonia had been regarded as a second-rate power.
Agema, is a term to describe a military detachment, used for a special cause, such as guarding high valued targets. Due to its nature the Agema most probably comprises elite troops.
Warfare occurred throughout the history of Ancient Greece, from the Greek Dark Ages onward. The Greek 'Dark Age' drew to a close as a significant increase in population allowed urbanized culture to be restored, which led to the rise of the city-states (Poleis). These developments ushered in the period of Archaic Greece. They also restored the capability of organized warfare between these Poleis. The fractious nature of Ancient Greek society seems to have made continuous conflict on this larger scale inevitable.
The thorakitai were a type of soldier in Hellenistic armies similar to the thureophoroi. The literal translation of the term is "cuirassiers", which suggests that they may have worn a short Celtic mail shirt or possibly a linothorax.
Heavy infantry refers to heavily armed and armoured infantrymen trained to mount frontal assaults and/or anchor the defensive center of a battle line. This differentiates them from light infantry which are relatively mobile and lightly armoured skirmisher troops intended for screening, scouting, and other roles unsuited to the heavier soldiers.
The Hellenistic armies is the term applied to the armies of the successor kingdoms of the Hellenistic period, which emerged after the death of Alexander the Great. After his death, Alexander's huge empire was torn between his successors, the Diadochi. During the Wars of the Diadochi, the Macedonian army, as developed by Alexander and Philip II, gradually adopted new units and tactics, further developing Macedonian warfare and improving on the tactics used in the Classical era. The armies of the Diadochi bear few differences from that of Alexander, but during the era of the Epigonoi, the differences were obvious, favoring numbers over quality and weight over maneuverability. The limited availability of Greek conscripts in the east led to an increasing dependence on mercenary forces, whereas in the west, Hellenistic armies were continuously involved in wars, which soon exhausted local manpower, paving the way for Roman supremacy. The major Hellenistic states were the Seleucid Empire, Ptolemaic Egypt and the Antigonid kingdom (Macedonia). Smaller states included: Attalid Pergamum, Pontus, Epirus, the Achaean League, the Aetolian League, Syracuse, and other states.
The Cleomenean War was fought by Sparta and its ally, Elis, against the Achaean League and Macedon. The war ended in a Macedonian and Achaean victory.
The Leukaspides, may have made up one of the two probable corps of the Antigonid Macedonian phalanx in the Hellenistic period, with the Chalkaspides forming the other. However, this conclusion is contested, as the Thracians at Pydna also had white shields so the reference may simply refer to these and there may not have been a corps of "white shields" within the phalanx at all. If this theory is correct, then it is likely that the term "bronze shields" applied only to the phalanx part of the Antigonid army. Possible supporting evidence for this claim can be drawn from the fact that the latter term in the 1st century BC Mithridatic army of Pontus is used by Plutarch to define its phalanx component against the other infantry.
The Chalkaspides made up one of the two probable corps of the Antigonid-era Macedonian phalanx in the Hellenistic period, with the Leukaspides forming the other.
The Antigonid Macedonian army was the army that evolved from the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia in the period when it was ruled by the Antigonid dynasty from 276 BC to 168 BC. It was seen as one of the principal Hellenistic fighting forces until its ultimate defeat at Roman hands at the Battle of Pydna in 168 BC. However, there was a brief resurgence in 150-148 during the revolt of Andriscus, a supposed heir to Perseus.
Ancient Greek weapons and armor were primarily geared towards combat between individuals. Their primary technique was called the phalanx, a formation consisting of massed shield wall, which required heavy frontal armor and medium-ranged weapons such as spears. Soldiers were required to provide their own panoply, which could prove expensive, however the lack of any official peace-keeping force meant that most Greek citizens carried weapons as a matter of course for self-defence. Because individuals provided their own equipment, there was considerable diversity in arms and armour among the Hellenistic troops.