Thyreophoroi

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The thyreophoroi or thureophoroi (Greek : θυρεοφόροι; singular: thureophoros/thyreophoros, θυρεοφόρος) [1] 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 language language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

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 military service branch that specializes in combat by individuals on foot

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.

Soldier one who fights as part of an organized armed force

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.

Contents

Role

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. [2]

Skirmisher historical profession

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.

Peltast

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 Ancient Greek historian and philosopher

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.

Development

Fresco of an ancient Makedonian soldier ( thorakitai ) wearing chainmail armor and bearing a thureos shield, 3rd century BC Thueros affresco.jpg
Fresco of an ancient Makedonian soldier ( thorakitai ) wearing chainmail armor and bearing a thureos shield, 3rd century BC

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, [3] [4] 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.

Mercenary soldier who fights for hire

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.

Thyreos

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.

Achaean League Hellenistic-era confederation of Greek city states

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.

Illustrations

Thyreophoroi are frequently illustrated in grave paintings from Alexandria and Sidon. They can also be seen in terracottas from Seleucia on the Tigris.

Alexandria Metropolis in Egypt

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 City in South Governorate, Lebanon

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 clay-based unglazed or glazed ceramic

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.

See also

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<i>Thorakitai</i>

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References

  1. Also thyreaphoros: θυρεαφόρος . Liddell, Henry George ; Scott, Robert ; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project
  2. Plutarch, Life of Philopoemen, 9
  3. Plutarch, Life of Philopoemen, 9
  4. Pausanias, Description of Greece, On Arcadia, N'

Sources