Focus on Wounds in War: “Alexander the Great and His Many Battle Injuries”

The primary sources emphasize Alexander III of Macedon’s (“the Great” r.336-323 BCE) bravery in combat, and we know from the descriptions of these engagements, mostly from his best biographers, the Greek historian Arrian (c.86-c.160) and the Roman historians Diodorus Siculus (first century BCE), Quintus Curtius Rufus (first century CE), that the Macedonian king preferred active command over remote (or removed) command. In active command, the commanding general participates in battle, leading…

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4 Replies · Reply by Brian Todd Carey May 24
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Focus on Naval Warfare: “Greek Triremes at War in the Hellenic Era”

The “Age of the Trireme” parallels Greece’s Hellenic era (c.500-c.338 BCE), and its use as the primary capital ship of both Greece and the major naval powers of the Mediterranean corresponds to this roughly 170 year time span.  Although most closely associated with Athens, nearly all Greek city states or poleis with access to the sea constructed triremes to defend local waters and to participate in allied naval engagements, first against the invading Persians during the Persian Wars (499-449…

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Focus on Naval Warfare: “Anatomy of a Seaborne Predator: The Greek Trireme”

The earliest type of Iron Age Greek warship, the simple single-masted pentekontor with twenty-five oarsmen on each side was supplanted first by the slightly larger bireme (with two banks for oars) and finally in the six century BCE by the more complex trireme, which remained the standard war galley throughout the Hellenic era (c.500-338 BCE).  Light in structure, undecked, and slim in comparison with contemporary merchant ships, the famous Greek trireme that formed the backbone of Aegean fleets…

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3 Replies · Reply by Randy Gann Mar 15
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Focus on Command: “Leonidas and the Stand of the 300” 

King Leonidas of Sparta (r.489-480 BCE) and the “Stand of the 300” holds a special place in the annals of Western Civilization. At the end of the second decade of the Persian Wars (499-449 BCE) Leonidas stood with a select group of fellow Spartans hoplites and allied Greeks against the largest army ever assembled in Europe at this time in history, a multinational Persian host led by the Great King Xerxes (r.486-465) bent on adding the Greek peoples and their Aegean poleis or city states to the…

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2 Replies · Reply by Brian Todd Carey Jan 31
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Focus on Military Training: “The Spartan Agoge”

The classical period in Western civilization produced numerous military societies, but perhaps no other culture is more closely associated with martial excellence than the Spartans.  This excellence was by design; a product of a comprehensive and often brutal primary education beginning at the age of seven and continuing until young adulthood. Known as the Agoge (literally “to raise” in Greek), Spartan military education produce the finest hoplites in the Greek world for generations, capable of…

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2 Replies · Reply by Brian Todd Carey Dec 22, 2023
Views: 567

Focus on Infantry: “Greek Infantry Battle: Different Interpretations of how Hoplites Engaged in Combat (Othismos)

By the middle of the seventh century BCE, a new style of warfare appeared in Greece requiring a warrior (hoplite, named after his large round shield or hoplon) to fight in close-order, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with his comrades in a battle square. This battle square, called a phalanx, distinguished itself from other heavy infantry formations in the ancient and classical world in that it would evolve into a comparatively articulated weapon system capable of some offensive tactical mobility.…

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Focus on Siegecraft: “The Evolution of Siege Weapons and Tactics in Ancient and Classical Warfare c.3100 BCE-c.500 CE.”

The siege weapons and tactics collectively referred to as siegecraft, used in the Ancient and Classical eras fall into numerous categories, from the very simple to the complex, depending on the resources of the besieging army and the defensive qualities of the fortification sieged.  For the first few thousand years of human civilization the construction of high walled cities in Bronze Age Mesopotamia, Egypt, Anatolia, and Greece was usually a sufficient deterrent against attack as long as the…

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Focus on Auxiliaries: “Thracian Peltasts, Rhodian and Balearic Slingers, and Cretan Archers serving in Classical Mediterranean Armies.”

Classical warfare placed a premium on the clash of heavy infantry on the battlefield, however, Greek, Carthaginian, and Roman generals also utilized forms of light infantry for special roles on before, during, and after the battle. Known as skirmishers, these lightly armored soldiers use their expertise with missile weapons, specifically javelins, slings and shot, and bows and arrows, to forage for the army on campaign, set up cordons during encampment, screen heavy infantry while they deployed…

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Focus on Military Organization: “The Rise of the Achaemenid Persian Army”

The Achaemenid Persian army that faced the Greeks in the Persian Wars (499-449 BCE) was the product of a half century of evolution as the House of Achaemenes expanded into new territories and merged the fighting styles and martial technologies of conquered peoples into its army. Cyrus the Great’s (r.559-530 BCE) army was constituted much differently than that of Persian host which accompanied the Great Persian king Darius I (r.522-486 BCE) on his Punitive Expedition against the Greeks in 490…

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Focus on Strategy: “Master of Grand Strategy: Cyrus the Great and Rapid Rise of Persia”

The Achaemenid Persians were Indo-European speakers who migrated with the Medes (also Indo-Europeans) as horse clans into what is now Iran in the ninth century BCE. Medes formed a kingdom around 700 BCE and subjugated Persians as vassals around c.650. In 559 Cyrus II (r.559-529 BCE) became Great King (emperor) of the Persians and began to conquer and add his neighbor’s troops to his own army. He conquered the Medes (550 BCE), the Lydians (547), and the Chaldeans (539), finally dying in 530 on…

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