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An aspis (Ancient Greek Ασπις, IPA [aspis]) is the generic term for the word shield. The aspis, which is carried by Greek infantry (hoplites) of various periods, It is referred as hoplon (Οπλον, [hoplon]). Literally, the word hoplon means:

το όπλο - to Hoplo (n) : first meaning was: TOOL, INSTRUMENT; later meaning was the tool of war = weapon

τα όπλα - ta Hopla (pl.) : tools of war = mainly referred to the protective armaments but could also include all the weapons.

το όπλον - to Hoplon : (later generic use) tool of war, including all kind of weapons

το όπλον - to Hoplon : (early principal meaning) the type of shield that the heavy Greek infantry used to carry in the Hoplite phalanx (Οπλιτική Φάλαγξ) , the Hoplite (Οπλίτης) took his name from his shield (Οπλον).

Reference source(in latin characters): Diodorus Siculus, Library The Seventeenth Book of Diodorus: in Two Parts 17.21.2

[2] ho de kaiper pollois kai megalois kindunois sunekhomenos homôs ouk enikato tois plêthesi tôn polemiôn, alla duo men ekhôn eis ton thôraka plêgas, mian de eis to kranos, treis d' eis to kathairethen hoplon ek tou neô tês Athênas homôs ouk enedidou, alla tôi parastêmati tês psukhês epairomenos pantos deinou katexanistato.


[2] But exposed as he was to many and fierce attacks he nevertheless was not overborne by the numbers of the foe. Though he took two blows on the breastplate, one on the helmet,and three on the shield which he had brought from the temple of Athena, he still did not give in, but borne up by an exaltation of spirit surmounted every danger.

This text is based on the following book(s): Diodorus Siculus. Diodorus of Sicily in Twelve Volumes with an English Translation by C. H. Oldfather. Vol. 4-8. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press; London: William Heinemann, Ltd. 1989.


A hoplon shield was a deeply-dished shield made of wood. Often, particularly later on, it was covered in a thin layer of bronze. In some periods, the convention was to decorate the aspis; in others, it was usually left plain. Probably the most famous aspis decoration is that of the Spartans: a red capital lambda (Λ). Hoplites of Athens commonly used the Little Owl, and Thebes used a sphinx

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