Stratos, Stratevma, (στρατός, στράτευμα). A body of men organized and armed for the defence of the State; an army.
The most military people among the Greeks were the Spartans, whose whole life was spent in the practice of martial exercises, so that even the meals shared in common by all free Spartan citizens (συσσιτία) were arranged with reference to military service. (See Syssitia.) With them the duty of actual service began with the twentieth year, and did not end until their capacity for that service ceased to exist. After their sixtieth year, however, all Spartan soldiers were exempt from foreign duty. In the Lacedaemonian army, the heavy-armed troops (ὁπλῖται) were originally all citizens, but as early as the Persian Wars, the perioechi served side by side with the native Spartans, though in separate divisions (λόχοι). The Helots who accompanied the troops served as attendants (ὑπασπισταί) to the hoplites, and as light-armed troops in battle. (See Helotae; Hypaspistae.) A picked body of men (ἱππεῖς) was formed from among the hoplites, and served as a special body-guard to the kings. They were 300 in number, and were all active, powerful young men under thirty years of age, selected and commanded by three officers, known as ἱππαγρέται. The ἱππεῖς, as the name implies, must have been originally horsemen, but were no longer so in the time of the Persian Wars ( Herod.viii. 124). A corps of light infantry was formed in the district of Sciritis, and was hence called Sciritae, the especial duty assigned to them being the outpost service of the camp, reconnoitring on the march, and in battle the support of the left wing. From the end of the fifth century B.C., the Spartan army was divided into six morae (μόραι), each commanded by a πολέμαρχος ( Xen. Lac.11. 4). As the number of Spartan citizens decreased, these ultimately composed merely the cadre of the mora, which were brought up to their full complement by the addition of perioechi; though the officers were always Spartans, as were the members of the royal staff. Each mora was divided into four (or five) companies (λόχοι). The cavalry played only an unimportant part in the Spartan army. (See Hippeis.) In time of war the ephors (see Ephori) commanded the veteran troops. In early times the kings divided the supreme command between them, but after B.C. 512, only one commanded, unless more than one general was needed from the circumstances of the case. The Spartans maintained a fleet in which Helots served as marines and oarsmen. In cases of great necessity these were sometimes transferred to the army to serve as hoplites, in which case they received their freedom, and were then known as νεοδαμώδεις. The fleet was commanded by ναύαρχοι, or admirals.
At Athens every freeborn man was liable to military service, the only exceptions being the holders of public offices, and, in early times, the very lowest class of citizens. Every youth on reaching his eighteenth year (ἔφηβος) served for ten years, most frequently on the frontier, during which time his military education was completed, though he was then liable to serve at any time up to his sixtieth year. In time of war the Assembly fixed the number of men required for duty: in extreme cases a levée en masse (πανστρατιά) was resorted to. Ten generals (στρατηγοί) were elected by the people annually, and it was their duty to levy the troops and organize them in such a way that the men of each tribe (φυλή) were commanded by the same officer (φύλαρχοι). These phylarchs, as well as the taxiarchs (ταξίαρχοι), or captains of companies, were elected by the people. This levy served as hoplites, while the men of the lowest class (θῆτες) were sometimes used as light-armed troops (πελτάσται), and sometimes with the fleet. As the age of military service extended from the eighteenth to the sixtieth year, there were thus forty-two classes of age, and every man was mustered in a list (κατάλογος) under the name of the Archon Eponymus under whom he first reached the military age (Schömann, Antiq. Greece, Eng. trans. p. 423; but cf. Aristotle, Polit. Ath. 53, with Kenyon's note). The men of the first two classes who served on the frontier were called περίπολοι. After the twentieth year they could be sent on foreign service. The army contained ten battalions (τάξεις), sometimes called φυλαί, of which the subdivisions were called λόχοι. The troops were sometimes equipped with the aid of the resident aliens (μέτοιχοι) of Attica, and in earlier times by the contingents contributed by the allies. From the time of Pericles on, the cavalry received pay amounting to some four obols a day, with an allowance for the horseman's attendant. On the cavalry, see Hippeis.
In most of the other Greek States the hoplites, consisting of wealthy citizens, formed the main strength of the army, and generally helped to turn the scale in engagements in which the light-armed troops and the cavalry played a subordinate part. They fought in the φάλαγξ (q. v.), in closely serried lines eight deep. The flower of the troops were stationed on the right wing as the post of honour, to advance to meet the foe amid the singing of the paean. When at a distance of about 200 yards, at the signal of a trumpet, they raised the battle-cry (ἀλαλά) and charged either at a run or at quick step. It was only the Spartans who slowly advanced at an even pace and to the sound of flutes. A request for permission to bury the dead was the formal admission of defeat. The enduring token of victory was a trophy composed of the armour captured from the defeated side. It was usual to join battle on ground which was suitable for the phalanx. The Peloponnesian War was the means of introducing many innovations, including the formation of a regular force of light infantry, called πελτασταί (q. v.). Still more decisive in the transformation of the general system of Greek warfare was the famous retreat of the Ten Thousand, the first important mercenary army among the Greeks which tried to make the phalanx of hoplites suit the ground better, and to utilize at the same time the light infantry, or peltasts, and the γυμνῆτες (spearmen, bowmen, and slingers). Iphicrates, the first distinguished general of mercenary troops, introduced a lighter equipment by substituting a small πέλτη for the heavy shield, adopting a longer sword and spear, lighter shoes, and a linen corslet.
In the course of the fourth century B.C. the army composed of civilians gave way more and more to the mercenary army, which, by its intimate knowledge of the use of its weapons, gained an immense advantage in actual war. An important novelty was the oblique battle-order, the discovery of Epaminondas . In this the great mass and strength of the hoplites was drawn up in considerable depth on one of the two wings, without any expansion of the front. The hoplites could thus make a vigorous attack on the centre of the enemy's wing, while the true centre and the other wing of the assailants were held in reserve, with a view to advancing later to crush the enemy.
The Macedonian method of warfare, invented by King Philip II. and his son Alexander the Great, was based upon the Greek military organization adapted to Macedonian requirements. For this purpose, that organization was duly developed, and the different parts of the army, the infantry and cavalry, light and heavy-armed troops, military levies, allies and mercenary troops, were blended together into a far freer and more effective system than the Greeks ever attained in their art of war. In point of numbers the strongest component part of the Macedonian army, as elsewhere, was the heavy and light infantry. The former consisted of the πεζέταιροι, a body of Macedonians of free but not noble origin, corresponding to the Greek hoplites, though not so heavily armed. Like the hoplites, they fought in a phalanx, but this was generally deeper than theirs, being eight and afterwards sixteen men deep. They formed six τάξεις, corresponding to the number of the districts of Macedonia, each of which was represented by one τάξις. (See further under Phalanx.) The ὑπασπισταί were the equivalent of the Hellenic peltasts, and were a standing corps of 3000 men. Besides these there were strong contingents of other kinds of light infantry, especially spearmen and archers. While in the Greek armies the number of the cavalry had always been small, they formed nearly one-sixth of the whole army which Alexander took with him on his Asiatic expedition, and consisted of an equal number of light and heavy cavalry. (See further under Hippeis.) The central point in the great battles of Alexander was the phalanx; on the right of this were placed the ὑπασπισταί, the heavy and light Macedonian cavalry, the spearmen, and archers; on the left, the Thracian peltasts, the Hellenic contingent of cavalry, with the Thessalian cavalry, and light troops, horsemen, and archers. The two wings were reckoned from the centre of the phalanx, the right being usually reserved for the attack, and led by the king. The light troops began the attack, which was supported by the heavy Macedonian cavalry, followed by the ὑπασπισταί. The heavy infantry came up in detachments to keep the line unbroken, and formed an oblique battle-array. Thus the main attack was made by the heavy cavalry, and no longer, as with the other Greeks, by the phalanx. On the contrary, the phalanx formed the solid centre of the whole army —a centre which it was impossible for the enemy to break, and which was itself irresistible in attack. Under the successors of Alexander, the phalanx was, however, regarded as strengthening the whole army and lengthening the formation, rather than as a factor of offensive operations. The battle was decided by the wings, which were composed of cavalry—one wing being destined for the attack while the other remained on the defensive. The light infantry and the elephants which were now brought into use were brought to bear as occasion demanded, but were chiefly used in masking the preparatory movements of the attacking wing, very much, in fact, as cavalry by the Germans.
During the third century B.C., the cavalry declined in importance and hence in numbers, while the heavy-armed infantry, with the formidable σάρισσα, twenty-four feet long, became more and more effective. The phalanx was now used in attacking, and its onset usually decided the battle. In that century, mercenary armies became very common, and at last Greek military science yielded to that of the Romans mainly because the tactics of the phalanx were ill-suited to a hand-to-hand engagement.
Medieval Greece / Byzantine Empire
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