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Clasped in armour and trained to perfection, Hoplites are the beating heart of Axial Age Greek and Etruscan armies. They are costly to maintain and slow, yet do what they do best - holding the line and grinding down less well-armoured armies to a fault.


The predominate Greek soldier of antiquity was the Hoplite, named after the great round shield he carried into battle. Hoplites wore helmets, leg armor, and chest armor, and carried a great long spear. They fought in dense columns with the spear points from several ranks projecting out from the formation. They thus presented a formidable block bristling with spears held above the shoulder. In battle they would close with the enemy as a pushing wall of shields, stabbing with their spears over the shields. Men behind would push those in front and stab over them. This fighting was face-to-face and terrifying, requiring high skill and discipline. Battles were usually short but deadly. Before the rise of the Hoplite, most army fighting had been more long-range archery and posturing. The Greeks made war personal and intense, and Hoplites dominated ancient battlefields for centuries.