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Hoplite (Ancient Greek: ὁπλίτης) was an ancient Greek heavily armed infantry soldier, whose primary weapon was a long spear. The word derives from the name of the heavy round shield, hoplon (Ancient Greek: ὅπλον).

It should be noted that hoplites underwent significant changes in their equipment over the course of several centuries. Additionally, their equipment varied depending on their national affiliation. Hoplites were used in phalanxes by the Greeks, Macedonians, Carthaginians, Etruscans, Romans, and others. It is presumed that they first appeared in the Argos army. Hoplites served in the armies of Greek city-states and were essentially citizen-soldiers since it was the duty of a citizen of any free polis to serve in the military. Therefore, any gathering of citizens was essentially a gathering of soldiers—those currently serving or veterans. Hoplites were heavily armed Greek infantrymen. After the reforms of Solon in Athens, representatives of the most numerous class, the zeugitai, were required to serve in war equipped as hoplites. It is likely that in other Greek poleis, citizens with moderate wealth became hoplites during times of war, as it was their own responsibility to provide themselves with arms and equipment.

Hoplites dominated the battlefield for approximately four centuries, from the beginning of the 7th century BCE until the reign of Philip II (father of Alexander the Great). Hoplites formed the core of the classical phalanx.

Greek Hoplites. Black-figure painting on a vase. 7th century BC
Image of the phalanx on the Proto-Corinthian olpa. Museum of Etruscan Civilization, Rome. Around 630 BC.
Achilles and Troilus. Black-figure Attic vase from the "Tyrrhenian group", attributed to the so-called master of Prometheus. Archaeological Museum, Florence, 575-550 BC


The equipment of a hoplite consisted of:

Macedonian Hoplite, reconstruction


During the reenactmention of a hoplite, it is necessary to carefully select the era and region. Hoplites among the Greeks, Macedonians, and Etruscans differ significantly. The greatest attention should be paid to the choice of the helmet, which underwent the most significant changes over the time of the phalanx's existence in ancient armies. The next items that are most sensitive to the period are the armor and secondary weapons, such as the sword.

Related topics

Ancient Greece, Pileus, Linothorax, Bronze cuirass, Subarmalis, Spear, Hoplon, Tunic, Belt, Phalanx


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Greek bas-relief with hoplite. Around 490 BC.
Battle between a Spartan and an Athenian. V century BC
Fresco with Etruscan warriors. National Archaeological Museum, Florence. Around 360 BC.

Entrance to the tomb of Agios Athanasios, late 4th century BC