Spartan Warfare Essay

This essay has a total of 1240 words and 5 pages.

Spartan Warfare



Spartan Warfare
In the 7th Century BC a new era of warfare strategy evolved. Before this new strategy,
foot soldiers known as hoplites engaged in battle in the form of one mob for each army
which on the command of their generals runs at each other and proceeds to hack blindly at
the enemy with little to no direction other then to kill the enemy in front of them. This
proved to be very messy and the tide of battle depended mostly on emotion and size of an
army. In the name of strategy and organization, the phalanx was developed. A phalanx is
simply defined as a line formation with its width significantly larger then its depth. The
depth of the phalanx is a variable which some suggest was decided by the army itself
rather then by the leaders of the army. The smallest depth appears to have been that of
one man deep. However this was a unique occurrence which is widely believed to be
fictitious. The largest depth is that of 120 men deep, which the Macedonians fielded at
one time. On average, the depth of the phalanx appears to be about eight men deep. During
the time of Alexander the Great, the phalanx was believed to be eight men deep, but some
argue that it evolved into a sixteen man deep phalanx. The Spartans purposely varied the
depth of their phalanx so to confuse the enemy about the number of soldiers fielded. The
phalanx proved to be a very valuable weapon for the military at that time. The armies that
did not adapt to the phalanx formation were quickly slaughtered. The use of the phalanx
allowed the Greeks to win the Persian Wars.

Many historians believe that the development of the phalanx led directly to social changes
occurring throughout Greece during the time of the phalanx's implementation. The phalanx
formation allowed men to participate in the military who otherwise could not have because
a much smaller investment in weapons and armor was needed to participate in the phalanx.
The combined increase in the number of those participating in the army and the increase in
importance of the common foot soldier lead to the common man being increasingly treated
better by the ruling classes. Eventually this may have led to the invention of democracy.
The most noticeable difference between ancient Greek and modern warfare is the amount of
"intelligence" information. Today our military maneuvers are almost exclusively reliant on
information we get from satellites, scouts, or spies in the opposition. The ancient Greeks
totally ignored this area of military strategy. Countless tales of armies meeting each
other by chance or armies passing within miles of each other without knowledge of the
other. Intelligence information seemed to have come by chance for the ancient Greeks
rather then by conscious effort.

Surprise is also an element of war which in modern times is taken very seriously and which
was taken very lightly in ancient Greece. In fact there is evidence that ancient Greek
soldiers raised their voices in the form of a marching song when they were told that an
enemy was near and may be caught unprepared. This war song, called a paian, was also used
to promote organization in the marching army so that all soldiers would march with an even
step. In addition, the paian was used to promote courage and bravery. A paian was also
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