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"Unarmoured Spartan hoplites" Topic

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Phillius Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2016 7:59 p.m. PST

I am starting to prep my Spartan phalanx. Using an airbrush to put on the bronze helmets, armour, greaves.

My Spartiates are armoured in traditional style, but I have a bunch of unarmoured hoplites too who will either form rear ranks or separate units.

Should these lesser hoplites wear the same deep red tunic the Spartiates do, or would they be wearing a mix of home spun or similar? Also, what would be on their shields? The same as the Spartiates, or something else?


GurKhan13 Feb 2016 9:30 a.m. PST

That depends who you want them to represent.

Unarmoured hoplites start to become commoner in art in the late 5th century. Some are identifiably Peloponessian – link is identified as a Tegean from his inscription – and others are depicted as enemies on Athenian art and so are either Spartans or Spartan allies.

One theory is that all Spartiate hoplites abandoned body armour at this period, and that their allies copied them. Another is that most Spartiates probably kept armour but the younger age-groups, who would sometimes have been ordered to run out from the phalanx as ekdromoi, would have been unarmoured. If you go for either of these views, your unarmoured hoplites are Spartiates and would have worn the same red as any other Spartiate.

If you want them to represent allies or mercenaries, then they would be in separate units from the Spartiates, though it would still be possible for unarmoured allies to be the younger classes in a unit of mostly armoured allies. They still might have worn red; remember that Xenophon records the Ten Thousand all wearing crimson, and he also records Agesilaus' Spartan army as being all resplendent in crimson and bronze – Spartiates, freed helots, allies and mercenaries alike. This uniformity may have been a one-off for this particular army, or might have been standard in the 4th century.

GurKhan13 Feb 2016 9:40 a.m. PST

Oh, as for shields: Spartiates probably adopted the lambda blazon in the late 5th century, though there's one theory that references to lambas are some sort of elaborate pun and Spartan shields were actually plain bronze with no device. Again, if your unarmoured hoplites are Spartiates, and almost certainly if they are freed helots or perioikoi, they'd have used the same device as other Spartiates – either lambda or nothing. Allied cities from outside Lakonia may have had similar state blazons – we do hear of the Sikyonians withe sigmas on their shields, for instance, and Mantineians with tridents (though Mantineia was a rather reluctant ally). At

is a plate from one of Nick Sekunda's Ospreys which shows his interpretation of mercenaries in a Spartan army; one of the hoplites has his shield blazoned with K for Kyreian, being one of the ex-Ten Thousand mercenaries raised originally for Kyros the Younger, the survivors ending up in Spartan service; the other has a delta for Derkylidas, identifying another mercenary unit raisedd by that Spartan general. The use of such identifying letter-blazons for mercenary units is pretty hypothetical, though.

IanKHemm13 Feb 2016 3:30 p.m. PST

With my arm I've made all my Spartan mora fully armoured to identify them as full Spartiates (and so that my opponent can identify them). I've used th ones wearing the chitoniskos (tunic) for Helots.

This is quite simplistic but it's easy for playability.

Phillius Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2016 3:47 p.m. PST

Thanks guys.

I suspect I will be doing the same as Ian.

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