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 was fielded at one time by the
Macedonians. 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. Armies which 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 used on ships to announce the nearness of the
enemy. When the actual battle was joined the paian turned
into a war cry. The Spartans often accompanied the paian
with a flute or several flutes. The Spartan King would lead
the paian as well. The use of the paian for attack appears to
have Dorian roots. The Spartans are usually the ones
associated with the use of a paian. Thucydides mentions that
when the Dorians, from other city-states, started a paian
when they were serving in an Athenian army, fear was struck
into the hearts of the Athenians.
Finally the sizes of the armies were very different from what
we are accustomed to today. We are familiar with armies of
tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions.
The entire Spartan army was estimated to be under five
thousand men. In the beginning, Greek armies showed
almost no pay structure. This was do to the fact that military
participation was seen as a man\'s duty to his city-state or as
a form of taxation. Each man was required to provide his
own armor for battle. There for only those who could afford
armor and weapons could be in the army. Since most men
could not afford armor, most could not participate. Those
who could afford to participate had