The Western Way of War: Infantry Battle in Classical Greece

Front Cover
University of California Press, 2000 - History - 271 pages
3 Reviews
Second Edition“/I>
The Greeks of the classical age invented not only the central idea of Western politics--that the power of state should be guided by a majority of its citizens--but also the central act of Western warfare, the decisive infantry battle. Instead of ambush, skirmish, maneuver, or combat between individual heroes, the Greeks of the fifth century b.c. devised a ferocious, brief, and destructive head-on clash between armed men of all ages. In this bold, original study, Victor Davis Hanson shows how this brutal enterprise was dedicated to the same outcome as consensual government--an unequivocal, instant resolution to dispute.


The Western Way of War draws from an extraordinary range of sources--Greek poetry, drama, and vase painting, as well as historical records--to describe what actually took place on the battlefield. It is the first study to explore the actual mechanics of classical Greek battle from the vantage point of the infantryman--the brutal spear-thrusting, the difficulty of fighting in heavy bronze armor which made it hard to see, hear and move, and the fear. Hanson also discusses the physical condition and age of the men, weaponry, wounds, and morale.


This compelling account of what happened on the killing fields of the ancient Greeks ultimately shows that their style of armament and battle was contrived to minimize time and life lost by making the battle experience as decisive and appalling as possible. Linking this new style of fighting to the rise of constitutional government, Hanson raises new issues and questions old assumptions about the history of war. Second Edition“/I>
The Greeks of the classical age invented not only the central idea of Western politics--that the power of state should be guided by a majority of its citizens--but also the central act of Western warfare, the decisive infantry battle. Instead of ambush, skirmish, maneuver, or combat between individual heroes, the Greeks of the fifth century b.c. devised a ferocious, brief, and destructive head-on clash between armed men of all ages. In this bold, original study, Victor Davis Hanson shows how this brutal enterprise was dedicated to the same outcome as consensual government--an unequivocal, instant resolution to dispute.


The Western Way of War draws from an extraordinary range of sources--Greek poetry, drama, and vase painting, as well as historical records--to describe what actually took place on the battlefield. It is the first study to explore the actual mechanics of classical Greek battle from the vantage point of the infantryman--the brutal spear-thrusting, the difficulty of fighting in heavy bronze armor which made it hard to see, hear and move, and the fear. Hanson also discusses the physical condition and age of the men, weaponry, wounds, and morale.


This compelling account of what happened on the killing fields of the ancient Greeks ultimately shows that their style of armament and battle was contrived to minimize time and life lost by making the battle experience as decisive and appalling as possible. Linking this new style of fighting to the rise of constitutional government, Hanson raises new issues and questions old assumptions about the history of war.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Steve.Bivans - LibraryThing

Hanson attempts to reconstruct the ‘face of battle’ from the perspective of the citizen soldiers of Greece during the period from the Seventh to the Fifth Centuries, BC. Hanson argues that the focus ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - gmicksmith - LibraryThing

This is an outstanding book on ancient Greek warfare and one of the most important books ever written on war. Read full review

Contents

Ordinary Things Ordinary People
3
A Western Way of War
9
Not Strategy Not Tactics
19
The Hoplite and His Phalanx War in an Agricultural Society
27
Sources of Inquiry
40
The Burden of Hoplite Arms and Armor
55
The Old Men
89
The Dread of Massed Attack
96
Tears and Gaps
160
The Push and Collapse
171
Confusion Misdirection and Mob Violence
185
The Killing Field
197
The Wounded
210
Epilogue
219
Abbreviations of Ancient Authors and Their Works Used in This Book
229
Select Bibliography
231

A Soldiers General
107
Unit Spirit and Morale The Origins of the Regimental System
117
Drink
126
The Charge
135
A Collision of Men
152
Supplementary Bibliography
235
Index
251
Index Locorum
261
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2000)

Victor Davis Hanson is Professor of Classics at California State University, Fresno, and author of Warfare and Agriculture in Classical Greece (revised edition, California 1998), The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization (revised edition, California 1999), and Fields without Dreams: Defending the Agrarian Idea (1996).

Bibliographic information