Military of Ancient Greece

Topics: Ancient Greece, Battle of Thermopylae, Sparta Pages: 9 (3502 words) Published: March 18, 2011
Throughout the course of history there have been many great and powerful civilizations. These civilizations made their way to power in many ways including military force, great wealth, and politics. These civilizations include the Assyrians, the Egyptians, the Romans, and in more recent times, the United States of America. Another civilization that is often mentioned to be a part of this prestigious group is that of the Ancient Greeks. The primary reason being the Ancient Greek’s military advancement made them superior to the other ancient armies of the time allowing their civilization to grow.

The Greeks went through many, many years of colonizing, invasions and other rough times before they were able to become the envy of the ancient world. Early Greek historians say that the first civilized Greeks were the Minoans that sailed from the island of Crete to settle other islands off the coast of the mainland that would later be called The Peloponnesian Peninsula. After about 600 years the Minoans were wiped out by the invasions of barbarians and tidal waves that destroyed much of their civilization. After that came the Mycenaean Age in which the Mycenaeans settled the Peloponnesian Peninsula. The Mycenaean’s created many warlike kingdoms that governed themselves. These were called city-states. These city-states would be heavily fortified because they were constantly at war with each other trying to gain more land for their own individual kingdoms. These kingdoms shared the same language and they also worshiped the same gods. About 600 years after the start of the Mycenaean Age, Greek barbarians from the north called the Dorian’s invaded causing the Greek Dark Age. During this Dark Age the great city-states and kingdoms of the early age were destroyed, writing and technology were lost, and there was constant warfare. After 300 years of this Dark Age that encompassed turmoil and confusion, Greek civilization was reestablished. This age was known as the Hellenistic Age and it is the age in which the Greeks really started their rise to power.

The ancient Greeks’ religion and beliefs greatly impacted the effectiveness of their armies in combat. They believed their gods and goddesses were very easily insulted and would take revenge against anyone who crossed them. This made the Greeks very bellicose or warlike because they would take any misunderstanding as an excuse to fight. They also never forgot a misdeed done to them because they thought that if they let the person get away with what ever they did to them then it would degrade their honor. This caused them to be in constant warfare and allowed them to gain much experience using their weapons, tactics, and defending themselves from other heavy infantry. Their beliefs also had a great impact on their actions. Some of the most highly regarded values of the Ancient Greeks were bravery, loyalty, respect and honor. Bravery made them daring and allowed them to complete maneuvers and actions that a lesser army would be too scared or hesitate to perform. Loyalty kept them on the battlefield and fighting to the last man. It also caused the Greeks to have a much smaller desertion rate then other armies of the time. Both of these together caused the Greeks to have a high morale and fight better. Respect and honor also influenced many of the battles, because these two beliefs were so important to the early ancient Greeks that most would rather fight face-to-face on agreed terms then to be sneaky and backstab people. During these times of war they would put people with the above mentioned qualities and that were well-respected into seats of power. (IBID) This goes into the second reason why the ancient Greek’s military was far superior to others of the time: Their great leaders.

The key to any great army, government, or society is their leaders. Without strong, noble leaders, everything would fall into disarray. A good example of this is the human body: without the head and the brain...
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