Book Review: A Storm of Spears: Understanding the Greek Hoplite in Action

Archives

by Christopher Matthew

Barnsley, Eng.: Pen & Sword / Philadelphia: Casemate, 2012. Pp. xxii, 314. Illus., diagr., tables, notes, biblio., index. $32.95. ISBN: 161200119X

How did the Hoplite fight?

A thoughtful introduction by Richard A. Gabriel pointing out the numerous problems of doing ancient military history opens A Storm of Spears.  The book is based on Matthew’s 2009 doctoral dissertation, and is an excellent example of how the use of traditional textual sources and analysis of art and archaeological finds can be supplemented by experimental archaeology to provide ground breaking insights into ancient cultures. 

Matthew combines a mastery of the relevant ancient documents and material remains with hands-on experience in fabricating, wearing, and using hoplite arms and armor to totally reshape our understanding of how the hoplite fought.  Using numerous diagrams, tables, and photographs, Matthew shows how re-enacting can help understand often hazy or incomplete ancient texts.  He addresses questions such as why was the hoplon, the characteristic shield of the hoplite, circular rather than square, what was “drill” like, how did one manage to wear the full hoplite panoply, how did tactical formations work, and what were the actual mechanics of engaging in combat, all of which taken together help explain how hoplite battles unfolded. 

A Storm of Spears is indispensable reading for anyone interested in ancient warfare.      

---///--- 
Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   


Buy it at Amazon.com




X

ad
0
30

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 30 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close