Book Review: Combined Arms Warfare in Ancient Greece: From Homer to Alexander the Great and his Successors


by Graham Wrightson

New York: Routledge, 2019. Pp. xiv, 248. Illus., diagr., notes, biblio., indices. $155.00. ISBN: 1138574597

The Evolution of Greek Military Institutions and Tactics

Prof. Wrightson (South Dakota State) gives us a summary of the evolution of Greek warfare from the Bronze Age through the height of the wars of the Successors, during which equipment and tactics evolved from those of the Homeric epic the hoplite era, to the phalanx, and then the development of combined arms that characterized the armies of Philip and Alexander the Great of Macedon, and finally the armies of the Successors, which arguably reached perfection at the battle of Ipsus in 301 BC.

Wrightson opens with an explanation of his purpose and methodology. He offers some excellent observations on the value of the available evidence, and a discussion of combined arms within the framework of the times.

Wrightson then gives us three sections, each covering a particular period.

  • The rise of hoplite warfare through the Persian Wars, a period of relatively limited combined arms combat.
  • The development of a more complex mix of troops from the Peloponnesian War through the era of the Theban hegemony.
  • The era of “Macedon and Integrated Warfare”, from the rise of the “Macedonian” phalanx and heavy cavalry, through the age of the Successors, who integrated the phalanx, light infantry, heavy cavalry, and even elephants

In each section Wrightson uses examples from several battles to illustrate the ways in which weapons and tactics were changing. He also draws comparisons with the military equipment and practice of other peoples, notably the Persians, who figure importantly in the evolution of Greek warfare, and the Romans, who actually come on the scene rather later.

A volume in the Routledge series “Monographs in Classical Studies”, Combined Arms Warfare in Ancient Greece is a valuable read for those interested in Greek warfare, and war in antiquity in general.


Note: Combined Arms Warfare in Ancient Greece is also available in several e-editions.

StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium



Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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