Authors: Christian Cameron
Also by Christian Cameron
THE THE SERIES
Tyrant: Storm of Arrows
Tyrant: Funeral Games
Tyrant: King of the Bosporus
THE KILLER OF MEN SERIES
Killer of Men
Washington and Caesar
God of War
Some say an army of horsemen, or infantry,
A fleet of ships is the fairest thing
On the face of the black earth, but I say
It’s what one loves.
I am an
Greek scholar. My definitions are my own, but taken from the LSJ or Routeledge’s
Handbook of Greek Mythology
. On some military issues I have the temerity to disagree with the received wisdom on the subject. Also check my website at
for more information and some helpful pictures.
A Scythian short sword or long knife, also sometimes carried by Medes and Persians.
The ‘men’s room’ of a proper Greek house – where men have symposia. recent research has cast real doubt as to the sexual
exclusivity of the room, but the name sticks.
The Chariot Warriors. in many towns, towns that hadn’t used chariots in warfare for centuries, the
were the elite three
hundred or so. in Athens, they competed in special events; in Thebes, they may have been the forerunners of the Sacred Band.
A city’s senior official or, in some cases, one of three or four. A magnate.
The Greek hoplite’s shield (which is not called a hoplon!). The
is about a yard in diameter, is deeply dished (up to six inches
deep) and should weigh between eight and sixteen pounds.
An aristocratic title from a bygone era (at least in 500
) that means ‘king’ or ‘lord’.
A warship rowed by two tiers of oars, as opposed to a
, which has three tiers.
The standard tunic for most men, made by taking a single continuous piece of cloth and folding it in half, pinning the shoulders and open side. Can be
made quite fitted by means of pleating. often made of very fine quality material – usually wool, sometimes linen, especially in the upper classes. A full
length for men and women.
, usually just longer than modesty demanded – or not as long as modern modesty would demand! Worn by warriors and
farmers, often heavily bloused and very full by warriors to pad their armour. Usually wool.
A short cloak made from a rectangle of cloth roughly 60 by 90 inches – could also be worn as a
if folded and pinned a different
way. or slept under as a blanket.
, the best
were made of bronze, mostly of the so-called ‘bell’
variety. A few muscle
appear at the end of this period, gaining popularity into the 450s. Another style is the ‘white’
, seen to appear just as the Persian Wars begin
– reenactors call this the ‘Tube and Yoke’
, and some people call it (erroneously) the
. Some of them may have been made of linen
– we’ll never know – but the likelier material is Athenian leather, which was often tanned and finished with alum, thus being bright white. Yet another style was a tube and
yoke of scale, which you can see the author wearing on his website. A scale
would have been the most expensive of all, and probably provided the best protection.
Cithaeron, the mountain that towered over Plataea, was the site of a remarkable fire-festival, the
, which was celebrated by the
Plataeans on the summit of the mountain. in the usual ceremony, as mounted by the Plataeans in every seventh year, a wooden idol (
) would be dressed in bridal robes and
dragged on an ox-cart from Plataea to the top of the mountain, where it would be burned after appropriate rituals. or, in the
, which were celebrated every forty-nine
from different Boeotian towns would be burned on a large wooden pyre heaped with brushwood, together with a cow and a bull that were sacrificed to Zeus and
hera. This huge pyre on the mountain top must have provided a most impressive spectacle; Pausanias remarks that he knew of no other flame that rose as high or could be seen from so far.
The cultic legend that was offered to account for the festival ran as follows. When hera had once quarrelled with Zeus, as she often did, she had withdrawn to her childhood home of
euboea and had refused every attempt at reconciliation. So Zeus sought the advice of the wisest man on earth, Cithaeron (the eponym of the mountain), who ruled at Plataea in the earliest
times. Cithaeron advised him to make a wooden image of a woman, to veil it in the manner of a bride, and then to have it drawn along in an ox-cart after spreading the rumour that he was
planning to marry the nymph Plataea, a daughter of the river god Asopus. When hera rushed to the scene and tore away the veils, she was so relieved to find a wooden effigy rather than the
expected bride that she at last consented to be reconciled with Zeus. (Routledge
Handbook of Greek Mythology
, pp. 137–8)
Literally a spirit, the
of combat might be adrenaline, and the
of philosophy might simply be native intelligence.
Suffice it to say that very intelligent men – like Socrates – believed that god- sent spirits could infuse a man and influence his actions.
Literally digits or fingers, in common talk ‘inches’ in the system of measurement. Systems differed from city to city. I have taken the
liberty of using just the Athenian units.
Lady. A term of formal address.
A complex naval tac- tic about which some debate remains. in this book, the
, or through stroke, is commenced with an attack by
the ramming ship’s bow (picture the two ships approaching bow to bow or head on) and cathead on the enemy oars. oars were the most vulnerable part of a fighting ship, something very
difficult to imagine unless you’ve rowed in a big boat and understand how lethal your own oars can be – to you! After the attacker crushes the enemy’s oars, he passes, flank
to flank, and then turns when astern, coming up easily (the defender is almost dead in the water) and ramming the enemy under the stern or counter as desired.
A spear, about ten feet long, with a bronze butt-spike.
A young, free man of property. A young man in training to be a
. Usually performing service to his city and, in ancient terms, at one
of the two peaks of male beauty.
The ‘beloved’ in a same-sex pair in ancient Greece. Usually younger, about seventeen. This is a complex, almost dangerous subject in
the modern world – were these pair-bonds about sex, or chivalric love, or just a ‘brotherhood’ of warriors? I suspect there were elements of all three. And to write about
this period without discussing the
bond would, I fear, be like putting all the warriors in steel armour instead of bronze . . .
The ‘lover’ in a same-sex pair bond – the older man, a tried warrior, twenty-five to thirty years old.
Literally ‘well-spirited’. A feeling of extreme joy.
The porch of the women’s quarters – in some cases, any porch over a farm’s central courtyard.
The ‘race of slaves’ of Ancient Sparta – the conquered peoples who lived with the Spartiates and did all of their work so that they
could concentrate entirely on making war and more Spartans.
Literally a ‘female companion’. In ancient Athens, a
was a courtesan, a highly skilled woman who provided sexual
companionship as well as fashion, political advice and music.
A very large piece of rich, often embroidered wool, worn as an outer garment by wealthy citizen women or as a sole garment by older men, especially
those in authority.
A Greek upper-class warrior. Possession of a heavy spear, a helmet and an
(see above) and income above the marginal lowest free class
were all required to serve as a
. Although much is made of the ‘citizen soldier’ of ancient Greece, it would be fairer to compare
knights than to roman legionnaires or modern national Guardsmen. Poorer citizens did serve, and sometimes as
or marines, but in general, the front ranks were the preserve
of upper-class men who could afford the best training and the essential armour.
race, or race in armour. Two
on your shoulder, a helmet and greaves in the early
runs. I’ve run this race in armour. It is no picnic.
contest, or sparring match. Again, there is enormous debate as to when
came into existence and how much
received. one thing that they didn’t do is drill like modern soldiers – there’s no mention of it in all of Greek literature. However, they
had highly evolved martial arts (see
) and it is almost certain that
was a term that referred to ‘the martial art of fighting when fully
equipped as a
A participant in
Literally ‘under the shield’. A squire or military servant – by the time of Arimnestos, the
was usually a
younger man of the same class as the
A stringed instrument of some complexity, with a hollow body as a soundboard.
The heavy, back-curved sabre of the Greeks. Like a longer, heavier modern kukri or Gurkha knife.
A maiden or daughter.
A wide, shallow, handled bowl for drinking wine.
Literally ‘word’. in pre-Socratic Greek philosophy the word is everything – the power beyond the gods.
A six to seven foot throwing spear, also used for hunting. A
might carry a pair of
, or a single, longer and
A heavy sword or long knife.
The ‘raving ones’ – ecstatic female followers of Dionysus.
A woman’s breast. A
cup is shaped like a woman’s breast with a rattle in the nipple – so when you drink, you
lick the nipple and the rattle shows that you emptied the cup. I’ll leave the rest to imagination . . .
A grain measure. Very roughly – 35 to 100 pounds
A style of building with a roofed porch.
The household – all the family and all the slaves, and sometimes the animals and the farmland itself.
Whatever spread, dip or accompaniment an ancient Greek had with bread.
The exercise sands of the gymnasium.
The military martial art of the ancient Greeks – an unarmed combat system that bears more than a passing resemblance to modern MMA
techniques, with a series of carefully structured blows and domination holds that is, by modern standards, very advanced. Also the basis of the Greek sword and spear-based martial arts. Kicking, punching, wrestling, grappling, on the
ground and standing, were all permitted.
A short over-fold of cloth that women could wear as a hood or to cover the breasts.
The full military potential of a town; the actual, formed body of men before a battle (all of the smaller groups formed together made a
). in this period, it would be a mistake to imagine a carefully drilled military machine.
A file-leader – an officer commanding the four to sixteen men standing behind him in the
The war leader.
The city. The basis of all Greek political thought and expression, the government that was held to be more important – a higher god –
than any individual or even family. To this day, when we talk about politics, we’re talking about the ‘things of our city’.
The bronze or leather band that encloses the forearm on a Greek
Light infantrymen – usually slaves or adolescent freemen who, in this period, were not organised and seldom had any weapon beyond some rocks to
The ‘War Dance’. A line dance in armour done by all of the warriors, often very complex. There’s reason to believe that the
was the method by which the young were trained in basic martial arts and by which ‘drill’ was inculcated.
A box, often circular, turned from wood or made of metal.
A master-poet, often a performer who told epic works like the
A Persian ruler of a province of the Persian empire.
Literally a ‘shield carrier’, unlike the
, this is a slave or freed man who does camp work and carries the armour
The large wicker shield of the Persian and Mede elite infantry. Also the name of those soldiers.
Another name for a leather
, often used for the lion skin of heracles.