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5.0 out of 5 stars Thesis; Anti-thesis; Synthesis. Oops., 3 Oct. 2013
This review is from: Men of Bronze: Hoplite Warfare in Ancient Greece (Hardcover)
Men of Bronze: Hoplite Warfare in Ancient Greece, ed. Donald Kagan & Gregory F Viggiano, Princeton UP, 2013, 286pp (+xxvi).

This volume is a collection of essays from the leading authorities on the subject, where two (or three) groups of leading academics argue for two (or three) different theories based on exactly the same evidence. The Editors' Preface sums up the contents better that anyone else could:

"The papers published in this volume resulted from a conference on early Greek hoplite warfare held at Yale University in April 2008. The idea for that conference grew out of a spirited debate that took place following a panel presentation at the American Philological Association's annual meeting at San Diego in January 2007, "New Perspectives on Ancient Warfare". From the audience, Gregory Viggiano argued in favour of the theses of Victor Davis Hanson's The Western Way of War and The Other Greeks against the positions of Peter Krentz and Hand van Wees. These scholars later agreed to continue the debate in a formal setting. Viggiano then discussed with Donald Kagan the unique possibility of having the world's leading scholars on the subject air out their differences face-to-face at Yale. Further discussions with Paul Cartledge helped to bring about the Yale conference. The conference panels debated a variety of issues surrounding the hoplite orthodoxy and the attempts to revise it: (1) questions concerning the origins of the tactics and weapons employed by the Greek hoplite (heavily-armed infantryman), fighting in massed formation on behalf of his autonomous city-state (polis); (2) questions about the political, economic, and social significance of the new mode of fighting; and (3) questions regarding the impact hoplite warfare had on Greek culture in general. All these issues have in recent years been at the center of one of the liveliest and most important controversies in the fields of classical studies, ancient political history, and ancient military history."

The Contents are -
ix: Preface - Donald Kagan & Gregory F Viggiano
xi: Introduction - Donald Kagan & Gregory F Viggiano
P001: The Hoplite Debate - Donald Kagan & Gregory F Viggiano
P057: The Arms, Armor, and Iconography of Early Greek Hoplite Warfare - Gregory F Viggiano & Hans Van Wees
P074: Hoplitai/Politai: Refighting Ancient Battles - Paul Cartledge
P085: Setting the Frame Chronologically - Anthony Snodgrass
P095: Early Greek Infantry Fighting in a Mediterranean Context - Kurt A Raaflaub
P112: The Hoplite Revolution and the Rise of the Polis - Gregory F Viggiano
P134: Hoplite Hell: How Hoplites Fought - Peter Krentz
P157: Large Weapons, Small Greeks: The Practical Limitations of Hoplite Weapons and Equipment - Adam Schwartz
P176: Not Patriots, Not Farmers, Not Amateurs: Greek Soldiers of Fortune and the Origins of Hoplite Warfare - John R Hale
P194: Can We See the "Hoplite Revolution" on the Ground? Archaeological Landscapes, Material Culture, and Social Status in Early Greece - Lin Foxhall
P222: Farmers and Hoplites: Models of Historical Development - Hans Van Wees
P256: The Hoplite Narrative - Victor Davis Hanson
P277: List of Contributors
P279: Index

From the Editor's Introduction:
"...Instead of working toward a consensus, each side sharpened its position in response to the latest research. The keynote speaker, Paul Cartledge, set up the framework for the debate that took place. Panels were arranged in pairs of scholars to discuss aspects of the orthodoxy in light of recent attempts to revise it. In the first panel, Kurt Raaflaub and Gregory Viggiano considered whether or not a hoplite revolution transformed the Greek world in the seventh century. In the second, Peter Krentz and Adam Schwartz presented opposing views about the significance of hoplite arms and weapons and how hoplites fought in archaic Greece. In the third, Anthony Snodgrass responded to current theories on early Greek warfare, and John Hale considered the role of Greek mercenaries in the seventh and sixth centuries. In the fourth panel, Hans Van Wees critiqued `The Other Greeks' and argued that an agrarian revolution did occur but centuries later than Hanson envisions. For his part, Victor Davis Hanson explained why the orthodoxy is still orthodox. The conference concluded on the third day with a roundtable discussion, which covered topics debated over the three-day event. The chapters in this volume represent the rewritten drafts of the papers presented at Yale, though they often contain the original spirit in which they were delivered."

HOPLITAI/POLITAI: REFIGHTING ANCIENT BATTLES - Paul Cartledge
"Paul Cartledge notes and welcomes the shift in the study of ancient Greek warfare over the past thirty years from the `narrowly technical' toward socio-political issues and approaches. The study is no longer an abstract exercise in military history, but a `totalizing history of war and society'... Cartledge also sets the stage for all the essays that follow by examining several key issues."

SETTING THE FRAME CHRONOLOGICALLY - Anthony Snodgrass
"Anthony Snodgrass lays out the chronological framework for the history of hoplite warfare. He discusses the impact the studies of Homeric warfare have had on the orthodoxy since the groundbreaking work of Latacz... He considers the problem pose by the evidence of iconography and archaeology, especially the dedication of actual armor in the sanctuaries at Olympia and Delphi, and the various philological and historical approaches that scholars have applied to the literary sources."

EARLY GREEK INFANTRY FIGHTING IN A MEDITERRANEAN CONTEXT - Kurt A Raaflaub
"Most of the paper Kurt Raaflaub gave at Yale on the nature of mass fighting in the Iliad has already been published, but we are happy to include in this volume his ideas on early Greek infantry fighting in a Mediterranean context. Raaflaub sees the emergence of hoplite warfare as part of a long interactive process associated with the rise of the polis... Despite intense interaction with the states of the Near East, the Greeks of the eighth and seventh centuries developed the phalanx independent of Oriental influence. Raaflaub examines Assyrian and Persian armies, arms and armor as well as formations and tactics to determine that there is no prior model for the equipment and style of Greek infantry."

THE HOPLITE REVOLUTION AND THE RISE OF THE POLIS - Gregory F Viggiano
"Gregory Viggiano contests the idea that any argument put forth in recent years is reason to push down the traditional date for the origin of the polis or to reject the hoplite orthodoxy. He states the basic elements of the theory that have their beginnings in Aristotle's `Politics', and then tests their merit against revisionist claims. Viggiano finds unconvincing the notion that the Greeks would have invented equipment such as the double-grip shield and Corinthian helmet for a purpose that contradicted their design... He argues that, despite gaps in the evidence, a clear picture of how the polis emerged can be made without omitting or contradicting any of the evidence from the literary sources, archaeology, and inscriptions."

HOPLITE HELL: HOW HOPLITES FOUGHT - Peter Krentz
"Peter Krentz takes aim at The Western Way of War's highly influential and popular conception of how hoplites fought. He critiques the orthodox view - especially the version of Hanson - concerning the actual weight of the hoplite panoply, which he argues was far lighter than the traditional estimate of about seventy ponds. Krentz proposes a different interpretation of the various stages of hoplite battle, such as the hoplite charge into battle. In his view, the evidence supports neither the picture of a mass collision between armies nor the concept of a mass pushing of troops or the account of the `othismos' as a rugby scrum. Revisionists such as van Ween deny that hoplites fought in tight formation until the phalanx of the fifth century. But instead, Krentz contends that the phalanx did not consist exclusively of hoplites before Marathon. He suggests, however, that even in the fifth century hoplites never actually fought in a cohesive formation."

LARGE WEAPONS, SMALL GREEKS: THE PRACTICAL LIMITATIONS OF HOPLITE WEAPONS AND EQUIPMENT - Adam Schwartz
"Adam Schwartz places the equipment of the hoplite in a very different light than Krentz. The defining elements of the hoplite were the spear and, above all, the double-grip shield. Other items of the panoply were subject to much change and innovation over the centuries, but the shield and spear remained essentially unaltered throughout the entire hoplite era. Schwartz reasons that the Greeks maintained the shield's original design - circular, concave, and about one meter in diameter - because it was pre-eminently suited for a specific purpose, fighting in tight formation in a phalanx... He also points out that skeletal remains from Greek antiquity demonstrate that hoplites were significantly smaller in relation to their equipment than modern Western men, which has consequences for the tacit assumptions that they are fully comparable."

NOT PATRIOTS, NOT FARMERS, NOT AMATEURS: GREEK SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE AND THE ORIGINS OF HOPLITE WARFARE - John R Hale
"John Hale disagrees with the two main theories proposed for the context within which hoplite warfare emerged. For Hale neither the leisured class of aristocrats who vied for high social and political status within the Polis nor the middling citizen soldiers who defended their farmland provide the origins of archaic Greek arms and tactics. Instead he suggests looking for the first hoplites fighting as mercenaries in the service of Eastern monarchs in areas such as Syria, Egypt, and Babylon. These soldiers fought in search of gain and glory, not to defend a civic ideology or ethos... He calls mercenary service the `Main Event' of Greek military history in the seventh century, in contrast to the sporadic battles between poleis."

CAN WE SEE THE "HOPLITE REVOLUTION" ON THE GROUND? ARCHAEOLOGICAL LANDSCAPES, MATERIAL CULTURE, AND SOCIAL STATUS IN EARLY GREECE - Lin Foxhall
"We invited Lin Foxhall to consider what site survey might reveal about the appearance of a new class of small farmers in archaic Greece. Foxhall gives a brief history of the discipline and explains the strengths and limitations of using its findings for historical analysis. Her study of eight survey projects across Greece, including Boeotia, the Argolid, Laconia, and Pylos, focuses on data for the Geometric through Hellenistic periods... The survey data show the rise of a densely populated countryside of small-scale farmers neither in the eighth century nor, universally, in the sixth century."

FARMERS AND HOPLITES: MODELS OF HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT - Hans Van Wees
"Hans Van Wees critiques the grand narrative of `The Other Greeks' and argues that it is wrong in important respects. ...Van Wees believes that something like the rise of small farmers occurred about two centuries later than Hanson relates. However, from the middle of the eighth century there was a class of elite leisured landowners that did not work the land themselves but supervised the toil of a large lower class of hired laborers and slaves... When the yeomen farmers emerged after the mid-sixth century, they joined the leisure class in the hoplite militia. Van Wees doubts that the small farmers brought about a revolution when they joined the phalanx, but, if they did effect political changes, it was in conjunction with the rise of the trireme rowers."

THE HOPLITE NARRATIVE - Victor Davis Hanson
"Victor Davis Hanson defends the orthodoxy in light of the various attempts to revise it over the past twenty years, especially those of Krentz and van Wees... Hanson suggests that the success of the orthodoxy is due to the fact that it best reflects the evidence for phalanx fighting and the larger social, economic, and political role of the hoplite."

So, there you have it - two (or three) groups of leading academics arguing for two (or three) different theories based on exactly the same evidence. Let us remember that in science, at least, it is accepted wisdom that new theories only become established when the older generations of scientists who doubt them die off.

FURTHER READING
New Perspectives on Ancient Warfare (History of Warfare (Brill))
King Agis of Sparta and His Campaign in Arkadia in 418 B.C.
King Agis of Sparta, and his Campaign in Arkadia in 418 B.C.: A Chapter in the History of the Art of War among the Greeks, WJ Woodhouse
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