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Winscombe Primary School

w/c 05/10 Instructions

How to Become a Hoplite

Watch the animation about life as an Ancient Greek Hoplite - a citizen soldier. Who were these men? What did they have to be like? How did they become a Hoplite? What skills or characteristics did they need? What sort of training was required?


Write a set of instructions to Greek men wanting to become Hoplites.

Features of instructions

Hoplite - Citizen soldier

Greek Hoplites were heavy infantry soldiers, citizen-soldiers who equipped themselves when called to fight for the poleis or city-state.

Here are some good points to consider or include:


•    Hoplites were the citizen-soldiers of Ancient Greek city-states, and are well recognised today in modern times for wearing the well-known bronze armour, horse hair helmets, long spears and round shields. 

•    Hoplites were not a permanent army, but were recruited from the citizens who could afford the necessary armour and weapons. 


•    Of the Ancient Greeks who served in this army, the majority were in fact land owning farmers and skilled artisans, men who were worked with their hands and bodies, and considered strong.


•    Hoplites always fought in formation, in the legendary Phalanx, the men standing side by side, protecting each other with their shields and using their spears to keep the enemy at distance.


•    Men that served as Hoplites were expected to be able to serve until they were SIXTY years old, and it was expected that the men would be “fighting fit” when they were called up.

How did they train to be fit? Realistically, the physical demands in their own daily lives were probably sufficient to ensure their physical fitness was up to scratch. 


•    The Ancient Greeks had Gymnasiums, and bodyweight training was well-established as a methodology. ‘Free weights’ existed that were stones, but the vast majority of training was simply men moving their own bodies using the same exercises we would use today.


•    Two weeks before the Battle of Marathon, the army that was due to fight there didn't even exist. Every single man who would eventually take part in the battle was just going about his everyday civilian life, not having the faintest idea what was about to happen. There was no training in peacetime and no time to train in wartime. The result is that every hoplite fought with the strength and stamina he normally possessed, and nothing more.


•    The word Hoplite itself translates roughly as “armoured man” or “armoured infantry”, which perfectly describes the Hoplite’s armour and shield.


•    Since all Hoplites had to buy and upkeep their own equipment, they were usually from the middle or upper classes.


•    The strength of the Hoplite lay in his discipline and training. The only way a phalanx could work is if all the men were trained to march and work together, and never abandon their position out of fear.