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Authors: Christian Cameron

The Great King

BOOK: The Great King
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Dedication

For the Persians

The Great King
CHRISTIAN CAMERON

Contents

Cover

Dedication

Title Page

Maps

Glossary

General Note on Names and Personages

Prologue

Olympia – 484 BCE

Susa – 483 BCE

Corinth – 481 BCE

The Vale of Tempe – 480 BCE

Artemesium – 480 BCE

Epilogue

Historical Afterword

Acknowledgements

About the Author

Also by Christian Cameron

Copyright

Glossary

I am an
amateur
Greek scholar. My definitions are my own, but taken from the LSJ or Routledge’s
Handbook of Greek Mythology
or Smith’s
Classical Dictionary
. On some military issues I have the temerity to disagree with the received wisdom on the subject. Also check my website at
www.hippeis.com
for more information and some helpful pictures

Akinakes
A Scythian short sword or long knife, also sometimes carried by Medes and Persians.

Andron
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.

Apobatai
The Chariot Warriors. In many towns, towns that hadn’t used chariots in warfare for centuries, the
Apobatai
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.

Archon
A city’s senior official or, in some cases, one of three or four. A magnate.

Aspis
The Greek hoplite’s shield (which is not called a hoplon!). The
aspis
is about a yard in diameter, is deeply dished (up to six inches deep) and should weigh between eight and sixteen pounds.

Basileus
An aristocratic title from a bygone era (at least in 500
BC
) that means ‘king’ or ‘lord’.

Bireme
A warship rowed by two tiers of oars, as opposed to a
trireme
, which has three tiers.

Chiton
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
chiton
was ankle length for men and women.

Chitoniskos
A small
chiton
, 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.

Chlamys
A short cloak made from a rectangle of cloth roughly 60 by 90 inches – could also be worn as a
chiton
if folded and pinned a different way. Or slept under as a blanket.

Corslet/Thorax
In 500
BC
, the best
corslets
were made of bronze, mostly of the so-called ‘bell’
thorax
variety. A few muscle
corslets
appear at the end of this period, gaining popularity into the 450s. Another style is the ‘white’
corslet
, seen to appear just as the Persian Wars begin – re-enactors call this the ‘Tube and Yoke’
corslet
, and some people call it (erroneously) the
linothorax
. 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
corslet
would have been the most expensive of all, and probably provided the best protection.

Daidala
Cithaeron, the mountain that towered over Plataea, was the site of a remarkable fire-festival, the
Daidala
, 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 (
daidalon
) 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
Great Daidala
, which were celebrated every forty-nine years, fourteen
daidala
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)

Daimon
Literally a spirit, the
daimon
of combat might be adrenaline, and the
daimon
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.

Daktyloi
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.

Despoina
Lady. A term of formal address.

Diekplous
A complex naval tactic about which some debate remains. In this book, the
Diekplous
, 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.

Doru
A spear, about ten feet long, with a bronze butt-spike.

Eleutheria
Freedom.

Ephebe
A young, free man of property. A young man in training to be a
hoplite
. Usually performing service to his city and, in ancient terms, at one of the two peaks of male beauty.

Eromenos
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 pairbonds 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
eromenos/erastes
bond would, I fear, be like putting all the warriors in steel armour instead of bronze . . .

Erastes
The ‘lover’ in a same-sex pair bond – the older man, a tried warrior, twenty-five to thirty years old.

Eudaimonia
Literally ‘well-spirited’. A feeling of extreme joy.

Exhedra
The porch of the women’s quarters – in some cases, any porch over a farm’s central courtyard.

Helots
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.

Hetaira
Literally a ‘female companion’. In ancient Athens, a
hetaira
was a courtesan, a highly skilled woman who provided sexual companionship as well as fashion, political advice and music.

Himation
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.

Hoplite
A Greek upper-class warrior. Possession of a heavy spear, a helmet and an
aspis
(see above) and income above the marginal lowest free class were all required to serve as a
hoplite
. Although much is made of the ‘citizen soldier’ of ancient Greece, it would be fairer to compare
hoplites
to medieval knights than to Roman legionnaires or modern National Guardsmen. Poorer citizens did serve, and sometimes as
hoplites
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.

Hoplitodromos
The
hoplite
race, or race in armour. Two
stades
with an
aspis
on your shoulder, a helmet and greaves in the early runs. I’ve run this race in armour. It is no picnic.

Hoplomachia
A
hoplite
contest, or sparring match. Again, there is enormous debate as to when
hoplomachia
came into existence and how much training Greek
hoplites
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
pankration
) and it is almost certain that
hoplomachia
was a term that referred to ‘the martial art of fighting when fully equipped as a
hoplite
’.

Hoplomachos
A participant in
hoplomachia
.

Hypaspist
Literally ‘under the shield’. A squire or military servant – by the time of Arimnestos, the
hypaspist
was usually a younger man of the same class as the
hoplite
.

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