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Spartan Warband - Glossary of ancient Sparta
Category: History and Culture > Ancient Sparta
Date & country: 27/03/2011, UK
Words: 40


Agoge
The system of state-sponsored military training, compulsory for all Spartan males. A Spartan boy was separated from his mother at age 7, and enrolled in the agoge. There the boys trained till manhood to be soldiers. They were subject to extreme privation and hardship, to make them inured to pain and discomfort. Older boys were given younger boys to command, and by the time a youth graduated at 18 ...

Aspis
The round, distinctly dished shield carried by the Greek hoplite. Constructed of wood, faced with leather and bronze, the size and weight varied; but averaged 36 inches and 13LBS. Sometimes mistakenly called a

Basileis
Greek word for "king". In Sparta, there were two Basileis' (see, Sparta), who served as hereditary war leaders and spiritual heads-of-state. The senior branch of the Heracliadae dual monarchy was the Agiad dynasty; the junior one the Eurypontid. Both lines boasted famous kings who, during their time, dominated the Spartan polis. Among the ASCA Spartans, the Basileis is the political, spiritual,...

Chiton
The wool or linen tunic worn by Greek males. The right shoulder seam could be loosened, freeing the right arm and shoulder for labor. Spartans wore crimson exomis.

Chlamys
The Greek cloak, worn over a tunic (chiton or exomis), pinned at the right shoulder (see, himation).

Cryptea
A secret body of Spartans, comprised mostly of older teens and answering directly to the Epors; who were charged with rooting out hidden enemies of the state. Their most notorious duty was to spy upon the helots, listening and ferreting out potential troublemakers; whom they were empowered to assassinate at will. Membership in the Cryptea was awarded to the most promising of Spartan youths enrolle...

Cuirass
Body armor that covered the torso. The most common was the lineothorax, made of layers of stiffened linen, sometimes reinforced with bronze plates or scales. Another type was the "bell" or "muscled" cuirass, made of bronze. Greek cuirasses were most often equipped with "pteruges", or feathers, additional protection for the hips and upper thighs hanging in a skirt of straps from the lower edg...

Dioscuri
The "Immortal Twins", Castor and Polydeuces (Castor and Pollux to the Romans). Heroes of Heroic Age Sparta, they were the half-divine brothers of the famous Helen of Troy.

Dori
The Greek spear. Used single-handed by the Greek warrior, it varied in length depending on period of Hellenic history; but averaged from 7 - 9 feet in length

Ecclesia
the Assembly of the Demes (people) in Sparta, comprised of all male citizens. The Lycurgan Constitution granted the Assembly no power to make or amend laws. They had only the right of a "yea" or "nay" vote on any motion brought before them. All lawmaking was done by the Gerousia, the Spartan Senate (see, Gerousia).

Enomotia
Sworn Band; an early Spartan unit of organization, 60 men strong. Later reduced to 32 men in the late 5th century; and then altered yet again to 36 men in the 4th century reorganization (see, Mora).Amongst the ASCA Spartans, an enomotia is the smallest tactical unit of each lochoi; and is commanded by an Enomotarch.

Ephor
Annually elected council of five magistrates. The important day-to-day decisions were in the hands of the Ephors, and a tension between the Spartan kings and the Ephors was always present. Though one of the two kings commanded the Spartan army on campaign, the ephors had the constitutional authority to impeach a king for misconduct following a campaign. In time, as her power waned, the role of the...

Gerousia
the Royal Council, or Council of Elders in Sparta. Thirty in number, comprised of the two kings, plus 28 citizen members. With the exception of the kings, its members had to be a minimum of 60 years old, and were elected by the Assembly to life terms. The Gerousia was the lawmaking body of the Spartan government, and could also overturn a vote by the Ecclesia (or Apella), or Assembly (see, Ecclesi...

Heavy infantry
Infantry trained to fight at close quarters, usually equipped with spear, pike, or sword, and wearing body armor. Greek heavy infantry, either hoplites or phalangites were equipped with complete panoply, which included helmet, cuirass, shin protection (greaves), and a large round shield.

Helmets
Protection for the head that came in a variety of shapes, offering various degrees of protection. These were usually made of bronze, though occasionally iron was used. The Greeks used a variety of closed helms that left the face open to various degrees. These commonly sported a crest of dyed horsehair, to give the warrior a more imposing air. The three most common helmet types in ancient Greece we...

Helots
Agrarian serfs who worked in bondage for their Spartan masters. Originally from Greek communities around the Peloponnese that were defeated and enslaved by the Spartans, they grew in subsequent generations to be fairly devoted bondsmen to their Spartan overlords. Even so, the Spartans kept a close eye on their helot serfs; with the secret police (see, Cryptea) stalking potential troublemakers in t...

Himation
The large, wrap-around robe worn as either a cloak or in place of a tunic. The Spartans favored a crimson himation in place of the more common chition-and-chlamys combination worn by most Greeks. The Spartan version of this robe was called a tribon.

Hippeis
Variously translated as "horsemen", or "Knights". In Sparta, the 300-man bodyguard which guarded the two kings was called "The Hippeis. The term implies that they were mounted, likely mounted infantry; though the term might date back to the Greek Dark Ages, when such warriors might well have fought on horseback or from chariot.Among the ASCA Spartans, an elite rank of warrior, awarded to Spar...

Hoplite
Man-at-arms. A heavily armed foot soldier of ancient Greece.

Hypomeiones
Inferiors; a sub-class within Sparta, thought to be Spartiates who, for whatever reason, had lost full citizenship. Poverty was the most common reason for such demotion.

Kothon
Distinct Spartan drinking mug. Much admired on campaign, as its color (mud brown?) hid the disagreeable color of the water within; and its inward-curving lip captured sentiment and debris, allowing only clean(er) water to reach the lips.

Laconia
Alternate names for the region of the southern Peloponnese around the city of Sparta. Primarily the valley of the Eurotas River; "Hollow Lacedaemon" to the ancient poets. It is bounded on the east by Mount Parnon; and on the west by lofty Mount Taygetos.

Lochoi
Basic tactical regiment of the 5th century Spartan army, numbering 1000. The Spartan army at Plataea numbered 5000, divided into five lochoi. By the end of the 5th century, as Sparta's population waned, the lochoi was reduced to half it former strength. In the 4th century, its strength was reduced again to a mere 144 men.Among the ASCA Spartan Army, the lochoi is the base sub-unit of the Mora; th...

Mora
In the 4th century, manpower shortages forced the Spartans to radically reorganized their army. The mora was their response to changing times. It was a combined-arms regiment of 576 mixed Spartan and perioikoi ("dwellers around", the non-Spartan dwellers of the towns and villages around Lakonia) infantry with 100 horse attached; and commanded by a polemarch. It was tactically divided into 4 loch...

Neodamodies
New Man, or "New Citizen". In ancient Sparta, the term denoted a class of former helots who were given their freedom in return for service in the Spartan Army as hoplites. In the ASCA Spartans, term denotes warrior-candidates who fight with and attempt to earn admission to the ranks of the Spartans.

Paean
Battle hymn, sung by Greek warriors before charging the enemy.

Panoply
The warrior's offensive and defensive ensemble; including shield, cuirass, helmet, greaves, spear, and sword.

Peltast
Light-armed, loosely ordered skirmish infantry of the Greek world (see, psiloi). Originating in Thrace, they were typically armed with javelins, spear, or a combination of the two. They used smaller, lighter shields than hoplites (originally the crescent-shaped pelte, hence their name), and as such were vulnerable at close quarters, andmore effective against hoplites when operating in rough terrai...

Phalangite.
Literally, a warrior who fights within the phalanx. Specifically, though, the term is used to describe the pike-armed heavy infantry that comprised the Macedonian and Hellenistic phalanxes.

Phalanx
A formation of infantry drawn up in close-order and in depth; often carrying overlapping shields and long spears or pikes. The standard battle formation of the ancient Greek hoplite, and the later Hellenistic phalanxes of the Macedonians and Successor Kingdoms.

Phratra
Fraternity, or "Brotherhood". Every Spartan, upon graduating the agoge (see, Agoge) had to be accepted into a mess, or Phratra. He remained in the same brotherhood for the rest of his life. The institution changed with time, and the term eventually disappeared; though enrollment in a military mess remained till the end of the Spartan state.Amongst the ASCA Spartans, the "Brotherhoods" are orga...

Polemarch
Titl. Spartan general officer. In ancient Sparta, a polemarch commanded each of the Spartan moras (brigades). Among the ASCA Spartans, a Polemarch commands a lochoi (see, Lochoi).

Polis
Often referred to as a city state, the term refers to an autonomous Greek political community; comprised of an urban center surrounded by farms and grazing land. Each had its own constitutional government (exception: tyranny), and was made up of free citizens who took up arms in its defense. In the ASCA, a polis is any collection of households that band together under a common theme, identity, and...

Promachoi
Greek for "fighters in the front". Referred to the prestigious warrior in the front-rank of the phalanx.

Psiloi
The general term for lightly armed skirmishers, armed with javelin, sling, or bow. They were usually deployed in front of the phalanx, to open the battle by skirmishing with their counterparts between the opposing phalanxes; after which they were expected to withdraw to allow their betters to contest the field! On rare occasion, when one side succeeded in defeating the other's psiloi; or when one...

Sarissa
A two-handed spear or pike of Macedonian origin used by the Macedonian phalanx.

Skiritae
Light-armed skirmishers from the Laconian-Arcadian border, employed by the Spartans as specialty troops.

Spartiates
Fully enfranchised Spartans, born of Spartan couples and raised in the agoge to be Spartan warriors. Known also as the "Similars"; the "Equals"; or the "Peers".

Triremes
Nautical. An ancient galley or warship, having three tiers of oars on each side. The fastest ship in antiquity, it was the standard battleship of the ancient Greeks and Persians.

Xyston
The 9' to 12' lance used by Hellenistic cavalry. Amongst the ASCA Spartans, the term denotes the 9' spear used by Skiritai and second-rank hoplites.