Land Battles in 5th Century BC Greece

A History and Analysis of 173 Engagements


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About the Book

In the 5th century B.C., Greece was a patchwork country of small, independent city-states whose tendency to fight each other was offset only by strong ties to common cultural elements such as language and a unique style of warfare. While surviving myths emphasize heroics and honor, the reality of ancient Greek warfare was that of regular men dealing with everyday problems. Relying heavily on primary sources such as Herodotus, Thucydides and Plutarch, this volume provides the first-ever tactical level survey of all 173 Greek land engagements which occurred during the 5th century B.C., a seminal period in the history of western warfare. Using carefully researched logical probabilities to extend surviving records, the author places each battle within its historical context and analyzes it with a view to documenting significant overall patterns of action. The result is not only a detailed study of each battle complete with maps and battlefield diagrams, but also an overview of general trends in 5th century Greek warfare.

About the Author(s)

Fred Eugene Ray, Jr., is the author of both books and articles on the subject of ancient Greek warfare. A retired geologist and oil industry executive, he lives in Bakersfield, California.

Bibliographic Details

Fred Eugene Ray, Jr.
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 323
Bibliographic Info: maps, diagrams, tables, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011 [2009]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6773-0
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8859-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1
Introduction      5

I. The Spearmen: Greek Hoplite Warfare (500–401 B.C.)      7
II. Arguing with Socrates: Territorial Disputes, the Ionian Revolt, and the Rise of Sparta and Gela (500–481 B.C.)      21
III. The Strength of Lions: Marathon, Himera, and the Invasion of Greece      59
IV. Prelude to Collision: The Pentacontaetia (478–432 B.C.)      109
V. Danger and Glory: The Archidamian War (431–422 B.C.)      150
VI. Daring and Destruction: The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Invasion (421–413 B.C.)      199
VII. A World at Spear’s Length: The Decelean/Ionian War to the End of the 5th Century (413–401 B.C.)      237

Conclusion      287
Table 1: Combat Factors in Greek Pitched Battles (500–401 B.C.)      289
Table 2: Decisive Factors in Greek Pitched Battles (500–401 B.C.)      293
Table 3: Pitched Battle Record of Major Combatants (500–401 B.C.)      298
Table 4: Hoplite Losses and Point/Cause of Formation Failure for Greek Pitched Battles (500–401 B.C.)      301
Bibliography      307
Index      313

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Essential…truly a labor of love”—ARBA
  • “Amazingly careful research…valuable”—
  • “Very valuable”—The NYMAS Review
  • “Ray has produced a carefully and well-researched book, the result of which is an important catalogue of Greek land engagements in the 5th century BC. Furthermore, his survey represents a very useful reference to anyone interested in classical combat…this book is written with a poise and polish that cannot help but draw in the reader”—Bryn Mawr Classical Review
  • “The author is to be congratulated on producing a very well-researched book, and telling a clear history of one hundred years of Greek warfare…splendid…I have no hesitation in recommending it to all”—Ancient Warfare
  • “Significant detail”—Reference Reviews