Ancient History

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Ancient History Sourcebook:
Documents of The Hoplite Revolution, c. 750 - 650 BCE

Some texts on the so-called (and now largely discounted) "Hoplite Revolution"

Homer: The Iliad, c. 750 B.C.

He spoke and dashed Peisandros from his chariot to the earth, smiting him with his spear upon the breast, and he lay supine upon the ground. But Hippolochos rushed away, and him too he smote to earth and cut off his hands and his neck with the sword, then tossed him like a ball of stone to roll through the throng. Then he left them, and where thickest clashed the battalions, there he set on and with him all the well-greaved Achaians...And the Lord Agamemnon, ever slaying, followed after. . .

The Drinking Song of Hybrias, c. 700 B.C.

My great wealth is my spear and sword and fine animal hide shield, the defense of my flesh. For it is with this that I sow, with this that I reap, with this that I tread out the sweet wine from the grape. Because of this I am called Lord of Slaves! As for those who do not dare to bear spear and sword and fine animal hide shield, the defense of flesh, they all bend their knee in fear and do me reverence, addressing me as Lord and Great King!!

Tyrtaios: War Songs, c. 650 B.C., No. III

This---this is virtue: This---the noblest meed that can adorn our youth with fadeless rays; While all the perils of the adventurous deed, the new-strung vigor of the state repays. Amid the foremost of the embattled train, Lo, the young hero hails the glowing fight; and, though fall'n troops around him press the plain, still fronts the foe, nor brooks inglorious flight. His life---his fervid soul opposed to death, he dares the terrors of the field defy; kindles each spirit with his panting breath, and bids his comrade-warriors nobly die! See, see, dismayed, the phalanx of the foe turns round, and hurries o'er the plain afar: while doubling, as afresh, the deadly blow, he rules, intrepid chief, the waves of war. Now fallen, the noblest of the van, he dies! His city by the beauteous death renowned; his low-bent father marking, where he lies, the shield, the breastplate, hacked by many a wound.

The young---the old, alike commingling tears, his country's heavy grief bedews the grave; and all his race in verdant luster wears, Fame's richest wreath, transmitted from the brave. Though mixed with earth the perishable clay, his name shall live, while glory loves to tell, "True to his country how he won the day, how firm the hero stood, how calm he fell! But if he escape the doom of death (the doom to long---long dreary slumbers), he returns, while trophies flash, and victor-laurels bloom, and all the splendor of the triumph burns. The old---the young---caress him, and adore; and with the city's love, through life, repaid, he sees each comfort, that endears, in store, till, the last hour, he sinks to Pluto's shade.

Old as he droops, the citizens, overawed (even veterans), to his mellow glories yield; nor would in thought dishonor or defraud the hoary soldiers of the well-fought field. Be yours to reach such eminence of fame; to gain such heights of virtue nobly dare, my youths! and, mid the fervor of acclaim, press, press to glory; nor remit the war!


From: Fred Morrow Fling, ed., A Source Book of Greek History, (Boston: D. C. Heath, 1907), pp. 17, 56-58

Athenaeus of Naucratis, The Deipnosophists, or, Banquet of the Learned of Athenaeus, (London: G. Bell & Sons, 1908).

Scanned by: J. S. Arkenberg, Dept. of History, Cal. State Fullerton. Prof. Arkenberg has modernized the text.

This text is part of the Internet Ancient History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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© Paul Halsall, August 1998

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