Image above courtesy of Wizards of the Coast - Descriptions in Greek, courtesy of Spartiatikes Mores
The images on this page will reflect the armor and weaponry which were used by the Greek hoplites who defended the Pass of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. This in no way represents all the different arms and armor used and worn, respectively. There were variations, not only by the different city-states, but by the warriors within each polis.
The Corinthian helmet featured above enveloped the whole head, however, with all the protection that it afforded, there were several disadvantages which negated its effectiveness. Along with the claustrophobic feeling which the hoplite may have endured, especially in warmer weather, peripheral vision suffered as did the warrior's hearing which was muffled.
A crest which usually adorned the helmet was either monochromatic or multi-colored and made of horsehair. However, the crest served another function rather than that of aesthetics. It gave the perception that the hoplite was taller, thereby, producing anxiety within the enemy before the battle even commenced.
What is most amazing is that these bronze helmets were constructed from a single sheet of metal which confirms the exceptional skill of the Greek blacksmith!
The shield was undoubtedly the most important protective device in the Greek warrior's panoply. It measured approximately 3 feet in diameter, was constructed of wood and reeinforced with bronze. In addition, its shape was convex so that it would not absorb the full weight of the enemy thrust, thereby deflecting much of the impact.
One of the misconceptions which has been perpertrated by Hollywood is that the letter lamda (inverted V) was the emblem which adorned the Spartan warrior's shield at Thermopylae. Evidence suggests that the hoplite carried his own individual emblem (see below) and that the lambda did not make its appearance until much later.
The image above contains a sample of a work in progress which will eventually encompass over 470 shield emblems, several of which can be viewed here. The following shields are representative of the emblems worn by the Spartan warriors throughout the ages.
In addition, to the beauty of these images, one must appreciate not only the historical accuracy, but the voluminous research that resulted in the finished product. It is an honor to include these images and wholeheartedly extend thanks to the following individuals for granting permission to display their work:
Nicholas A. Panos - Design & Digital Reconstruction
George Heliopoulos & Stefanos Skarmintzos - Reseach & Text
Vipe Productions - 3D Rendering
ZHTO H ELLAS!!!
Cuirass - Metropolitan Museum of Art
The cuirass and linothorax as seen above were the two most widely used protective devices for the chest and back during the Battle of Thermopylae. The cuirass which was crafted from metal was more expensive, however, it affected mobility. The linothorax, which was made with sheets of linen glued together while reinforced with leather or metal plates for extra protection, allowed the wearer more maneuverability.
Pteryges (alt. spelling) pteruges
The pteryges or pteruges as can be seen in the images above were a type of protective skirt which extended below the cuirass and the linothorax. This type of armor usually consisted of one or two flaps that were made of leather and offered protection to the areas below the waist.
A matching set of greaves, crafted of bronze extended a little above the knee and covered the entire shin above the ankle, were usually padded to prevent any chafing which could have occurred. Therefore, the Greek hoplite presented a formidable opponent, not only because of the terrain at Thermopylae, but because they were also much better equipped than their Persian adversaries.