Greek swords FAQ
Answers to frequently asked questions about ancient sword of the Greeks
If you are a sword collector or fascinated with Greek warfare, you want to know firsthand the basic things about the Greeks. This article answers your most frequently asked questions about Greek culture in general and ancient Greek swords in particular.
What is the difference between ancient Greek swords and Roman swords?
The Greek swords came first before the Roman swords. Both are recognizably similar on the account that Romans absorbed Greek culture and by extension, its battle techniques and armaments. What the Greek swords differ from the ancient Roman swords was that the former is leaf-shaped blade. The Romans copied the design, but they developed other swords which were more distinctly straight-bladed types. See Roman swords for more discussions.
Was the sword primary weapon for the Greeks?
No, the spear was. Greek spears were effective in the phalanx formation by thrusting them forward and against enemy ranks. When the phalanx broke out or their spears splintered, the Greek soldiers unsheathed their swords hanging from a baldric on their right waist for close combat.
What is the use of ancient Greek swords?
They were used in many instances: pursuing fleeing enemies from collapsed phalanxes, when spears or the spearheads broke, or when they use their spears as javelins in the course of the battle.
The shield is also important in determining what weapon to use. When the shield has been cast off, either from breakdown or force, the sword is to be used. Read history of Greek swords for more information.
Were Greeks trained in sword fighting?
Yes, but their swordplay training is crude and simple. Even the Spartans, who had the strictest regimented and physically demanding military training among the city-state armies, relied on easily memorable footwork and techniques in the use of swords. Greek sword fighting was limited due to the popularity of phalanx over other battle formations.
How do Greek swords look like?
There are two basic shapes of Greek swords: the leaf-shaped blade called xiphos, and the backsword-like makhiara. There have been older prototypes of Greek swords that go back to the Homeric times (around 8th century BC), but the xiphos and makhiara are the most distinguishable.
These swords were made from, firstly, bronze and later on iron. (Makhiara in particular resembles the pre-Roman Hispanic falcata and the other Greek sword, kopis.)
How were the Greek armies raised?
Greek armies were raised as the need arises, except for the Spartans who spent their lives militarily. Aristocratic families often sent tutors and private teachers to their sons for education that include physical training and swordplay exercises.
These privileged citizens would be field in to the armies when the war trumpets were blown. When manpower was not enough, citizens of lesser ranks like merchants and agrarian workers were drafted. After the war all soldiers can go back to their lives unencumbered by military concerns—that is, until the next war.
What are Hoplites?
Hoplites are Greek (foot)soldiers. They are called that way by virtue of their large, circular shields called hoplon.
A hoplite panoply or military regalia include a breastplate, greaves, helmet, shield, spear, and sword. Modern simulation of the Greek warfare estimated about 50-70lbs of load was carried by an ordinary hoplite.
What are Greek sword parts?
There are three basic parts of Greek swords: the hilt, the blade, and the scabbard. Surviving archeological finds have pointed out that the hilt is usually made of wood and metal.
The blade is forged when made of iron, or cast when made by bronze. The scabbard is made of precious metals for officials or wood for the lower ranks. Carved figures such as heroes and battle scenes are sometimes found on the Greek sword parts, particularly on dress and religious swords.
How much will a Greek sword cost me?
It depends. Centuries-old museum pieces are worth millions, while modern day reproduction varies from a few dollars to about a thousand bucks.
How can I buy collectible Greek swords?
You can buy antique Greek swords from authentic and well-trusted dealers. The safest trade routes of ancient artifacts are through art auction sites, such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s.
Sword collection is a very specialized field, so there are few experts and authorities to cast enlightened and discerned opinions on an antique Greek sword. Be sure to seek out only from the knowledgeable and reputed art dealer or curator.