The Classical Quarterly (New Series)

Research Article

The myth of the hoplite's hoplon

J. F. Lazenbya1 and David Whiteheada2

a1 The University of Newcastle upon Tyne

a2 The Queen's University of Belfast

‘Hoplites are troops who take their name from their shields’. ‘The individual infantryman took his name, hoplites, from the hoplon or shield’. Such is the orthodox view. This paper will endeavour to show that its basis is inadequate. Rather, we shall argue, hoplites took their name from their arms and armour as a whole, their hopla in that all-encompassing sense; so that the original and essential meaning of the word hoplite was nothing more than ‘(heavily-)armed (infantry-)man’.