Here is a volume of essays about classical Greek battle, rather than warfare, a view of combat seen largely from the vantage point of the hoplite infantrymen who did the actual fighting. This approach is entirely sensible for three reasons, one of incidental importance, the other two fundamental to our very understanding of the Greeks. In the first place, few previous scholarly studies have been devoted exclusively to the military experience of the hoplite, the feel of armor, the manner of inflicting and receiving wounds, the occurrence of the atypical and bizarre in battle, the look of the dead, the pragmatics of hoplite sacrifice and commemoration. Thus, the essays in this book (none of them published previously) raise new questions and bring in fresh evidence. Secondly and more importantly, it is essential to remember that conflict between the classical Greek city-states for over two centuries (ca 650-431 BC) usually focused-at least on land-on one encounter, a day’s collision between phalanxes of heavily armed infantry. It was a single battle, then, not war as we know it, and was so recognized by the Greeks themselves-thus ‘battle’ rather than ‘war’ in this book’s title reflects more than the mere contents of the collection. Finally, no military history should ever avoid the human element: it is men, after all, who fight, wound, kill, and die; it is men alone who deserve our attention, incite our imagination, earn our empathy. True, often in classical scholarship-the nature of its evidence usually being fragmentary and circumstantial-there is a tendency to identify and then elevate a particular trend into ‘The Trend,’ Study of Greek battle, emphasis on the infantrymen who fought and the environment of their struggle, however, is not trendy and surely avoids
that danger: battle is not a mere truism of military history, but its central, its only truth.