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Ancient warfare magazine Vol III -3 - Classical heroes

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2227000013 Ancient warfare magazine Vol III -3 - Classical heroes

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Ancient warfare magazine Vol III -3 - Classical heroes Ancient warfare magazine Vol III -3 - Classical heroes Ancient warfare magazine Vol III -3 - Classical heroes
Ancient Warfare III.3, June/July 2009

Theme: Classical heroes - the warrior in history and legend

Introduction: Rolof van Hövell and Jasper Oorthuys, 'Historical introduction'.

The Source: Josho Brouwers, 'Homer. Author of the world's greatest battle-epic'

The ancient Greeks believed a single author, named 'Homer', was responsible for the creation of both the Iliad and Odyssey, two epic poems that are the earliest works of literature in what we call 'the West'. In this article, we take a closer look at Homer and his work, examining in particular the Iliad, the world's greatest battle-epic.

Theme: Michael J.Taylor, 'Fighting Homer-style. The nature of Homeric warfare'

The tales of heroic combat in Homer are not historic. Transcribed in the 8th century BC, when heroic duels were already giving way to a new form of phalanx fighting, they celebrated heroes set back almost 500 years in a murky and utterly mythical past. Nonetheless, individual combat did survive on Greek and Roman battlefields into the historic age. Homer's poems, despite their embellishments, preserve a reality of heroic combat that must have been prevalent in the Archaic era. Using the poems, and a good deal of historical imagination, let us try to re-create the world of the historic duel.

Theme: Arnold Blumberg, 'Inspired by the bard. Philip II, Alexander the Great and Homer's epic'.
Illustrated by Angel Garcia Pinto


Four centuries separated the lives of the renowned poet Homer and the most outstanding military leaders produced by the Greeks: Philip II (of Macedon) and Alexander III (the Great). Both father and son by their military genius ended the Classical Greek Period and ushered in the Hellenistic Era. These two Macedonian kings and conquerors were deeply influenced by Homer's model of the warrior- hero as set forth in his Iliad and Odyssey, and that influence greatly affected their conduct as soldiers and rulers.

The Find: Christian Koepfer, 'The shield of Achilles'.
Illustrated by Andrew Brozyna


One of the longest descriptions of a single weapon in Ancient literature can be found in the second half of the 18th book of the Iliad. Thetis, Achilles' mother, orders Hephaestus to forge a panoply for her son as his old set was lost with the death of his friend Patrocles. The passage details how Hephaestus constructs the shield and what decoration he applies to the shield facing.

Theme: Raffaele d'Amato and Andrea Salimbeti, 'Seven against Thebes. New light on Achaean weaponry'.
Illustrated by Igor Dzis.


The latest archaeological discoveries on the grounds of the ancient palace of Oedipus in Thiva (Thebes) have put the armament of the Greek Bronze Age warrior in a new light, giving more consistence to the reality behind the legend of the Theban cycle.

Theme: Sidney Dean, 'Divine battle frenzy. Berserkers and wolf warriors'.
Illustrated by Johnny Shumate A Germanic wolf warrior


The term 'berserker' is commonly associated with Viking warriors who displayed superhuman strength while fighting in a mad rage inspired by the Norse gods. The term first surfaces in a 9th century poem describing frenzied Norwegian "bear-shirt" warriors fighting for King Harald Fairhair. The phenomenon of warriors fighting in a divinely inspired frenzy is actually much older and is found in many ancient cultures throughout the Middle East and Europe.

Theme: Ross Cowan, 'Brave deeds. Heroes of the Roman army'.

The annals of Roman history are full of military heroes and, not unnaturally, the deeds of the great commanders, like the Scipios or Julius Caesar, are best known. This article will introduce the fortia facta - brave deeds - of lesser known heroes of the period 102 BC to AD 627.

Special: Duncan B.Cambell, 'A camp in search of a campaign. The reality of Hyginus' Roman army'.

Much of our knowledge of Roman camps derives from an anonymous tract, which runs to barely 3,500 words of Latin. Although untitled, it is traditionally known as the Liber de munitionibus castrorum, or "book about camp fortifications". Preserved from antiquity in a single manuscript of eleven pages, and known from only a handful of medieval copies, it is nothing short of a miracle that the text is available for us to study today.

Be a general: Murray Dahm, 'Machines of War. Athenaeus Mechanicus' On Machines'.
Illustrated by Andrew Brozyna.


It is fair to say that not much attention (scholarly or otherwise) has been paid to Athenaeus Mechanicus and his treatise Peri Mechanematon or On Machines. It is a brief technical handbook of only 3,600 words which explores various machines constructed for siegecraft, as well as examining previous treatises written on the subject. Athenaeus also proffers his addressee, Marcellus, innovations in the field of military machines. This neglected work provides intriguing insights into a variety of aspects of didactic military literature and its contexts. So let us redress the neglect and examine what Athenaeus actually says and then see if we can put him to the test.

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