The Importance of Light Troops/Peltasts
PELTASTS VERSUS A PHALANX: the peltasts throw their javelins into the phalanx, but their lack of armour means that they can evade any attempt by the hoplites to bring them to battle. They can continue to wear down the phalanx with impunity.
Greek armies included light troops as early as Xerxes’ invasion in 490 BC, and Herodotus recorded that the Athenians had 800 archers at Plataea. They learned the value of combined arms early – note Thucydides’ account of the Athenians pursuing the Corinthians from Megara in 459 BC:
‘As the defeated Corinthians were retreating, quite a large section of their army… being uncertain of their route, plunged into an enclosure on someone’s estate which had a deep ditch all around it so that there was no way out. Seeing what had happened, the Athenians closed up the main entrance with their hoplites and, surrounding the rest of the enclosure…
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