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date: 27 November 2022

war, art of, Greeklocked

war, art of, Greeklocked

  • John F. Lazenby


War, art of, Greek, Before the second half of the 5th cent. bce, when some of the *sophists are said to have studied the art of war, the Greeks seem to have made no attempt to systematize military theory. The only such works to have survived are *Xenophon(1)'s essay on the duties of a cavalry officer, his fictional account of Cyrus' organization of his army in the Cyropaedia, and the treatise on siege-craft by *Aeneas Tacticus. We are thus largely left to deduce the Greek art of war from the warfare itself.

Early wars, *Thucydides(2) says (1. 15. 3–5), were between neighbours, and even the exception he mentions—the 8th-cent. bce Lelantine War—seems just to have been a series of such conflicts; see greece (prehistory and history), Archaic age. They were also clearly fought for territory, involving a relatively straightforward strategy, and this remained true even when the object was no longer territorial aggrandizement but hegemony, for ravaging could usually compel confrontation, and, if the invaders won, the acceptance of a more or less subordinate relationship.


  • Greek History and Historiography

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