A large, round, leather-covered wooden shield, used by hoplites. The hoplon is suspended by a strap from the shoulder, and if its wielder is armed with a one-handed spear is controlled with the left hand and forearm through loops. If the hoplite needs both hands to control a pike the hoplon is simply strapped to the left arm. Some experimental phalanxes had a front row armed with spears and well-controlled hoplons, while the rear ranks were armed with pikes, but this proved not to offer any concrete advantages.

The face of a hoplon is usually brightly coloured and decorated. Hoplites in regular units often all have the same device on their shields. In the Archaic Period a curtain of leather or canvas was sometimes hung from the lower edge of a hoplon to protect the hoplites’ feet and shins.

See weapons and shields

Copyright © 1991 by Brett Evill. All rights reserved.