From the age of twenty to the age of forty, every male citizen, except for professional soldiers, is obliged to serve in the militia, and to equip himself with armour and weapons (see panoply). The armour and weapons which a man requires depend on his wealth: richer citizens must equip themselves as hoplites/, the poorer as peltasts, the poorest as archers or unarmoured skirmishers. Most militias drill regularly, half a day per week, and are not paid for drill. Militiamen on field duty are sometimes paid, sometimes not, but do not receive the extra obol per day for panoply. The militia are only obliged to serve a certain number of days per year, or in the defence of their city or tribe.

In the Archaic Period the militia is the main military force of most states, although many have an Aotos or Sacred Band as well. When the combined militias of large leagues or hegemonies meet, the battles can be very large indeed. Public service during a citizen’s years as a warrior (see Four Lives) is usually in the militia. A man who hopes for a political career will certainly wish to be a militia officer.

In the Classical Period the militia is still maintained (despite the fact that Gehennum is politically unified): partly to defend against pirates, partly because of tradition, partly to provide reserves in case of war, and partly as a recruiting-ground for the army. Service in the militia is resented as a waste of time by many citizens, and these are allowed to buy exemption by paying shield-money. Others, who hope for a political career, like to do light, part-time duty in the militia until they are promoted to the officer ranks, then transfer to the regulars, establishing a career as warrior without suffering an arduous term as a common soldier. The episkopoi supervise the militia, appoint senior officers, and keep the citizen rolls by which military obligation is assessed.

In the Decadent Period the local militia is one of the chief political assets of an episkopos. Its officers are drawn from the eupatridai, chiefly from among those those whose position is established, or whose obligations prevent full-time service as agema. They are appointed by the episkopos, and owe their economic and social position to his favour. Although they are legally obliged to take commands from the tagmarkh in their military capacity, they are more likely to support the episkopos when push comes to shove.

Copyright © 1991 by Brett Evill. All rights reserved.