The formations were invented to be more effective

The emergence of the first democracy in ancient Greece is a result of severalpreconditions that brought about a shift in power from aristocratic authority to a citizen’smilitia made up of farmer-warriors protecting their property rights. During a time ofnew agricultural production methods, individual ownership of farms, economic growth,emphasis on athletics, and new military-tactical developments, a city-state culture arosein Greece. People developed an awareness of their personal worth and mutual democraticvalues. Nicholas Kyriazis and Xenophon Paparrigopoulos concentrate on this new typeof warrior, the hoplite, and the tactic warfare formation, the phalanx, in their article, Warand democracy in ancient Greece, describing how their very existence transformed thecivic values and political culture towards democracy.When the Mycenaean world ended due to internal conflict and population decline,several profound changes took place that laid the groundwork for the rise of democracy.Independent city-states formed. During this time, an alliance between aristocrats andfarmers arose, reallocating property rights. Free local-born men now had ownership oftheir land and flocks, but lacked the economic strength to financially support an elitefighting military to defend themselves from hostilities (Kyriazis & Paparrigopoulos,2014, p. 168). As a result, the farmers had to become their own defenders to protect theirnewfound property rights. Their military tactics shifted from the old expensive stylearmour and weaponry used by the central state to more cost efficient materials such aswood for their shields and swords. While this defensive equipment was inexpensive tomake, it failed to provide the independent landowners with adequate protection. Toaddress the issue, new tactical formations were invented to be more effective in battle.”The new tactical formation was the phalanx, where warriors stood side by side, thewarrior on the left covering with his shield not only his own body, but also the rightunprotected spear side of the man to his left” (Kyriazis & Paparrigopoulos, 2014, p. 169).The phalanx looked like a compact group of shields with protruding spears that ran 8ranks deep.Over a period of time, improvements to the plank shield were made. Thedevelopment of the hoplon, a large concave shield with two grips and movable hangingleather aprons for thigh protection, resulted in a new warrior, the hoplite (Kyriazis , 2014, p. 169). The hoplites also introduced a new helmet that coveredthe entire head and offered excellent protection, but had limited vision with the onlyopening being a slit for the eyes and nose. This new equipment made the importance ofthe phalanx formation even more vital because each member had to rely on the hoplitessurrounding him for protection. As hoplites worked together for their own mutualbenefit, camaraderie grew. During battle, the phalanxes practiced a tactic calledothismos, where hoplites in the rear ranks pushed with the external part of their shieldsthe backs of the hoplites in front of them. According to Kyriazis and Paparrigopoulos,this developed a powerful forward thrust that “glued together” all sides of the phalanxwith overlapping shields and proved to be the original “glue of democracy” (171).The superiority of the phalanx on the Greek battlefields made the hoplites awareof their personal worth and power. They were motivated to protect their property rights,and as they strengthened, so did their economy and political culture. Dissatisfied with thesocial injustices of aristocratic authority, hoplites played a role in the transformation ofgovernment from kingships and tyrannies to one of direct democracy, where farmer-warriors had stronger property rights and a voice in the development of political reforms.Their Athenian democracy possessed the values of isonomia, equality in front of the law;isegoria, equality of speech in assembly; and homonoia, a sense of common purpose andspirit. (Kyriazis & Paparrigopoulos, 2014, p. 173). Because the success of the phalanxrequired cohesiveness, hoplites had to spend long hours training together in order tomove as a single, impenetrable force. This interdependence developed mutual trust andrespect. Kyriazis and Paparrigopoulos theorize that it was these attitudes that evolvedfrom the phalanx that made the emergence of democracy possible. “It was not the kingswho embodied the state, but rather, it was they themselves, the “demos”, the people, whowere its true embodiment” (Kyriazis & Paparrigopoulos, 2014, p. 175).Presenting a united front, the phalanx represented strong discipline, civilobedience, and extensive coordination. While in battle, equal trust and respect were amust for the survival of the phalanx. Those military virtues spilled over into their city-state culture, and the people recognized that their survival depended on a cohesive team.”If you trust someone with your life at war, it comes naturally that you should beprepared to listen to him in the assembly, that you should accept that he has the samerights as yourself” (Kyriazis & Paparrigopoulos, 2014, p. 175). Solon, using the ideals ofisonomia, introduced laws in Athens that promoted equality in front of the law. Under theisegoria principle, anyone who wanted to speak would be heard before an assembly vote.Once a vote was cast, the decision was binding to everyone. It was these virtues thatsparked democracy in the political realm. In addition, the phalanx bred a sense ofconfidence, pride, and team spirit. “The phalanx became the main paradigm and schoolof homonoia. Indeed, homonoia became one of the leading political ideals of ancientGreek democracy, always fretful of stasis. The people through their voting in theassembly, open to all citizens, expressed the city’s common will” (Kyriazis , 2014, p. 176). This new democratic political system allowed a largenumber of citizens to participate in the decision-making process and coordinate togetherto solve issues relevant to their city-state environment.Together the city-state environment and the phalanx were key factors in theemergence of ancient Greek democracy. The relatively small size of the city-state madeit possible for the citizens to get to know each other and exchange various points of view.They became aware of their common interests. Similarly, the phalanx itself required longhours of training and togetherness to defeat their political enemies. The hoplites knewthat there was strength in numbers. If one member should fall, another would step in andtake his place. Kyriazis and Paparrigopoulos point out that it is no wonder Atheniansfound it acceptable to appoint several state officers to fill positions because all wereequally worthy and interchangeable (175). It was the military efficiency of the phalanxthat reinforced the democratic process. The hoplites were motivated to fight not only outof a sense of pride and team-spirit, but for their democratic ideals. They were fighting forthe enjoyment of their private property rights; the release of constraints imposed uponthem by kings and tyrants; and most importantly, the freedom to lead a specific way oflife, living as they saw fit (Kyriazis & Paparrigopoulos, 2014, p. 179). This wasevidenced in the battle of Marathon, where the hoplites and phalanxes faced theauthoritarian Persian Empire in a Greek fury to save their homeland. Their victory inMarathon established Athenian democracy, and is therefore considered to be one of thedecisive battles of world history (Kyriazis & Paparrigopoulos, 2014, p. 178).The strength of the democratic process and the military efficiency of the hoplitesand phalanx appear to go hand-in-hand. Kyriazis and Paparrigopoulos describe the twoas a “virtuous circle” with mutually reinforcing factors (179). “Successful innovations inweaponry and fighting tactics bred attitudes and predispositions which proved favourableto the development of specific democratic values” (Kyriazis & Paparrigopoulos, 2014, p.179). It was the strong mentality and common efforts of the hoplites and their newmilitary style of warfare that laid the foundation for democratic values and virtues. Thesevirtues coupled with the establishment of property rights were all preconditions thatnurtured the establishment of democracy. In War and democracy in ancient Greece,Kyriazis and Paparrigopoulos explain the emergence of democracy as “military cum city-state” (163). They conclude that the invention of the hoplite and the phalanx wereenabling conditions that, coupled with the city-state culture and individual propertyrights, caused a shift in power from the old aristocratic class to the people themselves.This resulted in new political and economic developments and the birth of democracyitself.


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