Full Version: Decoration of the Greek Dory
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Hi everyone,

I'm new to the forum and have to say I'm impressed with the collective knowledge contained within.

I'm trying to construct a Greek dory and had a question about the decoration of the shaft. I've researched the limited sources available on the web but cannot find any references, ancient or modern. In particular, I'm looking for suggestions as to the use of leather for a handgrip. I've not yet ventured into the realm of reenacting so I have no real time experience as to the functionality of a handgrip. My first guess is that it would be the discretion of the warrior since the spear shaft could become very slick due to sweat and/or blood. A leather grip would provide a solid hold on the dory as it was thrust into and pulled out of an armored body.

I think it would be safe to say that most Greeks were deeply religious, especially the Spartans. Could it be safe to speculate that they would have decorated their spears to reflect their devotion to the gods? What about carvings on the shaft, with respect to the structural integrity as the main priority? The Greek art I've seen is very vague and I've only read a few books concerning Greek culture. Thanks for your input!

Wellcome Mike.
Most re-enactors will tell you the advantages of the leather-grip.

As for saft decoration I am not aware of pottery or marbles giving any details.

Chanses are that the wood was treated and painted to lengthen its life by protecting it from humidity.

I am of the opinion that techinques used for preserving ships could be applied to the spear shaft with probale exception of the "smelly" ones.

Kind regards
Hi Stefanos,

Thanks for the quick reply! In your opinion, would it be wrong, within the Greek reenacting community, to construct a dory with decorations? I'm trying to keep my kit as accurate as possible but allow a certain creative impression. Although the sources do not show decorated dorys, I would have to speculate that pious soldiers would show devotion to their chosen god or gods. I know today is different than 2500 years ago, but some fundamental human behaviors would be very similar. We can read from ancient literary sources, Homer and Thucydides for example, that sacrifices were offered before battles and trophies set up afterward.

Thanks again for your advice and looking forward for more! - Mike
Actually, after checking another topic on this site, I have found an answer to my first question. It seems the hoplites from Spain have leather grips on their dorys. AWESOME! I can't wait to get my kit finished. I hope it looks as good as the hoplites already pictured on this site.
I didn't say that there was no decoration.
I just said that we do not have enough evidence of what it might look like.

Most probably tribal symbols from 9th to 5th century B.C.

An example of a sauroter with a silver ball survives in Greece which betray Asiatic influence from the Persian "apple bearers". Nation Museum Athes if memory serves me right.

The religious symbols were mostly concentrated on armor and shield decoration but you have to go to the relevant threads for that.

Kind regards
GREAT! Thanks again. The more I think about it, the dory probably wouldn't have been too flashy. There was a good possibility of being broken within the first few minutes of combat if not by the end of battle.
You figured it out yourself. We re-enactors look at our armour as something very valuable that deserves to be displayed. Although evidence says that the ancients took great care of their impression, they sure had a more "cynical" view on many things. A dory is no more than any other agricultural tool. It may break initially and you may have to use dozens of spears (or shafts) in a campaighn. Further more they never appear painted as Stefanos said, and lastly I would say they it isn't in the Greeks' fashion/style to decorate in such a way. As for religion,like today, it's not something you need to make it visible to everyone,friend and foe,what you believe in. Symbols existed ,like they exist today,and they may have bees scratched on a spear shaft with a knife,but in my opinion it is too much to decorate all your spear.
Handgrips. Leather is one of the best candidates. Ropes may also have been used,incicated by crossed lines shown on various vases. I preffered it to the leather only aesthetically. And yes,it makes your grip stronger. One main advantage is that you find imediately the point of balance.