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Full Version: Age Class and Greek Military Roles
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This is more a question than an answer, and I'm going to take the bold step of setting some conversational guidelines for this particular symposium...

I'm interested in getting opinions--and even debate--about the role of Age/Class in military "recruitment". I'm interested in a lot of the opinions I just read expressed--with a healthy does of supporting evidence--in James Davidson's "Greeks and Greek Love."

What I'm not interested in is a discussion/argument about homosexuality and its role or lack thereof in Greek society. i think we have threads for that. Davidson (guy who wrote Courtesans and Fishcakes) makes some good points and grinds some axes--read his book and post elsewhere...

My interest in age/class is along the following lines. Davidson suggests (as have others on this list) that at least at Sparta and in the Dorian communities of Crete, hunting and dancing seem to have played an essential role in training for war. He even suggests that in Crete, dancers in the Neioi (new young men) who were in the "front rank" ie closest to the judges were most likeily to be chosen for the elite military organizations and the best "clubs." He further notes some similarities between Spartan messes and the Cretan "clubs."

And we all know the 4th c. quote from Plato about how dancing in armour determines a man's fitness to serve in war (that's a rather horrible paraphrase, but I write in haste).

Finally, I think we all know that not everyone--in fact, hardly anyone!(this is a good opening for debate) is actually rich enough to train in the gymnasium and do all the dances. Dancing--especially dancing in armor as an ephebe or Neioi (if that actually happened) would be expensive and time consuming, roughly like having your son play high school football or hockey. So what about everyone else? There's a part of his book (Davidson) where he goes into some details about the relative wealth (high) and social status) very low) of potters--this is stuff you all probably know from Boardman's books, nothing really very new to it, but the thing is, he raises some interesting points (whether he means to or not) about military service. Potter's sons, no matter how wealthy, were not welcome in the gymnasium in Athens. I'm afraid I find this believable.

But...do they serve in the phalanx?

Or if that's too complex and contentious--what abut freed slaves? Just before Marathon, Athens freed slaves to fight--apparently. How do these guys fit into the phalanx? We could say that they served as psiloi, but that's not obvious...

Is there a social and age class to the phalanx? Are the best of the Neioi in the front rank because they are int he best shape of their lives and think they're immortal? Are the back ranks for inferior social grades? How does this vary from Athens to Thebes to Sparta to the Cretan towns?

LOL. Maybe I've bitten off more than we can all chew--but I'm looking for answers, suggestions, and cool theories.
Quote:He even suggests that in Crete, dancers in the Neioi (new young men) who were in the "front rank" ie closest to the judges were most likeily to be chosen for the elite military organizations and the best "clubs."

If you go to any high school theatre club, I am willing to bet that there is a high correlation between the kids who are near the front of the stage getting into better colleges than the kids in the back of the chorus line. Why? Because in order to be standing there they have probably benefitted from parents who provided them with additional training, pushed them harder, or even pulled strings to get them the part. This could be the same for Neioi. The whole thing could be a social construct that is fore-ordained.

In Sparta everyone danced in group dances, even the girls. They also sang in groups. It is these group dances more than the armed dances that to my mind determined success in a phalanx due the learned ability to move in unison. Was it Plato who said:
“Those who honor the gods most beautifully with choruses are best in war.”?
Rythmos amd Armonia (beat and harmony) bere essential for ancient Greek training.
Paean and phalanx remember? The Doric communities are more researched more dicussed and more group oriented with a fixed curicullum.
Other city states obliged parent to edjucate but the left the courses to the family discression.
Some cities bind into edjucational societies (i.e. Pythagoreans in Italy)

No freed slaves before Marathon. Many might have won their freedom after the fracas though.
Sikinos servant of Themistoclew became a Platean citizen for example.
"Doylos" in Greek means servant even intenured servant and was a legal entity.
"Andrapodon" was the term corresponding to modern meaning of slave as chatell.

Herodotus said that queen Telesila of Argos armed the "douloi" and called up the elders after the Argivew were literally fried in Sepeia.

The 18-year olds in Athens were doing border duty for two years. A service that requires mobility and light infantry tactics - trust me I know what I am talking about.

Thukidides gives examples of the older hoplites being ouragoi (file closers)
He also said that the very young and very old in Athens volonteere for garisson duties to free younger age class manpower.

Kind regards