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Xenophon's On Horsemanship Neck Guard
#1
So I just read the translation of Xenophon's On Horsemanship on the Perseus digital library (http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text...text=Horse.) and I am questioning his description of the neck guard on the breastplate. The translation goes, 
"And, since the neck is one of the vital parts, we hold that a covering should be available for it also, standing up from the breastplate itself and shaped to the neck. For this will serve as an ornament, and at the same time, if properly made, will cover the rider's face, when he pleases, as high as the nose." (12.2). 
When I first read that I pictured a bevor, but I doubt that is right. Was Xenophon just referencing the raised collar on some of the surviving breastplates? Or more of the raised collar plates some steppe and Persian horsemen had? If it was just the raised collar, how would it cover the face, "as high as the nose"? 

Just wanted to hear peoples' thoughts on this!
Thanks,

Chris

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#2
Xenophon is speculating on ways to make their armour better. There is nothing to suggest that his ideas were implemented.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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#3
It is proven for everything else however that he describes however, that they were used at some point by some people. He isn't inventing things, he merely mentions everything that he had seen in his vast campaigns in Persia, Thrace and Greece, that seemed to him worthy.
Even his dubious description of the shoulder guard of the right side has its great archeological analogy in the scale cuirass from Bulgaria.

It is very likely that he is describing something that he saw but was never very popular and not depicted.
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
[Image: -side-1.gif]
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#4
So how do you think it would have looked if it was ever made? Would a bevor be a good estimation? It seems to fit this translation, but I don't know the translation's accuracy. Or would something closer to the bronze age collars be more accurate? That could fit the translation just as well. 

I do think that with how little we have in the way of physical evidence and/or art based evidence, there is a lot we don't know about the classical era.
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#5
The guards described by Xenophon are of limited use in a phalanx and completely useless for cavalry because you can't look down. They work best when protecting chariot drivers. A medieval bevor or gorget would work better.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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#6
Dan, we have no idea what guard Xenophon is talking about, let alone speculating that it is useless in battle. Of course, there is no point considering them in infantry context since Xenophon has mentioned them in his Horsemanship.

I am prone to blindly follow he suggestions of a cavalry and infantry officer's suggestions, especially of one who travelled through the best horsemen cultures of his time...

Again this doesn't mean that the Greeks ever used them, or the Persians used them extensively. But his arm protection, which sounds a lot like a manica, apears in Hellenistic art about 150 or 200 years after him! The man was obviously ahead of his time for Greek cavalry, and we shouldn't even doubt that his treatease was well studied in the years that came.
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
[Image: -side-1.gif]
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#7
I believe Xenophon is talking about the type of gorget illustrated below, which as can be seen was widespread enough........I've included one from your collection, Giannis, which you've labelled a type of "bevor"! Smile .........


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"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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#8
Felt I had to post this one as well:

   

From:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/rossitza/s...4769256000
Ivor

"And the four bare walls stand on the seashore. a wreck a skeleton a monument of that instability and vicissitude to which all things human are subject. Not a dwelling within sight, and the farm labourer, and curious traveller, are the only persons that ever visit the scene where once so many thousands were congregated." T.Lewin 1867
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#9
Ah! The panoply of King Seuthes III of Thrace (331 - c.300 BC), whose intact and unplundered tomb was found in 2004. Unusually, the tomb was converted from a 5 C temple. I was tempted to post this example myself, but chose in the end to post gorgets alone, for clarity.

This cavalryman's panoply displays other features of Xenophon's recoommendations also. Here is the section in its entirety :

Xen Art of Horsemanship XII"

"We say, then, that in the first place his breastplate must be made to fit his body. For the wellfitting breastplate is supported by the whole body, whereas one that is too loose is supported by the shoulders only, and one that is too tight is rather an encumbrance than a defence.  And, since the neck is one of the vital parts, we hold that a covering should be available for it also, standing up from the breastplate itself and shaped to the neck. For this will serve as an ornament, and at the same time, if properly made, will cover the rider's face, when he pleases, as high as the nose.  For the helmet we consider the Boeotian pattern the most satisfactory: for this, again, affords the best protection to all the parts that project above the breastplate without obstructing the sight. As for the pattern of the breastplate, it should be so shaped as not to prevent the wearer from sitting down or stooping.  About the abdomen and middle and round that region let the flaps be of such material and such a size that they will keep out missiles.  And as a wound in the left hand disables the rider, we also recommend the piece of armour invented for it called the “hand.” For it protects the shoulder, the arm, the elbow, and the fingers that hold the reins; it will also extend and fold up; and in addition it covers the gap left by the breastplate under the armpit. But the right hand must be raised when the man intends to fling his javelin or strike a blow. Consequently that portion of the breastplate that hinders him in doing that should be removed; and in place of it there should be detachable flaps at the joints, in order that, when the arm is elevated, they may open correspondingly, and may close when it is lowered.  For the fore-arm it seems to us that the piece put over it separately like a greave is better than one that is bound up together with a piece of armour. The part that is left exposed when the right arm is raised should be covered near the breastplate with calf-skin or metal; otherwise the most vital part will be unprotected. "

The scale covered leather Tube-and-Yoke corselet displays modifications to the right shoulder piece, very similar to those Xenophon advocates. The gorget is referred to also. It should be remembered that the gorget rested on the 'epomides'/shoulder pieces, and so sat quite high, and thus the gorget would reach the base of the nose and cover the mouth. Also mentioned are the 'pteryges'/flaps being extra large, which we also see on Seuthes corselet ( see diagram below). Of course, this panoply doesn't include all Xenophon's recommendations, but sufficient to say  Seuthes corselet is of this type. Note that originally, the semi circular cutouts ( for flexibility) were covered by discs made of scale....

Also interesting is that Xenophon describes what sounds very like a Roman 'manica'/hand to protect the left or rein hand and arm., while a solid forearm guard 'like a greave' is recommended for the right arm.

I disagee with Dan that these gorgets were not suitable for cavalry ( perhaps Dan was envisaging something different?), for they were clearly worn, and 15 c mediaeval knights managed wearing a bevor and sallet which restricted vision much more.....


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"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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#10
It is a possibility Paul, but having seen many of them in person, including the scaled one, and others that are not in the photos, I'm sure it wouldn't have been *exactly* like these. The neck protector is very narrow, and would work only in the same way as the raised collar on the bell cuirasses and some muscled cuirasses. There is not enough room to pull it up to cover the jaw or nose. The scale one is very small, and being scale, it could even have been worn under the epomides.

All that these prove very well however is that neck protectors in at least three forms were well known to the Northern Greeks, and Alexander is described as wearing one. It is Xenophon's peculiar description that it can cover the nose, that makes the matter more interesting...

I also wish to bring into attention the mention of leather (calfskin?) for the protection of the right armpit in the place of bronze.

And Does anybody have more info on the second gorget Paul posted? I have seen it since years, but i know nothing about it.
Except from its unique style, it also bears the only known remnants of pteryges known from ther ancient world! What are they made of?
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
[Image: -side-1.gif]
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#11
Once again, I envy you, Giannis, having the opportunity to inspect these artifacts first hand!! Smile

Giannis wrote:
"There is not enough room to pull it up to cover the jaw or nose."

I take your point Giannis, but at the risk of being pedantic, Xenophon doesn't actually say that. He says:

"as high as the nose."

that is, up to the nose, but not actually covering it......
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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#12
Yes, still, the point is one cannot put them over the jaw, like a pullover. Otherwise there would not be a need for an opening at the back.

To me this means one of three things.
Either Xenophon is talking about something different altogether,
Or these gorgets had some variations that allowed the covering of part of the face,
Or these gorgets can be moved in some other way when worn that offer protection to the face. Look at your second gorget for instance. It has hinges, presumably for easy wearing. Maybe these hinges allowed the front part to be raised when worn?

However Xenophon says also two interesting things: that the gorget can act as an ornament, and indeed many of these gorgets are lavishly decorated with gold, and there are even necklaces from Thrace with the same shape, and that only "if properly made" the gorget can cover the face. This is an indication that oftentimes these gorgets were not properly made according to Xenophon.
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
[Image: -side-1.gif]
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#13
Giannis wrote:

"However Xenophon says also two interesting things: that the gorget can act as an ornament, and indeed many of these gorgets are lavishly decorated with gold, and there are even necklaces from Thrace with the same shape, and that only "if properly made" the gorget can cover the face. This is an indication that oftentimes these gorgets were not properly made according to Xenophon."

I would agree with this, but I should like to elaborate on what Xenophon likely meant. He is not saying 'if properly made' in the literal sense, for it goes without saying that any piece of functional armour must be properly made. What Xenophon likely means is 'if properly made in accordance with my specifications', and as Giannis points out, this must mean that not all gorgets were made to Xenophon's ideal.

Also, Xenophon does not say that calfskin[leather] should replace bronze, rather that either calfskin/leather or bronze can be used.

The part that is left exposed when the right arm is raised should be covered near the breastplate with calf-skin or metal; otherwise the most vital part will be unprotected. "
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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#14
I agree with both, it is what I meant.
But the latter comment can be used as argument that Greeks DID use leather as some kind of protection for vital parts of the body, and whilst bronze might be lighter and stronger, leather could replace it at times. Of course I am referring to the leather/linen argument and the evidence we have about the materials used as armour by the Greeks.

But there is even more evidence in this same passage from Cenophon that more than one materials were used at least for pteryges, and not all of these offered the same amount of protection, yet they were still used at the time of Xenophon. For Xenophon says let the pteryges be of such length and of such material that offer sufficient protection!
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
[Image: -side-1.gif]
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#15
(09-28-2016, 06:37 AM)Dan Howard Wrote: Xenophon is speculating on ways to make their armour better. There is nothing to suggest that his ideas were implemented.

While Dan's generalisation is a little too sweeping in my view, it would appear to be true that the cavalry of mainland Greece were evolving from lightly protected horsemen into genuine 'heavy cavalry' exemplified later by Thessalian or Macedonian heavy cavalry, armoured and using a hand-to-hand lance in place of javelins, and who did not 'stand off' to fight. Under Alexander, this would come as something of a rude shock to Persian cavalry, who were in the main unarmoured and fought at a distance with 'paltai'/javelins.

Xenophon [Art of Horsemanship XII.8] goes on to describe protection for the horse as well:

"[8]Since the rider is seriously imperilled in the event of his horse being wounded, the horse also should be armed, having head, chest, and thigh pieces: the last also serve to cover the rider's thighs. But above all the horse's belly must be protected; for this, which is the most vital part, is also the weakest. It is possible to make the cloth serve partly as a protection to it.
[9] The quilting of the cloth should be such as to give the rider a safer seat and not to gall the horse's back.

Thus horse and man alike will be armed in most parts."


Xenophon was probably influenced by the panoplies of Persian aristocrats he had seen in Anatolia, and perhaps in Cyrus' army, who are often depicted on friezes and coins (often at the head of lighter cavalry, and riding down Greek-type hoplites! ) - see below. The thigh protection which also protected the sides of the horse were often called 'parapleuridae'/chaps.

Certainly Dan is correct to the extent that we don't see these 'proto-cataphract' cavalry in mainland Greece, so Xenophon's ideas were not generally adopted in their entirety.


Attached Files Thumbnail(s)
   
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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