The Face of Western Battle

Listen to this article

The Bloody Standard

There is an old Spanish war-phrase that encapsulates what Europeans1 were once best at, and are now the worst. Dar la cara literally means to “give the face.” English translators would probably change it to something less stilted, like “show [his] face.” But this would not do justice to the original meaning. “Giving the face” implies a deliberate, offensive, even aggressive action that dares an opponent, often without words, for action is its own eloquence. By contrast, “showing one’s face” implies that a person has emerged from hiding and has been called to come forth and “show himself” – a recipient of the demand for action. We can grasp the difference with the following example.   

Before the definitive battle of Plataea in 479 BC2, a Persian herald rode up to the massed ranks of Spartan infantry and delivered these insulting words:

Lacedaemonians3, in this country they say that you are the bravest of mankind, and are admired because you never turn your backs in flight nor quit your ranks, but always stand firm, and either die at your posts or else destroy your adversaries . . . Much do we find ourselves deceived in you; for we . . . expected that you would send a herald with a challenge to us [but] . . . ye seem rather to shrink from meeting us . . . [Thus, in your native manner] we send a challenge to you. Why should not you on the part of the Greeks . . . and we on the part of the barbarians, fight a battle with equal numbers on both sides?4

To this, the Spartans made “no answer.” They did not seem to blink, even. Nonplussed, the herald rode back to his commander, and the Persians sent their cavalry forward to harass the unmoving Spartans. By mocking the Greeks and asking them to “show themselves,” they suggested that the Spartans were cowards, and they, the Persians, were truly in control of the battle-space. But the Persians had misjudged their foes. Far from “shrinking,” the Spartans were so intent on giving the enemy their faces, that they stood stoically – helmless and shieldless – against Persian cavalry that made several sallies against them. Salvation lay literally at their feet, yet none bent to take up their gear, for the gods had not given the Greek priests a favorable sign. With each thundering pass of horse and whistling arrow, the Persians cut more of them down. Still, the Spartans stared ahead like figures carved from sternest rock. Despite their seeming success, Xerxes’ forces became more and more unnerved. 

After the third or fourth sphagia sacrifice, the gods accepted the Greek offering. Signals were raised, and the Spartans finally armed themselves. “Man to man, and with their war songs in the ranks, [they] exhorted each brave comrade” to remember his purpose. Flute-players took up their tune, so that the lines “advance[d] evenly . . . without breaking their order.5” Woe betide the enemy that day, for the Greeks’ equanimity belied a simmering fury. All craved vengeance for the slaughter of their king, Leonidas. Despite their opponents’ earlier taunt, Spartans knew that they were “the equal of any men when they [fought] as individuals; fighting together as a collective, they surpass[ed] all other[s].” The Persian high commander quickly fell prey to their spears, along with “the main strength” of the eastern barbarians. The few survivors “took to flight.6” If the herald was one of those lucky few who managed to make his escape, he would have had to admit that the Spartans lived up to every single one of his “expectations.”

There were a multitude of meanings in the event above as described by Classical Greek historians, Herodotus and Thucydides. It was one of a number of examples that illustrated Greek – and especially Spartan – valor during the Persian wars of invasion. But there were other things going on. The Greeks and Persians (and by extension Herodotus and Thucydides) seemed to be combining two types of warfare that appeared in earlier Homeric poetry: combat between “picked” champions, and the battle between armies of more or less “equal numbers.” The Persians threw down a gauntlet of challenge that recalled the duels between heroes Ajax, Achilles, and Hector – an older, idealized kind of fighting. It also embraced, however, what the Iliad’s Nestor called,

the crowded ranks . . . 
the bristling bulk and hedge of battle . . . 
spear by spear and shield by shield in line 
with shield rims overlapping, serried helms, 
and men in ranks packed hard – their horsehair plumes 
brushed one another when the shining crests 
would dip or turn: so dense they stood together . . . 
And the men looked ahead, braced for battle.

And in battle, individual desire for glory was sublimated into a collective determination for victory. No one “should . . . attack alone,” the old chieftain admonished. Together, “you’ll fight with far more power.”7 It was easy for dueling champions of the past to “give the face” and thus win glory, because they literally confronted one another face-to-face, toe-to-toe, mano-a-mano. But when more complex societies and city-states coalesced from small tribes into nations, warfare also had to become national without giving up that prospect of glory. The theatricality of “giving the face” had to continue to fuel the masculine war-spirit, while expanding its tactics to include whole armies of citizens. The result was a type of organized belligerence that we call infantry battle. The emphasis on ritualized fights – raids and single-combat in which rites of passage and shows of individual bravery were paramount – shifted to battles with ritual elements that instead prioritized collective strength. The goals of the former were to inflict some damage, carry away women and loot, and to win for one’s chief or oneself renown. Small raiding and ambush operations8 like these could go off and on indefinitely, with neither antagonist winning outright. It was a method of feuding, not winning. The goal of the battle, meanwhile, was to achieve a decisive victory in a more “populist” way. It combined the qualities of champions and single-fight with soldiery’s massed patriotism. Now, we can appreciate what ancient Greek writer Tyrtaios meant when he echoed Homer, that hoplites should “fight . . . shield against shield hard driven, crest against crest . . . chest against chest.” He should “close hard and fight it out with his opposite foeman.”9 At once, the soldier in battle must see himself and his “foeman” as individual faces in the crowd of combatants, as well as members of larger, national groups – one, but indivisible. 

Far from being the norm, this kind of infantry battle was once considered remarkable by non-Europeans. Persian satrap Mardonius10 had to explain what this custom was to King Xerxes, how the Greeks, after having “declared war on one another . . . come down to the fairest and most level ground that they can find and there they fight” hand-to-hand in day-long struggles decided by the hour of sunset11. As states founded on citizen-farmers who owned most of the land (and therefore the wealth) of their city-states – rather than property-less thralls that characterized other lands12 – the Greek poleis’ need to quickly settle disputes resulted in short, decisive13, all-out campaigns that did not interfere (much) with the growing season.14 Property ownership and relative freedom nourished what we would call “civic virtue” among the yeomanry. It also explicitly tied citizenship to war service. In the words of the Spartan founding-father, Lycurgus, “The spear-points of . . . men blossom [here] . . . along with the clear-sounding Muse and Justice in the wide streets.15”  These foot-men were the hoplites, so-called for the “cardinal item of [their] equipment,” the two-handled shield, or hopla16. The shock and thunder of colliding armies would have made a lasting impression on anyone unfamiliar with these tactics. Only well-practiced soldiers (which the Greeks were) could overcome the terror of hoplite-battle: ferocious hand-to-hand spear and shield shoving matches backed by force of muscle and tons of bronze. Or, what the Greeks called baros

They also had standard phrases that expressed the formational and formulaic means of fighting that allowed massed columns of men to assemble in a relatively small area: “battles in the plain,” “battles by agreement,” “just and open battles,” “drawn up” – all employed to evoke the formal and moral foundations of early Western battle.17 As long as each man kept his nerve and did not waver; as long as he kept his spear out and his shield up, the line was all but impenetrable. In a way that is easily traceable, future European concepts of military discipline (marching in lock-step, orderly advances and retreats on signal, preservation of formation, and mutual defense from comrades in the line) have owed themselves to the Greek battle-phalanx. With the onset of the gunpowder age, Europeans were best prepared to use their guns in unison effectively, given their previous traditions of drill, cohesion, and mass18. The enduring legacy of Greek battle is this: it defined bravery as maintaining the line, as not trembling before the enemy and thus losing coherence of column – bravery was not counting up individual kills, or glory-hounding. More than other oft-mentioned factors, this battle-mindset was for centuries responsible for Western survival and preeminence.   

Upon hearing Mardonius explain his rivals’ tactics, perhaps the Persian king felt the first worms of fear chewing his gut. But then, he remembered that his enormous multitudes, backed by the force of empire and all the riches of Asia, would be fighting rustic farmers. No, he reasoned,

Defeat is impossible
Defeat is unthinkable
We have always been the favorites of fate.
Fortune has cupped us
In her golden palms.
It has only been a matter
Of choosing our desire. Which fruit
To pick from the nodding tree19

But as he would learn, Xerxes’ diverse hordes of mercenaries and tributes, as fierce as their warrior-ethos might have been, could not match the blood-and-soil spirit of Greece’s citizen army. 

Along with our battle customs, observers have noted that Westerners have long had a different relationship with the human form than other peoples, and in particular with the face. A two-and-a-half millennia tradition of male and female nudity in our art is but one instance of proof. Of course, we have been known to wear helmets and masks; women have sometimes veiled themselves (though not as often or as completely as females in many non-Western civilizations), but just as Westerners invented true battle, they invested the beautiful face with great power and have not been afraid to show it. It is my thesis that these Western peculiarities were not separate phenomena. Scholars, along with the Greeks themselves, have juxtaposed Oriental gods with the Classical gods whose faces were created in the human image. Rarely have historians of the ancient world linked this distinguishing religio-ethnic factor with Classical, then later European, modes of combat. Indeed, the desire to “give the face” in war resulted in close battles fought mostly by infantry and under a daylight as broad and open as faces turned toward the Greek sun. It was a noble, but sometimes crazy way to fight, Herodotus admitted.

Crazy, perhaps, but not inexplicable. The face is the most expressive part of our bodies, and when armies “gave the face” to their foes, they were expressing three central things – distinctiveness, unity, and vigor – all qualities most readily conveyed by facial features. In turn, these qualities were represented in infantry battle by three central media: the battle-flag, -sword, and -speech. The unfurled flag, naked blade, and shouted war-cry were all ways that individual faces could shine, then merged into a collective front with which armies buoyed themselves and charged their enemies. They were rites/relics of redemption that purified through blood and conflict, for race-nation was always at stake on the field of battle. Thus, these tools of near-mystical transformation have given men and their movements the courage to “give the face” to their enemies on and off the field. Hence, the religious nature of battle; hence the methods of field-pageantry; hence the Spartan sacrifice of themselves while looking their “foemen” dead in the eye; hence the following epic story of the Western “face” of battle. The first of this three-part series explores one of the most visible elements of battle pageantry: the Bloody-Standard. 

The Bloody Standard

“The wind blew upon all the vanes of all the churches . . . and turned them one way — towards war. It blew, and shook out, as if by magic, a flag whose device was unknown to soldier or sailor before, but whose flap and flutter made the blood bound in our veins . . . It arrayed the sanctity of a righteous cause in the brilliant trappings of military display . . . It offered test to all allegiances and loyalties . . . To obscurity it held out eminence; to poverty, wealth . . . to virtue, purity; and to love, what all love most desires — a field wherein to assert itself by action” – Sidney Lanier, Tiger Lilies, 1867

  1. Shield Cover & Bare Faces

The ancient Greeks did not wave national flags like we do. But this should not exclude them from discussion, for their particular device and costume choices on and off the battlefield were precursors of the standard. Their equivalent of banners were the images on their shields. The well-known Spartan admonishment (“come back with your shield, or on it”) takes on an added dimension of understanding when we view them – not just as metal or wooden defensive tools – but as a kind of “blood-flag,” or war-standard. When raised across their wearers’ bodies and advanced forward during combat, they were also the “faces” of their fighters – the things most readily seen by any antagonists whom they confronted. Made from hardwoods (like oak) and covered with bronze or animal hides, the normal diameter of a shield in Classical/Archaic Greece was 91 centimeters (about 36 inches) around and weighed close to 8 kilograms (about 17.5 pounds)20. Multiple brackets on the inside allowed soldiers to carry them with both forearm and fist. They protected the body from chin to knee – and most significantly: also protected one’s neighbor in the shield-wall line. Before the Classical period (ca. 600 BC)21 shield devices were chosen to represent the tastes of the individuals who carried them. Their appearances were also “strongly influenced by the East” – by the Mycenaean closeness to their Near-Eastern and Eurasian cousins. Some devices were merely “decorative” – like rosettes, or geometric lines and bosses. Often, they fell into the “terrible” category22 – lions’ jaws, monsters’ heads, or the aegis of Athena as described in the Iliad

Casting off
her great brocaded robe,
. . . [Athena took] his shirt, the shirt of Zeus, cloud-masser, 
with breast armor, and gear of grievous war. 
She hung the stormcloud shield with raveled tassels 
ominous from her shoulder: all around 
upon it in a garland Rout was figured, 
Enmity, Force, and Chase that chills the blood, 
concentered on the Gorgon’s head, reptilian 
seething Fear — a portent of the stormking.23

These “terrible” designs were meant to awe or frighten an enemy, as well as to indulge the personal motives of the particular warrior who brandished it. It was not until the historical period of Greece (after ca. 700 BC) that shields began to display a new type of image: the national device. These were designs intended not only to “denote nationality,” but to be a standard, for they were emblems borne by entire armies24. The Thebans, for instance, used the image of a sphinx, while the Mantinaeans’ shields all featured a trident of Poseidon, because they especially honored the sea deity; thus they referenced en masse a local/national cult of a god. Other groups inscribed the first letters of their names upon their shields, for example: the Sicyonians’ Σ; the Lacedaemonians’ (or Spartans’) Λ; the Messenians’ Μ. Argive shields from late sixth century BC featured two hand-grips, one on either side connected to a rope that lined the inner shield. Experts believe that the second hand-grip was grasped by one’s neighbor immediately to his left, making it easier to form and then maintain a shield wall – a technology in keeping with the transition from an emphasis on single champions and raiding parties to united warriors locked in combat. Thus, the appearance of these national shields coincided with the special kind of fighting described by Homer’s Nestor and later Classical historians: the set-piece infantry battle. 

It was also during this period of increasingly sophisticated armor that the paradoxical development of the ideal warrior going naked into battle – with hardly any armor at all and only a shield and spear in hand – took center-stage in art and epic poetry. Bare-naked and often bare-faced, combatants on vases/pottery (which is where most of our original ancient Greek art comes from) appeared with nothing on, except perhaps tastefully draped togas and capes25. As for their actual faces, many figures were displayed with open-cheeked helms, or helms lifted back so that their profiles showed stern, courageous expressions. Many portraits of the war-goddess Athena illustrated her with crested head-gear lifted high from her forehead, so that her visage might be seen and admired. Not only was this lack of covering a deliberate act of “giving the face,” it was explicitly used to differentiate them, the Greeks, from those, the barbarian strangers. Of the “Hellenes” (Greeks), Herodotus wrote: “we are of one and the same blood, and we use one and the same tongue, we have in common the establishments of the gods and the sacrifices we perform in their honor, and we share the same customary ways.” For any Greek “to be traitors to all that” in the event of barbarian invasion “would not be well.”26  

The Spartans were matched in their victory at Plataea by the Athenians at Marathon. When the battle “was set in array,” the Athenians came to within “eight furlongs” of the Persian enemy, then “charged the barbarians.” To the Persians, these Greeks seemed “bereft of their senses,” as no one before had confronted them with such confidence. “They were likewise,” Herodotus claimed, “the first who dared to look upon the Median [Iranian] garb, and to face men clad in that fashion. Until this time the very name of the Medes had been a terror” to the ears of all peoples across the ancient world27. The exotic coverings that foreigners – even notoriously fearsome foreigners – wore to war had no more power to reduce our Western forebears to skittish uncertainty, each man only a few quivering looks away from breaking ranks and the bloody, every-man-for-himself rout that always followed when soldiers gave their backs, not their faces, to the enemy. 

Now, the wrapped bodies and covered faces of the Persian infantry inspired derision. None but a luxurious foe would attire himself in head-to-foot fabrics drenched in saccharine scent. Aristagoras of Silesia had earlier told the Athenians about “the Persian mode of fight – how they used neither shield nor spear, and were very easy to conquer.” The enemy had come to invade with little, save overwhelming numbers – no national devices, nothing to show for offense, or defense. Hoplites from the ragged limestone hills of Greece, a country pressed in on by storms and a thousand arms of the sea, looked to the more extravagant Achmaenids sporting their jewelry, parasols, eye-liners, and perfumes with contempt. “From the top of their foppish hats to the tip of their upturned [Eastern] shoes,” the Persians and their allies had succumbed to an excess that would enfeeble them on the battlefield.28 The fit infantry of Greece, meanwhile, had become the “henchmen of Ares.”    

In most other ancient Mediterranean societies, nakedness – bareness – signified poverty, defeat, and shame. We need only think of the Old Testament to find a worldview of this kind. Herodotus said as much when he explained that “among the Lydians [an Anatolian people], as among just about all the other barbarians, even for a man to be seen naked brings great [dishonor]29.” Persians, for instance, on Greek pottery never appeared naked, but were bedecked in non-Greek clothing, emphasizing their “otherness,” or effeminacy. By contrast, the Greeks “were proud of their soldiers’ physique[s]” and of the bronzed tan “that was the result of their exercising” unclothed. Xenophon’s story of Agesilaus of Sparta was instructive about how soldiers’ nakedness revealed, to the discerning Aegean eye, a man’s fitness to face the enemy on the battlefield: “He gave instructions . . . that the barbarians captured . . . be exposed for sale naked.” And when Agesilaus’ soldiers saw how pasty the barbarian captives were, “because they never stripped, and [how] fat and lazy through constant riding in carriages, [the Greeks] believed that the war would be exactly like fighting with women.” The difference between their own tanned, defined bodies and the pale, “feminine flabbiness” of the Persians “renewed [their] courage.”30 

Did this mean that Greek men regularly walked around their city squares in the buff, or marched into actual battle with nothing but their shields and spears? Believe it, or not, there were some legendary examples of this, like Spartan warrior Isadas. His was “a superb spectacle of bravery, not only for his fellow-citizens but also for his enemies.” Caught between boyhood and adulthood, he was astounding both in good looks and in size. He had also shown up “stark naked.” Though “bereft entirely both of weapons and of protective clothing, since he had just oiled himself, he seized a spear in one hand and a sword in the other.” Alongside his comrades, “he hurled himself into the very thick of the enemy, striking down one opponent after another.” He was miraculously unharmed by any of them, perhaps “because some god was watching over him . . . or because he seemed to the enemy to be something greater and more powerful than a mere mortal man.”31 This naked incarnation of Apollo understandably freaked out the entire enemy army. The singular appearance of the bare face or human form in the West as a symbolic ideal of raw power and courage differentiated Classical societies from others that viewed such nakedness as merely “exposure,” or “vulnerability.” For the ever-paradoxical Greeks, it was the very quality of these two things that made naked men seem invulnerable.   

Like the innovation of hoplite battle in which soldiers put everything on the literal line, forming spear-bristled columns with shields at the ready and pushed outward toward the enemy, the idealized image of the naked warrior was a means of “giving the face” by being boldly uncovered, and therefore courageous, beautiful, and Greek. At the dawn of the Classical era, ca. 600 BC, the Athenians, Spartans, Corinthians, and others were using new arms and costume choices to sever ties to, rather than to imitate, the East. At this point, they were self-consciously ethno-nationalistic. Even if they did not have color-bearers or blood-flags, their proto-standards were the shields and bloody images which they carried into battle and then celebrated in their war-songs and art. By contrast, the Greeks pilloried the soldier who broke his line’s formation and thus turned his face from the enemy, as no better than an Eastern eunuch. There was no act of greater disgrace than for a man to leave his shield behind. Such a wretch, in order to make good his flight, would be guilty of not only abandoning his post, but abandoning his ponderous shield. 

Demaratus of Sparta could excuse those who threw away helmets and cuirasses, because “they [wore] those for their own sakes.” But he could not forgive those who had discarded their shields, for these they carried “for the sake of the whole line.32” Even in Plutarch’s time, it was widely known that “the Greek lawgivers punish[ed] him who cast[ed] away his shield, not him who [threw] down his sword or spear33.” The word rhipsaspis, “one who throws away his shield,” still means a turn-face, or “deserter,” even in modern Greek. Note that its translation is not “quitter” – a failing with individual repercussions – but “deserter,” a failing that had disastrous consequences for the entire group. To “come back with one’s shield, or on it” meant that a warrior had not disgraced himself, nor had he “deserted” his people, even when defiance came at the cost of battle’s most permanent tax. We see echoes of this in contemporary examples, when fallen soldiers have been carried back to their homelands draped in a shroud that is their national flag. As we shall see, the strong tradition of personal honor, collective identity, and quasi-religious devotion attached to the Greek shield – the face of hoplite phalanxes for many centuries – would continue in the form of battle-standards. Losing or discarding a standard during battle threatened severe loss of face, of making honorable men into rhipsaspides for which the only cures were recovery, or supreme acts of sacrifice.

  1. Meaning all whites of European descent.  ↩︎
  2. The last land battle of the Persian Wars (492-479 BC) that resulted in a stunning Greek victory, one that turned back the invading armies of King Xerxes.  ↩︎
  3. Another name referring to Spartans and people from the Laconia region of southern Greece.  ↩︎
  4. Herodotus, The Histories, George Rawlinson, trans. (Moscow, Id.: Roman Roads Media, 2013) 9.48. ↩︎
  5. Thucydides, Landmark Thucydides: The Peloponnesian War, Richard Crawley, trans., Robert B. Strassler, ed. (New York: Free Press, 1996) 5.69-70. This is a reference to the Spartan conduct at the Battle of Plataea. ↩︎
  6. Herodotus, 7.104, 9.48, 9.61, 9.64-5.
  7. Homer, Iliad, Robert Fitzgerald, trans. (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004), 4.300, 4.367-8, 4.371. ↩︎
  8. I’ve noticed that raids and ambushes are sometimes viewed as equivalents in modern military histories, which is puzzling. While both forms of combat rely on the elements of trickery and surprise, a raid is generally easier to carry out, as its tactics involve falling upon a static enemy. An ambush usually requires better coordination and a more sophisticated operation against an opponent on-the-move. ↩︎
  9. As quoted in Christopher Matthew’s A Storm of Spears: Understanding the Greek Hoplite at War (Havertown, Pa.: Casemate Pen & Sword, 2012), 304.
  10. The wise Mardonius was a nephew of Xerxes’ father Darius, and ruled Ionia (or the Greek areas of Asia Minor); he died fighting at the Battle of Plataea. ↩︎
  11. Herodotus, Histories, 7.9. ↩︎
  12. Sparta is an obvious exception, as its small number of citizens did not farm, but dedicated themselves completely to military training and army life. For their food supply, they relied on far greater numbers of helots who tilled the fields. However, the Spartans were excruciatingly aware that these serf-laborers resented their unfreedom and wished to “eat their masters even raw”; thus, leaving helots behind and unsupervised for long campaigning treks risked rebellions that would have toppled the Spartan regime. They, too, needed to fight their wars swiftly for the sake of agriculture, then return. The Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC) lasted as long as it did, because combat rarely involved pitched hoplite battles; instead, sieges, naval blockades, proxy-wars, etc. made it a long, and ultimately devastating conflict. ↩︎
  13. Decisive battle – quick, sharp, final – lessened the possibility of unending feuds and raids that disproportionately targeted agricultural areas; in societies composed of citizen-farmers, constant low-grade attacks were cumulatively more damaging than battle and could not remain the status-quo for extended periods without risking serious societal breakdown or famine. This kind of decisive battle, however, has become more and more of a chimera over time, even as the ideals behind it have remained foundational to our notions of just wars and the rules of war.  ↩︎
  14. See Victor Davis Hanson’s The Western Way of War: Infantry Battle in Classical Greece ↩︎
  15. Lyric fragment quoted in Plutarch’s Life of Lycurgus, ch. 21. ↩︎
  16. Paul Cartledge, The Spartans: The World of the Warrior-Heroes of Ancient Greece (New York: Vintage Books, 2002), 67. ↩︎
  17. See Victor Davis Hanson, A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War (New York: Random House, 2005), 133. ↩︎
  18. See Victor Davis Hanson’s discussion of hoplite battle in A War Like No Other. ↩︎
  19. From the oldest of the extant Greek tragedies, Aeschylus’ The Persians, translated in Ellen McLaughlin’s The Greek Plays (New York: Theater Communications Group, 2005), 294. ↩︎
  20. See Antonio Santosuosso’s Soldiers, Citizens & the Symbols of War: From Classical Greece to Republican Rome, 500-167 B.C. (Boulder, Co.: Westview Press, 1997), 10. ↩︎
  21. There are several ways to divide the ancient Greek timeline; one of the best I’ve come across is a triple division: the Mycenaean Age/Bronze Age (ca. 2000 – 1000 BC), the Homeric Age (ca. 1000 – 700 BC), and the historic period (ca. 700 BC on). The “Classical” period includes the Roman Empire, spanning the seventh century BC (when the first written versions of Homeric poems appeared) through the fifth century AD and the fall of the Western Roman Empire.
  22. See George Henry Chase’s “Shield Devices of the Greeks” in Harvard Studies of Classical Philology, vol. 13 (1902), pp. 61-127.
  23. Homer, 5.835-45. ↩︎
  24. Chase, 77. ↩︎
  25. See Larissa Bonfante, “Nudity As a Costume in Classical Art” in American Journal of Archaeology, 93, no. 4 (October, 1989), pp. 543-570.
  26. Herodotus, 8.144. ↩︎
  27. Ibid, 8.112-115. ↩︎
  28. See James Fraser, Lloyd LLewellyn-Jones, and Henry Cosmo Bishop-Wright’s Luxury and Power: From Persia to Greece (London: The British Museum Press, 2023), 116.  ↩︎
  29. Herodotus, 1.10. ↩︎
  30. Xenophon, Agesilaus, 1.28. ↩︎
  31. Plutarch, Life of Agesilaus, (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1997), 30. ↩︎
  32. Plutarch, Moralia 242.146 ↩︎
  33. Plutarch, Collected Lives, (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1921), 343. ↩︎

Post Author

Leave a comment

5 1 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

This is a mysterious revelation: European warriors invest their power in their beautiful faces, and in the clash of opposing armies, they unleash that power in a duel with the foeman before them. Impressive as usual – thanks Kathryn S.!

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x