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Warfare was a persistent feature of ancient Greek civilization. It was even conceded, with resignation, that warfare was the normal state of affairs, and most Greek men (and, indirectly, noncombatant women and children) had some familiarity with it. The focus here is on how this grim reality impacted social, economic, and political dimensions of ancient Greek life. Since relatively little is known about warfare in the earliest periods, the Mycenaean (ca. 1600–1150 BCE) and the Dark Age (ca. 1150–800 BCE), this entry concentrates on the Archaic (ca. 800–480 BCE), Classical (480–323 BCE), and Hellenistic (323–30 BCE) eras.

Environmental and Cultural Contexts

Several contexts shaped the development of Greek warfare. First, the Greek homeland was segmented into small plains separated by mountainous terrain, a topography that led to ...

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