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Title: Ideals and pragmatism in Greek military thought, 490-338 BC
Author: Konijnendijk, R. B.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7428 8916
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis examines the principles that defined the military thinking of the Classical Greek city-states. Its focus is on tactical thought: Greek conceptions of the means, methods, and purpose of engaging the enemy in battle. Through an analysis of historical accounts of battles and campaigns, accompanied by a parallel study of surviving military treatises from the period, it draws a new picture of the tactical options that were available, and of the ideals that lay behind them. It has long been argued that Greek tactics were deliberately primitive, restricted by conventions that prescribed the correct way to fight a battle and limited the extent to which victory could be exploited. Recent reinterpretations of the nature of Greek warfare cast doubt on this view, prompting a reassessment of tactical thought – a subject that revisionist scholars have not yet treated in detail. This study shows that practically all the assumptions of the traditional model are wrong. Tactical thought was constrained chiefly by the extreme vulnerability of the hoplite phalanx, its total lack of training, and the general’s limited capacity for command and control on the battlefield. Greek commanders, however, did not let any moral rules get in the way of possible solutions to these problems. Battle was meant to create an opportunity for the wholesale destruction of the enemy, and any available means were deployed towards that goal. Far from being at odds with nobler ideals, pragmatism was itself a leading principle of tactical thought throughout the Classical period.
Supervisor: van Wees, J. G. B. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available