sobota, 12 listopada 2011

Thracian art of war in Greece Classical period. Sztuka wojenna Traków w okresie klasycznym

“There are Thracians, fresh troops,
New arrivals, furthest distant from the rest,
Among them their king Rhesus, son of Eioneus.
His horses are the best, the finest and largest ones
I’ve ever seen, whiter than snow, as fast as the winds.
His chariot is finely built—with gold and silver.
He came here with his armour—an
amazing sight—huge and made of gold.”
Homer The Iliad X, 434 translation by  Ian Johnston

Thracian History, as well as history of European civilization, has its beginning in Homer’s compositions irrespective of the existence of Homer himself. Herodotus locates Homer at about 850 BC, so it would imply that the story itself is several centuries older, and was handed down aurally by generations of bards. The most interesting for our story is the fact that Homer mentioned Thracians, who amazingly supported Troy. Thracian king, Rheseus, appeared himself in Troy, where was killed by Odysseus.

“Now the Thracian race is the most numerous, except the Indians, in all the world: and if it should come to be ruled over by one man, or to agree together in one, it would be irresistible in fight and the strongest by far of all nations, in my opinion.”
The History of Herodotus V. 75. 3, parallel English/Greek, tr. G. C. Macaulay, 1890

These are words of Herodotus about 40 tribes called Thracians who were inhabiting a part of south-eastern Europe and a part of Asia Minor. The most famous Thracian tribes were: Getae, Bithyni, Odrysians, Moesi, Dii, Thyni and Trybali. The first great Thracian kingdom was established on Odrysian land in V century BC. For a short time it enveloped almost all Balkan land inhabited by different tribes. In 429 BC Thracian king Sitalces and his 150 000 army invaded Macedonia. The number should not be doubtful, because the population inhabiting the aforementioned area at that time is now estimated to be about one million people.

The Athenians, who were to assist Thracians, became frightened of the increase of Thracian power and did not give their support in the invasion. Thucidides in his History of Peloponnesian War mentioned this, and it must be admitted, he was well-informed.
Thucidides was forced to leave Athens, so he decided to settle down near Odrysian kingdom, where he had his inheritance (quite a substantial estate with gold mines). Greek, and especially Athenian, relations with Thracians were not solitary cases in history. Both cultures were under the mutual influence throughout centuries. “Ekdromoi” representing light armed hoplites were the effect of intermingling arts of war. Reference to them comes from before Peloponnesian War.
Thanks to their skills Thracians were famous as brave mercenaries. They were engaged in almost every serious military venture in antiquity. Thracians were present on Sicilia with Athenians, backed up Young Cyrrus at the battle of Cunaxa, they also were with Alexander the Great during his Persian and India campaign. Successors also had Thracians in their armies. Macedonian king Perseus and king of Pontus Mithriades VI were supported by the brave warriors in their wars with the Romans.
Thracians were also very efficient in defending their own boundaries. They were always very eager to revolt, masters of ambush and night attacks. Lysimachus, who was Alexander the Great’s heir to Thracian lands, was never able to fully subjugate that courageous nation.
It was only in 45 AD when Thracians were defeated by Romans after several bloody revolts.

Thracian warfare was based on light armoured troops: infantry and cavalry.
Heavy Cavalry. This unit consisted of members of wealthy families. Xenophon in Anabasis described Odrysian cavalry as equipped with armor, spears and swords following the example of Greeks. Odrysian king Seuthes II had about 400 such warriors. Cavalry was fighting in wedge formation which was taken from Scythians. This same wedge formation was later effectively used by Macedonians.

Light Cavlry. Thracians dwelling north Danube lands modeled their armor and way of fighting using light cavalry after Scythians. The rest if tribes were armed with spears, swords and light braided shields. They probably were the first to use shield in combat on horseback.

Light cavalry often used shield to protected against rear attacks.

Peltast. A term describing light infantry deriving from Thracian word “pelte”, meaning light, round or leaf-shaped shield made of braided wire or wood, covered with light leather.

It is how Herodotus describe them in the middlr of V century BC.

The Thracians served having fox-skins upon their heads and tunics about their body, with loose mantles of various colours thrown round over them; and about their feet and lower part of the leg they wore boots of deer-skin; and besides this they had javelins and round bucklers and small daggers.
The History of Herodotus VII. 75, parallel English/Greek, tr. G. C. Macaulay

Peltast and light foot in action.
These straight and short daggers called „akinaes” were very popular among northern tribes, who supplemented their art of war with Scythian armor. “Akinaes” was their secondary weapon. The primary weapon were of course javelins or long spears. There were however deviations from that rule. Tucidides, while mentioning Sitalces’s campaign against Macedonia, described particular Thracian tribes differing in armor from each other. For example mountain Thracians tribe, Dii, was always described by him as armed with swords called “machairophoroi”.
Archers. They adopted their art of war from Scythians and at the battle of Pydna they were mixed with Cretenian archers due to their high skills.

Slingers. This formation considered of sheperds from Thracian mountain regions. The slingers were still used in battles in Hellenistic period and later.

Javelimen. This light foot constitued a substantial part of Thracian army. They were equipped with shields and short daggers. Javelinmen were fighting with shorter spears then these of peltasts, but they were often assisted by them.

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3 komentarze:

Yori pisze...

Zaskoczyłeś mnie! Nic nie wspomniałeś, że przygotowujesz Traków. Świetne malowanie!

Bardzo fajny pomysł z bannerem przedstawiającym ostatnie malowanki.
Nawiasem mówiąc ci arkebuzerzy też są świetni!

Yori pisze...

Ups! Teraz dopiero zauważyłem, że to 1/72, to zapewne te ze starej kolekcji, które zamierzasz opchnąć :)

Ale i tak uważam, że są to świetnie pomalowane figurki! Powinieneś uzyskać za nie dobrą cenę, ale raczej sugeruję ebay ;)

Pablo pisze...

No tak tak, to moja pierwsza armia :). Obecnie wyekspediowana do Nowej Zelandii. :(

Ale tych zdjęć zrobionych kiedyś przez Tsara, mimo wczorajszych prób z 15 nie udało mi się przebić.
Są poprostu genialne.