hoplite (hŏpˈlĪt) [key], heavy infantry soldier in the armies of classical Greece. Hoplites were usually protected by helmets, cuirasses, and leg armor. They carried large shields, javelins, heavy swords, and sometimes battle-axes and fought in the tightly organized phalanx formation. In classical Greece, hoplites were often citizens of city-states, who paid for their weaponry as a duty of citizenship. Among the most famous hoplites was Socrates, who fought for Athens during the Peloponnesian War.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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