Goths vs. Greeks: Epic Ancient Battle Revealed

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Another  Thermopylae[artwork by Igor Dzis]


Republication from Live Science


By Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor

Fragments of an ancient Greek text telling of an invasion of Greece by the Goths during the third century A.D. have been discovered in the Austrian National Library. The text includes a battle fought at the pass of Thermopylae.

Researchers used spectral imaging to enhance the fragments, making it possible to read them. The analysis suggests the fragments were copied in the 11th century A.D. and are from a text that was written in the third-century A.D. by an Athens writer named Dexippus.  During Dexippus’ life, Greece (part of the Roman Empire) and Rome struggled to repel a series of Gothic invasions.


Another Battle of Thermopylae found in palimpsest

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Republication from Τhe History blog

GermanicsGermanic warriors battling Romans (Teutoburg Forest). In my view, the Greek combatants who confronted them would have been armed like the earlier Roman auxilia of the 2nd century AD (in the mid-3rd century AD there were no longer auxilia from the Empire’s populace because they were all citizens) bearing chain mail armour, scuta (thyreos-shields in Greek) and heavy Roman swords but with helmets of traditional Hellenic types (image and comment added by periklisdeligiannis.wordpress.com)


The leaves of books in the Middle Ages were made of parchment and vellum, created from animal skins in an expensive and time-consuming craft. It was so costly that scribes often recycled pages from earlier books, removing the ink to create a blank sheet. In the early Middle Ages, the ink was washed off and over time the shadow of former writing reappeared like a pentimento in a painting. In the later Middle Ages, they used pumice powder to scrape the ink away for good.



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Greek Phoenician colonizationBy  Periklis    Deligiannis


By  the  end  of  the  sixth  century  BC,  Anaxandridas  of  the  Agiad  royal  family,  one  of  the  two  Spartan kings (Sparta  had  two  kings),  had  a  difficulty  in  bearing  children  from  his  first  wife.  The  Spartan  ephors  forced  him  to  take  a  second  wife – despite  the  southern  Greek  monogamy – in  order  to  obtain  a  successor.  Anaxandridas’  second  wife  gave  birth  to  Cleomenes,  who  was  destined  to  become  one  of  the  most  skilful  Spartan  kings.  However,  shortly  after  the  birth  of  Cleomenes,  Anaxandridas’  first  wife  also  gave  birth  to  a  son,  named  Dorieus.  Although  Dorieus  came  from  the  king’s  first  wife,  Cleomenes  succeeded  Anaxandridas  to  the  throne  as  firstborn.  Dorieus  became  furious  because  of  the  takeover  of  royal  power  by  Cleomenes.  Thus  he  decided  to  organize  a  colonization  campaign,  in  order  to  leave  forever  Sparta  (515  BC).  His  first  choice  for  the  founding  of  his  colony,  was  the  site  of  the  river  Kinyps  in  Libya.  The  men  who  followed  him  out  were  referred  by  the  sources  as  “Lacedaemonians”  and  it  seems  that  they  included  a  few  real  Spartans  (Spartan  citizens,  called  omoioi).  The  Spartan  omoioi  followers  of  Dorieus  were  mainly  his  personal  friends  and  some  members  of  his  political  faction.  The  majority  were  other  Lacedaemonians,  mainly  hypomeiones  (fallen  citizens,  ex-Spartans  who  were  just  beginning  to  become  numerous),  perioikoi (free  Lakonian, Messenian  and  Pylian  subjects  of  Sparta)  and  Peloponnesian  allies.





Italian lightly  armed warrior (by Peter Connolly), the main type of lightly armed  Italian warriors who attacked Cumae in 524 BC. Especially for the peoples of the Apennines, the central mountain range of the Italian peninsula, this was the main combatant type. These hardy and stubborn warriors, mainly Oscan and Southern Umbrian, caused great problems in Rome in the coming centuries. The depicted warrior has a native Italian helmet with a Greek-type plume. He bears a protection plate on his neck and a pactorale – a circular disk to protect his chest. He holds two spears – one heavier and one lighter. He also has a Greek-type sword (copyright: Peter Connolly).


By  Periklis    Deligiannis


In 745 BC, the Euboean Greek settlers who had colonized years ago, the small island  Pithekousai off  coast of the  Bay  of  Naples  in  Italy, founded  Cumae  (Cyme  in  Greek,  Cumae  in  Latin) on the opposite coast. Cumae was the first ‘official’ Greek colony in the Italian peninsula. Pithekousai was actually the first, but ‘unofficial’ colony in Italy. Cumae took its name from the Euboean Cyme, rather as a neutral compromise between Chalkidean and Eretrian settlers, the most numerous among the Euboeans. Chalkis and Eretria were the most powerful city-states of the large island Euboea in the Aegean Sea.

Soon Cumae, enhanced by new colonists from Chalcis, Eretria, the Euboean Cyme, Tanagra (Boeotia), Cirinthos (Euboea) and Oropia (Boeotia), expanded in the fertile land of the Phlegraian Fields to the north. Later, further more Greek colonists arrived in Cumae from Magna Graecia, Samos etc. founding subsidiary colonies and thereby increasing the extent of the Cumaean territory. Among the Cumaean colonies, Neapolis (modern Naples) would become the most important. In other cases, the Greeks settled in existing villages o f  the  indigenous Ausones, turning them into Greek colonies, as it happened in Pompeii, Heraklion (Herculaneum), etc. Thus the boundaries of the Cumaean territory were approaching fast  the river Volturnus, but soon they were confined by a powerful enemy: the Etruscans (or  Tyrrhenians  as the Greeks used to call them), the people of Etruria (modern Tuscany), mostly of Anatolian origins (from Lydia, Asia Minor).

The competition between the Greeks and the Etruscans was older enough. The mythographer Palaifatos (“On Unbelievers”) assures that the sea monster Scylla, which Odysseus encountered on his wanderings (“Odyssey”), represented the danger facing the Greek merchant ships in the Strait of Messina, from the Etruscan pirates.

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By Periklis Deligiannis

with draco(Fectio)
A Draconarius of the Late Roman period with a Persian-origin type of helmet, in a restoration by the British Historical Association Comitatus (Draco made by the German artisan Stefan Jaroschinski). He is a standard-bearer, bearing the Sarmatian standard of the Dragon, adopted by the Romans as well.
During the Late Imperial period, the cavalry gradually became the main Weapon of the Roman army supplanting the legions, the glory of Rome. This development was due to the influence of the Iranian peoples (Sarmatians and Persians) and especially to the Roman need to confront the enemies who had a strong cavalry which could defeat the legions (Sarmatians, Sassanids, Goths, Huns). The Roman cavalry helmets of the period belonged to the following four major groups.




The classic Gallo-Roman type of a Middle Empire legionnaire (www.romancoins.info)


ITALO-CORINTHIAΝ AND OSCO-ATTIC HELMETS: The Evolution of the Greek Helmets in ITALY (8th-1st cent.BC)

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By Periklis  Deligiannis

South_Italy An  Osco-Attic  helmet  of  the  Lucanians  with  many  characteristic  Oscan  novelties.


Etruscan  hoplites  of  Tarquinia  with  Greek  arms  and  armour,  4th  century  BC.  The  hoplite  on  the  right  wears  a  proper  Attic  helmet.  The  left  one  wears  a  mixed  Phrygo-Attic  helmet.

The  peoples  of  ancient  Italy,  firstly  the  Etruscans  and  the  Iapyges  (later  known  as  ‘Apulians’),  used  almost  all  types  of  the  Archaic,  Classical  and  Hellenistic  Greek  helmets:  the  Corinthian,  the  Chalkidean,  the  Attic (Athenian),  the  Boeotian  (for  the  cavalry)  and  later  the  Thracian,  the  Phrygian  and  all  the  Hellenistic  types.  They  had  particular  preference  for  the  first  three  types.  In  this  article, I  will  deal  specifically  with  two  types  of  helmets  in  Italy  which  originated  from  the  evolution  of  the  original  Greek  respective  ones:  the  Italo-Corinthian  and  the  Italo-Attic  or  Osco-Attic  helmet  (in  fact,  the  Osco-Attic  is  the  main  variety  of  the  Italo-Attic  group  of  helmets).
The  Italo-Corinthian  helmet  (also  known  as  Pseudo-Corinthian,  Apulo-Corinthian  or  Etrusco-Corinthian  )  was  born  out  of  the  habit  of  the  warriors  of  Italy  to  wear  their  Corinthian  helmet  raised,  even  when  the  battle  began.  Because  of  this,  the  protective  visor  gradually  evolved  into  a  decorative  ‘pseudo-visor’  while  the  helmet  was  manufactured  in  a  manner  that  did  not  cover  the  face  anymore.  In  the  later  centuries,  Attic-type  cheek-protectors  were  added  in  it.


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