The Greek Phalanx

Posted by

The Greek Phalnx was one of the most powerful military formation structure of the western world .The Phalanx was the main military formation used by the Greek and Macedonian.

Its soldiers were known as Hoplites (Phalangites) and regarded as the form of heavy infantry. It raged havoc on the enemies and was used by Alexander the great throughout his military career , up untill his final battle against Porus at Hydaspes.

Structure of The Greek Phalanx Formation

In the phalanx formation,the hoplites remained in tight formation(shoulder to shoulder ) .They were equipped with an 8 feet(2.5m ) long spear known as DORU, a large circular shield(HOPLON) 80 cm in diameter this shield protects the soldier as well as the right flank of the soldier next to him and because of this left handed men were not allowed in a phalanx, a short sword(XIPHUS), a leather lined bronze helmet to protect head neck and face, chest armor(thorax) and greaves.


The first two rows hoplites pointed their spears forward, while the two rows in the back tilted their spears at 45° to prevent the possibility of having air attack.

The soldiers at the back replaced the fallen colleges which strengthens their formation,

Initially the hoplites in the phalanx were part time soldiers and were incapable of long distance campaigning.

Philip 2 deeply observed these limitation and  started recruiting regular soldiers in his updated Macedonian phalanx. He also raised phalanx combat effectiveness by increasing its depth from eight rows to twelve rows and by introducing sarissa(a pike) and much smaller shield pelta.

Sarissa  was a 4-6 meter long pike made of cornel wood. At one end of the sarissa was an iron tip designed especially to penetrate body armor and shields, and at the other end of the pike was a metal butt.



The disadvantage of the phalanx was that it had very little mobility and maneuverability and because of this its flanks were protected by cavalry force.

Later Alexander the great made several changes in formation and weapons of the Macedonian phalanx.   

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *