Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Spartan Musician and later Spartan Hoplites.

I recently bought the new Artizan Spartan musicians and high command set. The two musicians included are a pipe and a trumpet player. I painted the pipe player and he can be used in any period Spartan army.

This sort of Greek Pipe is called an Aulos and is not a double ended instrument but rather two auloi played at the same time. It was a simple double reed instrument (like an oboe) and had only five holes. It came in a variety of sizes from quite small (parthenios-maiden type) to large (hyperteleios -extra complete). Auloi players (and certainly the Artizan one) are often depicted wearing a phorbeia, a cloth or leather bandage worn around the mouth which contained two holes to help keep the instruments in place. It was Thucydides who noted that the Spartans marched into battle to the tune of the aulos. It is theorised, not unreasonably, that the aulos players formed a separate unit behind the Hoplite phalanxes but the Warhammer rules require you to put your musician in the unit so in he will go.

I also finished another two later Spartans to go with the General and other hoplite I painted some time ago. With their pilos helmets and lambda devices on their shields they are from a later period than the Artizan Spartans.

There has been much argument over the level of armour that hoplites wore in the Peloponnesian Wars. In the Nicolas Sekunda Osprey he argued (and the illustrations reflect) that by this period, and the later Xenophon period of the 10,000, armour had fallen from use. Others do not agree, however. For my armies I have to take a view on this. It was interesting to hear Phil Sabin say, at last years SOA battle day, that wargamers often had to think about things like this and make choices in a way historians don't. My feeling is that although the nature of Hoplite fighting changed, with looser and more flexible formations needed because of the increase in importance of lighter troops on the battlefield, people would still wear armour. Maybe too, armour would not be worn in battle if the terrain was unsuitable. Classical Greek battles tended to take place on pre-agreed flat terrain. However, if you were up in the mountains of Thrace trying to beat off ambushing tribesemen with one of Xenophon's mercenary units you might discard your armour in favour of better manoeuvreability. I am going to go for a mix of armoured and unarmoured units for the later period, therefore.

The figures from this particular Foundry pack are odd in a number of ways:

Firstly, unlike the Artizan figures, they are fully bearded but with mustaches. Under the laws of Lykurgus Spartans were banned from having mustaches. On the latter two figures a bit of judicious filing has dealt with this problem (oddly the Foundry general is correctly bearded and with no mustache).

Secondly, the Foundry shields are a bit small, certainly smaller than the Artizan ones. Although I am using bigger shields for the Foundry non-Spartan Greeks (taken from an Argonauts deal I bought a few years ago with the sheep's head filed off) I decided to leave these as some of the chracters have non-separate shields.

Thirdly, the hand positions mean that when you glue the spears on the spear is, oddly, always in contact with the head. Maybe this is designed to offer another attachment point.

Finally, the figures' breastplates appear to be for bronze armour, they are not the squared off linothorox form you find on the Artizan figures. I suspect that bronze breastplates with pilos helmets really would have been anachronistic (although I painted my first figure in this way as that is the way the figures on the Foundry website are painted). For the most recent two I simply painted on the lines of a linothorax. I didn't bother to fill the line on the casting meant to represent the join between the front and back of the bronze breastplate but maybe I will on future figures.
Anyway, now I have a front rank for my later Spartan force and can finish my first unit of Classical Thermopylae period Spartans (the final figures are underway).