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Publisher's Summary

In virtually all fields of human endeavors, Athens in the fifth century BCE was so much at the forefront of dynamism and innovation that the products of its most brilliant minds remain not only influential but entirely relevant to this day.

In the field of medicine, the great physician Hippocrates not only advanced the practical knowledge of human anatomy and caregiving, but changed the entire face of the medical profession. The great philosophers of Athens - men like Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato - interrogated themselves with startling complexity about the nature of good and evil and questioned the existence of divinity, advocated intelligent design, and went so far as to argue that all life was composed of infinitesimal particles.

Great architects and sculptors such as Phidias produced works of art of such breathtaking realism and startling dynamism that they later formed the driving force behind the resurgence of sculpture during the Renaissance and served as masters to artists such as Michelangelo, Bernini, and Donatello.

The plays of dramatists such as Aristophanes not only displayed an acerbic wit and a genius for political satire so pronounced that their works continue to be performed - and topical - to this day, but also served as the inspiration for virtually all playwrights from Shakespeare to the present day. And this does not take into account the host of equally brilliant mathematicians, natural philosophers, historians, astronomers and politicians that the city’s great schools nurtured and produced.

Modern perceptions of ancient Greece are almost always based on Athens and Sparta, which is why other city-states and other military units besides the hoplites have been overlooked for thousands of years. For this reason, Greek cavalry forces - including their composition, purpose, techniques, equipment, and developments - are still not very well understood when compared with their naval or infantry counterparts.

In fact, one of the most important epochs in the history of Greek warfare was the transition from the use of chariot warfare to mounted fighting and infantry-based action. The heroes of Homer’s epics, the Iliad and Odyssey, used chariots both on and off the battlefield as a means of transportation, but by the time Greece emerged from the Dark Ages, the chariot had almost entirely disappeared from Greek life. The main exception to this rule was in the world of athletics, where chariots continued to be used in competitive horse racing events, but the amount of public and private funds and the sheer effort which went into maintaining these expensive, highly trained knights demonstrated how important the ancient Greeks themselves felt it was to have an effective cavalry.

Indeed, even though they don’t often find themselves in the historical spotlight, Greek cavalry actually played a crucial role in many famous battles, from the fall of Troy to the conquests of Alexander the Great.

Ancient Greek Cavalry: The History and Legacy of Classical Greece’s Forgotten Soldiers traces the development of Greek cavalry from the Bronze Age chariots to the classical cavalry, examining how and why these transitions took place.

©2020 Charles River Editors (P)2020 Charles River Editors

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