The dory or doru - pronounced "//" - (Greek: δόρυ) is a spear that was the chief armament of hoplites (heavy infantry) in Ancient Greece. The word "dory" is first attested in Homer with the meanings of "wood" and "spear". Homeric heroes hold two dorys (Il. 11,43, Od. 1, 256). In Homer and in classical period the dory was a symbol of military power, possibly more important than the sword, as can be deducted from expressions like "Troy conquered by dory" (Il. 16,708) and words like "doryktetos" (spear-won) and "doryalotos" (spear-taken slave).
The dory was about three metres in length (ten feet) and had a handle with a diameter of 5 cm (two inches) made of wood, either cornel or ash weighing 1 to 2 kg. The flat leaf-shaped spearhead was composed of iron and its weight was counterbalanced by a bronze butt-spike.
There is speculation as to the purpose of this feature. In addition to its role as a stabilizer, the butt-spike could serve as a secondary weapon. If the shaft of the dory was broken or if the iron point was lost, the remaining portion could still function. Though its combat range would be reduced, the dory's complete length would have lessened the chance of a single break rendering it ineffective. If the shaft sustained a break in which a large portion of the shaft was lost, the weapon would be lighter making the hoplite using it more agile and allowing him to thrust and parry more dextrously.
While the butt-spike could have been useful in finishing wounded enemy soldiers lying on the ground as the formation advanced over them, it would have had great utility during an active confrontation as well. When the leaf point was being used underhand (i.e., spear wielded like a sword), a forward spear thrust at the opponents spear arm will most likely be blocked upward by the opponents shield. Continuing the attack, if this blocked thrust is followed by a forward step using the left foot and a shield edge thrust into the face of the enemy's shield, the opponent would be knocked back one half step to a full step. This would leave the opponent's foot exposed from below the edge of the shield so that it would be perfectly positioned for a butt-spike downward thrust. The exposed toes and/or foot of the enemy under the edge of his shield would be similar to a "lizard peeking from under a rock," and may have prompted the Hoplite's nickname for the butt-spike as "lizard-killer" - Another possible explanation for this is the slang word Ancient Greeks used for penis - "Saurus", literally, "lizard" and the general ease of attacking an opponents groin region through an upward swing with the butt-spike. The blunt, square shape would prevent the spike from penetrating deeply enough into the foot or ankle to entangle it and would have maximized damage to the bones, ligaments, and tendons of the foot with a minimum of force. Also, using the butt-spike to make any thrust likely to end up in the ground is more desirable than possibly damaging the leaf-blade which has more utility for sweeping cuts as well as thrusting in combat. Another use of the feature might have been that by lodging the butt-spike into the ground a hoplite may have been able to stand the Dory upright when he was not holding it making it more readily at hand should it be needed quickly.
Use in the phalanx
The principal advantage of the dory was that it enabled a soldier to keep an enemy at a distance in a pitched battle. Like the xiphos, it was a single-handed weapon, held in the right hand leaving the left free to support the hoplite's shield.
The spear used by the Persian army under Darius I and Xerxes in their respective campaigns during the Greco-Persian Wars was shorter than that of their Greek opponents. The dory's length enabled multiple ranks of a formation to engage simultaneously during combat.
The dory was not a javelin. Despite its aerodynamic shape, its weight and length would have made it cumbersome and impractical to throw. Because it had evolved for combat between phalanxes, it was constructed so as to be adequate against the defences of Greek infantry, which incorporated bronze in hoplon and helmet construction. Hoplites were generally more heavily armored than infantry of their non-Greek contemporaries.
- Barbantani Silvia (2007) The glory of the spear - A powerful symbol in Hellenistic poetry and art. The case of Neoptolemus "of Tlos" (and other Ptolemaic epigrams), Studi Classici e Orientali, LIII, Anno 2007 (edito nel 2010)
- "The Dori". Spartan Weapons. Retrieved 2008-04-10.
- The Academy of European Swordsmanship 3 (2): 1. 2007 [Newsletter (April 2007) [http://www.the-aes.org/Newsletters/AES-April-2007-newsletter.pdf Newsletter (April 2007)]]
|url=missing title (help). "The primary weapon of the hoplite, the dory spear was 7 to 9 feet in length, weighing 2 to 4 pounds, having a two inch diameter wooden handle, and tipped with an iron spearhead on one end and another iron tip on the other. The spearhead was often leaf-shaped, and the iron cap on the other end, called the sauroter (literally "lizard-killer") was often square in cross section, and was a counterbalance and a second deadly point on the weapon. This counterbalance function is essential, as the spear was handled with a single hand in the Greek phalanx formation."
- Cartledge, Paul. Thermopylae: The Battle That Changed the World. New York: The Overlook Press, 2006, p. 145.
- Hanson, Victor Davis (1991). Hoplites: The Classical Greek Battle Experience. Routledge. p. 72. ISBN 0-415-09816-5.