Dory (spear)

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Hoplite with his aspis and dory.

The dory or doru (/dɒrʊ/; Greek: δόρυ) is a spear that was the chief armament of hoplites (heavy infantry) in Ancient Greece. The word "dory" was first attested by Homer with the meanings of "wood" and "spear". Homeric heroes hold two dorata (Il. 11,43, Od. 1, 256). In the Homeric epics and in the 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).[1]

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.[2][3][4] (cf Sarissa)

Butt-spike[edit]

The rear of the spear was capped with a spike called a sauroter, Greek for "lizard killer". This spike had several uses. It could be used to stand the spear up or used as a secondary weapon if the spearhead was broken off.[5] If the shaft of the dory was broken or if the iron point was lost, the remaining portion could still function.[6] Though its combat range would be reduced, the dory '​s complete length would have lessened the chance of a single break rendering it ineffective. Additionally, any enemies that had fallen could be dispatched by the warriors marching over them in the back ranks of the phalanx who were holding their spears in a vertical position.[5]

Use in the phalanx[edit]

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 shield and helmet construction. Hoplites were generally more heavily armored than infantry of their non-Greek contemporaries.

References[edit]

  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ "The Dori". Spartan Weapons. Retrieved 2008-04-10. 
  3. ^ 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." 
  4. ^ Cartledge, Paul. Thermopylae: The Battle That Changed the World. New York: The Overlook Press, 2006, p. 145.
  5. ^ a b http://www.ancientmilitary.com/spartan-weapons.htm
  6. ^ Hanson, Victor Davis (1991). Hoplites: The Classical Greek Battle Experience. Routledge. p. 72. ISBN 0-415-09816-5.