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This article is about the Greek term. For other uses, see Aspis (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with Apsis.
Hoplitodromos with hoplons and full body armour depicted in a Greek vase dated to 550 BC.

"Aspis" (/ˈæspɨs/; Ancient Greek: ἀσπίς) is the generic term for the word shield. The aspis carried by Greek infantry (hoplites) of various periods is often referred to as a hoplon (Ancient Greek: ὅπλον).

According to Diodorus Siculus:[1]

... and the infantry who had formerly been called "hoplites" because of their heavy shield (hoplon), then had their name changed to "peltasts" from the pelta they carried.

—Diodorus Siculus. The Library, 15.44.3.[2]


A hoplon shield was a deeply dished shield made of wood. Some shields had a thin sheet of bronze on the outer face, often just around the rim. In some periods, the convention was to decorate the aspis; in others, it was usually left plain. Probably the most famous aspis decoration is that of Sparta: a capital lambda (Λ) from Lacedaemon. From the late 5th century BC, Athenian hoplites commonly used the Little Owl, while the shields of Theban hoplites were sometimes decorated with a sphinx, or the club of Heracles.

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  1. ^ Diodorus Siculus. Loeb Classical Library, 12 volumes, Greek texts and facing English translation: Harvard University Press, 1933 to 1967. Translation by C. H. Oldfather up to Volume 6; Vol. 7 by C. L. Sherman, Vol. 8 by C. Bradford Welles, Vols. 9 and 10 by Russel M. Geer, Vol. 11 by F. R. Walton.
  2. ^ "hoi [men] proteron apo tôn aspidôn hoplitai kaloumenoi tote [de] apo tês peltês peltastai metônomasthêsan"

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