Portal:Military of Greece

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Introduction

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The Military of Greece consists of the Hellenic Army, the Hellenic Navy (HN) and the Hellenic Air Force (HAF), with the Ministry of National Defence being the government authority. Greece has around 177,600 active soldiers as well as around 2,000,000 reservists due to the compulsory conscription in Greece.

The military history of Greece stretches back more than 2,500 years. Between 499 BC to 449 BC, the Greek city-states defeated the Persians in the Persian Wars. Towards the end of the century the two major powers, Athens and Sparta, clashed in the Peloponnesian War, which ended in Spartan victory. Around seventy years later, most of Greece was occupied by the Macedonians under the command of King Philip II of Macedon. His son, Alexander the Great, led a Greek army in the conquest of the Persian Empire, reaching as far as India. On Alexander's death, his empire split into many small successor kingdoms, the last of which, Ptolemaic Egypt, became a Roman province in 30 BC after the death of Cleopatra.

The Greeks stayed under Roman control for around 400 years until the division of the Roman Empire, after which they became part of the East Roman or Byzantine Empire, in which Greeks and Greek culture played a dominant role. After the Fourth Crusade took the imperial capital of Constantinople in 1204, Byzantium was fatally weakened, and its lands divided between western ("Latin") principalities and Greek Byzantine successor states. Eventually, most of these were conquered by the emerging Ottoman Empire, which in 1453 took Constantinople. The Greeks lived under Ottoman Turkish rule for around 400 years, until the revolt of 1821. The ensuing Greek War of Independence lasted until 1829, and in 1832 the Kingdom of Greece was founded.

Since then Greece has fought in many wars, among them the Greco-Turkish War of 1897, the First Balkan War, the Second Balkan War, World War I, the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922, World War II, the Korean War and more recently the War in Afghanistan.

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Selected articles

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The Sicilian Expedition was an Athenian expedition to Sicily from 415 BC to 413 BC, during the Peloponnesian War. The expedition was hampered from the outset by uncertainty in its purpose and command structure—political maneuvering in Athens swelled a lightweight force of twenty ships into a massive armada, and the expedition's primary proponent, Alcibiades, was recalled from command to stand trial before the fleet even reached Sicily—but still achieved early successes. Syracuse, the most powerful state on Sicily, responded exceptionally slowly to the Athenian threat, and as a result was almost completely invested before the arrival of a Spartan general, Gylippus, galvanized its inhabitants into action. From that point forward, however, as the Athenians ceded the initiative to their newly energized opponents, the tide of the conflict shifted. A massive reinforcing armada from Athens briefly gave the Athenians the upper hand once more, but a disastrous failed assault on a strategic high point and several crippling naval defeats damaged the besiegers' fighting capacity and morale, and the Athenians were eventually forced to attempt a desperate overland escape from the city they had hoped to conquer. That last measure, too, failed, and nearly the entire expedition surrendered or was destroyed in the Sicilian interior.

The impact of the defeat on Athens was immense. Two hundred ships and thousands of soldiers—an appreciable fraction of the city's total manpower—were lost in a single stroke. Athens' enemies on the mainland and in Persia were encouraged to take action, and rebellions broke out in the Aegean. The defeat proved to be the crucial turning point in the Peloponnesian War, though Athens struggled on for another decade. Thucydides observed that contemporary Greeks were shocked not that Athens eventually fell after the defeat, but rather that it fought on for as long as it did, so devastating were the losses suffered. (Read more...)

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A manuscript depicting the use of Greek fire by the Byzantine navy. From the Skylitzes Chronicle.

Selected biography

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Theramenes (d. 404 BC, Greek: Θηραμένης) was an Athenian statesman, prominent in the final decade of the Peloponnesian War. He was particularly active during the two periods of oligarchic government at Athens, as well as in the trial of the generals who had commanded at Arginusae in 406 BC. A moderate oligarch, he often found himself caught between the democrats on the one hand and the extreme oligarchs on the other. Successful in replacing a narrow oligarchy with a broader one in 411 BC, he failed to achieve the same end in 404 BC, and was executed by the extremists whose policies he had opposed.

Theramenes was a central figure in four major episodes of Athenian history. He appeared on the scene in 411 BC as one of the leaders of an oligarchic coup, but, as his views and those of the coup's other leaders diverged, he began to oppose their dictates and took the lead in replacing the narrow oligarchy they had imposed with a more broadly based one. He served as a general for several years after this, but was not reelected to that office in 407 BC. After the Battle of Arginusae, in which he served as a trierarch, he was assigned to rescue Athenian sailors from sinking ships, but was prevented from doing so by a storm. That incident prompted a massive furor at Athens, in which Theramenes had to exonerate himself from responsibility for the failed rescue; the controversy ended in the execution of six generals who had commanded at that battle. After the Athenian defeat at Aegospotami in 405 BC, Theramenes arranged the terms by which Athens surrendered to Sparta. He then became a member of the narrow oligarchic government, known as the Thirty Tyrants, that Sparta imposed on its defeated rival. As he had in 411, Theramenes soon came into conflict with the more extreme members of that government; his protests against the reign of terror the Thirty implemented led the leading oligarchs to plot his demise; he was denounced before the oligarchic assembly, and then, when that body appeared reluctant to punish him, struck from the roster of citizens and executed without trial. (Read more...)

Selected quotes

  • "Look at the time Charon chose to take me, Now that the branches are flowering, Now that the earth sends forth grass."

Quoted from Athanasios Diakos, a leader in the Greek War of Independence as he was impaled on a spit by the Ottomans.

Topics

Events People
Archaic Greece
Persian Wars
Sicilian Wars and Conflicts of Magna Grecia
First Peloponnesian War
Peloponnesian War
Corinthian War
4th century BC Greek conflicts
Wars of Alexander the Great
Diadochi
Hellenistic Greece
Pyrrhic War
Byzantine Greece
Ottoman Greece
Greek War of Independence
Balkan Wars
Greco-Turkish Conflicts


World War I and aftermath
World War II and aftermath
Sparta

Athens and the Delian League

Thebes

Macedon

Diadochi

Later leaders

Byzantine leaders

Greek War of Independence

Modern Greece

 
Units and formations Weapons and technology

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