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  • Hoplites were citizen-soldiers of Ancient Greek city-states who were primarily armed with spears and shields. Their main tactic was the phalanx formation. They were primarily free citizens—propertied farmers and artisans—who were able to afford the bronze armor suit and weapons. Hoplites generally received basic military training. In 690 BC, the Spartan army adopted a military innovation known as the phalanx formation. This new tactic proved successful during the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC and the Battle of Plataea in 479 BC, when the Greeks defeated the Persians. The Persian archers and light troops who fought in the Battle of Marathon failed, in part, because their bows were too weak for their arrows to penetrate the Greek shields and armor, and their own armor and shields could not stand up to the longer spears and swords of the Greeks. The word hoplite derives from hoplon, the type of shield used by the soldiers, although, as a word, hopla could also denote the soldiers' weapons or even their full armament. In later usage, the term hoplite is used to denote any armored infantry such as the Swiss mercenaries during the Burgundian Wars.

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