Glossaire de l’Antiquité

This is the first in a series of articles which will define some of the more obscure terms that joueurs de guerre run into when reading about their armies. Many of the common terms, like hoplite, Panzer, ou cuirassier have been omitted.

There are very few Asian terms in the ancient glossary, because they are rarely used in military history texts published in English. In the case of Latin et grec, however, textes anglais frequently continued to use the original word, rather than translate it. As a result, most of the words here are (L)atin ou (G)reek.

Terme Définition
Diadochi (G) Successors d’Alexandre le Grand, usually his generals.
Hwarang Korean for "Flower Boys" – The cavaliers of the Korean army - well dressed et impetuous young noble cavalry.
Poeni Full citizens carthaginois, descended from Phoenician settlers.
Qurbuti/Qurubuti The elite Assyrian guard infantry et cavalry. Fully armoured, avec spear et shield.
accensi (L) Men taken from the lowest taxed class to fill the ranks of the Roman heavy infantry. They followed the legion in their street clothes, et stood in the rear rank of the third line, ready to pick up the arms of the fallen et fill their places. They were also used as workmen et orderlies.
argyraspides (G) Literally, silver shields. The remnants of the original pikemen macédoniens d’Alexandre le Grand, who formed the elite in the successor armies, et displayed their status et travels with shields overlaid avec argent indien.
Balista (L) A large, crossbow-like device, usually powered by a pair of torsion springs (twisted ropes, in this case), used par les Grecs et Romains, et probably others. Balista fired bolts ou arrows in a variety of sizes.
cassis (L) The bronze helmet worn by Roman soldiers.
clibanarii Cataphract. There is some debate about whether a clibinarii et a cataphract are the same thing. If an author uses both, clibinarii usually implied a more heavily armoured, more Asiatic style cataphract, typical des Persans Sassinid.
cohors (L)
One tenth of a Marian legion.
dipylon (G) A large oval shield avec cutouts on the sides. A figurine eight. From the Homeric and Mycanean periods.
dromon A round-bottom sailing vessel. The most common ship type used by the Arabs and the Bzyantines.
equites (L) Roman cavalry.
falx A two-handed cutting weapon used by the Dacians. Similar to the rhompia used by he Thracians, avec a curved blade et long haft.
foederatii (L) Unités barbares serving dans l’Armée Romaine.
gaesati (L) Celtic fanatics who often fought naked et make berserk charges.
hasta (L) Spear
hastatii (L) The first line of the Republican army. Armed avec pila et épée.
hepteres A rowed warship avec two rows of oars, trois hommes par oar.
hermiola A combination rowing et sailing ship, created by pirates.
hetaeri Full citizens macédoniens, known as companions, serving in the army.
hipparch (G) Le commandant de la cavalerie grecque.
hipparmostes (G) A commander of Spartan cavalry.
hippeis (G) Cavalerie grecque.
hypaspist (G) Foot companions. Infanterie lourde macédonienne equipped et trained to act as the hinge between the pike blocks et la cavalerie macédonienne. The best morale.
kontos (G) Lance
liburna (L) A rowed warship that the Romans copied from the Illyrian pirates. It became the standard rowed ship for the later half of the Empire.
lochos (G) Any groupe d’infanterie grecque, 1/4 of a mora, ou a 100 man company.
lorica (L) Shell. Body armour. Lorica segmentata - overlapping, segmented plates (lobster), lorica hamata (chainmail), from lora, for leather thong.
maniple (L) Half of a cohort.
mora (G) One sixth of the Spartan army.
onager (L) Mule. A catapult avec a scoop propelled by a torsion bow.
palton (G) A light spear used par la cavalerie grecque et persanne.
parma (L) A small, round shield used by light infantry.
pedites (L) Foot soldiers.
pelte (G) The round Thracian shield avec a cutout on top that gave peltasts their name.
petasus (G) A flat felt hat avec a broad round rim worn by Thessalian cavalry.
pezetairoi The free but not noble Macédoniens who served comme infanterie lourde.
principes (L) The second line in the Republican Roman army, first armed avec a spear, they were later armed avec pila et épée, after the Camillan reforms.
prodromoi (G) Cavalerie moyenne de l’armée macédonienne. Usually Grecs ou alliés.
rhompia/rhompaia (G) The sickle-like two-handed cutting weapon used by Thracians.
rorarii (L) The Roman precursors to velites, lower class citizens who fought avec only a dart et a sling.
sagitarii (L) Archers
sagum (L) The cloak of Roman soldiers.
sarissa (G) The Maceonian pike. Usually 18 feet long.
sarissophoroi (G) Lance(sarissa)-armed cavalerie macédonienne.
sciritae (G) Spartan light infantry.
scorpion (L) A catapult based on a giant horizontal bow shooting large bolts.
scutum (L) A shield, any shield, although usually a big square one.
soldurii (L) The elite et well armoured bodyguards of a Celtic chieftain.
strategos (G) Un général grec.
takabara The Late Achamenid Persian imitation of peltasts.
testudo (L) Turtle. A three-dimensional box of shields formed by a unit of infantry during siege operations. Also used to refer to sheds protecting des béliers.
thorakitai (G) See thureophoroi.
thorax (G) A cuirass made of linen, leather, ou metal.
thureophoroi (G) A type of pike-armed peltast ou light pikeman developed in the Hellenistic period et named after their shield, the thureos.
tremiola A combination sailing et rowing vessel designed by the Romans to overtake and catch pirates using hermiolas.
triarii (L) The third line of the Republican Roman army. Veteran spearmen.
trierarch The commander of a warship. Originally the commander of a trireme.
velites (L) Infanterie légère romaine.
xiphos (G) The standard épée grec.
xyele (G) L’épée recourbée spartiate.
xystonphoroi (G) Xyston-armed cavalry, where a xyston is a long spear ou lance.

Chris Salander

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