What Is Phalanx in Ancient Greece?

In ancient Greece, the phalanx was a military formation that revolutionized the way battles were fought. It was a tightly packed group of soldiers armed with long spears and shields, standing shoulder to shoulder in rows.

Origins of the Phalanx

The phalanx originated in ancient Greek city-states in the 8th century BCE. At that time, warfare was characterized by individual combat where warriors fought in a scattered manner. However, as city-states grew and wars became more organized, the need for a more cohesive and effective fighting style arose.

The Formation of the Phalanx

To create a formidable fighting force, soldiers were arranged in rows with their shields overlapping to create a wall-like formation. The first row of soldiers held their spears outwards while the second and third rows held their spears above the heads of those in front.

The Advantages of the Phalanx

The phalanx had several advantages over previous forms of combat. Firstly, it allowed for greater control over territory as soldiers could move together as one unit.

Secondly, it made it difficult for enemies to penetrate through the wall of shields and spears. Thirdly, it enabled soldiers to fight in unison which provided psychological comfort during battle.

Phalanx Tactics

The Greeks developed several tactics when using the phalanx. One such tactic was called othismos which involved pushing forward with great force against an enemy formation. Another tactic was called diekplous which involved breaking through an enemy line by attacking at an angle.

End of the Phalanx

The phalanx remained popular throughout ancient Greece until it was replaced by new military strategies during Alexander The Great’s campaigns in Persia around 330 BCE. The use of cavalry and archers proved more effective against the phalanx and eventually led to its downfall.


The phalanx was a revolutionary military formation that changed the way battles were fought in ancient Greece. Its tightly packed rows of soldiers with overlapping shields and long spears proved to be an effective fighting force for centuries. Although it eventually became obsolete, its legacy lives on as an important part of ancient Greek history.