What Was a Soldier Called in Ancient Greece?

In ancient Greece, soldiers were highly respected and were considered the backbone of the society. They were trained to be fierce warriors from a young age and their role was vital in protecting the city-state.

But what exactly were these soldiers called? Let’s delve into the history books to find out.

The Hoplites

The most well-known type of soldier in ancient Greece was called the hoplite. These soldiers were heavily armored and fought in a formation known as the phalanx.

The hoplites carried a large round shield, a spear, and a sword. They wore bronze helmets and greaves to protect their legs.

The Ephebes

Before becoming a hoplite, young men would go through a training program called the ephebia. This program lasted for two years and included physical training, education, and military drills. The ephebes were not considered full-fledged soldiers yet but they played an important role in supporting the military.

The Thetes

Another type of soldier in ancient Greece was called the thētēs. These were lower-class citizens who could not afford to buy expensive armor or weapons. They fought as light infantry and provided support to the hoplites during battles.

The Cavalry

In addition to infantry soldiers like hoplites and thētēs, ancient Greece also had cavalry units known as hippeis. These soldiers rode horses into battle and carried javelins instead of spears. The hippeis were typically members of the aristocracy since owning horses was expensive.

The Archers

Archery was also an important part of ancient Greek warfare. Archers used bows made from wood or animal horns to shoot arrows at enemy troops from afar. Archers did not wear heavy armor like hoplites but instead wore lighter clothing that allowed for greater mobility.

The Slingers

Lastly, there were also soldiers known as slingērs who used slingshots to hurl stones at enemy troops. Slingērs were typically recruited from the lower class and did not require extensive training or expensive equipment.


In conclusion, soldiers in ancient Greece were called by different names depending on their role and social status. The most well-known type of soldier was the heavily armored hoplite who fought in the phalanx formation.

Other types of soldiers included archers, cavalry, and slingērs. These soldiers played a crucial role in defending their city-states and helped shape the course of ancient Greek history.