The unit of the Athenian citizen army, like practically
all Greek armies, is the heavy armed infantry soldier, the hoplite.
An army of "three thousand men" is often an army of so many hoplites,
unless there is specific statement to the contrary. But really it is of
six thousand men, to be entirely accurate: for along with every hoplite
goes an attendant, a "light-armed man," either a poor citizen who cannot
afford a regular suit of armor,
or possibly a trusted slave. These "light-armed men" carry the hoplites'
shields until the battle, and most of the baggage. They have javelins,
and sometimes slings and bows. They act as skirmishers before the actual
battle: and while the hoplites are in the real death-grip they harass
the foe as they can, and guard the camp. When the fight is done they do
their best to cover the retreat, or slaughter the flying foe if their
own hoplites are victorious.