The hoplites have donned their armor. Now they assume
their offensive weapons. Every man has a lance and a sword. The lance
is a stout weapon with a solid wooden butt, about six feet long in all.
It is really too heavy to use as a javelin. It is most effective as a
pike thrust fairly into a foeman's face, or past his shield into a weak
spot in his cuirass. The sword is usually kept as a reserve weapon in
case the lance gets broken. It is not over 25 inches in length, making
rather a huge double-edged vicious knife than a saber; but it is
terrible for cut and thrust work at very close quarters. Simple as these
weapons are, they are fearful instruments of slaughter in well-trained
hands, and the average Greek has spent a considerable part of his life
in being taught how to use them.