Hand painted hoplite shields are fun but can
overwhelm even the best painter's patience.

SPARTAN SHIELD PHOTOS

Here come the Spartans...

28mm Spartans at Thermopylae in classic bronze armor. The spears are from Victrix plastic hoplites.
This unit combines models from Gorgon Studios, Wargames Foundry, and even a Vendel hoplite. All are using Victrix plastic and Gorgon Studios shields.
The spears are mixed between plastic and metal.





Spartan Shields Described


Spartans used the round aspis similar to other hoplites. They adorned their shield with personal or regional symbols that suited them. In the early times Sparta was just as open a society as other Greek city states, but the Messenian conquest and various rebellions reshaped their society into the highly rigid and disciplined people we hear about in stories today. Even with all that rigid conformity they were hardly uniform in appearance. In the Persian Wars period we do not have too much art reference of actual Spartans. You can see the link below that uses some analysis to describe how the symbols were aligned with Spartan organization and actual regiments or brigades. My guess is that units of Spartans at Thermopylae would have many different shield types because they were picked from all the regiments to serve in the bodyguard of King Leonidas.

Here is where I fetched my inspirations for these decals:

A1: Rooster: Design from a vase online. The Rooster is a common Spartan theme as it is a symbol of Apollo, the sun god.
A2: Bull Head (Spartan) Design from a reenactor's shield online. The down turned Bull horns are representative of Zeus as a bull and the rape of Demeter.
A3: Centaur with trident.
Design from a reenactor's shield online. Not specifically a Spartan design.
A4: Double Snakes.
Design from a reenactor's shield online. Snakes are a common shield device. Older clans from Sparta may have adopted this as a status symbol hearkening back to Archaic times.
A5:
Scorpion. Design from a reenactor's shield online. Scorpions are common Spartan symbols as it represents Ares.
A6: Solar symbol, Royal emblem. Design from a reenactor's shield online. The King or his bodyguards may have carried this shield, although Leonidas is often depicted with the Scorpion or Gorgon symbols.


B1: Gorgon. Design from some artwork found online. Not specifically a Spartan design, but very common.
B2: Fancy Vase. Design from some artwork found online. Not specifically a Spartan design.
B3: Solar symbol, lesser emblem. Design from a reenactor's shield online. Geometric patters were more common in the archaic period.
B4: Geometric Horse. Design from some artwork found online. Not specifically a Spartan design, but very common.
B5: Wreath. Design from a reenactor's shield online. Not specifically a Spartan design, but very common. King's bodyguards wore wreaths on their helmets.
B6: Dokana, Royal emblem. Design from a reenactor's shield online. The Dokana is a sacred Spartan design. Possibly only used by King's bodyguards.

C1: Aulos player. Got to stay in step!
C2: Bull Head. Design from some artwork found online. Not specifically a Spartan design, but very common.
C3: Griffon.  Design from a reenactor's shield online. Not specifically a Spartan design, but it is cool.
C4: Horse.  Design from a reenactor's shield online. Not specifically a Spartan design.
C5: Wild Boar.  Design from a reenactor's shield online. Not specifically a Spartan design, but significant as a symbol of the suppression of the Messenians.
C6: Bird.  Design from a reenactor's shield online. Not specifically a Spartan design.


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Some folks say that Spartan shield designs were assigned by territorial brigades of 600 hoplites called a Mora. Each Mora had its own device, although execution of the symbol would vary. Of course, there are other stories about Spartans having individual designs in this period. This web site has a very detailed "theory" about uniformity of brigades:

https://stefanosskarmintzos.wordpress.com/2011/12/16/spartan-shield-devices-episimon/




Kings and generals wear the fancy transverse crests.




I don't want to crow... but this turned one out OK. This 28mm model is by Footsore Models. I swapped a head from one model to the next and painted over
a LBMS decal for this shield. This is a Spartan leader (Brasidas?) of the later Peloponnesian Wars. Painting over this decal was one reason why I created the above symbols for my own use.


   



Don't forget to:

For tomorrow you may die...
RED RED I see RED!



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Old stuff with new to be added:


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Giuseppe Rava paints some great inspirational hoplite art.
Check out his Military art prints, I have this one on my wall.



Find his work at:

 http://www.g-rava.it/opere/evo_antico/6_Leonida%20alle%20termopili_eng.htm

Please send any comments to:

 jjonas@ancientbattles.com



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03/27/2020