|Athenian hoplite holding aspis, corinthian helmet and
xyphos. Exhibition “Democracy and the Battle pof Marathon” 23
Oct. 2010 – 1 Nov. 2010, Zappeio, Athens, Greece.
The dory is
a type of spear that was the chief armament of hoplites (heavy infantry) in
Ancient Greece. The size of the dory was about two to three meters in length.
or six to nine feet, and had a handle with a diameter of two inches made of
wood, either Cornel or Ash and weighed 2 to 4 pounds (1-2 kg). The spearhead
was made of iron and was flat and leaf shaped. The spear head’s substantial
weight was counterbalanced by a Bronze butt-spike.
There is a
lot of speculation as to the purpose of the dory’s butt-spike. In addition to
providing stability, the butt-spike could serve as a secondary weapon. If the
shaft of the dory was broken or if the iron point was lost, the remaining portion
could still function as a spear. Though the range of the spear would be reduced
by a break, the dory’s length would have prevented it from being rendered ineffective.
If the shaft sustained a break in which a large portion of the shaft was lost,
the weapon would be lighter making the hoplite using it more agile and allowing
him to thrust and parry more dexterously.
not all of the enemy fatalities would be immediate. The butt-spike could have
been useful in finishing wounded enemies as the formation advanced over them.
Another use of the feature might have been that by lodging the butt-spike into
the ground a hoplite may have been able to stand the Dory upright when he was
not holding it.
was the most ubiquitous armament of the ancient world. It was versatile and
did not require the metallurgical expertise, or the extent of resources needed
in sword construction. The spear’s advantage was that it enabled a soldier
to keep an enemy at a distance while actively fighting. The sword by contrast,
especially in the case of hoplites, was a short-range weapon and often an auxiliary
In the Spartan
phalanx, the dory was indispensable. Like the xiphos, it was a single-handed
weapon, held in the right hand leaving the left free to support the phalangite’s
used by the Persian army under Darius I and Xerxes in their respective campaigns
during the Greco-Persian Wars was shorter than that of their Greek adversaries.
This made the dory, among spears of the ancient world, unique in that the weapon’s
length enabled multiple ranks of a formation to engage simultaneously during
rank of the phalanx, which would bear the brunt of an enemy assault and absorb
the momentum of an enemy charge, held the dory with an underhanded grip. This
secure hold prevented the first rank from losing control of their weapons, and
limited the extent they were jarred by collisions with the enemy line. The first
rank’s thrusts were directed forward and were the most powerful of the phalanx.
The underhanded grip would have given the first rank more control over their
weapons and allowed them to place their grip nearer to the butt-spike, thereby
maximizing the range of their thrusts. This grip also would have helped keep
the butt-spikes of the first rank forward, keeping the second rank immediately
behind them from being injured by them as the phalanx was compressed while pushing
against its enemy.
rank held the dory with an overhanded grip and thrust downward in a stabbing
motion. When held at the height necessary to reach over the first rank, the
control would have been more precarious and the grip would have been more in
the weapon’s center. The hoplite would rely on the spearhead and counterbalance
to stabilize the weapon. Because of this hold, the range, power, accuracy, and
effectiveness of the second rank would have been less than the first.
The dory was
not a javelin. Despite its aerodynamic shape, its weight and length would have
made it cumbersome and impractical to throw. Because it was used most often
in combat between Greek phalanxes (i.e. the Peloponnesian War), it was constructed
such that it would be adequate against the defenses of Greek infantry, which
incorporated bronze in hoplon and helmet construction, and which were generally
more heavily armored than infantry of their non-Greek contemporaries, the Persians
A doru is
a heavy spear that is usually between 8 and 10 feet long, often favored by hoplites.
A doru has reach. You can strike opponents 10 feet away with it, and you can
use the butt-spike against an adjacent foe. You may wield a doru one-handed.
If you use a ready action to set a doru against a charge, you deal double damage
on a successful hit against a charging character.
Melee Weapons (Martial)
|Cost||Dmg (S)||Dmg (M)||Critical|| Range
|10 gp||1d6||1d8||×3||20 ft.||10 lbs
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