AbstractThis article highlights two aspects of the language used in Classical Greek literary sources to discuss pitched battle. First, the sources regularly use unqualified forms of the verb kinduneuein, “to take a risk,” when they mean fighting a battle. They do so especially in contexts of deliberation about the need to fight. Second, they often describe the outcome of major engagements in terms of luck, fate, and random chance, at the explicit expense of human agency. Taken together, these aspects of writing on war suggest that pitched battle was seen as an inherently risky course of action with unacceptably unpredictable results, which was therefore best avoided. Several examples show that the decision to fight was indeed evaluated in such terms. This practice casts further doubt on the traditional view that Greek armies engaged in pitched battles as a matter of principle.
Journal of Ancient History – de Gruyter
Published: Nov 27, 2020