Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>490BC Class.Greek hoplites
Subject: ὁπλίτης heavy infantry hoplite 
Culture: Classical Greek
Setting: late Archaic, Persian wars, Aegean 7th-5thc BC
Object: helmets


* Snodgrass 1999 illustration 20
"The 'Corinthian' was the commonest form of helmet in the age of the hoplite.  It was beaten out from a single sheet of bronze and represents considerable advance in technique."

* Wilkinson 1971 p12
"Perhaps the most characteristic helmet of ancient Greece is that known as the Corinthian.  It was first illustrated on vases and bronze figures about 700 B.C. and was soon widely adopted.  It reached down to the shoulder and completely enclosed the head except for a T-shaped opening leaving the nose, eyes, and mouth clear, although a nasal, or projecting, bar over the nose, offered further protection here.  The entire helmet was hammered out of a single piece of bronze -- no mean feat!  Surviving examples of the Corinthian have a series of holes around the rim, which clearly indicate that padding and a lining must normally have been fitted."

* Matyszak 2017 p121-122
"[T]he Corinthian helmet ... was technically a helm, as it covered the full head and face.  ('Helmet' is the diminutive of 'helm', as for example 'piglet' is the diminutive of 'pig'.)  Usually beaten from a single piece of bronze or brass, the Corinthian was a distinctive item of armour that had the added advantage of making the wearer look formidably inhuman.
    "This effect was further enhanced by the large crest of horsehair or feathers atop the helmet which made the wearer look taller.  Many images of Spartan warriors show the crest as transverse -- running from ear-to-ear rather than from forehead to neck as do other Greek crests.  This may be typical Spartan contrariness, as some have postulated, or because the images discovered depict actual individuals.  Since the kind of people who were likely to commission statuettes of themselves were wealthy, these were probably officers.  So another theory is that the transverse crest indicated a Spartan officer.  In rather the same way -- and possibly not co-incidentally -- it is very likely that the transverse crest later marked a Roman centurion.
    "The side parts of the helm were divided by a slit, so that when not in use the helm could be thrust up entirely and worn on the back of the head, with the flaps gripping the sides of the skull to hold it in place.  This was how the helm was generally worn, since re-enactors report that being inside a Corinthian is a very warm and claustrophobic experience in which hearing is severely impaired.  Nevertheless, since a hoplite in the battle line required only a focused field of vision and needed only to hear a few basic trumpet calls, the maximum protection it afforded made this helmet an enduring infantry favourite throughout our period."

* Bennett 1998 p87
"Corinthian helmet  commonest form of the Greek hoplite helmet in use from the 8th century to the beginning of the 5th century BC.  It was ideal for fighting in a phalanx formation, where the head was the most vulnerable part of the body.  The helmet completely encased the head, but had a T-shaped split down the front leaving the eyes, mouth, and nose uncovered, although the nose was still protected by a nasal."
    "The late form is arguably the most elegant helmet ever designed.  The only flaw in the design was that the wearer could not hear through the helmet.  Attempts, such as making holes in the sides, were made to try to solve the problem, but the type was finally abandoned in favour of the Chalcidian helmet, Attic helmet and Thracian helmet."

* Capwell 2007 p9
"A Corinthian helmet covered a warrior's whole face and head, with only a small opening for his eyes and mouth.  The part that protected the wearer's nose, called a 'nasal', was sometimes thickened to give it extra strength."

* Weapon 2006 p41
"The hoplite wearing his Corinthian helmet would have been a frightening sight to any opponent: a pair of glaring eyes behind stylized cutouts in the helmet face.  A large horsehair crest was typically attached to the crown of the helmet to make the soldier look more impressive, as well as providing a means of identification in the thick of battle."


* Bennett 1998 p63
"Chalcidian helmet  Greek helmet in use from the 6th to the 4th centuries BC.  It was an evolved form of the Corinthian helmet, cutaway between the cheek and neck to leave the ear uncovered and allowing the wearer to hear.  The cheek pieces were often hinged."

* Matyszak 2017 p122-123
"A compromise helmet which evolved around the early fifth century was the Chalcedean.  This helmet type was based on the Corinthian but aimed at giving the wearer greater vision adn hearing.  The design was somewhat more complex than the basic Corinthian, but the extra effort would have been welcomed, especially by those such as unit commanders who needed to hear reports from subordinates and orders from higher ranks, even amid the din of battle when removing a helmet to hear was ill-advised."

* Snodgrass 1999 illustration 24
"Bronze helmet of the Chalcidian type.  Closely related to the Corinthian form, this helmet had the advantage of leaving the wearer's ears unobstructed."

* Wilkinson 1971 p12-13
"Less common than the Illyrian and the conventional Corinthian helmets was that identified as Chalcidian because it appears on pottery so named by archaeologists.  It had open spaces for the ears and a simple nasal.  A variation of the Corinthian helmet was produced by the craftsmen of Crete, and this form was smaller in size and decorated with high-relief design."


* Snodgrass 1999 p52
 "Another common form ... is the so-called 'Illyrian' helmet, in fact a purely Greek type which perhaps originated somewhere in the Peloponnese in the earlier seventh century, and only later found its way to Illyria and other barbarian lands.  It too leaves the wearer's face open, but it has a distinct cheek-piece projecting downwards from the headpiece, as well as the low neck-guard.  The helmet was made in two pieces, joining over the crown.  The crest was always of the kind which lay directly on the helmet; thus it protected the one point of weakness, and the parallel ridges which kept the crest in place are a good identifying feature."

* Wilkinson 1971 p12
"Another common type was that called Illyrian; it was made in two pieces and joined by a ridge running across the crown of the helmet. Its shape was simpler than that of a Corinthian, and the helmet had pointed cheek-pieces."

​* Capwell 2007 p9
"Illyrian helmets were open-faced, and generally had long, wing-like cheeks."