Hoplites needed armor
When the Greek city-states turned to this new hoplite way of fighting, it meant that each man had to have the right armor. Nobody could fight without a shield, and a helmet, and all that. So you could only be a soldier if you could afford the hoplite armor.
Hoplite armor was expensive
The bronze and leather armor was pretty expensive, and the expense kept a lot of poor men from being in the army. But it made each of the men who were still in the army very important – one weak link, and the whole chain would break and the battle would be lost.
Hoplites and democracy
On the other hand, there were plenty of Greek city-states where the army was made up of hoplites, and yet they never got a democratic government.
Sparta, for example, had a famous hoplite army, but they always had kings and not a democracy. And in Thebes, they kept their oligarchy until the 300s BC. In Athens, too, the shift to democracy also meant that about half the population was enslaved. Women and children and immigrants couldn’t vote either. So it’s not clear that’s a democracy.
In addition, the hoplite phalanx made Greek soldiers very good fighters, so that richer countries, like Lydia, the Persian Empire, and Egypt, wanted to hire them as mercenaries for the next several hundred years.
Hoplites and the Roman army
Did you find out what you wanted to know about the relationship between Greek hoplites and democracy? Let us know in the comments!
Greek Hoplite (Soldier Through the Ages), by Martin Windrow (1985). , from Scholastic.
Greek Hoplite 480-323 BC, by Nicholas Sekunda (2000). From Britain. A good first guide, useful for painting models or illustrating reports.
Warfare in the Classical World: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Weapons, Warriors and Warfare in the Ancient Civilisations of Greece and Rome, by John Warry. Lots of pictures, and not too much text.
Greece and Rome at War, by Peter Connolly (1998). Not too hard.
Hoplites: The Classical Greek Battle Experience, edited by Victor Davis Hanson (reprinted 1993). Essays by different specialists, more or less accessible to interested and confident readers. The writers don’t discuss strategy and tactics so much as the experience of the actual individual soldier.