Gli Etruschi

The Etruscan army


Lastra fittile del Tempio di Piazza d’Armi a Veio raffigurante carri da guerra, opliti e cavalieri. VI century b.C.. Rome, Museo di Villa Giulia

To equip their armies, the Etruscans could rely on a great availability of ferrous materials, extracted from the mines of central Italy.The individual city-states recruited their armies from their citizens according to the census and corps of cavalry, hoplites (foot soldiers) and lightly-armed troops were formed. The cavalry had mobility as its strongpoint and consequently its tasks were those of reconnaissance, skirmishes and pursuit.

The hoplites, whose arms could differ greatly, but which guaranteed a fairly complete protection, fought in a compact formation, with the best placed in the front line, and their mission was to attack the enemy. Lastly, the role of the lightly-armed foot soldiers, with weapons such as lances, but not protected by armour, was to confuse and provoke the enemy formations, striking from afar. There were also corps of engineers whose task it was to erect fortifications and dismantle those of the enemy during assault operations.

As a last resource, on some occasions, formations of priests took part in the conflicts, throwing themselves on to the enemy armed with snakes and lighted torches. In ancient times, the use of the war chariot was common. It is not known whether these were used solely as a means of transport for the leaders to reach the battlefield or actually in the fighting.

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