Saturday, May 24, 2014

Gorgon Etruscan Hoplites Part 1

I have been painting a series of Gorgon Studios Etruscans figures. These are meant to represent the Etruscan league's army of about 500BC, in the time of Lars Porsena and early Rome. Most of the army would be equipped in the local Italian style of armor, but the wealthiest Etruscans would purchase costly Greek-style equipment - sort of like buying an expensive foreign car?

These hoplite figures, however, could also stand in for any Greek-pattern infantry of this period - Italiots, Siciliots, etc. 
Fig. 1 Hoplite with Corinthian helmet and spolas armor.
Shield design is a transfer from Little Big Man Studios (click to enlarge).
I remember first reading about "linothorax" armor in the late Peter Connolley's Greece and Rome at War. A linothorax is supposed to be a sort of flak jacket composed of many layers of linen cloth glued together into a stiff corslet. The corslet could be left plain, or else additional armor, such as bronze scales, could be sewn to the midsection. There are certainly Greek vase paintings showing soldiers donning armor made of some stiff material, such that the shoulder pieces stuck straight up until they were tied down:
Fig. 2 Kind of like cardboard.

There is now a controversy about this theory - a few yards of linen cloth and some Elmer's glue is inexpensive to us in the machine age, but not 2500 years ago. Why bother growing acres of flax, weaving linen cloth, and gluing up layers of the cloth with water-soluble animal glue, when one could use thick leather instead? The "linothorax" may have actually been made of stiff leather that would not delaminate the first time you got caught out in the rain. Who knows.

Fig. 3 Some helmet crest holders had a zig-zag pattern at the base of the horsehair crest, which is much easier to paint than the checkerboard pattern that was also used.
The fibers of the horse hair crest are bound into a "crest box". The crest box may have simply been glued to the top of the bronze helmet with pine tar.

Although many people imagine Greek-style spear men displaying the uniform "lambda" shield designs of late Spartans, most Greek shield designs were a riot of heraldic variety. Even the Spartans did not use the "everyone shows a lambda" shtick at the time of Thermopylae. Sorry Frank Miller.

Fig. 4 A very simple hand-painted dolphin.

Fig. 5 Simple painted bird and shield rim pattern.

Fig. 6 Beginnings of a phalanx.

Fig. 7 I'm happy with how dolphin guy's tunic stripes came out.

No comments:

Post a Comment