Hoplite with spear in an arming scene on the tondo of an Attic red-figure kylix (490–470 BC

The dory or doru (/ˈdɒr/; Greek: δόρυ) was the chief spear of hoplites (heavy infantry) in Ancient Greece. The word doru is first attested in the Homeric epics with the meanings of "wood" and "spear". Homeric heroes hold two dorata (Greek: δόρατα, plural of δόρυ) (Il. 11,43, Od. 1, 256). In classical antiquity, the dory was a symbol of military power, possibly more important than the sword, as can be inferred from expressions like "Troy conquered by dory" (Il. 16,708) and words like "doryktetos" (Greek: δορίκτητος) (spear-won) and "doryalotos" (Greek: δορυάλωτος) (spear-taken).[1]

The spear used by the Persian army under Darius I and Xerxes in their respective campaigns during the Greco-Persian Wars was shorter than that of their Greek opponents. The dory's length enabled multiple ranks of a formation to engage simultaneously during combat.

The dory was not intended for throwing, such as a dart or javelin. However, its aerodynamic shape allowed the dory to be thrown. Because it had evolved for combat between phalanges (the plural form of phalanx), it was constructed so as to be adequate against the defences of Greek infantry, which incorporated bronze in shield and helmet construction. Hoplites were generally more heavily armored than infantry of their non-Greek contemporaries.

Should not be confused with Dorydrepanon (δορυδρέπανον, from δόρυ (Dory) + δρέπανον (Sickle)) which was a kind of Halberd[2] and was used for cutting off halyards in sea-fights and for pulling down battlements in sieges.


In the genre scene of Achilles and Ajax playing dice, here with Athena presiding, the heroes often hold two spears (Attic black-figure hydria, ca. 510 BCE BC)

The dory was about 2-3 meters in length (6'7" in. to 9'10 in.) and had a handle with a diameter of 5 cm (2 in) made of wood, either cornel or ash weighing 0.91 to 1.81 kg (2.0 to 4.0 lb). The flat leaf-shaped spearhead was composed of iron and its weight was counterbalanced by an iron butt-spike.[3][4][5] (cf Sarissa)

The point part of the spear was called αἰχμή and ἀκωκή and λόγχη.[6]

The rear of the spear was capped with a spike called a sauroter (Greek: σαυρωτήρ). It was also called ouriachos (οὐρίαχος) and styrax (στύραξ) or styrakion (στυράκιον).[6] It functionally served as a counter-weight to give balance. This spike had several uses. It could be used to stand the spear up or used as a secondary weapon if the spearhead was broken off.[7] If the shaft of the dory was broken or if the iron point was lost, the remaining portion could still function.[8] Though its combat range would be reduced, the dory's complete length would have lessened the chance of a single break rendering it ineffective. Additionally, any enemies that had fallen could be dispatched by the warriors marching over them in the back ranks of the phalanx who were holding their spears in a vertical position.[7]

A dory was kept in a case which was called δορατοθήκη[6] or δουροδοθήκη or δουροθήκη or δοροθήκη[9] (meaning "dory case") and δουροδόκη[10] or δορυδόκη[9] (meaning "dory rack"). Homer called it σύριγξ, meaning pipe because of the form of the case.[6]

See also


  1. ^ Barbantani Silvia (2010 [2007])]. "The glory of the spear—A powerful symbol in Hellenistic poetry and art. The case of Neoptolemus 'of Tlos' (and other Ptolemaic epigrams)". Studi Classici e Orientali, vol. LIII. ISSN 0081-6124.
  2. ^ Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon, Dorydrepanon
  3. ^ "The Dori". Spartan Weapons. Archived from the original on 2008-05-29. Retrieved 2008-04-10.
  4. ^ "Newsletter (April 2007)" (PDF). The Academy of European Swordsmanship. 3 (2): 1. 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-10-07. The primary weapon of the hoplite, the dory spear was 7 to 9 feet in length, weighing 1 to 2 kilograms, having a two inch diameter wooden handle, and tipped with an iron spearhead on one end and another iron tip on the other. The spearhead was often leaf-shaped, and the iron cap on the other end, called the sauroter (literally "lizard-killer") was often square in cross section, and was a counterbalance and a second deadly point on the weapon. This counterbalance function is essential, as the spear was handled with a single hand in the Greek phalanx formation.
  5. ^ Cartledge, Paul. Thermopylae: The Battle That Changed the World. New York: The Overlook Press, 2006, p. 145.
  6. ^ a b c d A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), William Smith, LLD, William Wayte, G. E. Marindin, Ed., Hasta
  7. ^ a b "Spartan Weapons".
  8. ^ Hanson, Victor Davis (1991). Hoplites: The Classical Greek Battle Experience. Routledge. p. 72. ISBN 0-415-09816-5.
  9. ^ a b Iouliou Polydeukous Onomastikon en bibliois deka
  10. ^ Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon, Dourodokh