Fighting in the Buff: Did Celtic Warriors Really Go to War Naked?
Hoplite soldiers utilized the phalanx formation in order to be effective in war with fewer soldiers. The formation discouraged the soldiers from acting alone, for this would compromise the formation and minimize its strengths. However, some states did maintain a small elite professional unit, known as the epilektoi "chosen" since they were picked from the regular citizen infantry.
Fighting in the Buff: Did Celtic Warriors Really Go to War Naked? | Ancient Origins
The practice of entering combat without the use of clothing and armor is rare, but not unheard-of. The artistic convention of heroic nudity was established in the art of ancient Greece by the Archaic period. Polybius' Histories describe how the Gaesatae , hired by other Celtic peoples, the Boii and Insubres as mercenaries to fight the Romans, stood naked at the head of their army at the Battle of Telamon in BC. Diodorus Siculus reported other instances of such combat: "Some use iron breast-plates in battle, while others fight naked, trusting only in the protection which nature gives. Livy tells of how the Tolistobogii of Galatia fought naked, being proud of their spilt blood and even widening gashes they received themselves. Polybius describes them as fighting naked, armed only with their oval shields and long swords, although Livy has them only nude from waist up. In some martial arts that are designed to be used for military fighting, full or partial nudity still occurs. The traditional donga style of stick fighting practiced by the young warriors, now bearing firearms, of the Omo Valley Suri tribe of South Sudan and western Ethiopia, is often practiced entirely naked. In the Vietnam War , Vietcong sappers used to slip through the barbed wire naked or almost naked.
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