GreavesThe bronze greaves were one of the most basic pieces of armor in the hoplite armament since they didn’t cost as much to purchase as the breastplate did. They were fashioned as one solid piece of bronze reaching from the top of the ankle to the top of the knee, engraved with a wide variety of designs. They were designed to protect the shin and knee, leaving the back of the leg exposed. It is unlikely that the greaves were removed from the hoplitodromos around 450 BC because of their weight, but rather because of their impedance in leg movement. Depending on the fit of the greaves on the athlete, it is possible that the upper portion of the greaves could impact and bruise the knee or lowest portion of the thigh during leg extension. In addition, the greaves may have sometimes come unbound, or otherwise hampered leg movement beyond reasonable levels.
HelmetGreek hoplite helmets, like the rest of their armor, were made entirely of bronze. The design varied from region to region throughout Greek history, with face coverage being one of the primary details subject to change. These helmets could be open-faced, feature plates covering the cheeks, or designed with a full frontal cover with openings for the eyes and a small vertical slit for the mouth. They were typically crafted with a slightly conical forehead to help protect the head from direct blows. Greek artwork depicts the use of open-faced helmets in the hoplitodromos more often than those with cheek pieces. These same pieces of artwork also indicate that the variant of helmets that covered the majority of the face were not used.
ShieldThe hoplon was a wooden shield overlaid with bronze and measuring 3 feet in diameter. The bronze overlay could be applied only to the edges, making the shield 16 pounds at its lightest, or applied to the whole face, adding several pounds to its base weight. A handle at the edge and leather straps in the middle for the forearm allowed the shield to be held by one arm alone. As it was worn on only one arm, its weight would asymmetrically affect the balance of the hoplitodromos athlete to a great degree, adding another layer of challenge to the sprint.
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