Mora (military unit)

A mora (μόρα) was an ancient Spartan military unit of about a sixth of the army, at approx. 600 men by modern estimates, although Xenophon places it at 6000. This can be reconciled by the nature of the Spartan Army with an organisation based on year classes, with only the younger troops being mobilised for all but the gravest emergencies. Either way, it was the largest tactical unit in Sparta if not all Greece and was often the only force sent out on campaign.

A mora was composed of hoplites, men armed with spears, swords and aspis or hoplon (the word from which the soldier gets his name) and armoured in a cuirass, greaves and a Corinthian Helm. The unit was led by a Polemarch, the third (or arguably second) highest rank in Spartan hierarchy after the kings. However, sometimes there was a higher rank, that of Strategos, most famously held by Lysander. During the time of pure phalanx combat in Greece, the mora was a very difficult obstacle for a commander to negotiate. However, Iphicrates of Athens used a small, elite group of Peltasts to destroy one.

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