Wednesday, April 27, 2016

New book on the war horse in ancient Greece by Alexandre Blaineau

This is a new contribution to the history of equestrian culture in the Greek world. By adopting the angle of the war horse, Blaineau aims to study the relationship between military equitation and the actions of mounted warriors on the battlefields of the Greek world.  Thanks to Xenophon (430-355 BCE), whose work often refers to equestrian issues, but also to other available sources (literary, epigraphical, and iconographic), it is possible to reconstruct specific details of equine husbandry, from the type of mounts raised to their integration in cavalry forces. Military horses came for the most part from regions with a marked tradition of horse breeding. Their conformation, given the needs of war (scouting, harassing the enemy, charging) required conscious selection founded on zoological knowledge. Xenophon and others also reveal the degree to which selective breeding practices in the classical period were consciously applied, and Xenophon's description of the ideal horse in his work on equestrian art illustrates an intimate knowledge of horses...
The history of the horse in Greece ... reveals in effect an ensemble of practices, techniques, and knowledge, but also the existence of a form of industry in which farmers, herders, grooms or trainers emerge as key players in the production of effective mounts for the cavalries of the Greek world.
-- Text from listing on, translated and adapted by Ian MacInnes