Sunday, July 27, 2008

Upside down V on Spartan Shields

This is a question that has been bothering me since my early days of watching the original "The 300 Spartans."

"What does the upside down V on the shields of the Spartans mean?"

That inverted "V" symbol is the Greek letter "L" [Lambda (uppercase Λ, lowercase
λ; Greek: Λάμβδα or Λάμδα, Lamtha)]. The Spartans used the red Greek capital
letter lambda (Λ) displayed on their shields as an identification as the people
of Lacedaemonia (Λακεδαιμωνία), which in historical times, was the proper name of the Spartan state as used by Thucydides in his histories. The citizen of
Lacedaemonia was called Lacedaemon (Λακεδαίμων).
Thank goodness for the Internet.

"We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge." - John Naisbitt


Anonymous said...

Actually it comes from king alfonso fifth v being the roman numeral for 5 and when vlad tepes lead the Christian crusades the v represnted "vlad" the Italians (Vatican) believe that 5 is the holy number of gods gift and grace. They also believe in the 5 child prophesy known as cinque elemente (meaning 5th element) the prophesy that every 500 years their is a holy war where the cross of Christ is defended once again against Muslim domination. The 5 child will be born upon the 5th day and born the 5th child in his/her family. Born on the same day as christ crucifixion... 5th April. Sincerely
A qualified historian

Anonymous said...

V=5 and the Greeks call it "pente" as in Pentecostal . 5 being the number of triumph ie: David beating Goliath with 5 stones and the spear of Christ inflicting the last 5th wound. Hence the five fold ministry of the 5 continents spreading the word through the 5 vessels. (ephesians).
This is why 5 is the number of the warrior.

Texas Truth said...

Anonymous: Thank you for the information. Your input us greatly appreciated.

Anonymous said...

The Greek word for "five" originally (and in the times of Sparta's dominance) had nothing to do with "pentecostal". Do you really think that the Spartans who fought in the battle of Thermopylae (480 years before the alleged birth of Christ) had any intention of immortalizing a symbol of a religion that wouldn't be invented by some nutjobs until almost a half a century later?

Texas Truth said...

Anonymous: Thanks for the information. I appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

The info show is correct, but it was Herodotos' histories, not thucydides' histories. Thucydides wrote the History of the Peloponnesian War. They both call spartans lacedaemonians,but lacedaemonian refers to people of that area, whereas Spartiates.

Anonymous said...

I am kind of confused... The history channel said that the spartans shield had different painted designs on them. But most people say except for so far what i heard on history channel that they had an upside down v, so if someone could email me at that would be great.

Anonymous said...

Goodness me, it is most definately without a shadow of doubt the greek letter Lambda representing Λακεδαιμωνία.

Anonymous said...

"Qualified Historian", huh? Then you MUST know that Christ/ianity was still about 800 years to come. We're talkin about late 400's B.C., BEFORE no Judeo-Christian influence whatsoever. It's just the Greek letter "L" representing the Lacedaemon's battle train.

Χαμαιλέων said...

The article is correct. I don't know what sort of qualification the other guy claims to have, I'm Greek, qualified in Greek history.

Jan Lykourgos said...

It has absolutely NOTHING to do with a Roman numeral of five, it has zero to do with David and Goliath. It is not a V at all. And it is not the number five, (this is the most idiotic thing I've heard).

These are all completely arbitrary and random assumptions that have ZERO basis on Greek history.

First of all, there is no actual historical proof that the Lambda was used on shields, except for one single reference. This symbol, (L, for Lakedaemonia [Not Sparta]) was NOT used as early as Thermopylae.

At that period the Homoioi(Equals)/Spartiates used different shield episema (devices) that were individually painted on. There was no unified shield device in use for Sparta at this time, and no proof for it. It may have come about by the time of the Peloponnesian War and later, when city-states started to use defaulted shield devices that depicted the first letter of their city-state or region.

Messenia used an M.

Arcadia used AR, (Alpha, Rho).

Athens used the Alpha.

Tegea used a T.

And there is but one single reference which refers to Spartans using shield devices with the 'L' on it.