Hunting and archery

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Rosegarden
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Hunting and archery

Post by Rosegarden » Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:19 am

I recently looked at some vase depictions of hunting scenes and also Philip II's tomb hunting scene and I find it strange that they would not use a bow and arrow while hunting. Was it not commong to use a bow and arrow during hunting in ancient Macedonia and Greece? Would Alexander have been taught archery growing up? I would assume it is a huge advantage in hunting to be able to attack from afar, especially a running animal... It seems strange to me.

Alexias
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Re: Hunting and archery

Post by Alexias » Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:12 pm

Hi, others are probably far more knowledgeable than me, but I would guess the following:
  • aristocrats such as Alexander may have used bows and arrows to hunt fowl, but this would have been a diversion rather than a social statement
  • hunting was an aristocratic activity. On the whole, there would have been enough domestic meat available for Philip's court without having to hunt daily and in the more populated areas, the bigger game may have been mostly hunted out
  • hunting was a test of bravery, as well as a rite of passage into manhood. You couldn't recline at dinner until you had killed a boar, so hunting scenes in art are more about statements of the virility of those depicted than about the necessity of finding food.

sean_m
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Re: Hunting and archery

Post by sean_m » Sat Aug 03, 2019 7:52 am

If you want to learn about the way Alexander would have hunted as he grew up, the best start is Xenophon on hunting.

I would expect that Alexander trained with a bow, a sling, a knife, and any weapon that existed in 4th century Macedonia but bow hunting was not very fashionable.
My blog (Warning: may contain up to 95% non-Alexandrian content, rated shamelessly philobarbarian by 1 out of 1 Plutarchs)

Rosegarden
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Re: Hunting and archery

Post by Rosegarden » Mon Aug 05, 2019 1:00 pm

Thanks for the replies, I will definitely check out the link and read more about it :D

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dean
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Re: Hunting and archery

Post by dean » Fri Aug 09, 2019 3:27 pm

Hi,

interesting question. I can't remember reading about Alexander's personal use of archery.

The archers from Crete were used by the army or so Arrian tells us,seemingly alongside the Agrianians. Most references to archery in Arrian are alongside the mention of the Agrianians.

In Sogdiana, we read about horse archers too in Arrian's account.

At the hydaspes, Arrian also informs us of Daan horse archers. All this a good 2000 years before cowboys were contending native American's doing the same :D

As others have mentioned I would have thought that Alexander would be used to using all types of weapons...but who knows...

just my 50 cents.
cheers,
carpe diem

hiphys
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Re: Hunting and archery

Post by hiphys » Fri Aug 09, 2019 11:58 pm

In ancient Greek world hunting was the activity practised in place of war, but with the same rules of war. Mostly war was fought for the supremacy of a city-state over another city-state, of an army over another army, of a man over another man. Therefore the main target was to scare the enemy, not to annihilate him, and hand to hand struggle was the best way to reach this result. Obviously men did practise archery from the beginning of human civilization till now, for practical or warlike reasons or only for fun, but gradually, from the V cent. b. Chr., Greeks began to despise it, because a warrior was valued mostly by his bravery. This idea was expressed well in this passage of Euripides' Heracles: "Why was Heracles considered so brave?...He never held a shield and never faced a spear. He held a bow, the most base weapon, and he was ready to run. But the proof of one's courage is to face the row of spears bravely, without trembling". Nevertheless ancient myths were (and continued to be) full of heroes strictly connected with bow and arrows, besides Heracles: Philoctetes, Ulyxes, and Paris (the namesake of Alexander, who alternatively was proud of his "ancestor" or disowned him), and no one could eliminate their exploit strictly connected with archery. As to Alexander, Plutarch says he exercised himself on archery when travelling in Asia, apparently for fun (Life Alex. 23,4), but I think he wanted to adopt one of the traditional habits of Persian kings, who appeared frequently on coins shooting a great bow. There is no evidence he hunted with bow and arrows.

hiphys
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Re: Hunting and archery

Post by hiphys » Sat Aug 10, 2019 12:04 am

Sorry, I forgot the quote of Euripides' Heracles verses number: 151, and 156-164.

Rosegarden
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Re: Hunting and archery

Post by Rosegarden » Mon Aug 19, 2019 9:12 pm

Thanks for all the replies! It helps a lot :D

historyjunkie
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Re: Hunting and archery

Post by historyjunkie » Sun Aug 25, 2019 2:54 pm

An interesting article on this subject. tl;dr - archery in hunting was Persian and Alexander only learned it later in his reign.

https://www.academia.edu/18033229/The_P ... tion_paper

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