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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Arrows fired into the air cannot pierce target Reply to topic
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Colin Peddie




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PostPosted: Sat 06 Jun, 2015 7:04 am    Post subject: Arrows fired into the air cannot pierce target         Reply with quote

Hello, i was watching the movie " 300" where the Spartans with 300 men took on the might of King Xerxes persian army, but were eventually killed by a volley of arrows, it is based on fact but how they died is a myth because you cannot pierce any target by firing an arrow into the air expecting it gather enough momentum while descending to pierce its target, or do you know different?
COLIN PEDDIE
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 06 Jun, 2015 1:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Depending on the arrow and the bow and the distance, an arrow loses anywhere from 25% to 50% of its initial energy when it is shot in a volley.

The movie 300 is based on a comic and was never meant to be historically accurate. As a cinematic rendition of the comic it was pretty well done but it had little in common with the historical events in question.

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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Jun, 2015 6:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah, 300 is a movie based on a graphic novel based on myth based on legend based on history based on factual events of which not all that much is really known, and most of what we know is more or less debatable. There are some kernels of truth left in there somewhere, but they're buried pretty deep under multiple layers of fanciful embellishments accumulated over thousands of years.

Impressive visuals, though. Happy

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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Jun, 2015 6:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sufficiently heavy arrows could at least theoretically kill through some armor at maximum range (shot at a 45-degree angle). The heaviest arrow in The Great Warbow tests had 80-90 J of kinetic energy at maximum range if I remember correctly.
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Sam Barris




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Jun, 2015 7:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The account of Herodotus claims that, after Leonidas' fall, the surviving Spartans withdrew to a defensible location and formed ranks to protect his body until the Persians overwhelmed them with missiles. Now, as historical accounts go, Herodotus was certainly prone to more than a little bit of poetic license, but surely the far better accounts of battles like Agincourt show that volleys of arrows can be effective even against armored men. And don't forget that the Spartan equipment at that point in the game would have been in a pretty poor state.

Maybe you're referring to the specific angle the Persians in the movie 300 fired their volleys, rather than making a comment about archery in general. If so, disregard the above. I think I repressed most of my memories of that movie because it was pretty much just unbelievably terrible.

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Sam Barris

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Philip Dyer





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PostPosted: Sun 07 Jun, 2015 8:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sam Barris wrote:
The account of Herodotus claims that, after Leonidas' fall, the surviving Spartans withdrew to a defensible location and formed ranks to protect his body until the Persians overwhelmed them with missiles. Now, as historical accounts go, Herodotus was certainly prone to more than a little bit of poetic license, but surely the far better accounts of battles like Agincourt show that volleys of arrows can be effective even against armored men. And don't forget that the Spartan equipment at that point in the game would have been in a pretty poor state.

Maybe you're referring to the specific angle the Persians in the movie 300 fired their volleys, rather than making a comment about archery in general. If so, disregard the above. I think I repressed most of my memories of that movie because it was pretty much just unbelievably terrible.

Yeah, IF you have such a vast manpower advantage that you can send vast swarms of men to their doom as tactic to break lines, they have manage to outflank the much smaller force,while still having the manpower advantage, It doesn't doesn't really matter how strong or shield is or how weak the arrows are, the opponent's equipment is probably beat to hell and the arrows will probably find a soft spot and kill, the armor sorta becomes inrelevant at that point.
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John Hardy




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Jun, 2015 4:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sam Barris wrote:
The account of Herodotus claims that, after Leonidas' fall, the surviving Spartans withdrew to a defensible location and formed ranks to protect his body until the Persians overwhelmed them with missiles. Now, as historical accounts go, Herodotus was certainly prone to more than a little bit of poetic license, but surely the far better accounts of battles like Agincourt show that volleys of arrows can be effective even against armored men. And don't forget that the Spartan equipment at that point in the game would have been in a pretty poor state.

Maybe you're referring to the specific angle the Persians in the movie 300 fired their volleys, rather than making a comment about archery in general. If so, disregard the above. I think I repressed most of my memories of that movie because it was pretty much just unbelievably terrible.


Now that is an interesting comment by Herodotus. Did he say "arrows" or did he say something like "missiles"? Because iirc, the Persians used a lot of skirmishing light infantry besides archers, including javelin throwers and slingers...
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Michael Wiethop




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Jun, 2015 7:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I wonder--how would Herodotus have known what the Spartan last stand at Thermopylae was like if none of the Greeks present at that final stage of the battle survived? I know most of the contingents of non-Spartans were said to have gone home before then, as had two wounded Spartans, but the rest were killed there, weren't they? Perhaps he had Persian and allied sources?
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Andrew Gill





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PostPosted: Tue 09 Jun, 2015 5:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Wiethop wrote:
I wonder--how would Herodotus have known what the Spartan last stand at Thermopylae was like if none of the Greeks present at that final stage of the battle survived? I know most of the contingents of non-Spartans were said to have gone home before then, as had two wounded Spartans, but the rest were killed there, weren't they? Perhaps he had Persian and allied sources?


At least two Spartans (and one helot) did survive, so they could have carried back a description of the final battle:
From Herodotus's histories; book VII (the version on Project Gutenberg):

Herodotus wrote:
Two of these three hundred, it is said, namely Eurystos and Aristodemos, who, if they had made agreement with one another, might either have come safe home to Sparta together (seeing that they had been dismissed from the camp by Leonidas and were lying at Alpenoi with disease of the eyes, suffering extremely), or again, if they had not wished to return home, they might have been slain together with the rest,—when they might, I say, have done either one of these two things, would not agree together; but the two being divided in opinion, Eurystos, it is said, when he was informed that the Persians had gone round, asked for his arms and having put them on ordered his Helot to lead him to those who were fighting; and after he had led him thither, the man who had led him ran away and departed, but Eurystos plunged into the thick of the fighting, and so lost his life: but Aristodemos was left behind fainting. Now if either Aristodemos had been ill alone, and so had returned home to Sparta, or the men had both of them come back together, I do not suppose that the Spartans would have displayed any anger against them; but in this case, as the one of them had lost his life and the other, clinging to an excuse which the first also might have used, had not been willing to die, it necessarily happened that the Spartans had great indignation against Aristodemos. Some say that Aristodemos came safe to Sparta in this manner, and on a pretext such as I have said; but others, that he had been sent as a messenger from the camp, and when he might have come up in time to find the battle going on, was not willing to do so, but stayed upon the road and so saved his life, while his fellow-messenger reached the battle and was slain. When Aristodemos, I say, had returned home to Lacedemon, he had reproach and dishonour; and that which he suffered by way of dishonour was this,—no one of the Spartans would either give him light for a fire or speak with him, and he had reproach in that he was called Aristodemos the coward. He however in the battle at Plataia repaired all the guilt that was charged against him: but it is reported that another man also survived of these three hundred, whose name was Pantites, having been sent as a messenger to Thessaly, and this man, when he returned back to Sparta and found himself dishonoured, is said to have strangled himself.
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