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Main Idea Passage E
For each of the following passages, try to find the main idea. Read the topic sentences of each paragraph and paraphrase them. Then, try to state the main idea. Be on the lookout for direction markers!

1. Although Homer's Iliad is a work of fiction, many historians use it as a starting place for their understanding of early Greek warfare. Homer's work, although surely suffused with poetic and artistic liberties, provides historians with a glimpse of the types of weapons and armor used during the period, as well as some insight into the methods and strategies of early Greek warfare.

2. During the time in which the Iliad takes place, weapons and armor were primarily fashioned from bronze. Homer does mention armor made of gold, particularly the gold suit of armor that the Lycian hero Glaucus wears. Although gold armor may certainly have existed, it is certain that its use was restricted to only the most prestigious of warriors. Iron was known to the Greeks at the time of the battles described in the Iliad, but it was typically used for tools, not weapons. One exception was arrowheads, which were often made of iron. Still, ironwork was in its early stages, and historians conjecture that iron weapons were not seen as an improvement over bronze ones.

3. Most Greek warriors employed spears as their main weapon. A spear in this time period was usually made of wood and designed for throwing, not close-quarter combat. In Homer's play, Hector's spear is described as being 11 cubits long, which would be equivalent to 18 feet in length. Swords were also carried, often hanging from a warrior's side in a sheath. These swords were often edged on both sides and used with a slashing motion as opposed to a thrusting one.

4. In Homer's epic, the soldier Ajax carried a shield made of seven layers of bull's hide, edged in bronze. It can be inferred that shields during this time were body length, as the shield of Ajax is described as a "tower." A Greek soldier's shield was not held as were later shields; instead, it was hung from the neck by straps. Smaller, round handheld shields may have existed as well. Their use can also be inferred from details in Homer's poem. Achilles wore greaves, a type of armor that protected the lower leg. Because his lower legs were covered by a body shield, a warrior wearing greaves probably carried a smaller shield.

5. Another piece of standard equipment for a Greek warrior was a helmet. Homer's heroes wore helmets of bronze, although it is likely that some of the soldiers wore leather headgear. The helmets in early Greek warfare were both decorative and protective, and many helmets were crowned by an impressive plume of horsehair. But the early Greek helmet was also quite sturdy, and it was not uncommon for a sword to shatter upon striking it. Besides the helmet, it is unlikely that the standard Greek warrior possessed metal armor. Metal armor was the privilege of the leaders, and it appears that in battle, only another leader would engage a leader in combat. Otherwise, a common soldier would likely be slaughtered by the better-equipped captain.

6. Despite the wealth of information Homer's epic provides scholars and historians, it must be noted that much of it is still conjecture. Quite a few controversies exist over the exact details and accuracy of the information. Still, considering the dearth of historical documents from that time period, Homer's epic offers scholars an excellent resource for researching the nature of early Greek warfare.

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Main idea (provide the missing words) - Even though Homer's is a work of , it is to historians who are interested in early warfare.

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