Before the dawn of civilization and the advent of technology, the war was a small-scale affair, with evidence dating back some 12,000 years. But researchers say most societies throughout history fought constantly for various reasons. Some psychologists say humans are inherently violent, and warfare creates an outlet for their aggression. Others say most general populace are reluctant to go to war, and that it is their leaders with a need for power who cause wars. Theories abound as to the reasons for going to war, but the fact is that warrior cultures have existed in many ancient societies around the world.
The Spartan Army was the military force of Sparta, one of the leading city-states of ancient Greece. Citizens’ primary obligation was to be good soldiers. Drilled from infancy, the Spartans were one of the most feared military forces in history. When boys reach the age of seven, they are sent for military training where they learn to endure physical pain and lack of food and clothing. If they are caught stealing, they are punished not for stealing, but for getting caught. In Sparta’s heyday, it was commonly accepted that “one Spartan was worth several men of any other state”. At the Battle of Thermopylae led by King Leonidas, they were said to be vastly outnumbered – 7,000 men to 250,000, although modern scholars reject these figures as unrealistic.
These Norse (Scandinavian) warriors raided and colonized wide areas of Europe from the late eighth to the early 11th century. The period of Viking expansion, known as the Viking Age, forms a major part of the medieval history of Scandinavia, Britain, Ireland and the rest of Europe in general. Contrary to popular images of the Vikings, their helmets did not have horns, but they were brave, loyal and often merciless. The stereotypical image of them as barbaric savages comes from fanatical Viking warriors known as “berserkers”. Their purpose was to protect their king and lead the warriors into battle, so they often worked themselves into a frenzy before a battle. They howled and wore bearskins, believing that the animal’s spirit would give them strength.
A knight is a “gentleman soldier” or a member of the warrior class of Medieval Europe. The path to knighthood began at age seven when boys were sent for training that included instruction in courtesy, cleanliness, and religion. After seven years of this, the boy would serve as a personal attendant to a knight, who would teach him horse riding, hunting and other skills of war. He would be ready for knighthood in his late teenage years. Chivalry was important as a knight, so he would have to swear to abide by the knightly code: “protect the weak, defenseless and helpless, and fight for the general welfare of all”. One of the greatest signs of chivalry was the flying of colored banners, to display power and to distinguish knights in battle.
These highly skilled Japanese warriors came into existence in the 12th century and grew in importance and influence when powerful landowners hired them for protection. Although they used a range of weapons, such as bows and arrows, spears and guns, their most famous weapon and their symbol was the sword. During a certain period, they were even allowed to behead a commoner who had offended them. The Samurai lived according to the ethic code of “bushido” or “the way of the warrior”. Strongly Confucian in nature, “bushido” stressed concepts such as loyalty to one’s master, self discipline and respectful, ethical behavior.