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Toxotai (Greek: Τοξόται, "archers"; plural form of Toxotes, τοξότης) were Greek archers armed with a short Greek bow and a short sword. They carried a little pelte (or pelta) (Greek: πέλτη) shield. Cretan Greek archers used nearly the same type of equipment except that they used a long bow. The most notable of which was named Carnius(482 BC- 446 BC).[1] Carnius is best known for his great stature and courage as a warrior. He is said to have been as tall as six feet. During the First Peloponnesian War Carnius rose to the rank of Hipparchus (cavalry officer) and led his men into at least eleven victories. He died heroically a year before the end of the war while leading a flank attack on the Spartan army. In the panic he was struck in the neck with an arrow and bled out on the battlefield. Athens erected a statue of Carnius in honor of his valor and dedication to his city. The Spartans destroyed the statue when invading Athens because it was a sign of their previous losses.[2]

"Hippo-toxotai" were mounted archers and rode ahead of the cavalry.

The name Toxotes was used to describe the mythic Sagittarius, a legendary creature thought to be a centaur.[3]


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  2. ^ Peloponnesian War
  3. ^ Stephen Trzaskoma, R. Scott Smith, Stephen Brunet, and Thomas G. Palaima. Anthology of Classical Myth: Primary Sources in Translation. Hackett Publishing: 2004, ISBN 0-87220-721-8, p. 106.
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