The Hoplites were the heavily armed infantry soldiers of the Greeks. It is thought by many that the name “hoplite” comes from a Greek word “hoplon” for a specific shape (large and round) of shield with a “flat offset rim (itus)” and two handles on the inside, that Paul Cartledge says was invented by 700 B.C. It was usually bronze-rimmed wood. By 425, the Spartan shield generally had a thin sheet of bronze over it. Its size depended on the length of the wearer’s forearm.
The shield provided protection, but only for the wearer’s front. It was used in close formation fighting with a painted “blazon” that may have been decorative but served to alert fighters to the allegiance of the hoplite. The Spartans had a painted Lambda for Laconia on their shields.