Indohellenikoi Eugeneis Hoplitai are the elite infantrymen of Hellenic India, drawn from the Indo-Greek population, be they descendants of those settled during Alexander’s invasion or recent immigrants from Baktria.
Indohellenikoi Eugeneis Hoplitai are the elite infantrymen of Hellenic India, drawn from the Indo-Greek population, be they descendants of those settled during Alexander’s invasion or recent immigrants from Baktria. They wear an evolved Boiotian helmet that offers protection against both weapons and the sun so it won’t obstruct their view. They also wear elaborately decorated bronze cuirasses with Indian motifs, pteryges, perikneimides (full greaves) and of course a heavy bronze hoplon shield to complete their armor. An iron-tipped spear is their primary weapon, but should the need arise they are also armed with an evolved kopis or Khukhri as the Indians call it, a medium sized sword of Indian steel made for slashing. In fact, when compared to the Hoplites of old, they are more mobile and have better vision of the battlefield, due to the evolved Boiotian helmet they wear. They are also equally skillful with spear or sword. These men are among the finest soldiers in India or at least in the Indus valley and western Gangetic plains and can be relied on to do their duty to a man, but a wise strategos knows to use these troops with care as there are few Hellenes in the East and their numbers are not easily replaced. In fact they, along with the Sreni (Professional guild warriors) were the ones that the Indogreek kings relied upon to hold the line.
Historically, infantrymen like these were scarce, but they still built up a fearsome reputation and Hellenes were sought after as bodyguards all over India, there is even mention of Hellenes serving as bodyguards in far away Sri Lanka. The Indo-Greek kingdoms themselves can be called Baktrian successor kingdoms as it was the Hellenes of Baktria who invaded India after the Mauryan collapse and it was Baktrian Hellenic nobles who made themselves lords in their new conquests. The Indo-Greek kingdoms were established during the civil wars and rebellions that were common in the Graeco-Baktrian Empire after 200 BC and after Baktria itself was overrun by the Saka and other nomadic groups. Evidence indicates that most infantrymen in the far eastern Hellenic kingdoms were drawn from subject peoples, except the most elite units who were made up of Hellenes and thoroughly Hellenized subjects. The same seems to have been in the case of the Indo-Greeks too, who levied large numbers of Indians to serve as infantry. Some sources indicate that Indian infantry apparently were poorly disciplined and had a low morale and thus prone to desert or rout. One battle used to illustrate this is the siege of Baktra, where 300 horsemen lead by Eukratides sallied out from the city and routed the Indo-Greek King Demetrios II’s army of 60000 men all the way to the Indus River, according to Justin (XLI,6). Apparently after this more reliable elite infantry units were raised and dispersed among the Indian infantry to try and maintain morale and lead by example.
Indohellenikoi Eugeneis Hoplitai were infantrymen who served in the Indo-Greek Kingdoms as crack troops, but units like these were likely to have fought in Baktrian armies as well, one reason being that Baktria did field elite infantry units of their own and these men would simply have been an Indo-Greek variant of those. The Saka, knew a good thing when they saw it, so not only did they keep them as a fighting force, enhancing them with their own people and fighting elements, meaning a bigger emphasis on sword than spear, a gradual shift that would take centuries to complete.
Graphical evidence includes a frieze showing a hoplite in full gear in a relief wearing the chlamys found in Butkara, National Museum of Oriental Art. There is also a Hero Stone in southern India, a dead Ksatriyas' grave, showing two rows of over hand holding spearmen, armed also with an aspis shield attacking each other, with the Hero dieing a glorious death.
Some Puranic (Indian epic) references on them... Kane quotes several minor texts in which Yavanas (Greeks) are described as barbarians (mlecchas), eaters of cow's flesh, contradictory thinkers, and having their own peculiar manner of dress and trimming of hair. (Indians at the time wore their hair long and in topknots). In other parts they are shown as different to mlecchas, above them as if leading them.
Several references to the Yavanas and their kingdom occur in Tamil epic literature and in the Ceylonese chronicle Culavamsa. In the fifth part of the Tamil epic poem Cillappatikaram, for example, the abodes of wealthy Yavanas and mercenary Yavana swordsmen are described. A Yavana kingdom existing in the North is also mentioned.
In Malinda Panha (the Buddhist monk Nagasena's account of a meeting with King Milinda or Menandros in Euthydemia, present day Sind), when the King is cornered on a difficult philosophical question, his "500 Greeks" exclaim in one voice..." Now get out of that if you can" in a most jovial mood (1st chapter). Later on they take part on the discussion as if they were expected to in some way. This indicates that they must have been pretty close to the king, the infantry part of the Basilikon Agema (King's bodyguards). In another part, he explains of a prepared military force, who is always ready for war.
The Saka used this elite force to further cement their Indian state. In time it became a mix of Yavanas, Saka and Indians, who in turn became the majority. Some Saka customs remained with them though, such as the "Ultimate Sacrifice" called "Saka" in which all those who take part, fight to the last man and either succeed or die fighting. It is not known whether a connection exists between those "Noble elites" and the Rajput-ra or "King sons'" , but the latter had that "Saka" custom as a ritual in war. Also, some of the Rajput family emblems resemble the Makedonian 16 pointed sun, which was Megas Alexandros' emblem when he started out the campaign which led to India, so many centuries before. Rajputs from the lower Indus region, in the 10th century AD fled Islamic conquest to Nepal and there they evolved into the elite Nepalese Ghurkas, who to this day carry an evolved Kopis (Khukri) and count the time by the Saka calendar.