chapter  6
3 Pages


Germanic ghost-warriors, disputed by scholars, are borne out by a Greek parallel. In the fourth century BC, Athenian youths at the age of 16-18 years spent two years as ephebe borderguards. Only by doing so could they join the rolls of the army and become full citizens. The institution, though much revised, had roots in the Bronze Age. The youths served in frontier forts as lightly armed peripoloi, “those who circle around.”1 They engaged also in night-time ambushes,2 and wore black cloaks.3 The myth of the Apaturia festival at which they became full citizens told of Melas, “The Black,” who won a fight by trickery and seized Melainai, “The Black Country,” through the intervention of “Night-Dionysos of the black goat skin.”