Jessee, W. Scott
January 1996
Reader's Companion to Military History;1996, p299
Book Chapter
The article defines the term mercenaries. The Great Soviet Encyclopedia calls all professional armies, at least of capitalist countries, mercenary armies. The word is often used to denigrate one's enemies--as when Kaiser Wilhelm called Indian troops in British service during World War I an army of mercenaries. Mercenaries provide a number of advantages to their paymaster, foremost being military skills not possessed by national troops. Without them Carthage could never have challenged Rome, and Greek mercenaries were a crucial factor in the spread of Hellenistic civilization from Italy to Afghanistan after the death of Alexander the Great.


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