The grotesque shield insignias, the incised artwork on the bronze breastplates and greaves, and the mask-like appearance of the helmets crested with horsehair all indicate that elements in the drama of hoplite battle were almost eerily ostentatious. Certainly the equipment only heightened the psychological terror of the formal meeting of two phalanxes. Recall that both like-armed armies formed up in similar columns, stared at each other across the battlefield, and lowered spears on command. Pan (whose name led to our word “panic”) was considered a fickle deity who could appear on the battlefield to scatter columns before battle even began.
— Victor Davis Hanson, A War Like No Other, p. 137