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The kopis (from Ancient Greek ??p??, from ??pt? kopto, “I cut”) was a sword with a forward-curving blade, primarily used as a tool for cutting meat, for slaughter and animal sacrifice, but also as a weapon.
It is a one handed weapon with an average length of about 3 feet, making it equal in size to the spatha. It is often compared to the shorter Nepalese kukri and the Iberian falcata and may be their predecessor. The word itself is the Greek feminine singular noun. The difference in meaning between kopis and makhaira (µ??a??a, another Greek word, meaning “broad knife” or “short sword”, “dagger”) is not entirely clear in ancient texts, but modern specialists tend to use both terms referred to a class of curved weapons, the only real difference being the direction of the blade curvature.
The ancient Greeks did often use curved blades in warfare, as proved by ancient Greek art and literature; however, they rather preferred the straight, more martially versatile xiphos. The Greek hoplites favored straight swords for infantry, but the downward curve of the kopis made it especially suited to mounted warfare against infantry. Xenophon recommended using the curved makhaira for cavalry in On Horsemanship 12:11.
Greek art shows Persian soldiers wielding the kopis or an axe rather than the straight-bladed Persian akinakes.
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