Spartan women would tell their husbands and sons to return - before they were to head off to war - "With your shield, or on it." Honor in battle was cherished. Spartan warriors carried large shields into battle. If a man came home without his shield, it was obvious he had dropped it to run from the battle. If a man fell in battle, his friends carried him home on his shield.
The saying told the men that they were to return victorious (with their shield),