The Battle of Salamis
The naval battle of Salamis was one of the last great battles of the Greco-Persian Wars, An invasion of Greece by the Persians Led by Persian King forces cunningly defeated Xerxes larger fleet under the leadership of Athenian general Themistocles. Xerxes, the son of King Darius was aggressive in the building of his empire. To get revenge for his late his father's defeat at Marathon, he led an army of 150,000 men and a navy consisting of 600 triremes (war vessels) into Greece, defeating the Greeks in the infamous Battle of Thermopylae. Pre-Battle
During August 480 BCE Athenians fled to the Island of Salamis after the Greek loss at the Battle of Thermopylae whilst Persian forces ravished their city Athens. Joined by the remaining Greek fleet after their Battle in Artemisium with the Athenian commander Themistocles. This Greek presence on Salamis, an island so close to the recently captured Athenian Harbour, Phaleron, only created problems for the Persians as they couldn’t use their port as easy as they had planned. It was vital that they had this ease as Persians were planning to proceed to the Isthmus of Cornith, a narrow land bridge which connects the Peloponnese peninsula with the rest of the mainland of Greece, and they need to make frequent trips back and forth with transport ships full of food to feed the many soldiers on the Isthmus therefore giving the Persians great reason to remove the threat of Greeks from the isle of Salamis. Spartans also with the Athenians on the island wanted to return to the Peloponnese before the Persians so they could seal of the Isthmus of Cornith with a wall however Themistocles persuaded them to stay, convincing them that a wall would have no point as the Persian army could be transported and fuelled by their navy. Themistocles ideas came from an oracle at Delphi who thought The Persian Forces would be victorious. The oracle prophesized that the island of Salamis would “Bring Death to woman’s sons” and also saying that the Greeks would be saved by a wooden wall. Interpreting a fleet of ships as the envisioned wooden wall, Themistocles argued that the oracle was wrong and that Salamis would bring death not to the Greek but to the Persian instead. The whole Persian tactic for the 480 BCE invasion was to out number and overwhelm the Greeks in one whole campaign while Greeks made the best use of their size by defending restricted location and to hold the Persians in the field for as log as they possibly could as demonstrated in the earlier battle of Thermopylae. Although it was strategically sound for the Persians forces to expel the Greeks from Salamis it wasn’t necessary but Xerxes seeing that the Persian fleet size easily out numbered the Greek navy decided it was a good idea. Triremes
Herodotus, the so called Greek father of history, reports that the number of triremes, Battle ships, in the Allied Greek fleet were 378 “All of these who came to the war providing triremes… The total number of ships was three hundred and seventy-eight”. Herodotus then goes on to contradict this stating the number of triremes from each Greek state with the total number adding up to 366. Then again the number of Triremes is reported to be 310 according Athenian playwright Aeschylus who had actually fought at the Battle of Salamis. Although historians will never truly know the correct number or agree on one a majority go off Herodotus’ 378. This number of Greek triremes is then dwarfed by the Persian fleet of 1207 ships although Xerxes fleet consisted of even more triremes many had been lost in the storms in the Aegean Sea and at the Battle of Artemisisum. The Persian king was so confident in his navy that he had set up a throne in view of the battle to watch. [pic]
The crew of a trireme typically consisted of 200 people, with 170 rowers and also consisting of 14 Spearmen, 4 Archers and 25 Officers and Sailors. There is much debate over the difference between the...
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