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From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS
II. THE GREAT AGE OF THE GREEK REPUBLICS TO 362 B.C.
» Contents of this ChapterPage 7
BATTLE OF SALAMIS, 480 B.C.
The battle of Salamis affords an interesting example of naval tactics in antiquity. The trireme was regarded as a missile to be hurled with sudden violence against the opposing ship, in order to disable or sink it. A sea fight became a series of maneuvers; and victory depended as much on the skill of the rowers and steersmen as on the bravery of the soldiers. The Persians at Salamis had many more ships than the Greeks, but Themistocles rightly believed that in the narrow strait their numbers would be a real disadvantage to them. Such proved to be the case. The Persians fought well, but their vessels, crowded together, could not navigate properly and even wrecked one another by collision. After an all-day contest what remained of their fleet withdrew from the strait.
The victory at Salamis had important results. It so crippled the Persians that henceforth they lost command of the sea. Xerxes found it difficult to keep his men supplied with provisions and at once withdrew with the larger part of his force to Asia. The Great King himself had no heart for further fighting, but he left Mardonius, with a strong body of picked troops, to subjugate the Greeks on land. So the real crisis of the war was yet to come.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy