Archaeologists think they have found where the Greek fleet gathered before the 480 BC Battle of Salamis, fought between Greeks and Persians in the bay of Ampelakia. The team studying the area found antiquities in the water and did a survey using modern technology to nail the site down.
The underwater archaeology team studied three sides of bay on the east coast of Salamis Island in November and December. The focus of the study, which researchers are conducting in a three-year program, was in the western part of the bay, the Greek Reporter says .
Ruins of ancient classical city and the port of Salamis (5th to 2nd BC) Ampelakia. ( CC BY SA 4.0 )
The Greek Ministry of Culture issued a statement about the research that states:
“This is the commercial and possibly military port of the Classical and Hellenistic city-municipality of Salamis, the largest and closest to the Athenian state, after the three ports of Piraeus (Kantharos, Zea, Mounichia). It is also the place where at least part of the united Greek fleet gathered on the eve of the great battle of 480 BC, which is adjacent to the most important monuments of Victory: the Polyandreion (tomb) of Salamis and the trophy on Kynosoura. References to the ancient port of Salamis responded to works geographer Skylakos (4th c. BC), the geographer Stravonas (1st Century BC-1st Century AD) and Pausanias (2nd century AD).”
- The Ancient Ruins of Salamis, the Once Thriving Port City of Cyprus
- The Tale of Teucer – Legendary Archer of the Trojan War and Founder of Ancient Salamis
A Ministry of Culture statement on the findings also says the researchers discovered ancient structures on three sides of the bay—south, north, and west. These structures are sometimes seen as the water level changes. In February, the ebb reduces the depth of the waters by half a meter (about 1.6 ft.)
An archaeologist excavates a ship-shed at Mounichia Harbor, another body of water involved in the battle of Salamis, on a very rare day of good visibility in the waters. ( University of Copenhagen )
The team saw remnants of fortifications, buildings, and harbor structures as they did aerial photography and photogrammetric processing. They also studied topographical and architectural features of visible structures, thus creating the first underwater archaeological map of the harbor. The map will help in future studies of the port.
Also, the geoarchaeological and geophysical research being done by the team, which is from the University of Patras, resulted in fine digital surveys that are expected to aid in the reconstruction of the paleography of the site.
- Ancient Naval Base Discovered Underwater Near Athens
- Putting the Horse Before the Chariot: Gorgeous Ancient Roman Mosaics Unearthed in Cyprus
Some of the architectural features in the bay of Ampelakia near the ancient ruins of the port town of Salamis. ( Chr. Marabou )
There is another ancient Greek location sharing the name of this notable island. As Ancient Origins’ April Holloway reported in 2015 , Salamis on the island of Cyprus was a large city in ancient times. It served many dominant groups over the course of its history, including Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, and Romans. According to Homeric legend, Salamis was founded by archer Teucer from the Trojan War. Although long abandoned, the city of Salamis serves as a reminder of the great cities that existed in antiquity, and an indicator of how far we have come in the past few centuries.
Bronze statue depicting legendary archer, Teucer, the legendary founder of Salamis. ( CC BY SA 2.5 )
Ancient Origins also reported in 2016 that in 493 BC, Greek general and politician Themistocles urged Athens to build a naval force of 200 triremes as a bulwark against the Persians, who’d attacked and been repelled on land at the Battle of Marathon. Within three years, Persia unsuccessfully attacked Greece again, including by sea this time. So instead of the West being influenced by Persia, it remained under the sway of Greek religion and culture, including the democratic style of government that is purportedly the epitome of civilization.
SALAMIS TO- DAY. This Greek island, situated in the Gulf of Aegina, or Saronic Gulf, to the west of Athens, has an area of about thirty- five square miles. It is separated from the mainland of Attica by a narrow channel, widening on the north into the Bay of Eleusis. The chief town of the island, also called Salamis, lies on the east coast, facing Mount Aegaleos on the mainland. It was on the mainland that Xerxes, seated on a golden throne, watched the progress of the battle in 480 B.C.
IT IS because human nature through the ages differs so slightly that the story of Salamis will always remain so fascinating. Moreover, while ships of one century may have an appearance, a size and even a means of propulsion different from anything hitherto adopted, yet the main principles of naval warfare continue unaltered.
The campaign that culminated in the historic sea- battle off the Greek island of Salamis perfectly illustrates the fatal result of ignoring fundamental principles. The central character was Xerxes, a man of wide vision and great organizing abilities. His colossal plan was to add Europe to the vast Persian Empire, but the plan collapsed at the moment when put to its supreme test. In one short September day Xerxes held the future destiny of Europe in his powerful hands, but by nightfall one of the most sudden reversals of fortune — one of the heaviest catastrophes in all history — ruined years of immense preparation, sending him home in humiliating defeat.
Almost five centuries before the Christian era, Darius I, who had founded the Persian Empire, was succeeded by his son Xerxes in 485 B.C. Xerxes resolved to invade Greece on an immense scale with the twofold idea of controlling the European coast of the Aegean (since he was secure on its Asiatic coast), and of adding the entire Balkan peninsula to his already expansive territory. He was an ambitious man longing for new triumphs, and the question was whether the ancient hostility between East and West would end by Persia imposing its civilization over European progress.
The grandeur of Xerxes’ idea, the gigantic preparations that he made between the year 485 and the spring of 480 B.C., overwhelm the imagination. For gathering men and material he had the whole area from the Danube to the borders of India on which to draw. He proposed to invade Hellas (Greece) with a great army and a great fleet. The army was to march all the way from Asia, crossing the water at its narrowest point in the Dardanelles, thence skirting the northern end of the Aegean, and advancing south through Macedonia and Thessaly on to Athens. The fleet, so far as geographically practicable, was to hug the coast and keep in close touch with the army.
From the maritime resources of Egypt, Phoenicia, Cyprus, the coasts of Asia Minor, the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, Xerxes managed to accumulate 1,200 triremes crewed by 276,000 men, of whom 36,000 were marines. Later he added another 120 European triremes and 24,900 men, as well as the transports and victuallers necessary for feeding his army. A fleet of 1,320 fighting ships carrying 300,000 men would seem immense in any age, but how much more wonderful were these figures at a period when the known world was less populated.
In the autumn and winter of 481 B.C. the concentration of ships and men from so many harbours in Asia Minor was being made up the Dardanelles at Abydos, a little north of Chanak. Here centuries later British battleships and aeroplanes were to hurl shells and bombs against Turko- German guns.
Xerxes' army marched towards Abydos. Here the width was under two miles and the current was strong. The Persian soldiers were sent across to the European side at Sestos on a bridge built from boats whose bows pointed upstream.
Now began that twin advance of the army by land and the fleet by sea. The reader will immediately perceive the essential weakness of Xerxes’ plan. For the men’s food and the forage for horses the Persian army depended on the big- bodied supply ships, which in turn had to depend on the fighting fleet of galleys. The larger the army, the more numerous the victuallers must be. Not only would the warships be tied down by the troops’ advance, but also if these open galleys became scattered by one of the frequent sudden Aegean gales, or defeated in battle by the Greeks, the soldiers would presently be starved into defeat. Thus from the first a brilliant organizer, a great general, a fine leader of men on land made the error of employing his fleet as if it were a wing of the army. He should rather have first employed his fighting fleet to win a decisive sea victory over the enemy, and obtained for his supply ships freedom of passage. Alternatively, the superior naval strength of Xerxes could have been better used if the ships had gone south and formed a powerful barrier between the Greek fleet and the food convoys.
One great advantage in ancient days was that a fleet could be brought into being quickly. To- day the battle fleet is just so many floating platforms for carrying guns, but right down to the sixteenth century of our era the main reliance was on the ram, which necessitated that the attacker and the attacked should be extremely mobile. Sail was useful for making long passages and for giving the oarsmen a rest when a fair wind sprang up.
It was largely used also for the round, big- bellied victualling ships and for the corn- carrying merchant vessels. But for the long, narrow, quick- darting fighting galley, which had to rush forward with her piercing ram, or swing out to avoid being splintered, nothing but oars and powerful rowers could be used. The warship was in effect a spear. The beak or ram was its metal point, the hull its staff, and the oarsmen were the arm that hurled the spear.
For manoeuvring ability, shallow draught and light construction were requisite, and these galleys contained room for little else than their crews. At night such craft were generally hauled ashore, and the men bivouacked and cooked their food on the beach. It must have been a marvellous spectacle when Xerxes’ fleet was favoured with a fair wind, and the vessels set their square sails, which were made of canvas or cloth and frequently coloured. To have seen this multi- toned mass rippling across the indigo sea against the mountainous background would have been beyond all imagining.
ROUTE OF THE INVADER. In the autumn and winter of 481 B.C. ships and men were concentrated at Abydos, on the Asiatic shore of the Hellespont (now the Dardanelles) at its narrowest point. The Persian host crossed over to Europe on a bridge of boats, and marched through Thrace, Macedonia, Thessaly, Phocis and Boeotia into Attica. As far as geographically practicable, the fleet, of 1,320 sail, followed the army. To avoid the stormy promontory of Mount Athos, Xerxes cut a canal for his ships across the peninsula. An attempt to annihilate the Greek fleet in the Trikeri Channel, to the north of the island of Euboea, was frustrated by a gale, which destroyed 600 of the Persian ships. After an indecisive action off Artemisium, the Persian fleet was lured into the strait between Salamis and the mainland.
The scouts ahead had sails and gear dyed the colour of the sea for purposes of camouflage. Two kinds of sails and two kinds of masts were carried. Just before battle the larger kinds were put ashore as encumbrances, but the smaller ones were stowed away lest they should be needed for escape at the last minute. The generic term for smaller mast, sail and gear was akation , so that the expression “hoisting the akation ” came to mean “running away from the enemy”. The yard was hoisted up, the mast reefed and brailed, by means of ropes made either of twisted oxhide or of the fibres of the papyrus plant.
Steered by an oar- type of rudder, the galley was rowed rapidly against the enemy’s lines. Once having got to close quarters, a military battle began with the hurling of javelins and spears, followed by boarding tactics in which the sword and axe flashed conspicuously. Hulls would be pierced, oar- blades snapped off. The galley would be scarcely under control, but the hoplites, or heavy- armed soldiers, would then decide the issue.
Thus, instead of being gun platforms, these ancient warships were mobile surfaces for fighting hand- to- hand after the first impact had once been made. Such vessels carried 220 men, of whom the hoplites would number ten to forty. This type of lightly driven craft, measuring about 150 feet long and drawing about 4 feet, could for a short burst be rowed at 10 knots if the men were fresh. The clashing of two rivals would therefore be made at the aggregate speed of more than twenty miles an hour.
The chief weaknesses of this ancient warfare may be summed up under two heads: the extreme vulnerability of hulls, and the reliance on human physical endurance. Although — except among the free Greeks — slaves were used as rowers, driven to the last limit of their strength, and almost beyond, the range of a fleet’s action was restricted to that of a few hours. On the other hand, these ships, with their standardized design, could be built quickly and in large numbers from the local timber.
Xerxes’ army marched on through Thrace, from Doriskos to Akanthos, and the fleet kept abreast between the island of Thasos and the mainland. No little anxiety was felt as the ships approached the mountainous peninsula of Athos, where it projects from south Macedonia and rises 6,000 feet out of the Aegean. Ancient mariners always dreaded rounding this promontory, and here in 492 B.C. a Persian fleet had been wrecked completely but Xerxes, with the grand gesture of a mighty ruler, defied such geographical difficulties. The king who by triremes, stout ropes and windlasses had bridged the Dardanelles, had also foreseen the Athos risk and the possibility of losing his fleet. Therefore he had caused a canal to be dug right across into the gulf at the other side of Athos, and the ships passed through in safety. Traces of this canal, after more than 2,400 years, are visible to this day.
Xerxes had now accomplished a large portion of the first stage of his expedition. His army marched across to Therma, better known to us by the name Salonika. By fine staff work, excellent preparation, making roads, building bridges, levelling ground and erecting depots, the army of Xerxes had reached thus far, and prepared to march southward.
The army started from Therma eleven days ahead of the fleet and crossed the passes into Thessaly. Then the fleet, preceded by scouts, moved out under four admirals, probably organized in three divisions. They made their first contact with the enemy by capturing a few light vessels placed on the look- out.
In about July 480, the Greek fleet had occupied Trikeri Channel, which separates the island of Euboea on the north from the mainland. At the western end of this channel, in the Gulf of Malia, lies the pass of Thermopylae, and if only the Persian army could force the pass, Attica would be overrun. Athens was fewer than a hundred miles away. Obviously an important clash would take place in or about Thermopylae, by sea no less than on land.
Although for some time the Greeks had been slow to appreciate the impending threat, necessity had at length enlivened them to energy, thanks largely to that fine Athenian statesman Themistocles, who caused a fleet to be built. Instead of distributing the surplus profits from the silver mines at Laurium, in Attica, the money was spent on building ships. Each trireme cost about one talent, or the equivalent of £225 by the standard of values as reckoned in 1914. Never was money more suitably spent.
These galleys rowed or sailed round from the south between the mainland and Euboea, under the leadership of Eurybiades and Themistocles. This ninety- miles channel narrows opposite Chalcis into a strait known as the Euripus. If this could be blocked, it would be the counterpart of the Thermopylae pass by land. Well enough did the Persian naval Commander- in- Chief appreciate that. Knowing that the Greek fleet was holding the Trikeri Channel north of Euboea, he sent 200 of his ships to sail outside Euboea and come north up the Euripus until they were abreast of Chalcis. With the rest of his fleet driving the enemy through Trikeri Channel, the Greek ships would thus be crushed between two enemy fleets.
It was a sound bit of strategy, but one of those three- days north- easterly gales, so familiar to Aegean mariners, suddenly sprang up and annihilated the detached Persian squadron as it made for the southern entrance to the Euripus channel. Furthermore, it destroyed 400 ships of Xerxes’ main battle fleet off the Magnesian coast, with a large part of the convoy. The shores between Cape Sepias and Melibaea for about fifty miles were strewn with wrecks. The Greeks, however, escaped the fury of the storm by withdrawing from Trikeri Channel, making a fair wind of it inside Euboea, and finding shelter in Atalante on the mainland.
THE CRESCENT- SHAPED ISLAND of Salamis almost landlocks the Bay of Eleusis. On the west, towards Megara, is a narrow channel on the east the tapering peninsula of Cynosura (“ Dog’s Tail ”) juts out so that the channel on this side is only 1,603 yards wide. The island of Psyttaleia obstructs the entrance. The Athenian statesman Themistocles, having concentrated the Greek fleet of 370 vessels to the north of the Dog’s Tail, induced the Persians to enter the strait. Here the enemy’s superior numbers were of no avail, and on September 20 480 B.C., the Greeks were victorious in one of the decisive battles of the world.
The loss of 600 fighting units, with the disorganization of his plans, was a serious blow to the Persian King. In addition, the rest of his fleet had been prevented from feeding his army. As the gale moderated, his naval force shifted from Cape Sepias to Aphetae, at the entrance to the Pagasaean Gulf, known to- day as the Gulf of Volo. It was the fifth day after the ships had left Therma. The Greek vessels came out from Atalante towards their previous station and were drawn up along the Euboean shore at Artemisium Strand, watching the enemy moving his base and determined to prevent his ships from going up the Malian Gulf to succour the army at Thermopylae.
Artemisium lay about thirty miles from Thermopylae. The straits across from Artemisium to Aphetae were some seventeen miles wide. Not until the late afternoon did twenty- seven Greek ships move forth from the shore against a foe numerically superior by three to one. The Persian tactics consisted of trying to surround their enemy (who were better armed), but on this day and the next the action was indecisive. The Greeks captured fifteen ships, and reinforcements of fifty- three Athenian triremes arrived to increase their strength.
Up to now the Persian fleet had been out of touch with Xerxes for seventeen days. It had done nothing to assist his army, and the king sent urgent orders that the straits must be forced. Therefore on the third day after the gale the Persian fleet came out from
Aphetae about noon, forming their line crescent- wise to encircle the Greeks, who also put forth in fierce encounter. There were more losses on the Persian than on the Greek side, and at night the rivals were glad to withdraw from another unsettled battle.
There arrived, however, this evening at Artemisium in his fifty- oared galley a man called Abronichus, who brought portentous news from Thermopylae that the Persians had forced the pass by coming round the hills, completely defeating a Greek force. Matters now became serious. The Persian land forces had broken through the last barrier, and every hearth and home was threatened.
After a council of war it was decided that the Greek fleet should retire at once and go south. The cloak of night had to be used to cover retreat, and while the specks of Greek sailors’ camp fires were left to flicker and make the Persians unsuspecting when their light craft investigated from a distance, Greek galleys cautiously stole round the west of Euboea through sheltered waters.
It was all done with the utmost speed but in perfect order. Themistocles, with a fast division, formed the rearguard. When a man in a boat from Histiaea came along to tell the Persians that the Greeks had departed he was not believed till the sun rose. Having shifted their base across to Artemisium, the Persians also left (at noon) for Histiaea. Now they could regain close touch with Xerxes and send him supplies yet, being so tethered to the army, they were unable to pursue the Greeks and deal a smashing blow. This was another mistake for which the Persian king had to pay heavily.
Meanwhile the Greek fleet, still intact, still full of fighting spirit, went south. It covered the distance from Artemisium to Salamis (160 sea miles) in a night, two whole days and another night. A halt had been made opposite Chalcis by the Plataean contingent to remove refugees, who were taken to the island of Aegina in the Saronic Gulf. Here also Athenian families were transferred, as well as to the island of Salamis. Salamis lies about half a dozen miles from Athens, and has an area of thirty- five square miles. Separated from the mainland by a narrow channel, the island at its eastern end has a strange tapering peninsula in the shape of a dog’s tail and called Cynosura (“Dog’s Tail”). Narrowing the channel to a width of 1,600 yards, this peninsula is assisted by the island of Psyttaleia, which restricts the approach still further. Here, to the north of the Dog’s Tail, assembled the Greek fleet. It had been increased to 370, of which nearly all were triremes, though a few were bigger.
It was Themistocles with his high moral courage who, amid clamorous panic and despair, persuaded the Greeks to hold fast at Salamis and fight a final battle in this strait, where the geographical confinement entirely favoured a small number of ships and hindered a bigger fleet from free manoeuvre. To contend in the open sea would be all to the advantage of numbers, whereas the encircling land would in itself be a protection to the weaker fleet. It seems curious, therefore, that Xerxes should so easily have suffered himself to be trapped. After his victory at Thermopylae he had marched south by way of Thebes and reached Athens, which he found virtually evacuated. His fleet came south, too, and could have blockaded the Greeks in the strait and ruined their morale. It could have kept Eurybiades and Themistocles inactive while the Persian troops made their deadly raids throughout the Peloponnesus. In short, a universal victory was fully ripe. Xerxes, however, sought advice from his admirals, and they offered unfortunate counsel.
The Persian fleet had remained at the northern end of Euboea until three days after the army had departed from Thermopylae. In another three days the ships arrived at Phaleron Bay, which was then the port of Athens. When Xerxes went down to his ships, all the subordinate rulers and admirals were questioned individually as to whether he should attack the Greek fleet. The only person who opposed the idea was Artemisia, Queen of Halicarnassus, who, as a vassal of Xerxes, had come with her squadron in the great adventure.
Thus we come to the climax and quick ending of this drama. On September 19, 480 B.C., the day dawned in an extraordinary manner, foretelling a startling result. At sunrise an earthquake shook land and sea, and undermined the people’s faith. The Persian fleet in Phaleron Bay numbered about 700 ships, with 120,000 rowers and hoplites preparing for battle. A few miles away the Greeks were ashore ready to put their 80,000 men aboard the 370 ships at short notice. The Persians had nearly twice the numbers of the Greeks.
That afternoon, to lure Xerxes into this well- laid trap, Themistocles sent a man in a boat with a message to the Persian king to say that the Greeks were about to retreat and now was the chance to smite them.
Invading Greece in the summer of 480 BC, Persian troops led by Xerxes I was opposed by an alliance of Greek city-states. Pushing south into Greece, the Persians were supported offshore by a large fleet. In August, the Persian army met Greek troops at the pass of Thermopylae while their ships encountered the allied fleet in the Straits of Artemisium. Despite a heroic stand, the Greeks were defeated at the Battle of Thermopylae forcing the fleet to retreat south to aid in the evacuation of Athens. Assisting in this effort, the fleet then moved to ports on Salamis.
Where Did It Begin? Gathering Place for the Battle of Salamis is Found - History
(suit), a city at the east end of the island of Cyprus, and the first place visited by Paul and Barnabas, on the first missionary journey, after leaving the mainland at Seleucia. Here alone, among all the Greek cities visited by St. Paul, we read expressly of "synagogues" in the plural, (Acts 13:5) hence we conclude that there were many Jews in Cyprus. And this is in harmony with what we read elsewhere. Salamis was not far from the modern Famagousta , it was situated near a river called the Pediaeus, on low ground, which is in fact a continuation of the plain running up into the interior toward the place where Nicosia , the present capital of Cyprus, stands.
The chief city of the isle of Cyprus, visited by Paul and Barnabas, A. D. 48. This was the native isle of Barnabas, and many Jews resided there to whom the gospel had already been carried, Acts 4:36 11:19,20 21:16. Paul's visit was signalized by the miracle wrought on Elymas, and by the conversion of the governor, Sergius Paulus, Acts 13:5-12. Sakanus was a large city, situated on the east side of the island, and was afterwards called Constantia.
A town on the east coast of Cyprus, situated some 3 miles to the North of the medieval and modern Famagusta. It lay near the river Pediaeus, at the eastern extremity of the great plain of the Mesorea, which runs far into the interior of the island toward Nicosia (Lefkosia), the present capital. It possessed a good harbor and was the most populous and flourishing town of Cyprus in the Hellenic and Roman periods, carrying on a vigorous trade with the ports of Cilicia and Syria. Its population was mixed, consisting of Greek and Phoenician elements. The former, however, gave its tone and color to the city, and the chief cult and temple were those of Salaminian Zeus.
Tradition represented Salamis as rounded soon after the fall of Troy by Teucer, the prince of Greek archers according to the narrative of the Iliad, who named it after his home, the island of Salamis off the Attic coast. In the 6th century B.C. it figures as an important Hellenic city, ruled by a line of kings reputed to be descended from Teucer and strengthened by an alliance with Cyrene (Herodotus iv.162). Gorgus, who was on the throne in 498 B.C., refused to join the Ionic revolt against Persia, but the townsmen, led by his brother Onesilus, took up arms in the struggle for freedom. A crushing defeat, however, inflicted udder the walls of Salamis, restored the island to its Persian overlords, who reinstated Gorgus as a vassal prince (Herodotus v.103). In 449 a Greek fleet under Athenian leadership defeated the Phoenician navy, which was in the service of Persia, off Salamis but the Athenian withdrawal which followed the battle led to a decided anti-Hellenic reaction, until the able and vigorous rule of the Salaminian prince Euagoras, who was a warm friend of the Athenians (Isocrates, Euag.) and a successful champion of Hellenism. In 306 a second great naval battle was fought off Salamis, in which Demetrius Poliorcetes defeated the forces of Ptolemy I (Soter), king of Egypt. But 11 years later the town came into Ptolemy's hands and, with the rest of the island, remained an appanage of the Egyptian kingdom until the incorporation of Cyprus in the Roman Empire (58 B.C.).
When Barnabas and Paul, accompanied by John Mark, set out on their 1st missionary journey, they sailed from Seleucia, the seaport of Antioch, and landed at Salamis, about 130 miles distant, as the harbor nearest to the Syrian coast. There they preached the gospel in the "synagogues of the Jews" (Acts 13:5) the phrase is worth noting as pointing to the existence of several synagogues and thus of a large Jewish community in Salamis. Of work among the Gentiles we hear nothing, nor is any indication given either of the duration of the apostles' visit or of the success of their mission but it would seem that after a short stay they proceeded "through the whole island" (Acts 13:6 the Revised Version (British and American)) to Paphos. The words seem to imply that they visited all, or at least most, of the towns in which there were Jewish communities. Paul did not return to Salamis, but Barnabas doubtless went there on his 2nd missionary journey (Acts 15:39), and tradition states that he was martyred there in Nero's reign, on the site marked by the monastery named after him.
In 116 A.D. the Jews in Cyprus rose in revolt and massacred 240,000 Greeks and Romans. The rising was crushed with the utmost severity by Hadrian. Salamis was almost depopulated, and its destruction was afterward consummated by earthquakes in 332 and 342 A.D. It was rebuilt, though on a much smaller scale, by the emperor Constantius II (337-61 A.D.) under the name Constantia, and became the metropolitan see of the island. The most famous of its bishops was Epiphanius, the staunch opponent of heresy, who held the see from 367 to 403. In 647 the city was finally destroyed by the Saracens. Considerable remains of ancient buildings still remain on the site an account of the excavations carried on there in 1890 by Messrs. J. A.R. Munro and H.A. Tubbs under the auspices of the Cyprus Exploration Fund will be found in the Journal of Hellenic Studies, XII, 59-198.
4534. Salmone -- Salmone, a promontory of Crete
. Salmone. Perhaps of similar origin to Salamis Salmone, a place in Crete -- Salmone.
see GREEK Salamis. (salmonen) -- 1 Occurrence. 4533, 4534. Salmone. 4535 .
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/4534.htm - 6k
The Battle of Salamis.
. CHAPTER XI. THE BATTLE OF SALAMIS. BC480 Situation of Salamis."Movements
of the fleet and the army."Policy of the Greeks."Reasons .
//christianbookshelf.org/abbott/xerxes/chapter xi the battle of.htm
Letter Li. From Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis, in Cyprus, to John .
. The Letters of St. Jerome. Letter LI. From Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis,
in Cyprus, to John, Bishop of Jerusalem. A coolness had .
/. /jerome/the principal works of st jerome/letter li from epiphanius bishop.htm
The Advance of Xerxes into Greece.
. of the army."Sailing of the fleet."Sciathus."Euboea."Straits of Artemisium and
Euripus."Attica."Saronic Gulf."Island of Salamis."Excitement of .
//christianbookshelf.org/abbott/xerxes/chapter viii the advance of.htm
. thence sailed into Cyprus. (5) And when they were in Salamis, they preached
the word of God in the synagogues. And they had John .
/. /mcgarvey/a commentary on acts of the apostles/acts xiii.htm
The Return of Xerxes to Persia.
. themselves in case of failure. The night after the battle of Salamis,
accordingly, Mardonius was in great fear. He did not distrust .
//christianbookshelf.org/abbott/xerxes/chapter xii the return of.htm
. So Theophilus determined to make a catspaw of the aged and highly venerated Epiphanius,
Bishop of Salamis, in Cyprus, whom no one would suspect of ulterior .
/. /chapter xliv epiphanius intervenes.htm
The Gospel According to St. Mark
. He accompanied St. Paul and St. Barnabas on St. Paul's first missionary
journey, and laboured with them at Salamis in Cyprus. It .
/. /pullan/the books of the new testament/chapter iv the gospel according.htm
. There are no data to show any official connection of Sozomen with Salamis opposite
Athens, or Salamis (Constantia) in Cyprus certainly there is no record of .
/. /sozomen/the ecclesiastical history of sozomenus/part i the life.htm
The Burning of Athens.
. The officers return to their vessels."The Greek fleet retire to Salamis."The
Thessalians."Their hostility to the Phocaeans."Defeat of the Thessalians .
//christianbookshelf.org/abbott/xerxes/chapter x the burning of.htm
. In the year of 1902, while I was a High Priest, Archimandrites, grand representative
of the Saint Mary's Monastery, Salamis Orator and Grand Chaplain of the .
/. /chapter x greek-amerikan-christian-association.htm
Cyprus (12 Occurrences)
. 5. Cyprus and the Greeks: In 501 the Greek inhabitants led by Onesilus, brother
of the reigning prince of Salamis, rose in revolt against the Persians, but .
/c/cyprus.htm - 27k
Paphos (2 Occurrences)
. Cinyras, the father of Adonis, or, according to another legend, by Aerias, and formed
the capital of the most important kingdom in Cyprus except that of Salamis.
/p/paphos.htm - 14k
Sal'amis (1 Occurrence)
Sal'amis. Salamis, Sal'amis. Salasadai . Multi-Version Concordance Sal'amis
(1 Occurrence). . Salamis, Sal'amis. Salasadai . Reference Bible.
/s/sal'amis.htm - 6k
Xerxes (24 Occurrences)
. After the defeat at Salamis in 480 Xerxes himself withdrew from the expedition
and it was finally discontinued in the next year. .
/x/xerxes.htm - 14k
Ministrant (15 Occurrences)
. (YLT). Acts 13:5 and having come unto Salamis, they declared the word of God in
the synagogues of the Jews, and they had also John 'as' a ministrant (YLT). .
/m/ministrant.htm - 11k
Proclaim (172 Occurrences)
. (Root in WEB WEY ASV NAS RSV). Acts 13:5 When they were at Salamis, they
proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. They .
/p/proclaim.htm - 36k
Proclaimed (114 Occurrences)
. Acts 13:5 When they were at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish
synagogues. They had also John as their attendant. (WEB ASV RSV NIV). .
/p/proclaimed.htm - 37k
. for Egypt. In 306 Ptolemy was defeated in the great naval fight off Salamis
in Cyprus by which Cyprus was lost to Egypt. About this .
/p/ptolemy.htm - 17k
Announce (56 Occurrences)
. (DBY). Acts 13:5 Having reached Salamis, they began to announce God's Message in
the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John as their assistant. (WEY DBY). .
/a/announce.htm - 22k
When they were at Salamis , they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. They had also John as their attendant.
(WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
Category Archives: Marathon, Thermopylae & Salamis
Persian Emperor Xerxes spent four years preparing the Persian army for the invasion of Greece (Herodotus 415). His preparations included the promised bridge across the Hellespont and a canal through Athos (Cartledge 95-96). Herodotus asserts that “Xerxes ordered the digging of the canal out of a sense of grandiosity and arrogance” (417). However, news of Xerxes’ mobilization reached the Greek mainland, and it became fairly obvious that some form of a unified defense might be necessary (Cartledge 97). A delegation of Greek cities met to consider a “united resistance” and the resulting leaders were the Spartans, primarily due to their military skill and the fact that “they already headed the only non-religious, non-ethnic multistate Greek military alliance then in existence, the Peloponnesian League” (Cartledge 99, 105). However, many Greeks were not part of the resistance and ultimately cooperated with the Persians as Herodotus notes that many “gave the King earth and water” and details how, at the Battle of Thermopylae, a “Malian called Ephialtes” sold info to Xerxes, telling the Persian king “about the mountain path to Thermopylae” (448, 479). Herodotus also writes that “anyone who claims that the Athenians proved themselves to be the saviours of Greece would be perfectly correct… Once they had decided that their preference was for Greece to remain free, it was they who aroused the whole of Greece (except those places which were already collaborating with the Persians)” (451). However, the Athenians were not present at the Battle of Thermopylae and likely escaped any potential consequences of being associated with its defeat.
Though it was the first major land battle of the Persians’ second invasion of Greece, the dating of Thermopylae has, like most ancient dates, undergone some severe speculation. Dr. Kenneth Sacks, a Professor at Brown University who received a Ph.D. in Ancient History from the University of California, Berkeley, summarizes the arguments in his article “Herodotus and the Dating of the Battle of Thermopylae.” He emphasizes that Herodotus uses “summer as a climatic description only” and not as the specific season we would be familiar with today (238). While it is generally accepted that the battle took place around the same time as the Olympic Games, there is dispute as to the actual dating of the festival partly because of the shortage of available evidence (234).
According to Sacks, the key pieces of evidence that are available limit the Olympic festival to the range of “late July to late September” (235). Sacks writes that the majority of historians would date the Battle of Thermopylae “about ten days after an Olympic festival culminating on the full moon on 19 August” (240). Cartledge is one of the supporters of this theory, believing that the Battle of Thermopylae took place in late August (1). However, Sacks writes that dating the battle in August contradicts the few dating clues that Herodotus does give in his account, such as his hint that “the Persian navy, having sailed into Phalerum nine days after the battle, engaged the Greek fleet at Salamis on the next day” (242). Sacks asserts that those historians who choose to try and maintain Herodotus’s account would likely place the Battle of Thermopylae sometime in September (241).
While the date of the battle might be debated, its location is not, though it must be kept in mind that the topography definitely has changed since the days of ancient Greece. Cartledge emphasizes that despite its modern appearance today, at the time Thermopylae was a narrow pass between mountain and sea (141). Named after the location where it was fought, Greek historian Herodotus asserts that the battleground of the pass of Thermopylae was chosen primarily because “it looked narrower than the pass into Thessaly” which they had previously abandoned (467). Herodotus asserts that the Greek allies judged it to be a good place to make their first stand against the Persians (468).
Present at the battle of Thermopylae and leading the famous elite Spartan force of three hundred was the Spartan King Leonidas who, according to Herodotus, was supposedly a descendent of Heracles (476). He would die on the battlefield (Herodotus 483). He was not the only one. Other Lacedaemonians (the region of which Sparta is capital) who gained fame through their bravery in combat and would die at Thermopylae were Dianeces, Alpheus, and Maron (Herodotus 484). Though they often do not get as much focus as the Spartans, the following were other commanders present at the battle’s final stand: Demophilus, the commander of the Thespians, and Leontiadas, the commander of the Thebans (Herodotus 482, 476). According to Herodotus, the most distinguished Thespian warrior to die in the battle was Dithyrambus (484). The Greek historian also notes that the Persian King Xerxes observed the battle and lived, but he wrote that two of Xerxes’ brothers, Abrocomes and Hyperanthes, did not survive (483-484). Those, however, are just some of the more memorable members of the wide range of combatants present at Thermopylae.
Main Combatants & Casus Belli – (honorstudent2016)
The Greeks’ Armor and Weapons
Pictured to the left is an illustration of a Greek hoplite (May et. al). Pictured to the right is an illustration of a phalanx formation (“Battle of Thermopylae”).
Greek soldiers, hoplites , were trained in the spear and infantry, specifically phalanx formation. Hoplites also used swords, termed xiphos, when their spears were of no use anymore in battle. Characteristic of the hoplite image is the shield–it is circular in shape, made of wood, over 3 feet in diameter, and was coated in bronze and very heavy. These shields were crucial in the formation of the phalanx (“Ancient Greek Warfare”).
Persian (right) and Median (left) soldiers. (Happolati).
The Persians had a large army, much larger than the Greek armies. Their weapons included bow and arrow, swords, knives, wicker shields, and short spears. Their armor consisted of scale coats underneath their robes. Persian soldiers also wore what is called “Persian tiaras.” However, it could have simply been a hood or hat pulled over the face to protect against wind, sand, and dust. Herodotus claims they “glittered with gold.” One infamous aspect of the Persian army is the elite group known as “The Immortals.” These soldiers were regarded as the best of the Persian army and were highly skilled and decorated in battle (Herodotus 7:83-84).
Casus Belli: Why the Greeks and Persians were Fighting
A Persian soldier (left) battling a Greek hoplite (right). ( Άγνωστος)
To know why Greece was fighting with Persia, one must understand the initial offense. The beginning of Greek distaste for Persia involves the Ionian Revolt in 499 to 494 BCE. The Ionian people had been conquered in 560 BCE by Alyattes II, a Lydian king. He and his successor, Croesus, allowed Ionia to have independent rule of its own people with one exception: to obey Lydia in foreign matters. However, the Ionian people were not going to live in peace for long. Persia, under the rule of Cyrus, took over the Median Empire by utilizing Median rebels. Cyrus then set his eyes on Lydia and tried to inspire the Ionians to rebel, but the Ionians refused. Nonetheless, the Persians conquered Lydia in 546 BCE. Cyrus was not as gracious as Alyattes and Croesus to the Ionians he held a grudge for them not rebelling against the Lydians. Ironically, Athens encouraged the Ionians to rebel, and the Ionian people listened and began to rebel against the Persian Empire in 499 BCE. Persia, under the rule of Darius I, punished Athens for encouraging the rebellion of the Ionians by invading and attacking Athens (“Greco-Persian Wars”).
Fearing the might and breadth of the Persian army, the Greek-city states decided to team-up to fight Persia, since individually they’d have no hope. In 480 BCE, the Greek city-states were already allied together in an effort to block the invasion of the Persians, now being led by their general and king Xerxes, who succeeded Darius I in 486 BCE (Cartledge 59). Themistocles, the Athenian general at the time, had a strategy to block the Persians army at Thermopylae and the Straits of Artemisium. The Spartan Leader, Leonidas brought his best soldiers and tried to inspire the other fighting Greeks. The Greeks quantified by Herodotus who were involved in this battle included: 300 Spartans, 500 Tegeans, 500 Mantineans, 120 Orchomenians from Arcadia, 1000 Arcadians, 400 Corinthians, 200 Phelioans, 80 Mycenaens, 700 Thespians, 400 Thebens, and 1000 Phocians and Locrians. Herodotus declares there were 2.6 million Persians (7:185, 202, 204) but modern scholars say between 100,000 to 150,000 Persians and 7,000 Greeks (Cassin-Scott).
Other Combatants & Casus Belli – chaoticblackcat
The Other Combatants
Due to its diverse empire, the Persian army varied in its makeup. According to Herodotus, who described the Persian army in great detail, it consisted of Persians, Medians, Cissians, Hyroanians, Assyrians, Bactrians, Sacians, Indians, Arians, Parthians, Chorasmins, Gandarians, Nadicaes, Casians, Sarangaes, Pactyes, Utians, Mycians, Parccanians, Arabians, Ethopians (specifically from the South of Egypt), Libyans, Paphlagonians, Matienans, Armenians, Phrygians, Lydians, Mysians, Thracians, Milyans, Moschians, Tibarenians, Macrones, Mossynoecians, Mares, Colchians, Alarodians, Sasperians, and islanders hailing from islands in the Red Sea (429-433). Herodotus specifically identifies the Median and Cissian contingents and the Persian Immortals as combatants that clashed with the Greeks in the Battle of Thermopylae (478). However, it must be noted that Cartledge makes the claim that most historians today would not believe “the accuracy of Herodotus’s reported figures of 1,700,000 Persian land troops and over 1,200 warships” (109). He speculates that the number was actually close to 80,000 troops and 600 warships and that the maximum description of the Persian army was done for maximum effect (110).
Herodotus describes the Greek army present at Thermopylae to be made up of an elite force of three hundred from Sparta, five hundred from Tegea, five hundred from Mantinea, one hundred and twenty from Orchomenus, and one thousand from other areas of Arcadia (475). There were also four hundred from Corinth, two hundred from Phleious, eighty from Mycenae, seven hundred from Thespiae, four hundred from Thebes, a thousand from Phocis, and every available man from Opuntian Locris (Herodotus 475). However, much like Cartledge’s earlier claim that Herodotus’s count of the Persian army was questionable, Michael A. Flower, a Classics Professor at Princeton University, has a similar question about Herodotus’ description of the Greek army.
In his article “Simonides, Ephorus, and Herodotus on the Battle of Thermopylae,” Flower analyzes the Greek sources referenced on the Battle of Thermopylae, such as Ephorus, Diodorus, Simonides, and Plutarch. He writes “that there are at least two features of Diodorus’ account which some modern scholars have accepted over Herodotus,” and one of them relates to the number of Lacedaemonians who fought at Thermopylae. (367). He writes that in one area of the text Herodotus mentions the famous 300 Spartans and “a total of 3,100 Peloponnesian hoplites,” but Herodotus later contradicts himself by quoting an epitaph which has a record of 4,000 men (367). He says that, based on what Diodorus wrote, it is likely that Herodotus forgot to include “700 Lacedaemonians because they did not stay to perish” in the final stand (368).
Now, in regards to the contingents and the notable roles they played in the Battle of Thermopylae, Herodotus describes a few specific contingents as having played specific roles in the battle. The Thebans and the Thespians are noted for staying behind with the Spartans in the final stand (Herodotus 482). Herodotus also explicitly gives the Phocians credit for guarding the “pass across the mountain” where Xerxes would ultimately break through (480). These groups are often overlooked during discussions of the Battle of Thermopylae, thrown into obscurity by the famed Spartan resistance. In some cases, they might be unfairly maligned.
Herodotus makes a point of noting that the Spartan leader Leonidas recruited the Thebans, led by their Theban commander Leontiadas, because “they were strongly suspected of collaborating with the enemy,” and the Spartan Leonidas was testing whether or not they would commit to the fight against the Persians (475-476). Herodotus claims that the Thebans “did send troops, but in fact their sympathies lay elsewhere” (476). He also claims that they stayed primarily because they were essentially Leonidas’s captives and surrendered to Xerxes the first chance they got (482, 485).
This claim that the Thebans fighting at Thermopylae were unwilling combatants who had Persian loyalties is disputed by a few modern day scholars. In his article, Flower emphasizes that this is another place where modern scholars prefer the Greek historian Diodorus’ account over Herodotus’ version of events (367). Herodotus states that the Thebans were forced to fight by Leonidas whereas Diodorus indicates that the city of Thebes was overall undecided on where to stand, and the Thebans who fought at Thermopylae were amongst those who were against any alliance with the Persian Empire (Flower 371).
This theory is supported by a professor emeritus from the University of British Columbia’s Department of Classical, Near Eastern, and Religious Studies named J.A.S. Evans who writes that “for the Thespians and the Theban contingent, which belonged to the anti-Persian faction in Thebes, there was no future if the Persians forced the pass they preferred to stay and fight” (236-237). This theory is supported by a map, acquired from Wikipedia’s article titled “The Battle of Thermopylae,” which shows the Xerxes invasion in red lines. Taking into account the position of the Battle of Thermopylae, one can see that Xerxes did indeed pass through the city of Thebes. For the Thebans fighting, it was the last stand between their city and the Persians.
(Image from Wikipedia’s Article “Battle of Thermopylae”)
The same was likely true for the Thespians, for their city Thespiae was located near Thebes and Plataea (which, according to the map, was the location for another land-based battle a year later). Both the Thespians and Thebans likely stayed behind at Thermopylae because they believed that defeat for them meant the potential loss of their respective cities to the Persian invaders.
The ancient world’s attitude toward war was very different from what it is today. While now it is considered to be something negative, there was once a time where it was considered noble. Such was the mentality of the ancient Greeks. Paul Cartledge, the professor of Greek history at the University of Cambridge, asserts that war was ingrained into their culture, and military experience was even considered a requirement for Spartan and Athenian citizenship (2-3). However, Cartledge urges that it is important to remember that this attitude was not unique solely to the Greek of the ancient world. To try and capture the ancients’ mentality, Cartledge uses the description provided by Thucydides, a man he names “Herodotus’s greatest successor as a historian” (90). Thucydides wrote “that there are three factors in ‘all interstate relations’ which contributed to the wars fought during that time” (Cartledge 90). These factors are “strategic concern for a state’s collective security ideological-psychological concern for its status, reputation and honour and the desire for economic advantage or profit” (Cartledge 90). The first two factors played a part in producing the war which the Battle of Thermopylae was a part of.
The ancient Greek and Persian spheres came into contact when a few Greek cities on the “Mediterranean margins of the Persian Empire” were conquered by Persia in 540 BCE (Cartledge 17). The Greek of 500 BCE (twenty years prior to the Battle of Thermopylae) were defined by independent “mutually hostile political” cities the Persian Empire, by contrast, was “the fastest-growing empire in the entire history of the ancient East” (Cartledge 16-17). The conquered cities later revolted against Persia in 499 BCE with the help of the Greek city Athens (Cartledge 17). This revolt threatened the Persian state’s “ideological-psychological concern for its status, reputation and honour” leading to their first attempt at invading Greece (Cartledge 90). This invasion prompted the Greek’s “strategic concern for a state’s collective security,” and this first attempt to invade Greece ended rather poorly with the Persian defeat at the Battle of Marathon (Cartledge 90, 6).
However, these sentiments remained strong and eventually led to the second Persian invasion of Greece, which the Battle of Thermopylae was a part of. When the Persian King died, the famed Greek historian Herodotus records that he was succeeded by his son Xerxes (405). According to Herodotus, a primary force behind the instigation of war was this new Persian Emperor who, egged on by his cousin Mardonius, called together a meeting of Persia’s leaders and supposedly gave the following speech:
“I intend to bridge the Hellespont and march an army through Europe and against Greece, so that I can make the Athenians pay for all that they have done to Persia and to my father…So on his behalf, and on the behalf of all Persians, I will not rest until I have captured Athens and put it to the touch…If we conquer them and their neighbors—the inhabitants of the land of Pelops of Phrygia—we will make Persian territory end only at the sky,…With your help I will sweep through the whole of Europe and make all lands into a single land” (406-407).
Tactics & Topography – berossusofbabylon
The topography of the Battle of Thermopylae is inextricably tied to the Lacedaemonian’s tactics and, therefore, will be discussed together. When the Greek cities of the greater Peloponnese caught wind of the Persian forces—which, according to Herodotus, numbered in the millions— marching across Europe, they elected to hold their enemy at a pass known to the locals as the “Hot Gates” (Herodotus 467, 470). Local lore held that the sulfurous springs near the pass marked the entrance into the underworld, hence the name, and as if to foreshadow the display of Greek heroism that was to transpire there, an alter dedicated to Heracles had already been erected at the pass (467). As the Greek infantry headed to Thermopylae, “…the fleet was to sail to Artemisium in Histiaeotis, so that each of the two forces would be close enough to learn of the other’s situation” (467).
Meanwhile, to the southeast, Xerxes commanded his vast army across Asia Minor to the eastern reaches of the Aegean, moving northward from Sardis to Ilium (famed city of Homer’s Hector and Priam), where he bridged the Hellespont to the north with nearly 650 penteconters and triremes—large maritime vessels rowed by vertical tiers of between 100-200 oarsmen apiece (419-421). These ships were lashed together and packed with dirt, creating a colossal, floating bridge by which Persian forces could cross the straight, along with their baggage trains, camp followers, yoke-animals, cavalry, and chariots (420-421). From there, Xerxes marched his armies across Thrace, heading west into Macedonia before turning south along the western edge of the Aegean into Thessaly, gathering forces along the way (see figure below). The mountainous terrain allowed for only one viable route for such a vast host: the coastal path leading through the pass of Thermopylae.
Xerxes route out of Ionia, circumnavigating the Aegean (“Battle of Thermopylae”).
The pass itself is situated between a sheer, inaccessible cliff face to the west and an inlet of the Aegean to the east. Between this narrow pass, the Lacedaemonian-led Greek forces bottlenecked the Persian contingents sent against them, blocking Xerxes’ warpath to Athens. Though the Persians outnumbered the Greeks by orders of magnitude, the Greek’s spears—especially those of the Spartans’—were longer (478), and the Lacedaemonians in particular were trained to fight from childhood, having been sent to the Agoge (antiquity’s answer to West Point) at around the age of seven. According to Herodotus, wave after wave of Persian soldiers failed to break the relatively small assemblage of Greek contingents. Herodotus recounts that “The Lacedaemonians fought a memorable battle they made it quite clear that they were the experts, and that they were fighting against amateurs” (478). Many of the Persians who weren’t impaled at the end of a Spartan lance slipped off the path, falling into the sea to drown, making the topography as much of a weapon for the Greeks as their swords and spears. Another unique tactic employed by the Greeks was to feign retreat further into the pass, restricting the Persians’ maneuverability even further so as to more easily dispatch them before returning to the mouth of the pass.
David, Jacques-Louis. Leonidas at Thermopylae. Oil on canvas. Musee du Louvre, Paris.
However, despite the more advantageous position, better training, and more effective weaponry, the Greek forces failed to foresee the Persians discovering a relatively little-known path used by the region’s goatherds—a trail leading behind the Greeks’ position: The Anopaea (480). Of the possible accounts of how Xerxes discovered the trail, Herodotus favors that featuring the traitor Ephialtes of Trachis, who informs Xerxes of the mountain path. On the third day of the battle, Xerxes deployed his commander Hydarnes to lead Persian contingents along The Anopaea, ultimately flanking the Greek forces on all sides.
By this point, all but the Spartan, Thespian, and Thessalian-captive forces remained because, according to Herodotus’ preferred account, Leonidas ordered the other contingents to return home but refused to leave himself because a Delphic oracle had foreseen that either Lacedaemon would be obliterated by the Persians or that its king would die in battle Leonidas favored the latter as it would preserve Sparta and win him renown in the process (481). Herodotus illustrates the end of the battle with the Lacedaemonians fighting with their swords when their spears had broken, with their knives when they had lost their swords, and with their hands and teeth when they had lost their knives (483). With Persians on all sides, however, valiant as the Spartans’ efforts may have been, they were inevitably overwhelmed.
Herodotus concludes his account of the Battle of Thermopylae with a story of Demaratus, former Lacedaemonian king exiled to Persia turned advisor to Xerxes, and the secret message he delivered to Sparta—inciting the meeting that led the Greeks to Thermopylae in the first place. The legend has it that Demaratus wrote Xerxes’ decision to invade Greece on the wooden base of a writing tablet, hid it behind wax onto which a decoy message was written, and sent the message back to Lacedaemon (488). According to Herodotus, it was Gorgo, Leonidas’ wife, who suspected there was a secret message behind the decoy, and after deciphering the warning, she passed it along to the other Greek cities, so they might prepare for the advancing sea of Persian soldiers.
The Battle of Salamis
The Battle of Salamis which took place in September of 480 B.C. was one of the most important battles in history. The victory by the Greeks under Themistocles insured that Xerxes would be forced to retreat to Persia. The battle would lay the foundation for an Athenian Empire that would come to be called the Delian League.
This site explores the Battle of Salamis and its consequences. Use the table of contents below or the nav-bar at the top of each page to go to specific topics of your choice. To view the site in the order in which it was intended, simply use the "next page" links at the bottom of each page.
The events leading up to the battle had ominous consequences for the Greeks.
There are many great figures in the history of Greece, but Themistocles stands out as the general/admiral who engineered the Greek victory.
Xerxes comes down to Western History as the man who entered Greece with over 100,000 men and more than 1200 ships only to be stymied by the cunning and courage of the Greeks. Yet he was a great ruler in his day.
Triremes were the type of vessel used by both sides during the battle.
The Battle of Salamis did not so much show the superiority of Greek technology or even better leadership, but just may have been a Greek victory because of Greek misinformation.
The aftermath of Salamis left the Athenians the greatest naval power in the Mediterranean.
For more information about the Battle of Salamis, consult our bibliography.
She sits wrapped in a flowing linen tunic that is dyed purple. Her skin is perfumed with iris oil. Her cheeks are rouged with vermilion, and her eyebrows are dyed black. Her hair is swept back and gathered into a high, elaborate twist held with purple ribbons.
Her ears, neck, wrists, and fingers sparkle with gold jewels. She wears exquisite earrings, a necklace with intricately decorated teardrop pendants, and two bracelets with antelope figures at the open ends. She wears three rings: a gold ring with an agate seal incised with an image of a woman&rsquos head a gold ring carved with a delicate floral pattern and a gold and chalcedony ring with a figure of a Persian soldier leaning on his spear. There is a hint of the soldier, too, in the way she carries herself, as if to evoke the bronze and iron that are outlawed here in council with the Great King. In battle, when she wears a breastplate and helmet and carries a dagger and sickle, she looks like a goddess armed.
She is a woman who, we may imagine, knows and loves men and wants to have power over them. She has long ago resigned herself to her frailty and her intelligence. A lifetime of practice has taught her to hide her shrewdness behind flattery and charm. Poetry is in her blood and passion in her nature. Her brother Pigres writes epic verse in Greek, and later ages told a story about her leaping to her death when rejected by a lover, but only after first having attacked him in his sleep and scratched his eyes out. She combines the cunning of Athena and the seductiveness of Aphrodite. And behind both sits the ambition of Hera, queen of Olympus.
In any group of men, we may imagine, she is drawn to the most powerful. When she looks at a man of authority, her eyes shine with a reflection of his glory. She speaks to him in phrases that repeat his own words, only made young and beautiful again. She sings about him in the harmonies of the Muses, and when the song is done, she has what she wants. And grand as her ambition is, it is never overweening.
When dealing with a lesser man, as we know, she prefers force, especially if he dares to challenge her. Tough and courageous, she has a reputation for holding grudges and a penchant for settling them with the sword&mdashwielded, of course, on her behalf, by a man.
Although she wants to see Persia victorious, her primary goal is to strengthen the standing of her city in the eyes of her sovereign, Xerxes. If she can achieve that goal by helping him to victory over Greece, then so much the better, but if it would serve her purposes better to console him in defeat, then she would not hesitate to make him stumble.
Of all the Great King&rsquos sailors, there is no one like her. She commands a contingent of ships from Halicarnassus and other cities in Caria, a region in southwestern Anatolia. She is queen of Halicarnassus: her name is Artemisia.
Ruling queens were not unheard of in the ancient Near East, but fighting queens were exceptional. There were 150,000 men in the Persian fleet at Phaleron, and Artemisia was the only woman. She was rare not only in Persia she is one of the few female naval commanders in all history.
And Artemisia was no armchair warrior. &ldquoI did not lack for courage in the naval battles off the island of Euboea nor was there anything mediocre about my deeds there.&rdquo So Artemisia introduced herself at Phaleron. Herodotus was smitten: &ldquoI must especially marvel,&rdquo he wrote, &ldquothat a woman was campaigning against Greece.&rdquo
This day, around September 24, 480 B.C., was a day to test Artemisia&rsquos cunning. For today she would have to face the Great King in a naval council, alone before all the other commanders.
Xerxes the Great King, the King of Kings, &ldquothe king&rdquo&mdashto quote his inscriptions&mdash&ldquoof every country and every language, the king of the entire earth, the son of King Darius, the Achaemenid, a Persian, son of a Persian,&rdquo did not ordinarily go down to the seashore to visit a naval encampment. Nor did the self-styled &ldquoonly king to give orders to all other kings&rdquo usually take counsel with the minor monarchs who ruled the corners of his realm, much less with the squadron commanders of his fleet. And yet around September 24, Xerxes did just that.
The day after he sacked the Acropolis, Xerxes traveled the distance of about three miles from Athens to Phaleron Bay. His purpose was to visit his fleet in person and to hold a council of war. He would not have taken the political risk of letting so much light into the mystery of his majesty unless he had a very good reason. And he did. But that will become evident presently. First, consider the gathering that greeted him.
Once Xerxes sat down, the despots of the various peoples in the fleet as well as the squadron commanders took their seats. They sat in order of the rank that Xerxes had assigned them, beginning with two Phoenician kings, his favorite naval allies. After the Phoenicians came kings, princes, and commanders from three continents: Cypriots and Egyptians, Macedonians and Cilicians, Ionians and Dorians, Lycians and Aegean islanders. There were four commanders of the fleet, all Persians, including two of Xerxes&rsquo brothers. The scene resembled a sculpted frieze from the walls of one of the great Persian palaces: the assorted princelings of the various provinces, arrayed in native garb and adoring gaze, all come to render service. And one queen.
Artemisia ruled the Carian city of Halicarnassus as well as the nearby islands of Cos, Calymnos, and Nisyros. She had inherited her throne from her late husband&mdashhis name is unknown&mdashwho had ruled under the overlordship of the Persian emperor. The Carians had sent seventy ships to the Hellespont we do not know how many vessels still survived at Phaleron. Although Artemisia commanded only five ships, she was second only to the Phoenicians for her fame in the Persian navy.
Artemisia was old enough to have a son in his twenties. She could have sent him on the expedition of 480 B.C. and stayed home, but she chose to fight. She had, says Herodotus, a &ldquoman&rsquos will.&rdquo Considering the young age of marriage for most women in the ancient world, Artemisia might have been in her late thirties in 480 B.C. Artemisia&rsquos subjects were a mixture of Greeks and Carians, as was Artemisia herself: her father, Lygdamis, was Carian her mother, whose name is unknown, came from the Greek island of Crete. The name Artemisia is Greek and a common name, derived from Artemis, goddess of the hunt. Caria also included a people named Leleges, whose origins are obscure, as well as men with Persian names, perhaps colonists.
The city of Halicarnassus has a magnificent natural harbor, its main entrance protected by an offshore island. Rising on a hillside, the city looks like a natural amphitheater. Imagine Artemisia going up and down the steep hill, borne on a litter. From the acropolis she could clearly see the outline of the island of Cos in the distance, a powerful, long, low ragged ridge.
Halicarnassus might have been settled by the warlike Dorians, and it might have boasted an excellent military harbor, but the city did not feel martial. The heat, the humidity, the sparkling water, the soft greens of the plants, the chirping birds, the lizards, all contributed to a sultry feeling. Ancient Halicarnassus was lush, rich, happy, snug in the embrace of the sea and mountains with nothing but the isles of Greece and the blue Aegean on the horizon.
Artemisia&rsquos subjects made good sailors and soldiers: legend says that they had sent ships to King Minos of Crete instead of tax, and in historical times they served as mercenaries under the pharaohs of Egypt. Although Halicarnassus&rsquos contingent in 480B.C.consisted of only five ships, they were rated highly by Xerxes&mdashor so says Herodotus, a native son of Halicarnassus, although an opponent of Artemisia&rsquos dynasty.
It took considerable political skill to rule Caria&rsquos mixture of peoples, to say nothing of maintaining loyalty to the Persian overlord. Halicarnassus was a multicultural city on the borderland between Greeks and barbarians. Long after Athens had declared artistic independence of the Near East and invented the European idiom, Halicarnassus still lay under the imprint of Near Eastern artistic norms. At Halicarnassus, the maritime highway to Greece began, but so did the land highway to Persia. In Halicarnassus you heard the hoofbeats of Central Asia, but you breathed the sea air of the Mediterranean.
Think of Artemisia aboard her flagship, seated on deck in the stern, protected by a canvas awning, the lone woman on a boat bristling with armed men. She was probably shorter than most of her shipmates but perhaps not by much, since aristocrats were better fed than ordinary folk. Artemisia was every inch a commander. Only a tough and assertive woman could have sat where she did. When challenged, she did not retreat. At the muster of Persian warships at the Hellespont in May, for example, she had not shrunk from a quarrel with another ship captain from Caria, Damasithymus son of Candaules, king of the city of Calynda, located southeast of Halicarnassus. Venom, it was rumored, still remained in their relationship.
To judge not only from 480 B.C. but from its subsequent history, Halicarnassus was much more comfortable with rule by a woman than mainland Greece ever was. Fourth century B.C. Halicarnassus saw the powerful queens Artemisia II and Ada. Statues of queens were erected alongside statues of their husbands, both at Halicarnassus and at the international shrine of Delphi.
If the men of Halicarnassus might allow a woman to lead them, the Persians would not necessarily follow suit. To be sure, Persian society did not impose as many restrictions on women as did Greek and especially Athenian society. And yet Persia was no paradise of equality. Mothers, for example, received special food rations for newborns, but those who had boys got twice as much as those who had girls. Herodotus reports that Persian men proved themselves on the battlefield by fighting well and in the bedroom by fathering many sons.
For the Persians, therefore, a woman commander ran against the grain. But even so, Artemisia commanded a squadron. It is a tribute to her influence with Xerxes but to something else as well: it is a tribute to her propaganda value. By including her in their navy, the Persians sent a message: even a woman could fight the effeminate Greeks. The Athenians were duly insulted. &ldquoThey were rather indignant to have a woman go to war against Athens,&rdquo says Herodotus. They ordered their captains to take Artemisia alive, with a reward offered of one thousand drachmas (three years&rsquo wages for a workman). Seventy years after the Persian invasion, Artemisia still served as a symbol of the uppity woman in Aristophanes&rsquo comic masterpiece Lysistrata. And a statue of Artemisia earned a place in a kind of rogues&rsquo gallery of Persian enemies that Sparta erected after the Persian Wars.
So Xerxes is likely to have appreciated the symbolism of Artemisia&rsquos presence at Phaleron. According to Herodotus, he should also have valued her counsel, since it was the best advice that he got from his subordinates. But good counsel was not Xerxes&rsquo primary objective at Phaleron. The meeting there was less a strategy session than a rally. The decision to fight at sea had already been made, and Xerxes simply wanted to seal it with his own presence.
His toadies would have congratulated him on the outcome of the battle of Artemisium. After all, the Athenian fleet had limped home from the engagement with half of its ships damaged. The Great King was not to be deceived, however. In his judgment, his men had fought badly at Artemisium. And he knew the reason why: they had suffered from his absence. If the king had shown himself at Artemisium, his men would have fought their best. His charisma would have inspired them, his rewards would have encouraged them, and his punishments would have terrified them.
Xerxes understood an essential point about the Persian army and navy: each was an organization in which there was little incentive to get the job done unless you could cut a fine figure in front of the boss. Hence his determination to be there at Salamis and, for that matter, at Phaleron. At both places he meant to demonstrate his personal involvement in the war at sea. Not that he would board a trireme in battle: the Great King was too precious to risk at sea. Rather, he would observe from shore, where most of the action would be visible.
At Phaleron, Xerxes wanted advice less than acquiescence. Unlike the Greeks in council about five miles away in Salamis, the Persian commanders at Phaleron did not receive encouragement to speak freely. In fact they were not permitted to speak to Xerxes at all. Each of them was canvassed by the emperor&rsquos cousin and chief military adviser, Mardonius son of Gobryas, who then reported their opinions to the emperor.
Phaleron Bay is an excellent natural harbor, ringed by sandy beaches. It forms a semicircle, sheltered from the winds between the low hill of Munychia (282 feet) to the northwest and the narrow plain that reaches the foothills of the ten-mile-long Hymettus ridge to the southeast its peak, Mount Hymettus, rises to a height of 3,370 feet. At the southeastern end of Phaleron Bay&rsquos half circle lay Phaleron Town, a small maritime community, protruding into the sea at a gentle cape. On a late September day Phaleron Bay&rsquos turquoise water would sparkle under a blue sky that, in early autumn, is often dappled with clouds. A breeze commonly blows off the sea.
The hill of Munychia, sacred to Artemis, made a fine fortress offering a wide view of land and sea. The Athenian tyrant Hippias was in the process of fortifying Munychia when he was forced into exile in 510 B.C. No doubt in 480 B.C. the Persians posted a garrison on Munychia. Hymettus was famous for its sweet, pale-colored thyme honey and for its blue-tinged marble. Zeus was worshipped on the mountain.
The Persian fleet had been based at Phaleron for about two weeks. Groups of ships were probably hauled up onto the beach in turn, pulled by manpower on ropes onto greased timbers. On shore the ships were repaired or allowed to dry otherwise, they were moored just offshore, the stern barely hanging over the beach. The men no doubt camped out near the ships.
The whole sweep of the shoreline was surely filled with ships and sailors. On a plausible reconstruction, based on the later battle order, the Phoenicians held the western end of the shore, the Egyptians were in the center, while the Ionians and Carians moored their ships in the east.
During the weeks at Phaleron the men repaired triremes. Every ship or at least every squadron would have carried a set of tools. We get a taste of the instruments at hand from a surviving wooden toolbox from a Byzantine ship: its contents included hammers, chisels, gouges, punches, drill bits, files, knives, an ax, a saw, an awl, adzes, and a spike. Besides taking care of the ships, the men treated their own wounds, mourned their missing comrades, practiced maneuvers, nursed grudges born of failure at Artemisium, scouted the sea-lanes and the enemy&rsquos preparations, rummaged for loot, thought about home, complained about the food, taught each other a few words of their language, bet over cockfights, took turns with the women camp followers or made do with boys, gossiped and boasted and worried and prayed to their respective gods. Then, the day before, they cheered at the sight of the flames of vengeance shooting up from the Athenian Acropolis.
The night before the Great King&rsquos council at Phaleron, there had been a smell of burnt temples and angry gods in the air&mdashenough, perhaps, to alarm the superstitious, never in short supply aboard ship&mdashwhen they heard the nocturnal cry of Athena&rsquos owls. That morning, they woke to an earthquake, which might have further aroused pious concerns. The god-fearing might have been relieved to learn that Xerxes had ordered that very morning that the Athenian exiles in his army go up to the Acropolis and make their peace with the local gods. The Achaemenids had not acquired a multiethnic empire by waging holy war.
The council at Phaleron no doubt began with a prayer. Afterward, Mardonius made the rounds from commander to commander, beginning with the king of Sidon. Every man said what he knew Xerxes wanted to hear: it was time for a naval battle. The fleet was ready the men were eager. It was time to crush the Greeks at Salamis and win the war. Only one person offered different advice: Artemisia. Perhaps only a woman would have been allowed to speak her mind without incensing the others.
In any case, she advised Xerxes not to fight. And she did not mince words: &ldquoSpare the ships. Don&rsquot make war at sea. Their men are as superior to ours on sea as men are superior to women.&rdquo She reminded Xerxes that he had already accomplished his main goal, which was to conquer Athens.
No doubt Xerxes knew that that was not quite correct: yes, he had aimed to take Athens, but his main goal was, rather, to conquer all Greece, and the Peloponnese still remained free. Furthermore, the Athenians and their fleet had escaped him. Tacitly conceding these points, Artemisia recommended a land attack on the Greek army at the Isthmus. She was sure that meanwhile the Greek fleet would leave Salamis and scatter to its separate cities. The Greeks on Salamis were divided, and besides, she had heard that grain was in short supply there.
If the Persians forced a naval battle at Salamis, Artemisia said, she feared not only defeat at sea but the ruin of the land army as well. Finally, she made no bones about her colleagues. She told Xerxes: &ldquoGood men have bad slaves and bad men have good slaves since you are the best man of all, you have bad slaves indeed.&rdquo Artemisia named names: the Egyptians, Cypriots, Cilicians, and Pamphylians were all worthless.
It must have taken courage for Artemisia to speak so bluntly, and certainly some will doubt Herodotus&rsquos veracity. But he insists that he knows these were tough words and that Artemisia&rsquos friends feared that they would cost the queen her life, because Xerxes would take them as an insult. With typical Greek realism, Herodotus also reports the pleasure that Artemisia&rsquos enemies took in her remarks, because they resented her prominence in Xerxes&rsquo eyes and assumed that she was now finished. In fact, Xerxes said that he esteemed her more than ever for her excellent words, but nonetheless he rejected her advice. He would fight at sea.
Artemisia, we may imagine, had too much self-confidence to have feared for her life. Nor is she likely to have been surprised by her failure to persuade the Great King. She understood politics well enough to know that Xerxes had already made up his mind before coming to Phaleron. But she may have already been looking to the postwar world. If, as she expected, Persia would be defeated in the straits of Salamis, then her standing in the Great King&rsquos eyes would have risen greatly. It was a risk worthy of a queen.
Xerxes probably did not take the time at Phaleron to think through Artemisia&rsquos recommendations. If he had, he would have found that her advice was good but incomplete. Persia had a third choice besides fighting at Salamis or waiting at Phaleron, and that was a joint land-sea offensive at the Isthmus.
The Isthmus of Corinth is a rugged, mountainous region that narrows to a width of about five miles. The Greeks could have blocked off the few roads and funneled Persian attackers onto mountain tracks and into gullies. But the Greeks did not have enough time to build high and solid walls. Even though they worked night and day, they would have had to settle for wooden palisades and walls of haphazardly piled stones. With a determined push, the Persians could overrun or even knock down the defenses here and there.
To be sure, the fight at the Isthmus would be bitter. But the Persians could virtually double the odds in their favor if they ferried troops by sea and landed them in the Greek rear, thereby surrounding the enemy. It might be another Thermopylae.
In order to carry out encirclement, the Persians would have to move their fleet from Athens to the Isthmus. A good harbor was available at Cenchreae, a Corinthian port on the Saronic Gulf and close to the wall. But landing at Cenchreae would not be easy, since the shore would almost certainly be lined with Greek troops.
Besides, the Greek fleet might see the Persians sail from Phaleron and then leave Salamis and follow the Persians to Cenchreae. Neither side would risk battle on the open sea, where survivors could not swim to safety trireme navies always preferred to fight within sight of shore. But once the Persians drew close to Cenchreae, if the Greeks attacked, then the Persians would have to fight off a coastline held by the enemy, ready to capture or kill any Persian who managed to swim to shore.
In short, it would be risky for Persia to move its fleet to Cenchreae, which may explain why Artemisia never mentioned the possibility. But without the fleet, the Persians would face nearly as hard a fight at the Isthmus as at Thermopylae. They would have to face eight thousand Spartans instead of three hundred. Xerxes could hardly have relished the prospect.
The alternative was to break the Greek fleet at Salamis. And that meant either waiting for Greek treason or collapse, or fighting a battle. No doubt the Persians were already looking hard for potential Greek traitors. Because they could attack any fleet that tried to resupply Salamis, they held the island effectively under siege. But time was not on Persia&rsquos side.
In late September in Athens, there is about twelve hours of daylight. The days are shorter than in summer, and the stars have shifted in the night sky. Here and there one even sees a fallen leaf. On the hills as evening falls, a stiff breeze often blows. Some nights, the breeze turns into a cold wind. Camped out under the foreign skies of Athens, many a Persian might have thought of the change of seasons. It was fall, and winter would follow.
The sailing season in the ancient Mediterranean was short, especially for triremes. As fragile as they were fast, triremes risked ruin in rough waters. They preferred to sail only between May and October, and preferably, only in the summer months. In late September, it was just about time for the Persian fleet to return to their various home ports.
And they had to eat. Attica had been stripped of every food item the Athenians could take, though no doubt there was still something for the hungry: fruit on the trees, water in the springs and cisterns, and birds and rabbits in the fields. Yet most of the Persians&rsquo supplies had to be brought to Attica. Land transportation was slow and expensive, so the supply highway had to go by sea. Since triremes were too light to carry cargo, the Persians brought food on a flotilla of provision boats. These consisted both of Greekakata,which were medium-sized, pointed-hull vessels rowed by a crew of thirty to fifty men, and Phoenician gauloi, which were larger and rounded-hull sailing ships. Some Persian provision vessels had been lost in the storms of August but not all, and new ones may have arrived in convoy with the trireme reinforcements that came from Greece.
One expert modern estimate concludes that the Persians needed a minimum of eighty-four supply ships shuttling back and forth between Attica and the supply depots in Macedonia in order to feed their army and navy at Phaleron. Not even the Great King&rsquos seasoned bureaucrats would have found it easy to provide such logistical support, but they might have been able to pull it off. Maybe the secret was cutting a corner here and covering up a shortfall there. The upshot is that the oarsmen at Phaleron might have been hungry, too hungry to pull hard in battle. But that is speculation.
The Persians could not wait at Phaleron forever. No doubt they considered landing troops on Salamis and advancing on the Greek ships. There are good harbors on the west coast of the island, and it is a short march overland eastward to the Greek positions. But the Greeks surely guarded every landing ground with armed men. Another possibility was to build a bridge across the mile-wide Salamis channel and march the men across, the way Persia had bridged the Hellespont. But the twenty-four-foot depth of the Salamis channel would have rendered this a difficult undertaking even with control at sea. As long as the Greek navy was at large, it would take a naval battle in order to protect the builders, which brought the Persians back to the need to fight at sea.
That, in turn, increased the pressure on Persia&rsquos diplomats to find a Greek traitor, and on Persia&rsquos recruiters and agents to find more men and ships. Between the storms and unrepaired losses, the Persian fleet on the day after Artemisium had declined from a total of 1,327 triremes to about 650, about half its original size. Tens of thousands of men had been lost in storms and battle as well. In the three weeks since then, reinforcements had arrived from mainland Greece and the islands. &ldquoThe farther the Persian went into Greece, the more the nations that followed him,&rdquo writes Herodotus.
Impressed by what he had learned of the size of these reinforcements, Herodotus went out on a limb. &ldquoIn my opinion, at any rate, the Persians were not less in number when they invaded Athens both by land and in their ships than they were when they had reached Sepias and Thermopylae.&rdquo Few scholars are inclined to agree with him. Herodotus himself had commented on the storm that wrecked two hundred Persian ships off Euboea that &ldquoit was all done by the god so that the Greek force would be saved and the Persian force would be not much greater than it.&rdquo It does not look as if that verdict was reversed in less than a month and from regions not known for large navies.
Central Greece was populous but neither it nor the Cycladic Islands were in a position to provide the Persians with many ships, let alone hundreds and hundreds. The Persian fleet is unlikely to have commanded more than seven hundred triremes at Salamis. When Herodotus speaks of massive reinforcements, either he is referring only to manpower and not ships or he is simply wrong.
No doubt the Persians had taken their new recruits out to sea at Phaleron and given them the chance to row or serve on deck as marines. But the Persians would have noticed that every one of their reinforcements was Greek and so not entirely trustworthy. There was also reason to distrust some and perhaps all of the allies accused by Artemisia. The Cypriots had joined the Ionian Revolt of 499 B.C. The Egyptians, too, had revolted from Persia and more recently&mdashin 486. At Artemisium the Egyptians might have won the prize for valor from Xerxes, but perhaps that was more of a goodwill token on his part than a reward for services rendered. The Cilician squadron had been defeated by the Athenians on the second day at Artemisium. We know nothing of the Pamphylians (originally thirty ships), but they were a people of Greek descent and hence of questionable loyalty.
Disloyalty, a drop in the number of ships, possible supply problems, and dangerous terrain: there were so many reasons for Xerxes to avoid a battle at sea. But Xerxes might have reasoned that at Artemisium the enemy had enjoyed the advantage of surprise at Salamis the Persians would not underrate the foe a second time. He might also have reckoned on momentum. Spurred by their success at the Acropolis, his soldiers would bear down on the dispirited Greeks, whose panic the day before might have been reported to him by spies.
Xerxes may have come to the conclusion that heaven had suddenly dropped victory into his lap. The first of two enemy capital cities had fallen. The Greek army and navy remained intact, but they were in disarray. The enemy army was improvising a hasty defense the enemy fleet was divided and on the verge of panic. A short, sharp move by Persia might be enough to push the Greeks over the edge. The invading force that had already taken Athens might end the season yet at Sparta.
And so, the navies would fight at Salamis. That master of manipulation, the Great King, had decided to tie his fate to an image. He had been taught the power of images from childhood on. The avenger, rising over the straits of Salamis on his throne, looming against a backdrop of honorable smoke from justly ruined temples, would spur his ships to success. The struggle might be severe, but in the end the Persians would win, just as they had at Thermopylae. Who knew? His agents might even find a convenient traitor soon. Not for Xerxes the return home with his hands half empty.
No sooner had the king spoken than the order was given to launch the ships. This had been expected: fleets do not spring into action at a moment&rsquos notice, at least not successful fleets. Besides, Xerxes had already prepared to take up a position on land at the edge of the battle. As the order was passed from squadron commander to captain to crew, tens of thousands of men lined up, climbed wooden ladders at the water&rsquos edge, and boarded their ships.
Artemisia&rsquos response to Xerxes&rsquo verdict is not recorded. She was a woman of valor, but she was no Antigone: she was willing to speak truth to power but not to engage in civil disobedience. When the ships rowed out of Phaleron Bay, Artemisia and her men were among them.
The Persians made for the straits of Salamis, the entrance to which lies about four miles to the northwest of Phaleron Bay. There, they divided themselves into lines and squadrons unmolested by the enemy. Presumably they took up their formations just outside the entrance to the Salamis channel, spread over a five-mile-wide waterway between Salamis and the mainland. The Persians hoped to draw the Greeks out of the narrow straits, but the enemy never appeared. As the light of day gave out, the order was given for the Persians to return to Phaleron. On September 24, the sun sets at Athens at 7:19 P.M., so we may imagine the Persians beginning their retreat around 6:00 P.M.
The Persian commanders were probably not surprised that the Greeks had not accepted a challenge to fight in unfavorable waters. But that was perhaps not the whole story. The Persians might also have been making the first move in a game of psychological warfare. By lining up at the entrance to the Salamis straits, they demonstrated to the Greeks both their aggressive spirit and their renewed numbers. The Greeks on Salamis saw the full force of the fleet that faced them. Any hope that the Persian navy had been ruined in central Greece by storm and battle was now dashed at the sight of this shipshape and well-reinforced armada.
Nor was the navy the only weapon deployed by Persia. That night, when the Greek fleet had returned to Salamis, the Persian army began marching toward the Peloponnese. In the night sky, the sound of tens of thousands of men and horses tramping westward through Attica would have carried across the straits to the Greek camp. In fact, the Persians might have ordered their men to hug the shore, the more to frighten the enemy. With luck, the terror of the Persian advance might split the Greeks at Salamis, forcing part of the fleet to hurry toward the Isthmus and the other part to fall into Persia&rsquos hands, either through defeat in battle or through treason.
The Persian fleet headed back to Phaleron, where it planned to moor overnight. The men probably took their regular evening meal and then prepared for what lay ahead the next day, when they would enter the straits and provoke the great battle that the commanders wanted, all of them except Artemisia. Then news arrived that changed everything.
The Battle of Salamis
The Battle of Salamis was a naval battle between the Greek city-states and Persia, fought in September, 480 BC in the straits between Piraeus and Salamis, a small island in the Saronic Gulf near Athens, Greece.
The Athenians had fled to Salamis after the Battle of Thermopylae in August, 480 BC, while the Persians occupied and burned their city. The Greek fleet joined them there in August after the indecisive Battle of Artemisium. The Spartans wanted to return to the Peloponnese, seal off the Isthmus of Corinth with a wall, and prevent the Persians from defeating them on land, but the Athenian commander Themistocles persuaded them to remain at Salamis, arguing that a wall across the Isthmus was pointless as long as the Persian army could be transported and supplied by the Persian navy. His argument depended on a particular interpretation of the oracle at Delphi, which, in typical Delphic ambiguity, prophesized that Salamis would "bring death to women's sons," but also that the Greeks would be saved by a "wooden wall". Themistocles interpreted the wooden wall as the fleet of ships, and argued that Salamis would bring death to the Persians, not the Greeks. Furthermore some Athenians who chose not to flee Athens, interpreted the prophecy literally, barricaded the entrance to the Acropolis with a wooden wall, and fenced themselves in. The wooden wall was overrun, they were all killed, and the Acropolis was burned down by the Persians.
The Greeks had 371 triremes and pentekonters (smaller fifty-oared ships), effectively under Themistocles, but nominally led by the Spartan Eurybiades. The Spartans had very few ships to contribute, but they regarded themselves the natural leaders of any joint Greek military expedition, and always insisted that the Spartan general would be given command on such occasions. There were 180 ships from Athens, 40 from Corinth, 30 from Aegina, 20 from Chalcis, 20 from Megara, 16 from Sparta, 15 from Sicyon, 10 from Epidaurus, 7 from Eretria, 7 from Ambracia, 5 from Troizen, 4 from Naxos, 3 from Leucas, 3 from Hermione, 2 from Styra, 2 from Cythnus, 2 from Ceos, 2 from Melos, one from Siphnus, one from Seriphus, and one from Croton.
The much larger Persian fleet consisted of 1207 ships, although their original invasion force consisted of many more ships that had since been lost due to storms in the Aegean Sea and at Artemisium. The Persians, led by Xerxes I, decided to meet the Athenian fleet off the coast of Salamis Island, and were so confident of their victory that Xerxes set up a throne on the shore, on the slopes of Mount Aegaleus, to watch the battle in style and record the names of commanders who performed particularly well.
Eurybiades and the Spartans continued to argue with Themistocles about the necessity of fighting at Salamis. They still wanted to fight the battle closer to Corinth, so that they could retreat to the mainland in case of a defeat, or withdraw completely and let the Persians attack them by land. Themistocles argued in favor of fighting at Salamis, as the Persian fleet would be able to continually supply their army no matter how many defensive walls Eurybiades built. At one point during the debate, spirits flared so badly that Eurybiades raised his staff of office and threatened to strike Themistocles with it. Themistocles responded calmly "Strike, but also listen". His eloquence was matched by his cunning. Afraid that he would be overruled by Eurybiades despite the Spartan's total lack of naval expertise, Themistocles sent an informer, a slave named Sicinnus, to Xerxes to make the Persian king believe that the Greeks had in fact not been able to agree on a location for battle, and would be stealthily retreating during the night. Xerxes believed Sicinnus and had his fleet blockade the western outlet of the straits, which also served to block any Greek ships who might be planning to escape. Sicinnus was later rewarded with emancipation and Greek citizenship.Artemisia, the queen of Halicarnassus in Asia Minor and an ally of Xerxes, supposedly tried to convince him to wait for the Greeks to surrender, as a battle in the straits of Salamis would be deadly to the large Persian ships, but Xerxes and his chief advisor Mardonius pressed for an attack. Throughout the night the Persian ships searched the gulf for the Greek retreat, while in fact the Greeks remained on their ships, asleep. During the night Aristides, formerly a political opponent of Themistocles, arrived to report that Themistocles' plan had worked, and he allied with the Athenian commander to strengthen the Greek force.
The next morning (possibly September 28, but the exact date is unknown), the Persians were exhausted from searching for the Greeks all night, but they sailed in to the straits anyway to attack the Greek fleet. The Corinthian ships under Adeimantus immediately retreated, drawing the Persians further into the straits after them although the Athenians later felt this was due to cowardice, the Corinthians had most likely been instructed to feign a retreat by Themistocles. Nevertheless none of the other Greek ships dared to attack, until one Greek trireme quickly rammed the lead Persian ship. At this, the rest of the Greeks joined the attack.
As at Artemisium, the much larger Persian fleet could not manoeuvre in the gulf, and a smaller contingent of Athenian and Aeginan triremes flanked the Persian navy. The Persians tried to turn back, but a strong wind sprang up and trapped them those that were able to turn around were also trapped by the rest of the Persian fleet that had jammed the strait. The Greek and Persian ships rammed each other and something similar to a land battle ensued. Both sides had marines on their ships (the Greeks with fully armed hoplites), and arrows and javelins also flew across the narrow strait. The chief Persian admiral Ariamenes rammed Themistocles' ship, but in the hand-to-hand combat that followed Ariamenes was killed by a Greek foot soldier.
The Battle of Salamis
Only about 100 of the heavier Persian triremes could fit into the gulf at a time, and each successive wave was disabled or destroyed by the lighter Greek triremes. At least 200 Persian ships were sunk, including one by Artemisia, who apparently switched sides in the middle of the battle to avoid being captured and ransomed by the Athenians. Aristides also took another small contingent of ships and recaptured Psyttaleia, a nearby island that the Persians had occupied a few days earlier. It is said that it was the Immortals, the elite Persian Royal Guard, who during the battle had to evacuate to Psyttaleia after their ships sank: they were slaughtered to a man. According to Herodotus, the Persians suffered many more casualties than the Greeks because the Persians did not know how to swim one of the Persian casualties was a brother of Xerxes. Those Persians who survived and ended up on shore were killed by the Greeks who found them.
Xerxes, sitting ashore upon his golden throne, witnessed the horror. He remarked that Artemisia was the only general to show any productive bravery ramming and destroying nine Athenian triremes, saying, "My female general has become a man, and my male generals all become women."
The victory of the Greeks marked the turning point in the Persian Wars. Xerxes and most of his army retreated to the Hellespont, where Xerxes wanted to march his army back over the bridge of ships he had created before the Greeks arrived to destroy it (although they had in fact decided not to do this). Xerxes returned to Persia, leaving Mardonius and a small force to attempt to control the conquered areas of Greece. Mardonius recaptured Athens, but the Greek city-states joined together once more to fight him at the simultaneous battles of Plataea and Mycale in 479 BC.
Because the Battle of Salamis saved Greece from being absorbed into the Persian Empire, it essentially ensured the emergence of Western civilization as a major force in the world. Many historians have therefore ranked the Battle of Salamis as one of the most decisive military engagements of all time.
The Greek city-states of Athens and Eretria had supported the unsuccessful Ionian Revolt against the Persian Empire of Darius I in 499–494 BC. The Persian Empire was still relatively young and prone to revolts by its subject peoples.   Moreover, Darius was a usurper and had to spend considerable time putting down revolts against his rule.  The Ionian Revolt threatened the integrity of his empire, and he thus vowed to punish those involved (especially those not already part of the empire).   Darius also saw the opportunity to expand his empire into the fractious world of Ancient Greece. 
A preliminary expedition under Mardonius, in 492 BC, to secure the land approaches to Greece ended with the re-conquest of Thrace and forced Macedon to become a fully subordinate client kingdom of Persia,   the latter which had been a Persian vassal as early as the late 6th century BC.  An amphibious task force was then sent out under Datis and Artaphernes in 490 BC, using Delos as an intermediate base at, successfully sacking Karystos and Eretria,  before moving to attack Athens. However, at the ensuing Battle of Marathon, the Athenians won a remarkable victory, resulting in the withdrawal of the Persian army to Asia. 
Darius therefore began raising a huge new army with which he meant to completely subjugate Greece. However, he died before the invasion could begin.  The throne of Persia passed to his son Xerxes I, who quickly restarted the preparations for the invasion of Greece, including building two pontoon bridges across the Hellespont.  In 481 BC, Xerxes sent ambassadors around Greece asking for earth and water as a gesture of their submission, but making the very deliberate omission of Athens and Sparta (both of whom were at open war with Persia).  Support thus began to coalesce around these two leading states. A congress of city states met at Corinth in the late autumn of 481 BC, and a confederate alliance of Greek city-states was formed (hereafter referred to as "the Allies").  This was remarkable for the disjointed Greek world, especially since many of the city-states in attendance were still technically at war with each other. 
The Allies initially adopted a strategy of blocking land and sea approaches to southern Greece.  Thus, in August 480 BC, after hearing of Xerxes' approach, a small Allied army led by Spartan King Leonidas I blocked the Pass of Thermopylae, while an Athenian-dominated navy sailed to the Straits of Artemisium. Famously, the massively outnumbered Greek army held Thermopylae for three days before being outflanked by the Persians, who used a little-known mountain path.  Although much of the Greek army retreated, the rearguard, formed of the Spartan and Thespian contingents, was surrounded and annihilated.  The simultaneous Battle of Artemisium, consisting of a series of naval encounters, was up to that point a stalemate  however, when news of Thermopylae reached them, the Greeks also retreated, since holding the straits was now a moot point. 
Following Thermopylae, the Persian army proceeded to burn and sack the Boeotian cities that had not surrendered, Plataea and Thespiae, before taking possession of the now-evacuated city of Athens. The Allied army, meanwhile, prepared to defend the Isthmus of Corinth.  Xerxes wished for a final crushing defeat of the Allies to finish the conquest of Greece in that campaigning season conversely, the Allies sought a decisive victory over the Persian navy that would guarantee the security of the Peloponnese.  The ensuing naval Battle of Salamis ended in a decisive victory for the Allies, marking a turning point in the conflict. 
Following the defeat of his navy at Salamis, Xerxes retreated to Asia with the bulk of his army.  According to Herodotus, this was because he feared the Greeks would sail to the Hellespont and destroy the pontoon bridges, thereby trapping his army in Europe.  He left Mardonius, with hand-picked troops, to complete the conquest of Greece the following year.  Mardonius evacuated Attica and wintered in Thessaly  the Athenians then reoccupied their destroyed city.  Over the winter, there seems to have been some tension among the Allies. The Athenians in particular, who were not protected by the Isthmus but whose fleet was the key to the security of the Peloponnese, felt hard done by and demanded that an Allied army march north the following year.  When the Allies failed to commit to this, the Athenian fleet refused to join the Allied navy in the spring. The navy, now under the command of the Spartan king Leotychides, stationed itself off Delos, while the remnants of the Persian fleet remained off Samos, both sides unwilling to risk battle.  Similarly, Mardonius remained in Thessaly, knowing an attack on the Isthmus was pointless, while the Allies refused to send an army outside the Peloponnese. 
Mardonius moved to break the stalemate by trying to win over the Athenians and their fleet through the mediation of Alexander I of Macedon, offering peace, self-government and territorial expansion.  The Athenians made sure that a Spartan delegation was also on hand to hear the offer, and rejected it:
The degree to which we are put in the shadow by the Medes' strength is hardly something you need to bring to our attention. We are already well aware of it. But even so, such is our love of liberty, that we will never surrender. 
Upon this refusal, the Persians marched south again. Athens was again evacuated and left to the enemy, leading to the second phase of the Destruction of Athens. Mardonius now repeated his offer of peace to the Athenian refugees on Salamis. Athens, along with Megara and Plataea, sent emissaries to Sparta demanding assistance and threatening to accept the Persian terms if it was not given.  According to Herodotus, the Spartans, who were at that time celebrating the festival of Hyacinthus, delayed making a decision until they were persuaded by a guest, Chileos of Tegea, who pointed out the danger to all of Greece if the Athenians surrendered.  When the Athenian emissaries delivered an ultimatum to the Spartans the next day, they were amazed to hear that a task force was in fact already en route the Spartan army was marching to meet the Persians. 
When Mardonius learned of the Spartan force, he completed the destruction of Athens, tearing down whatever was left standing.  He then retreated towards Thebes, hoping to lure the Greek army into territory that would be suitable for the Persian cavalry.  Mardonius created a fortified encampment on the north bank of the Asopus river in Boeotia covering the ground from Erythrae past Hysiae and up to the lands of Plataea. 
The Athenians sent 8,000 hoplites, led by Aristides, along with 600 Plataean exiles to join the Allied army.  The army then marched in Boeotia across the passes of Mount Cithaeron, arriving near Plataea, and above the Persian position on the Asopus.  Under the guidance of the commanding general, Pausanias, the Greeks took up position opposite the Persian lines but remained on high ground.  Knowing that he had little hope of successfully attacking the Greek positions, Mardonius sought to either sow dissension among the Allies or lure them down into the plain.  Plutarch reports that a conspiracy was discovered among some prominent Athenians, who were planning to betray the Allied cause although this account is not universally accepted, it may indicate Mardonius' attempts of intrigue within the Greek ranks. 
Mardonius also initiated hit-and-run cavalry attacks against the Greek lines, possibly trying to lure the Greeks down to the plain in pursuit.  Although having some initial success, this strategy backfired when the Persian cavalry commander Masistius was killed with his death, the cavalry retreated. 
Their morale boosted by this small victory, the Greeks moved forward, still remaining on higher ground, to a new position more suited for encampment and better watered.  The Spartans and Tegeans were on a ridge to the right of the line, the Athenians on a hillock on the left and the other contingents on the slightly lower ground between.  In response, Mardonius brought his men up to the Asopus and arrayed them for battle However, neither the Persians nor the Greeks would attack Herodotus claims this is because both sides received bad omens during sacrificial rituals.  The armies thus stayed camped in their locations for eight days, during which new Greek troops arrived.  Mardonius then sought to break the stalemate by sending his cavalry to attack the passes of Mount Cithaeron this raid resulted in the capture of a convoy of provisions intended for the Greeks.  Two more days passed, during which time the supply lines of the Greeks continued to be menaced.  Mardonius then launched another cavalry raid on the Greek lines, which succeeded in blocking the Gargaphian Spring, which had been the only source of water for the Greek army (they could not use the Asopus due to the threat posed by Persian archers).  Coupled with the lack of food, the restriction of the water supply made the Greek position untenable, so they decided to retreat to a position in front of Plataea, from where they could guard the passes and have access to fresh water.  To prevent the Persian cavalry from attacking during the retreat, it was to be performed that night. 
However, the retreat went awry. The Allied contingents in the centre missed their appointed position and ended up scattered in front of Plataea itself.  The Athenians, Tegeans and Spartans, who had been guarding the rear of the retreat, had not even begun to retreat by daybreak.  A single Spartan division was thus left on the ridge to guard the rear, while the Spartans and Tegeans retreated uphill Pausanias also instructed the Athenians to begin the retreat and if possible join up with the Spartans.   However, the Athenians at first retreated directly towards Plataea,  and thus the Allied battle line remained fragmented as the Persian camp began to stir. 
According to Herodotus, the Spartans sent 45,000 men – 5,000 Spartiates (full citizen soldiers), 5,000 other Lacodaemonian hoplites (perioeci) and 35,000 helots (seven per Spartiate).  This was probably the largest Spartan force ever assembled.  The Greek army had been reinforced by contingents of hoplites from the other Allied city-states, as shown in the table. Diodorus Siculus claims in his Bibliotheca historica that the number of the Greek troops approached one hundred thousand. 
|Sparta ||10,000||Athens ||8,000||Corinth ||5,000|
|Megara ||3,000||Sicyon ||3,000||Tegea ||1,500|
|Phlius ||1,000||Troezen ||1,000||Anactorion & |
|Epidaurus ||800||Arcadian Orchomenans |
|600||Eretria & |
|Plataea ||600||Aegina ||500||Ambracia ||500|
|Chalcis ||400||Mycenae & |
|Potidaea ||300||Cephalonia ||200||Lepreum ||200|
According to Herodotus, there were a total of 69,500 lightly armed troops – 35,000 helots  and 34,500 troops from the rest of Greece roughly one per hoplite.  The number of 34,500 has been suggested to represent one light skirmisher supporting each non-Spartan hoplite (33,700), together with 800 Athenian archers, whose presence in the battle Herodotus later notes.  Herodotus tells us that there were also 1,800 Thespians (but does not say how they were equipped), giving a total strength of 108,200 men. 
The number of hoplites is accepted as reasonable (and possible) the Athenians alone had fielded 10,000 hoplites at the Battle of Marathon.  Some historians have accepted the number of light troops and used them as a population census of Greece at the time. Certainly these numbers are theoretically possible. Athens, for instance, allegedly fielded a fleet of 180 triremes at Salamis,  manned by approximately 36,000 rowers and fighters.  Thus 69,500 light troops could easily have been sent to Plataea. Nevertheless, the number of light troops is often rejected as exaggerated, especially in view of the ratio of seven helots to one Spartiate.  For instance, Lazenby accepts that hoplites from other Greek cities might have been accompanied by one lightly armoured retainer each, but rejects the number of seven helots per Spartiate.  He further speculates that each Spartiate was accompanied by one armed helot, and that the remaining helots were employed in the logistical effort, transporting food for the army.  Both Lazenby and Holland deem the lightly armed troops, whatever their number, as essentially irrelevant to the outcome of battle.  
A further complication is that a certain proportion of the Allied manpower was needed to man the fleet, which amounted to at least 110 triremes, and thus approximately 22,000 men.  Since the Battle of Mycale was fought at least near-simultaneously with the Battle of Plataea, then this was a pool of manpower which could not have contributed to Plataea, and further reduces the likelihood that 110,000 Greeks assembled before Plataea. 
The Greek forces were, as agreed by the Allied congress, under the overall command of Spartan royalty in the person of Pausanias, who was the regent for Leonidas' young son, Pleistarchus, his cousin. Diodorus tells us that the Athenian contingent was under the command of Aristides  it is probable that the other contingents also had their leaders. Herodotus tells us in several places that the Greeks held council during the prelude to the battle, implying that decisions were consensual and that Pausanias did not have the authority to issue direct orders to the other contingents.   This style of leadership contributed to the way events unfolded during the battle itself. For instance, in the period immediately before the battle, Pausanias was unable to order the Athenians to join up with his forces, and thus the Greeks fought the battle completely separated from each other. 
Where Did It Begin? Gathering Place for the Battle of Salamis is Found - History
Salamis is the largest Greek island in the Saronic Gulf. Sometimes the island is also called Salamina, after the the capital. The 95 km large island is situated only a small distance (about 2 kilometers) from the coast of the mainland and the port of Piraeus, where most ferries depart for various destinations and islands in Greece. The island of Salamis is mainly mountainous and rocky, with the 404 meter high Mavrovouni mountain as the highest point. On the south side of Salamis there is a pine tree forest. There are approximately 31,000 people living permanently on the island, but during the peak season in the tourist holidays, the number of people on the island a multiple of this. Salamis is an island of extremes, with a heavy industry on one side, but also with quiet beaches and beautiful nature.
The island is famous for its the well knowd Battle of Salamis which took place in the year 480 BC. In this battle the Athenian admiral Themistocles defeated the Persian fleet that was sent by their ruler Xerxes. Nowadays the headquarters of the Greek navy are located at Salamis.
Although there are quite a few Athenians that have a holiday home on the island of Salamis, it is not a very popular holiday destination for non-Greek tourists because of the ugly architecture of the many new buildings that are put down, and because there is a lot of heavy industry, which had as a result that the island and the surrounding waters are not very clean. If you are looking for a quiet beach with clean waters it is best to go to the south of the island, which looks quite green and different. Here you find narrow stretches of sand and pebbles and you can sit under a tree if you want protection from the sun. The connection to the mainland is very good, because there are people who live on the island and work in Athens.
Ambelakia - the ancient harbour of the island, Koulouris, is situated 4 kilometers southeast of the capital in Ambelakia. In the sea are remains of ancient buildings. There are remains of walls from the old Acropolis and of streets. In Ambelakia there are also churches that date from the 16th century. In the bay in front of Ambelakia the famous Battle of Salamis took place. Ambelakia is the oldest town on the island.
The large village of Moulki (or Aianteio, named after the Greek hero Ajax), in the west of the island south of the capital, has many pine trees and a nice beach. Here the first Hellenistic settlement of the island was found. In the village are two churches, the Metamorphosis of Sotira and Kimisis or Theotokou, which date from the 11th and 12th century. At a distance of 5 kilometers from Moulki on the mountain Stavros, in the southwest of Salamis, stands the monastery of Saint Nikolaou Lemonion from the 18th century. Opposite the monastery stands a Byzantine temple, the Saint John Kalabitou, dating from the 10th century.
The beaches of Kaki Vigla, Faneromeni, Saterli, Selinia, Kanakia and Peristeria in the south of the island are among the best of Salamis (and more clean than the ones in the north) and they are pretty quiet. This area is less developped than the rest of the island. Faneromeni has a monastery with beautiful frescoes.
Psili Ammos (meaning fine sand) is a beautiful beach in the northwest of the island opposite Elefsina. Here you will find one of the oldest churches in the island of Salamis, the Saint Grigorios.
The Maritime Museum in Paloukia is located in the open air and houses a collection of cannons and torpedoes.List of site sources >>>