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Peter Green. Victor Davis Hanson. Steven Pressfield. Barry Strauss. Battle of Marathon BC - Marathon O n e reason for the A t h e n i a n practice of taking only a few hoplites o n deck to serve as marines was that the crew's pulling efficiency was seriously j e o p a r d i z e d if t h e r e were too many p e o p l e moving a b o u t topside.

Such m o v e m e n t inevitably caused the ship to roll. U n d e r oar, therefore, the epibatai h a d to be seated Thucydides 7. The scene shows an oared warship carrying hoplites serving as epibatai. Though at the ready, these heavily armed men have to be careful not to shift position and unbalance the ship. Athens, National Archaeological Museum , author's collection we were fighting a battle in the open sea, because they would hinder us Proto-Corinthian olpe, the through the weight of the ships in exercising our skill. The scene depicts they did best, namely, conducting the tactical manoeuvres in which the collision of two hoplite speed and agility were essential.

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Each pipe aulos Archers was a cylinder with finger The four toxotai were distinct from the ten epibatai, namely they were not holes, sounded with a reed. An inscription IG I2 The helmsman would certainly have been vulnerable and would have needed protection, being too busy to defend himself. The Athenian playwright Euripides Iphigenia among the Taurians talks of archers stationed in the stern, giving covering fire during an embarkation. IN A C T I O N Lack of space in the hull for food and water, low freeboard, low cruising speed under oars and limited sailing qualities reduced the trireme's range of operations.

Hence, naval engagements customarily took place near the coast, where ships could be handled in relatively calm water and there was some hope for the shipwrecked.

Sails were used for fleets in transit, but when the ships approached the battle area, the masts would be lowered and the ships rowed. The opposing fleets normally deployed in line abreast two deep. Armament The main weapon of a trireme was the bronze-plated ram embolos situated at the prow. The ram was formed by the forward tip of the keel, heavily armoured and built up to a point with three chisel-like blades just above water level.

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The join between the ram and the stern-post, which curved upwards and forwards, was shaped to reduce water resistance so that the whole structure acted both as an armament and as a cutwater. Scythian archers appear on a number of Athenian vases, always clothed in patterned sleeved tunics and trousers, and soft leather caps, and often associated with horses. Here, on the interior of an Attic red-figure kylix, a toxotes inspects one of his arrows. The two warships, probably biremes, are under sail. Ten brails lead up from the deck, over the yard and down the front side of the sail to its bottom edge.

He fought with distinction at Marathon Before the invention of g u n p o w d e r and long after the offensive and at Salamis, which was the capabilities of warships were limited to setting an enemy vessel o n fire, subject of his tragedy Persai. Advances in Greek warship Produced in BC, it was performed before an audience design were aimed at achieving the speed necessary for successful that included thousands of r a m m i n g without loss of stability.

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Impact theory indicates that unless the Salamis veterans. Gela, attacker r e a c h e d the critical speed of a b o u t 10 knots at the m o m e n t of Museo archeologico di Gela, impact, the attacking vessel would crumple, while the target vessel Sicily, author's collection escaped almost unscathed. Ominously the Greek word for stroke, embole, is the same word used for 'charge' or ' r a m m i n g '. T h e ram could smash a hole in an enemy vessel a n d so cripple her, b u t could n o t literally sink her.

Ancient sources use terms m e a n i n g 'sink', b u t it is evident that ships so 'sunk' could still be towed away. T h e Greek word kataduein, which is almost invariably translated as 'sink', in fact means n o m o r e than 'dip' or 'lower'. So, when triremes were holed in a sea battle, although they h a d b e c o m e absolutely useless as fighting vessels, the combatants went to great lengths a n d some risk to recover the wrecks. After the naval e n g a g e m e n t off Sybota in BC, the Corinthians did n o t take into tow the triremes they h a d p u t out of action, something Thucydides 1.

Such vessels could be towed h o m e as prizes and, after being repaired, e q u i p p e d a n d re-named, they became part of the navy IG22 Naval tactics T h e r e were two main m e t h o d s of fighting, which placed contradictory d e m a n d s o n trireme design. T h e first was ramming, which called for the smallest possible ship built a r o u n d the largest n u m b e r of oarsmen. Using a m i n i m u m n u m b e r of marines, the Athenian navy followed this phi- losophy.


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The men of Chios, for example, with their 40 marines per trireme, opted for the second tactic. This is the style of attack which even- tually prevailed, simply because a vessel had to make contact with its opponent when ramming, which was just what the boarders wanted.

The later development of large ships with complete decks, specifically the warships of the Hellenistic period, which were primarily designed as heavily armoured floating platforms to carry either catapults or marines, was a logical progression. The arguments of Herodotos 8. First, he noted that if Eurybiades, the Spartan admiral-in-chief, chose to give battle at the Isthmus of Corinth, this would mean fighting 'on the wide open sea'. Second, fighting in the open sea was 'least advantageous' to the Greeks with their 'heavier' baruteras and less numerous ships.

It is not at all clear what he meant by 'heavier' ships. It has been suggested Morrison-Coates that while Herodotos reports The shape of the ram was that the Persian triremes had been hauled ashore and dried out at designed to cause maximum Doriskos, those of the Greeks had become waterlogged through being waterline damage without continuously in the water for perhaps as long as a year.

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Nevertheless, there penetrating the hull too far is no reason why the Greeks should not have dried their ships out, either and making it difficult for the attacking vessel to back off. Another possibility is that the Greek triremes were heavier in the sense Author's collection that they were more heavily constructed. Thucydides 1. After Salamis, according to Plutarch, Kimon 'made them broader and put a bridge between their decks so that they might be able to attack the enemy in a more formidable fashion with many hoplites' Kimon It appears, on Plutarch's evidence at least, that post-Salamis Athenian triremes were completely decked.

It may well be that Greek triremes were, in other respects, not built as well as the best ships in the Persian navy, namely the Phoenician and Egyptian triremes.

Ships built for speed and manoeuvrability were actually at a disadvantage in confined waters, and it is possible that Themistokles had realized this after Athenian experiences off Artemision. Indeed, at that engagement Herodotos implicitly says that the Persian vessels were 'better sailing' 8. What is more, he says 8. This suggests that the Persian crews were better trained than were those of Greek triremes. Unfortunately Herodotos is very vague on the naval tactics employed Diekplous by either side at Salamis or Artemision. He does claim 8. However, with triremes this circle would have steer for a gap in the enemy line.

He would then either turn been rather large to say the least, and one wonders if ships were capable suddenly to port or starboard to of remaining in station in such a formation. Again, our knowledge of ram an enemy ship in the side or Salamis is limited with respect to battle tactics.

The only real impression row clean through the line, swing round and smash into the stern of the engagement from Herodotos is that it was a 'slogging match', of an enemy ship. The top-deck and there are no indications of brilliant tactical moves being made by would be lined with marines and either navy. The To carry out the diekplous successfully required the open sea.

The main weapon was the attacking straits of Salamis are only about a mile wide and thus unsuitable for this ship's ram. Besides, if the heavier triremes of the Greeks meant they were Neither Herodotos, Thucydides more strongly built, then they could have better stood up to ramming. Likewise, in his describes it as such: 'To sail through the enemy's line and to scornful description of the sea battle of Sybota in BC, Thucydides appear from behind, while they says the style of fighting had been 'of the old clumsy sort' 1.


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The trireme itself could be used as a by oars and armed with rams. Yet speed and manoeuvrability could make it constructed and had experienced possible to attack vulnerable sides and sterns. For the Athenians, oarsmen. According to the trials of the replica trireme constructed ramming head-on had come to be considered a sign of lack of skill in a by Morrison and Coates, the helmsman Thucydides 7. Marble grave stele probably from Athens c.

The pensive young man sits on the foredeck of the trireme in which he served, with his shield and helmet behind him. The first, The periplous manoeuvre according to Thucydides, was to occupy a position that was crowded was either a variation involving outflanking the enemy line when 7. The alternative, especially the final stage of the diekplous, for a large fleet, was to form up in double line abeam Xenophon Hel- when the manoeuvring vessel, having cut through the line, lenika 1. The ships in the second line would try to pick off any swung round to attack from the enemy vessel that broke through before it could turn and ram a friendly stern.

Once the enemy formation vessel in the first line. It was a tactical manoeuvre that Even if it is true, and we have no reason to doubt the facts given by a single, skilfully handled vessel Diodoros Even so, it Greek tetreres, Latin quadriremis and the quinquereme Greek penteres, required room for its execution, Latin quinqueremis , the principal warship of the period remained the and timing was of the essence. Similarly, by the end of the 4th century BC more exotic With a modest speed of 9 knots, each trireme, assailant and victim, weapons, such as catapults and fire-pots, came into use, yet the main would travel its own length in armament of the trireme remained the bronze-sheathed ram.

Ram-and- about 6.