The Battle of Salamis: The Naval Encounter that Saved Greece -- and Western Civilization

The Battle of Salamis: The Naval Encounter that Saved Greece -- and Western Civilization

Barry Strauss

Language: English

Pages: 294

ISBN: 0743244516

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

On a late September day in 480 B.C., Greek warships faced an invading Persian armada in the narrow Salamis Straits in the most important naval battle of the ancient world. Overwhelmingly outnumbered by the enemy, the Greeks triumphed through a combination of strategy and deception. More than two millennia after it occurred, the clash between the Greeks and Persians at Salamis remains one of the most tactically brilliant battles ever fought. The Greek victory changed the course of western history -- halting the advance of the Persian Empire and setting the stage for the Golden Age of Athens.
In this dramatic new narrative account, historian and classicist Barry Strauss brings this landmark battle to life. He introduces us to the unforgettable characters whose decisions altered history: Themistocles, Athens' great leader (and admiral of its fleet), who devised the ingenious strategy that effectively destroyed the Persian navy in one day; Xerxes, the Persian king who fought bravely but who ultimately did not understand the sea; Aeschylus, the playwright who served in the battle and later wrote about it; and Artemisia, the only woman commander known from antiquity, who turned defeat into personal triumph. Filled with the sights, sounds, and scent of battle, The Battle of Salamis is a stirring work of history.


















substitute solemnity for favoritism, the commanders followed a ritual voting procedure: one by one, they were to walk up to the altar of Poseidon and each deposit his ballot. But unfortunately, nobody rose to the occasion. Each general without exception voted for himself. But he was also asked to award second place. On this matter, a majority—though not all—voted for Themistocles. But jealousy prevented the awarding of any prize. The navy was disbanded and the commanders each sailed home, but

them to have the upper hand) to say that the Greeks are terrified and plan to flee, and now is the best time of all for you to carry out the deed, so as not to let them run away. They are neither united nor will they resist you, but you will see them fight a naval battle amongst themselves, some taking your side and some not.” And when he had declared these things, he departed and got away. Finally, Plutarch, writing centuries later, about A.D. 100, writes: He [Themistocles] sent him

in the Persian fleet all knew the story of the Trojan horse, and how the Greeks had conquered a city by means of a false gift. And yet none of them managed to see through the stratagem of Athens’s latter-day Odysseus. Or, having seen through it, they could not successfully persuade Xerxes. In retrospect, his gullibility stands out. At the time, however, Sicinnus’s tale might have seemed reasonable. Traitors and deserters were the common currency of war. In all likelihood, Sicinnus was not the

Empire and Themistocles for the Hellenic alliance.” —Booklist (starred review) “Strauss has connected the abstract meaning of the war to its concrete reality: a sweaty, desperate effort in which over 100,000 men crammed into their ships, readied their oars, and rowed for their lives.” —Bryn Mawr Classical Review Thank you for purchasing this Simon & Schuster eBook. * * * Join our mailing list and get updates on new releases, deals, bonus content and other great books from Simon

Themistocles’ cunning that bordered on treachery. Finally, the Greek word for “fight fairly and openly” can also mean “fight with an erection”—an appropriate prayer to Aphrodite, after all. The Greeks were not prudes, and what they said was, in effect, that the Corinthians were big men in every sense, and so they stuck it to the Persians. At midday during the battle of Salamis, a Persian sentry atop Munychia in Piraeus would have looked out over a sea whose colors ranged from turquoise to blue

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