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The Battle of Salamis


After their defeat at the battle of Thermopylae, the Greeks were in great need of a victory to stop the Persian advance into their territories. An Athenian politician and general named Themistocles decided to abandon Athens and evacuated the entire city, with exception of a small honorary force to defend the Acropolis. He did not want to offend Athena, their patron goddess, by leaving her temple completely undefended. Themistocles decided to concentrate the Athenian forces in their navy to attack the Persians.

After taking Athens, the Persian King Xerxes set up his throne on a hill overlooking the sea. He expected his larger fleet of 800 triremes to easily defeat the Greek fleet of 200 triremes. The Greeks, lead by Themistocles, took advantage of the narrow waterways around the island of Salamis. Their ships were more maneuverable and were able to trap the larger fleet of the Persians. Because the Persians were not able to maneuver well, the Greeks were able to ram them almost at will. The Persian defeat was so great that they were never able to mount another attack into Greece again.





Warfare in Ancient Greece

Armies     Navy     Siege Warfare   Battles in Ancient Greece

Battle of Marathon      Battle of Salamis       Battle of Thermopylae

Peloponnesian War