Battle of Salamis (480 BC)

Battle of Salamis (480 BC)

The Greek fleet owed their success to their good tactics and their fast and easily manoeuvrable ships.

History

Keywords

Battle of Salamis, naval tactics, Xerxes, strait, Greek, Persians, Persian Empire, Hellas, Athens, battle, war, warfare, fleet, watercraft, soldier, antiquity, island, marine, military campaign, history, camp

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Scenes

The Salamis region

  • Greek ships
  • Persian southern fleet
  • Persian fleet
  • Egyptian ships
  • Xerxes’s camp

Events of the battle

  • Persian southern fleet
  • Persian fleet
  • Egyptian ships
  • Xerxes’s camp
  • Corinthian ships
  • Aeginetan ships
  • Megarean ships
  • Athenian fleet
  • Peloponnesian ships

Narration

Stage 1 (September 22, 480 BC)

Foreseeing the vast superiority of the Persian ships and soldiers, Themistocles, the commander of the Greek fleet, developed stealthy tactics. After the evacuation of Athens, he divided the Greek ships located in the narrow straits around the Salamis Island into two groups and also mobilised a small army of hoplites on dry land. When the Persians arrived, the majority of the Greek ships simulated retreat, while the others were lying in ambush in a bay. Unaware of the fate that awaited them, the Persian ships fell into the trap.

Stage 2 (September 22, 480 BC)

The ‘fleeing’ Greek ships suddenly turned back and together with the hidden ships, kept the enemy fleet in the straits, blocking it there. In the narrow strait, it was easy for the Greeks to manoeuvre their quick and agile triremes between the larger and more sluggish Persian ships. As hundreds of ships rammed into each other, the Greek hoplites fought as on dry land on the decks of the ships. The Persians not only lost soldiers at a rapid pace, but also ships as the pointed bronze nose of the Greek ships rammed into them.

Stage 3 (September 22, 480 BC)

Within a short span of time, the Persians suffered huge losses. According to Herodotus, they lost 200 ships, while the Greeks only lost 40. The Persian fleet attempted to escape from the strait, but it was chased by the Greeks. Xerxes witnessed the sad scene from a hill opposite Salamis. The Egyptian ships, which were part of the Persian fleet, did not intervene.

Stage 4 (September 22, 480 BC)

In the meantime, Aristides’s hoplites attacked the garrison of the great king of Persia, which had occupied Psyttaleia and destroyed the Persian southern fleet almost completely. Hence, the Greeks won one of the largest naval battles in history while Xerxes suffered a disastrous defeat. He withdrew to Asia Minor with the remaining fleet, although he left a relatively large army led by Mardonius in Northern Greece.

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