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Battle of Salamis

Battle of Salamis

The Battle of Salamis was fought between an Alliance of Greek city-states and the Persian Empire in September 480 BCE, in the straits between the mainland and Salamis, an island in the Saronic Gulf near Athens. It marked the high-point of the second Persian invasion of Greece which had begun in 480 BCE.

 

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Brian Smith

Brian Smith

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It has been widely known that a number of credible historians believed a Persian win at the Battle would have hindered the thriving development of ancient Greece and thus, Western civilization. Because of this realization, the Battle of Salamis is one of the most significant battles in human history. Because of the domination of ancient Greek influences in all aspects of today's societies, had Persia won the Battle, its barbaric rule of Greece would have changed the entire course of human history.

The flourish of Greek culture occurred only after the Persian wars were won and paved the way for cosmic and boundless developments in countless disciplines for the next 50 years.

Article: Melee: This is How Democr...
Source: Hellenic Navy

Xerxes still held to the idea of conquering Greece; but the chance was gone. Mardonius, it is true, remained in Thessaly with an army, but it was no longer an army of millions. The Greeks assembled an army of about 100,000 men and in the battle of Platæa the following year utterly defeated it. On the same day the Greeks destroyed what was left of the Persian fleet in the battle of Mycale, on the coast of Asia Minor.

Article: A History of Sea Power
Source: Gutenberg

The immediate results of the victory at Salamis were soon apparent. The all-conquering Persian army suddenly found itself in a critical situation. Cut off from its supplies by sea, it had to retreat or starve, for the country which it occupied was incapable of furnishing supplies for a host so enormous. Xerxes left an army of occupation in Thessaly consisting of 300,000 men under Mardonius, but the rest were ordered to get back to Persia as best they could. A panic-stricken rout to the Hellespont began, and for the next forty-five days a great host, that had never been even opposed in battle, went to pieces under famine, disease, and the guerilla warfare of the inhabitants of the country it traversed, and it was only a broken and demoralized remnant of the great army that survived to see the Hellespont...

Article: A History of Sea Power
Source: Gutenberg

The Persians retreated north after the battle of Salamis, the army by land and the fleet by sea. The army wintered in Thessaly, and advanced south in the following spring, whereupon the Athenians again abandoned their city.

Article:   The Art of Fighting: Its …
Source:  Offline Book/Journal

Other ships lay in wait in the bay and now ambushed the Persians on their left flank, driving them towards the shore of the mainland...

By now the rout was now on, those that sought to make resistance or fleeing to shore found themselves being run down by the rampaging Athenians...

By sunset the battle was over. "Amongst those killed was the son of Xerxes' brother, and many other well-known men from Persia. There were also Greek casualties, but not many; for most of the Greeks could swim Most of the enemy, on the other hand, being unable to swim, were drowned."

Article: Battle of Salamis - 20th ...
Source: Ancient Greek Battles

At the break of day, the Persian fleet began its advance through the eastern channel. The lines formed up into columns with the Phoenicians leading. "The Athenian squadron found itself facing the Phoenicians on the Persian left wing." As the Phoenicians came through the channel...The Greek ships suddenly began to back water, leading the Persian fleet further into the narrowing channel.

Article: Battle of Salamis - 20th ...
Source: Ancient Greek Battles

Xerxes was sure of victory. He had his throne placed on a hill overlooking the sea, in part to savor his victory and in part so his commanders would know that their king was watching them.

Article: The Battle of Salamis
Source: Ancient Mesopotamia

Themistocles realized that if the Greek fleet were brought to action in the open sea, the outcome would be inevitable: it would be destroyed by the overwhelming numbers of Persian ships. He therefore stationed his ships in the restricted waters of a small bay near Athens, and he forced Xerxes to fight there.

Article: 'All Is at Stake' at Sala...
Source: Naval Institute

...on the one side there was an invading armada, an army, from the Persian Empire, and the Persian Empire was the largest empire in human history to date and the largest political entity on Earth, comprising – a guesstimate – 20 million people. And they had about 700 warships. On the other side was a small coalition of Greek city-states – very small in fact. Of the approximately 300 Greek city-states in the region, only 31 were in the coalition – a coalition led by Athens, Sparta, Corinth, Aegina...And it was their job, and that of their 368 ships, to defeat the Persians.

Article: The Battle of Salamis: An...
Source: Wilson Center

After the fall of the Acropolis, the danger of the situation was intensely realized, and the Greek strategoi held a council of war, at which it was decided that the Greeks would retreat to the isthmus south of Attica, and that the Greek fleet should there await the attack of the Persian fleet...

At this juncture, with patriotic intent, Themistocles secretly thwarted the execution of the decision of the strategoi by going privately to Eurybiadas and convincing him that it would be more advantageous to fight in the Bayof Salamis than in the open bay; because in the narrow waters of Salamis the great number and speed of the Persian ships could not be utilized. A new council was called, in which Themistocles was able to impress his views, though with great difficulty.

Article:   The Art of Fighting: Its …
Source:  Offline Book/Journal

After a lopsided battle in which thousands of Persians were slaughtered by Sparta's tiny force, the resolute defenders were eventually surrounded and killed to a man, and Xerxes' army passed unopposed to Athens, which it burned to the ground.
As soon as the pass of Thermopylae was lost, the Greek fleet worked full time to evacuate Athens and its surrounding communities to local islands. They were stationed on the island of Salamis, in sight of the ruins of Athens...

Article: Greco-Persian Wars
Source: Heritage History -

Though the positive loss sustained by the Persians was by far the greater [at the Straits of Artemisium], and though the Greeks, being near their own shore, became masters of the dead bodies as well as of the disabled ships and floating fragments, still, they were themselves hurt and crippled in greater proportion with reference to their inferior total...

Under these circumstances, the Greek leaders--and Themistocles, as it seems, among them--determined that they could no longer venture to hold the position of Artemisium, but must withdraw the naval force farther into Greece...The Athenian Abronychus, stationed with his ship near Thermopylae, in order to keep up communication between the army and fleet, brought the disastrous intelligence that Xerxes was already master of the pass...Upon this the fleet abandoned Artemisium forthwith, and sailed up the Euboean strait...

Article:   The Historian's History o…
Source:  Offline Book/Journal
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