September 22, 2016
Main Combatants in the Battle of Salamis
The Battle of Salamis was one of the most important and decisive military victories for the Greek army during the Greek and Persian War. Themistokles, who had previously convinced the Athenians to invest a large amount of silver to improve their navy, was a key leader and strategist for the Greeks in this battle. After Themistokles had convinced Eurybiades, the Spartan leader of the allied forces and his soldiers to stand their ground and fight at Salamis, the Greeks were prepared to take on a far greater Persian fleet using an advanced strategy which involved luring the Persians into the strait where their larger, slower boats would not be able to maneuver rapidly which would leave them vulnerable to an attack from the smaller, swifter Greek fleet which was composed of triremes such as those illustrated in the following image. (Herodotus, 622-625)
The Persians, led by Xerxes I, on the other hand were more than confident in their ability to easily defeat the Greek feet and continue on to capture the Isthmus of Corinth. Xerxes himself was so confident that he set up a throne on the shore to be able to have an advantageous viewpoint of the battle. Artemisia of Halicarnassus, one of the fiercest war generals for the Persian side, and trusted adviser of King Xerxes, actually went against the common Persian opinion and counseled him to hold his position and not attack, stating that they had already accomplished what the y set out to do, and that they could claim victory much more efficiently by closing in on Peloponnese instead of engaging in direct naval combat with the Greeks. Unfortunately for the Persians, Xerxes decided not to heed the warnings of his adviser as Eurybiades had done, and this fatal mistake eventually led to a brutal loss for the Persians. (Herodotus, 627-629)
Herodotus. The Landmark Herodotus:The Histories. Translated by Andrea L. Purvis, Anchor Books. 2009.
Strauss, Barry S. The Battle of Salamis: The Naval Encounter That Saved Greece – and Western Civilization. Simon & Schuster, 2004.
Lendering, Jona. “Salamis.” www.livius.org/articles/battle/salamis-480-bce. Accessed 23 July 2016.
Valin. “On this Day In History, The Battle of Salamis, 480 B.C.” www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/986338/posts. Accessed 24 September 2016.