Battle of Salamis Facts
When it comes to a discussion of ancient Greek wars and battles there is perhaps no more important battle that the Battle of Salamis. This incredible naval battle
between a coalition of Greek city-states and the Persian Empire took place in 480 BC. It would be one of the last battles of the Persian Wars. The Greek victory was
the turning point in that war; halting to what at that point was an unstoppable Persian invasion. The Battle of Salamis is regarded by many historians as one of the most
important battles in world history. The Greek victory in the battle followed by their winning the war was the reason why this ancient civilization would not become part of the
Persian Empire. Due to the victory, Greek civilization would flourish and entered its golden age. Indeed world history might have taken a significantly different
direction had the Greeks not won the Persian Wars. The Athenian culture would not have been able to flourish and therefore would not have been able to make its great
contributions to democracy, philosophy, and science.
Basic Battle of Salamis Facts
- This great naval battle was fought in September of 480 BC in the narrow straits between the island of Salamis, in the Saronic Gulf near Athens, and Piraeus; a port city
near Attica Greece.
- The battle pitted the Persian Empires navy up against the Greek navy consisting of ships from several Greek city-states.
- An Athenian named Themistocles commanded the Greek force. He devised the brilliant battle plan of the Greeks; however a Spartan general named Eurybiades led the
military force into battle.
- The Persian forces were led by the Persian king Xerxes.
- The size of the Persian fleet has been a point of debate for historians. Many believe the fleet consisted of 1,207 ships; however it may have been considerably less.
At 1,207 ships they would have outnumbered the Greek fleet three to one.
Interesting Battle of Salamis Facts
- The Persians made a huge mistake by attacking the Greek fleet and starting the battle of Salamis. It was not strategically important and they may have one the war by
avoiding this battle.
- The Persian king Xerxes, confident of victory, set up a golden throne on a slope where he could watch the battle.
- The vast majority of ships in the Greek fleet were supplied by the city-state of Athens.
- It is believed the Greeks lost only 40 ships whereas the Persians lost approximately 200.
Facts about how the Greeks Won the Battle of Salamis
- The Greeks had a great battle plan that involved drawing the much larger Persian fleet into a battle in the confined area around the island of Salamis. This would
negate the advantage the Persians had with their larger fleet by not allowing them to position themselves in the desired battle formations.
- The Greek fleet consisted of Trireme ships; named for their three rows of oars. These ships were the best warships of their day and the perfect weapon for close
combat. They were fast, had great maneuverability and were equipped with a bronze tip used to ram and sink enemy ships.
- Last but certainly not least of the Greek advantages was their commander Themistocles. He chose the battle sight and fought off opposition from other commanders to
retreat. He also lured the Persians into making an unwise attack.