Blast from the Past (The battle of Salamis)

In 480 BC, Xerxes had imposed his Persian force on the territories of Sparta and Athenia.  Xerxes had just come into power in an empire, which epitomized glory in battle and to justify his rule, had to expand Persian territory as was the case in the dynasty of leaders of Persia.

Xerxes father Darius had failed in an attempt to invade the small city of Marathon, 26 miles north of Athens 20 years earlier.  Angered and seeking revenge, Xerxes set his wraith on the Greeks.  Xerxes wasn’t going to underestimate the Greek’s ability in battle as his father did and assembled a force of 100,000 men.

To keep the sea-lanes open for supplies, Xerxes brought a fleet of 1200 ships with him, though they were smaller than the Greek ships and had no battering rams at there front.

In the battle of Thermopylae, Leonidas lead 300 Spartan warriors and 1100 Athenian citizens who had repelled the entire Persian army until Ephialtes, a local greek, lead the Persian army along a secret path that popped up behind the Spartan phalanx.  The phalanx was like a tank from the front, but was vulnerable to attacks from the rear.

Xerxes was worried about Leonidas, but the real worry came from the battle at sea.  The Athenians were wizards at sea and most of the battle was in the narrow pass of the Artemisium streit where the Persian numbers, had no factor.

Themisticles was put under the command of 300 triremes and chose the Artemisium Streit as a place where the Athenians wee guaranteed a one-on-one confrontation they could win with their superior ships.

The Greeks suffered massive losses at sea, resulting in preparation to defend Isthmus of Corinth while the Athenian fleet withdrew to nearby, Salamis Island.

Themistocles, son of Neocles, used his intelligence and fortitude as the driving force behind the Greek defense.  After the invasion of Darius 20 years ago, Themistocles recognized that the only way to survive against the possible threat of the Persian Empire, was to use their superior skills at sea to gain an advantage.

He fought hard to impose a new tax that would take place over a ten-year period, resulting in the fleets numbers growing enormously

Themisticles was put under the command of 300 triremes and chose the Artemisium Streit as a place where the Athenians wee guaranteed a one-on-one confrontation they could win with their superior ships.

In the middle of the night prior to the battle, a great storm rolled in and devastated the numbers of the Persian fleet.

That morning, Themisticles used a tactic to undermine Xerxes ability to think rationally by feeding his ego.  Themisticles sent out a scout to deliver a massage to Xerxes, saying that he was afraid of the might of the Persian Empire and wanted to join forces.

The Persian fleet was already on its way back to open waters when Xerxes received word.  Xerxes immediately ordered the entire Persian fleet to turn around and position themselves alongside the Athenians, ready to battle the rest of the Greek forces.

The Athenians under the direction of Themisticles attacked the Persian ships full of rowers already exhausted, and they were overwhelmed by the superior war tactics of the Athenians.  The larger ships of the Athenians and the battering rams caused a great deal of damage resulting in a change of favor for the Greeks.

The Persians retreated to open waters where they were chased down and half of the Persian fleet, was destroyed.

It was a crucial battle as it demonstrated that intelligence could defeat an army of vastly greater numbers.  The victory by Athens incubated the power of Rome, so that Western Culture’s roots were created instead of imposed upon.

Today, our social institutions are filled with Greek thought and our scientific and educational philosophy comes from the ideals derived by Greek culture more than 1500 years ago.  Had the Greeks lost the battle of Salamis, Western culture would look vastly different.


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