Battle of Salamis

The Battle of Salamis was a naval battle that took place at the Strait of Salamis between Greek city-states and the Achaemenid Empire in 480 BC.

The conflict was fought under the larger second Persian invasion of Greece. And historians consider it one of the major events of the military campaign stretching over land and sea.

The Greek fleet was led by Eurybiades and Themistocles and numbered just around 375 ships of the era.

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Eurybiades was the Spartan commander in charge of the Greek navy during the Second Persian invasion of Greece (480–479 BC).

Athenian General Themistocles is notable in this battle for persuading Greek allies to join the fight against the Persians despite being heavily outnumbered. Each Greek city-state contributed triremes to an Allied fleet, with Athens with the large majority of 180 estimated ships.

The Persian heavily outnumbered the Greeks, comprising roughly 800 ships by modern estimates.

The Persian invasion was led by Xerxes I of Persia, who hoped for a decisive victory at Salamis to ensure naval superiority around the Greek mainland.

Marines were also present on both sides of the battle, ready for hand to hand combat should it devolve into such a situation. Moreover, the Greeks employed Hoplites on their side of the battle. 

Whereas, the Persians brought a much lighter infantry with them to the battle.

While the naval battle was occurring, it is estimated that a small Greek force held off the advancing land troops of the Persians at Thermopylae.

It is said that the battle began on the 26th or 27th of September. In addition, the Persians chose to attack during the day. Details from the battle are very sparse, and very few eye witness accounts remain of the battle.

There are sources suggesting an initial retreat by the Corinthians, triggering a slow falling apart of the Greek fleet as confusion ensued at the sight of their retreating Allies.

Moreover, the exact battle movements have been lost over time.

But, eventually the crowded Persian fleet stuck in the strait began losing the battle despite their larger numbers.

The smaller, more maneuverable Greek fleet lined up in an attack formation. Furthermore, the adherence to specific battle formations only compounded the confusion and disorganization of the Persians in the battle.

Due to the cramped nature of the battlefield, many triremes ran aground during the fighti


After repelling the first three lines of Persian ships. The Greek fleet at one point pushed down the center of the Persian fleet, moreover causing the larger fleet to be split into two.

As a result, the Persians began a retreat back to Phalerum. The Persians sailed into an awaiting trap. The Aeginetans ambushed the Persians as they were leaving the Salamis straits causing further casualties.

In conclusion, the Greek victory at Salamis marked a turning point during the Greco-Persian wars into the favor of the Gre


Moreover, large Greek territories were effectively safe from the Persian invasion, and many Greek territories under Persian control began to revolt.

Although it is unknown how many soldiers died on each side of the battle, the estimated losses were 40 Greek ships and 200-300 Persian ships.

Written by Tony Cao

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