Athenian Navy

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Athenean Navy
Athenian Navy Flag.png
The Owl of Athena, Symbol of Athens
Active900-322 BC
AllegianceCity State of Athens
Athenian Empire
Size400 warships
80,000 men
Engagements(see engagements below)

The Athenean Navy was the main naval force of the City State of Athens, (900-471 BC) and later Athenian Empire (471-322 BC).[1]

Overview

Flotilla of the Athenian Navy c. 5th century BC

Themistocles, who was alive from 524 to 549 B.C., was largely responsible for developing the Athenian navy. One of the most interesting things about Themistocles is that he didn’t originally come from the Athenian elite. He had a rather simple upbringing, and he later rose to prominence because of his military skill, especially during the Battle of Marathon, and his prowess as a politician. He essentially brought the Athenians together with one common purpose – to make sure that when Persia did return, they wouldn’t successfully invade Greece. He desired to make Athens great and he did this by exploiting what he perceived to be one of Persia’s biggest weaknesses – their navy. He proceeded to talk the Athenians into the value of building the navy. They agreed, and their legend was born. Athens used money generated from their silver deposits to build ships and train the soldiers who would fight in the navy.

The Athenean Navy developed during the Persian Wars Athens developed a very large, powerful navy in the eastern Mediterranean that destroyed the even larger Persian navy at the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC; the Athenian Navy reached a peak at this engagement and consisted of 80,000 men crewing 400 ships. The backbone of the navy's manpower was a core of professional rowers drawn from the lower classes of Athenian society. This gave the Athenian fleets an advantage in training over the less professional fleets of its rivals.[citation needed] The main warships of the fleet were the triremes. With its fleet, Athens obtained hegemony over the rest of the Greek city-states forming the first Athenian Empire. Its fleet was destroyed and empire lost during the Peloponnesian War. Athens regained some of its naval power after the Second Athenian Empire was rebuilt; however, it never fully recovered as its rivals were much stronger than before. The fleet included two sacred ships, the Paralus and the Salaminia used for diplomatic and ceremonial duties.

Personnel

Themistocles c. 524–459 BC Athenian General and Admiral

During the 5th to 2nd centuries BC Athens used the name Strategoi to denote a fleet commander or Admiral, whilst other navies of the period such as the Spartan Navy used the term Navarch or Návarchos. The Athenians at home and generals in the field could designate non -strategoi to the command of individual vessels and fleets for specific purposes.[2]

Fleet Commanders

Below is a list of known admirals of the Athenian Navy.

Ranks

Included:[3]

Admirals and Senior Officers
# Tile Greek Title Notes
1. Archon of the Fleet Archeío tou Stólou (Αρχείο του Στόλου) Commander-in-Chief of the Navy
2. Admiral Strategos,(Στρατηγικές) Fleet Commanders
3. Vice-Admiral Archontes Tou Vautikou (Άρχοντες Του Βαυτικού) Commander of the Ships, Squadron Commander
4. Captain Trierarch, Triírarcho (τριήραρχο) Captain of a Warship
5. Marine Epibatai, (Επιβατάι) Naval Infantry Officer

Included:[4][5]

Senior Deck and Command Crew
# Tile Greek Title Notes
1. Deck and command crew Hypēresia collective name for all senior crew on deck of a warship
2. Helmsman Kybernētēs experienced seaman and was often the commander of the vessel
3. Prow master Prōreus or Prōratēs the ships bow lookout
4. Boatswain Keleustēs
5. Quartermaster Pentēkontarchos
6. Shipwright Naupēgos
7. Piper Aulētēs gave the rowers rhythm
8. Superintendent of the Rowers Toicharchoi 2 men command the rowers one left and one right

Naval Bases

Phalerum was the major port of Athens before Themistocles had the three rocky natural harbours by the promontory of Piraeus developed as alternative naval base and dockyard, from 520 BC. In 490 BC, Themistocles initiated the fortifications of Piraeus and later advised the Athenians to take advantage of its natural harbours' strategic potential. In 483 BC, the Athenian navy left the older harbour of Phaleron and it was transferred to Piraeus.

  1. Phalerum
  2. Piraeus

Naval Engagements

The Battle of Salamis, (480 BC) being watched by Xerxes, King of the Persians (whose forces were to be defeated)

Included:[6]

# name against date/s part of result
1. Battle of Marathon Persian Navy 490 BC Greco-Persian Wars Won
2. Battle of Salamis Persian Navy 480 BC Greco-Persian Wars Won
3. Battle of the Eurymedon Persian Navy 469 BC Greco-Persian Wars Won
4. Siege of Memphis Persian Navy 459 BC Greco-Persian Wars Loss
4. Battle of Aegina Aeginian Navy 458 BC Third Messenian War Won
5. Battle of Salamis Persian Navy 450 BC Greco-Persian Wars Won
6. Battle of Sybota Corinthian Navy 433 BC Peloponnesian War Draw
7. Battle of Abydos Peloponnesian League Navy 429 BC Peloponnesian War Won
8. Battle of Rhium Peloponnesian League Navy 429 BC Peloponnesian War Won
9. Battle of Pylos Spartan Navy 425 BC Peloponnesian War Won
10. Battle of Abydos Spartan Navy 411 BC Peloponnesian War Won
11. Battle of Cynossema Spartan Navy 411 BC Peloponnesian War Won
12. Battle of Eretria Spartan Navy 411 BC Peloponnesian War Loss
13. Battle of Syme Spartan Navy 411 BC Peloponnesian War Loss
14. Battle of Cyzicus Spartan Navy & Persian Navy 410 BC Peloponnesian War Won
15. Battle of Arginusae Spartan Navy 406 BC Peloponnesian War Loss
16. Battle of Mytilene Spartan Navy 406 BC Peloponnesian War Loss
17. Battle of Notium (or Ephesus) Spartan Navy 406 BC Peloponnesian War Loss
18. Battle of Aegospotami Spartan Navy 405 BC Peloponnesian War Loss
19. Battle of Naxos Spartan Navy 374 BC Boeotian War Won
20. Battle of Embata Chian Navy 356 BC Social War Won
21. Battle of Amorgos Macedonian Navy 322 BC Lamian War Loss
22. Battle of Echinades Macedonian Navy 322 BC Lamian War Loss
23. Battle of Salamis Ptolemaic Navy 306 BC Wars of the Diadochi Won

Footnotes

  1. Potts, Samuel. "The Athenian Navy: An investigation into the operations, politics and ideology of the Athenian fleet between 480 and 322 BC" (PDF). orca.cf.ac.uk. Cardiff, Wales: University of Cardiff. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  2. Potts. pp. 87-93.
  3. Potts. "The Commanders of Ships: Nauarchs and Archons of the Fleet", p.153.
  4. Potts. pp. 87-93.
  5. Rosenbloom, David. "The Athenian Navy and Democracy: Top-Down, Bottom Up or Topsy Turvy?". Society for Classical Studies. American Philological Association. New York University. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  6. Potts. Appendix 3: Fleet Tables:Sea Battles, p.274.

Sources

  1. Anthony J. Papalas (2018) The Battle of Marathon and the Persian Navy, The Mariner's Mirror, 104:4, 388-401, DOI: 10.1080/00253359.2018.1518005. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00253359.2018.1518005.
  2. Potts, Samuel, (2008). The Athenian Navy, An investigation into the operations, politics and ideology of the Athenian fleet between 480 and 322 BC. Cardiff University. https://orca.cf.ac.uk/54643/1/U585032.pdf.
  3. Rosenbloom, David. The Athenian Navy and Democracy: Top-Down, Bottom Up or Topsy Turvy?, Society for Classical Studies. American Philological Association. New York University. https://classicalstudies.org/annual-meeting/147/abstract/athenian-navy-and-democracy-top-down-bottom-or-topsy-turvy
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athenian_military