Great Sea Fights 10: Salamis – The Most Significant Battle in Naval History?

September 2022

On 26 September 480 BC one of the most historically significant naval battles in history was fought between an alliance of Greek city states and the mighty Persian empire: the battle of Salamis.

Prior to the battle the second Persian invasion of Greece had seen convincing wins for the Persians at the battles of Thermopylae and Artemisium. The Greek victory at Salamis became a turning point as the depleted alliance of Greek city states finally thwarted the seemingly unstoppable Persian king, Xerxes. Within a year, two further Greek successes put an end to any Persian attempt to conquer the Greek mainland.

The Persian empire was immensely strong, was able to absorb the naval and manpower losses suffered at Salamis and continued to flourish for another 150 years, but the Greek victory had a profound impact on the sense of Greek national identity and the ideology of freedom. It also ensured that Greek culture would continue to flourish Рand thus lay the foundations of philosophy, science, personal freedom and democracy that many societies around the world know and value today.

To find out more about this battle which can claim to be one of the most significant in history, Dr Sam Willis spoke with the military historian and expert on the ancient world, Jeffrey Cox.


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