Greco - Persian Wars

Battle of Salamis

The Battle of Salamis took place in 480 BC and was the decisive battle of the Greco-Persian Wars.

After the land battle of Thermopylae and the naval battle of Artemisium, the Greek navy retreated to Athens and then to the peninsula of Salamis. After the Persian occupation of Athens, the Persian fleet settled in the bay of Falerón. The Greek commander Themistocles decided that the battle would be fought at sea and chose Salamis as the site because there was a strait that eliminated the numerical superiority of the Persian ships (according to recent analyses, the ratio of Persian to Greek ships was 600:200). The Persian warlord Xerxes discovered this tactic and tried to lure the Greeks into the Saronic Gulf. Themistocles, on the other hand, pushed the Persians towards Salamis and supported this effort by sending word that there was dissension among the Greeks and that some ships would withdraw south at night. Xerxes wanted to take advantage of this and ordered an attack at night. But the Greeks were warned by a ship that came over from the Persians.

The Greeks were aided in their fight mainly by the strait of Salamis, their knowledge of the local waters, and the strong wind (while it had little effect on the Greek ships, it did tilt the large Persian ships). Another interesting fact was that the Greeks pulled their ships ashore 10 days before the battle. This made their ships less waterlogged and therefore lighter and more maneuverable than the Persian ships. Among other things, the Persian flagship was sunk in the battle.

After the Battle of Salamis, the Greek fleet took over the sea. Although the Persians continued to have the upper hand after the battle, Xerxes no longer dared to confront the Greek fleet and called for a retreat. Eventually the Persians withdrew from Greece as well, for without naval superiority they had no way to supply their land forces. The remnants of the Persian forces were defeated at the Battle of Plataea.