Battle of Salamis


July 3, 2022

The Battle of Salamis (in ancient Greek: ἡ ἐν Σαλαμῖνι ναυμαχία, hē en Salamîni naumachía) was a naval battle that probably took place on September 23, 480 BC, in the middle of the Second Persian War, which saw the Panhellenic league, commanded by Themistocles. and Euribiades, and the Achaemenid empire, commanded instead by Xerxes I of Persia. The strait between the polis of Athens and the island of Salamis, located in the current Saronic Gulf, was the scene of the clash. To block the Persian advance, a limited contingent of Greeks under Spartan command had engaged the battle of Thermopylae and the Athenian-dominated fleet had fought at Cape Artemisius, respectively obtaining a defeat and a substantial parity due to the retreat to Salamis, followed by learning. the outcome of the contemporary clash. Having crossed the Thermopylae pass, the Persians had penetrated into Boeotia and Attica, conquering these two regions and forcing the Greeks to set up a defensive line at the level of the Isthmus of Corinth. Despite the numerical disadvantage, the Panhellenic league led by the Athenian general Themistocles, was forced by him to undertake a second clash with the opposing fleet, in the hope that a naval victory would remove the danger of an attack by sea in the Peloponnese; Xerxes I too was anxious to be able to go down to battle again. The subterfuge devised by Themistocles disrupted the plans of the Great King and the Persian fleet, blinded by the appearance of a simple victory, entered the Strait of Salamis trying to block the Greek ships there with an encirclement maneuver. Such was the narrowness of the strait, unsuitable for the combat of such a large number of ships, that the territory soon proved unsuitable for the massive Persian ships, impeded between them in carrying out the maneuvers. Seizing the right opportunity, the Greek fleet prepared for battle and managed to achieve a decisive victory. Having lost the fleet, the vital essence of his army, Xerxes returned to Asia with most of the remaining soldiers and allowed Mardonius to choose some units to complete the conquest of Greece: those who passed under his command were however defeated during the year. later during the battle of Plataea, almost contemporary to the battle of Mycale which took place in Asia. After this war the Persians gave up any other attempt to conquer the Greek hinterland: it can be said that the clashes of Salamis and Plataea marked the turning point in the context of the clashes between the Greeks and the Persians, since since then the Greeks began a political aggressive towards the adversaries that had the height of its dangerousness with the battle of the Eurimedonte. A large number of historians believe that a possible Persian victory would have hindered the development of Greek civilization and in a broader sense than that of the West, thus affirming that this battle was one of the most important of all time.

Historical context

Remote Background

The Second Persian War is the consequence of a very complex chain of events, which begin with the conquest of Ionia, a region of Asia Minor historically inhabited by Greeks, by Cyrus the Great, which took place in the mid-sixth century BC. an operation that, however, had not reduced the cultural vividness of those lands, which came to influence that of the motherland. Although religious cults and political organization at low levels had not been altered, this domination felt as servile was deemed unacceptable (especially for the military draft, taxation and the imposition of tyrannical governments) by those who suffered it, even for birth. of democratic regimes in the rest of Greece. Nevertheless, the Greeks, while referring to their rulers as barbarians, did not confer on q