The Battle of Salamis


The Battle of Salamis in 480 BC marked the turning point towards Greek victory against Persia. Themistocles convinced both the Greeks and the Persians that Salamis was the best place for this battle. The Peloponnesians wanted to strengthen and defend the Isthmus, however he argued that the Persians could sail around the Isthmus and attack the mainland somewhere else. Instead Themistocles suggested that they attack the Persian fleet in a narrow strait near Salamis, where the smaller Greek ships could move more easily and the Persians could not utilise their superior numbers. Ultimately the decision of battle was left to the Spartan Eurybiades, whose leadership Athens had accepted to ensure unity amongst the Greek States. However Themistocles blackmailed him into accepting his plan, threatening to leave for Italy if his plan was not accepted. Whether Eurybiades saw the wisdom of the plan or feared the consequences if he did not follow it, he made the decision to follow Themistocles’s advice. Having ensured Greek involvement in his plan, Themistocles sent a message to Xerxes that the Greek ships were going to escape, causing Xerxes to move his ships to block off their escape route which left them in the position that Themistocles wanted them in. By nightfall most of the Persian navy had been destroyed and would no longer be able to supply their troops with supplies, further changing the way in which they fought the Greeks who had proved naval dominance, marking a turning point for the Greeks.


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