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A SMALL SPARTA FAR AWAY FROM GREECE: THE LIPARIAN ISLES

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By  Periklis Deligiannis

 

Aristonothos

Aristonothos vase 700-650 BC

The renowned “Aristonothos vase” (about 700-650 BC) manufactured in Magna Graecia by Aristonothos and discovered in Caere of Etruria (Etruscan Caisra). Its vase-painting of a naval battle (image below) provides us with a very good representation of the ships used by the Greek and the Etruscan sea-fighters (almost identical), and of naval warfare during the acme of the Aeolidae Islands (Archaic period).


The Aeolidae (Aeolian) or Liparae (Liparian) Isles is a cluster of small islands in Sicily,  northwest of the Straits of Messina. In this article I will deal with an unknown aspect of their history which is related with a very interesting episode of the ancient Greek colonization.
In Sicily, around 580 BC, the Selinuntian Greek colonists finally resigned from claiming disputed lands from their Geloan brethren (in which lands, Acragas was founded) in exchange for aid by Dorian settlers coming from Rhodes and the Anatolian Greek colony Cnidos (Knidos), who arrived in western Sicily through Gela. Pentathlos, the leader of the Rhodian and Cnidian colonists, was a Cnidian like most of his men.
The Selinuntians used the Cnidian and Rhodian reinforcements in their ongoing war against the Elymians and the Phoenicians. They helped them to establish a new Greek colony at Cape Lilybaion (Latin Lilybaeum), just 10 kilometers south of Motya. They were trying to establish a new Doric power against Motya (the main Punic colony on the island) and Carthage, while they would deal with the subjugation of the Elymian Segesta which resisted stubbornly their expansion. The Selinuntians, Cnidians and Rhodians joined forces against the Elymi, Sicilian-Phoenicians and Carthaginians.
Diodorus Siculus states that the main battle between the two blocs took place near Lilybaeum, obviously in the hinterland between Selinus (Selinunte) and Segesta. Pentathlos was killed; the Greeks were defeated (580/576 BC) and immediately after, the Elymi and the Carthaginians attacked Lilybaion and drove off from there the Cnidians and Rhodians.

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THE SELINUNTIAN WARS of the 6th cent.BC.

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By  Periklis Deligiannis

segestaA pure Greek-type temple in Segesta (main temple of the city).


CONTINUED FROM   THE PHOENICIAN-GREEK STRUGGLE IN SICILY &THE FOUNDING OF SELINUS (7th-6th c. BC.)

In 580 BC the Selinuntians finally resigned from claiming the disputed land from Gela (in which land, Acragas was founded) in exchange for aid by Dorian settlers coming from Rhodes and the Anatolian Greek colony Cnidos (Knidos), who arrived in western Sicily through Gela. Pentathlos, the leader of the Rhodian and Cnidian colonists, was a Cnidian like most of his men.

Athena Promachos1

A beautiful reenactment of Archaic Greek hoplites by the Spanish Historical Association Athena Promakhos (copyright: Anna Belen Rubio). Note the double crest of two snakes facing each other on the Corinthian helmet of the hoplite on front, and his arm-protector with the sculpted emblem of  Gorgo (gorgonion). The same gorgonion emblem  is depicted in his Argive shield.  The two snakes facing each other are sculpted in his bell-type cuirass as well.  In the Orient, the hoplites were known as brazen (bronze) warriors.  The Siciliot and Italiot Greek warriors did not differ from those of mainland Greece.

The Selinuntians used the Cnidian and Rhodian reinforcements in their ongoing war against the Elymians and the Phoenicians. They helped them to establish a new Greek colony at Cape Lilybaion (Latin Lilybaeum), just 10 kilometers south of Motya. They were trying to establish a new Doric power against Motya (the main Punic colony on the island) and Carthage, while they would deal with the subjugation of Segesta which resisted stubbornly their expansion. The Selinuntians, Cnidians and Rhodians joined forces against the Elymi, Sicilian-Phoenicians and Carthaginians.

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THE PHOENICIAN-GREEK STRUGGLE IN SICILY &THE FOUNDING OF SELINUS (7th-6th c. BC.)

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By Periklis Deligiannis

Selinunte

Aerial view of the archaeological site of Selinus (Selinunte).

During the period when the ancient Greeks were colonizing the eastern coast of Sicily (late 8th century BC), the Phoenicians kept their own emporia (commercial stations) in the western part of the island. It seems that Panormos (modern Sicilian capital Palermo) was the oldest Phoenician colony. Motya was founded around 700 BC by the Phoenicians of Carthage. Her location was very strategic and well protected, having been founded on an island near the Sicilian coast. Simultaneously, the Carthaginians founded the emporia  of Mazara and Macara on the southwestern coast, whose Phoenician origin has been verified by their Canaanite names and by archeology. Macara was probably founded on the site of a former Minoan ‘emporion’ or naval base, because the Greeks called the town ‘Minoa’ and later ‘Heraclea Minoa’ (or just ‘Heraclea’). Some archaeologists have theorized that the subsequent town of Thermae Himeraiae, which was founded by the Carthaginians after the destruction of the nearby Greek city Himera (late 5th century BC), was in reality a Phoenician colony that existed before the foundation of the latter. According to this hypothesis, when the Greeks founded Himera, they drove off the Phoenicians from Thermae but when the Carthaginians destroyed Himera, they refounded the old Punic colony.

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QUADRIREME, QUINQUEREME, DECEMEREME &other multumeremes – PART II , The origins of the colossal warships of the Hellenistic Era

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  By  Periklis    DeligiannisPolyeres

A Roman polyeres-type warship with turrets on deck.
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CONTINUED FROM PART I
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From the maritime conflicts between the early Hellenistic states, we can distinguish the naval battle of Salamis in Cyprus (306 BC) and the subsequent seaborne siege of Rhodes by Demetrios the Besieger. The evolution of the polyeres warships came largely from Demetrios’ resourcefulness. Demetrios as a political and military figure had very limited abilities (thereby he failed miserably for this reason), but his ingenuity on engineering was unlimited.
After 280 BC the political situation was stabilized and the new large Hellenistic navies were formed. The State of the Lagides (Ptolemaic Kingdom) had at its disposal 336 quinqueremes/penteres and 2,000 ships of smaller displacement, and it was the greatest naval power not only among the Greeks but also compared with Rome and Carthage, despite the overexertion of these western Mediterranean states during the naval war between them (First and Second Punic Wars). The manning of the Ptolemaic fleet stood in need of 150,000 men without the marines. Most of them came from the most skilful mariners of the known world of those days: the Greeks and the Phoenicians. The Ptolemaic Kingdom, according to all evidence (displacement of its ships, number and capacity of its crews etc.) was the greatest naval power of Antiquity, of course superior even to the Athenian naval power of the 5th cent. BC. Some researchers have questioned the figure of the 336 penteres warships as well as the figures of smaller vessels and of the total crews needed to man them (on the contrary W.W. Tarn defended these numbers).

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QUADRIREME, QUINQUEREME, DECEMEREME &other multumeremes – PART I , The origins of the colossal warships of the Hellenistic Era

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  Hepteres

Front, top and side view of a hepteres (septemereme). The diagrams in the upper part (arris of ships) depict the evolution of the arrangement of the oarsmen, from the original Greek penteconter to the Roman imperial trireme (Credit: John Warry / Salamander)

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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

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Around 500 BC, the trireme (an invention of the Corinthians) became the basic warship of the Greek, Phoenician, Etruscan, Lycian and other Mediterranean war fleets. The trireme supported the “thalassocracies” of Athens, Carthage, Corinth, Syracuse, Tyre, Caere/Caisra (Cerveteri), Aegina and other Greek, Phoenician and Etruscan city-states.
The campaign of Alexander the Great in Asia and the overthrow of the Persian empire created a new statehood for the Greek world. The new Greek/Hellenistic states (kingdoms) which were created in Asia and Egypt were overwhelmingly more extensive than the old city-states. The new political situation had its impact on warfare, both on land and sea. The old hoplite armies numbering a few thousand hoplites gave way to armies of tens of thousands of soldiers, based on the Macedonian phalanx and the heavy cavalry (mainly Macedonian ‘Hetairoi’ and Thessalians). Similarly, the older fleets of the city-states which used the trireme as their basic warship, were replaced by the fleets of the colossal Hellenistic states in which the main warships were a number of ships larger or much larger than the trireme. This group of warships were called collectively ‘polyeres’ (‘πολυήρης’ in Greek, ‘multumeremes’ in a Latinized term) and the most typical of them were the tetreres (quadrireme in a Latinized term), the penteres (quinqueremenaiseds-type warships wereroup of oars!)), the hexeres (sexereme), the hepteres (septemereme), the hocteres (octoreme) and the deceres  (decemereme). The penteres was the most successful of them.

The tactics of naval warfare were adjusted accordingly. The triremes used mainly their speed and flexibility to prevail in naval conflicts, while the penteres and the other polyeres used their size and displacement. The main element that remained unchanged since the era of the trireme was the use of the ram, although its role in sea battle was reduced.

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XANTHIPPOS THE SPARTAN: REFORMING THE DISPIRITED CARTHAGINIAN ARMY

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phalanx

A  Macedonian  type phalanx, in  an  excellent  work  by  Johny  Shumate. The  Carthaginian  phalanx  of  the  same  type  had  much  of the  same  appearance,  because  the  Carthaginians  had  adopted  a  great  part  of   the  Greek  military  equipment (copyright: Johny Shumate)

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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

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Since  the  Archaic  Εra (7th-6th cent. BC),  Sparta  used  to  employ  mercenaries,  specifically  Cretan  archers  (Dorian  relatives  of  the  Spartans).  Since  the  time  of  the  Peloponnesian  war,  and  mostly  during  the  Hegemony  of  Sparta  over  Greece (after  404  BC),  this  city-state  became  a  significant  employer  of  Greek  mercenaries,  due  to  its  limited  number  of  hoplites.  However,  mostly  the  Spartans (Lacedaemonians)  themselves  were  sending  units  of  their  army,  under  the  leadership  of   experienced  Spartan  ‘warlords’,  to  serve  as  mercenaries  other  states,  because  of  the  financial  problems  of  their  city  which  became  more  and  more  pressing.  Despite  the  loss  of  its  power  after  368  BC,  Sparta  became  a  great  supplier  of  mercenaries,  not  only  of  its  own  Spartans  but  of  other  Greeks  also.  Gythium (the  main  Spartan/Laconian  seaport)  and  other  seaports  of  the  Tainaron  Peninsula  (Laconia)  became  during  the  4th-3rd  centuries  BC,  the  largest  mercenary  recruitment  centers  in  Greece.  The  Lacedaemonian/Spartan  mercenary  troops  consisted  mainly  of  “neodamodeis” (freed  helots),  other  Greeks (mostly  Peloponnesians),  and  secondly  by  ‘perioikoi’ (free  Laconian  and  Messenian  subjects  of  Sparta).  The  only  real  Spartans  in  these  expeditions  were  the  leader  of  the  expedition  and  a  number  of  unit  commanders  or  military  advisors.  The  expeditions  of  the  mercenaries  were  performed  under  license  of  the  official  Spartan  state.  The  mercenary  forces  used  to  depart  in  ships,  from  the  Tainaron  Peninsula.

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