|Author||Charles River Editors|
|Publisher||Charles River Editors|
|Publication Date||April 10, 2019|
*Includes ancient accounts
*Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading
*Includes a table of contents
“Forward, sons of the Greeks,
Liberate the fatherland,
Liberate your children, your women,
The altars of the gods of your fathers,
And the graves of your ancestors:
Now is the fight for everything.” – The Greek battle hymn sung before the Battle of Salamis according to Aeschylus
Dominated to this day by the sprawling white marble complex of the Acropolis, Athens is a city which is immensely and rightly proud of its past. For a period of roughly three centuries, the polis of Athens stood, if not in a position of unchallenged supremacy among the cities of Hellas, then at the very least among its three most important polities. Its fledgling empire, though small by the standards later set by Alexander or the Romans, or even by those of its ancient enemy Persia, nonetheless encompassed cities as far afield as Asia Minor and Southern Italy, a remarkable fact considering such expansion was achieved by the inhabitants of a single city and its immediate surroundings, rather than by an entire nation.
Yet despite a martial tradition that, if taken as a whole, was second to none save the Spartans, Athens is chiefly remembered for two reasons: its political system, which would in time form the nucleus of all Western democratic systems of government, and the remarkable number of outstanding individuals which, during the Golden Age of Athens, lived and flourished in the enlightened city-state. The Ancient Athenians formed the backbone of the West’s entire culture, from the arts to philosophy and everything in between.
The flowering of Greek civilization was further made possible by an increase of trade between the cities and with other civilizations. Trade became a major occupation on account of the scarcity of agricultural land in the largely mountainous regions of the Balkan peninsula. The polis of Athens, in particular, assumed economic dominance in the Aegean in from the 6th century BCE. The consequent increase in wealth, resources and population made a cultural renaissance possible. Commerce, in turn, led to the rise of an affluent aristocratic class which had the leisure to devote itself to learning, philosophy, and art. It also led to an industrial class of freemen who were artists and craftsmen.
However, none of it would’ve been possible without military forces undergirding Athens’ might, and for much of its history, the Athenian navy was the single strongest force in the Mediterranean, having defeated the overwhelming might of Persia in pitched battle upon the open sea numerous times. The Athenian army itself, though subordinate to its naval power – a sop to the fact that it was trade and empire-building that had made Athens rich – was nothing to be sneered at, as it succeeded in meting out a humiliating defeat to Darius’s Persians at Marathon. Nonetheless, the Spartan military is remembered for being the preeminent land force, while Athens constructed its empire and enforced its will through pioneering ship technology and tactics. In the process, the Athenians heavily influenced how naval warfare would be conducted in the ancient world for centuries.
The Ancient Athenian Navy: The History and Legacy of Greece’s Dominant Naval Force in Antiquity chronicles how the navy helped Athens flourish, and why it ruled the Mediterranean in the Classical Era. Along with pictures depicting important people, places, and events, you will learn about the Athenian navy like never before.