Battle of Arginusae: Victory at Sea and Its Tragic Aftermath in the Final Years of the Peloponnesian War
An Athenian triumph against Sparta end in disaster and infamy in this naval history of Ancient Greece in the 5th century B.C.
Toward the end of the Peloponnesian War, nearly three hundred Athenian and Spartan ships fought a pivotal skirmish in the Arginusae Islands. Larger than any previous naval battle between warring Greeks, the Battle of Arginusae was a crucial win for Athens. Its aftermath, however, was a major disaster for its people.
Due to numerous factors, the Athenian commanders abandoned the crews of twenty-five disabled ships. Thousands of soldiers were left clinging to wreckage and awaiting help that never came. When the failure was discovered back home, the eight generals in charge were deposed. Two fled into exile, while the other six were tried and executed.
In The Battle of Arginusae, historian Debra Hamel describes the violent battle and its horrible aftermath. Hamel introduces readers to Athens and Sparta, the two thriving superpowers of the fifth century B.C. She provides a summary of the events that caused the long war and discusses the tactical intricacies of Greek naval warfare. Recreating the claustrophobic, unhygienic conditions in which the ships’ crews operated, Hamel unfolds the process that turned this naval victory into one of the most infamous chapters in the city-state’s history.
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