Battle of Salamis - Second Persian War
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Battle of Salamis

a steep hill on the left and a flat plain on the right
Thermopylae

April 2017 - The plan to stop the Persians at Thermopylae hadn't worked, and, in the late summer of 480 BC, the Persian army was marching south towards Athens. The Greeks got together to discuss what to do.

The Thebans had already surrendered, and Argos decided to stay neutral. The Spartans and Corinthians wanted to go back to their original plan, and just defend southern Greece (where their cities were) and forget about defending Athens (in northern Greece). But the Athenians wanted to defend their city! Finally they reached a compromise plan.

bay of salamis near athens
Bay of Salamis

The Athenians, under their general Themistocles (thuh-MISS-toe-klees), moved everybody out of Athens, to an island nearby, and let the Persian army burn their city. The Persian soldiers burned everything, even the Archaic temple of the Parthenon on the Acropolis.

But the Athenian navy tricked the Persian navy into attacking them in the Bay of Salamis (SALL-ah-miss), and the Athenian navy won. Because the Persians didn't know how to swim, many of them drowned. Without his navy, Xerxes decided it was impossible to continue the invasion, and he went home to Persia with most of his army for the winter.

Learn by doing: try to go out on a small boat for a little while

More about the battle of Salamis

Bibliography and further reading about the Second Persian War:

More about the battle of Salamis
More about the Battle of Plataea
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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