War at Sea

Philip de Souza

in The Oxford Handbook of Warfare in the Classical World

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780195304657
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 War at Sea

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This chapter presents a description of ancient naval warfare. Ship-to-ship combat was neither the primary purpose of ancient war fleets, nor the typical manifestation of ancient naval warfare. The Greeks had built ships that were planned for raiding or warfare by the end of the eighth century BC. Naval powers developed sophisticated ship-to-ship combat tactics that made the most of their vessels, their sailing skills, and their fighting men. The men who rowed ancient warships were expected to participate in fighting on land as light-armed troops, engaging in raids and skirmishes, building siege works, and supporting the legions of heavy infantry. Tacitus, who provides an insight into the value of a fleet as a strike force, makes the threat posed to barbarian liberty by the extent of Roman naval power a feature of his stirring speech on Roman imperialism.

Keywords: ancient naval warfare; combat; ancient war fleets; naval powers; Tacitus; Roman naval power; Roman imperialism

Article.  12171 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies

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