Posts Tagged ‘salamis’


From the Mouths of Babes (Just for Fun)

February 4, 2011

In May 1998, two weeks after finishing my comprehensive exams for the PhD, my fiance, my sister and I drove the 3-tiered wedding cake to my wedding – an hour’s drive over rural roads – in the back of a 1988 Toyota Corolla hatchback.  Overwhelmed with nerves in general, which coalesced around the fate of the cake, I spent the entire ride telling my long-suffering loved ones the story of the Spartans at Thermopylae, as recounted by Herodotus. (Nobody died at the wedding, and the cake was delicious.)

Last Friday night, when my children asked for a(nother) bedtime story, my husband (misremembering what has become a family legend; he’s an engineer)  said, “Tell them about the Peloponnesian War!”

My son (4) said, “The Pelopo-cheese-ian War??” and we were off, ultimately devising a story in which the Spartans brought the cheese and the Athenians the crackers. (We didn’t think to add, but a friend did, that the Athenians had to return “with their crackers, or on them!”) My daughter (7) is contemplating creating a comic book on the subject.

I told the story on Facebook and a friend from graduate school promptly replied that well into his teen years he himself had believed that the Battle of Salamis somehow involved cured meats.  Friends, what deep misunderstandings about the classical past did you hold as a young person?


Resource Roundup: Footage of Triremes!

August 17, 2010

A friend who is a historian of 20th century technology, but teaches “Western Civ,” recently asked an assembled group of experts his Facebook friends if any movie buff among them could recommend films with footage of ancient naval battles, preferably Greek and involving triremes.  (I’m betting he’s teaching Salamis).  A couple of people mentioned Cleopatra and Ben Hur, but of course neither of those are Greek.  I don’t know of any trireme-featuring films myself, not being much of a movie buff – does 300 involve naval battles at all?  Or is there anything in the new Clash of the Titans?

I do know about triremes, though.  I’ve been to see the H. N. Olympias, the replica trireme built by the Trireme Trust and the Greek Navy, launched in 1987. The Olympias is planning to make its first visit to the United States in 2012 – any New York based rowers (who are on the shorter side – it’s apparently a bit cramped inside) should consider volunteering!

The BBC documentary about the Olympias trials was titled “The Trireme Quest” (and was released on VHS) and the Trireme Trust site mentions that other sea trials were filmed by “Channel 4 and Greek film crews.”  Probably some tourists whipped out their video cameras during the sea trials as well!  Youtube has some footage of the Olympias and clips about triremes, unfortunately usually unsourced and probably under somebody’s copyright (in several clips the History Channel “H” logo is visible).   A decent clip including the Olympias under oar and interviews with Ioannis Koliniatis is here;   it looks like the entirety of the History Channel’s “History’s Turning Points – (480 BC) The Battle of Salamis” is online, too.  Then there’s this History Channel parody – geeky-classicist humor for the win!

There are tons of images of triremes – drawings, plans, and photos of Olympias – available in Google Image search and also at Flickr (including Creative Commons-licensed images like the one below, taken by Kenny Murray off of Poros in 1987!).


A fine starting place for scholarly and popular bibliography about ancient Greek ships in general, and the Olympias in particular, is available at the Trireme Trust.