previous next

The Sea-Battle Undecided

The fight between the rest of the fleet, however, was an
The skill of the Rhodian sailors.
undecided one; for the superiority in the numbers of Philip's galleys was compensated for by Attalus's superiority in the number of his decked ships. Thus on the right wing of Philip's fleet the state of things was that the ultimate result was doubtful, but that, of the two, Attalus had the better hope of victory. As for the Rhodians, they were, at first starting, as I have said, far behind the enemy, but being much their superiors in speed they managed to come up with the rear of the Macedonians. At first they charged the vessels on the stern as they were retiring, and broke off their oars; but upon Philip's ships swinging round and beginning to bring help to those in danger, while those of the Rhodians who had started later than the rest reached the squadron of Theophiliscus, both parties turned their ships in line prow to prow and charged gallantly, inciting each other to fresh exertions by the sound of trumpets and loud cheers. Had not the Macedonians placed their galleys between the opposing lines of decked ships, the battle would have been quickly decided; but, as it was, these proved a hindrance to the Rhodians in various ways. For as soon as the first charge had disturbed the original order of the ships, they became all mixed up with each other in complete confusion, which made it difficult to sail through the enemy's line or to avail themselves of the points in which they were superior, because the galleys kept running sometimes against the blades of their oars so as to hinder the rowing, and sometimes upon their prows, or again upon their sterns, thus hampering the service of steerers and rowers alike. In the direct charges, however, the Rhodians employed a particular manœuvre. By depressing their bows they received the blows of the enemy above the water-line, while by staving in the enemy's ships below the water-line they rendered the blows fatal. Still it was rarely that they succeeded in doing this, for, as a rule, they avoided collisions, because the Macedonians fought gallantly from their decks when they came to close quarters. Their most frequent manœuvre was to row through the Macedonian line, and disable the enemy's ships by breaking off their oars, and then, rowing round into position, again charge the enemy on the stern, or catch them broadside as they were in the act of turning; and thus they either stove them in or broke away some necessary part of their rigging. By this manner of fighting they destroyed a great number of the enemy's ships.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Theodorus Büttner-Wobst after L. Dindorf, 1893)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (1 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: