When at last Eurybiades and Themistocles had completed the disposition of their
forces, the left wing was held by the Athenians and Lacedaemonians, who in this way would be
opposed to the ships of the Phoenicians; for the Phoenicians possessed a distinct superiority
by reason both of their great number and of the experience in seamanship which they inherited
from their ancestors.
The Aeginetans and Megarians formed the
right wing, since they were generally considered to be the best seamen after the Athenians and
it was believed that they would show the best spirit, seeing that they alone of the Greeks
would have no place of refuge in case any reverse should occur in the course of the battle. The
centre was held by the rest of the Greek forces.
This, then, was
the battle-order in which the Greeks sailed out, and they occupied the strait between
and the Heracleium1
the king gave order to his admiral to advance against the enemy, while he himself moved down
the coast to a spot directly opposite Salamis
which he could watch the course of the battle.
as they advanced, could at the outset maintain their line, since they had plenty of space; but
when they came to the narrow passage, they were compelled to withdraw some ships from the line,
creating in this way much disorder.
The admiral, who was
leading the way before the line and was the first to begin the fighting, was slain after having
acquitted himself valiantly. When his ship went down, disorder seized the barbarian fleet, for
there were many now to give orders, but each man did not issue the same commands. Consequently
they halted the advance, and holding back their ships, they began to withdraw to where there
was plenty of room.
The Athenians, observing the disorder
among the barbarians, now advanced upon the enemy, and some of their ships they struck with
their rams, while from others they sheared off the rows of oars; and when the men at the oars
could no longer do their work, many Persian triremes, getting sidewise to the enemy, were time
and again severely damaged by the beaks of the ships. Consequently they ceased merely backing
water, but turned about and fled precipitately.