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For fire signals cf. ix. 3. 1 n.

ἡμεροσκόπους: look-out men stationed on heights to observe the enemy's movements, which was of course only possible by day (cf. ch. 192. 1, 219. 1).


ἕρμα: a sunken reef; cf. Thuc. vii. 25 and Anacreon (fr. 39, ap. Hesych.) ἀσήμων ὑπὲρ ἑρμάτων φορεῦμαι. The Murmex or ‘ant-reef’ is now called λίθαρι or Leftari, ‘the stone.’ The forethought of the Phoenicians in setting up a stone pillar on the reef as a danger-signal, is worth noting as a proof of careful reconnaissance. Clearly it was one of the duties of this squadron to make the way safe (cf. καθαρόν) for the main body.


Scyros, an island about twenty-three miles off the east coast of Euboea, was then inhabited by the semi-barbarous piratical Dolopes, later driven out by Cimon.

Cape Sepias is generally and rightly identified with the modern Cape St. George opposite Sciathos. Mr. Wace prefers Cape Pori, but his reasons are not convincing (J. H. S. xxvi. 143-8). If Cape Sepias be Pori, then Casthanaea, which lay north of it, under Mount Pelion (Strabo 443), must be Keramidhi (Tozer, Highlands of Turkey, ii. 104); but if it be Cape St. George, Casthanaea may more probably be placed at Zagora or Khorefto (Tarn, J. H. S. xxviii. 211).

The voyage would seem to be 90-100 miles direct across the sea, or, if we allow for coasting, perhaps 120 miles (Cl. R. xxiii. 186). Such a distance would not be beyond the powers of a single ship on a long summer's day, e. g. 15-16 hours. We are told that a trireme could be rowed from Byzantium to Heraclea (150 miles) in a long day (? 18 or 24 hours; Xen. Anab. vi. 4. 2), and the second Athenian trireme sent to Mitylene must by extraordinary exertions have accomplished the voyage of 210 miles in something like 24 hours (Thuc. iii. 49). Further, a merchant ship (ναῦς στρογγύλη) could, with an absolutely favourable wind, do some 150-160 miles in 24 hours, e.g. from Abdera to the mouth of the Ister (nearly 600 miles) in four days and nights, i. e. a little more than 6 miles an hour (iv. 86; Thuc. ii. 97). So, again, the voyage round Sicily (510 miles) takes not much less than 8 days (Thuc. vi. 1), while that from Thasos to Amphipolis, or rather Eion (50 miles), is reckoned at half a day's sail (Thuc. iv. 104). These instances seem to prove that a single merchantman could do 6 miles an hour and a warship something more, say 8 miles an hour. But single-ship voyages are no evidence for fleets, since the pace of a fleet is that of its slowest member. Now (Xen. Hell. i. 1. 13) Alcibiades took a whole autumn night and up to ἄριστον next morning (i. e. 16-18 hours) to sail with 86 ships from Parium to Proconnesus (not 35 miles), while Agathocles (Diod. xx. 5) took 6 days and nights from Syracuse to Cape Hermaeum (circ. 300 miles). Similarly, the voyages of Caesar's fleet from Lilybaeum to Ruspina (Bell. Afr. 34) and from Utica to Caralis (ch. 98) work out at 2 miles an hour or less, while those of Scipio (Liv. xxix. 27) and of Caesar (Bell. Afr. 2) from Lilybaeum to Africa, though regarded as quick and good voyages, work out under 3 miles an hour. The Athenian fleet in Sicily sailed 36 miles from Catana to Syracuse during the night (7-8 hours; Thuc. vi. 65), and Philip V's fleet of swift Illyrian lembi when panic-stricken fled (Polyb. v. 110) from the mouth of the Achelous to Cephallenia (circ. 180 miles) in about 36 hours; these fleets in a great hurry do something like 5 miles an hour. It is true that Aemilius Paulus states (Liv. xlv. 41) that he sailed from Brundisium to Corcyra in 9 Roman (i. e. 11 1/2 English) hours, and that if Corcyra be the town this would mean 10 miles an hour, and if the nearest point of the island 8 miles an hour; but this isolated and doubtful record time does not justify us in ascribing so high a rate of speed to the unwieldy Persian armada. Cf. Grundy and Tarn, Cl. Rev. xxiii. 107 f. and 184 f.

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hide References (8 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (8):
    • Thucydides, Histories, 2.97
    • Thucydides, Histories, 3.49
    • Thucydides, Histories, 4.104
    • Thucydides, Histories, 6.1
    • Thucydides, Histories, 6.65
    • Thucydides, Histories, 7.25
    • Xenophon, Anabasis, 6.4.2
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 1.1.13
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