The Age of Titans: The Rise and Fall of the Great Hellenistic Navies

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, Dec 21, 2011 - History - 384 pages
While we know a great deal about naval strategies in the classical Greek and later Roman periods, our understanding of the period in between--the Hellenistic Age--has never been as complete. However, thanks to new physical evidence discovered in the past half-century and the construction of Olympias, a full-scale working model of an Athenian trieres (trireme) by the Hellenic Navy during the 1980s, we now have new insights into the evolution of naval warfare following the death of Alexander the Great. In what has been described as an ancient naval arms race, the successors of Alexander produced the largest warships of antiquity, some as long as 400 feet carrying as many as 4000 rowers and 3000 marines. Vast, impressive, and elaborate, these warships "of larger form"--as described by Livy--were built not just to simply convey power but to secure specific strategic objectives. When these particular factors disappeared, this "Macedonian" model of naval power also faded away--that is, until Cleopatra and Mark Antony made one brief, extravagant attempt to reestablish it, an endeavor Octavian put an end to once and for all at the battle of Actium. Representing the fruits of more than thirty years of research, The Age of Titans provides the most vibrant account to date of Hellenistic naval warfare.


List of Figures
List of Maps
Understanding the Big Ship Phenomenon
Frontal Ramming and the Development of Fours
Structural Considerations
The Development of Naval Siege Warfare
Philo the Byzantine and the Requirements of Naval Siege
Big Ships Boarding and Catapults
Testimonia for Fours
Testimonia for Fives
Testimonia for Sixes to Tens
Testimonia for Elevens to Forty
Testimonia for Naval Artillery

The Culmination of the Big Ship Phenomenon
The End of the Big Ship Phenomenon

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2011)

William M. Murray is Mary and Gus Stathis Professor of Greek History and Director of the Ancient Studies Center at the University of South Florida.

Bibliographic information