Salamis Anniversary

The Battle of Salamis - 480 BC - Today is the 2,500th anniversary of the famous naval battle fought between Greeks and Persians at Salamis.  The Persian King of Kings, Xerxes, had embarked on a military expedition against Hellas, to conquer and subjugate Greece and Europe. The naval battle was fought between an alliance of Hellenic city-states under Themistocles, and the whole Persian Empire under King Xerxes.  Following the Battle of Thermopylae in August and the Persian sack of Athens only a week before, the naval battle was fought in the straits between the mainland and the Saronic island of Salamis.  The Persian navy rowed into the strait and in the cramped conditions, the much greater Persian numbers were an active hinderance to them as their ships struggled to maneuver and became disorganised.  Seizing the opportunity, the allied Greek fleet formed in line, attacked the enemy fleet and scored a decisive victory.  Xerxes then retreated to Asia with most of his army, however, the following year, the remainder of his army was decisively beaten by the allied Hellenes at the Battle of Plataea and his navy at the Battle of Mycale. 

It is not necessary to reiterate that the battles of Thermopylae and Salamis saved Greece and Western civilization.  They counted despotism, in doing so, they saved democracy and the Western political and social systems.  History is not just what happened, but also what happened because of it.  Since then, Thermopylae has remained the symbol of valour, heroism and sacrifice and Salamis has remained the symbol of political and military leadership, strategy, as well as psychological warfare.

Major exhibitions were planned for the very special 2,500 year anniversary at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens as well as Thermopylae, Salamis and Sparta.  Sadly, some of these events were delayed or cancelled due to the global Coronavirus pandemic.

A new temporary exhibition at the National Archaeological Museum, titled “Glorious Victories: Between Myth and History” will open to the public on Tuesday 20th October.  The major exhibition is part of the celebratory programme for the 2,500-year anniversary of the Battle of Thermopylae and the Naval Battle of Salamis.  It will run until the end of February 2021.