Lords of the Sea: The Epic Story of the Athenian Navy and the Birth of Democracy

Lords of the Sea: The Epic Story of the Athenian Navy and the Birth of Democracy

by John R. Hale


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By persuading his fellow Athenians to build a fleet of warships, soldier-statesman Themistocles paved the way for the navy that was to become one of the finest fighting forces in the history of the world. It engineered a civilization, empowered the world's first democracy, and led a band of ordinary citizens on a voyage of discovery that altered the course of history. With Lords of the Sea, renowned archaeologist John R. Hale presents the definitive history of the epic battles, the fearsome ships, and the men—from extraordinary leaders to seductive rogues—that established Athens' supremacy. With a scholar's insight and a storyteller's flair, Hale takes us on an unforgettable voyage with these heroes, their turbulent careers and far-flung expeditions, bringing back to light a forgotten maritime empire and its majestic legacy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143117681
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/27/2010
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 514,180
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

John R. Hale studied at Yale and Cambridge before embarking on an archaeological career that includes extensive underwater searches for ancient warships. He has written for Antiquity, Journal of Roman Archaeology, and Scientific American and has been profiled by NPR and The New York Times. He has also been featured in documentaries broadcast by The Discovery Channel and The History Channel. He is currently the director of liberal studies at the University of Louisville.

Table of Contents

List of Maps and Diagrams xv

Preface xvii

Introduction xxiii

Part 1 Freedom

1 One Man, One Vision [483 B.C.] 3

2 Building the Fleet [483–481 B.C.] 15

3 The Wooden Wall [481–480 B.C.] 29

4 Holding the Pass [Summer, 480 B.C.] 43

5 Salamis [End of Summer, 480 B.C.] 55

Part 2 Democracy

6 A League of Their Own [479–463 B.C.] 77

7 Boundless Ambition [462–446 B.C.] 95

8 Mariners of the Golden Age [Mid-fifth Century B.C.] 110

Part 3 Empire

9 The Imperial Navy [446–433 B.C.] 125

10 War and Pestilence [433–430 B.C.] 138

11 Fortune Favors the Brave [430–428 B.C.] 154

12 Masks of Comedy, Masks of Command [428–421 B.C.] 171

13 The Sicilian Expedition [415–413 B.C.] 185

Part 4 Catastrophe

14 The Rogue's Return [412–407 B.C.] 205

15 Of Heroes and Hemlock [407–406 B.C.] 221

16 Rowing to Hades [405–399 B.C.] 233

Part 5 Rebirth

17 Passing the Torch [397–371 B.C.] 249

18 Triremes of Atlantis [370–354 B.C.] 269

19 The Voice of the Navy [354–339 B.C.] 280

20 In the Shadow of Macedon [339–324 B.C.] 294

21 The Last Battle [324–322 B.C.] 311

Chronology 319

Glossary 333

Note on Sources 341

Acknowledgments 375

Index 579

What People are Saying About This

Adam Nicolson

"The dazzling moment of Golden Age Athens was built on democracy, silver, reason and power. It was arguably the most creative moment in history, when western architecture, philosophy, drama and politics were all given their fundamental form. Behind it all was the Athenian navy, its life and fortunes described here with exemplary clarity and a vivid engagement with the visceral realities of battle and the sea. In a story shot through with echoes of modern democratic ideals faced with the hazards, rewards and challenges of empire, John Hale combines fluent readability with up-to-date scholarship and a sense that in these pages you are witnessing not only a driving collective enterprise but the foundation-level struggles of our own world. This is tour de force of historical imagination."--(Adam Nicolson, Author of the New York Times bestsellers God's Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible and Seize the Fire: Heroism, Duty, and Nelson's Battle of Trafalgar)

From the Publisher

"This is [a] tour de force of historical imagination." —-Adam Nicolson, award-winning author of God's Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible

Donald Kagan

"Nobody knows more about the history of oared ships around the world than John Hale, and he combines with it a knowledge of and love for the ancient Athenians that helps explain their achievement. To provide a new angle from which to view and understand the experience of the Athenians of the Classical age is a remarkable feat, but Lords of the Sea accomplishes just that. It tells the story of the central role played by the great navy in shaping the government, politics, economy and culture in the years of the greatness of Athens in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.E. The writing is utterly captivating and makes the reader feel he is back in ancient Athens among the great poets, historians, sculptors, architects, soldiers and sailors, all of whom were connected in important ways to the Athenian navy."--(Donald Kagan, Author of The Peloponnesian War)

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Lords of the Sea: The Epic Story of the Athenian Navy and the Birth of Democracy 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dr. Hale has my profound esteem and respect. I have listened to several of his courses from The Great Courses on Ancient Greek history and other topics. He is engaging and masterful in this book. There is little detail omitted and personal nuances abound. For those with a passing interest in what made Athens great, look no further!
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coyoteVA More than 1 year ago
I admit to not knowing much about the Greek civilization beyond what I have learned by chance while reading other histories. This book placed Greek historical figures in their time and place within Greek society for me in ways I hadn't been aware of. Discovering that Socrates was not merely a philosopher but also an Athenian General during the rise of Athen's maritime power is the kind of gem that this book can offer to those that are not well versed in Greek history. The descriptions of how the various civilizations in the Eastern Mediterranean fought at sea 2500 years ago were fascinating.
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KA-Swenson More than 1 year ago
Extremely readable, insightful, and enjoyable narrative of Athenian culture; with a compelling emphasis upon the Athenian navy. I enthusiastically recommend this book as a survey into ancient greek history!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a great read. I always had a hard time putting it down. Reading about Athens Golden Age was fascinating, especially since it is the birthplace of my father.