February 8, 2018
Greek Triremes and the Origins of Democracy, lecture by Dr. John R. Hale, University of Louisville
Trireme: an ancient Greek or Roman war galley with three banks of oars
The ancient Greek trireme ranks with the Iberian caravel, the Viking longship, and the Polynesian outrigger canoe as a type of watercraft that has altered the course of human history. In the historic naval battle of Salamis in 480 BC, three hundred triremes from Greek cities, defeated an armada of a thousand triremes in the service of King Xerxes of Persia. The Greek victory decisively halted the expansion of the Persian Empire. Since rowers in ancient navies were considered to be combatants, the laboring-class citizens who pulled the oars ultimately won full civic rights. These newly empowered citizens soon transformed Athens into the world’s first radical democracy. Sponsored by the Anthropology and Archaeology Department and by the Archaeological Institute of America, the Joukowsky Lecture.