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Encyclopedia > Battle of Rhium
Battle of Rhium
Part of the Peloponnesian War
Date 429 BC
Location The mouth of the Corinthian Gulf, off of Rhium
Result Athenian victory
Combatants
Athens Sparta, Corinth, and other members of the Peloponnesian League
Commanders
Phormio Machaon, Isocrates, Agatharchidas, and others
Strength
20 triremes 47 triremes, some being used as transports
Casualties
None 12 ships captured, with most of their crews
Peloponnesian War
SybotaPotidaeaChalcisRhiumNaupactusTanagraOlpaePylosSphacteriaDeliumAmphipolisMantineaSicilian ExpeditionSymeCynossemaAbydosCyzicusNotiumArginusaeAegospotami

The Battle of Rhium (429 BC) was a naval battle in the Peloponnesian War between an Athenian fleet commanded by Phormio and a Peloponnesian fleet composed of contingents from various states, each with its own commander. The battle came about when the Peloponnesian fleet, numbering 47 triremes, attempted to cross over to the northern shore of the Gulf of Patras to attack Acarnania in support of an offensive in northwestern Greece; Phormio's fleet attacked the Peloponnesians when they passed from the Corinthian Gulf into the Gulf of Patras and attempted to cross from the south to the north shore. Combatants Delian League led by Athens Peloponnesian League led by Sparta Commanders Pericles Cleon Nicias Alcibiades Archidamus II Brasidas Lysander For the earlier war beginning in 460 BC, see First Peloponnesian War The Peloponnesian War (431 BC–404 BC) was an Ancient Greek military conflict fought between Athens and its... Centuries: 6th century BC - 5th century BC - 4th century BC Decades: 470s BC 460s BC 450s BC 440s BC 430s BC - 420s BC - 410s BC 400s BC 390s BC 380s BC 370s BC Years: 434 BC 433 BC 432 BC 431 BC 430 BC - 429 BC - 428 BC 427 BC... The Gulf of Corinth is the body of water separating Peloponnese from western mainland Greece. ... Nickname: City of Athena or Cradle of Democracy Location of the city of Athens (red dot) within the Prefecture of Athens and Periphery of Attica Coordinates: Country Greece Peripheries Attica Prefecture Athens Founded circa 2000 BC Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis Area    - City 39 km²  - Metro 3,808 km² Elevation 70 [3... Nickname: City of Athena or Cradle of Democracy Location of the city of Athens (red dot) within the Prefecture of Athens and Periphery of Attica Coordinates: Country Greece Peripheries Attica Prefecture Athens Founded circa 2000 BC Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis Area    - City 39 km²  - Metro 3,808 km² Elevation 70 [3... Sparta (Doric: , Attic: ) is a city in southern Greece. ... Corinth, or Korinth (Greek: Κόρινθος, Kórinthos; see also List of traditional Greek place names) is a Greek city-state, on the Isthmus of Corinth, the narrow stretch of land that joins the Peloponnesus to the mainland of Greece. ... The Peloponnesian League was an alliance of states in the Peloponnese in the 6th and 5th centuries BC. By the end of the 6th century, Sparta had become the most powerful state in the Peloponnese, and was the political and military hegemon over Argos, the next most powerful state. ... Phormio, the son of Asopius, was an Athenian general and admiral during the Peloponnesian War. ... A Greek trireme Triremes (Greek Τριήρεις) are several different types of ancient warships. ... Combatants Delian League led by Athens Peloponnesian League led by Sparta Commanders Pericles Cleon Nicias Alcibiades Archidamus II Brasidas Lysander For the earlier war beginning in 460 BC, see First Peloponnesian War The Peloponnesian War (431 BC–404 BC) was an Ancient Greek military conflict fought between Athens and its... Battle of Sybota Conflict Peloponnesian War Date 433 BC Place Off Corcyra Result Indecisive The Battle of Sybota took place in 433 BC between Corcyra and Corinth. ... Battle of Potidaea Conflict Peloponnesian War Date 432 BC Place Potidaea Result Athenian victory The Battle of Potidaea was, with the Battle of Sybota, one of the catalysts for the Peloponnesian War. ... Battle of Chalcis Conflict Peloponnesian War Date 429 BC Place Chalcis Result Athenian defeat The Battle of Chalcis took place in 429 BC between Athens and the Chalcidians and their allies, in the early part of the Peloponnesian War. ... The naval Battle of Naupactus took place over the course of a week in 429 BC, in the early part of the Peloponnesian War, between the Athenian fleet under Phormio and a combined Spartan and Corinthian fleet. ... Battle of Tanagra Conflict Peloponnesian War Date 426 BC Place Tanagra Result Athenian victory The Battle of Tanagra was a battle in the Peloponnesian War in 426 BC between Athens and Tanagra. ... Battle of Olpae Conflict Peloponnesian War Date 426 BC Place Olpae Result Athenian victory The Battle of Olpae was a battle of the Peloponnesian War in 426 BC, between armies led by Athens and Sparta. ... Combatants Athens Sparta Commanders Demosthenes Thrasymelidas Brasidas Strength 50 ships Hundreds of troops 60 ships Unknown troops Casualties Unknown Unknown The Battle of Pylos took place in 425 BC during the Peloponnesian War, between Athens and Sparta. ... Combatants Athens Sparta Commanders Demosthenes Cleon Epitadas† Styphon Strength About 3000 440 Casualties Very few (about 230) 148 The Battle of Sphacteria was a battle of the Peloponnesian War in 425 BC, between Athens and Sparta. ... The Battle of Delium took place in 424 BC between the Athenians and the Boeotians, and ended with the siege of Delium in the following weeks. ... Combatants Athens Sparta Commanders Cleon† Nicias Thucydides Brasidas† Clearidas Strength About 2000 About 2500 Casualties About 600 8 {{{notes}}} The Battle of Amphipolis was fought in 422 BC during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. ... Combatants Sparta Arcadian allies of Sparta Tegea Argos Athens Mantineia Commanders Agis II Laches † Nicostratus† Thrasyllus Strength About 9000 About 8000 Casualties About 300 About 1100 The Battle of Mantinea took place in 418 BC between Sparta and its allies, and an army led by Argos and Athens. ... The Sicilian Expedition was an Athenian expedition to Sicily from 415 BC to 413 BC, during the Peloponnesian War. ... Battle of Syme Conflict Peloponnesian War Date 411 BC Place Off Syme Result Indecisive The Battle of Syme was a naval battle in 411 BC between Sparta and Athens, during the Peloponnesian War. ... Battle of Cynossema Conflict Peloponnesian War Date 411 BC Place Off Cynossema Result Athenian victory The Battle of Cynossema was a naval battle in the Hellespont in 411 BC between Athens and Sparta, around the same time the Athenian democracy was overthrown in favour of a short_lived oligarchy. ... Battle of Abydos (410 BC) Battle of Abydos (322 BC) Battle of Abydos (200 BC) Battle of Abydos (989) This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... The Battle of Cyzicus in 410 BC was a small-scale naval battle during the Peloponnesian War between an Athenian fleet led by Alcibiades and a Peloponnesian fleet led by Sparta. ... Combatants Sparta Athens Commanders Lysander Antiochus Strength 70 ships 80 ships Casualties none 22 ships Th Battle of Notium (or Ephesus) in 406 BC, was a Spartan naval victory in the Peloponnesian War. ... The naval Battle of Arginusae took place in 406 BCE during the Peloponnesian War. ... Combatants Sparta Athens Commanders Lysander 6 generals Strength 170 ships Casualties Very few All but 10 ships, thousands of sailors The Battle of Aegospotami was the last major battle of the Peloponnesian War. ... The French battleship Orient burns, 1 August 1798, during the Battle of the Nile A naval battle is a battle fought using ships or other waterborne vessels. ... Combatants Delian League led by Athens Peloponnesian League led by Sparta Commanders Pericles Cleon Nicias Alcibiades Archidamus II Brasidas Lysander For the earlier war beginning in 460 BC, see First Peloponnesian War The Peloponnesian War (431 BC–404 BC) was an Ancient Greek military conflict fought between Athens and its... Nickname: City of Athena or Cradle of Democracy Location of the city of Athens (red dot) within the Prefecture of Athens and Periphery of Attica Coordinates: Country Greece Peripheries Attica Prefecture Athens Founded circa 2000 BC Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis Area    - City 39 km²  - Metro 3,808 km² Elevation 70 [3... Phormio, the son of Asopius, was an Athenian general and admiral during the Peloponnesian War. ... The Peloponnesian League was an alliance of states in the Peloponnese in the 6th and 5th centuries BC. By the end of the 6th century, Sparta had become the most powerful state in the Peloponnese, and was the political and military hegemon over Argos, the next most powerful state. ... A Greek trireme Triremes (Greek Τριήρεις) are several different types of ancient warships. ... Gulf of Patras from space, March 1994 The Gulf of Patras (Greek: Πατραϊκός Κόλπος Patraikós Kólpos) is a branch of the Ionian Sea. ... Acarnania was a region of ancient central western Greece that lay along the Ionian Sea, west of Aetolia, with the Achelous River for a boundary, and north of the gulf of Calydon, which is the entrance to the Gulf of Corinth. ... The Gulf of Corinth is the body of water separating Peloponnese from western mainland Greece. ...


In the battle, the Peloponnesian ships, hampered by the fact that many of them were equipped not as fighting vessels but as transports, circled together in a defensive posture. Phormio, taking advantage of his crews' superior seamanship, sailed around the clustered Peloponnesians with his ships, driving the Peloponnesians closer and closer together until they began to foul oars and collide with each other. The Athenians then suddenly attacked, routing the Peloponnesians and capturing 12 ships.

Contents

Prelude

The summer of 429 BC was marked by a Peloponnesian offensive in the Greek northwest. The Spartans and their allies, hoping to knock several Athenian allies such as Acarnania, Zacynthus, and Cephallenia out of the war, and if possible to capture the Athenian base at Naupactus.[1] The Spartan navarch Cnemus was placed in command of the campaign. He set out against Acarnania with 1,000 hoplites from Sparta, crossing over the Corinthian Gulf unnoticed by Phormio. Combining his forces with 2,000 troops sent from allied states, Cnemus moved against the city of Stratus, an Acarnanian ally. The Acarnanians appealed to Phormio for help, but he refused to leave Naupactus undefended. The Peloponnesian League was an alliance of states in the Peloponnese in the 6th and 5th centuries BC. By the end of the 6th century, Sparta had become the most powerful state in the Peloponnese, and was the political and military hegemon over Argos, the next most powerful state. ... Sparta (Doric: , Attic: ) is a city in southern Greece. ... Acarnania was a region of ancient central western Greece that lay along the Ionian Sea, west of Aetolia, with the Achelous River for a boundary, and north of the gulf of Calydon, which is the entrance to the Gulf of Corinth. ... Zakýnthos (Ζάκυνθος, also known as Zante), the third largest of the Ionian Islands, covers an area of 410 square kilometers and its coastline is roughly 123 kilometers in length. ... Kefalonia also known as Cephalonia, Kefallinia, or Cefalonia (Ancient Greek: Κεφαλλήνια Modern Greek: Κεφαλλονιά), is the largest of the Ionian Islands in western Greece. ... Naupactus or Nafpaktos (Latin: Naupactus or Naupactos; Turkish: Ä°nebahtı; Italian, Spanish and Portuguese Lepanto; modern Greek, Ναύπακτος, rarely Epakto), is a town in the prefecture of Aetolia-Acarnania, Greece, situated on a bay on the north side of the straits of Lepanto. ... Navarch is a Greek word meaning leader of the ships. ...


The Peloponnesian fleet, meanwhile, was charged with ferrying troops to the southern coast of Acarnania to prevent the residents of that area from supporting their allies inland. As the Peloponnesians moved westward along the south coast of the Gulf of Corinth, the Athenian fleet followed them on the northern shore. The Peloponnesians, with 47 ships, were not particularly concerned about the 20 Athenians ships across the gulf, but they nonetheless left their moorings at night to pass through the strait between Rhium and Cape Antirrhium, hoping to give their pursuers the slip. This ruse failed, as the Athenians noticed the move and gave chase, catching the Peloponnesians in the open water of the Gulf of Patras. The Gulf of Corinth or the Corinthian Gulf is a deep inlet of the Ionian Sea separating the Peloponnese from western mainland Greece. ... Gulf of Patras from space, March 1994 The Gulf of Patras (Greek: Πατραϊκός Κόλπος Patraikós Kólpos) is a branch of the Ionian Sea. ...


Battle

Phormio's strategy: The Athenians (red) sail around the circled Peloponnesian ships (black). The Athenians risk a sudden attack by exposing their flanks to the enemy, but by compressing the Peloponnesian circle they cause confusion among the inexperienced Peloponnesian crews.
Phormio's strategy: The Athenians (red) sail around the circled Peloponnesian ships (black). The Athenians risk a sudden attack by exposing their flanks to the enemy, but by compressing the Peloponnesian circle they cause confusion among the inexperienced Peloponnesian crews.

Although the Peloponnesian fleet was numerically superior to the Athenian, many of its ships were rigged out as transports instead of fighting vessels.[2] Thus, as the Athenian fleet approached them, the Peloponnesian commanders (the names of all of these are not known, but the Corinthian commanders were Machaon, Isocrates, and Agatharchidas) ordered their 47 triremes to draw into a circle, prows outward, for defense. In the center of the circle were gathered the smaller ships and the five fastest triremes, which were to plug any gap that opened in the circle. A Greek trireme Triremes (Greek Τριήρεις) are several different types of ancient warships. ...


Phormio chose to attack this formation by using a risky and unorthodox tactic. He led his ships, in line, in a tightening circle around the Peloponnesians, darting inwards at times to drive the defending ships closer to each other. This tactic left the Athenians highly vulnerable to a swift attack, as any of the defending ships would only have to move a short distance straight ahead to ram a circling Athenian ship in the side.[3] No such attack materialized, however, and the Peloponnesians were driven closer and closer together. Phormio, the son of Asopius, was an Athenian general and admiral during the Peloponnesian War. ...


At this point, Phormio was aided by his experience with the local weather patterns, which had taught him that a wind usually blew out of the gulf at dawn. Expecting that this wind would severely discomfort the inexperienced Peloponnesians but not interfere at all with the work of his own more experienced crews, he waited for the moment it arose to attack. As expected, when the wind blew up the Peloponnesian ships were driven together; confusion reigned in the circle, with steersmen shouting and cursing, oars fouling between ships, and crews attempting to shove off from each others' ships with poles. At this moment the Athenians rushed into attack. The rout was instant and total; the Peloponnesians, in their short flight to the southern shore, saw 12 of their ships, with crews, captured by the pursuing Athenians.


Aftermath

On the way back to their base at Corinth, the Peloponnesian fleet met up with Cnemus, who was retreating from a defeat by the Stratians.[4] This double defeat seriously embarrassed Cnemus, and was in general an embarrassing failure for the Spartans; their first attempt at an amphibious offensive had ended in ignominy.[5] The victory did not, however, put an end to the Peloponnesian offensive in the Gulf. Within a short period of time the Spartans were able to assemble a substantially larger fleet, this time of 77 triremes; Athens, meanwhile, though it dispatched 20 ships to reinforce Phormio, sent them by way of Crete.[6] Thus, Phormio's 20 ships were forced to fight on their own, and only narrowly preserved Athenian dominance in the gulf at the Battle of Naupactus. Battle of Naupactus Conflict Peloponnesian War Date 429 BC Place Off Naupactus Result Athenian victory The Battle of Naupactus was a naval battle between the Athenian fleet under Phormio and a combined Spartan and Corinthian fleet. ...


References

  • Kagan, Donald. The Peloponnesian War (Penguin Books, 2003). ISBN 0670032115
  • Thucydides: History of the Peloponnesian War

Donald Kagan (born 1932) is a Yale historian specializing in ancient Greece, notable for his four-volume history of the Peloponnesian War. ... Image File history File links Wikisource-logo. ... Bust of Thucydides residing in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. ...

Notes

  1. ^ Unless otherwise noted, all details regarding the prelude to the battle are drawn from Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, 2.80-83.
  2. ^ Unless otherwise noted, all details regarding the battle are drawn from Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, 1.83-84.
  3. ^ Kagan, The Peloponnesian War, 93
  4. ^ Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, 1.83
  5. ^ Kagan, The Peloponnesian War, 93-4
  6. ^ Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, 1.85-86

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