This is a paper I did for my Great Books Class about The Battle of Salamis By during the Persian wars. I think it turned out OK, so, I shall post it.
September 28, 480 BC. The cool sea breeze brushed Artemesia’s face gently as she squinted into the gray, early morning hours. All night the Persian navy had been closing off escape for the Greek fleet. Among the soldiers she had heard it whispered that the Greeks were panicking and fighting amongst themselves. It was growing lighter now, the sun quickly ascending a cloudless sky. The oars of the rowers below swished in their hypnotic, monotonous rhythm, propelling the boat forward.
â€œDo you think they’ll get away?â€ said a craggy voice behind her.
Turning around, she saw Acacius, her second in command. He was an old, tough-as-nails ship-captain who’d been on the water from childhood till now. Deliberately Artemesia began pacing the deck. â€œThey aren’t going to get away. I just hope they don’t stay in that bay, Salamis I think they call it. It’s too small. Not enough room for us.â€ Artemesia had not been enthusiastic when Xerxes had drafted Caria, in southern Ionia, to conquer the Greeks. She was queen of Caria, not a soldier. But while she was here, she might as well do a good job and destroy the Greeks.
There was a shout. â€œEnemy fleet sighted!â€
Artemesia sprinted to the bow and gazed west. A couple of white specks had appeared on the horizon, and were quickly growing larger. Soon the line of Greek ships was in plain sight. â€œForm up Marines!â€ she yelled. As the soldiers on board organized themselves behind her, something strange happened. Instead of advancing, the Greek ships had turned around, and were now retreating. Scornfully, Artemesia pointed and said, â€œLook at them, they are so scared of me that they turn and run. Cowards.â€ Scattered snickers sounded behind her.
After an hour of pursuit, Artemesia began to wonder how much further the Greeks would go. Then, one of the opposing ships stopped, turned around, and raced straight for the Persian lines. There was a sickening crunch as it’s underwater bronze-covered ram smashed into one of Artemesia’s contingent’s vessels. Viciously the enemy hoplites lowered their spears and stormed onto the Carian vessel. Shifting her gaze back towards the main body of Greeks, she witnessed the entire fleet turning about. â€œReady marines!â€ she bawled. â€œAttack speed!â€ Her heart beat faster as the gap between the two fleets diminished, and the tempo of oars increased. â€œMen of Caria,â€ she shouted, Let the sea run red with Greek blood! Let them flee blindly in fear before us.â€ Resolutely she turned to face the oncoming Greek ships, gripping her spear firmly.
One of the enemy ships seemed to have singled her out, and was headed straight towards her. Watching the other craft carefully, she waited until they had almost collided, then commanded, â€œRake maneuver.â€ Quickly her oars locked, and the ship careened to starboard. With a smile, she watched as the other commander desperately ordered his oars locked as well. But it was too late. Her oars, which were horizontal with the water and locked into place, raked across the others, crushing the men behind them. Screams of pain came from below deck on the other ship, while marines pelted her vessel with arrows. Her archers replied with a volley of their own. She grimaced. This was going to be one furious fight.
Xerxes had made it clear at the outset that a Greek victory was impossible, but as the battle wore on, Artemesia began to have her doubts. The bay was small, so the Persians couldn’t use their numerical superiority. And now, another problem was arising. Most of the Persian ships had forgotten or ignored their positions and had gone off randomly fighting. Formation was broken. She, of course, had kept her contingent in strict order, but it wasn’t helping much considering the other’s mess. She shook her head.
â€œEnemy ship bearing down,â€ warned Acacius, â€œwhat do you want us to do, Queen?â€
The Greek trireme was whisking towards them at attack speed, and it would be only a matter of minutes before it engaged them. Artemesia’s mind raced. Most of her marines were wounded or dead, and the Greeks were better trained, so her chances at hand-to-hand combat were slim. She didn’t have enough power to pull off a rake maneuver because her rowers were extremely worn out. Then, she spotted a Calyndian ship nearby. Recognizing the Captain, Damasithymus, she smiled craftily. â€œTurn about! Head towards that Calyndian ship!â€
Acacius looked rather puzzled, but he knew better than to question her, so he ran to the steersman and gave him Artemesia’s instructions. Slowly her boat turned, and headed towards the Calydinian ship.
When they were garrisoned back at the Hellespont a couple months ago, Damasithymus had been extremely disdainful and scornful of Artemesia, a woman in the military. He wouldn’t expect an attack from a ship on his own side, and, if the Greek saw her attacking a Persian vessel, it might think she too was Greek. She ran over to the steersman. â€œRam them.â€
â€œQueen? The Calyndian?â€
The man paused, then answered, â€œYes, Queen.â€ Artemesia nodded and strode back to the bow. As they were bearing down on the other ship, she saw Damasithymus watching her worriedly. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t realize her intentions until it was too late. By the time he had ordered an evasion maneuver, there was a gaping hole in his side. As her ship backed out of the mess, a cheer went up from Artemesia’s crew. The Greek vessel was turning and heading towards another ship. Artemesia grinned.
â€œHead back to camp,â€ she ordered above the din. â€œThe Greeks may have won the battle, but they haven’t won the war. There are battles yet to come. In the mean time, there’s no use in getting ourselves killed.â€