The Maritime History Podcast

In today's episode we take a look at the final moves that both Greece and Persia made on the eve of their war. Themistocles and Aristides take center stage as they maneuver through the political scene of Athens, but with the success of the Themistoclean naval policy, we discuss how the Greeks may have rapidly built up their navy. We consider the Greek congress of city-states, their relative lack of support, and the final measures they took to try and recruit allies. We also consider a canal project and pontoon bridges that Xerxes had built to aid his army and navy as they both marched and sailed west to Greece. We conclude with a rather bizarre scene where the Persians try to beat the Hellespont into subjection and, ultimately, they all make it over into Europe. The stage is set for the final Greco-Persian War.

Direct download: 035_-_The_Eve_of_War.mp3
Category:history -- posted at: 8:20pm CDT

A substantial portion of the Persian fleet was wrecked in a storm in 492 BCE, but after Darius ordered it to be rebuilt, they set sail for Greece in the summer of 490. Today's episode examines the state of the Persian navy at this point, after which we discuss the fleet's route to Eritrea and Marathon, the site of one of Greece's most famous military victories. It was a land battle though, so after a brief look at some naval elements connected to it, we paint a picture of Athens after Marathon, where political leaders like Themistocles had to fear the newly popular use of ostracism. We conclude by setting the stage for the third and final Persian invasion of Greece.

Direct download: 034_-_Marathon_and_Persian_Naval_Power.mp3
Category:history -- posted at: 5:57pm CDT

In today's episode the curtain rises on a young man named Themistocles. He's always recognized for the role that he played at Salamis and in the Greek navy's stand against Persia, but today we go back to the earliest we know about his life. We ended last episode in 493 BCE when the Ionian Revolt was effectively ended at Lade, but in that same year Themistocles was made eponymous archon of Athens. Today we look at the early stages of the naval reforms he tried to institute in Athens, with a particular focus on the Athenian port of Phaleron. It was a weak port despite being the only port Athens had used in her history, so after looking at why it was weak, we then look at the location Themistocles proposed as an alternative, the Piraeus. A story that runs through the episode and probably shaped the views of a young Themistocles is one that involves an island rival of Athens, the mercantile power of Aegina. She'd become a naval power before Athens had, so today we look at an undeclared war that simmered between them, the naval focus of their conflicts, and why Aegina actually played an interesting role in the shaping up of the greater conflict with Persia. There's also a bit in there somewhere about Persia's first attempt to invade Greece and the storm that caused one of the biggest naval disasters to that point in ancient history. A meandering but interesting episode, I hope.

Direct download: 033_-_The_Heraldless_War_and_a_Man_Named_Themistocles.mp3
Category:history -- posted at: 9:11pm CDT