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

( 8 )

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Dwight Garner
Mr. Hale's sea-level view of Athens during its Golden Age is…a novel and gripping way to approach a story that has been told many times before…Mr. Hale's simple but vigorous sentences prick up your ears from the first page.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Historian and archeologist Hale brings both skill sets to bear in this account of an Athens whose golden age and democratic institutions depended on its navy. Between 489 and 322 B.C., Athens built, ruled and lost an empire extending from the Aegean to the Black Sea. The sea permeated every sphere of Athenian life, and most well-known Athenians were identified with sea power: Thucydides and Sophocles commanded fleets. The fleets were based on triremes, reflecting a doctrine favoring the craft and cunning of the steersman and rowers over brute force. Those skills were a product of the commitment and cooperation of free men who played an increasing role in Athenian politics at the expense of those better off and higher born. In times of crisis, all free adult males were expected to board the triremes. Athens's rule of the sea came to an end when a cabal of aristocrats betrayed the fleet to the Macedonians. And that was possible only because the "mysterious spiritual essence" sustaining Athenian effort and sacrifice had been lost as well. (June)

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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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143117681
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 4/27/2010
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 495,479
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

John R. Hale

John R. Hale has written for Antiquity, Journal of Roman Archaeology, and Scientific American and is currently director of liberal studies at the University of Louisville.

David Drummond has made his living as an actor for over twenty-five years, and he received an AudioFile Earphones Award for his first audiobook, Love 'Em or Lose 'Em.

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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

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2012

    As thorough and entertaining as one could ever hope for!

    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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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    Enjoyable Read

    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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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2009

    Athens Golden Age

    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.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 19, 2009

    An Excellent Survey!

    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!

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    Posted June 24, 2011

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    Posted December 19, 2009

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    Posted August 12, 2011

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