The 5 Most Important Battles Of The Ancient Greek Wars

Published June 10, 2017
Updated November 7, 2023

Greek Wars: Battle of Salamis, 480 BC

Battle Salamis

Fought in September 480 BC, the Battle of Salamis was one of the most significant naval battles in ancient Greece.

Once again between the Greek city-states and their perpetual enemy, Persia, the battle took place in the strait between Piraeus and Salamis Island, near Athens.

Although heavily outnumbered (again), and having lost two previous battles, the Greek Allied navy was urged by the Athenian general, Themistocles, to engage the Persian fleet one more time.

The Persian navy, led by Xerxes, sailed into the strait in an effort to block both entrances, but the cramped conditions made it hard to maneuver and forced the Persians into a frenzy.

The Greek navy used this to their advantage, forming a blockade and sinking or capturing most of the opposing ships.

The defeat at Salamis shifted the war in Greece’s favor, and led to Persia’s ultimate demise.

Historians tend to agree that the Battle of Salamis was the single most important battle of ancient Greece and potentially of all human history. They assert that the win influenced the growth and preservation of Athenian democracy, which, in turn, would forever shift Western civilization’s core ideas of freedom and individual rights

Alexander is a Brooklyn-based cofounder of All That's Interesting with an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia in History and Economics and an MSc from the School of Oriental and African Studies in Economics. He specializes in American history, the Cold War, and true crime.