1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Salamis (Greece)

SALAMIS, an island of Greece in the Saronic Gulf of the Aegean Sea, extending along the coasts of Attica and Megaris, and enclosing the Bay of Eleusis between two narrow straits on the W. and S. Its area is 36 sq. m., its greatest length in any direction 10 m.; its extremely irregular shape gives rise to the modern popular name Κουλλοῦρι, i.e. baker’s crescent. In Homer Salamis was the home of the Aeginetan prince Telamon and his sons Ajax and Teucer, and this tradition is confirmed by the position of the ancient capital of the island opposite Aegina. It subsequently passed into the hands of the Megarians, but was wrested from them about 600 B.C. by the Athenians under Solon (q.v.) and definitely awarded to Athens by Sparta's arbitration. Though Attic tradition claimed Salamis as an ancient possession the island was not strictly Athenian territory; a 6th-century inscription shows that it was treated either as a cleruchy or as a privileged foreign dependency. The town of Salamis was removed to an inlet of the E. coast opposite Attica. In 480 Salamis became the base of the allied Greek fleet after the retreat from Artemisium, while the Persians took their station along the Attic coast off Phalerum. Through the stratagem of the Athenian Themistocles the Greeks were enclosed in the straits by the enemy, who had wheeled by night across the entrance of the E. channel and detached a squadron to block the W. outlet. The Greeks had thus no resource but to fight, while the Persians could not utilize their superior numbers, and as they advanced into the narrow neck of the east strait were thrown into confusion. The allies, among whom the Athenians and Aeginetans were conspicuous, seized this opportunity to make a vigorous attack which probably broke the enemy's line. After waging a losing fight for several hours the Persians retreated with the loss of 200 sail and of an entire corps landed on the islet of Psyttaleia in the channel; the Greeks lost only 40 ships out of more than 300. During the Peloponnesian War Salamis served as a repository for the country stock of Attica. About 350 Salamis obtained the right of issuing copper coins. In 318 Cassander placed in it a Macedonian garrison which was finally withdrawn through the advocacy of the Achaean statesman Aratus (232). The Athenians thereupon supplanted the inhabitants by a cleruchy of their own citizens. By the 2nd century A.D. the settlement had fallen into decay. In modern times Salamis, which is chiefly peopled by Albanians, has regained importance through the transference of the naval arsenal to Ambelaki near the site of the ancient capital. Excavations in this region have revealed large numbers of late Mycenaean tombs.

Authorities.—Strabo pp. 383, 393-394; Pausanias i. 35-36; Plutarch, Solon, 8-10; Aeschylus, Persae, 337-471 ; Herodotus viii. 40-95; Diodorus xi. 15-19; Plutarch, Themistocles, 11-15; W. Goodwin, Papers of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, I. p. 237 ff. (Boston, 1885); G. B. Grundy, Great Persian War (London, 1901), ch. ix.; B. V. Head, Historia numorum (Oxford, 1887), pp. 328-329; A. Wilhelm in Athenische Mitteilungen (1898), pp. 466-486; W. Judeich, ibid. (1899), pp. 321-338; C. Horner. Quaestiones Salaminiae (Basle, 1901); H. Raase, Die Schlacht bei Salamis (Rostock, 1904); R. W. Macan, Appendix to Herodotus vii.-ix. (London, 1908); J. Beloch in Klio (1908).  (M. O. B. C.)