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date: 23 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter presents a description of ancient naval warfare. Ship-to-ship combat was neither the primary purpose of ancient war fleets, nor the typical manifestation of ancient naval warfare. The Greeks had built ships that were planned for raiding or warfare by the end of the eighth century BC. Naval powers developed sophisticated ship-to-ship combat tactics that made the most of their vessels, their sailing skills, and their fighting men. The men who rowed ancient warships were expected to participate in fighting on land as light-armed troops, engaging in raids and skirmishes, building siege works, and supporting the legions of heavy infantry. Tacitus, who provides an insight into the value of a fleet as a strike force, makes the threat posed to barbarian liberty by the extent of Roman naval power a feature of his stirring speech on Roman imperialism.

Keywords: ancient naval warfare, combat, ancient war fleets, naval powers, Tacitus, Roman naval power, Roman imperialism

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