Dionysius of Phocaea

Dionysius the Phocaean or Dionysius of Phocaea (fl. 494 BC) was a Phocaean admiral of Ancient Greece during the Persian Wars of 5th century BC, and was the commander of the Ionian fleet at the Battle of Lade in 494 BC. Although commanding a formidable force, according to the Greek historian Herodotus, his men were worked so hard in preparing for battle that on the eve of the battle they refused to engage the Persian fleet.

Although little is known of his life, Dionysius was in command of the Ionian contingent gathered from the many islands throughout the Ionia which joined the main Greek naval force off of Miletus' port of Lade. Upon his arrival in the naval camp of Lade, he observed that his command displayed low morale and suffered from a lack of discipline. Believing his men were unprepared for the impending battle, he called a general assembly among the camp, he said in a speech to his men "Now for our affair's are on the razor's edge, men of Ionia, wither we are to be free or slaves ... so if you will bear hardships now, you will suffer temporarily but be able to overcome your enemies."

He soon began ordering his men to perform several hours of martial exercises a day as well as drawing out the fleet in the order of battle and instructed the rowers and marines in the naval tactics. After a week, dissension within the ranks among Samians and other officers began to appear (particularly as Dionysius, who arrived with only three ships, exerted such influence over the rest of the fleet).

Even as the battle began, many of Ionian ships under Dionysius were still refusing to engage the Persians and eventually almost 120 of the 350 Greek warships abandoned the battle leaving the remaining Greek ships to be annihilated and left the city of Miletus to the Persians.

Dionysius himself however, continued fighting the Persians sinking three warships before being forced to retreat during the final hours of the battle.

Returning to Phocaea, Dionysius attacked several trading vessels and seized their cargo before arriving in Sicily. During his later years, he would become involved in piracy against the Carthaginian and Tyrsenian merchants (however, in keeping with the friendship between Phocaea and Greece, he left traveling Grecian merchants alone).

Further reading

  • Bulwer, Edward Lytton. Athens, Its Rise and Fall: With Views of the Literature, Philosophy, and Social Life of the Athenian People. New York: Harper & brothers Publishers, 1852.
  • Rawlinson, George; Benjamin Jowett, Henry Graham Dakyns and Edward James Chinnock. Greek Historians: The Complete and Unabridged Historical Works of Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon and Arrian. New York: Random House Incorporated, 1942.
  • Shaw, Philip. The Sublime. New York: Routledge, 2006. ISBN 0-415-26847-8
  • Thirlwall, Connop. A History of Greece. London: Longman, Brown, Green & Longmans, 1846.
  • Waltari, Mika; The Etruscan (Turms kuolematon, 1955).

External links

  • Herodotus - The History of Herodotus
  • Herodotus - Erato
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