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The Roman Fleet of the Republic
#1
I’ve just finished an intensive and rewarding investigation into the Roman fleet for the republic. The main barrier I had over the years is how many horse transports in a fleet and how many horses they can carry.
 
The Roman fleet for the invasion of Africa in 256 BC is mainly made up of warships (330). However, Scipio’s fleet in 204 BC is mainly made up of transports (about 400). I interpreted this to have occurred due to the Romans no longer believing they would be facing a large Carthaginian fleet as they did in 256 BC near Ecnomus. As the proof is in the pudding, I applied the army numbers for Scipio’s army of Africa to the fleet numbers and it was a perfect match up. Now armed with how many men a transport could carry and also how many horses a transport could hold, to see how this would hold up, I compiled all the references to fleet numbers for the First Punic war, plus ships lost and captured, both Carthaginian and Roman, and went to work, by first and most importantly, removing all of Polybius references and kept them to one side.
 
The numbers given in the primary sources for fleet sizes are quite accurate and there are a few of them, that I did a year by year breakdown of the fleet actions. Like their land organisation, the fleet is allocated a specific number of cavalry to each legion when on land, but in the fleet, the cavalry are have a separate organisation because the number of ships for the cavalry cannot be evenly divided by the number of legions technically represented by a fleet. However, by the Second Punic War this is no longer the case.
 
I was a little more than surprised to have found I have undertaken an investigation into a lot of data that has been ignored by modern historians. Tarn found it not worthwhile to acknowledge Florus’ reference to a fleet of 160 ships as Polybius has for the same year 120 ships. As I have since found out, the discrepancy outlines Roman protocol.
 
Looking at the fleet sizes and the large discrepancies is like following a harbour master’s arrivals and departure log. Some ancient historians have given the number of the fleet when all are in harbour, while other when half or a quarter of the fleet had departed, which explains the discrepancy. The difference between Florus’ 160 ships and Polybius’ 120 ships is 40 ships are at sea patrolling or acting as outposts so as to warn of an attack from an enemy fleet. This is why in one battle, the fleet assembled from various places. Some fleet sizes include the cavalry; others don’t. With this established, I reintroduced Polybius’ numbers and he is telling the same story, except in one area. Polybius’ numbers for lost and captured ships both Carthaginian and Roman tells a different story. For example at Hermaeum, Orosius and Eutropius have 104 Carthaginian ships SUNK, yet Polybius has 114 Carthaginian ships CAPTURED.
 
Surprisingly, Polybius mentions no losses for the Roman fleet, but Orosius mentions 9 Roman ships lost. Now if the 9 ships are rounded to 10 ships and added to Orosius and Eutropius figure of 104 Carthaginian ships captured, you arrive at Polybius’ figure of 114 Carthaginian ships captured.
 
In the same year, Polybius reports that the Roman fleet lost 364 ships in a storm and 80 were saved. Eutropius has 464 lost and 80 saved. When Polybius’ 114 ships are subtracted from both figures, Polybius equates to 250 ships, and Eutropius 350 ships, which is Polybius starting number for the fleet in 254 BC. Eutropius and Orosius 104 Carthaginian ships sunk are made up of the 80 ships saved from the storm and the 24 Carthaginian ships sunk at Hermaeum (as per Diodorus). Same with the Aegates Island of 242 BC, Roman figures relating to losses of men have been incorporated with the Carthaginian manpower losses.
 
The fleet organisation has helped determine how a fleet could be deployed and this has shown how the fleet could form the formation described at Ecnomus, which I was surprised at how simple it was to execute. This is due to the fleet, like the legion having both a horizontal and vertical organisation, which is what Polybius is trying to describe when he terms them a legion or squadron. It is simply a matter of some parts moving slowly and other parts moving a little faster and that is all there is to it. So I am going ahead with including the battle of Ecnomus for the book. I just can’t resist it.
 
 
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#2
The above information is very interesting. Navigare necesse est as the Romans said. I know there is a book on  Roman use of inland waterways in Great Britain, but if you are writing a book on the Roman fleet it would be very useful. The fleet simply isn't mentioned much as far as I know. But moving  troops - certainly also across to Britain - it must have been the best option at times.
It's generally forgotten that the Armada was supposed to pick up the Duke of Alva's troops in Zealand, the southern Netherlands.  They failed to do so and so they never had enough troops to invade in any case.  I do wonder how far the Roman ships could make it up the Severn - the tides there are fairly high but not as hight as the 40 ft tide of the nearby Usk.
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#3
Still hammering away at the naval battles of the First Punic War. I don’t expect anyone to reply as not many are interested in naval matters on this forum, and many think I am a crackpot to boot, and yes I have been aware of the email campaign to ignore me. But putting all that aside, the figures given of those sunk and captured for the battle of the Aegates Islands is another right mess up with the Roman ships mixed in with the Carthaginian numbers.
 
Diodorus, no Carthaginians sunk, 117 Carthaginian captured, 30 Romans lost, 50 damaged.
Eutropius 125 Carthaginians sunk, 73 captured. 12 Romans lost.
Orosius 125 Carthaginians sunk, 63 captured. 12 Romans lost.
Polybius 50 Carthaginians sunk, 70 captured. No Roman losses.
 
At Hermaeum in 254 BC, it works out to be 9 Roman sunk and 24 Carthaginian ships captured. It is not a big naval battle as the number of sunk and captured in the primary source make it out to be as both forces, Roman and Carthaginian have been intermixed. The Roman fleet was sending a small force to Aspis, to join up with the survivors and keep Aspis in Roman hands as their foothold in Africa. I think Orosius could be correct in that a plague forced the Romans to depart. The 9 Roman sunk and 24 Carthaginian captured at Hermaeum better reflects both countries naval doctrines, that is for the Carthaginians to manoeuvre, ram and sink, the Romans to get close and board. When there is more Carthaginians sunk as given by Eutropius and Orosius for the Aegates Islands, this indicates the numbers are faulty.
 
Example, Orosius 125 Carthaginians sunk minus 63 captured, minus 12 Romans lost = 50 ships. Polybius has 50 Carthaginian ships captured and Diodorus has 50 Roman ships disabled. The difference between Eutropius 73 captured, Polybius 70 captured and Eutropius 63 captured, are the result of two numbers being added, with one number being rounded up by one historian, and one historian rounding down. These rounded numbers have then both been added to the correct number.
 
It is rounding that is the biggest challenge. For Mylae, Polybius has 50 Carthaginian ships lost, whereas the fragments of a victory column in the Capitoline Museum has 31 Carthaginian ships captured and 13 sunk, amounting to 44 ships, which Polybius rounded to 50.
 
Like the battle of Hermaeum, Diodorus, Eutropius, Orosius and Polybius provide figures for the number of killed and taken prisoner for the Aegates Island, which is invaluable. Eutropius has 32,000 men and 13,000 killed. Orosius has 32,000 men captured and 14,000 men killed. The difference of 1,000 men is due to rounding the number of ships (odd numbered) for the 13,000 men to an even number. Polybius has about 10,000 prisoners. For the correct total, you need to add Eutropius and Polybius, which includes both Carthaginian and Roman.
Once the rounding has been sorted out, I now have the number of Carthaginian soldiers allocated to a warships (quinquereme) They are outnumbered 2 to 1, and this would explain why the Romans are able to capture a ship and all its crew as the primary sources state. I guess the Carthaginians felt if they put more troops onboard, they would lose speed and manoeuvrability.
 
Again, for the Aegates Island, Polybius does not provide any losses for the Romans fleet. The figure of 30 Roman ships lost and 50 damaged, is also wrong. The 50 damaged are Carthaginian, as per Polybius. The 30 Roman ships lost (as per Diodorus) represents 12 lost and 18 damaged. So Eutropius and Orosius figure of 12 Roman lost is correct. Orosius 125 Carthaginians sunk minus 63 captured, minus 12 Romans lost = 50 ships.
 
So in a nutshell, the losses at many of these battles is not that great, and this would explain why the Carthaginians could respond to any new naval activity by the Romans. Also as Manlius took half the fleet back home with him, leaving Regulus in Africa, it is this fleet that is coming to the rescue of the survivors at Aspis.
 
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#4
Didn't the Romans build their new ships on the lines of those captured from the Cathaginians? I recall a few improvements  which made boarding other ships easier. So in the next Punic war  the lessons learnt were reflected in the results?
Alice
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#5
Ancient Naval warfare is very interesting to me, although a little bit hard to grasp sometimes. If only we had some books of Philinus or Sosylus.

During the mercenary war Polybius states that the Carthaginians: had no quantity of arms, no naval force, no supply of ships. It seems that the common reception of this particular quote is that Polybius is grossly exaggerating , but what is the truth of this statement.  Does this explain the lack of Carthaginian naval strategies in the second Punic war? Can you tell how many ships the Carthaginians and Romans had throughout the 3 Punic wars by a year by year(or decade) basis?

Have you gained new enlightenment about how the Carthaginians and Romans performed the Diekplous and Periplous tactics?
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#6
Alice wrote:
Didn't the Romans build their new ships on the lines of those captured from the Cathaginians? I recall a few improvements  which made boarding other ships easier. So in the next Punic war  the lessons learnt were reflected in the results?

Yes it was copied from a Carthaginian quinquereme. Polybius calls it the Rhodian model after Hannibal Rhodian, the captain of the captured quinquereme. This means the number of rowers in a Carthaginian quinquereme would be the same as a Roman quinquereme, given by Polybius as 300 rowers.

Julian wrote:
During the mercenary war Polybius states that the Carthaginians: had no quantity of arms, no naval force, no supply of ships. It seems that the common reception of this particular quote is that Polybius is grossly exaggerating, but what is the truth of this statement.

I would back Polybius. After the First Punic war the Carthaginians were restricted by the treaty as to the number of ships they could have.

Julian wrote:
Does this explain the lack of Carthaginian naval strategies in the second Punic war?

A treaty restriction their navy would explain it. Plus they no longer had Sicily or Sardinia as naval bases. And in the first year of the Second Punic war, the Romans seized Malta.

Julian wrote:
Can you tell how many ships the Carthaginians and Romans had throughout the 3 Punic wars by a year by year (or decade) basis?

The First Punic war is the most fertile for information. My focus has been to apply my research into legion sizes and organisation and see how well this is supported by Roman fleet numbers and land armies sizes when information is provided.

Julian wrote:
Have you gained new enlightenment about how the Carthaginians and Romans performed the Diekplous and Periplous tactics?

I have some major insights into other aspects of Roman naval warfare. The Diekplous and Periplous tactics are not yet on my radar. I am focusing on Econmus at the moment and have replicated the fleet on a one to one scale on the garage floor (large double garage here). To create the wedge at Ecnomus means finding out how the fleet was deployed before the wedge. Polybius has the fleet divided into four legions or squadrons, which is correct, but it only applies to the fleet deployment before the wedge. The wedge requires 8 parts. In the standard deployment, I am convinces a naval battle resembles a cavalry battle, that is they fight by squadron relays, and there are battle accounts that are describing this. Oh how much primary source material has been glossed over! There are numerous references to the Romans having 10 ships to a squadron and this again is correct. And the only way I can get things to work at Ecnomus is for a squadron to be deployed 5 ships wide by 2 ships deep, with the squadron commander in the first line flanked on either side by 2 ships. He leads from the centre. In cavalry terms, this would have the optio directly behind the squadron commander.

I must be doing something right because a lot of naval battles are making sense. It’s like restoring the sight to the five blind men trying to describe an elephant.
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#7
Quote:Yes it was copied from a Carthaginian quinquereme. Polybius calls it the Rhodian model after Hannibal Rhodian, the captain of the captured quinquereme. This means the number of rowers in a Carthaginian quinquereme would be the same as a Roman quinquereme, given by Polybius as 300 rowers.

Actually, that captured ship was supposed to be Quadrireme, as it was the ship that Hannibal the Rhodian used. That particular Quadrireme was specially built, was lighter than others, made for speed, which was why it was able to escape any Roman pursuers.

Romans had Quinqueremes before that (siege of Lilybaeum was after battle of Ecnomus), Quinquereme was Syracusean development, later copied by Carthaginians and others. Anyway, what is most interesting about it, is the fact that Quinquereme typically needed same amount of skilled oarsmen as Trireme (one per oar), while additional rowers could be unskilled (thus payed less/easier to get)

Yet, its even possible that Quinqueremes could be even enlarged Biremes, with 3/2 rowers for each bank, therefore would require even less skilled rowers - and while pay of those men might be not the main intent, actual ship controlability would definitely an issue, as it practically allowed to control much larger ship with similar or less(bireme setup) skilled rowers as much smaller Trireme.


Yet, question is, how many of Roman and Carthaginian ships were actually Quinqueremes. Ancient historians mention hundreds, yet most common bronze ram found from that time period is much smaller than what would be used on Quinquereme...
Jaroslav Jakubov
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#8
Some minor points:

JaM wrote:
"Actually, that captured ship was supposed to be Quadrireme, as it was the ship that Hannibal the Rhodian used. That particular Quadrireme was specially built, was lighter than others, made for speed, which was why it was able to escape any Roman pursuers."


That is incorrect regarding Hannibal the Rhodian's vessel. The quadrireme was another different blockade runner that ran aground on an artificial shoal the Romans built, whilst it sneaking out at night. This well-built and fast quadrireme was used to capture Hannibal the Rhodian's ship and end his daring blockade running[Polybius I.47.7-10] ( we are not told what type his vessel was, but the Romans built 200 quinqueremes modelled on Hannibal's vessel, so it was probably a quinquereme).[Polybius I.59.8-10] These types of exceptionally fast vessels were subsequently copied by the Romans, but Steven is also correct that the Romans modelled their fleets of quinqueremes on Carthaginian vessels ( building 100 quinqueremes and 20 triremes). Whilst convoying their army to Sicily across the straits of Messina in borrowed triremes and 50 oared vessels at the beginning of the war, they were attacked by Punic ships, and a quinquereme ran aground and was captured and became the pattern vessel for the subsequent building. [Polybius I.2.15] circa 261-260 BC.

"Yet, question is, how many of Roman and Carthaginian ships were actually Quinqueremes. Ancient historians mention hundreds, yet most common bronze ram found from that time period is much smaller than what would be used on Quinquereme..."

Certainly our sources often imply that a fleet was entirely made up of quinqueremes, when it is clear that such fleets included smaller vessels - quadriremes, triremes and fifty-oared ships. You are presumably referring to the Egadi rams,  11 or so having been recovered by a team led by Jeffrey Royal off Egadi over several years, where the final naval battle of the Aegetes islands took place, which ended the First Punic war ( It lasted 20 years - the longest single war in Roman history ). These are certainly too small to be from  quinqueremes. The rams concerned are mostly Roman, but some Carthaginian, though it must be remembered that the Carthaginians used vessels captured in earlier battles. The likeliest explanation for this is that after the battle, as was customary, the large captured ships were kept, whist the smaller ones, possibly including one's own ( for which there would be a shortage of crews) were burnt. This would explain both the small rams and the tight area they were found in , which was much smaller than the battle area.

Steven James wrote:

"But putting all that aside, the figures given of those sunk and captured for the battle of the Aegates Islands is another right mess up with the Roman ships mixed in with the Carthaginian numbers.
 
Diodorus, no Carthaginians sunk, 117 Carthaginian captured, 30 Romans lost, 50 damaged.
Eutropius 125 Carthaginians sunk, 73 captured. 12 Romans lost.
Orosius 125 Carthaginians sunk, 63 captured. 12 Romans lost.
Polybius 50 Carthaginians sunk, 70 captured. No Roman losses.



Eutropius was a historian who wrote at the end of the 4C AD, and Orosius  was a friend of St Augustine who wrote in the 5 C AD. Both were clearly drawing on the same earlier source, possibly Orosius even copying Eutropius. Their accounts are also demonstrably inaccurate in places.



Diodorus and Polybius' figures are broadly similar, even if Polybius, drawing on earlier Roman sources, does not mention Roman losses, and I would suggest are to be preferred, for they agree with earlier figures for the Punic fleet ( 200-250 vessels in total), and we are told that some at least of the Punic vessels escaped. As you explain, it is possible to reconcile all these figures, but that isn't necessarily correct....



Steven wrote:

"Once the rounding has been sorted out, I now have the number of Carthaginian soldiers allocated to a warships (quinquereme) They are outnumbered 2 to 1, and this would explain why the Romans are able to capture a ship and all its crew as the primary sources state. I guess the Carthaginians felt if they put more troops onboard, they would lose speed and manoeuvrability."



You need to be wary about using these figures, for the battle of the Aegetes islands was an exceptional one. A Roman quinquereme's full complement was 300 rowers and 120 marines, and presumably so was a Punic vessel's. The latter, fully equipped would weigh around 90-100 kg, so a full complement meant a weight of roughly 12 metric tonnes worth of marines on the top of the ship, making it top heavy and less manoeuvrable, as well as slower. But that is not the explanation in this instance.

The ships were carrying supplies for Hamilcar's forces, which would have taken up most of the deck room. In addition the Punic ships were hampered by masts and sails, normally left ashore for battle, so they were overall heavily laden ( The Punic fleet lowered their masts for action). The plan was to unload the supplies, take aboard some of Hamilcar's best troops as marines, and then fight the Romans [Polybius I.60.6-9 et seq] If Polybius is correct about  the number of prisoners (10,000 ), then the Punic ships were considerably undermanned, even allowing an unknown number of killed and wounded on the captured vessels (some 70 odd, implying an average of just 140 or so prisoners per ship)
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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#9
Paul wrote:
Both were clearly drawing on the same earlier source, possibly Orosius even copying Eutropius. Their accounts are also demonstrably inaccurate in places.
 
Yes that is true but on the flip side, I have found them also have been correct in places. I do not believe in throwing out the baby with the bathwater and believe all ancient historians deserve a fair trial. I do not find it productive to take the premise that one ancient historian is more reliable than other. Academics have been doing this for too long and it has not proven to be productive.
 
Paul wrote:
Diodorus and Polybius' figures are broadly similar, even if Polybius, drawing on earlier Roman sources, does not mention Roman losses, and I would suggest are to be preferred, for they agree with earlier figures for the Punic fleet ( 200-250 vessels in total), and we are told that some at least of the Punic vessels escaped. As you explain, it is possible to reconcile all these figures, but that isn't necessarily correct...
 
I am a little shocked that some of the available data concerning many of the naval actions of the First Punic War have been ignored by academics such as Tarn, Tippet, Lazenby, Thiel, De Sanctis, Caven, etc. Maybe someone can tell me why this is so. Also I am walking on eggs here as some of the information I have come across in the primary sources is just too easy to work out, so I am cautious not to let the cat out of the bag.
 
Paul wrote:
You need to be wary about using these figures, for the battle of the Aegetes islands was an exceptional one.
 
Oh trust me Paul, I am wary about using any numbers in the primary sources, you walk carefully, and you don’t jump to conclusions at the first match up. I have no pet theory to support, I am just interested in knowing how it was. And if it turns out to go nowhere, I can happily accept that. However, when a good number of data references all corroborate each other, I cannot ignore consistency, and I know I have an opening. The numbers for the Roman fleets are very good, which surprised me no end, and showed what doctrines the Roman are following, and being Roman, they follow it to the letter. This doctrine is supported by textual information.
 
The numbers of captured and sunk is a different matter. When I see large discrepancies between the numbers provided by the ancient authors, my first question is what has happened here for this to happen. There has to be a reason and there is a reason, and the maths tells the reason. It’s just a matter asking the right questions.
 
Paul wrote:
If Polybius is correct about the number of prisoners (10,000), then the Punic ships were considerably undermanned, even allowing an unknown number of killed and wounded on the captured vessels (some 70 odd, implying an average of just 140 or so prisoners per ship)
 
Diodorus (24 11 1) adds that according to Philinus the historian, the number of Carthaginians taken prisoner numbered 6,000 men, but others sources claim 4,040 men. Both numbers add up to 10,040 men, which accords with Polybius. However, Philinus has presented varying sources claiming different numbers of captured. This leaves the uncertainty that Polybius could have combined the various sources. Not saying he did, but the possibility needs to be addressed. And as far as I am aware, I am the only one doing this. Then we have the number of 4,040 men taken prisoner. The Romans lost 12 ships, and taking they are Roman quinqueremes with 420 men (300 rowers and 120 soldiers), this gives a total of 5,040 men lost, which is 1,000 men short of Philinus’ figure of 4,040 men. The next question to be asked is why does Eutropius mention 32,000 men captured and 13,000 men killed, and Orosius has 32,000 captured and 14,000 killed? Both have the same number of men captured, but in relation to those killed there is a discrepancy of 1,000 men. Could they be the missing 1,000 Romans (5,040 versus 4,040 men)?
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#10
Quote:That is incorrect regarding Hannibal the Rhodian's vessel. The quadrireme was another different blockade runner that ran aground on an artificial shoal the Romans built, whilst it sneaking out at night. This well-built and fast quadrireme was used to capture Hannibal the Rhodian's ship and end his daring blockade running[Polybius I.47.7-10] ( we are not told what type his vessel was, but the Romans built 200 quinqueremes modelled on Hannibal's vessel, so it was probably a quinquereme).[Polybius I.59.8-10] These types of exceptionally fast vessels were subsequently copied by the Romans, but Steven is also correct that the Romans modelled their fleets of quinqueremes on Carthaginian vessels ( building 100 quinqueremes and 20 triremes). Whilst convoying their army to Sicily across the straits of Messina in borrowed triremes and 50 oared vessels at the beginning of the war, they were attacked by Punic ships, and a quinquereme ran aground and was captured and became the pattern vessel for the subsequent building. [Polybius I.2.15] circa 261-260 BC.

you might be right as technically, quadrireme was never mentioned to be a fast ship - it had similar number of rowers as Trireme, but was almost twice as heavy.. Remember reading somewhere its max speed during short dash was around 7-8knots, while Quinquereme would do 8.5-9knots at the same conditions.

Of course another question is how did design of Quinquereme changed over years, some sources say it might be set up as a Bireme with 3+2 rowers, others say as Trireme with 2+2+1.  My what-if here is, that initial Quinquereme could be 2+2+1 setup, but due to lack of skilled rowers Romans were unable to use it to full potential, later they changed to bireme setup which required less experienced rowers and was most likely also easier to handle.. but of course, thats just mine speculation.
Jaroslav Jakubov
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#11
JaM wrote:
"you might be right as technically, quadrireme was never mentioned to be a fast ship - it had similar number of rowers as Trireme, but was almost twice as heavy.. Remember reading somewhere its max speed during short dash was around 7-8knots, while Quinquereme would do 8.5-9knots at the same conditions."

I very much doubt if a quadrireme was slower than a quinquereme. At this time 3's were the fastest, 4's almost as fast but 5's were noticeably heavier and slower. Later, quinqueremes/5's were built lighter, and were only slightly slower than quadriremes ( on paper - in practise a number of factors affected the speed of any vessel.) Quadriremes were noted for having "an incredible turn of speed" under sail - not surprising since they were beamier, hence more stable, than triremes.



"here we enter unknown, or at least uncertain, territory.  From various hints (including one that a quadrireme crew had less oarsmen than a trireme crew) we might assume 160 oars (80 per side, in decks of 20/20/20/20), making a quadrireme shorter and handier (and lighter) than a trireme.  Fully decked, possessed a ram.  There may have been quadriremes and quadriremes, so a 200-oar configuration (4x25 per side) is possible for some.  Favoured warship of Rhodian navies.
Incidentally in XXVIII.30.5 Livy notes that a quinquereme is slower than a trireme, or at least the one used by Adherbal was."


The oar system of a quadrireme is not entirely certain but an Athenian inscription (325/324 BC) stating the value of a 'four's oars, seems to suggest 70 oars/35 per side i.e 140 oarsmen (c.f.a trireme's 170 oarsmen).



"Of course another question is how did design of Quinquereme changed over years, some sources say it might be set up as a Bireme with 3+2 rowers, others say as Trireme with 2+2+1.  My what-if here is, that initial Quinquereme could be 2+2+1 setup, but due to lack of skilled rowers Romans were unable to use it to full potential, later they changed to bireme setup which required less experienced rowers and was most likely also easier to handle.. but of course, thats just mine speculation."


There is literary and iconographic evidence that a quadrireme was always rowed at two levels (2+2 per oar), and a quinquereme right into Imperial times always at three levels (2+2+1 ). There's no evidence that these vessels were rowed in any other fashion.
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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#12
Actually, Quadrireme was around 70-80 tons, while Quinquereme 100tons, and Trireme 40-45 tons.. so technically, Quadrireme was 2x heavier, with similar (or smaller) number of oarsmen, while Quinquereme was 1.5x heavier than Four, but had more than 2x more oarsmen. Of course, shape of the hull played important role, yet power of propulsion vs weight is quite telling as well.

I also remember reading about the race between these ships which was won by a Quinquereme, but of course, those ships were stripped down and with only essential crew.
Jaroslav Jakubov
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#13
JaM wrote:
Actually, Quadrireme was around 70-80 tons, while Quinquereme 100tons, and Trireme 40-45 tons.. so technically, Quadrireme was 2x heavier, with similar (or smaller) number of oarsmen, while Quinquereme was 1.5x heavier than Four, but had more than 2x more oarsmen. Of course, shape of the hull played important role, yet power of propulsion vs weight is quite telling as well.

I also remember reading about the race between these ships which was won by a Quinquereme, but of course, those ships were stripped down and with only essential crew”

.
Not sure where you are getting these figures from, and you don't say whether they are metric tons, 'short' American tons or 'long' Imperial tons......FWIW, the reconstructed trireme "Olympias" had a fully loaded displacement/weight of 48 metric tonnes, of which some 16-18 metric tonnes was crew weight, plus the two or so tonnes of fresh drinking water the oarsmen needed to get through, say, a ten hour working day. "Olympias" was, of course, somewhat 'over-engineered' for safety reasons being an experimental reconstruction. The 'real thing' is likely to have been somewhat lighter, so the estimate of 40-45  [presumably] metric tons is in the right ball park. I am doubtful of the other figures since they can only be speculation. I am especially doubtful of the figure you provide in respect of quinqueremes, since a quinquereme ( and a quadrireme) had to be housed in the same ship-sheds as a trireme, and so were not dimensionally that different, other than beam to accommodate extra rowers (trireme: 170 and quinquereme: 270) and give larger deck space for marines. (up to 40 for a decked trireme, and  up to 120 for a quinquereme, the number Polybius gives for the battle of Ecnomus, though a normal marine complement was probably 40). It has been calculated that a quinquereme's top speed was only 1-2 knots less than that that of a trireme's 9-10 knots - but that is still around 20% slower. However, that is 'on paper'. In reality the biggest single factor was NOT weight or number of oarsmen, but crew skill, and a quinquereme with a 'crack' crew of skilled oarsmen would easily be faster than a trireme with a novice crew.
 
The race you refer to is in Virgil's epic poem the 'Aeneid', and it was not won by a quinquereme. Back in 2004, on another forum, you summarised it thus:
 
“In the race, there were four ships –the Lburnian Pristis commanded by Minestheus, Trireme Chimaera under Gyas, Quinquereme Centaurus under Sergestus, and Trireme Scylla under Cloanthus, which was said to be better at oars than Chimaera, but held back by heavy timber it was build from.

The race went according the book. The odds-on favourite, Chimaera led the field from the start, closely followed by the Scylla. Then come neck and neck slowly accelerating Centaurus and Pristis clearly rather underpowered. But Chimaera's captain got into an argument with his helmsman and threw him overboard, causing some delay, while Centaurus ran onto rocks. So the slow but strong trireme Scylla wins in spite of magnificient efforts of the liburnian with a much lighter hull but far fewer oarsmen.”


This was largely taken from “The Age of the Galley” P.73, but in fact Virgil does not tell us what type of ships he has in mind for this mythical, fictional race. All we are told is that ‘Pristis’ is ‘fast’, Chimaera has three banks of oars, Centaurus is ‘big’, Scylla is “better at the oar than Chimaera, but held back by heavy timber”.[so is the same type?] The types of ships are pure guesswork, nor is it known if Virgil actually knew anything about ships. The imaginary race is worthless as evidence.


The relative speeds, on paper, of the three types of vessel were as I said, with trireme the theoretical fastest, followed by quadrireme, then quinquereme....
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
Reply
#14
Bravo Paul, informative as always. Do you miss your rowing days? I've given you a neutral reputation...cause that is the only choice there is. Maybe a moderator could change it to a positive.

I've been doing diagrams of Roman fleet deployments. Latest is Livy's reference to a fleet of 50 ships.  It is deployed 10 ships wide by 5 ships deep. So it is organised into 5 squadrons each of 10 ships, deployed 1 squadron wide (10 ships) by 5 squadrons deep (5 ships). However, that is the fleet's horizontal organisation.

When attacked in the flank, the fleet's vertical organisation takes over, with the 50 ships deployed five squadrons wide by one squadron deep. So a vertical squadron is deployed 2 ships wide by 5 ships deep.

Polybius' figure of 330 Roman ships for Ecnomus is incorrect especially as Polybius claims they picked the best ships and crew before heading to Africa. Polybius is here describing Roman protocol, so there is no way the Romans had 330 ships at Ecnomus. The number of men in the army that landed in Africa reveals the real size of the fleet at Ecnomus.  At Ecnomus, Polybius claims the Carthaginian squadrons that attacked the third and fourth squadrons were the same size. Taking that into account, and the fact there were three Carthaginian divisions, my reconstruction of the battle would indicate the Carthaginian fleet numbered around 180 ships, facing a Roman fleet with a frontage of 30 ships.
Reply
#15
long time ago guys at RTR did some extensive research on this topic, they came with these figures:

Pentecóntera monocrota(galley with just one line of oars) 

Maximum Speed (knots)
6.3 to 7.3
Cruising Speed (knots)
5.0 to 5.8
Cruising Speed (single order, just one line of oars) (knots)
-------
Time to 50% max speed (seconds)
4 to 5
Time to 90% max speed (seconds)
22 to 24

Pentecóntera dicrotic(biremes)


Maximum Speed (knots) 
6.5 to 7.3
Cruising Speed (knots)
5.3 to 6.3
Cruising Speed (single order, just one line of oars) (knots)
4.0 to 4.8
Time to 50% max speed (seconds)
3 to 4
Time to 90% max speed (seconds)
18 to 20

Trireme

Maximum Speed (knots) 
8.8 to 9.5
Cruising Speed (knots)
7.0 to 7.5
Cruising Speed (single order, just one line of oars) (knots)
4.8 to 5.4
Time to 50% max speed (seconds)
5 to 6
Time to 90% max speed (seconds)
23 to 25


Cuatrirreme


Maximum Speed (knots) 
7.2 to 7.8
Cruising Speed (knots)
5.7 to 6.3
Cruising Speed (single order, just one line of oars) (knots)
4.5 to 5.0
Time to 50% max speed (seconds)
7 to 8
Time to 90% max speed (seconds)
41 to 43

Quinquereme

Maximum Speed (knots) 
8.2 to 8.7
Cruising Speed (knots)
6.5 to 7.0
Cruising Speed (single order, just one line of oars) (knots)
4.0 to 5.0
Time to 50% max speed (seconds)
7 to 8
Time to 90% max speed (seconds)
34 to 37

Six

Maximum Speed (knots) 
8.5 to 9.0
Cruising Speed (knots)
6.7 to 7.2
Cruising Speed (single order, just one line of oars) (knots)
4.7 to 5.0
Time to 50% max speed (seconds)
8 to 9
Time to 90% max speed (seconds)
48 to 50

[Image: 19_Estimacion_desplazamient.jpg]

[Image: 20_Estimacion_desplazamient.jpg]


Sources:

BASCH, L. (1969)

Phoenician Oared Ships

Mariner Mirror 55 139-62, 227-45

BREWSTER, Frank (1923)

The Upozomata of Ancient Ships

Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, Vol. 34, 63-77

CASSON, L (1951)

Speed under Sail of Ancient Ships

Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, Vol. 82, 136-148

CASSON, L (1966)

Galley Slaves

Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association. Vol. 97

CASSON, L (1971)

Ships and Seamanship inthe Ancient World

Princeton 1971

COATES, J. (1997)

Some comments on the article on shipworm in (and beaching of) ancient Mediterranean warships in IJNA, 25.2 :104-121

The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology. No 26.1, 82-83

COHEN, L. (1938)

Evidence for the Ram in the Minoan period

American Journal of Archeology, Vol. 42, Nº 4, 48-494

FOURNIE, D. (2000)

Quinquereme. Naval Combat in the Second Punic War

Ci3. No 12.

GARDINER, R. (Editor, 1995)

The Age of Galley

Conway's History of the Ship. 1995

GORDON, J.E. (1987)

Structures or Why Things don't Fall down

Penguin Books

GRUNDY, G.B. (1909)

The Rate of Sailing of War-Ships in the Fifth Century B.C.

The Classical Review, Vol. 23, Nº 4, 107-108

HARRISON, C.M. (2003)

A note on the care and handling of triremes

The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology. No 32.1, 73-79

HOLLADAY, A.J. (1988)

Further Thoughts on Trireme Tactics

Greece & Rome. Vol 35 Nº2 149-151

HUSS, W. (1993)

Los cartagineses

Editorial Gredos

LANDELS, J.G. (1997)

Engineering in the Ancient World.

Constable. London

LAZENBY, J.F. (1987)

The Diekplous

Greece & Rome. Vol 34 Nº2 169-185

LIBOUREL, J.M. (1973)

Galley Slaves in the Second Punic War

Classical Philology, Vol 68, Nº 2, 116-119

MACINTOSH, J.; STEINMAYER, A.G. (2001)

Sewn hulls and self defense

The International Journal of Nautical Archeology. 30.1 122-127

MORRISON, J.S. (1988)

Dilution of Oarcrews with Prisoners of War

The Classical Quaterly, New Series, Vol. 38, Nº 1, 251-253

MORRISON, J.S. (1991)

The Greek Ships at Salamis and the Diekplous

The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 111, 196-200

MORRISON, J.S; COATES, J.F.

Greek and Roman Oared Warships

Oxbow Books 1996

RABAN, Avner (1984)

The Thera Ships: Another Interpretation

American Journal of Archeology. Vol 88, Nº 1, 111-19

ROMERO, M. (1996)

Los Puertos Fenicios y Púnicos

Rutas, navíos y puertos fenicio-púnicos. XI Jornadas de Arqueología Fenicio-Púnica. 1996

SALMON, E.T. (1960)

The Strategy of the Second Punic War

Greece & Rome. Vol 7 Nº2 131-142

STEINMAYER, A.G.; MACINTOSH (1997)

Shipworms and ancient Mediterranean warships – a response.

The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology. No 26.4, 345-346

TARN, W.W. (1907)

The Fleets of the First Punic War

The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol 27, 48-60

TARN, W.W. (1909)

Fleet speed; A Reply to Dr. Grundy

The Classical Review, Vol. 23, Nº 6, 184-186

WALLINGA, H.T. (1995)

The Ancestry of the Triere. 1200-525

Perteneciente a The Age of the Galley.

WHITEHEAD, I. (1987)

The Periplous
Greece & Rome. Vol 34 Nº2 178-185
Jaroslav Jakubov
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