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The Age of TitansThe Rise and Fall of the Great Hellenistic Navies$
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William Murray

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195388640

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195388640.001.0001

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Frontal Ramming and the Development of “Fours” and “Fives”

Frontal Ramming and the Development of “Fours” and “Fives”

(p.13) 1 Frontal Ramming and the Development of “Fours” and “Fives”
The Age of Titans

William M. Murray

Oxford University Press

The adoption of frontal ramming attacks can be traced to the Peloponnesian War when Corinth and Syracuse adopted these tactics to defeat Athenian “threes” in constricted waterways and inside harbors. The surprising effectiveness of these tactics depended on ships with reinforced bows. These considerations led the Syracusans and Carthaginians to build the first ships larger than “threes,” namely, “fours” and “fives,” during the end of the 5th / beginning of the 4th century when Carthage attempted to increase her influence in Sicily through aggressive siege warfare. Larger ships with greater carrying capacities were also superior in supporting siege operations, particularly at harbors where the defenses were often weaker than at other areas of the city.

Keywords:   “fours”, “fives”, “threes”, frontal, ram, antiproiros, Syracuse, Carthage

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