Greek Public Monuments of the Persian Wars

IV. Panhellenic Monuments of Salamis

28. Thank offering consisting of three Phoenician triremes, one dedicated at the Isthmus, one at Sunium, and one for Ajax at Salamis.

Herodotus 8.121.1; cf. 8.109.3.

Macan 1907,1: 548; Rouse 1907: 105; How and Wells 1912,2: 275; Fimmen 1916: 2263; Meyer 1931: 916.

Herodotus 8.121.1:

“First they set aside for the gods other first fruits and especially three Phoenician triremes, dedicating one at the Isthmus, which is still there in my time, one at Sunium, and one for Ajax on Salamis.

Herodotus 8.109.3:

“We did not accomplish these things, but the gods and heroes did, who begrudged that one man should be king of Asia and Europe, who was unrighteous and dreadful. He had done things to shrines and private things alike, burning them and throwing down the images of the gods. He had whipped the sea and bound it with fetters.”

Triremes are apropriate as votive offerings for a naval victory (Rouse 1902: 103), although frequently only the beaks of ships are dedicated. The dedications at the Isthmus and at Sunium were doubtless made to Poseidon, who was recognized as the protecting divinity at the battle of Salamis. The sanctuary of Poseidon at the Isthmus was included in the Panhellenis dedication after Plataea (nos. 25-27). The temple of Poseidon at Sunium (no. 3) was destroyed by the Persians and then rebuilt, probably about 440, on the exising foundations (Dinsmoor 1950: 181-183). Ajax was honored in this dedication as the local hero of the place where the battle was fought. On heroes as protecting deities in war, see Nilsson1950-1955: 715-717.

29. Statue of Apollo holding in his hand the beak of a ship, made from the spoils and dedicated at Delphi.

Herodotus 8.121.2; Pausanias 10.14.5.

Hitzig and Blümner 1896,3: 715; Macan 1907,1: 548-549; Rouse 1907: 131; How and Wells 1912,2: 275; Frazer 1913,5: 309; Pomtow 1924: 1412-1413.

Herodotus 8.121.2:

“After this (cf. no. 28) they divided the booty and sent first fruits to Delphi, from which a statue was made of a man holding in his hand the ornament of a ship, being twelve cubits in size.”

Pausanias 10.14.5:

“The Greeks who fought against the King . . . dedicated . . . at Delphi an Apollo from the deed in the ships at Artemisium and Salamis (cf. no. 26).

Herodotus says that the votive offering to Apollo for Salamis, made from the booty of the battle, was the statue of a man twelve cubits tall holding in his hand the beak of a ship. Pausanias, on the other hand, says that a statue of Apollo was dedicated as a thank offering for both Artemisium and Salamis.

Commentators are generlly agreed that both Herodotus and Pausanias are referring to the same statue (Hitzig and Blümnr 1896,3: 715; Frazer 1913,5: 309; Pomtow 1924: 1412). Pausanias does not mention that the statue held a ship’s beak in its hand but he may have observed this beak and consequently attributed the statue to the two naval battles of the Persian Wars rather than to Salamis alone. As for Herodotus’ failure to call the statue an Apollo, he could easily have confused it with a late kouros type statue.

The statue itself is not extant but Keramopoullos has suggested that it stood in front of the Great Altar (no. 67) slightly to the north of, and on the same side of the Sacred Way as, the tripod and serpent column (Eph. Arch. [1907]: 103; Pomtow 1924: 1413). In this location are the remains of the substructure of a long base which would be suitable for such a colossal statue.