The trireme, Olympias

Olympias is a reconstruction of an ancient Athenian trireme. She was constructed from 1985 to 1987 by a shipbuilder in Piraeus. Finance came from the Hellenic Navy and donors such as Frank Welsh (a Suffolk banker, writer and trireme enthusiast). The bronze bow ram weighed 200 kg.

The important hypozomata (bracing ropes) had to be replaced by a steel rope as neither natural fibre ropes, nor synthetic fibre ropes with about the same elastic modulus as hemp could be obtained. Its tension varied as the hull bent on waves, rather than exerting a substantially constant tension like a natural fibre rope, and caused the alarming possibility of this causing the rope to snap and endanger the crew, so protective measures had to be fitted.

She was subject to sea trials in 1987, 1990, 1992 and 1994, but one of the most informative was an exercise in 1987 when crewed by 170 volunteer oarsmen and oarswomen. Olympias achieved a speed of 9 knots (17 km/h) and was able to execute 180 degree turns within one minute, in an arc no wider than two and a half (2.5) ship-lengths. These results, achieved with an inexperienced crew, suggest that the ancient writers were not exaggerating about the capabilities of such vessels.

Olympias was transported to Britain in 1993, to take part in events celebrating the 2,500 years since the beginning of democracy. In 2004 Olympias was used to transport the Olympic Flame ceremonially from the port of Keratsini to the main port of Piraeus, as the Olympic Torch Relay entered its final stages in the run-up to the 2004 Summer Olympics opening ceremony. She is now an exhibit in a dry dock in Faliron, Athens, Greece.

A trireme of the classical period would have had a crew of 200, including five officers. This would be made up of:
  • trierarchos (τριήραρχος "commander of trireme") — the commanding officer, responsible for supporting the ship
  • kybernetes (κυβερνήτης) — executive officer, responsible for the cruising safety
  • keleustes (κελευστής: κελεύω "command") — responsible for the training and morale of the crew
  • pentecontarchos (πεντηκόνταρχος "commander of fifty") — administration officer
  • prorates (πρῳράτης: πρῷρα "prow") — bow officer, responsible for keeping a sharp lookout
  • 1 auletes (αὐλητής: αὐλός "flute") — a musician supplying the oar timing with his flute
  • 170 oarsmen in three banks
    • 62 thranites (θρᾱνῖται, singular θρᾱνίτης: θρᾶνος "bench") — the upper bank
    • 54 zygites (ζυγῖται, singular ζυγίτης: ζυγόν "yoke", "rowing-bench") — the middle bank
    • 54 thalamites (θαλαμῖται, singular θαλαμίτης: θάλαμος "inner chamber") — lower bank
  • 10 sailors for handling the sails
  • 14 Marines (10 spearsmen, 4 archers)


Anonymous said...

cool website!! lol:)

Anonymous said...

What is the man's name in the interview?

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