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Triere (Greek τριήρης, "three-oared"; Latin triremis): ancient warship, used by the Phoenicians and Greeks.

Fourth-century coin of Sidon

The triere (commonly also trireme, from its Latin name) was a warship, almost forty meters long, about four meters wide, capable of sustained speeds of some six knots. On both sides, professional rowers were seated on three rows - hence the name. All in all, there were 170 rowers. The fighting crew typically consisted of thirty marines and four archers, ten sailors who handled the sails and mast, a captain (trierarch), and a flute-player who indicated the rhythm. Since every man received one drachm per day, the cost of a triere was just over one talent per month, making it quite expensive. During a naval battle, the ships would try to ram other galleys, but just as often, the marines boarded their enemy's ship.

Ancient model of a Ptolemaic triere

The triere may have been developed in the Phoenician city of Sidon or the Greek city of Corinth.note However this may, be the ships were in use in c.525 BCE, when Polycrates of Samos could send several trieres to Egypt, to support Cambyses' invasion of the country of the Nile.note Later, the Athenians had a very large fleet of trieres.

At the beginning of the fourth century BCE, larger ships were developed, with two men on the upper and middle oar. These ships were called pentere (Latin quinqueres or quinqueremis); the quinquerem would be the regular warship in the naval wars between Carthage and the Roman republic although trieres remained in use.

This page was created in 2018; last modified on 16 April 2020.

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