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Culture Clash – Persians vs Greeks The Persian Empire at the time of the battle of Salamis was huge with 1 million square miles of territory; with nearly 70 million inhabitants there was a point which they were the largest single hegemony in the history of the civilized world. In contrast, Greek- speakers on the mainland numbered less than 2 million and occupied about 50,000 square miles. Persia was also a relatively young sovereignty, less than a hundred years old. The legendary king Cyrus had transformed the small and isolated Persian monarchy into a world government. He finally presided over the conquered peoples of the most of Asia ranging from the Aegean Sea to the Indus River, and covering most of the territory between the Persian Gulf and Red Sea in the south and the Caspian and Aral Seas to the north. After the subsequent loss of the Ionian Greek states on the shores of the Aegean, the mainland Greeks grew familiar with this huge and sophisticated empire now expanding near its eastern borders. The Persians did not know how to swim so therefore they would drown. About 40,000 Xerxes died because they didn’t know how to swim. Their last sight on earth was a Greek sunset over the mountains of Salamis -or their grim king perched far away on Mount Aigaleos watching them sink beneath the waves. Unlike battle on terrafirma, where lethality is so often predicated on the technology of death, and not the landscape of battle itself, war at sea is a primordial killer of men in which the ocean itself can wipe thousands without the aid of either man or his weapons. At Salamis most died from water in their lungs, not steel in their bodies. Usually 170 sailors powered the vessel. An additional crew of thirty or so marines, archers, and helmsmen crowded above on the decks. Unlike the oarsmen in later European galleys, rowers sat in groups of three, one on top of another,

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