A Dier from the 6th century BC. J.C. Note the "dolphin" serving as a rostrum, of doubtful effectiveness, the skins stretched to protect the forecastle from the front projectiles, and the ladder placed at the rear.
The Dier was a revolution in the naval domain. Though originally introduced by the Phoenicians and Assyrians in the eighth century BC, which were undeniably paternal, the galleys of war were systematically moners (or monoremes - a single row of oars). The fleets counted on cisocontères and tricontères, two centuries before the invention of the Pentecontère. Overall, the Greek Dier appeared only a century later. It was probably introduced by a Corinthian shipbuilder, hired by Ameinocles, who observed the effectiveness of the Phoenician models. It is based on two rows of 12 rowers per side, representing a total of 48 rowers, a little less than a pentecontent. The Dieres also had a meager crew composed of the Dierarch (captain), four deck officers, a helmsman, a "drummer" to keep the swim rate, and four sailors maneuvering, among other things, the Sails. In addition, there were four or six hoplites and two archers, depending on tactical choices. The effectiveness of the Dier to the ramming was already more convincing than for the Assyrian and Phoenician models smaller and light.
The Greek Dier indeed is relatively massive, deep and wide. With a generous hold (probably largely filled with salted meat amphorae and stretched skin bags filled with fresh water), an average length of 31 meters, a width of 4.20 meters, a draft at full load Of a meter ten, and a displacement of 75 tons, the Diere was of comparable weight, and slightly superior to the pentecontore. However, the advantage of a staged swimming allowed, unlike the great moners like the pentecontore, to gain space. The length of the first Dies being thus slightly less, their maneuverability was reinforced accordingly. Thereafter, their tonnage and dimensions increased with the increased number of rowers. It is also often forgotten to say the fundamental difference between the Greek Dier and the Roman biremes developed later: Their rowers were free men, citizens paying a right of passage or not, and also, as many potential fighters in case of confrontation. Being rowing on an Athenian galley could also be a very respectable military post, these rowers being specifically trained for combat, with in case of collision the physical limit of exhaustive exhaustion following swift maneuvers in combat. The reconstructions of Dières were rare, one can quote recently that carried out by the Ukrainians with their Ivlia.
At the Combat: The Dières engaged at Salamis (480 BC) possessed possibly formidable weapons, such as the dolphin, widely used by the Romans thereafter, a collision weapon, held by a yard itself secured to the mast, And dropped on the deck of the opposing ship. It was a weight (lead) that had been given the shape of a large point, in order to easily cross the two to three levels of wood (the bridge, the bridge and the hold in the case of the Dières ). The aim was to provoke an important waterway, the galley of this period being, practically, unsinkable. Also, fire could also be a weapon of choice. At the side of the Hoplites, elite fighters well armed with handguns and throwers, there were sometimes "light" fighters, the epibates, who could shortly before the collision, launch on the opponent, in addition Lances, "pots", small round amphorae filled with pitch, and inflamed with a tissue, an ancestor of the incendiary bombs of which they protected themselves by bulwarks stretched of skin and soaked with oil.
The ballista and catapults entered shortly afterwards, enabling the distance of the combat to be increased to a hundred meters.
Let us recall, finally, that the rowers of these galleys were volunteers who paid their way by rowing, or were enrolled, and touching the pay. They had a cushion coated with grease, which allowed them to slide on their smooth benches, their feet well wedged in the previous bench, flexing their legs. This technique allowed them to provide the minimum effort for the best efficiency. In addition, the rowers owned their cushion and paddle and were able to embark in any galley. When the Spartans attacked the Athenians in 476 BC, They crossed a tongue of land on foot, carrying their oars and cushions. The complex swimming technique required a training of 8 months per year for a full-time rower ...