Lagid Penter

A Lagid Pentere, to which had perhaps belonged the Rostre d'Ahlit.


The illustration calls for some comments: It is a "light" Pentère with Roman standards, Rhodian construction, but bearing decorative elements drawn from the Egyptian stylistic heritage. The lotus flower in figure of stern and the figure of prow remembers that of the ancient Keftions. The decoration remains sober, although more refined than that of the Macedonian ships. The bridges are widely open, Greek fashion, for the comfort of rowers. This to a corollary, the lack of space for the epibates, slingers, and weapons of jet embarked. The Rostre visible at the front is the "putting in condition" of the Ahlit rostrum, discovered near the city of the same name on the Israeli coast in 1980 is a major discovery for maritime archeology: Conserved in very good condition, This massive cast bronze piece weighs 465 Kilos for 2.26 meters. It was full of teachings on how to design hulls at a time when ramming was still a queen technique. The Pentere was not the preferred unit of the Lagides, who preferred the Trières and Tetres, or, conversely, the much heavier units.


Lagid Eight

A Lagid Octer, Fleet of Cleopatra VII, Battle of Actium, 31 BC.


The Octeres (or Hocters?) Were more frequently used than the Heptera by the Lagids. With slightly larger dimensions, and especially a complete closed bridge, the octere could carry a considerable jet armament and a large number of infantrymen. The Quinquérème Romaine had 120, and the Hepteres and Octeres probably more than 160. The massiveness of this ship is obvious: With 52 meters long for 7.60 m wide (and only 5.50 m at the waterline) It was a very narrow vessel (always for speed), but with a draft of only 1.40 m, rather unstable in roll, which tons of stones embarked partly palliate. The archers' towers were not a properly Roman characteristic. Although formidable in classical Rostrum against Rostrum (Diekplous) ramming techniques, these elephants of the seas were totally ineffective in front of the manageable Roman Liburnes at Actium which encircled them and prevented their evolutions. Nevertheless, the shock effect of such a mass, associated with a rostrum whose form had been dictated by centuries of empiricism, was to be formidable.


Lagid Thirty

One of the two "30" of Ptolemy III Euergetes (246-221).


This typical "Hyper-galley" was symptomatic of the arms race initiated between Ptolemy II and Antigonos Gonatas, culminating with these two giant units, the largest operational galleons ever built. Unlike the "20" built earlier and yet more reasonable, they were considered effective. Only Egypt and its inexhaustible resources could finance the construction of such giants, built in Alexandria or Cyprus. An enigma for historians who believed (a short time) of having to deal with a galley at 30 levels of oars, it was more likely propelled by 3 rows of rowers with 10 rowers per bench at the most (by analogy with the Tettakontère) , But the decreasing length of the oars calls for a distribution of 11/10/8 rowers, or more probably 4 rows of trains served by 9 Thranites, 8 Zygites (or "Zeugites"), 7 Thalamites and 6 "sub-Thalamites". The Tettakontère built by Ptolemy Philoptor was inspired by it, but probably had a double hull, which is not excluded for these two "30s", probably excessively unstable. When the conditions of the rowers, installed on very inclined banks, and probably having to carry out much smaller movements at the point of lever of the ream (the aposti) and much more ample at its extremity, we are reduced to conjectures (see Cutting patterns on the Hellenistic Hyper-galleys page) ...

This type of giant ship probably had to have a fixed rig, just the sails were carved before the fight, and assistances in the rear drift, too heavy to maneuver with bare hands, but through a mechanism Demultiplier. The "Thirty" Lagide could very well have been a parade ship because of its exceptional dimensions, but the fact that it was duplicated argues in favor of a military operational unit. This galley thus possessed about 1860 rowers in the configuration retained here, with about 400 troops, including archers, peltastes and epibates, as well as serving as throwing weapons, here 8 "petroleum" capable of throwing fire pots And stones, as well as 4 ballista. Hard of its internal configuration, having rowers standing, the central part was covered with a footbridge and raised above the swimming chamber. This gives us a length of about 100 meters for 20 meters wide, and almost 28 counting the debarks of the swimming chamber. It is possible that a ship of this type was present at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, still judging from the enormous rostrum dwellings of the Aktia Memorial Shrine (the present name of the cape) , The largest measured, was to house a room nearly 2 meters wide, 2.50 m high for 4.50 long and a weight of about two tons in solid bronze...

During most of the post-Alexandrine history, at least until the first Punic War between Rome and Carthage, two naval superpowers dominated the Mediterranean: to the west the Carthaginians and their formidable fleet of war, East, dominating the whole eastern part of the Mediterranean, the fleet of the Lagide Empire. This empire was ruled by the Ptolemaic dynasty, the last of Egypt as a great independent power. Ptolemaios was one of the generals of Alexander, son of Lagos (nickname of a brilliant Macedonian warlord, general of Philip II), and who came to Egypt on the partition of the empire of Alexander the Great after his Died in 331 BC. He was first Satrape of Egypt, then Pharaoh (Ptolemy I Soter "savior") in 305 BC. Until 30 BC (date of assassination by Octave of Caesarion, presumed son of Cleopatra VII and Caius Julius Caesar), who was "co-pharaoh" (Ptolemy XIV) from 36 to 30 BC . Between these two dates, the Lagide dynasty, symbolically faithful to Egyptian customs, culture and language, brought in the naval science of the Hellenes, and the Egyptian ships of that time had nothing to do with the "soft boats" Used a millennium earlier.

The Lagide Sovereigns regularly found themselves in conflict with the other descendants of the Diadochians, the Seleucid dynasty and the Antigonids of Macedonia. As a result, they needed more and more powerful ships for their military operations by virtue of an arms race that recalled the worst materialistic drifts of the 20th century. The Lagide fleet was almost entirely composed of heavy units, notably the standard of the time, the Pentère. It also aligned Hexeres, Heptères, Hoctères, and Dékères (at 6, 7, 8, 10 oars per lane) in quantity. With the advent of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (283-246), the Lagide fleet reached its rank as the largest ancient naval power (by far), aligning a permanent fleet of 336 vessels, of which 224 Trières and Tetres, Frames, and "monsters" intended to pierce the enemy front, with no less than 17 Pentères, 5 Hexères, 37 Hepteres, 30 Nonères, fourteen "11", two "12", four "13" A unique "20" belonging to his father. These latter units were much more demonstrative than maneuvering.

This gigantic race will be won by Ptolemy IV Philopator and his Tettakontère (Tesseracontère) with four rows of ten rowers for each bench. These galleys were very similar to those used by the other Hellenes, and especially built in Cyprus, or by Tyr and Rhodes, which supplied themselves with wood from Lebanon. (The rich forests of Coile Syria will be a recurring battlefield for Lagides and the Seleucids). But the main confrontations were not made against Carthage, since the Phoenicians, the great suppliers of the Lagos, and the "blood brothers" of the Carthaginians would not have accepted it, but mainly against Macedonia, with the major confrontation between Antigone Gonatas and Ptolemy II. (See also Macedonian fleet). The last major naval battle of the Lagide fleet is a milestone for the story: This victory of Actium, as well as consequences for the naval tactics of the time (the end of the massive galleys in favor of light units ), And on the geopolitical level the end of the Lagide fleet (the Mediterranean after the fall of Carthage became a "Roman lake"), and also that of Egypt itself, since it became a Roman colony of The Augustian empire being born.