Seleucid Penter

Battle of Eurymedon, 190 av.J.C.

The same Penter under sails.

Unknown, the modest fleet of this immense empire, heir to the greater part of that of Alexander, was a reality only from its proclamation by one of its generals, Seleucus, son of Antiochos, in 312 BC It was the largest of the three great empires, extending from the shores of Asia Minor to the Indus. Such a continental immensity would constitute, not an advantage, but a heavy handicap. To maintain the cohesion of this empire of Hellenistic culture but peopled by so diverse nations, on vast territories, often poor, mountainous, arid, difficult provinces of access, cultures and religions antagonists and Satrapes not respectful of power Royal progressively provoked the dismemberment of the empire, and from 301 to the battle of Ipsos, the Kingdom obtains the maximum of its extension. In 281, however, wars against the Lagides were to provoke the conquest of the greater part of Asia Minor, Lycia and Cilicia alone remaining in the hands of the Lagides. Despite the founding of two capitals, Seleucia of the Tigris and Antioch of Syria, the empire was slowly beginning to disintegrate.

Progressively, kingdoms became independent: Pergamon, Bithynia, Bridge, Cappadocia, but also Media, and intermittently Armenia. The is razzed by the Parni also becomes it under the name of Parthie. Finally, the Greek kingdom of Bactria, the most eastern of the provinces of the empire, was proclaimed by Diodote, a local Satrape in 240 BC. JC. And restricts the latter to its western part. In 190 BC, the situation was critical. Rome emerged victorious from the first war Punic watches with attention the exhaustion of the Lagides and Seleucids in the interminable war for Coil-Syria, anxious not to let one or the other take the dominion over the Eastern Mediterranean. Antiochos III the Great, who once again tried to reconstitute the empire, had the misfortune to lodge and even to help the famous general Carthaginian Hannibal, exiled after the defeat of Zama, and confided to the latter his fleet, finally beaten At Eurymedon, a prelude to the Roman landing in Asia Minor and the great battle of Magnesia of Sipyle, announcing the withdrawal of the empire and the end of the Mediterranean fleet. The peace of Apamea was a prelude to its disintegration of what remained of the Seleucid empire: Armenia was definitively lost, then in 164 BC. Persia, the neuralgic center of the ancient empire, and finally Babylonia and Media, by the Parthians in 129 BC. JC., And finally Mesopotamia in 88 BC. Pompey, by causing the murder of Antiochus XII, put an end to his existence in 64 BC.

The Seleucid ships, based in Asia Minor or in the Eastern Mediterranean, in the Black Sea, and in the Caspian or Red Sea, consisted of modest local fleets, for the Seleucids had but a meager western facade, Were neither the Lagids nor the Antigonids. However, Pergamos, who had become independent, fought several times at sea, and required the formation of a permanent fleet, modeled on what was done in the Hellenes shipyards. The Seleucid fleet comprised Trières, Tetres (built at Rhodes), and Penteres, the basic level of the marines of that time, and was favored by the possession of vast forests of great cedars. Nevertheless, it never possessed a great unity like the Macedonians and the Egyptians, engaging in a race with gigantism. Antiochos was to separate himself from his "Lembos of more than thirty oars" (see Lemboi), and his monies, his fleet Being reduced in addition to ten "cataphracting ships" (bridges, probably pentas and tetris).

The Pentere described in this illustration is light, extrapolated from the trire, it possesses three rows of oars, and proved very cramped. It had an almost complete bridge, except for the large openings intended to ventilate the swimming compartment below. Length of 42 meters for 6 meters wide, it embarked 260 rowers distributed in three rows of 26 oars of each edge, the Thranites and Zygites being two and the Thalamites alone for an oar. Also on board were Navarque, 15 crewmen and about 30 soldiers, epibates and peltastes. With their high height, their more powerful jet weapons and their more numerous soldiers, approaching to the raven, the Romans had a definite advantage.