During the Persian invasion of Greece, led by Xerxes, one of the pivotal battles that took place was the Battle of Artemisium, a naval engagement off the coast of northern Euboea. This battle was coupled with the Battle of Thermopylae as a dual offensive to push back the Persian army and navy. Before the Persian fleet of 1,200 ships arrived at Artemisium a storm near Magnesia destroyed 400 ships. These numbers are from Herodotus and very suspicious to modern historians (Herodotus 7.190).
The ships had been moored along the coast but the storm threw them at the mountain on Magnesia called Pelion and the cities of Sepias, Casthanaea and Meliboea (Herodotus 7.188, Strabo 9.5). Aside from the men and equipment aboard the vessels there was plenty of money and it didn’t go unnoticed.
Ameinocles, son of Cretines, was a landowner in Sepia and lived near the site of the wreckage. As it drifted to the shoreline he picked up a variety of gold and silver cups as well as various treasures. It turned him into a wealthy man, but didn’t help him when his son was murdered later (Herodotus 7.190).
It is another Greek tragedy, almost poetic in a way. You can have it all but lose what matters most. As always, we can never be certain of the story without proof but it’s still an interesting look at the side stories which existed within the great war the Greeks fought to maintain liberty.
Fun fact: the word sepia in Greek means cuttlefish (Strabo 6.3) and it was also the word for the dye made from their ink.
Herodotus, The Histories – Book 7, Chapter 188, 190
Strabo, Geography – Book 6, Chapter 3
Book 7, Section 33
Book 9, Chapter 5
Pliny the Elder, The Natural History – Book 4, Chapter 16
Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica – Book 1, Section 580
Pomponius Mela, De situ orbis – Book 2, Section 35
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