2005-09-16

Men of Bronze

All right, it's already here.

Strangely enough, Caiman decided to send me the two books I ordered through the Amazon.fr Marketplace in different packages, instead of one. It would have been easier, methinks, and I'd have my book on Persian history and culture, instead of waiting who knows for how long... I hope it's not too much...

In the meantime, Men of Bronze is right on my hands (not when I'm actually typing, mind you :-)

It's heavy, though not as much as it might appear from it's thickness. The cover is gorgeous, even better than the available pictures of it. The Real Thing is way cool. Maps, chronology... Everything is carefully set, the typography of chapter titles, table of contents, headers, and lots of small details that help to get into the story... One things I found "interesting" is that paper sheets are cut unevenly wide, and somewhat irregularly... It gives a tactile feeling of old papyrus... If this is deliberate, add up one more point, Medallion! (if not and it's just a print error, take note, it's a cool effect).

As for the book itself, it looks very professionally edited, they may be "young" but look certainly professional (only caught a couple of irrelevant typos).

I'll start reading it tonight (I mean later tonight), though it's calling me, but there're things to be done for me before I get to the book (house chores, cleaning and general maintenance) bleh :-P

BTW... Memnon to be released in June 2006!? Now, I would be stressed... poor Scott... Way to go, Scott!

Now, back to research (I need to decide which route took the damned Delian fleet from Kypros to Egypt: direct line, 400+ kilometers through the spring Mediterranean; indirect line, down through Syria, Lebanon, Palestine (all of them hostile coasts!). Themerchant, support ships would have made that, specially with the Spring northly/northwesternly winds (easy average of 10 knots ~ 22 hours) but, could the triereis make the same trip unharmed?

I'd bet they could (and my scholars tell me they knew how to sail far from the coasts) but, after all, they were made of pinewood, and the Mediterranean can be tough... I'll keep researching, but I think my best bet will be to take the most direct route (which, after all, it's the most reasonable one if the weather was nice), and we'll keep on going from there... Round two (i.e. next draft revision will take care of these kind of details, anyway... :-)

Kallisti!

11 comments:

Pacal said...

i mention it briefly in my book, but it is contended that the Delian League ships did not sail directly to Egypt from Cyprus. Now I could be wrong I don't have my book in front of me at this time. The idea is that because of prevailing winds etc., the Delian league needed to have a port on the coast of Phoenicia. This is because of the nature of Triremes, sailing ships would not have a problem but Triremes would. It's been proposed that the Phoenician port in question was Dor, (Near modern day Haifa). In Athenian inscription there is mention of tribute from a place called Dor, which seems to be Phoenician Dor. Since i don't remeber clearly it could be that because of winds etc., Triremes would need a port on the way back, say Dor. It has been contended that possibly parts of Phoenicia joined the revolt and maybe supplied ships. In which case part of the reason for the delay in the Persians getting at Egypt was the necessity to reoccupy / pacify Phoenicia. If this was the approximate time period of Ezra / Nehemiah it adds to the comments in those two books concerning disloyalty to the "Great King".

Just some thoughts.

Pierre

Gabriele C. said...

Hi Pierre,

do you have a blog? I can't access it via your profile, but in case you have one, I'd like to read it. I'm a historical fiction writer, too (Late Roman Imperium, mostly).

Excalibor said...

Pierre, your argument looks very interesting, and yes, you mention some of this on your book.

I am going to push for this, and after conquering some cities in Kypros (specially Citium) the Delian fleet will move to Dor, knowing that there won't be any strong opposition. I've made a small reinforcement fleet arrive to Salamis from Tyre, Biblos and Sidon, which is mentioned when the Greeks were still operating in Cilicia as the maximum help the Continent will be able to send to reinforce the defenses of Kypros against a probable Greek attack.

This explains nicely why after taking Citium the Delian League didn't move for Salamis (as it would make later, ca. 454-2) and why Dor was easily/safely taken by the Greeks and why some parts of Phoenicia could rebel so easily (the satrap was too busy in other places and lacked resources to move his troops easily!).

I think this is feasible, sensible and it add some dramatic momentum to the Persian side when I switch to it in the next part. (part I is basically Egyptian in the first half and Greek in the second one; part two will be basicall Persian in the first part with Egyptian and Greek bits on it, and Part III will be the Pandemonium :-)

After that (the taking of Dor) I'll move them to Egypt. I was thinking that Pelusium would be a good arrival point, I've made the eastern part of the Delta still loyal to the satrapy, and where the Phoenician ships that lead to the naval battle and the Samian commanders being awarded by Inaros would be arriving/sitting.

However some evidence apparently makes them arrive to the Canopic mouth. However in one of your pictures you draw the Greeks arriving from the Pelusian mouth, which makes all the sense to me, specially if they arrived from Dor in the Syrian satrapy! So I'll stick with this version for the time being...

Added almost 3,000 more words, that dealt with the initial operations on Kypros, and now I'm going to move them to Dor and Egypt. More fun awaits there, though! :-)

Thanks for all

Excalibor said...

Mmm... On a second, more careful reading, you depict the Greeks as going up the Kanopic mouth of the Nile; it was the Persians who arrived through the Pelusian mouth...

It looks hard to believe if they arrived from Dor, but I can make it work OK if I make the Phoenician fleet move towards Pharos and Mareia to get the rebellion from the back, and all the way up, freeing Sais and Naucratis from rebel hands, before arriving to Memphis and cramp the rebels between the city army and the fleet...

It will make for a very dramatic episode, I'm sure... :-)

(Now on to getting phoenician names... Not all of them could possibly be called Hannibal, Hannon, Hasdrubal, or Hamilcar :-)

thanks!

Pacal said...

I have the Greeks go down the Kanopic branch of the Nile because Pharos and Marea thay seem to be Inaros bases were located on or near there. If the Persians controled Western Delta at the time the Greeks would likely have skirted the Pelesian and Mendesian branch of the Nile. I find the isea of the Greeks sailing directly (in 200 Triremes) from Cyprus to the Kanopic Branch hard to believe. But then your writing a novel you don't have to follow my book.

Pierre

Excalibor said...

Pierre, while fiction, my intention is pouring as much History as I am able to before the book goes to print (if it ever goes, that it).

You mention some inscriptions that speak of Delian activity on Syria, probably at Dor, therefore I must honor those historical, known facts, even if disputed by current scholars.

If we were able to know from a reliable source about the battle that led to those Samian trierarchs being awarded by Inaros, I would follow it without hesitation. But Ktesias is very unreliable, and therefore I have to play by ear, even when following his lead on this.

I think that having the Greeks arriving to Pelusium from Dor and finding out that the Phoenician fleet has left for Mareia, Sais, Naucratis, and the rear-guard of the rebellion (in a clamping maveuver between the fleet from the North, and the army from Memphis); and deciding to follow the Phoenicians, fight them and winning over their fleet, is feasible and highly plausible.

Supposing that Pelusium and the eastern side of the Delta were still under Persian control after the battle of Papremis is plausible enough to be taken as fact; and suspecting that the army at Memphis had support from Heliopolis and other eastern cities, and from Upper Egypt, has the sound of likelihood.

Given these premises, the clamping maneuver is a sound tactical move, and only to be expected from the Persian generals.

As for if the Delian League did, indeed, passed from Citium to Dor, and then to the Nile, or not, is secondary, and of no consequence. On the RAT forum, several members told me the trirremes could have done it with good weather (and it's less than to days of direct navigation). But Dor would make for an interesting port, and, nevertheless, until we find any other historical source about this whole episode, we are basically on the writer's will on this.

My will is to try and be feasible, plausible, entertaining, and this plan (Citium (fight) -> Dor (fight) -> Pelusium (not fight) -> Kanopian mouth (fight)) sounds all of this. I prefer to work on other aspects to get the reader's suspension of disbelief, and let History do her part... :-)

While I may not follow your book on every issue, your work is certainly a huge aid in this trip to History. Following it is simply being intelligent.

Thanks for all your help.

Pacal said...

Thank you for your explaination, what you say makes sense. My comment concerning the prize to a Samian leader does not however come from Ktesias it comes from two inscriptions from the Heraion of Samos. I have translations in my book of the two inscriptions. The first talks about a Greek victory Naval victory near Memphis the other refers to Inaros giving a prize to the Samian leader. In other words I'm relying on a contemporary source, or damn close to one, rather than Ktesias, for this information.

Just some thoughts.

Pierre

Excalibor said...

Doh! You're right, they aren't from Ktesias, but Archaeology!

Well, therefore, Thukydides must have slipped over this, or he didn't know about that battle that Ktesias did talk about (the capture of the 15 Phoenicia ships and the sinking of the rest of the flett with the 40 Delian League ships he said, right?).

If Archaeology talks about it, and Ktesias mentions it but Thukydides does not, I think we will have to forget about Ktesias's unreliability: he did know what he was talking about when he wrote that part (if he did wrote truth or not, and how much, is a different story, uh?).

Anyway, if there was a Phoenician fleet under the control of the Persian government at Memphis, despite Achaemes's death, the clamping maneuver on the river makes sense and is strategically unflawed, and tactically sound.

Of course, those inscriptions may be referring to a different battle. Maybe one at Memphis, during the siege, not at the mouth of the Nile and up the river to Memphis, as Ktesias suggests... But we cannot know, and the whole story, with the course I have described before, makes for good reading... :-)

thanks for your help and good weekend!

Pacal said...

The fact that Ktesias was right about this thing, or seems to be, the sea battle near / at Memphis is one of the reasons why I manage to forgot completely disregarding Ktesias although its a really strong temptation!

Just my thoughts.

Pierre

Wynn Bexton said...

Hi, I've enjoyed reading your blog. It think it's so interesting to be in touch with others who are writing ancient history.

I've also just got my copy of "Men of Bronze" and started reading it yesterday. Impressed with the production and enjoying the story so far.

While on the subject of ships...Do you have any idea of how long a trireme would take to sail from Athens to Alexandria or from Alexandria to Ephesus? (circa 318 BC) I'd say about a month from Athens - Alexandria, with good winds. Not sure though.

Excalibor said...

Wynn, thanks for your compliments... I enjoy writing this log, it helps me clear my head on many subjects, plus the help I get from my readers is priceless!

As for the trireme trip from Athens to Alexandria (about 1,000 km in a straight line, some 540 nautical miles), it all depends on the time of the year. Spring winds were of northwesternly component, thus a trireme, sailing with good wind, could maintain a speed of 7 to 10 knots, which could make the trip in some 78 hours, which is a bit over three days.

If we take into account calms, bad winds, and resupply stops in Crete (for example), I'd say a week is fairly accurate (considering the trireme could easily make a sustained 7 knots by oars, if need be...). Let's add bad weather, and so, and reduce the average speed to 5 knots. That would be 4 days and a half of navigation. If we allow about 8 hours of sailing a day (beaching/harboring operations, sleeping, etc...) it could be some 13.5 days of normal navigation. I think 2 weeks is really a good estimation, covering most contingencies. But if weather was nice and things were smooth, it could be much, much faster.

Early Autum, however, would be very different. Winds blow from southeasternly component, thus they would have to sail to Kyrene, in Lybia, or to Phoenicia and row downwards with contrary winds. It could easily take almost 10 full days of navigation, which would become into a month in real time.

From Alexandria to Ephesus is the same, but conversely, it would be easier to go in early Autum, and return in Spring. As for distances, I'd say they are more or less the same (Athens some 540 nautical miles, Ephesus, some 674) and three weeks with good weather is the maximum I'd bet, probably less than that. With bad weather or contrary winds, though, the trip would probably have to be made from Alexandria to Kyrene, and from there to Athens, and then to Ephesos, through the Cyclades... Easier to stop, but much, much longer (easily 1,000 nautical miles it total) at least 6 weeks or real time.

However, evaluate my presupositions and check on my calculations, these are, necessarily, rough estimates. But I think they are realistic enough, because in later times, with very similar ships (rougher, but also heavier), the Romans crossed the Mediterraneum in short times when the weather was nice.

Good luck!