79: Victories of Phormio

Victories of Phormio

In our return to the tumultuous third year of the war, the Chalcidice comes back into focus once more with renewed operations. The siege of Potidaea may have found resolution in the previous year, but with lingering hostility in the Chalcidice, Athens is forced to act. A fresh operation aims to secure Athens’ base in Potidaea, a move designed to solidify their influence in the region. Little did they know, this venture would soon become an early lesson in the challenges of facing effective light troops.

Simultaneously, back on the Greek mainland, the stage is set for a gripping saga. Minor Peloponnesian allies successfully sway Sparta into launching a campaign at the mouth of the Corinthian Gulf. Embarking with only a portion of the Peloponnesian fleet, the Spartans face a cautious journey past the Athenian base of Naupactus. The amphibious operation, once arriving at its location encounters setbacks, grappling with issues of ill-discipline, divided forces, and the defenders’ ingenious use of terrain, leading to a failed mission.

At Naupactus, the keen-eyed Athenian general, Phormio, observes the initial fleet sail by. However, when the remainder attempts to slip past, he springs into action. Despite being outnumbered, Phormio’s superior tactics and intimate knowledge of the area secure a resounding victory. Nevertheless, the Spartans, undeterred after their land defeat, regroup for another naval engagement, placing the Athenians in a dire numerical predicament.

This time around, the odds are stacked against Phormio. After losing half his fleet, fortune smiles upon him, allowing his naval command prowess to shine. Athenian losses are miraculously recovered, and the Peloponnesian forces find themselves in a hasty retreat. Yet, Sparta, yearning for a triumph to bring home, decides on a bold move—an attempt to assault Athens’ home port, the Piraeus.

However, the gods seem to favour Athens. Bad weather and a touch of commander hesitancy conspire against the Spartan ambitions, leaving them without the favourable news they sought for the year. Join us as we navigate the treacherous waters of ancient conflict and witness the highs and lows of naval warfare in this gripping chapter of the Peloponnesian War.

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