Battle of Chios (201 BC)
|Battle of Chios|
|Part of the Cretan War|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Philip V of Macedon||
Theophiliscus of Rhodes (DOW)
|Around 200 ships||Around 100 ships|
|Casualties and losses|
92 ships sunk|
3 ships sunk
3 ships sunk
The Cretan War had started in 205 BC when the Macedonians and their pirate and Cretan allies had started attacking Rhodian ships as Rhodes had the richest merchant fleet in the Aegean. The navies of Rhodes' allies Pergamum, Byzantium and Cyzicus joined the Rhodian fleet and then defeated the Macedonian fleet off Chios.
With the First Macedonian War over, Philip started to rebuild his fleet to a size that could challenge the fleets of the Rhodians, Pergamese and Ptolemies. Philip wanted to crush the dominant naval power in the Aegean, his ally Rhodes. He formed alliances with Aetolian and Spartan pirates as well as a few powerful Cretan city states.
In the battle the flagship of Philip V of Macedon, a very large galley bireme or trireme with ten banks of rowers, accidentally rammed one of her own ships when it strayed across her path, and giving her a powerful blow in the middle of the oarbox, well above the waterline, stuck fast, since the helmsman had been unable in time to check or reverse the ship's momentum. Trapped, the flagship was put out of action by two enemy ships, which rammed her below the waterline on each side.
The Macedonian navy outnumbered the allied fleet, but lacked experience for Philip had raised it just a few years prior to the battle. This was a crucial deciding factor.
The battle seemed to be going against Philip, but then Attalus attempted to prevent one of his ships from being sunk, and was driven onto the shore. Philip captured Attalus’s ship, and towed it back through the battle, convincing the rest of the Pergamene fleet that the king was dead. The Pergamene fleets then withdrew. The Macedonians took advantage of this lull to escape from the victorious Rhodians.
The losses Philip suffered at Chios dealt a crippling blow to Macedonian naval power. So much so that the Macedonian fleet played little part in the Second Macedonian War.
When Attalus ran his ship aground, he escaped by land. He only avoided capture because he left his immense riches on board his vessel, which distracted his Macedonian pursuers long enough for him to get away.
The victorious Theophiliscus later died from the wounds that he received during the battle.
- Green, Alexander to Actium: The Historical Evolution of the Hellenistic Age, 305
- Detorakis, A History of Crete, 305