The Blood-Drenched Sea

Ships at War in the Ancient Mediterranean

by Alfred S. Bradford


The classical Mediterranean Sea is the site of three major naval wars described in detail by ancient authors. The power with the larger, stronger, or more experienced navy was defeated in each.

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Cover image for The Blood-Drenched Sea

August 2019


Pages 255
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Military History/Conflict and Wars
  World History/Conflict

This book is an indispensable resource for readers who want to know the whole, comprehensive story of ancient naval warfare.

The Blood-Drenched Sea describes all the naval battles and wars fought in the ancient Mediterranean. In one volume are the ships, crews, and leaders who determined the course of ancient history, along with the wars and battles, told through artifacts, extant literary and visual sources, and modern reconstructions—the Egyptian mortuary temple, the Minoan domain, the legendary sack of Troy, the expansion of Greeks throughout the Mediterranean, the Athenian victory over the Persians at Salamis, and the Athenian empire, ruined by one moment of superstition.

Then the Romans learned how to build ships, man them, row in tiers, and command fleets, and the volume recounts their contributions to history as well. They fought three wars with Carthage that cost them hundreds of thousands of casualties and expenditures of vast wealth, and they conquered the whole of the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, Julius Caesar expanded the empire with the conquest of Gaul and the invasion of Britain, and his adoptive son, Octavian settled the question of who would rule the new empire by winning the naval battle at Actium.


  • Describes the bloodiest naval war in human history
  • Reflects the expertise of the author, a much-respected historian of the ancient Mediterranean world
  • Includes valuable maps and illustrations
Author Info

Alfred S. Bradford is John Saxon Chair of Ancient History at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma. He was an Infantry officer in Vietnam and from that experience wrote a memoir, Some Even Volunteered. His other books include With Arrow, Sword, and Spear: A History of Warfare in the Ancient World, Leonidas and the Kings of Sparta: Mightiest Warriors, Fairest Kingdom, and War: Antiquity and Its Legacy.

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