Siege of Andros, c.480 BC

The siege of Andros (c.480 BC) is an incident recorded by Herodotus as taking part in the period after the Greek naval victory at Salamis.

In the aftermath of the Persian victory at Thermopylae they had moved south, eventually reaching Attica, where they looted Athens. As they came south a number of previous uncommitted Greek communities joined the Persian cause, including the island of Andros, off the south-eastern tip of Euboea, and not too far to the east of the Greek fleet at Salamis.

In the aftermath of the Greek naval victory at Salamis the Persian fleet retreated back towards the Hellespont. The land army remained in Attica for a little longer, and it took the Greeks some time to realise that the fleet had gone. When they did finally set out in pursuit it was too late. The Greeks soon realised that the Persian fleet had escaped, and put in at Andros, where they debated what to do next. According to Herodotus the Athenians wanted to go to the Hellespont to cut the bridge of ships and thus trap the Persian army, but the rest of the fleet wanted to let Xerxes escape. When the Athenian Themistocles realised that he couldn't win the debate he changed sides, and supported the idea of giving the Persians a way out.

The Greeks next turned their attention to the town of Andros. Again Herodotus gives us an entertaining anecdote. Themistocles demanded money from the Aegean islands, starting with Andros. He argued that the Athenians came armed with 'Persuasion' and 'Compulsion'. In effect the people of Andros were being fined for their brief support of the Persians between Thermopylae and Salamis. They responded that Andros had two cruel gods, 'Poverty' and 'Insufficiency', and claimed that these were stronger than the Athenian claims.

As a result Themistocles laid siege to Andros. He also sent out demands for money to other nearby communities, including Carystus at the south-eastern end of Euboea, and Paros, located a little to the south of Andros. Both of these communities gave in and sent money rather than risk being put under siege themselves.

The siege would appear to have been a short affair. The Greeks gave up quite quickly, proving that the local's defiance had been well founded. The Greeks then crossed to Euboea where they sacked the territory of Carystus (perhaps this triggered the payment), and then returned to Salamis to set up the victory offerings for the battle (this alone would suggest that the siege of Andros was fairly short-lived). 

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (22 June 2015), Siege of Andros, c.480 BC ,

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