Naval Battle of Syvota

Syvota, a place with amazing beaches and an unparalleled natural scenery. Who would have imagined though that it was first mentioned in 433 B.C. in a sea battle between the Corinthians and the Corfiots?

As a matter of fact, the forces of Kerkyra (Corfu) squared up to the combined might of the Corinthians and the Thesprotians.

Sivota sunset  Photo Credit: Tom Hall

The war broke out because of a disagreement over the fate of the city of Epidamnus which now lies in modern Albania.

This was a colony of Corfu but its official founder had been provided by Corinth, Corcyra’s mother city. Just prior to the war, Aristocrats had been expelled from Epidamnus leading them to ally with local Illyrians and to begin invading the city.

Ionian Sea Photo Credit: Richard Leeming

In terms of power size, the Corinthian fleet contained eventually 150 ships while the Corcyraen fleet was smaller with 120 of the own ships and 10 coming from Athens.

At first, the Athenians tried to remain out of the direct fighting but according to Thucydides, this was the largest naval battle between Greek city states until that time. It was certainly one of the immediate catalysts of the Peloponnesian War.

In the final stages of the war, the Corinthians feared to risk a further engagement in war with Athens. When their envoy to them was told that their involvement didn’t mean they were at war but that they would just be stopped from attacking Corcyra and could sail away safely in any other direction, that’s exactly what they did.

Sunrise over Ionian Sea  Photo Credit: 2benny

In the aftermath of the battle, both sided declared victory and along the way and as the broader war progressed, the Corcyreans served as allies of Athens while Corinth fought side by side with Sparta.

Sivota, Karvouno Beach  Photo Credit: Dimitris Siskopoulos

As a greater takeaway from this, the battle between the Corinthians and the warriors from Kerkyra in the Ionian Sea strengthened the sense of competitiveness and spurred hate among Greek people, which ultimately led to the catastrophic Peloponnesian War.

Cover picture credits:Wondergreece