The Ancient Mariners has long served the needs of all who are interested in the sea, from the casual reader to the professional historian. Lionel Casson, the renowned authority on ancient ships and seafaring, has done what no other author has: he has put in a single volume the story of all that the ancients accomplished on the sea from the earliest times to the end of the Roman Empire. He explains how they perfected trading vessels from mere rowboats into huge freighters that could carry over a thousand tons, how they transformed warships from simple oared transports into complex rowing machines holding hundreds of marines and even heavy artillery, and how their maritime commerce progressed from short cautiou voyages to a network that reached from Spain to India.
In the process, he corrects cherished but erroneous beliefs. Ancient warships, he shows, were never manned with slave rowers; ancient merchantmen did not stick timidly to the shore; and ancient craft were well able to sail against the wind. The presentation is based on all available sources of information, from the results of multitudinous archaeological excavations to statements in government pronouncements carved on stone or casual remarks in obscure business documents written on fragile papyrus.