Δευτέρα 12 Φεβρουαρίου 2024

Trireme, ancient warship

Trireme (Triiris) the miracle of ancient Greek technology in the field of shipbuilding...!!!
The innovative ideas of the shipbuilders of ancient Greece that established the new standards of shipbuilding art, making Greece dominant in the seas of the ancient world. The method of construction of the trier follows the culture of shipbuilding in the ancient world which defines first the construction of the outer walls (shell) (pechtoma) of the ship and then the reinforcement of its interior, with "amphimiters" "bottles" "yokes" Belts" Ms. With the sole exception of the "miracle" of the classification in the ship's "chamber" of 170 saddles (benches) for the oarsmen that makes the trireme the superweapon of the time, and ruler of the seas for several centuries. In this special video you will watch step by step the construction of these unique ships that existed for our country, guardians of freedom and its principles democracy.
τριήρης < (διαχρονικό δάνειο) αρχαία ελληνική τριήρης < τρι- + ἐρέσσω
(ναυτικός όρος, ιστορία) αρχαίο πολεμικό πλοίο με τρεις σειρές κουπιών και κωπηλατών εκατέρωθεν, δηλαδή συνολικά έξι· υπήρχαν όμως και τριήρεις με λιγότερες σειρές

τριήρης η [triíris] Ο γεν. τριήρους, πληθ. τριήρεις, γεν. τριήρεων : αρχαίο πολεμικό πλοίο, γρήγορο και ελαφρό, με τρεις σειρές κουπιά.
[λόγ. < αρχ. τριήρης]

-ους, η, ΝΜΑ
(στην αρχ. Ελλάδα) ταχύπλοο κωπήλατο, κατ' εξοχήν, πολεμικό πλοίο το οποίο είχε από τις δύο πλευρές τρεις σειρές κουπιών (α. «ἐκεῖθεν δ' ἀνήχθη εὐθὺ Γυθείου ἐπὶ κατασκοπὴν τῶν τριήρων», Ξεν.
β. «τῶν δὲ τριηρέων αριθμὸς μὲν ἐγένετο ἑπτὰ καὶ διηκόσιαι καὶ χίλιαι», Ηρόδ.)
1. ποτήρι που είχε το σχήμα πλοίου
2. ως επίθ. τριώροφος («οἰκίαι τριήρεις», Αριστείδ.).
[ΕΤΥΜΟΛ. < τρι- + -ήρης (ΙΙ)].
τριήρης: (ἐξυπακ. ναῦς), ἡ, γενικ. εος, ους, Ἰων. ευς Ἱππῶν. 40· αἰτ. εα, η, (ἀλλὰ τριήρην, Ἐπιγραφ. ἐν Böckh’s Urkunden σ. 422. 34)· ὀνομ. πληθ. εες, εις· γεν. τριηρέων (οὐχὶ τριήρεων, ὡς Θωμᾶς ὁ Μάγιστρ. γράφει) Ἡρόδ. 7. 89· ἐντεῦθεν ὁ Χοιροβοσκ. ἐν Καν. γράφει συνῃρημένως τριηρῶν, οὐχὶ τριήρων, ὡς ἐν τοῖς Ἀντιγράφοις τοῦ Θουκ. 6. 46, Ξεν. Ἑλλ. 1. 4. 11, Δημ. 180. 16, ἴδε Chandl. Gr. Acc. σ. 184· γεν. δυϊκοῦ τριήροιν (οῖν;), Ξεν. Ἑλλ. 1. 5, 19 (τρίς, -ήρης, ὃ ἴδε). Λατιν. triremis, πλοῖον ἔχον τρεῖς σειρὰς κωπῶν ἑκατέρωθεν τεταγμένας πλαγίως ἢ ἐν εἴδει βαθμίδων, καὶ ἦτο τοῦτο τὸ σύνηθες πολεμικὸν πλοῖον τῶν Ἑλλήνων, (ναῦς μακρά), πρῶτον παρ’ Ἡροδ. 2. 159, κλπ. Τριήρεις κατὰ πρῶτον ἐναυπήγησαν οἱ Κορίνθιοι, Θουκ. 1, 13. Οἱ κατώτατοι ἐρέται ἐκαλοῦντο θαλάμιοι, οἱ μέσοι ζυγῖται, καὶ οἱ ἀνώτατοι θρανῖται (ἴδε τὰς λέξεις)· ἑκάστη δὲ κώπη ἠλαύνετο ὑφ’ ἑνός ἐρέτου. Αἱ τριήρεις ἐξηκολούθουν νὰ εἶναι τὰ μέγιστα πολεμικὰ πλοῖα μέχρι περίπου τοῦ τέλους τοῦ Πελοποννησιακοῦ πολέμου· μετὰ ταῦτα πλοῖα μὲ τέσσαρας καὶ μὲ πέντε σειρὰς κωπῶν (τετρήρεις, πεντήρεις), κτλ., κατέστησαν κοινά· μνημονεύεται δὲ καὶ τεσσαρακοντήρης Πτολεμαίου τοῦ Φιλοπάτορος (Πλουτ. Δημήτρ. 43, Ἀθήν. 203D). Ἡ κατασκευὴ πλοίου μὲ τρεῖς σειρὰς κωπῶν ὡς εἶναι ἡ τριήρης, δὲν παρουσιάζει μεγάλην δυσκολίαν καθ’ ἑαυτήν, ἀλλ’ ὅταν ὑπολογίσῃ τις τὸν πελώριον ὄγκον τεσσαρακοντήρους, ἢ ἔτι καὶ δεκήρους (αἵτινες λέξεις σημειωτέον ὅτι εἶναι αὐστηρῶς ἀνάλογοι πρὸς τὸ τριήρης, triremis), τὸ ζήτημα τῆς ναυπηγίας τῶν ἀρχαίων καθίσταται λίαν δύσκολον καὶ δυσδιάλυτον, ἴδε Λεξικὸν τῶν Ἀρχαιοτ. ἐν λέξει. 2) μεταφορ., ποτήριον ἔχον τὸ σχῆμα πλοίου, φιάλας, τριήρεις, τραγελάφους Ἀντιφάνης ἐν «Χρυσίδι» 1. 4· ἕτερον τριήρης· τοῦτ’ ἴσως χωρεῖ χόα Ἐπίνικος ἐν «Ὑποβαλλομέναις» 1. 8, ἴδε Πόρσ. εἰς Εὐρ. Μήδ. 139 (x).

The trireme was an ancient rowed warship with three (3) rows of oarsmen, which, fully manned, could sail at an unprecedented speed for the time and traces its origin to Corinth. This is a development of the diiro, which was already dominant in the Mediterranean Sea, with particular use by the ancient Greeks, the Phoenicians and, later, the Romans and probably of Phoenician origin. The term "diiris" ceased to be used from the Roman period onwards, having now been replaced by the term "penticontor".

The trireme got its name from the three rows of oars (triēris < τρι- + ἐρεσσω), with one oarsman per oar, as it began to be constructed, a feature that was universal in the fleets of the Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic periods. The use of the trireme, soon, extended to Mediterranean naval powers, beyond the Greek ones, but they also adopted variations with double-decked triremes, i.e., with two decks and two (2) oarsmen per oar on the upper deck, as well as single-deckers, i.e. , with one deck and three (3) rowers per oar.
Virtual representation of a fleet of triremes based on modern Olympia.

As a vessel, it was fast and manoeuvrable, making it the dominant type of warship in the Mediterranean from the 7th to the 4th century BC, after which it was largely replaced (as the dominant warship mainly) by the four- and five-ship . Triremes played a vital role during the Persian Wars, culminating in the Battle of Salamis, the establishment of the Athenian Hegemony, and the Peloponnesian War.

The term "trireme" was sometimes used in the Middle Ages and early Renaissance to describe galleys with three rows of oarsmen per side.

Origin and appearance
Ships, since the time of Homer and the Trojan War, had, essentially, the utility of transportation. The dominant types in the Aegean Sea and, more generally, in the Mediterranean Sea were the triacontor and, mainly, the pentacontor.
The Lenormand Relief, from the Acropolis of Athens, showing a profile with rowers of an Athenian trireme, dated around 412 BC. Found in 1852. It is one of the main pieces of evidence of the profile of an ancient trireme

During the 9th BC century, on the coasts of Ionia, or according to others in Phoenicia (opinions are divided), ships appeared with two rows of oars and oarsmen. These were initially called centurions, but eventually the name diiris prevailed. Direi became the most commonly used type by the 8th century BC. and henceforth, with evidence found as depictions on ceramic fragments. At the end of the 8th century BC, there are the first indications of the appearance of triremes. Fragments of reliefs from the 8th century BC. found in Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, depict fleets from Tire and Sidon, with piston-bearing warships and show two rows of oarsmen. They represent triremes, as well as double triremes
Phoenician warship with two rows of oars. Relief from Nineveh, dating around 700 BC.

Modern scholars disagree on the origin of the first trireme, between ancient Greece and Phoenicia, as well as on the exact time of the start of construction of the most famous type of ancient warship. 2nd century references found in Alexandria, blueprints of earlier works, clearly attribute the invention of the tri-fold (rather the two-fold version) to the Sidonians. According to later historical reports such as those of Pliny the Elder and Georgios Syngelos, the creator of the trireme was Amenoklis the Corinthian, while Thucydides mentions that the trireme (at least, the three-beat version) was invented in Corinth. This reference was also interpreted by writers later than Thucydides, such as Pliny, Diodorus, Strabo, Pausanias, Aelianus Tacticus, etc., who also mention that triremes were invented in Corinth, but , there remains the possibility that the first ones (at least in the double version) were invented in Phoenicia.

Diodorus, Strabo, Pausanias, Plutarch, Aelianus the Tacticus, etc. support the view that, in general, the suffix -eris refers to the number of rows of rowers per side, (diiris, triiris, tetrari), while the suffix -oros refers to the number of copies per side (triakontor, pentakontor).

This opinion is based mainly on the testimony of Aelianos, who clearly writes in his "Tactical theory" that: "The triacontor and the tetracontor and the pentacontor are called according to the number of the pieces, the moniris, and diiris and triiris and henceforth according to the verses, the officials according to the height", as well as from the relevant passage that Xenophon describes, with special study, the preparation of the Athenian triremes during the surprise suffered by the Athenian fleet in the Aegos Potamis, where he mentions verbatim : "... some of the young ones were two-crown, some single-crown, and some completely empty", which is not amenable to any other interpretation than to accept the superimposed arrangement of the rows of oars. However, the most important piece of evidence on this is the related marble relief found by Lenormand in 1852

For the history of the matter which had arisen, it is noted that the master of the galleys of the King of France, Barra de La Pen (1715), began passionately to argue that such an arrangement of oars was too difficult for rowing, and tried to explain that the word "trireme" specified either a number of rowers of each oar, or an arrangement where three rowers sat at the same saddle and diagonally, handling an equal number of oars of unequal size. This view had been adopted centuries before the age of the galley, by many naval historians, such as Admiral Jurien de la Graviere who supported it "more on his nautical intuition" than on the texts.

The fact, however, was that no naval historian, until then, paid attention to the fact that the rowers of the Trier had different names for "thranites", "zygites" and "thalamites" which, and this alone, testified to their diversity, which was the at their highest position, the thranites on thrones in the upper row, the zygites on the scales of the ship (mainly deck) and the thalamites at the height of the trierarch's chamber (cabin), therefore lower.
However, more than one oarsman per oar counted as extra elements normally, and that is why four-, five- and larger polyhers appear a little earlier than Hellenistic times. Also, the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians and the Romans, at least, also used double triremes (one row had two oarsmen per oar).
The trireme was used for more than four hundred years (~ 700-300 BC), when it was replaced by heavier galleys and, above all, by the pentamer, which, although less flexible, responded better to the now diversified needs of a naval battle. Some authors mention the use of two-and-a-half years later than the Roman and Byzantine navy. This is, however, the well-known confusion between the number of decks and rows of rowers. After 300 BC, single-hulled, double-hulled, and triple-hulled rowed warships were used, but as a rule, they were at least four-hulled in ancient terminology.
General characteristics of the vessel
The trireme was a long narrow ship, fast, low, with a shallow keel and, in general, relatively light overall construction.
Its length varied from 33 to 43 meters, its width 3.5-4.4 meters, its height 2.1-2.5 meters above the waterline and its draft 0.9-1 meters.

Top cruising speed reached around 8 knots with oars alone and 10 with upwind sail in 1988, while in 1987 her first crew reached 12 knots with oars and sails. It could cover a distance of 100 kilometers per day.
Trier  face

A brass-lined piston was mounted in the bow, which served to ram against enemy ships in naval battles.

The trireme, according to the customs of the ancient Greeks, was docked 5-6 hours before sailing, so that the wood that made it up would be wet and their joints sealed through their tightening, while, always, when hoplites had to be disembarked and oarsmen or the use of the boat was not permanent, the boat ran aground on a sandy beach and, in the case of guarding it, was then dragged to a shed.

Regarding the construction material, the relevant informative testimony of Theophrastos is preserved:

"The fir, then, the pine and the wild cypress are, in general, useful in shipbuilding, because triremes and (other) warships are made of fir, because of its lightness, and merchant ships of pine, because it does not rot. But some also make triremes from it, because they cannot find enough fir. In Syria and Phoenicia they use cedar, as they cannot procure enough pine. In Cyprus, however, they use the pine tree, since the island has this tree and it seems to be better than their pine. Most parts (of the trio) are made of these woods. But the keel of the triremes is made of oak, in order to withstand the new draft. The "crooked wood"... for the triremes some make them from pine, because they are light..., the capons are made from apple, blackberry and elm..."

Its strength was based on about 170 oarsmen (eretes), who were placed on three levels (two inside and the outside). Larger double oars at the stern were used as a rudder. It had a draft of only 0.9-1 meters, so it also had the ability to sail in shallow waters.

From the arrangement, this, of the eretes of the trierum and from the construction material, the following opinions are deduced, in which the historical scholars agree.
Trireme carved into the rock at the bottom of the entrance - Image of Lindos, Rhodes

Its speed reached 10 knots, but due to the small draft and low freeboards, the nautical virtues of this type were limited in open sea and under waves. In the beginning, Triremes were built as "hollow ships", that is, open at the top with two extreme decks, one in the bow, where the warriors, the "passengers" as they were called in antiquity, stood, and one in the stern, where the position of the Trierarch. Later, the type of "blocked" trier prevailed, that is, with a single deck along its entire length, the invention of which Pliny attributes to the Thebans.

As for the average dimensions of the trireme, according to the French naval archaeologist Zall, it was 39.25 m long, 5.50 m wide, 2.18 m deep, 1.60 m high and a draft of about 1 subway. From these dimensions, it follows that the displacement of the trier was 100 - 130 tons. The Greek K. Rados limits this to 80 tons based on the lightness of the entire construction.

It is clear, however, that there were differences in the above characteristics between ancient states and eras.
In powerful Athens, the "shipbuilder" (architect) was chosen from among many experts who presented themselves. This did not always mean that he was an expert in terms of the relevant technical knowledge, but simply that he was a skilled contractor. He organized the construction of the Trier, having his own construction team with expert craftsmen (shipbuilders and carpenters) and unskilled workers. The use of slaves was avoided in such projects because it was a specialized work. These contractors were usually involved in the timber trade at the same time.
All the construction work was done in a simple shipyard on some beach with the spar timbers planted in the sand, with metal and wooden tools, according to today's standards.
Ancient neorio in Oiniades in Etoloakarnania

The technique of shipbuilding, in general, passed from father to son, based on tradition, within the framework of a guild, but not in a strict way.
Typically, ships were built with as many identical components as possible to achieve economies of scale, to reduce construction costs and maximize the contractor's profit. The order most often involved a respectable number of three-years and with specific rules for the execution of the construction, especially in wartime.

In the latter case, the rate of construction of new triremes probably played an important, even critical, role in the course of the war.

The only point where the shipbuilder had the freedom of improvisation, in agreement with the triarch (who usually sponsored the cost of the ship), was the decoration of the piston and the rest of the ship. Of course, this was only when there was excess time and extra money to spare. The shipbuilder could carve his name in a prominent place on the ship.

It is not clear where, exactly, these shipyards were located, or even if they were all located in Attica. It is possible that triremes were built on allied Ionian islands, in the coastal cities of Ionia or even Thrace.
Also, it is not clear whether the shipbuilders had to be Athenian citizens or whether they were allowed to be citizens or even foreigners, something, however, unlikely if we judge by the strict Athenian legislation. This conclusion is supported by numerous excavation findings, which were found during the creation of the customs office in Piraeus, in 1835, with many inscribed plates, on which are written a number of names of ships, trierarchs, shipbuilders and many naval specialties, all of which are Greek names and the years 375 to 323 BC

The trireme could move with its sails, rowing or a combination of the above, when needed.

As a warship, it was built to have as its main means of propulsion, the oars (the oars) and auxiliary sails (sails) which were generally square or, more likely, trapezoidal, the main of which was carried on an antenna on the main mast (mast ) which was in the middle of the boat, while the smaller one was carried in an inclined mast forward of the master called "akatios". These sails were only used when there was a "head wind", that is, in a direction from the stern to the bow, or from the hip of the boat. They were, moreover, completely unsuitable for sailing "on the guarantee", commonly, "ortsa" or on a slope. There were also two kinds of sails: the large ones, which were used for long voyages, and the small ones, which were used when the wind was strong and as aids in naval battles, in which the large ones were always folded or previously removed.

Aristotle called it a "rowing machine". It had 170 oars, whereas if it had been a monohull of equal length it would have had only 54. This was achieved by the proper arrangement of the rows of oars, at three different levels, but relatively close together, to avoid excessive oar length for the top level. Specifically:

The lowest row of 54 chambers sat on a level just above the waterline.
The second row of 54 scales sat on a level that was above the previous one, at the middle height of the shoulders of the chambers.
The last row of 62 thranites was one level above and outside the previous one and, again, at the middle height of the scales' shoulders.
The oars differed from class to class, but were the same length: 4.2 - 4.4 meters. The difference was in the angle they formed with sea level. The oars of the chambers fell almost horizontally, since they were very close to the water, while those of the thanites were placed almost vertically.

The anchor
There are no finds and therefore the form of the anchor of the trier was not ascertained. At the sea station of Zea, in the sea, many stone structures were found in the shape of a truncated pyramid, with a horizontal through hole on the sides and a brass ring on the top. Possibly, these are fixed mooring anchors.

It is assumed, however, that the ship itself also had its own anchor, probably a metal one made of iron, because brass, being lighter, is less suitable. But even a wooden anchor with a stone counterweight would serve its purpose.

Armament - Piston
The trireme was designed for combat action and had, from its construction, special armament: the piston. The piston was a wooden, metallized or all-metal protrusion up to 2 meters long. It was a natural extension of the propeller. Its weight is estimated to have reached about 200 kilograms. Sometimes, a second, smaller piston was added on top of the main one. The basic piston varied in shape and sometimes had two or three serrations and sometimes had the shape of an animal or a sea monster. The use of a piston was not an innovation that first appeared in the trieri. The pentagons, from the Minoan Period, also carried a piston, as did the diires. However, its use was never generalized in naval battles. On the contrary, its use is rarely witnessed or implied and this became the reason to question, completely, by some researchers its martial use, but without sufficient arguments.

According to the testimony of Herodotus, the piston was first used in the Naval Battle of Alalia in 540 BC, between Greek colonists of Corsica and the Carthaginian - Tyrrhenian alliance, who wanted to expel them in order to bring under their control the rich iron deposits of the island . The Greeks won this naval battle, but with great losses and great damage to the ships that were saved, especially to their pistons. The opposing fleets did not consist only of triremes. According to another report by Herodotus and Hippoanactus of Ephesus, in 525 BC, the tyrant of Samos Polycrates had a fleet of piston-bearing triremes. From him onwards, the use of piston-bearing triremes was generalized until the end of the 6th BC. century. The use of a piston further strengthened the most powerful warship of the classical era and allowed it to be fully utilized. Other naval battles in which the use of pistons from triremes is clearly mentioned are: the Naval Battle of Ladis, the Naval Battle of Artemisius, the Naval Battle of Salamis and the Naval Battle of Eurymedon. From the last three, the Athenian Navy gained a great reputation and consolidated the relevant, successful tactical methods.

Embalming required great experience and maneuverability to find the right weak point and angle of attack of the enemy ship to succeed. Such a thing was, relatively, rare to happen, because it presupposed a rather large difference in experience and ability of the two captains and their crews or some, clear, disadvantage of the target, such as e.g. that it was full of passengers, so that the resalto was not favorable either. In general, however, it was a risky action, because even when it succeeded there was a risk of anchoring, so both ships were dragged along in sinking. During the second half of the 5th BC century, the opponents of Athens, who suffered more from the embolization ability of its triremes, attempted to find a suitable modification of the bow and the piston of their own triremes, so that it could function as an "anti-embolus", that is, as a countermeasure. This was pretty much the end of the use of the piston as a weapon, although it continued to be fitted to both threes and its larger "cousins" fours, fives, etc.

Existing pistons
So far, underwater archaeological research has been relatively unsuccessful in finding pistons of ancient warships. It is known, both from the classical literature and from the latest (2003) excavations at the monument of Augustus in Nikopolis Preveza (Smyrtoulas hill), that in the Temple of Ares and Poseidon 36, carved in stone, sockets for 36 pistons of his ships were discovered Cleopatra's Ptolemaic fleet, from the naval battle of Actium. Unfortunately, these pistons were removed in the 4th century AD, under Theodosius, and taken to Constantinople, where they were minted to produce coins. Thus, today the following pistons or their remains are available:

a) Israel Athlit's three-year piston. It was found in 1985 by divers at the bottom of Haifa and today it is exhibited in the Haifa Maritime Museum. It is the only original piston that is preserved intact. It bears four (4) symbols, the caduceus of Hermes, the trident of Poseidon, a helmet and a star.
(b) Fragment of Cleopatra's Trier Plunger: Found in 2003 in Nicopolis, at the monument of Augustus, removed and exhibited in the archaeological museum of Nicopolis, in Preveza. It weighs about 30 Kilos.
(c) Large relic (30% of the whole) trier piston. It is exhibited, as a diver's donation, in the Piraeus maritime museum, in the marina of Zea.
(d) Small piston fragment recovered in 2010 by French divers, south of France.
(e) Replica of a piston mounted on the Trier Olympia of the Greek Navy. It lacks symbols.

Crew and management
All existing ancient sources (Herodotus, Thucydides, Demosthenes, etc.) agree on the normal number of the trireme's crew: 200 men, which were distributed as follows:

Officers 7:
Commander-in-Chief: He is the overall commander of the ship's commander, crew and support. In the case of Athens, he belonged to the class of "five hundred and two" and assumed, together with this prominent position, the obligation to pay the cost of the construction of the trireme and all the expenses of paying the crew and all kinds of maintenance, feeding and equipment of the vessel.
Governor: He was in charge of safe sailing. They were handling the rudder.
Helmsman: He was responsible for training the rowers, disciplining them and distributing their food and directing the pace of rowing.
Foreman: Usually, he stood on the bow, observing and reporting to the two above that he was observing something important, (observer duties)
Pentacontarch: The name is a remnant of the pentecontor era, but in the triremes he had the duties of secretary, treasurer and caretaker, as well as being responsible for all kinds of supplies.
Shipwright: He was in charge of the technical matters of the vessel which included repairs and overhauls when these were required.
Triiraulis or piper: He used a pipe and accompanied the rhythm of rowing.
General duty sailors: 9 - 10
Eretes (rowers): 170, of which 62 "thranites", 54 "zygites" and 54 "thalamites", and
Passengers (marines): 14 (10 spearmen + 4 archers).
In Athens, the 10 hoplites belonged to the order of the zeugites and, therefore, typically referred only to the triarch, while the rest of the officers, the archers, the sailors and the eretes, belonged to the lower order, the theta. The archers normally took a position at the stern, protecting the skipper. When needed, however, the passengers increased to 80.

In general, sailors on Greek triremes were citizens and not slaves or convicts. If they needed the employment of slaves, then they were freed first. They were also not tied to their posts and instead tended to be armed, especially the Thranites, and took part in deck combat in the event of a salvo.

In classical times, they were paid instead of three obols, daily, and, later, instead of a drachma, receiving also a food ration in kind. Never were the Greek triremes used as coercive works of condemnation, as, for example, was done in the Roman triremes and galleys of other naval forces.

The office of Trierarch in ancient Athens was considered a prestigious title since it was usually the safest antechamber for the highest offices of the State.
This system of navigation of the Athenian trireme is also referred to by the English admiral Custans in his compendium "A Study of War" in which he extols the supremacy of the trireme in its time.
The Military Role of the Three-Year-Olds
The triremes were warships, i.e. they had the task of fighting against enemy naval units and neutralizing them, usually en masse, organized in squadrons and fleets.

Their simplest and most common mission was to patrol along the coasts of the state entity they called home and prevent hostile actions against those coasts and friendly merchant and fishing vessels.
Instead, they could take on the role of raiding vessels against an enemy coast, pursuing or sinking enemy merchant force and landing raiding ships ashore. The small draft made the trireme able to sail almost to the enemy shore, favoring the disembarkation of raiding ships.

This was made even easier in raids against organized ports where there were wharves or jetties. A typical example is the raid on Piraeus by the Lacedaemonians and the Aeginites under Thelastias in the summer of 387 BC.

The main advantages of triremes for naval battles, relatively close to shores, were:

the overall light construction (total weight with full equipment about 45 t), which allowed relatively easy towing on land and, at the same time, rapid lowering, to deal with some emergency naval threat.
the significant, for the time, sailing speed: With only her sails, she reached 5 knots. If she used only her oars, she would get up to about 8. Finally, with a strong wind and full rowing power ("thein and elaynin"), she would reach 10 knots.
the great flexibility.
how it could dissolve without sinking. Thus, the absence of shipwrecked triremes is also explained, with the piston being the only one that was sinking. Most, even of the embolized triremes, remained on the surface, even as debris. What was salvaged from the pistons of the destroyed triremes was traditionally taken by the victorious triremes. If their defeated comrades survived, they were obliged to surrender them themselves, together with their sword.
Their main disadvantages were:

that they were not safe ships in bad weather, because they had a shallow draft (keel), making them, therefore, unstable. This forced them to sail along the coast (costa-costa), a fact which limited their tactical use.
that they had relatively little storage capacity which limited the loading of long-distance supplies, as well as relatively little capacity for marines. These two reduced the possibility of strategic landings deep behind enemy lines, unless (and this happened when necessary) and accompanied by transports or even merchant ships, which were, however, vulnerable to attacks by enemy triremes.
the relatively short life span, since in just 3 years she was called "old".
the relatively high cost of its construction and maintenance.
The failure and destruction of the Athenian Campaign in Sicily was largely due to the above.

Tactics on naval battles
When one, at least, of the two opposing fleets intended to use embolization (when he believed that he was superior in experience in knowledge and application of the necessary maneuvers, that his ships were clearly superior, or, finally, when he knew that he was behind in passengers to apply resalto), two were the dominant tactical methods to achieve this on the wide scale he desired:

Diekplus (ie, through): It provided for the entry of the fleet through the gaps in the enemy formation, turning and attacking the enemy ships, sideways, or at its stern. They avoided, however, right in the middle of it, because then it was extremely difficult to disengage the attacking trireme from the one receiving the attack. According to modern calculations the speed for successful embolization was proportional to the angle of impact.
Periplus (i.e., more about the enemy): It provided for sailing around the opposing formation, in a spiral, so that the opposing ships would be forced to retreat so far as to start colliding with each other, or else to become disorganized, so that they would become, relatively speaking, easy targets.
The above tactics, of course, were not always successful.

There was, finally, another tactic, the frontal attack, in order to disable the enemy's pistons and to conduct the naval battle with a salvo and a deck battle.
Three-year variations
Although triremes were normally naval warships, there were non-permanent variants of them as transport, auxiliary vessels. Two were the usual variations:

Oplitagos trireme: With lining of the sloop, with wood and sealing the openings of the oars of the two lower levels, and replacing the 108 thalamites and zygites with 80 hoplites, trinkets and supplies, the transport capacity of the trireme rose from 80 to 160 men in total, with relatively little reduction in buoyancy and top speed.
Cavalry trireme: With minor modifications a trireme could carry up to 30 horsemen for the cavalry.
There were also the triremes of special missions:
Postal: They carried messengers or even messages.
Embassies: Carried ambassadors and, in general, diplomats on diplomatic missions.
Sacred: They participated in sacred rituals or carried the message of the Olympic Truce.
The trinity's swan song
The last known naval battle in which triremes were used to ram the enemy, failing, was the Battle of Amorgos, in 322 BC: The Macedonian opponents of the Athenians had stronger, but less flexible ships, mainly four- and five-masted ships. Here, embolism was the only way to victory for the Athenians, because the larger opponents had a large advantage in passengers. Failure to achieve mass embalming, and being forced into deck combat, spelled the beginning of the end for the trireme fleets.

Henceforth, the rich empires built and extended polyhares (quad- and above) and the smaller states and pirates smaller maneuverable vessels.

Performances and reports
Unfortunately, no original trireme survives because its material, wood, does not hold up well in the wet environment. Even pictorial representations of it are relatively rare and usually inaccurate, possibly due to the difficulty of correctly rendering its complex construction.

The most important surviving representation is that of the famous Lenorman relief, on the Acropolis, which dates between 410 BC. - 400 BC.

There are, however, some painted representations on vases, such as the representation of a stern on the amphora of Talos.

Also, on the epitaph stele of Democleides (National Archaeological Museum), a piston-bearing outline of a bow is depicted, while on the epitaph stele of Demetrius (Munich sculpture gallery), again, a piston-bearing bow is depicted, in the opposite direction, however, and with an epaulette and you are seduced.

Besides, the new residents at the Zea shipyard, in Piraeus, provide the researchers with data for the determination of various sizes of the vessel.

Finally, the ancient Greek literature provides important references to the works of Herodotus, Aeschylus of Salaminomachus, Thucydides, Plutarch, etc.

There are also inscriptions in various archival texts, such as those of the curators of the neorio and in Philo's toolbox.

In the 1980s, a trireme named "Olympias" was built by the Hellenic Navy, in the context of experimental archaeology. The ship's plans were based on relevant studies by the British, Coates and Morrison, but the accuracy of their calculations was strongly disputed by other researchers. However, the process of building the ship and, later, its practical use, added useful experience to the researchers, in general, putting an end to the various contradictions. The main dichotomy concerned the length of the ship, as there was confusion as to the proper metric system, the classical or the Hellenistic.

Finally, the length of 37 meters with a draft of 1.5 meters was chosen. She made her last voyage with the original crew on August 26, 1987. The result was a maximum rowing speed of 12 knots. Disputing researchers estimate that it should be 40 meters long.

Apart from the others, however, Olympias was also an attraction and was used in extraordinary ceremonies, such as e.g. for the transfer of the Olympic Flame to Piraeus during the Athens Olympic Games, on August 11, 2004.