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The alternative was to engage Athens on the high seas, but in doing so Sparta was to suffer absolute disaster at sea in both 410 and 406 BC. However, in 405 BC Sparta finally gained the upper hand and its admiral Lysandros resoundingly defeated the Athenians at the engagement off Aigospotami. The following year Lysandros was able to strangle the Athenians into submission, his naval victory having effectively severed their grain supplies from the Black Sea region. So Athens itself became vulnerable to the sea power of its enemies: the state's reliance upon seaborne supply was its Achilles heel.

6 tons) of water in a ten-hour rowing day (Morrison-Coates 2000: 238). The amount of water needed to prevent dehydration caused by sustained exertion can be reduced for some hours if it contains sodium and a food that can be absorbed quickly. Triremes probably carried salt for that purpose, but glucose was not known until modern times. 3). The ancient Athenians, with their lower body mass, were probably made of sterner stuff than their modern counterparts, who are mostly trained for sprint racing.

Four years later there were 360 triremes and 50 quadriremes, while in the following year seven quinqueremes (pentereis) had been added to that number. Finally, in 323 BC, the navy had a total of 315 triremes and 50 quadriremes. Of course, quality ranks higher than quantity, and the fleets launched in the 4th century BC were in no way inferior to those that cruised up and down the Aegean in the days of empire. Before 357 BC, all triremes were simply classed into 'new', 'old' and an intermediate category without a specific label (IG 2 2 1604).

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