Athenian trireme (Pt. 3, part of the crew)

 Back to this long neglected project!

Last time I left the hull itself kind of finished, awaiting to fix the oars. But before I do that, I think I needed to work on the crew.

If we speak of ancient naval warfare I believe we'll all think of Ben-Hur and the ramming speed scene. It is quite certain that the tactics of the era (and think of kind of five centuries earlier than the events in that movie, with very little or inexistent artillery on board) consisted essentially in ramming into each other, or breaking the oars and then boarding the enemy vessel. Triremes were designed to be light ships, agile and quick. Imagine floating spears trying to hit each other. So the embarked force was pretty scarce. The sources speak of about ten armoured men and just kind of four archers, and that was all.

Before them, I first worked on the Trierach himself. I'm using the Warlord "Classical Greek Phalanx", as it depicts in quite a reasonably way the wargear of the time (I could have also used the "Ancient Greek Hoplites" box, as they share the infantry sprue, but I got the other box first). I begun to fiddle with one of the minis this way...

Just a composition of shapes

I also begun to work on the helmsman, the Kybernetes (quick question: how old were you when you learned that the word 'cybernetics' comes directly from 'kybernetes'? As for myself, I only knew this as I got involved on this trireme project, and it blew my mind).

The mini is supposed to fit in the hollow space between the spade rudders:

Likely the most experienced sailor on board, so I chose that head

The boss is behind, though

I have found nothing on the role of the Trierach in boarding actions. Given that he should keep on coordinating the whole ship, I'm not sure of to what extent he usually got involved in such ations, instead of remaining in his seat, ensuring that the other members of the crew still were doing what they were supposed to. On the other hand, a boarding action is quite an occasion to lead and earn glory, so there's still some base (even a solid base if you please) to believe that Trierachs got their hands dirty.

Whatever the case, my pal Rinahe, o Builder of Ships, who is also developing his own ruleset to play with these triremes, especifically told me that the Trierach was meant to fight in boarding actions, so I needed a miniature for him. That's why I chose the same torso and a similar head:

Sitting and fighting

Details with greenstuff still to be sorted, but  here you have the general composition

I chose a brass cuirass for him, not for any specific reason but to make him look different from the rest of the fellas. That's the same reason why I used a sword instead of a pike. Well, if Ridley Scott can do his Napoleon, I can hope you will indulge me on this matter. It's just for easy identification in gaming terms.

Let's move on and have a look on the embarked hoplites, what we call Marines today, the Epibatai.

"Oh, but it's an easy project, you won't have to paint more than a dozen minis, trust me"

I tried to give as much variety as I could with the options of the sprue. If you are not familiar with Hoplite wargear (just as I was a few weeks ago) you may wonder why I chose white for all their armours. You have to understand that all my knowledge on the issue came from Jason and the Argonauts and the like.

That's an accurate hoplite and there's no further dicussion

I in fact thought that the armour was made of leather, until I learned that it was called "linothorax" for a good reason, which is that it's in fact made of linen. I guess most of you already knew that, but I'm still learning new stuff everyday.

Don't worry, I won't bother you with my pedantic new knowledge, I'll just let you a video which tells everything much better than I ever could:

But you're here to see minis, so let's move on. If you've been visiting this blog long enough, you'll know how I love making easy things complicated.

I mean, there has to be chequers, right? It's me, after all!

There's no doubt. The word 'dioptre' definitely derives from Greek

A quick view of the Epibatai so far:

Now they have bases!

My pal and I agreed on transparent bases. However, I made a mistake, I used 25mm bases and, as you can see, they don't fit in the central part of the trireme! I need 20mm bases. I'm on my way to solve that, but for now these will serve their purpose.

More stuff. The aspis, the shield. They were made of wood with a layer of brass, so I originally painted them accordingly

You can spot decorations on the linothorax, I'll provide better pics later

The thing is that the shields were highly decorated too. I planned to paint on them but leave a few in brass, to apply decals on them. But the more I read, the more I'm convinced there was no brass left unpainted. Ever. I'm using the same rationale I used when painting the hull of the Agreusa, the shields were made to show off, they had to be bright, splendorous, a matter of pride for the bearer.

And so madness kept on growing strong in me

If you don't think there should be an angry face with tusks there, sorry, this blog is not meant for you

Yes, of course I see a roulette there. All on red!

Please have the first view of the finished Epibatai with their decals:

Close-ups to come

Let's pay some attention to the Trierarch, as he's a special character. He's the captain, the master & commander, this is the miniature that embodies the representation on board of the very player that makes decisions on the whole vessel, who owns life and death of the crew. On the spur of the moment, in a fit of narcissism, I decided he was to represent me, and so I chose to name him in the most dreadful way imaginable, with a name that fills with fear the hearts of the enemies. Let me introduce...

  Suberocles of Pomodoro.

Sounds scary, doesn't it?

Note: nor the shield or the helmet are yet glued, I'm still debating of the best way to have them on board.

Standing version

With a sea-related symbol

What about the cybernetic helmsman? He also deserves a name, for sure. Here you have Diopter of the Piraeus:

The name suggests he was really born to be a lookout

You may notice the base under his feet. I built it so he can fit in his place and not fall down (I'm not gluing the mini). The place is too little even for 20mm bases, so I found this solution.

Some people pronounce his name "Dioptre" and some prefer "Diopter". You know, accents across the Egean may vary slightly

Now that we have the characters, let's have a better look at the marines. I'm showing them in groups of three or four. In all the cases you'll have a side view first, to see the linothorax, and then a front view, with the shields. You can see I've used mostly sea-related symbols on the shields, but also a few animal or hunting motifs, to show the devotion to Artemis, to whom the Agreusa is dedicated.

(Yes, of course I used an angry face with tusks!!! It's the most Oldhammer thing I could do on this project!)

Here you have all of them, including the Trierarch:

Ready to board the enemy vessel

Well, this is it then! What's left to do? I need four archers, a couple of sailors and the bloke who sets the pace for the oarsmen. And, of course, I need to add the oars to the ship! I hadn't done it yet as I needed to paw the hull to make the helmsman fit in and glue the rudders, but now I think it's a safe thing to do.

Anyway, that will be another day. May Artemis, fair as the spotted fawn, look after you and grant her favour.


  1. Fantastic work! I particularly love the shields. The conversions are great and the whole thing is shaping up really well. It's going to look amazing.

    1. Thank you! It's a demanding project, so I need to take it sip by sip, but I hope it will be nice in the end!

  2. What a great project! Fantastic work!

    1. Thanks! Little by little I'm making progress!

  3. Fantastic job on the crew Suber, all the extra details on the shields and the conversion work has really paid off, and a crew that even Jason would be proud of sailing with. Talking of ramming actions in films I thought the scenes in 300 rise of an Empire were really well shot and showed the horror of the event well, if not 100 % historically accurate was fun to watch.

    1. Right, those scenes are terrific! One can only imagine how dreadful a ramming action could be! I hope I'll be able to replicate that whenever I have this project ready!

  4. Kaire, Suberocles of Pomodoro, glorious commander of the Agreusa and ingenious ship builder - btw, is Pomodoro that round-shaped island south of Delos, where a strange fruit used in the typical Hellenic dish of gatzpakios is grown?
    We feared that, while we were offline in the last few months, you had reached the one hundred and fiftieth trireme, but instead we are happy to find a project that we saw in the early stages!
    This is a suber-post, which shows us the brilliant results with the crew: we really like how you balance gaming needs and attention to historical reality, with lots of elements to reflect on (for example what the hell does a trierarch on a trireme, kybernetes/cybernetics...). We can't wait to see the Agreusa launched at sea, to face its enemies; by the way, who will these enemies be?

    1. Hahaha, thank you! :D
      Hmm, you may have noticed that his name, though scary, doesn't sound that Hellenic; I suspect he is some kind of unscrupulous upstart from some place out of Athens...
      Not only I'm enjoying the hobby part of the project, but I'm also learning a lot of new stuff, and I can't really say which part I'm enjoying more!
      About the enemies, I believe my pal is also building Persian ships, so it will be a clash to be remembered!

  5. Replies
    1. Thanks! It may be getting out of hand, but that's not stopping me! :D

  6. Just another amazing project. So many inspiring posts in a single blog. I love transparent bases. I can nit wait to see more of this.

    1. Thank you! It's quite a long term project, but I like to enjoy every minute of it. I hope I can do the rest of the crew anytime soon!

  7. Thank you! They add some flavour to the project, I'm looking forward to completing the whole crew!

  8. Awesome looking project, lovely hopolite conversions, how many rowers are you going to make?
    Best Iain

    1. Thank you very much! I wouldn't dare to say if it's fortunate or unfortunate, but there's no space for actual minis of rowers, as that space is cleverly hidden below deck. I'll post pictures of the area on the next installment to let you see the area. On a second thought, given that Athenian triremes of the time had 170 rowers, I'm prone to think that it's quite fortunate for me that I don't have to worry about that!!

  9. Very cool project, I have really been enjoying watching this one. Malacassa.

    1. Thank you! I hope I can get back to the project anytime soon!

  10. Que maravilla! Es una auténtica maravilla!

    1. ¡Gracias! Todavía le queda curro, pero ahora por lo menos ya en mi cabeza intuyo que el proyecto es realizable...

    2. Pues, sinceramente, es una auténtica molonidad, cada detalle, cada miniatura... Es genial! Felicitaciones Suber.

  11. Wow Suber ... those shield designs look like they were painted on. From what I understand from your blog they are decals right? Brilliant application. Water decal application is an art in itself if you ask me :)

    1. Thank you! Yes, they are! I'm pretty (and consistently) bad with decals, but these were a nice option, so I took my chances and I'm happy with how they turned out :)