S. Ford Weiskittel to speak about the history of the Greek trireme at Fairfield University


Philosophers, playwrights, the Olympics, and mythology are just a few of the remarkable contributions that ancient Greek civilization has made to the world. On Friday, April 30 at 5:15 p.m. in Canisius Hall, Room 15, S. Ford Weiskittel brings a little more Greek history and culture to Fairfield University. In a talk entitled, "Salamis: Triumph of the Greek Trireme," Weiskittel will speak about the Greek trireme, the most sophisticated warship of its time.

On Saturday, May 1, a panel discussion on the construction and rowing of a Greek trireme will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. in Canisius 15. Joining Mr. Weiskittel will be Dr. Evangelos Hadjimichael, dean of the Fairfield University School of Engineering.

President of Trireme Trust USA, Weiskittel holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in architecture from Princeton and a Master of Arts in classics from Oxford University. He has taught classics (Greek and Roman history and literature) at Johns Hopkins University and William Smith and Hobart Colleges in Geneva, N.Y.

The trireme, unlike other ships of its time, was made of light wood easily destroyed by waves or stolen by enemies. Consequently, only pictures on pieces of pottery and stone carvings and references to the triremes in Greek literature remain. Weiskittel will answer questions about the appearance of the trireme, its speed and agility, and its purpose to the Greeks. In taking listeners back in time, he will uncover the architectural wonder of the trireme.

The trireme played a vital role in the defeat of the Persian empire by the Greeks in the 5th century, B.C., and helped save Greek civilization from Persian conquest. During the 1980s, a British classicist and a British naval architect researched and reconstructed a model of an actual trireme that was commissioned as the Greek navy ship in the Olympics. In order to figure out how it ran, an oar crew of British and American rowers was recruited.

Weiskittel became involved in recruiting and training American rowers between the years 1988 and 1992. He also founded Trireme Trust USA and organized transportation to Poros on the Aegean Sea. Beginning as a rower himself, Weiskittel eventually became one of the rowing masters and wrote several articles about the trireme and its sea trials for Smithsonian and other periodicals. He has also given many lectures and presentations on the trireme project across the United States.

For more information, please contact William Abbott, Ph.D., associate professor of history, at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2514.

Bookmark and Share

Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on April 23, 2004

Vol. 36, No. 272