The trireme was the first ship designed for war. Introduced by the Greeks, triremes were powered by three banks of oars on each side, manned by well-trained oarsmen. These oarsmen were highly paid professionals or patriotic citizens, not slaves and prisoners as depicted in fiction. A huge, bronze "beak" mounted at the bow of the ship was used to ram and sink enemy ships. Because of its long, narrow hull, the trireme was very unstable in all but the calmest waters, and as a consequence its crew rarely ventured out of sight of land for long periods of time, lest the ship be caught in a storm and sunk.
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