Michael Kulikowski writes:
We have long known that Hellenistic cities and kings kept large navies, stocked with truly enormous ships, but surprisingly little has been asked about why this was so. Perhaps it is just that naval history isn’t a glamorous subject. Academic historians often look down on military history as the purview of hobbyists, and so tend not to pursue its pressing questions. For instance: navies cost vast amounts of money and always have done. Why did Hellenistic rulers find such costs worthwhile, as so few ancient societies did, and what were their navies for? This is a reminder – not least to politicians eyeing university budgets with uncharitable intent – that sometimes only obscure technical scholarship can reveal genuinely new things about our world.