We seldom, if ever, think of a flamethrower as a weapon of warfare, but in the year 672, it was very much the weapon of choice for naval warfare by the the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantines). The weapon called Greek Fire was used in ship-mounted flamethrowers. This weapon was so unique and deadly due to the fact that throwing water onto the solution would only feed the fire. That really left nothing to do but abandon ship and try to swim as far away as you could and as fast as you could. Imagine the shock as the first victim of this weapon tried to throw water on the flames, only to have them explode in their faces. These days, Firefighters understand that some chemical fires require a different form of attack than other chemical fires. It the case of something like the Greek Fire, used by the Eastern Roman Empire, modern firefighters would use a foam solution or a dry powder, usually found in a fire extinguisher. Unfortunately, those things were not available in 672.
The Greek Fire was mostly used in naval warfare, because the required large flamethrowers to send its projectile across the water to the enemy ships. Ships could be better accommodated such a large piece of equipment. The infantry would be unable to carry such a weapon, although they probably wished they could, as it would effectively annihilate the enemy. The Greek Fire consisted of a combustible compound emitted by a flame-throwing weapon. It is believed that it could be ignited on contact with water, and was probably based on naphtha and quicklime. The Byzantines typically used the Greek Fire in naval battles with great results, as it could supposedly continue burning while floating on water. This technological advantage provided the Byzantines with military victories, including the salvation of Constantinople during the first and second Arab sieges. The Empire couldn’t have survived without it.
The impression made by Greek fire on the western European Crusaders was such that the name was applied to any sort of incendiary weapon, including those used by Arabs, the Chinese, and the Mongols, even though the formulas were different from that of Byzantine Greek Fire, which was a closely guarded state secret. The Byzantines also used pressurized nozzles to project the liquid onto the enemy, in a manner resembling a modern flamethrower. The usage of the term Greek fire has even been general in English and most other languages since the Crusades. The solution had a number of other names over the centuries. including sea fire, Roman fire, war fire, liquid fire, sticky fire, or manufactured fire, but none stuck quite like Greek Fire.
Being one of a set of twins, my brother-in-law, Mike Stevens always had a little bit of help in the trouble department. Now, I don’t say that Mike or his twin brother, Pat were delinquents or anything, but they were pretty good at pulling pranks…especially as teenagers. I’m told there was a time when they decided to take a fire extinguisher from the hosital. I’m not sure how they managed to get out of the hospital with a fire extinguisher, but somehow they did…I mean who just lets a couple of teenaged boys walk out of the hospital with a fire extinguisher? Seriously!! You know they are up to no good, and…they were planning nothing but trouble for sure. So, after sneaking out of the hospital with the fire extinguisher, the two boys jumped in their car, and drove around town, squirting people with the fire extinguisher!! I don’t know about you, but I can say that it would be quite a shock to be walking down the street, minding my own business, and suddenly out of nowhere, I am hit with the spray of a fire extinguisher. It’s like having a pie thrown in your face. Total shock!! And then to have two teenaged boys drive off laughing…well I’m sure the police were running all over town trying to find them…to no avail.
Mike, and his brother, Pat, for that matter, are a couple of characters, and I’m quite sure that their mother had her hands full trying to keep them in line. Mike is the kind of guy who likes to have fun and he loves to play jokes on people. Nevertheless, I suppose there is always the possibility of having a joke backfire. One day, he came into the house with a nail in his foot, and it was gushing blood. He told my sister, Alena that she had to pull it out. She was totally freaking out about this whole thing, but she did pull it out. Then, she decided that this whole thing wasn’t funny at all. You see, it was April Fools Day, and the “nail” was only attached to his sock. The sock was full of Ketchup, and that was the crowning touch on this great prank. Now, I can’t say if Mike walked away with a black eye on that one, but I’m sure that she told him how she felt about the whole thing…in the midst of her laughter, that is. Yes, Alena thought it was not a nice prank to pull on her, but it was, nevertheless…a really good prank.
I think life in the Stevens household is probably a bit unpredictible, because in addition to Mike and Alena, there were three children, Michelle, Garrett, and Lacey, who were all groomed by their dad to be pretty good in the trouble department too, thanks to their dad…not that Alena didn’t help with that too. Today is Mike’s birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!