noun[mass noun] historical
A combustible compound emitted by a flame-throwing weapon, used to set light to enemy ships. It was first used by the Greeks besieged in Constantinople (673-8). It ignited on contact with water, and was probably based on naphtha and quicklime.
- In 1139 the Second Lateran Council decreed that Greek fire and similar burning weapons were ‘too murderous ‘to be used in Europe.’
- Their navy first threatened Constantinople in 654, Greek fire being one of the weapons used to defeat this and subsequent armadas.
- The defenders of the castle were killed off by hunger, plague, or actual weapons such as Greek fire arrows.
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