The dromons (from Greek δρόμων, dromon, i.e. "runner") were the most important warships of the Byzantine navy from the 6th to 12th centuries AD. They were indirectly developed from the ancient trireme and were usually propelled by both oar and sail, a configuration that had been used by navies in the Mediterranean Sea for centuries.
Literary sources and accounts reveal that there were at least three varieties of dromon. These were, firstly the ousiakon which took its name from one company or ousia of 100 men. This was a two-banked galley with the lower rank rowing only, and the upper rank rowing or disengaging to fight when required. Secondly the slightly larger pamphylos with a crew of between 120-160. Thirdly the dromon proper, which had a crew of 200, 50 on the lower bank, and 100 on the upper bank in two files, together with 50 marines.
The dromons had a central tower (xylokastron = wooden castle) near the main mast, from which the marines could use their bow and arrows or throw spears and other projectiles. Dromons were frequently equipped with flamethrowers (siphones, hence the ships were described as siphonophoroi dromones) that discharged Greek fire and catapults capable of hurling 10 kg projectiles up to 250 meters.
Middle English dromond and Old French dromont are derived from the dromon, and described any particularly large medieval ship.
- In J.R.R. Tolkien's The Return of the King, the third book of The Lord of the Rings, the corsairs of Umbar are described as sailing "dromunds".
- In the PC game Civilization III: Conquests, the Dromon is the Byzantine "unique unit".
- The 2nd edition of Dungeons & Dragons included a ship called a Dromond in the Player's Handbook.
- Medieval II: Total War Includes the Dromon as a naval unit you can create.
dromond in Bosnian: Dromon
dromond in Czech: Dromón
dromond in German: Dromone
dromond in Modern Greek (1453-): Δρόμων
dromond in Spanish: Dromon
dromond in French: Dromon
dromond in Hebrew: דרומון
dromond in Hungarian: Dromon
dromond in Italian: Dromone
dromond in Japanese: デュロモイ
dromond in Dutch: Dromon
dromond in Norwegian: Dromon
dromond in Polish: Dromon
dromond in Portuguese: Dromon
dromond in Serbo-Croatian: Dromon
dromond in Serbian: Дромон