Greek fire, a flammable composition believed to have consisted of sulfur, naphtha, and quicklime. Although known in antiquity, it was first employed on a large scale by the Byzantines. Bronze tubes that emitted jets of liquid fire were mounted on the prows of their galleys and on the walls of Constantinople. The Byzantines in 678 and again in 717–18 destroyed two Saracen fleets with Greek fire.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.