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Themistokles of Athens (c. 529 – 459 BCE), alternatively Themistocles, was an Athenian politician and general, best known for his involvement in the Greco-Persian Wars.

Biography

Greco-Persian Wars

During the Second Persian invasion of Greece, Themistokles participated in the defense of Greece against the Achaemenid Empire, alongside King Leonidas of Sparta. In the face of the invaders, Themistokles ordered the evacuation of old men, furniture, goods, women, and children, and this decree was memorized as a stele on the Promontory of Skylla in Argolis.[1] In September 480 BCE, Themistokles commanded the Greek navy at the Battle of Salamis to victory, which halted the Persians plan to conquer the Peloponnese peninsula. This and subsequent battles allowed Themistokles to gain much reputation.[2]

Themistokles also spent his time travelling the Greek world, visiting landmarks including the Lightning Zeus, the Statue of Athena, the Akrokorinth, Mount Taygetos, and the Stymphalos Armored Bird, documenting his thoughts onto a scroll and hide them at each location. At one point, he also hid a treasure at the sanctuary dedicated to Ajax on Salamis.[3]

Exile and later years

Around 471 BCE, Themistokles was ostracized from Athens and sought refuge in Persia, where he was welcomed by the boy king, Artaxerxes I. Despite Themistokles being his father's greatest enemy, Artaxerxes nevertheless gave him asylum in the country, granting him the position of Satrap of various Persian provinces. Themistokles was taught the Persian customs, language and traditions. In return, He told Artaxerxes stories of various landmarks in Greece.[3]

Prior to Themistokles's death in 459 BCE, Artaxerxes promised him that he would visit the landmarks he was told about.[3]

Legacy

Themistokles' deeds garnered him fame and he lived on in word of mouth as well as in monuments, enough for people like Phoxidas to still remember them by the 1st century BCE.[4]

Themistokles' stories also had a profound influence on Artaxerxes who, after his exile from Persia and seeking refuge in Megaris, asked the misthios Kassandra to look for the locations Themistokles had described for him.[3]

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Appearances

References

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