THEMIS'TOCLES, the great Athenian general and statesman, was the son of an obscure citizen of Athens, and was born about 514 B.C. He was actuated by excessive ambition,from a very early period, and began his public career by setting himself in opposition to the principal men of the state, and chiefly Aristides, "the just." It is uncertain whether he was at Marathon, but there is no doubt that the laurels gained there by Miltiades fired Themistocles's ambition. From the time (483) that he got his incon veniently upright rival, Aristides (q.v.), ostracised, he was regarded as the political leader In Athens, being made archon eponymus in 481. In order to recover for Athens the naval supremacy in Greece, and that she might be prepared to meet the expected Persian invasion, be persuaded the Athenians to devote the proceeds arising from the silver mines at Laurium to the construction of a fleet, sagaciously foreseeing that his country's only chance of overcoming her enemy was by sea. In the battles of Artemi sium and Salamis (480), disastrous for the Persians, Themistocles, commander of the Athenian fleet, the largest iu Greece, to avoid dissensions, was content to serve under Eurybiades the Spartan. On both these occasions it was only by the greatest tact, combined with threats and a judicious outlay of the bribes which he himself had received in profusion, that 'Themistocles could induce the other commanders to come to an engagement with the Persians. On the night previous to Salamis he sent a faithful slave to tell Xerxes that, unless be came up next day, the Greek fleet would be scattered, and he would miss the chance of an engagement; thus securing either victory to the Greeks or the favor of Xerxes to himself in case of defeat. See SALAMIS. In several other ways did the wily Themistocles contrive to provide tor himself a safe retreat at the Persian court in case of disaster. The victory at Salamis raised his reputation to
the highest point. Not neglecting his oWn personal aggrandizement, he sailed round among the Grecian islands, and on various pretexts extorted enormous sums from the inhabitants. Shortly after the Persian invasion, his fellow-eitizens began to see through him, and he was accused of bribery and extortion. In 471 he was ostracised and retired to Argos; and finally, to escape being tried for treason, in which he was implicated by the correspondence of Pausanias, he betook himself, iu 465, to the court of Artaxerxes, king of Persia; but before he would see the king himself, got permission to wait a year, during which he made himself master of the language and usages of Persia. At the end of this time he managed to raise himself so highly in the king's favor that, after •the Persian fashion, the town of Magnesia was appointed to supply him with bread, Lamp sacus with wine, and Myus with other provisions. He lived securely at Magnesia until his death in 449. Some authorities assert that he poisoned himself. A monument was erected to Themistocles in the market-place of Magnesia, and it is said that his bones were secretly taken to Attica, and burned there. Undoubtedly Themistocles was a man of very great sagacity and determination, had a quick and keen perception of difficulties both present and future, which his ready invention, backed by promptness of action, enabled him to meet and overcome. On the other hand, he appears to have been possessed of no moral principles, his greatest ambition apparently having been to make himself, by fair means or foul, the greatest man in Greece.