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Themistocles

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THEMISTOCLES, thE-mis'to-klez, Greek general and statesman: b. Athens, about 514 a.c.; d. Magnesia, Asia Minor, 449 a.c. He early displayed unusual ability and great ambi tion. The ostracism of Aristides in 483 was in part due to his influence, and he thereupon be came the political leader in Athens. He was elected archon eponymus in 481, and when the second invasion of Greece by Xences was threatened he obtained command of the Athen ian fleet, which through his exertions had been built from the income derived from the Lau rium silver mines. He consented to fight under the Spartan conunander in the battle off Arte misium and when, through neglect of his ad vice, the pass of Thermopylm was forced and the Persian hordes overran &coda and ad vanced upon Athens, he persuaded the Athen ians to convey their women and children to places of safety, abandon the city to the Per sians and those capable of bearing arms to talce to the ships. The exiles, among whom was Aristides, were recalled and the command of the Greek fleet was entrusted to a Spartan, Eurybiades. The battle of Salamis (480) re sulted in a signal victory for the Greeks and Themistocles, to whom the success was mainly due, now became the leader not only of Athens but of Greece. One of his greatest services to his country was the skilful manner in which, bY diplomacy and artful parleying with the Spartans, he gained time for the rebuilding of the walls of Athens. From this time the glory

of Themistocles declines. He had gained the hatred of the Spartans by building the walls of Athens so strongly and he was now accused by thean of treasonable negotiations with the Per sians. He was acquitted of this charge, though he was ostracized in 471 by his countrymen, who had become aware of his unscrupulous character and his inordinate love of riches, which he was accused of gratifying by unjust means. He retired to Argos, thence fled to Epirus, and ultimately sought protection at the Persian court, where he gained high favor with the reig-ning monarch, Artaxerxes Longimanus. He was deeply engaged in plans for the sub jugation of Greece by the Persians, which he had promised Artaxerxes to compass, when, knowing the impossibility of fulfilling his prom ises, according to some accounts, he took poison ; others, however, ascribe his death to natural causes. His career shows a curious admixture of noble and sagacious statesmanship and sor did ambition. He was possessed of great elo quence and was undoubtedly the savior of Athens and Greece at the crisis of Salamis. Consult Bauer, (Themistokles' (Merseburg 1881); Grote, (History of Greece' (1907) ; Wecklein, (Ueber Themistokles' (Munich 1892); also any standard history of Greece.