July 5, 2022
Themistocles, from the Demo of Frearri (in ancient Greek: Θεμιστοκλῆς, Themistoklês, "Glory of the law"; Athens, between 530 and 520 BC - about 459 BC), was an Athenian politician and military. Among the first prominent politicians of the young democracy of Athens, he led a politics in favor of the people, thus receiving the support of the less affluent classes of the city, and generally in contrast with the noble families. Elected archon in 493 BC, he was the architect of the naval power of Athens, whose fleet will become the largest and most powerful in all of ancient Greece. In the years following the Battle of Marathon and during the Second Persian War he became the most influential politician in Athens. He continued to advocate the need for a large naval force and in 483 BC. he persuaded the Athenians to build a fleet of 200 triremes, which would prove crucial in the subsequent conflict with Persia. He commanded the Athenian fleet in the battles of chief Artemisius and Salamis. Thwarted in his program of approaching Argos and suspected of tyrannical attitudes, he was ostracized in 472 BC. (or perhaps in 471 BC) by political opponents Alcmeonidi and Filaidi, more inclined to support Cimon, supporter of the alliance with Sparta. He then took up residence in Argos, from where he tried, together with Pausanias, to raise a democratic movement against Sparta in the Peloponnese to procure the dominion of Hellas in Athens. Having discovered his plot, the Spartans accused him of having attempted, together with Pausanias, an alliance with Persia. Sentenced to death, he first fled to Magna Graecia; he was welcomed by King Artaxerxes I of Persia. Eventually he found a home in Magnesia, where he died on unknown dates and circumstances, according to many suicidal for not keeping his promises to the Persian king. It will be Pericles who will rehabilitate his memory and recognize him as a hero of the Athenian cause. According to Plutarch's judgment, he can be considered "the man who most of all contributed to the salvation of Greece" from the Persian threat. His naval policy had a long-term effect on the history of Athens, allowing his successors to expand the Athenian Empire.