Ancient World Now:Themistocles Part I

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“The Persians are coming! The Persians are coming!” Can’t you just hear the Athenians running through the streets in panic? The men of the city sent their wives, children, and parents to Troezen for safety and hustled down to the ships ready to sail to the island of Salamis. Athens was abandoned. Plutarch writes of the sad sight of the old and infirm left behind, and of the pet dogs running after their masters down to the shore. One dog jumped into the water and paddled next to the galley all the way to Salamis, where he struggled ashore, fell down exhausted, and died.

Abandoning the city of Athens was the course of action planned by their leader, Themistocles, one of the “base-born lads”, whose intelligence and ambition made up for the fact that he was not a full-blooded Athenian! Only in a democratic Athens was his rise possible. Popular with the “common” people, Themistocles was known to greet everyone in the city by name. Gaining their confidence, he convinced Athens to prepare to defend themselves, and with shrewd foresight, set about making Athens a great naval power.

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