It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. — Abraham Lincoln

Story of Greece - Mary Macgregor

Themistocles Tricks the Admirals

Eurybiades had determined that the fleet should stay at Salamis. But the other admirals were dissatisfied. When great numbers of the Persian ships were sighted, and when at the same times Xerxes was seen marching with his vast land forces toward the shore, they were more than dissatisfied; they were afraid.

So they called a secret council at which they resolved to retreat to Corinth, as they had wished to do from the first. To settle the matter they bade the pilots get ready to sail.

Themistocles soon heard what had been done, but he was determined to thwart the plans of his adversaries. He would force them to fight in the narrow strait of Salamis.

So he sent a message to the King of Persia, and pretending to be his friend, he warned him that the Greek fleet had determined to escape. 'If you wish to win a great victory, O king,' ran the message, 'seize each end of the strait before the Greek fleet sails away.'

Xerxes was overjoyed when he heard that the Greeks wished to escape, for it seemed to him that they must be cowards whom it would be easy to beat.

So while Themistocles called together a last council of war and did all that he could to delay the fleet, Xerxes was busy securing the strait as Themistocles had bidden him do.

The pilots were on board the Greek ships, impatient to sail, the admirals were listening to Themistocles with but scant courtesy, when the messenger the Athenian was so anxiously awaiting arrived.

Themistocles hastened from the council to find that it was Aristides, his old rival, who had brought the tidings, that the Greek fleet was shut in by the Persian ships. Flight was no longer possible.

Then Themistocles told Aristides the trick he had played on the Persian king, and how he had at the same time duped the other admirals.

Whether Aristides approved or disapproved of what his old rival had done, he believed that it was well that the battle should be fought in the straits, and he determined to support Themistocles. He himself hastened to the council, to tell the admirals that they were surrounded by the enemy.

At first the admirals refused to believe such evil news. They did not guess the truth, but they came so near to it that they said Themistocles had probably started the rumour, so as to delay their flight.

While they still talked, some sailors who had deserted from the Persians brought the same tale. The Greek admirals were at last convinced that a battle was inevitable.


Front Matter

The Great God Pan
The Six Pomegranate Seeds
The Birth of Athene
The Two Weavers
The Purple Flowers
Danae and Her Little Son
The Quest of Perseus
Andromeda and Sea-Monster
Acrisius Killed by Perseus
Achilles and Briseis
Menelaus and Paris Do Battle
Hector and Andromache
The Horses of Achilles
The Death of Hector
Polyphemus the Giant
Odysseus Escapes from Cave
Odysseus Returns to Ithaca
Argus the Hound Dies
The Bow of Odysseus
The Land of Hellas
Lycurgus and His Nephew
Lycurgus Returns to Sparta
Training of the Spartans
The Helots
Aristomenes and the Fox
The Olympian Games
The Last King of Athens
Cylon Fails to be Tyrant
Solon Frees the Slaves
Athenians Take Salamis
Pisistratus Becomes Tyrant
Harmodius and Aristogiton
The Law of Ostracism
The Bridge of Boats
Darius Rewards Histiaeus
Histiaeus Shaves His Slave
Sardis Is Destroyed
Sandal Sewn by Histiaeus
Earth and Water
Battle of Marathon
Miltiades Sails to Paros
Aristides is Ostracised
The Dream of Xerxes
Xerxes Scourges the Hellespont
Bravest Men of All Hellas
Battle of Thermopylae
Battle of Artemisium
Themistocles at Salamis
Themistocles Tricks Admirals
Battle of Salamis
Battle of Plataea
Delian League
Themistocles Deceives Spartans
Themistocles is Ostracised
Eloquence of Pericles
Pericles and Elpinice
The City of Athens
Great Men of Athens
Thebans Attack Plataeans
Attica Invaded by Spartans
Last Words of Pericles
Siege of Plataea
The Sentence of Death
Brasidas Loses His Shield
The Spartans Surrender
Brasidas the Spartan
Amphipolus Surrenders
Alcibiades the Favourite
Socrates the Philosopher
Alcibiades Praises Socrates
Images of Hermes Destroyed
Alcibiades Escapes to Sparta
The Siege of Syracuse
Athenian Army is Destroyed
Alcibiades Returns to Athens
Antiochus Disobeys Alcibiades
Walls of Athens Destroyed
March of the Ten Thousand
Pelopidas and Epaminondas
Seven Conspirators
Battle of Leuctra
Death of Epaminondas
The Two Brothers
Timoleon exiles Dionysius
Icetes Attacks Timoleon
Battle of Crimisus
Demosthenes' Wish
Greatest Orator of Athens
The Sacred War
Alexander and Bucephalus
Alexander and Diogenes
Battle of Granicus
The Gordian Knot
Darius Gallops from Battle
Tyre Stormed by Alexander
Battle of Gaugamela
Alexander Burns Persepolis
Alexander Slays Foster-Brother
Porus and His Elephant
Alexander Is Wounded
The Death of Alexander
Demosthenes in the Temple