He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas better than any man I ever met. — Abraham Lincoln

Story of Greece - Mary Macgregor

The Battle of Artemisium

While Leonidas was fighting so bravely on land, Themistocles was with the fleet at Artemisium. If the Persians passed this point and entered the Malian Gulf, they would be able to land troops behind Leonidas and secure the pass of Thermopylae without difficulty.

But before the Persian fleet reached Artemisium, a sudden storm arose and dashed some of the ships upon the rocks, some against each other. For three days the tempest raged, and when at length the sea grew calm, four hundred ships had been destroyed.

In spite of this disaster, the Persian fleet was still large enough to alarm the Greeks. When they saw it sailing off the north of the island of Euboea, Eurybiades, the Greek admiral, wished to sail away.

But the inhabitants of the island went to Themistocles to beg him not to let the fleet desert them. So fearful were they, that they offered him thirty talents (about 5800) if he would use his influence to persuade the other admirals to stay and protect their island.

Themistocles readily took the money, and sent eight talents (about 1552) to Eurybiades and his colleagues to bribe them to remain at Euboea.

The next night another storm arose, and again many of the Persian ships were scattered or dashed to pieces on the rocks. But when the wind fell the ships were repaired and the two fleets met in battle.

The struggle was fierce and long, but though the Persians lost a greater number of ships than did the Greeks, yet the fleet under Eurybiades was so heavily damaged that even Themistocles saw that safety lay in retreat. At the same time tidings reached him of the defeat of Thermopylae, and he knew that Xerxes would soon be marching to the south. The fleet must hasten home to protect her own coasts.

So the Greek fleet set sail down the long Euboean strait and did not stop until it reached the island of Salamis. But as they sailed, Themistocles bade the captains of the Athenian fleets send some of their ships to the rocks where the Persians would search for water.

On these rocks Themistocles ordered to be cut in large letters these words, 'Ye do wrong, O Ionians, by going against your fathers and bringing Hellas into slavery. If ye can, take our side; if ye cannot, then fight for neither. But if this also is impossible, at least in the battle be slack and lazy, remembering that ye are sprung from us and that we are fighting in a quarrel which ye began.'

By these words Themistocles hoped to win the Ionians to his side; or, if that might not be, he hoped at least to make Xerxes so suspicious of them that he would be afraid to let them take part in the battles which had yet to be fought.


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