Sometimes small incidents, rather than glorious exploits, give us the best evidence of character. So, as portrait painters are more exact in doing the face, I must give particular attention to the marks of the souls of men. — Plutarch

Demaratus

~ 480 BC
Civilization: Greek — Sparta
   Field of Renown:  monarch — King
Era:  Persian War

xerxes
CROSSING THE HELLESPONT WITH XERXES
Demaratus was an exiled Spartan king who lost his position due to a conflict with Cleomenes I, the other King of Sparta. There was some question regarding the paternity of Demaratus, since his mother was previously married, but the issue of his legitimate succession to the Spartan throne was not raised until after several years of feuding with Cleomenes I. They first differed on the degree to which Sparta should continue to interfere with internal affairs in Athens, after Cleomenes had driven Hippias out of the city. Later, Demaratus refused to support a Spartan campaign against Aegina, in which Cleomenes sought to punish the city's leaders who had sought an alliance with Persia. This lapse fired up enough indignation among the Spartans that plans were made to depose Demaratus, and place his brother Leotychides II on the throne. Demaratus was driven from Sparta and sought refuge in Persia, where he was granted the city of Pergamum and surrounding areas.

Ten years after his exile, Demaratus accompanied Xerxes on his expedition to Greece, and alone among his advisors, expressed doubt at Xerxes's ability to defeat the Greeks. Herodotus records numerous consultations between Xerxes and Demaratus, and at all times Demaratus courageously refrained from flattering Xerxes, and expressed his true assessment of the military situation.


Key events during the life of Demaratus:


Year
Event
515 BC
Demaratus ascends to the Eurypontid kingship of Sparta.
508 BC
Cleomenes I drives Hippias from Athens, but is displeased with Cleisthenes democratic reforms.
  Cleomenes I and Demaratus disagree regarding further interference in Athens politics.
501 BC
Cleomenes I attempts to punish Aegina for submitting to Persia, but Demaratus interferes.
491 BC
Cleomenes I drives Demaratus from the throne of Sparta, claiming illegitimacy.
490 BC
Flees to Persia and is granted the city of Pergamum.
480 BC
Accompanies Xerxes on his campaign to Greece. Present at the battle of Thermopylae.
  Returned to Asia Minor. Descendents were still in power 100 years later.

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Other Resources


Story Links
Book Links
Review of the Troops at Doriscus  in  Xerxes  by  Jacob Abbott
Battle of Thermopylae  in  Xerxes  by  Jacob Abbott
How Xerxes Crossed Over into Europe and of His Army  in  The Story of the Persian War  by  Alfred J. Church
Of the Battle of Thermopylae  in  The Story of the Persian War  by  Alfred J. Church
How Preparation Was Made for the Second War  in  The Story of the Persian War  by  Alfred J. Church
The Bravest Men of All Hellas  in  The Story of Greece  by  Mary Macgregor
How the Spartans Died at Thermopylae  in  Historical Tales: Greek  by  Charles Morris


Contemporary
Short Biography
Cleomenes I King of Sparta before Persian Wars, removed tyrants from Athens, defeated Argos.
Ariston Previous King of the Eurypontid line. Possibly father of Demaratus.
Leotychides II Son of Ariston, who claimed the throne in preference to Demaratus.
Leonidas Spartan King whose whole army died defending the pass of Thermopylae.
Xerxes Raised an enormous army for Persian invasion of Greece. Defeated at Battle of Salamis.
Isagoras Athenian enemy of Cleisthenes, supported by Cleomenes I, but not by Demaratus.
Agetus First husband of Demaratus's mother. Possibly father of Demaratus.