THEMISTOCLESAthens, 525 - 460 B.C.
He was one of the greatest political and strategic men of Greek and world history. The freedom of the Greeks, the prosperity and the glory of Athens at the beginning of the 5th century BC were due to him. h. He prepared the way for Pericles and sowed the seed for the fragrant flower of the "Golden Age" to grow. He lived his childhood and teenage years in the heartbreak of tyranny and the twilight of democracy. From then on, his versatility and political concerns were out of step with his age.
One of his teachers used to tell him: "There is nothing good or bad, little one, but great." And his father, again, in order to dissuade him from the path of politics, which Themistocles was rushing towards, showed him the triremes thrown on the sand, telling him that: "this is how the people behave towards their political leaders, when they do not need them anymore". Themistocles, however, had made up his mind. In 493 BC becomes a nominal lord and convinces the Athenians to make Piraeus their port with its three natural ports and not Faliro. In 490 takes part in the battle of Marathon.
Knowing that the war with the Persians had not ended but was just beginning, he proposed - and it was accepted - the 487 resolution, by which the profits from the silver mines of Lavrio would not be distributed to the people but would be used for the construction of 20 warships (triremes) each year. Thus, the second conflict with the Persians finds the Athenians with 200 triremes. In 484, he ostracized Aristides - who was opposed to his naval program - and undistractedly drew up the plans for the war against the Persians, which he accurately saw approaching. He lured the Persians into the straits of Salamis and by trick (sent the slave of Sicinnus to Xerxes) forced them to fight and be destroyed. In 479, following his proposal, a wall began to be built around Athens, which also took his name.
Themistocles was envied by the Spartans but also in Athens itself he was considered dangerous, since he had become powerful. In 472 he was exiled. But even in exile he was accused by the Spartans of being an accomplice of the traitor Pausanias. Then Themistocles fled to Asia and asked for protection from Artaxerxes, the king of the Persians, who granted him some cities of Asia Minor to receive their revenues. Themistocles committed suicide in 460, because he did not want to lead the Persians against Greece, as a new Demaratus.