History – The Strategy of Themistocles

History – The Strategy of Themistocles

The Strategy of Themistocles

In this article we will see: “The Strategy of Themistocles”, history, the chronicle of human civilization, serves as a window to the past, illuminating the triumphs, struggles, and evolution of societies over millennia. Through the study of historical events, we unravel the complexities of our collective heritage and gain insight into the forces shaping our present and future.

Summary : History – The Strategy of Themistocles

The Battle of Thermopylae stands as an iconic moment in ancient history, symbolizing the valor and sacrifice of a small Greek force against the mighty Persian Empire. Led by King Leonidas of Sparta, the Greek defenders, though vastly outnumbered, displayed unparalleled bravery and determination in their stand against the Persian invasion under Xerxes. This historic confrontation at the narrow pass of Thermopylae serves as a testament to the enduring spirit of freedom and resistance against tyranny.

History – The Strategy of Themistocles

Knowing that Athens had fallen, the Spartans demanded the fleet to defend the isthmus. Themistocles, on the other hand, was determined that the “wooden wall” should remain in place. So, when the war council convened, he asked the other commanders to vote against the Spartan demands. He encountered the horror of his colleagues.

These generals claimed indeed that Salamis was not a safe place. The bay offered only two narrow passages, and already the Persian fleet blocked one. To this, Themistocles replied that precisely these two openings made the bay an ideal place for combat. If the Persians were to attack, their ships could only enter one by one into the harbor. The Greek warships would destroy them one after the other.

The generals began to discuss. Themistocles took advantage of this to desert the council and quickly write a letter that he handed over in great secrecy to a messenger with the mission to deliver it urgently to Xerxes. In this letter, the cunning Themistocles warned the Persian king that the Greek fleet planned to leave the bay at night. He advised Xerxes to block the two passages and to attack in the morning.

He also gave him the formal assurance that all Athenian ships would desert and, dissociating themselves from the Greek forces, would subsequently fight alongside the Persians. Before the end of the day, the war council, dismayed, learned that Xerxes had blocked the two openings of the bay. There was no need to further discuss whether or not to send the Greek fleet into the isthmus.

Meanwhile, Xerxes ordered his admirals to enter the bay the next morning at dawn, ensuring that the battle was won in advance: Themistocles would fight alongside the Persians! Xerxes, whom one cannot help but judge a bit simple-minded, even ordered his golden throne to be transported to the shore and placed on a sufficiently elevated platform so that he could follow in detail the events leading to the victory of his fleet.

Before dawn, the king was escorted ashore and eagerly climbed onto his throne. At dawn, his ships began to silently slip into the bay. The plan of the clever Themistocles succeeded perfectly. The enemy ships were sunk before they even realized what was happening to them. Xerxes, in the front row as he desired, stomped in rage on his throne (to see better, he stood on top of it). He shouted loudly, cursing Themistocles and calling his admirals idiots and cowards!

These imprecations did not improve his affairs, but by relieving his nerves a little, they prevented him from having a stroke, which was always a gain! Before the end of the day, more than two hundred Persian ships had been destroyed. The others quickly retreated and set sail for the Hellespont, taking Xerxes and his beautiful golden throne on board. Nevertheless, over a million enemy soldiers still occupied Greece.

Themistocles sent news of his victory to Sparta and suggested to his allies that it was time for them to take action by fighting on land. The valiant Spartans replied that they could not agree more. Unfortunately, a solar eclipse had just occurred and it seemed to be a bad omen. After their story of the full moon, it was really a stroke of bad luck! Winter came. Xerxes’ armies withdrew to their base camp in Thessaly. In early summer, the Persian army resumed its march southward.

Once again, while continuing to swear to their Athenian friends that they could not ask for more than to help them, the Spartans invoked a religious festival that unfortunately kept them at home. On this occasion, the Persian high command sent an ambassador to Themistocles, charged with making him honorable peace offers. Themistocles’ response, though slightly longer than the one later attributed to General Cambronne, had essentially the same profound meaning.

However, in a message he had sent to the Spartans to inform them of the situation, the Machiavellian Themistocles took care not to tell them that he had rejected the enemy’s peace offers. On the contrary, he implied that if the Spartans did not finally decide to come to his aid, he would agree to make peace with the enemy. After consulting the moon and the sun, which for once did not oppose their warrior zeal, the Spartans set out northward.

In August, the Greek army encountered the Persian troops near the small town of Plataea, about fifty kilometers from Athens. So far, the Spartans had talked a lot and acted very little. But now that they were on a battlefield, their warlike mood suddenly returned to them.

Xerxes’ soldiers began to flee in disorder. Soon, it was a general rout. From then on, there was no more fighting. The Asian stridats, beaten, set out to regain their distant homeland, quietly regretting that they had ever left it. The Athenian fleet and Spartan infantry had saved the ruined Greece from the East.

Last word about : History – The Strategy of Themistocles

The Battle of Thermopylae remains a legendary tale of heroism and defiance, inspiring countless generations with its timeless lessons of courage, sacrifice, and resilience. Despite facing overwhelming odds, the Greek forces led by Leonidas and supported by figures like Themistocles exemplified the indomitable human spirit in the face of adversity. Their noble sacrifice at Thermopylae echoes through the annals of history, reminding us of the enduring importance of standing firm in defense of liberty and justice, even in the darkest of times.

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