Famous Greeks: Themistocles

The most powerful historical mind of the Greek world, Thucydides, paid tribute to Themistocles (527–460 B.C.) as perhaps the greatest statesman in Greek history. From a modest background, Themistocles rose to a position of leadership in one of the most critical moments in his country’s history. He was ambitious, ruthless, and avaricious. But he possessed what Thucydides regarded as the supreme quality of a statesman: foresight. Themistocles used the great challenge of the Persian invasion to lay the foundation for his nation’s political greatness. Themistocles made Athens the supreme naval power in its world. This lecture examines in detail the Battle of Salamis (480 B.C.) and shows why it must be counted among the most decisive battles in world history.

Questions to Consider:

1. Do you believe that Salamis could be compared with the Battle of Midway as one of the most decisive naval battles in history?

2. Given the case of Themistocles, do you believe that a great leader needs to be honest?

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