And indeed he was by nature very fond of honor, if we may judge from his memorable sayings and doings. When, for example, the city had chosen him to be admiral, he would not perform any public or private business at its proper time, but would postpone the immediate duty to the day on which he was to set sail, in order that then, because he did many things all at once and had meetings with all sorts of men, he might be thought to be some great personage and very powerful.
Surveying once the dead bodies of the Barbarians which had been cast up along the sea, he saw that they were decked with golden bracelets and collars, and yet passed on by them himself, while to a friend who followed he pointed them out and said:
‘Help thyself, thou art not Themistocles.’ Again, to one who had once been a beauty, Antiphates, and who had at that time treated him disdainfully, but afterwards courted him because of the reputation he had got,
‘Young man,’ said he,
‘'tis late, 'tis true, but both of us have come to our senses.’
Also he used to say of the Athenians that they did not really honor and admire him for himself, but treated him for all the world like a plane-tree, running under his branches for shelter when it stormed, but when they had fair weather all about them, plucking and docking him. And when he was told by the Seriphian that it was not due to himself that he had got reputation, but to his city,
‘True,’ said he,
‘but neither should I, had I been a Seriphian, have achieved reputation, nor wouldst thou, hadst thou been an Athenian.’
Again, when one of his fellow-generals who thought he had done some vast service to the city, grew bold with Themistocles, and began to compare his own services with his,
‘With the Festival-day,’ said he,
‘the Day After once began a contention, saying: 'Thou art full of occupations and wearisome, but when I come, all enjoy at their leisure what has been richly provided beforehand'; to which the Festival-day replied: 'True, but had I not come first, thou hadst not come at all.' So now,’ said he,
‘had I not come at that day of Salamis, where would thou and thy colleagues be now?’
Of his son, who lorded it over his mother, and through her over himself, he said, jestingly, that the boy was the most powerful of all the Hellenes; for the Hellenes were commanded by the Athenians, the Athenians by himself, himself by the boy's mother, and the mother by her boy. Again, with the desire to be somewhat peculiar in all that he did, when he offered a certain estate for sale, he bade proclamation to be made that it had an excellent neighbor into the bargain. Of two suitors for his daughter's hand, he chose the likely man in preference to the rich man, saying that he wanted a man without money rather than money without a man. Such were his striking sayings.