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Now that we have spoken at sufficient length of the valour of these men we shall resume the course of our narrative. Xerxes, now that he had gained the passes in the manner we have described and had won, as the proverb runs, a "Cadmeian victory,"1 had destroyed only a few of the enemy, while he had lost great numbers of his own troops. And after he had become master of the passes by means of his land forces, he resolved to make trial of contest at sea. [2] At once, therefore, summoning the commander of the fleet, Megabates, he ordered him to sail against the naval force of the Greeks and to make trial, with all his fleet, of a sea-battle against them. [3] And Megabates, in accordance with the king's orders, set out from Pydne in Macedonia with all the fleet and put in at a promontory of Magnesia which bears the name of Sepias. At this place a great wind arose and he lost more than three hundred warships and great numbers of cavalry transports and other vessels. And when the wind ceased, he weighed anchor and put in at Aphetae in Magnesia. From here he dispatched two hundred triremes, ordering the commanders to take a roundabout course and, by keeping Euboea on the right, to encircle the enemy. [4]

The Greeks were stationed at Artemisium in Euboea and had in all two hundred and eighty triremes; of these ships one hundred and forty were Athenian and the remainder were furnished by the rest of the Greeks. Their admiral was Eurybiades the Spartan, and Themistocles the Athenian supervised the affairs of the fleet; for the latter, by reason of his sagacity and skill as a general, enjoyed great favour not only with the Greeks throughout the fleet but also with Eurybiades himself, and all men looked to him and harkened to him eagerly. [5] And when a meeting of the commanders of the ships was held to discuss the engagement, the rest of them all favoured waiting to receive the advance of the enemy; but Themistocles alone expressed the opposite opinion, showing them that it was to their advantage to sail against the enemy with the whole fleet in one array; for in this way, he declared, they would have the upper hand, attacking as they would with their ships in a single body an enemy whose formation was broken by disorder, as it must be, for they would be issuing out of many harbours at some distance apart. In the end the Greeks followed the opinion of Themistocles and sailed against the enemy with the entire fleet. [6] And since the barbarians put out from many harbours, at the outset Themistocles, engaging with the scattered Persians, sank many ships and not a few he forced to turn in flight and pursued as far as the land; but later, when the whole fleet had gathered and a fierce battle ensued, each side gained the superiority in one part of the line but neither won a complete victory, and at nightfall the engagement was broken off.

1 The reference is to the dearly won victory of the Thebans over the "Seven," described in Book 4.65. The phrase is defined by Diodorus himself in Book 22 fr. 6.

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