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During this time the Cercyraeans, who had fitted out sixty triremes, were waiting off the Peloponnesus, being unable, as they themselves allege, to round the promontory at Malea, but, as certain historians tell us, anxiously awaiting the turn of the war, in order that, if the Persians prevailed, they might then give them water and earth, while if the Greeks were victorious, they would get the credit of having come to their aid.1 [2] But the Athenians who were waiting in Salamis, when they saw Attica being laid waste with fire and heard that the sacred precinct of Athena2 had been razed, were exceedingly disheartened. And likewise great fear gripped the other Greeks who, driven from every quarter, were now cooped up in the Peloponnesus alone. Consequently they thought it desirable that all who had been charged with command should meet in council and deliberate regarding the kind of place that would best serve their purpose in fighting a naval battle. [3] Many ideas of various kinds were expressed. The Peloponnesians, thinking only of their own safety, declared that the contest should be held at the Isthmus; for it had been strongly fortified with a wall, and so, if they should suffer any reverse in the battle, the defeated would be able to withdraw for refuge into the most suitable place of safety available, the Peloponnesus, whereas, if they cooped themselves up in the little island of Salamis, perils would beset them from which it would be difficult for them to be rescued. [4] But Themistocles counselled that the contest of the ships be held at Salamis, for he believed that those who had few ships to fight with would have many advantages, in the narrows of Salamis, against a vastly superior number of vessels. And speaking generally, he showed that the region about the Isthmus would be altogether unsuitable for the sea-battle; for the contest would take place on the open sea, and the Persians because of the room for manoeuvring would easily subdue the small force of ships by their vastly superior numbers. And by presenting in like fashion many other facts pertinent to the occasion he persuaded all present to cast their votes with him for the plan he recommended.

1 Hdt. 7.168 says the same thing about the Cercyraeans, but with more bitterness. They later alleged that the etesian winds prevented their rounding Cape Malea.

2 The temenos of Athena was the entire Acropolis.

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