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It was for these reasons, as we have stated above,1 that Themistocles fled from Argos to Admetus, the king of the Molossians; and taking refuge at Admetus' hearth he became his suppliant. The king at first received him kindly, urged him to be of good courage, and, in general, assured him that he would provide for his safety; [2] but when the Lacedaemonians dispatched some of the most distinguished Spartans as ambassadors to Admetus and demanded the person of Themistocles for punishment, stigmatizing him as the betrayer and destroyer of the whole Greek world, and when they went further and declared that, if Admetus would not turn him over to them, they together with all the Greeks would make war on him, then indeed the king, fearing on the one hand the threats and yet pitying the suppliant and seeking to avoid the disgrace of handing him over, persuaded Themistocles to make his escape with all speed without the knowledge of the Lacedaemonians and gave him a large sum of gold to meet his expenses on the flight. [3] And Themistocles, being persecuted as he was on every side, accepted the gold and fled by night out of the territory of the Molossians, the king furthering his flight in every way; and finding two young men, Lyncestians by birth, who were traders and therefore familiar with the roads, he made his escape in their company. [4] By travelling only at night he eluded the Lacedaemonians, and by virtue of the goodwill of the young men and the hardship they endured for him he made his way to Asia. Here Themistocles had a personal friend, Lysitheides by name, who was highly regarded for his fame and wealth, and to him he fled for refuge. [5]

Now it so happened that Lysitheides was a friend of Xerxes the king and on the occasion of his passage through Asia Minor had entertained the entire Persian host.2 Consequently, since he enjoyed an intimate acquaintance with the king and yet wished out of mercy to save Themistocles, he promised to co-operate with him in every way. [6] But when Themistocles asked that he lead him to Xerxes, at first he demurred, explaining that Themistocles would be punished because of his past activities against the Persians; later, however, when he realized that it was for the best, he acceded, and unexpectedly and without harm he got him through safe to Persia. [7] For it was a custom among the Persians that when one conducted a concubine to the king one brought her in a closed wagon, and no man who met it interfered or came face to face with the passenger; and it came about that Lysitheides availed himself of this means of carrying out his undertaking. [8] After preparing the wagon and embellishing it with costly hangings he put Themistocles in it; and when he had got him through in entire safety, he came into the presence of the king, and after he had conversed with him cautiously he received pledges from the king that he would do Themistocles no wrong. Then Lysitheides introduced him to the presence of the king, who, when he had allowed Themistocles to speak and learned that he had done the king no wrong, absolved him from punishment.

1 There is no reference for this statement.

2 Plutarch (Plut. Them. 26) calls him Nicogenes; the man who entertained Xerxes' army is named Pythius by Herodotus (Hdt. 7.27); Thucydides does not mention him.

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  • Cross-references to this page (1):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), HARMAMAXA
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (2):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 7.27
    • Plutarch, Themistocles, 26
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