previous next

At daybreak he called his friends together and bade Themistocles to be introduced, who expected no favorable outcome, because he saw that the guards at the gates, when they learned the name of him who was going in, were bitterly disposed and spoke insultingly to him. And besides, Roxanes the Chiliarch, when Themistocles came along opposite him,—the King being seated and the rest hushed in silence,—said in an angry undertone: ‘Thou subtle serpent of Hellas, the King's good genius hath brought thee hither.’ [2] However, when he had come into the King's presence, and had once more paid him obeisance, the King welcomed him and spake him kindly, and said he already owed him two hundred talents, for since he had delivered himself up it was only just that he himself should receive the reward proclaimed for his captor. And he promised him much more besides, and bade him take heart, and gave him leave to say whatever he wished concerning the affairs of Hellas, with all frankness of speech. [3]

But Themistocles made answer that the speech of man was like embroidered tapestries, since like them this too had to be extended in order to display its patterns, but when it was rolled up it concealed and distorted them. Wherefore he had need of time. The King at once showed his pleasure at this comparison by bidding him take time, and so Themistocles asked for a year, and in that time he learned the Persian language sufficiently to have interviews with the King by himself without interpreters. [4] Outsiders thought these conferences concerned Hellenic matters merely; but since about that time many innovations were introduced by the King at court and among his favorites, the magnates became jealous of Themistocles, on the ground that he had made bold to use his freedom of speech with the King to their harm. For the honors he enjoyed were far beyond those paid to other foreigners; nay, he actually took part in the King's hunts and in his household diversions, so far that he even had access to the queen-mother and became intimate with her, and at the King's bidding heard expositions also of the Magian lore. [5] And when Demaratus the Spartan, being bidden to ask a gift, asked that he might ride in state through Sardis, wearing his tiara upright after the manner of the Persian kings, Mithropaustes the King's cousin said, touching the tiara of Demaratus: ‘This tiara of thine hath no brains to cover; indeed thou wilt not be Zeus merely because thou graspest the thunderbolt.’ [6] The King also repulsed Demaratus in anger at his request, and was minded to be inexorable towards him, and yet Themistocles begged and obtained a reconciliation with him.

And it is said that later kings also, in whose reigns Persia and Hellas came into closer relations, as often as they asked for a Hellene to advise them, promised him in writing, every one, that he should be more influential at court than Themistocles. [7] And Themistocles himself, they say, now become great and courted by many, said to his children, when a splendid table was once set for him: ‘My children, we should now have been undone, had we not been undone before.’ 1 Three cities, as most writers say, were given him for bread, wine, and meat, namely: Magnesia, Lampsacus, and Myus; and two others are added by Neanthes of Cyzicus and by Phanias, namely: Percote and Palaescepsis; these for his bedding and raiment.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Bernadotte Perrin, 1914)
hide References (12 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: