After the great achievements now described, he straightway undertook to rebuild and fortify the city,—as Theopompus relates, by bribing the Spartan Ephors not to oppose the project; but as the majority say, by hoodwinking them. He came with this object to Sparta, ostensibly on an embassy, and when the Spartans brought up the charge that the Athenians were fortifying their city, and Polyarchus was sent expressly from Aegina with the same accusation,
he denied that it was so, and bade them send men to Athens to see for themselves, not only because this delay would secure time for the building of the wall, but also because he wished the Athenians to hold these envoys as hostages for his own person. And this was what actually happened. When the Lacedaemonians found out the truth they did him no harm, but concealed their displeasure and sent him away.
After this he equipped the Piraeus, because he had noticed the favorable shape of its harbors, and wished to attach the whole city to the sea; thus in a certain manner counteracting the policies of the ancient Athenian kings.
For they, as it is said, in their efforts to draw the citizens away from the sea and accustom them to live not by navigation but by agriculture, disseminated the story about Athena, how when Poseidon was contending with her for possession of the country, she displayed the sacred olive-tree of the Acropolis to the judges, and so won the day. But Themistocles did not, as Aristophanes1
the comic poet says,
‘knead the Piraeus on to the city,’ nay, he fastened the city to the Piraeus, and the land to the sea.
And so it was that he increased the privileges of the common people as against the nobles, and filled them with boldness, since the controlling power came now into the hands of skippers and boatswains and pilots. Therefore it was, too, that the bema in Pnyx, which had stood so as to look off toward the sea, was afterwards turned by the thirty tyrants so as to look inland, because they thought that maritime empire was the mother of democracy, and that oligarchy was less distasteful to tillers of the soil.