THEMISTOCLES TRICKS THE ADMIRALS
 EURYBIADES had determined that the fleet should stay at Salamis. But
the other admirals were dissatisfied. When great numbers of
the Persian ships were sighted, and when at the same times
Xerxes was seen marching with his vast land forces toward
the shore, they were more than dissatisfied; they were
So they called a secret council at which they resolved to
retreat to Corinth, as they had wished to do from the first.
To settle the matter they bade the pilots get ready to sail.
Themistocles soon heard what had been done, but he was
determined to thwart the plans of his adversaries. He would
force them to fight in the narrow strait of Salamis.
So he sent a message to the King of Persia, and pretending
to be his friend, he warned him that the Greek fleet had
determined to escape. "If you wish to win a great victory,
O king," ran the message, "seize each end of the strait
before the Greek fleet sails away."
Xerxes was overjoyed when he heard that the Greeks wished to
escape, for it seemed to him that they must be cowards whom
it would be easy to beat.
So while Themistocles called together a last council of war
and did all that he could to delay the fleet, Xerxes was
busy securing the strait as Themistocles had bidden him do.
The pilots were on board the Greek ships, impatient to sail,
the admirals were listening to Themistocles with but scant
courtesy, when the messenger the Athenian was so anxiously
 Themistocles hastened from the council to find that it was
Aristides, his old rival, who had brought the tidings, that
the Greek fleet was shut in by the Persian ships. Flight
was no longer possible.
Then Themistocles told Aristides the trick he had played on
the Persian king, and how he had at the same time duped the
Whether Aristides approved or disapproved of what his old
rival had done, he believed that it was well that the battle
should be fought in the straits, and he determined to
support Themistocles. He himself hastened to the council,
to tell the admirals that they were surrounded by the enemy.
At first the admirals refused to believe such evil news.
They did not guess the truth, but they came so near to it
that they said Themistocles had probably started the rumour,
so as to delay their flight.
While they still talked, some sailors who had deserted from
the Persians brought the same tale. The Greek admirals were
at last convinced that a battle was inevitable.