|The Story of Greece|
|by Mary Macgregor|
| Stories from the history of ancient Greece beginning with mythical and legendary stories of gods and heroes and ending with the conquests of Alexander the Great. Gives short accounts of battles and sieges, and of the men who made Greece a great nation. Ages 10-14 |
THE BATTLE OF ARTEMISIUM
 WHILE Leonidas was fighting so bravely on land, Themistocles was
with the fleet at Artemisium. If the Persians passed this
point and entered the Malian Gulf, they would be able to
land troops behind Leonidas and secure the pass of
Thermopylae without difficulty.
But before the Persian fleet reached Artemisium, a sudden
storm arose and dashed some of the ships upon the rocks, some
against each other. For three days the tempest raged, and
when at length the sea grew calm, four hundred ships had
In spite of this disaster, the Persian fleet was still large
enough to alarm the Greeks. When they saw it sailing off
the north of the island of Euboea, Eurybiades, the Greek
admiral, wished to sail away.
But the inhabitants of the island went to Themistocles to
beg him not to let the fleet desert them. So fearful were
they, that they offered him thirty talents (about £5800) if
he would use his influence to persuade the other admirals to
stay and protect their island.
Themistocles readily took the money, and sent eight talents
(about £1552) to Eurybiades and his colleagues to bribe them
to remain at Euboea.
The next night another storm arose, and again many of the
Persian ships were scattered or dashed to pieces on the
rocks. But when the wind fell the ships were repaired and
the two fleets met in battle.
The struggle was fierce and long, but though the
lost a greater number of ships than did the Greeks, yet the
fleet under Eurybiades was so heavily damaged that even
Themistocles saw that safety lay in retreat. At the same
time tidings reached him of the defeat of Thermopylae, and
he knew that Xerxes would soon be marching to the south.
The fleet must hasten home to protect her own coasts.
So the Greek fleet set sail down the long Euboean strait and
did not stop until it reached the island of Salamis. But as
they sailed, Themistocles bade the captains of the Athenian
fleets send some of their ships to the rocks where the
Persians would search for water.
On these rocks Themistocles ordered to be cut in large
letters these words, "Ye do wrong, O Ionians, by going
against your fathers and bringing Hellas into slavery. If
ye can, take our side; if ye cannot, then fight for neither.
But if this also is impossible, at least in the battle be
slack and lazy, remembering that ye are sprung from us and
that we are fighting in a quarrel which ye began."
By these words Themistocles hoped to win the Ionians to his
side; or, if that might not be, he hoped at least to make
Xerxes so suspicious of them that he would be afraid to let
them take part in the battles which had yet to be fought.
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