History of the Peloponnesian War

Thucydides

Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War. London, J. M. Dent; New York, E. P. Dutton. 1910.

The king listened to him and raised him up with his son, as he was sitting with him in his arms after the most effectual method of supplication, and on the arrival of the Lacedaemonians not long afterwards, refused to give him up for anything they could say, but sent him off by land to the other sea to Pydna in Alexander's dominions, as he wished to go to the Persian king.

There he met with a merchantman on the point of starting for Ionia.

Going on board, he was carried by a storm to the Athenian squadron which was blockading Naxos.

In his alarm—he was luckily unknown to the people in the vessel—he told the master who he was and what he was flying for, and said that, if he refused to save him, he would declare that he was taking him for a bribe.

Meanwhile their safety consisted in letting no one leave the ship until a favorable time for sailing should arise.

If he complied with his wishes, he promised him a proper recompense.

The master acted as he desired, and, after lying to for a day a night out of the reach of the squadron, at length arrived at Ephesus.

After having rewarded him with a present of money, as soon as he received some from his friends at Athens and from his secret hoards at Argos, Themistocles started inland with one of the Coast-Persians, and sent a letter to King Artaxerxes, Xerxes' son, who had just come to the throne.

Its contents were as follows: ‘I, Themistocles, am come to you, who did your house more harm than any of the Hellenes, when I was compelled to defend myself against your father's invasion,—harm, however, far surpassed by the good that I did him during his retreat, which brought no danger for me but much for him.

For the past, you are a good turn in my debt,’—here he mentioned the warning sent to Xerxes from Salamis to retreat, as well as his finding the bridges unbroken, which, as he falsely pretended, was due to him,—‘for the present, able to do you great service, I am here, pursued by the Hellenes for my friendship for you.

However, I desire a year's grace, when I shall be able to declare in person the objects of my coming.’