"What are the similarities and differences between Thucydides' and Herodotus' depictions of Themistocles as a person?"

Essay by Rhiannon_LavenderHigh School, 12th grade August 2004

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Both Thucydides and Herodotus' depictions of Themistocles suggest that he is a devious person. In a source by Thucydides, Themistocles sent away Spartan embassy that did not wish Athens to build a wall around its city and told them that he would send officials to Sparta to further discuss the issue. Afraid of upsetting Sparta and having no protection against them Themistocles went as an official to Sparta to stall talks with them while Athens fortified it's city. Spartan envoys were then sent to Athens after receiving rumour of the fortifications and discovered the wall. Thucydides states Themistocles response is as followed "Themistocles, realising this, told them that instead of being led astray by rumours they ought to send some reliable people of their own who could go and see for themselves and come back with a correct report. This the Spartans did, and Themistocles sent secretly to Athens, telling the Athenians to keep the Spartan envoys there..."

There are further accounts of Themistocles devious nature in an account of why the Athenians and their allies fought at Salamis rather then sailing for Isthmus by the historian Herodotus. "Themistocles, taking a seat beside him, repeated Mnesiphilus' arguments as if they were his own..."

Not only do both sources agree that Themistocles is devious they seem to have an admiration of his quick wit and ability to manoeuvre his way out of difficult situations. Thucydides tells of when it was discovered that the Athenian's had fortified there city and the other Athenian envoys had safely left Sparta that Themistocles finally held talks with Sparta in which he states "...They thought it better that their city should be fortified; It was better for there own citizens and also would be an advantage to the alliance; for it was only...