Rise to Power

A reconstruction of the harbour from The Greeks documentary
A reconstruction of the harbour from The Greeks documentary

As a politician Themistocles appears to have had no tutor other than himself, but rather than prove a hindrance, this was to become his greatest asset. His ability to innovate and to think of a new ways of doing things suited the times.

Athens was experiencing the after-effects of a democratic revolution and many of the old certainties were disappearing. This was evident at all levels of society, from the lowly craftsmen who competed to create the finest examples of pottery, to the new types of sculptures being produced by Athenian artists.

In the political arena, Themistocles' introduced an innovation of his own. He made an effort to know as many citizens as possible by name, adding to his speeches what modern politicians would call "the personal touch".

In 493 BC, at the age of about 30, Themistocles was elected to the post of archon, one of the city's most important elected officials. He began his term by supervising the fortification of the Piraeus, which would later become Athens' main harbour.

The reasons were clear. The Persian Empire was on the march and Greece was its target.


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New sculpture: Critius boy vs. the traditional Kouros