The Declaration of Troizen, originally discovered in a cafe in Athens
The Declaration of Troizen, originally discovered in a cafe in Athens

In the late summer of 480 BC, almost the entire population of Athens abandoned their city in a fleet of ships bound for the town of Troizen on the Peloponnese. Crammed into every sea-worthy vessel that could be found, over 100,000 people left their homes, not knowing if they would ever see them again.

Just across the water, off the coast of the island of Salamis, the Athenian navy and its allies congregated. Salamis was perhaps the only place off Greece where the Persians could not make use of their vastly superior numbers. The narrowness of the channel would also maximize the greater maneuverability of the superior Greek triremes.

A Spartan was appointed commander in chief because of the respect and decisiveness such seasoned warriors evoked in their men, but few were under any illusion as to the real mastermind behind the plan. Themistocles of Athens had spent years preparing for this fateful confrontation with Persia, and now his moment had arrived. But as the days of waiting wore on, and the flames of ravaged Athens gathered in the distant skies, the war council began to lose its nerve…


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