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(born c. 524died c. 460 BC) Athenian politician and naval strategist. As archon (493) he built defensible harbours at Piraeus. In 483 he persuaded the assembly to increase the navy, believing it represented Athens's best chance of warding off Persian invaders. When the invasion of Xerxes I did come, a Greek naval force at first yielded to Persia at Artemisium, but Themistocles lured Xerxes' remaining ships to their destruction at the Battle of Salamis. Despite his victory, Athens later ostracized the strongly democratic Themistocles (472) as the city's politics turned reactionary. When Sparta later accused him of complicity with Persia, he fled the Peloponnese and, until his death, served as governor of some Asian Greek cities still under Persian rule.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Themistocles, visit Britannica.com.