In 490BCE, Athens began to gain power and posed a threat to the Persians. The Persians declared war on Athens; the Persians outnumbered the Athenians 2:1. As a last resort, Athens sent Thydibides to ask for the assistance of the Spartans. After running 140 miles in 2 days, the Spartan’s refused Thybidides’ plea.
In a miracle-like event, the Athenians were victorious over the Persians, killing nearly 6000 men in one day. This battle at Marathon became one of Athens’ defining moments. Thymesticles, who had gained power through democracy, was an Athenian leader who fought in this battle. He also recognized the Persians weren’t entirely defeated, and that they would rage war again with a greater army. He raised a campaign to buy huge ships that seated 170 men on three levels called triremes. When 486BCE came along, King Daris of Persia died, his son Xerxes vowed revenge on Athens. In 483 BCE, a large vain of silver was found in Athens that Thymesticles wanted to spend on the triremes. The Athenian citizens were opposed to this idea – they proposed that the silver be divided among the citizens. Thymesticles won his campaign to buy these ships just at the right time; in 480BCE the word reached Athens that the Persians were coming. Athens turned to their Gods for hope, sending a message to their oracle. Their message read, “What can we do to save ourselves?” the oracle responded telling them to flee, there was nothing they could do. The Athenians rose in uproar that their Gods had deserted them, the leaders of Athens decided to evacuate the city-state. Thymesticles sent another message to the oracle, with the response that they could be saved by the wooden wall. Thymesticles interpreted this as the wooden ships he had bought specifically for this war, so he devised a brilliant plan. He sent the warriors and men to the island of Salamis where they watched the Persians invade the deserted Athens and burn the Acropolis to the ground. Quick-witted Themyisticles sent a fake letter to the Persian army, asking to meet them in the Strait of Salamis. When the Persians arrived, the Athenians destroyed their forces, destroying over 200 of their ships. Athens had won, again.
Winning this battle meant a new dawn for Athens, it began to grow unprecedentedly fast. They became the new head of naval confederacy and the unspoken head of the Delian League. With their multiple naval fleets, Athens’ economic power grew. The Athenians had access to a quality of life that no Greek before them had ever experienced. It was at this time that Themysticles was under attack – he was eventually ostracized by the ostraca