S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.
[A celebrated Athenian statesman and general; born about 514 B.C.; commanded the Athenians after the victory of Salamis, 480; banished, 471; was kindly treated by Artaxerxes, king of Persia, where he died, or killed himself, about 449.]
The trophies of Miltiades will not suffer me to sleep.
When asked why he did not join in the exultation at the victory of Miltiades over the Persians at Marathon, 490 B.C. His life had hitherto been devoted to pleasure; but now, seized with an insatiable ambition, he prepared himself and the Athenians for the struggle with Persia he saw approaching.PLUTARCH: Life.
When asked whether he would rather be Achilles or Homer; And pray, he replied, which would you rather be, a conqueror in the Olympic games, or the crier who proclaims who are conquerors?Ibid.: Apothegms.
Themistocles opposed the proposition of Eurybiades, the Athenian naval commander, to sail for the Isthmus, rather than await the Persian attack in the straits of Salamis: Eurybiades raising his stick, Themistocles exclaimed, Strike, but hear me! The latters counsels prevailed, and the victory of Salamis was the result.
He preferred an honest man that wooed his daughter, to a rich man. I would rather, he said, have a man that wants money, than money that wants a man.
When told that he would govern the Athenians well, if he ruled without respect of persons, Themistocles replied, May I never sit on a tribunal where my friends shall not find more favor from me than strangers.
Seeing a number of bracelets and golden chains upon some dead bodies cast up by the sea, he said to a friend, Take them: you are not Themistocles.Ibid.: Life.
To him is attributed a mot which in an English form reads, If one showed me two roads, one leading to the Devil, and the other to Parliament, I should choose the former.
When asked to touch a lute, Themistocles replied, I cannot fiddle, but I can make a small town into a great state.