As you might notice when you come onto this site, I really like the ancient Athenian stateman Themistocles (so much so that the preliminary title for my PhD dissertation on Marx’s Young Hegelianism is ‘The Themistocles of Communism’).
It originally began when I came upon a quote by Marx in the prepatory materials for his doctoral dissertation, which I have since discovered is quite widely quoted, but which I have never seen properly analysed in light of its context. It’s from the sixth notebook and reads:
At such times half-hearted minds have opposite views to those of whole-minded generals. They believe that they can compensate losses by cutting the armed forces, by splitting them up, by a peace treaty with the real needs, whereas Themistocles, when Athens was threatened with destruction, tried to persuade the Athenians to abandon the city entirely and found a new Athens at sea, in another element.MECW 1, p. 492
I wrote a bit on Themistocles for my MA thesis which ended up only being partially included (it was inteded as a prelude but bits of it ended up in the conclusion instead). Now, I plan to use it for my dissertation and have therefore been reading up some more on this fascination figure from history. There is quite a literature on Themistocles, especially because he is included as one of the biographies in Plutarch’s Parallel Lives (he is contrasted with Marcus Furius Camillus), but apart from various articles and Plutarch himself, my main two sources are,
- Robert J. Frost, Plutarch’s Themistocles. A Historical Commentary (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980).
- Robert J. Lenardon, The Saga of Themistocles (London: Thames and Hudson, 1978).
Apparently, you are only allowed to publish books on Themistocles if your name is Robert J. something…
There are also some cool busts of Themistocles. Here are some cool photos of one from the image bank of the Dutch national archives:
The first image I’ve turned into a wallpaper that I’m currently using myself. Feel free to use it as well: