The “Other” Themistocles and Artaxerxes I: an Irony

This article discusses the “Other” side of Themistocles (c. 524–459 BCE), the Athenian general-politician who fought against the forces of Darius I (522-486 BCE) at the Battle of Marathon (August/September 490 BCE) (see Plutarch Aristides V.3) and ten years later commanded the Greek navies against Darius’ son Xerxes (r. 486-465 BCE) at the naval Battles of Artemesium (early August or early September, 480 BCE) and Salamis (September, 480 BCE).

roger-payne-battle-of-marathonPainting by Roger Payne of the Battle of Marathon (August/September 490 BCE) (Source: Roger Payne, Windy Nook Primary). Not only did Themistocles partake in the fighting against the Achaemenid forces,  he also may have been one of ten Greek Generals or “Strategoi” in that battle.

After his victory against Xerxes at the Battle of Salamis, Themistocles remianed a powerful figure in Greek politics, however he soon aroused the ire of his fellow Greeks. He was perhaps viewed as conceited (or egotistic) by the Athenians and certainly angered the Spartans when he ordered Athens to be re-fortified. By late 471 or 472 BCE, Themistocles was formally ostracized and forced into exile.

More accusations were hurled against Themistocles, especially by the Spartans who sent a delegation to Athens, which had already turned against him. The Athenians were convinced by the arguments of the Spartans, resulting in Themistocles being found guilty in absentia.

Kaulbach,_Wilhelm_von_-_Die_Seeschlacht_bei_Salamis_-_1868A European painting of the Battle of Salamis by Wilhelm von Kaulbach (Source: Public Domain). Themistocles’ brilliant leadership of the Greek fleet proved decisive in defeating the naval armada of Xerxes.

Themistocles now had to flee Argos to then take refuge with Admetus, the king of Molossia. This did little to please the Greeks, who confiscated his properties in Greece.

The Athens-Sparta coalition soon demanded that Admetus surrender Themistocles to them. Admetus however, refused to yield to these demands. Instead, he gave Themistocles an escort to help him escape to Pydnus. In any event, Admentus could not guarantee Themistocles’ security.

ThemistoclesThemistocles (c. 524-459 BCE), the fierce opponent of Persia whom he later turned to for refuge (Source:

Themistocles then sailed to Ephesus, but had a very narrow escape at Naxos where the Athenian navy had been stationed, but as events turned out, the veteran of the Battle of Salamis arrived at Ephesus without interference. The choice of Ephesus was interesting as it was under Achaemenid Persian rule at the time.

Once in Ephesus, Themistocles was officially provided refuge with king Artaxerxes I (r. 465-424 BCE), the son of the same Xerxes whom the admiral had so brilliantly defeated at Salamis. While sources agree that Themistocles made contact with Artaxerxes, there are differing accounts as to whether this contact was by letter or face to face.

Artaxerxes I signs for JewsA drawing depicting Artaxerxes I (465-424 BCE) bestowing a royal decree to Ezra in 457 BCE (Source: Dedication-50megs). Artaxerxes’ decree was essentially a re-affirmation of the polices of Cyrus the Great (r. 559-530 BCE) and Darius the Great (522-486 BCE) in favor of the Jews: ensuring that help would continue in rebuilding the temple. Artaxerxes’ decree also gave the Jews full rights to self government. The Jews were in fact allowed to establish their own judges, magistrates, and laws. Artaxerxes I also extended his magnanimity to Themistocles by granting him refuge from the ire of the Greeks. Themistocles found a safe haven and new home in Persia, despite having having fought against that same empire.

Themistocles asked Artaxerxes I permission to learn the Persian language and customs for a full year to then enter king’s service. The request was granted by Artaxerxes I who also bestowed him authority over Magnesia (Tekin, modern Aydin province), Myos (Avshar, modern Aydin province), Lampsacus (Lapseke, modern Kanakkale province).

This would suggest a great historical irony: the hero of ancient Greece was forced to flee by his fellow Greeks to the land of the very enemy he had so spectacularly defeated.

It is generally agreed that Themistocles had promised Artaxerxes I that he would help the Achaemenids to conquer Greece. Thucydides (1.138.4) then reports the rumor that Themistocles poisoned himself because he was unable to fulfill his promise to Artaxerxes.

Photos of Old Tehran: 1920s-1940s (Part II)

The posting below is a continuation of a previous posting entitled “Photos of Old Tehran: 1920s-1940s (Part I)” …


Dapper Tehran motorist 1940sA dapper Tehran motorist circa mid-late 1930s or early 1940s.

Nasser Khosrow

Nasser Khosrow in the 1920s

Further down on Nasser Khosrow street in the 1920s.

Nasser khosrow avenue, Tehran, 1946.

Istanbul Avenue

Istanbul avenue, Tehran, 1949.

Post and Telegraph Office

 Post and Telegraph Office, Tehran, 1946.

 Post and Telegraph Office, Tehran, circa 1930s.


Mokhber-o-Dowleh, Tehran, 1946.

Sepah Square

Sepah Square early 1920s.

Sepah Square circa late 1930s.

Tehran Banks

Firdowsi street and Melli (National) Bank circa 1940s.

The Melli (National) Bank, Tehran, 1946.


Bank-e Bazargani (Bank of Commerce) in 1941.

Egyptian Maps of the Persian Gulf

Below are two Egyptian maps of the Persian Gulf (posted in Persian Gulf On-line)  in which Egyptian cartographers refer to the body of water by its correct historical name of the Persian Gulf or “Khaleej ol Faris” in Arabic.

Cairo1908 map[Click to Enlarge] Egyptian map of the Persian Gulf drafted in Cairo in 1908 (Source: posted in Persian Gulf On-line).

 PG-1910-Egypt[Click to Enlarge] Egyptian map of the Persian Gulf drafted in Cairo in 1910 (Source: posted in Persian Gulf On-line).

Hasan-1965-PG[Click to Enlarge] Depiction of the Persian Gulf by its correct historical name in an Egyptian textbook by Arab scholar Dr. H. Ibrahim Hasan, published in Cairo (Hejazi Publishing House) 1935: Tarikh al-Islam al-Siyasiya [The Political History of Islam]. Cairo: Hejazi Printing House (Picture Source: Persian Gulf On-line). The map depicts “Bahr Fars” in the above map titled “Persian government and Arab conquests”.

Egyptian map of PG-1965[Click to Enlarge] Depiction of the Persian Gulf by its correct historical name in an Egyptian textbook published in 1965 (Picture Source: Persian Gulf On-line). The map depicts the Islamic Caliphate at its maximum extent in the book titled: -الموسوعة العربیة المیسرة – تألیف صبحی عبدالکریم،ترجمه به عربی ازمحمد شفیق غربال،چاپ قاهره – “Al-mosuaat-a al-Arabiyya Al-Meysara” by Sobhi Abdul-Karim, printed in Cairo. This map was printed years after the late Gamal Abdul Nasser (1918-1970) began to refer to this by politically-motivated terminology.

Hossein Haikal-1968-PG[Click to Enlarge] A case of irony: The above map “Islamic Boundaries at the time of the Second Caliphate, Omar Ibn Khattab” is from Mohammed Hassanein Heikal’s book “The life of Farouq Azam”. Heikal remains as Egypt’s world-class reporter and journalist (known as the Michael Wallace of the Arab World). Like Gamal Abdul Nasser, Heikal engaged in historical revisionism by referring to the Persian Gulf by the incorrect name of “Arab Gulf”, yet even he was obliged to publish the correct name (Bahr al-Farsi – Persian Gulf) as shown in the above book translated to Persian in 1968 by Fazlemanollah Fazli in Afghanistan (Kabul: Moasseseye Chap-e Ketab-e Kabul) (Picture Source: Persian Gulf On-line).

For more see: Iran and the Persian Gulf

A Tribute to the Popular Folklore Music of Central Asia, the Caucasus and Afghanistan

Below is a tribute to the musical artists of Central Asia, the Caucasus and Afghanistan from the 1960s-1980s. Musical artists from Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Central Asia and the Caucasus share a powerful musical tradition that may be characterized as Turco-Iranian or Persianate. Artists from Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey in particular often adopt each others’ songs and adapt these to their own country’s unique style and tradition.

Traditional Georgian musical troupe Opera performs a traditional northern Iranian song “Dar Sahel-e Zibay-e Darya” [On the beautiful Coast of the Sea]

-وحید صابری – یک روز بلند آفتابی-Vahid Saberi: Yek Rooz-e Boland-e Aftabi [On a long and Shiny/Sunny Day]


Child musical prodigy, Mehemed Mustafali from the Republic of Azerbaijan (known as Arran and the Khanates until 1918) composes an excellent guitar lead and riff for the traditional song “Ince Bellim”. Note the boy-prodigy’s exemplary and strong command of guitar composition.  


Tajik dancer Malika Kalantarova performs a traditional dance to a traditional Tajik song in the city of Dushanbe in Tajikestan. Malika Kalantarova remains one of the most legendary  performers of the former USSR. She not only performed across the former Soviet Union and (esp) Central Asia but even made a number of appearances in India’s Bollywood scene in the 1970s!

Traditional Armenian folk song “Karmir Nur” performed by contemporary Armenian performer Armen Hovhannisyan.


Googoosh, one of Iran’s most legendary singers from the 1970s, sings a popular Azari song “Ayraliq” [separation] on Iranian TV (Rangarang). Googoosh remains not only popular among her native Iran but also throughout Central Asia, Afghanistan and the Caucasus.