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Primary source analysis `Artemisia at Salamis

Lygdamis ruled Halicarnassus, an ethnically Greek city-state governed by the Persians. Artemisia was Lygdamis’ daughter. Artemisia became queen after her husband’s death. The year 499 saw a number of Greek mainland city-states support the Ionian Greek city-states in revolting against the then ruler, Darius. Following suppression of such rebellion, Darius in 490 attacked mainland Greece so as to hit back. A Greek city-state Coalition totally defeated Darius. Xerxes I, Darius’ child, the fresh king again attacked Greece in 480.

Artemisia, Halicarnassus queen, led a five0-ship fleet within Xerxes’ forces. Prior to attacking, Xerxes consulted each of his major admirals regarding whether to invade salamis. Each of the admirals, with the exception of Artemisia, urged Xerxes to invade. Following Artemisia’s reminder that she bravely fought at Euboea, she counsels Xerxes against invading Greece through the sea. Artemisia informs Xerxes that Greece was more advanced compared to Persia in regard to naval issues. She compares the military superiority of Greece to Persia to that of men to women .

She wonders why Xerxes feels compelled to battle at sea yet he had already captured Athens, a key purpose of the battle. In addition, Hellas was also under Xerxes. She advises Xerxes that the other Greek parts were already under him and hence he had no protagonists because the people who previously resisted Xerxes had dispersed. Artemisia goes on to persuade Xerxes to maintain his forces along the coastline. Artemisia advices Xerxes that the outcome will be the same whether he maintains his troops close to lad or walk in the direction of the Paleoponnesos.

She states that the Hellene people will not be able to resist Xerxes for a long time but would soon disperse towards their residences. Artemisia states that the Hellenes’ food supplies are running out and hence they would soon disperse. She urges for a terrestrial attack using the army. She cautions Xerxes against a hasty attack by sea as this would Also hjeopdise3 the performance of the land force as well. Artemisia informs the king that excellent masters usually have poor servants; and poor masters have excellent servants.

She endorses Xerxes to be among the fines men and cautions him that his troops consisting of Cyprians, Egyptians,Pamphilians and Cilicians would be of little use to the king. Nevertheless, Xerxes decided to go by the popular counsel and invaded Salamis. At the Battle of Salamis, the queen made herself famous though sinking some ship that Xerxes regarded as belonging to the enemy. In the real sense, Artemisia found herself encircled by ships from Athens, and thus ruthlessly and cleverly acted to ensure that her team survived. Artemisia purposefully smashed into Damasithymus’ ship, entirely destroying it.

Damasythymus was Calyndians king, another friend of Persia. She thus managed to convince her Athenian pursuers that her fleet was an Athenian friend. Xerxes thought Artemisia to have obliterated some enemy vessel and commented her due to her courage. It appears that Aminias from Pallene, the officer who chased Artemisia’s vessel, would not have halted hi chase if he had been aware that Artemisia rode on that vessel. The Arthenians, outraged and offended by the idea of some woman fighting them, set up some 10,000 drachma reward to anyone who captures Artemisia.

Following the decisive Salamis defeat of the Persians, Xerxes once more gathers his senior officers to counsel him. Now Xerxes distinguishes Artemisia to offer advice since it was only her who offered wise counsel previously. Xerxes suggests two probable strategies for Artemisia to recommend one. Either; the king himself leads troops to the Peloponnese, or he leaves Greece under his officer Mardonius (http://womenshistory. about. com/od/ancientgreece/p/artemisia_5th_c. htm). Artemisia advises Xerxes to leave Greece and have Mardonius take charge. Mardonius would be left behind with the troops he desired.

In the event that Mardonius’ strategy succeeded, credit would be accorded to Xerxes because such achievement would have been attained by the king’s slaves. On the other hand, in case Mardonius was defeated, no much harm would be inflicted since the king would be safe. Artemisia went on to explain that if Persia defeated the Greeks, Greece would suffer immensely. However, if they killed Mardonius, such would be some poor victory since Mardonius was a mere slave to Xerxes. For a second time, Artemisia offers the rationale informing her counsel, which seems logical.

Following Xerxes’ adoption of Artemisia’s counsel, he requests her to travel with his illegitimate offspring to Ephesus. Artemisia effectively governed an empire and directed troops at war in a period where women were predominantly restricted to mother and wife roles. Artemisia had much intelligence as illustrated by her strategies during the Battle of Salamis and the counsel she offered Xerxes. Artemisia did not shy from offering strategically sound counsel, even when this risked infuriating her superiors or appearing cowardly.

Artemisia’s governance was steady, and in case it was not popular, at any rate tolerated because her grandson afterwards became ruler of Halicarnassus. Accounts like Artemisia’s illustrate those outstanding women may acquire and maintain power (http://www. tropeofirony. com/portfolio/artemisia. html). References Halsal, Paul. Fordham University. (August 1998). ancient history sourcebook: Herodotus: Artemisia at Salamis, 480 BCE. Retrieved June 24th 2009 from http://www. fordham. edu/halsall/pgc. asp? page=ancient/480artemisia. html Lewis, john. Artemisia. (2009). Retrieved June 24th 2009, from

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