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Athenian Political Art from the fifth and fourth centuries BCE: Images of Historical Individuals 

Amy C. Smith, edition of January 18 2003

page 13 of 14

· Themistocles ·

Read about the evidence
Thucydides (Thuc.).
Nepos (Nepos Them.).
Diodorus (Diod.).
Plutarch (Plut. Them.).
Pausanias (Paus.).
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Evidence: Several ancient writers mention statues of Themistocles at Athens. Plutarch saw a small statue of Themistocles in the Temple of Artemis Aristoboule, Athens, which was built by Themistocles near his house in the deme of Melite (Plut. Them. 22.1-2) . Others refer to a monument (perhaps a tomb) of Themistocles in the market place at Magnesia, where he settled, and eventually died, after his ostracism from Athens (Thuc. 1.138.5; Nepos Them. 10.3; Diod. 11.58.1; and Plut. Them. 32.3). Pausanias also mentions a grave of Themistocles (not necessarily with a portrait) near the Piraeus harbor, but in the same context refers to a painting representing Themistocles, dedicated by his children, in the Parthenon (Paus. 1.1.2). Another painting of Themistocles is mentioned by Philostratos the Elder (Imagines Themistokles 433, ed. Kayser): it is said to have shown Themistocles addressing the Persians. Note also Aelius Aristeides’ mention of statues of Miltiades and Themistocles in the Theater of Dionysos at Athens.

Read about the evidence
Plutarch (Plut.).
Thucydides (Thuc.).
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Magnesia (in text as “Magnesian”).

Although there are several headless herms inscribed with Themistocles’ name, there is only one extant portrait of him, a herm in the Museum of Ostia [1], which is inscribed ΘΕΜΙΣΤΟΚΛΗΣ. A Magnesian coin from the Roman period is thought to represent a statue of Themistocles heroized [2]. Ancient writers do not describe Themistocles’ appearance but the Ostia portrait convincingly evokes the character of Themistocles that they describe. Plut. Them. 2.1, 3.3, for example, describes Themistocles as impetuous, sagacious, and enterprising, while Thucydides (Thuc. 1.138.6) describes him as brilliant and shrewd.

Extant portraits:

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  1. Ostia Themistokles: an inscribed marble herm portrait.
  2. A Roman coin from Magnesia with a statue that perhaps represents the heroized Themistocles (Head 1911, 581).

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page 13 of 14