The Greeks defended the country from the Persian invaders for many years. Battles were fought both on land and at sea.
The Athenian strategist Themistocles believed that it was impossible to defeat the Persians without a strong fleet. At his insistence, the fleet was built and well armed. On the noses of the triremes, copper battering rams were reinforced, platforms were arranged from which the warriors moved to other people's ships and took them on board.
Themistocles chose the place for the decisive battle very well - in the strait separating the island of Salamis from the mainland. There, on the island coast, more than three hundred Greek triremes gathered, ready for battle.
Everything would be fine, but Sparta, an ally of Athens, wanted the fleet to be commanded by the Spartan Eurybiades. Strife among the allies is more dangerous than the enemy, and Themistocles persuaded the Athenians to agree.
At night the ships of the Persians entered the strait and stopped at the mainland coast. The Persian fleet was larger than the Greek, it already saw itself as a victor.
Themistocles - "Hit, but listen"
Euribiades doubted the outcome of the battle and decided to withdraw the ships to the south. Themistocles from this decision came to despair. He considered the enemy's position extremely unfortunate: the Persian ships stood close to one another, in three lines, the bottom under them was covered with shoals, stones and rocks. In cramped conditions, the Persians could not use their numerical superiority. To miss such an opportunity meant to miss the victory. But Athens was plundered and burned by the Persians. The inhabitants of the city - old men, women and children, fleeing from the enemy, found refuge for themselves on Salamis. And Themistocles, although custom was not allowed to do so, objected to Eurybiades.
- In social games, - Euribiades was angry, - those who rise up without an order are punished.
- But they do not crown those who lag behind! - objected Themistocles.
The angry naval commander wanted to strike the Athenian.
- Hit, but listen! - then shouted Themistocles.
Euribiades was embarrassed, he listened to convincing advice and agreed to join the battle with the Persians.
At dawn, the Greek ships moved against the Persians. From the island, women and old men watched them, who, in case of failure, would face slavery. From the other side, the Persian king Xerxes watched the battle with the courtiers.
As Themistocles predicted, the Persian ships interfered with each other, interlocked with oars, sat on stones and shoals. When the courts of their third line entered the case, the crowding only increased. And the Greeks, especially the Athenians, acted bravely and prudently, their triremes moved well, choosing favorable positions for ramming and boarding. By evening, the Persians began to leave the strait in panic, they lost most of the fleet - two hundred ships.
Having lost the fleet, Xerxes withdrew from Greece and ground troops, he was afraid that the Greek ships would cut off their way to Persia.
The words "hit, but listen!" now they say when they want to oppose reasonable arguments to overconfident strength. The lesson of the ancients teaches us the patience to listen to advice and the courage to give it.