Advice of Queen Artemesia of Caria to to Xerxes, 480 BCE:
‘Tell the King this from me, Mardonius – and I speak as someone whose record in the battles fought off Euboea was by no means the worst, and whose feats hardly the most contemptible. “It is only proper, Lord, that I give you as my opinion what I truly believe to be in your best interests. Keep your ships in reserve, and do not commit them to battle, for, by sea, the Greek forces will be as superior to yours as men are to women. What earthly need, then, for you to risk your fleet in battle? Not only have you taken Athens, which was the goal of your expedition all along, but the rest of Greece as well. There is no one to stand against you. Those who tried to do so were dealt with as they deserved.
This speech of Artemisia’s to Mardonius greatly alarmed her well-wishers, who assumed that her comments dissuading the King from fighting at sea were bound to lead him to punish her. Conversely, those who resented her, and envied her the honour in which – pre-eminently among the allies – she was held, were delighted by what she had said, as they assumed that it would result in her execution. In fact, when the range of opinions was reported back to Xerxes, he was hugely impressed by Artemisia’s take on things, and lavished her with more praise than ever – though she had already stood high in his estimation before. Nevertheless, he commanded that the majority opinion prevail, since it was his firm conviction that his men had stinted in fighting at their best off Euboea because he had not been there in person, whereas now he was ready to watch his fleet give battle.
Her predictions were correct. The Persians lost the Battle of Salamis, significantly affecting the course of Western civilization.
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