Thursday, January 10, 2008


Artemisia (in Greek Αρτεμισία), the daughter of Lygdamis became the ruler of Halicarnassus in Asia Minor as a client of the Persians after the death of her husband. (The Persians in the 5th century BC ruled as the overlords of Ionia.) According to Herodotus ( Histories, Books 7 and 8) Artemisia came of Halicarnassian stock on her father's side and Cretan on her mother's.
Alone of his commanders, Artemisia counselled the Persian king Xerxes not to meet the Greeks at sea to do battle. Nevertheless, she participated in the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC as a Persian ally commanding five ships. At one point in the battle, with the Greeks on the point of capturing her trireme, Artemisia managed to escape in an unusual way. By design or accident, she turned and bore down on a ship from her own side, a Calyndian vessel, and ramming it amidships sank it with all hands. The Athenian ship then left her alone, presuming she must be fighting on the Greek side.
Xerxes watching from a distant hill-side assumed the Calyndian ship to be one of the enemy and was full of praise for Artemisia's bravery. Apparently none of the Calyndians survived to tell the real story. She escaped back to the Persians, where, according to Herodotus, Xerxes declared "My men [the Persians] have turned into women and my women [Artemisia] into men!"
Herodotus had a favourable opinion of Artemisia, despite her support of Persia, probably because he too came from Halicarnassus. Artemisia convinced Xerxes to retreat back to Asia Minor after the defeat at Salamis, contrary to the advice of Mardonius, who wanted Xerxes to stay. Xerxes then sent her to Ephesus to take care of his sons. In return, Artemisia's lands did well by their alliance with the Persians.
Legend claims that Artemisia fell in love with a man named Dardanus, and when he ignored her she jumped to her death into the Aegean Sea from Leucas.

Artemisia I of Caria In popular culture

In the movie The 300 Spartans (1962), Artemisia is portrayed by Anne Wakefield

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