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Cornelius Nepos

II. Themistocles

1. Themistocles, Neocli filius, Atheniensis. Huius vitia ineuntis adulescentiae magnis sunt emendata virtutibus, adeo ut anteferatur huic nemo, pauci 2pares putentur. Sed ab initio est ordiendus. Pater eius Neocles generosus fuit. Is uxorem Acarnanam civem duxit, ex qua natus est Themistocles. Qui cum minus esset probatus parentibus, quod et liberius vivebat et rem familiarem neglegebat, a 3patre exheredatus est. Quae contumelia non fregit eum, sed erexit; nam cum iudicasset sine summa industria non posse eam exstingui, totum se dedidit rei publicae, diligentius amicis famaeque serviens. Multum in iudiciis privatis versabatur, saepe in contionem populi prodibat; nulla res maior sine eo gerebatur; celeriter quae opus erant reperiebat, 4facile eadem oratione explicabat, neque minus in rebus gerendis promptus quam excogitandis erat, quod et de instantibus, ut ait Thucydides, verissime iudicabat et de futuris callidissime coniciebat. Quo factum est ut brevi tempore illustraretur.

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II. Themistocles

II. Themistocles

1. Themistocles, son of Neocles, the Athenian. This man’s faults in early youth gave place to such great merits that no one is ranked above him and few are thought to be his equals. But we must begin our account of his life at the beginning. His father Neocles was of high birth. He married an Acarnanian woman possessing the rights of citizenship, who became the mother of Themistocles. The son displeased his parents by living too lawlessly and neglecting his property, and in consequence was disinherited by his father. But this affront, instead of breaking his spirit, aroused his ambition. For believing that such a disgrace could be wiped out only by the greatest industry, he devoted all his time to public life, doing his best to gain friends and distinction. He took a prominent part in civil suits, and often came forward to speak in the public assembly; no business of importance was transacted without him; he was quick to see what was needed and able to express his views clearly. Furthermore, he was no less active in carrying out his plans than he had been in devising them, because, as Thucydides expresses it, he judged present events with great exactness and divined the future with remarkable skill. As a result he soon became famous.

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.cornelius_nepos-book_great_generals_foreign_nations_themistocles.1929