Unveiling the Epics: “Lawrence of Arabia” and the Timeless Saga of Themistocles

Charles Lincon
3 min readMay 22, 2023

Murray: Now, the Arab Bureau seems to think you would be of use to them in Arabia. Why? I can’t imagine! You don’t seem able to perform your present duties properly.
Lawrence: I cannot fiddle, but I can make a great state from a little city…
Murray: What?
Lawrence: Themistocles, sir. A great philosopher.
Murray: I know you’ve been well educated, Lawrence. It says so in your dossier.

Introduction: In the realm of cinema, few movies can claim to have achieved the status of a timeless masterpiece. Among these rare gems stands “Lawrence of Arabia,” a cinematic epic that takes us on a breathtaking journey through history and introduces us to a larger-than-life figure, T.E. Lawrence. However, what many fail to realize is the uncanny connection between Lawrence and another legendary historical figure: Themistocles. Brace yourselves, dear readers, for a riveting exploration that intertwines these two remarkable characters and reveals the profound impact they had on the annals of history.

A Glimpse Into Lawrence of Arabia: “Lawrence of Arabia” is a cinematic triumph directed by David Lean, released in 1962. It portrays the extraordinary life of T.E. Lawrence, a British army officer who played a pivotal role in the Arab Revolt during World War I. The film showcases Lawrence’s charismatic leadership, his alliances with Arab tribes, and his quest to unite the Arab nations against the Ottoman Empire. However, beneath the surface, this historical masterpiece hides an unexpected parallel.

The Unlikely Parallel: Themistocles and Lawrence: While separated by centuries, T.E. Lawrence and Themistocles bear striking similarities in their tales. Themistocles, an Athenian politician, strategist, and naval commander, rose to prominence during the Greco-Persian Wars in the 5th century BCE. He played a pivotal role in the Greek victory against the Persian Empire at the Battle of Salamis, utilizing cunning tactics and inspiring leadership.

Leaders Ahead of Their Time: Both Lawrence and Themistocles possessed visionary qualities that set them apart from their contemporaries. Lawrence’s understanding and empathy for the Arab culture and his ability to inspire unity mirrored Themistocles’ strategic genius and ability to rally the Greek city-states against a common enemy. These leaders defied conventional wisdom, challenging the status quo and paving the way for historical change.

A Shared Legacy: Beyond their individual achievements, both Lawrence and Themistocles left behind a profound legacy. Lawrence’s involvement in the Arab Revolt contributed to the eventual collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the redrawing of the Middle East. Similarly, Themistocles’ strategies at Salamis ensured the survival of Greek civilization and thwarted Persian expansion, forever shaping the course of Western civilization.

Relevance in Modern Times: The relevance of Lawrence and Themistocles extends beyond the pages of history. Their stories resonate with contemporary leaders, encouraging them to think beyond the limitations of their time. The lessons of empathy, strategic thinking, and the power of unity still hold true today, inspiring leaders to challenge the norms and strive for positive change.

Conclusion: As we delve into the enthralling world of “Lawrence of Arabia,” we uncover an extraordinary parallel with the historical figure Themistocles. Both Lawrence and Themistocles embody the timeless qualities of visionary leadership and courage that continue to captivate audiences to this day. By recognizing the enduring impact of these remarkable individuals, we embrace their legacies as a reminder that ordinary individuals can shape the course of history. Let the tales of Lawrence and Themistocles inspire us all to push the boundaries of what we believe is possible and leave an indelible mark on the world.

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Charles Lincon

Renaissance literature, Shakespeare, Hegelian dialectics, Attic Greek, masters University of Amsterdam.