2. The son of Cimon and brother of Stesagoras, became tyrart of the Chersonesus on the death of the latter, being sent out by Peisistratus from Athens to take possession of the vacant inheritance.
By a stratagem he got the chief men of the Chersonesus into his power and threw them into prison, and took a force of mercenaries into his pay.
In order probably to strengthen his position still more he married Hegesipyla, the daughter of a Thracian prince named Olorus. (Hdt. 6.39
He joined Dareius Hystaspis on his expedition against the Scythians, and was left with the other Greeks in charge of the bridge over the Danube. (Hdt. 4.137
That when the appointed time had expired and Dareius had not retarned, Miltiades reconmncnded the Greeks to destroy the bridge and leave Dareius to his fate, is the account repeated by every writer since Herodotus; but doubts have been raised respecting its truth which it is not easy to set aside. If true it could not have remained unknown to Dareius, and yet Miltiades was left in quiet possession of his principality for several years, though during that period a Persian force was engaged in military operations in his neighbourhood. Bishop Thirlwall (History of Greece,
vol. ii. Appendix 2) is inclined to look upon the story as a fabrication which was invented and spread after Miltiades came to Athens for the purpose of counteracting the odium with which he was at first regarded as a tyrant. Some time after the expedition of Dareius an inroad of the Scythians drove Miltiades from his possessions; but after the enemy had retired the Doloncians brought him back. (Hdt. 6.40
It appears to have been between this period and his withdrawal to Athens that Miltiades conquered and expelled the Pelasgian inhabitants of Lemnos and Imbros and subjected the islands to the dominion of Attica. (Hdt. 6.137
The story of the origin of the enmity between the Athenians and these Pelasgians, of the promise made by the offenders in accordance with the direction of the oracle to surrender their islands to the Athenians, and the mode in which they attempted to elude it by offering to surrender them when a fleet should sail to them from Attica in one day with a north wind, and of the way in which Miltiades, setting out from the Chersonesus, which was in some sort Attic ground, fulfilled the seemingly impossible condition, and demanded the surrender which he had the power to enforce from those who resisted, will be found in Herodotus. Lemnos and Imbros belonged to the Persian dominions (Hdt. 5.26
), and Thirlwall has suggested that this encroachment on the Persian possessions was probably the cause which drew upon Miltiades the hostility of Dareius, and led him to fly from the Chersonesus when the Phoenician fleet approached, after the subjugation of Ionia. Miltiades reached Athens in safety, but his eldest son Metiochus fell into the hands of the Persians. (Herodot. 6.41.) At Athens Miltiades was arraigned, as being amenable to the penalties enacted against tyranny, but was acquitted. When Attica was threatened with invasion by the Persians under Datis and Artaphernes, Miltiades was chosen one of the ten generals.
According to Pausanias (3.12.7
), it was by his advice that the Persian heralds who had come to demand earth and water were put to death. When the Athenians advanced against the Persians, Miltiades by his arguments induced the polemarch Callimachus to give the casting vote in favour of risking a battle with the enemy, the opinions of the ten generals being equally divided. Miltiades waited till his turn came, and then drew his army up in battle array on the ever memorable field of Marathon. For an account of the battle and of the tactics by which the victory was secured the reader is again referred to Herodotus (6.104
After the defeat of the Persians Miltiades endeavoured to urge the Athenians to measures of retaliation, and induced them to entrust to him an armament of seventy ships, without knowing the purpose for which they were designed.
He proceeded to attack the island of Paros, for the purpose of gratifying a private enmity. His attacks, however, were unsuccessful; and after receiving a dangerous hurt in the leg while penetrating into a sacred enclosure on some superstitious errand, he was compelled to raise the siege and return to Athens, where he was impeached by Xanthippus for having deceived the people. His wound had turned into a gangrene, and being unable to plead his cause in person he was brought into court on a couch, his brother Tisagoras conducting his defence for him.
He was condemned, but on the ground of his services to the state the penalty was commuted to a fine of fifty talents, the cost of the equipment of the armament. Being unable to pay this he was thrown into prison, where he not long after died of his wound.
The fine was afterwards paid by his son Cimon. (Hdt. 6.132
; Plut. Cimon,
After his death a separate monument was erected to his memory on the field of Marathon. (Paus. 1.15.3