Although these inscriptions nowhere mentioned Cimon by name, his contemporaries held them to be a surpassing honor for him. Neither Themistocles nor Miltiades achieved any such, nay, when the latter asked for a
crown of olive merely, Sophanes the Deceleian rose up in the midst of the assembly and protested. His speech was ungracious, but it pleased the people of that day.
‘When,’ said he,
‘thou hast fought out alone a victory over the Barbarians, then demand to be honored alone.’
Why, then, were the people so excessively pleased with the achievement of Cimon? Perhaps it was because when the others were their generals they were trying to repel their enemies and so avert disaster; but when he led them they were enabled to ravage the land of their enemies with incursions of their own, and acquired fresh territories for settlement, not only Eion itself, but also Amphipolis.
They settled Scyros too, which Cimon seized for the following reason. Dolopians were living on the island, but they were poor tillers of the soil. So they practised piracy on the high sea from of old, and finally did not withhold their hands even from those who put into their ports and had dealings with them, but robbed some Thessalian merchants who had cast anchor at Ctesium, and threw them into prison.
When these men had escaped from bondage and won their suit against the city at the Amphictyonic assembly, the people of Scyros were not willing to make restitution, but called on those who actually held the plunder to give it back. The robbers, in terror, sent a letter to Cimon, urging him to come with his fleet to seize the city, and they would give it up to him.
In this manner Cimon got possession of the island, drove out the Dolopians and made the Aegean a free sea.
On learning that the ancient Theseus, son of Aegeus, had fled in exile from Athens to Scyros, but had been treacherously put to death there, through fear, by Lycomedes the king, Cimon eagerly sought to discover his grave.
For the Athenians had once received an oracle bidding them bring back the bones of Theseus to the city and honor him as became a hero, but they knew not where he lay buried, since the Scyrians would not admit the truth of the story, nor permit any search to be made. Now, however, Cimon set to work with great ardour, discovered at last the hallowed spot, had the bones bestowed in his own trireme, and with general pomp and show brought them back to the hero's own country after an absence of about four hundred years. This was the chief reason why the people took kindly to him.
But they also cherished in kindly remembrance of him that decision of his in the tragic contests which became so famous. When Sophocles, still a young man, entered the lists with his first plays, Apsephion the Archon, seeing that the spirit of rivalry and partisanship ran high among the spectators, did not appoint the judges of the contest as usual by lot, but when Cimon and his fellow-generals advanced into the theater and made the customary libation to the god, he would not suffer them to depart, but forced them to take the oath and sit as judges, being ten in all, one from each tribe.
So, then, the contest, even because of the unusual dignity of the judges, was more animated than ever before. But Sophocles came off victorious and it is said that Aeschylus, in great distress and indignation thereat, lingered only a little while at Athens, and then went off in anger to Sicily. There he died also, and is buried near Gela.