In war, it is plain that both were good fighters, both on land and sea. But just as those athletes who win crowns in wrestling and the pancratium on a single day are called, by custom,
‘Victors-extraordinary,’ so Cimon, who in a single day crowned Greece with the trophies of a land and sea victory, may justly have a certain pre-eminence among generals.
And further, it was his country which conferred imperial power upon Lucullus, whereas Cimon conferred it upon his. The one added his foreign conquests to a country which already ruled her allies; the other found his country obeying others, and gave her command over her allies and victory over her foreign foes, by defeating the Persians and driving them from the sea, and by persuading the Lacedaemonians voluntarily relinquish the command.
Granted that it is the most important task of a leader to secure prompt obedience through good will, Lucullus was despised by his own soldiers, while Cimon was admired by the allies. His soldiers deserted the one; the allies came over to the other. The one came back home abandoned by those whom he commanded when he set out; the other was sent out with allies to do the commands of others, but before he sailed home he himself gave commands to those allies, having successfully secured for his city three of the most difficult objects at once, namely, peace with the enemy, leadership of the allies, and concord with the Lacedaemonians.
Again, both attempted to subvert great empires and to subdue all Asia, and both left their work unfinished: Cimon through ill fortune pure and simple, for he died at the head of his army and at the height of his success; but Lucullus one cannot altogether acquit of blame, whether he was ignorant of, or would not attend to the grievances and complaints among his soldiery, in consequence of which he became so bitterly hated.
Or perhaps this has its counterpart in the life of Cimon, for he was brought to trial by his fellow citizens and finally ostracised, in order that for ten years, as Plato says,1
they might not hear his voice. For aristocratic natures are little in accord with the multitude, and seldom please it, but by so often using force to rectify its aberrations, they vex and annoy it, just as physicians' bandages vex and annoy, although they bring the dislocated members into their natural position. Perhaps, then, both come off about alike on this count.