Now when Datis, on being sent by Darius ostensibly to punish the Athenians for burning Sardis, but really to subdue all the Hellenes, put in at Marathon with all his armament and went to ravaging the country, then, of the ten generals appointed by the Athenians for the conduct of the war, it was Miltiades who enjoyed the greatest consideration, but in reputation and influence Aristides was second.
By adopting at that time the opinion of Miltiades about the battle to be fought, he did much to turn the scale in its favour. And since each general held the chief authority for a single day in turn, when the command came round to him, he handed it over to Miltiades, thereby teaching his fellow-officers that to obey and follow men of wisdom is not disgraceful, but dignified and salutary. By thus appeasing the jealousy of his colleagues and inducing them to be cheerfully contented in the adoption of a single opinion (and that the best), he confirmed Miltiades in the strength which comes from an unrestricted power. For each of the other generals at once relinquished his own right to command for a day in turn, and put himself under the orders of Miltiades.
In the battle, the Athenian center was the hardest pressed, and it was there that the Barbarians held their ground the longest, over against the tribes Leontis and Antiochis. There, then, Themistocles and Aristides fought brilliantly, ranged side by side; for one was a Leontid, the other an Antiochid.
When the Athenians had routed the Barbarians and driven them aboard their ships, and saw that they were sailing away, not toward the islands, but into the gulf toward Attica under compulsion of wind and wave, then they were afraid lest the enemy find Athens empty of defenders, and so they hastened homeward with nine tribes, and reached the city that very day.
But Aristides was left behind at Marathon with his own tribe, to guard the captives and the booty. Nor did he belie his reputation, but though silver and gold lay about in heaps, and though there were all sorts of raiment and untold wealth besides in the tents and captured utensils, he neither desired to meddle with it himself, nor would he suffer any one else to do so, although certain ones helped themselves without his knowledge. Among these was Callias the Torchbearer.1
Some Barbarian, it seems, rushed up to this man, supposing him to be a king from his long hair and the headband that he wore, made obeisance to him, and taking him by the hand in suppliant fashion, showed him a great mass of gold buried up in a sort of pit. Callias, most savage and lawless of men, took up the gold; but the man, to prevent his betraying the matter to others, he slew. From this circumstance, they say, his descendants are called by the comic poets
‘Pit-wealthies,’ in sly allusion to the place where Callias found his gold.
Aristides at once received the office of Archon Eponymous. And yet Demetrius of Phalerum says that it was a little while before his death, and after the battle of Plataea, that the man held this office.2
But in the official records, after Xanthippides, in whose year of office Mardonius was defeated at Plataea, you cannot find, long as the list is, so much as the name Aristides; whereas immediately after Phaenippus, in whose year of office the victory at Marathon was won, an Aristides is recorded as archon.3