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2. Grandson of the preceding, and son of the great Miltiades, is mentioned in Herodotus as paying his father's fine and capturing Eion. (6.136, 7.107.) This latter event, the battle of Eurymedon, the expedition in aid of Sparta, and his death in Cyprus, are the only occasions in which he is expressly named by his relation, Thucydides ; whose summary, moreover, of the history of this period leaves us by its briefness necessarily dependent for much on the additional authorities, which form the somewhat heterogeneous basis of Plutarch's biography. We find here the valuable contemporary recollections of Ion of Chios (cc. 5. 9), and the almost worthless contemporary gossip and scandal of the Thasian Stesimbrotus: some little also from the poets of the time, Cratinus, Melanthius, and Archelaus. He seems to have followed Thucydides, though not very strictly, as a guide in general, while he filled up the details from the later historians, perhaps from Theopompus more than from Ephorus, whose account, as followed probably by Diodorus (11.60), differs materially. He appears to have also used Callisthenes, Cratinus, Phanodemus, Diodorus Periegetes, Gorgias, and Nausicrates; Aristotle, Eupolis, Aristophanes, and Critias.

On the death of Miltiades, probably in B. C. 489, Cimon, we are told by Diodorus (Excerpta. p. 255), in order to obtain the corpse for burial, took his father's place in prison till his fine of 50 talents should be paid. [MILTIADES.] It appears, however, certain (see Dem. c. Androt. p. 603) that the ἀτιμία,if not the imprisonment, of the public debtor was legally inherited by the son, and Cornelius Nepos, whose life comes in many parts from Theopompus, states the confinement to have been compulsory. The fine was eventually paid by Callias on his marriage with Elpinice, Cimon's sister. [CALLIAS, No. 2, p. 567b.] A more difficult point is the previous connexion and even marriage of Cimon with this sister or half-sister, which was recorded by numerous writers, but after all was very probably the scandal of Stesimbrotus and the comedians. (Eupolis, apud Plut. Cim. 15, comp. 4; Nepos, Cim. 1; Athen. 13.589.) Nor, again, can we very much rely on the statement which Plutarch introduces at this time, that he and Themistocles vied with each other at the Olympian games in the splendour of their equipments and banquets. (Plut. Themist. 5.) It is more credible that his first occasion of attracting notice and admiration was the forwardness with which, when the city in B. C. 480 was to be deserted, he led up to the citadel a company of young men to offer to the goddess their now unserviceable bridles. (Plut. Cim. 5.) After the battle of Plataea, Aristeides brought him forward. They were placed together in 477 at the head of the Athenian contingent to the Greek armament, under the supreme command of Pausanias. Cimon shared the glory of transferring that supremacy to Athens, and in the first employment of it reduced the Persian garrison at Eion, and opened the important district in the neighbourhood for Athenian colonization. (Plut. Cim. 6; Hdt. 7.107; Thuc. 1.98; Nepos, Cim. 2; Schol. ad Aesch. de Fals. Leg. p. 755, &c., ed. Reiske; Clinton, F. H. ii. App. ix.) In honour of this conquest he received from his countrymen the distinction, at that time unprecedented, of having three busts of Hermes erected, inscribed with triumphal verses, but without mention of the names of the generals. (Plut. Cim. 6; Aesch. c. Ctesiph. p. 573, ed. Reiske.) In 476, apparently under his conduct, the piratical Dolopians were expelled from Scyros, and a colony planted in their room; and the remains of Theseus discovered there, were thence transported, probably after some years' interval (B. C. 468) with great pomp to Athens. (Plut. Cim. 8; Paus. 1.17.6, 3.3.6.)

The reduction of Carvstus and Naxos was, most likely, effected under his command (Thuc. 1.98); and at this period he was doubtless in war and politics his country's chief citizen. His coadjutor at home would be Aristeides; how far he contributed to the banishment of Themistocles may be doubtful. (Comp. Plut. Arist. 25, Them. 24.) The year B. C. 466 (according to Clinton; Krüger and others persist in placing it earlier) saw the completion of his glory. In the command of the allied forces on the Asiatic coast he met a Persian fleet of 350 ships, attacked them, captured 200, and following the fugitives to the shore, by the river Eurymedon, in a second and obstinate engagement on the same day, routed the land armament; indeed, according to Plutarch, he crowned his victory before night by the defeat of a reinforcement of 80 Phoenician ships. (Plut. Cim. 12; Thuc. 1.100; Diod. 11.60, with Wesseling's note.) His next achievement was the expulsion of the Persians from the Chersonese, and the subjection of the territory to Athens, accompanied perhaps with the recovery of his own patrimony. The effect of these victories was doubtless very great; they crushed perhaps a last aggressive movement, and fixed Persia finally in a defensive position. In later times it was believed, though on evidence, as was shewn by Callisthenes, quite insufficient, that they had been succeeded by a treaty (the famous peace of Cimon) negotiated through Callias, and containing in its alleged conditions the most humiliating concessions. They placed Cimon at the height of his power and glory, the chief of that empire which his character had gained for Athens, and which his policy towards the allies was rendering daily firmer and completer. Themistocles, a banished man, may perhaps have witnessed his Asiatic triumphs in sorrow; the death of Aristeides had left him sole possessor of the influence they had hitherto jointly exercised: nor had time yet matured the opposition of Pericles. (Plut. Cim. 13, 14.) Still the loss of the old friend and the rapidly increasing influence of the new opponent rendered his position precarious.

The chronology of the events that follow is henceforth in most points disputed; according to Clinton's view, which cannot hastily be deserted, the revolt of Thasos took place in 465; in 463 Cimon reduced it; in the year intervening occurred the earthquake and insurrection at Sparta, and in consequence, upon Cimon's urgent appeal, one if not two (Plut. Cim. 16; comp. Aristoph. Lys. 1137) expeditions were sent from Athens, under his command, to assist the Spartans. In these occurrences were found the means for his humiliation. During the siege of Thasos, the Athenian colonists on the Strymon were cut off by the Thracians, and Cimon seems to have been expected, after his victory there, to retrieve this disaster : and, neglecting to do so, he was on his return brought to trial; but the accusation of having taken bribes from Alexander of Macedon, was, by Pericles at any rate, not strongly urged, and the result was an acquittal. The termination of his Lacedaemonian policy in the jealous and insulting dismissal of their Athenian auxiliaries by the Spartans, and the consequent rupture between the two states was a more serious blow to his popularity. And the victory of his opponents was decided when Ephialtes and Pericles, after a severe struggle, carried their measure for reducing the authority of the aristocratic Areiopagus. Upon this it would seem his ostracism ensued. Soon after its commencement (B. C. 457) a Lacedaemonian army, probably to meet the views of a violent section of the defeated party in Athens, posted itself at Tanagra. The Athenians advanced to meet it: Cimon requested permission to fight in his place; the generals in suspicion refused: he departed, begging his own friends to vindicate his character: they, in number a hundred, placed in the ensuing battle his panoply among them, and fell around it to the last man. Before five years of his exile were fully out, B. C. 453 or 454, he was recalled on the motion of Pericles himself; late reverses having inclined the people to tranquillity in Greece, and the democratic leaders perhaps being ready, in fear of more unscrupulous opponents, to make concessions to those of them who were patriotic and temperate. He was probably employed in effecting the five years' truce with Sparta which commenced in 450. In the next year he sailed out with 200 ships to Cyprus, with the view of retrieving the late mishaps in Egypt. Here, while besieging Citium, illness or the effects of a wound carried him off. His forces, while sailing away with his remains, as if animated by his spirit, fell in with and defeated a fleet of Phoenician and Cilician galleys, and added to their naval victory a second over forces on shore. (Plut. Cim. 14-19; Thuc. 1.112; Diod. 11.64, 86, 12.3, 4; Theopomp. apud Ephori fragm. ed. Marx, 224.)

Cimon's character (see Plut. Cim. 4, 5, 9, 10, 16, Peric. 5) is marked by his policy. Exerting himself to aggrandize Athens, and to centralize in her the power of the naval confederacy, he still looked mainly to the humiliation of the common enemy, Persia, and had no jealous feeling towards his country's rivals at home. He was always an admirer of Sparta: his words to the people when urging the succours in the revolt of the Helots were, as recorded by Ion (Plut. Cim. 16) "not to suffer Greece to be lamed, and Athens to lose its yoke-fellow." He is described himself to have had something of the Spartan character, being deficient in the Athenian points of readiness and quick discernment. He was of a cheerful, convivial temper, free and indulgent perhaps rather than excessive in his pleasures (φιλοπότης καὶ ἀμελής Eupolis, apud Plut. Cim. 15), delighting in achievement for its own sake rather than from ambition. His frankness, affability, and mildness, won over the allies from Pausanias; and at home, when the recovery of his patrimony or his share of spoils had made him rich, his liberality and munificence were unbounded. His orchards and gardens were thrown open; his fellow demesmen (Aristot. apud Plut. Cim. 10; comp. Cic. de Off. 2.18 and Theopomp. apud Athen. 12.533) were free daily to his table, and his public bounty verged on ostentation. With the treasure he brought from Asia the southern wall of the citadel was built, and at his own private charge the foundation of the long walls to the Peiraeeus, works which the marshy soil made difficult and expensive, were laid down in the most costly and efficient style. According to the report of Ion, the tragic poet, who as a boy supped in his company (Plut. Cim. 5, 9), he was in person tall and good-looking, and his hair, which he wore long, thick and curly. He left three sons, Lacedaemonius, Eleus, and Thessalus, and was, according to one account, married to Isodice, a daughter of Euryptolemuis, the cousin of Pericles, as also to an Arcadian wife. (Diodorus Periegetes, apud Plut. Cim. 16.) Another record gives him three more sons, Miltiades, Cimon, and Peisianax. (Schol. ad Aristid. iii. p. 515, Dindorf.)

(Herod., Thuc.; Plut. Cimon; Nepos, Cimon; Diodorus. Plutarch's life of Cimon is separately edited in an useful form by Arnold Ekker, Utrecht, 1843, in which references will be found to other illustrative works.)


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  • Cross-references from this page (24):
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 11.60
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 11.64
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 11.86
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 12.4
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 12.3
    • Herodotus, Histories, 7.107
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.17.6
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.3.6
    • Plutarch, Aristeides, 25
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.112
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.100
    • Aristophanes, Lysistrata, 1137
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.98
    • Plutarch, Cimon, 4
    • Plutarch, Cimon, 5
    • Plutarch, Cimon, 10
    • Plutarch, Cimon, 12
    • Plutarch, Cimon, 13
    • Plutarch, Cimon, 14
    • Plutarch, Cimon, 16
    • Plutarch, Cimon, 19
    • Plutarch, Cimon, 6
    • Plutarch, Cimon, 8
    • Plutarch, Cimon, 9
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