1. An Athenian, of the demos Alopece, son of Melesias, and related to Cimon, to whom he is said to have been inferior in military talent, though he possessed more skill as a political tactician.
After the death of Cimon, in B. C. 449, Thucydides became the leader of the aristocratic party, which he concentrated and more thoroughly organized in opposition to Pericles.
With all his ability, however, and all his family influence, he was no match for his great adversary either in eloquence or address; and this he is said to have acknowledged himself, when king Archidamus II. of Sparta asked him whether he or Pericles was the better wrestler. " When I throw Pericles," was the answer, " he always contrives to make the spectators believe that he has had no fall."
The line of attack also, which Plutarch represents Thucydides as adopting, does not appear to have been the most judicious, for he inveighed against the profuse expenditure of Pericles in public works, by no means the least popular feature in the great statesman's administration, and not long after this the struggle came to an end by the ostracism of Thucydides in B. C. 444. (Plut. Per. 6, 8, 11, 14, 16.
) From an allusion in Aristophanes (Vesp. 947
) we learn that, when he was in danger of this banishment, and rose to make his defence, he utterly broke down and was unable to open his mouth.
According to the scholia on the same passage of Aristophanes, the historian Philochorus assigned as the cause of his exile some alleged misconduct during a command which he held in Thrace; while Idomeneus related that he was not ostracised merely, but sentenced to perpetual banishment with confiscation of his property, and that he fled to Artaxerxes, king of Persia. Here, however, the scholiast appears to have confounded Thucydides with Themistocles. [IDOMENEUS.] (Comp. Arist. Ach. 668, 673.
) That he retired to Sparta is in itself probable enough, and is in some measure confirmed by the anecdote, above related, of his conversation with Archidamus.
But the usual term of ostracism, viz. ten years, seems to have been abridged in his case, since we hear of him in B. C. 440 (at least there is good reason to suppose it the same person) as united with Hagnon and Phormion in the command of forty ships, which were sent to reinforce Pericles. then engaged in the siege of Samos.
The arrival of these vessels, together with other reinforcements. compelled the Samians to capitulate (Thuc. 1.117
; comp. Thirlwall's Greece,
vol. iii. p. 53, note l). Aristotle, according to Plutarch (Nic. 2
) classed Thucydides with Nicias and Theramenes as an excellent citizen and distinguished by an hereditary feeling of good will towards the people.
He left two sons, Melesias and Stephanus; and a son of the former of these, named Thucydides after his grand-father, was a pupil of Socrates. (Plat. Men.
p. 94, Theag.
p. 130, Lach.
p. 179; Athen. 6.234