Cimon was the son of Miltiades by Hegesipyle, a woman of Thracian stock, daughter of King Olorus, as it is stated in the poems of Archelaus and Melanthius addressed to Cimon himself. That explains how it was that the father of Thucydides the historian—and Thucydides was connected with the family of Cimon—was also an Olorus, who referred his name back to that of the common ancestor, and also how it was that Thucydides had gold mines in Thrace.1
And it is said that Thucydides died in Skapte Hyle, a place in Thrace, having been murdered there; but his remains were brought to Attica, and his monument is shown among those of Cimon's family, hard by the tomb of Elpinice, Cimon's sister. However, Thucydides belonged to the deme of Halimus, the family of Miltiades to that of Laciadae.
Now Miltiades, who had been condemned to pay a fine of fifty talents and confined till payment should be made, died in prison, and Cimon, thus left a mere stripling with his sister who was a young girl and unmarried, was of no account in the city at first. He had the bad name of being dissolute and bibulous, and of taking after his grandfather Cimon, who, they say, because of his simplicity, was dubbed Coalemus, or Booby.
And Stesimbrotus the Thasian, who was of about Cimon's time, says that he acquired no literary education, nor any other liberal and distinctively Hellenic accomplishment; that he lacked entirely the Attic cleverness and fluency of speech; that in his outward bearing there was much nobility and truthfulness; that the fashion of the man's spirit was rather Peloponnesian,
Plain, unadorned, in a great crisis brave and true,
as Euripides says of Heracles,2
, a citation which we may add to what Stesimbrotus wrote.
While he was still a youth he was accused of improper intercourse with his sister. And indeed in other cases too they say that Elpinice was not very decorous, but that she had improper relations also with Polygnotus the painter, and that it was for this reason that, in the Peisianacteum, as it was then called, but now the Painted Colonnade, when he was painting the Trojan women, he made the features of Laodice a portrait of Elpinice.
Now Polygnotus was not a mere artisan, and did not paint the stoa for a contract price, but gratis, out of zeal for the welfare of the city, as the historians relate, and as Melanthius the poet testifies after this fashion:—
He at his own lavish outlay the gods' great fanes, and the market
Named Cecropia, adorned; demigods' valor his theme.
Still, there are some who say that Elpinice did not live with Cimon in secret intercourse, but openly rather, as his wedded wife, because, on account of her poverty, she could not get a husband worthy of her high lineage; but that when Callias, a wealthy Athenian, fell in love with her, and offered to pay into the state treasury the fine which had been imposed upon her father, she consented herself, and Cimon freely gave Elpinice to Callias to wife.
However, it is perfectly apparent that Cimon was given to the love of women. Asteria, of a Salaminian family, and a certain Mnestra are mentioned by the poet Melanthius, in a sportive elegy addressed to Cimon, as wooed and won by him.
And it is clear that he was even too passionately attached to his lawful wife, Isodice, the daughter of Euryptolemus and grand-daughter of Megacles, and that he was too sorely afflicted at her death, if we may judge from the elegy addressed to him for the mitigation of his grief. This was composed by the naturalist Archelaus, as Panaetius the philosopher thinks, and his conjecture is chronologically possible.