by Aubrey Stewart and George Long
Peripoltas, the soothsayer, after he had brought back King Opheltas and the people under him to Bœotia, left a family which remained in high repute for many generations, and chiefly settled in Chæronea, which was the first city which they conquered when they drove out the barbarians. As the men of this race were all brave and warlike, they were almost reduced to extinction in the wars with the Persians, and in later times with the Gauls during their invasion of Greece, so that there remained but one male of the family, a youth of the name of Damon, who was surnamed Peripoltas, and who far surpassed all the youth of his time in beauty and spirit, although he was uneducated and harsh-tempered. The commander of a detachment of Roman soldiers who were quartered during the winter in Chæronea conceived a criminal passion for Damon, who was then a mere lad, and as he could not effect his purpose by fair means it was evident that he would not hesitate to use force, as our city was then much decayed, and was despised, being so small and poor. Damon, alarmed and irritated at the man's behaviour, formed a conspiracy with a few young men of his own age, not many, for secrecy's sake, but consisting of sixteen in all. These men smeared their faces with soot, excited themselves by strong drink, and assaulted the Roman officer just at daybreak, while he was offering sacrifice in the market-place. They killed him and several of his attendants, and then made their escape out of the city. During the confusion which followed, the senate of the city of Chæronea assembled and condemned the conspirators to death—a decree which was intended to excuse the city to the Romans for what had happened. But that evening, when the chief magistrates, as is their custom, were dining together, Damon and his party broke into the senate-house, murdered them all, and again escaped out of the city. It chanced that at this time Lucius Lucullus was passing near Chæronea with an armed force. He halted his troops, and, after investigating the circumstances, declared that the city was not to blame, but had been the injured party. As for Damon, who was living by brigandage and plunder of the country, and who threatened to attack the city itself, the citizens sent an embassy to him, and passed a decree guaranteeing his safety if he would return. When he returned they appointed him president of the gymnasium, and afterwards, while he was being anointed in the public baths, they murdered him there.
Our ancestors tell us that as ghosts used to appear in that place, and groans were heard there, the doors of the bath-room were built up; and even at the present day those who live near the spot imagine that shadowy forms are to be seen, and confused cries heard. Those of his family who survive (for there are some descendants of Damon) live chiefly in Phokis, near the city of Steiris. They call themselves Asbolomeni, which in the Æolian dialect means "sooty-faced," in memory of Damon having smeared his face with soot when he committed his crimes.
II. Now the city of Orchomenus, which is next to that of Chæronea, was at variance with it, and hired a Roman informer, who indicted the city for the murder of those persons killed by Damon, just as if it were a man. The trial was appointed to take place before the prætor of Macedonia, for at that time the Romans did not appoint prætors of Greece. When in court the representatives of Chæronea appealed to Lucullus to testify to their innocence, and he, when applied to by the prætor, wrote a letter telling the entire truth of the story, which obtained an acquittal for the people of Chæronea. Thus narrowly did the city escape utter destruction. The citizens showed their gratitude to Lucullus by erecting a marble statue to him in the market-place, beside that of Dionysus; and although I live at a much later period, yet I think it my duty to show my gratitude to him also, as I too have benefited by his intercession. I intend therefore to describe his achievements in my Parallel Lives, and thus raise a much more glorious monument to his memory by describing his real disposition and character, than any statue can be, which merely records his face and form. It will be sufficient for me if I show that his memory is held in grateful remembrance, for he himself would be the first to refuse to be rewarded for the true testimony which he bore to us by a fictitious narrative of his exploits. We think it right that portrait painters when engaged in painting a handsome face should neither omit nor exaggerate its defects; for the former method would destroy the likeness and the latter the beauty of the picture. In like manner, as it is hard, or rather impossible, to find a man whose life is entirely free from blame, it becomes our duty to relate their noble actions with minute exactitude, regarding them as illustrative of true character, whilst, whenever either a man's personal feelings or political exigencies may have led him to commit mistakes and crimes, we must regard his conduct more as a temporary lapse from virtue than as disclosing any innate wickedness of disposition, and we must not dwell with needless emphasis on his failings, if only to save our common human nature from the reproach of being unable to produce a man of unalloyed goodness and virtue.
III. It appears to me that the life of Lucullus furnishes a good parallel to that of Kimon. Both were soldiers, and distinguished themselves against the barbarians; both were moderate politicians and afforded their countrymen a brief period of repose from the violence of party strife, and both of them won famous victories. No Greek before Kimon, and no Roman before Lucullus, waged war at such a distance from home, if we except the legends of Herakles and Dionysus, and the vague accounts which we have received by tradition of the travels and exploits of Perseus in Ethiopia, Media, and Armenia, and of the expedition of Jason to recover the Golden Fleece.
Another point in which they agree is the incomplete nature of the success which they obtained, for they both inflicted severe losses on their enemies, but neither completely crushed them. Moreover we find in each of them the same generous hospitality, and the same luxurious splendour of living. Their other points of resemblance the reader may easily discover for himself by a comparison of their respective lives.
IV. Kimon was the son of Miltiades by his wife Hegesipyle, a lady of Thracian descent, being the daughter of King Olorus, as we learn from the poems addressed to Kimon himself by Archelaus and Melanthius. Thucydides the historian also was connected with Kimon's family, as the name of Olorus had descended to his father, who also inherited gold mines in Thrace from his ancestors there. Thucydides is said to have died at Skapte Hyle, a small town in Thrace, near the gold mines. His remains were conveyed to Athens and deposited in the cemetery belonging to the family of Kimon, where his tomb is now to be seen, next to that of Elpinike, Kimon's sister. However, Thucydides belonged to the township of Halimus, and the family of Miltiades to that of Lakia.
Miltiades was condemned by the Athenians to pay a fine of fifty talents, and being unable to do so, died in prison, leaving Kimon and his sister Elpinike, who were then quite young children. Kimon passed the earlier part of his life in obscurity, and was not regarded favourably by the Athenians, who thought that he was disorderly and given to wine, and altogether resembled his grandfather Kimon, who was called Koalemus because of his stupidity.
Stesimbrotus of Thasos, who was a contemporary of Kimon, tells us that he never was taught music or any of the other usual accomplishments of a Greek gentleman, and that he had none of the smartness and readiness of speech so common at Athens, but that he was of a noble, truthful nature, and more like a Dorian of the Peloponnesus than an Athenian,
"Rough, unpretending, but a friend in need,"
as Euripides says of Herakles, which line we may well apply to Kimon according to the account of him given by Stesimbrotus. While he was still young he was accused of incest with his sister. Indeed Elpinike is not recorded as having been a respectable woman in other respects, as she carried on an intrigue with Polygnotus the painter; and therefore it is said that when he painted the colonnade which was then called the Peisianakteum, which is now called the Painted Porch, he introduced the portrait of Elpinike as Laodike, one of the Trojan ladies. Polygnotus was a man of noble birth, and he did not execute his paintings for money, but gratis, from his wish to do honour to his city. This we learn from the historians and from the poet Melanthius, who wrote—
"With deeds of heroes old,
He made our city gay,
In market-place and porch,
Himself the cost did pay."
Some historians tell us that Elpinike was openly married to Kimon and lived as his wife, because she was too poor to obtain a husband worthy of her noble birth, but that at length Kallias, one of the richest men in Athens, fell in love with her, and offered to pay off the fine which had been imposed upon her father, by which means he won her consent, and Kimon gave her away to Kallias as his wife. Kimon indeed seems to have been of an amorous temperament, for Asterie, a lady of Salamis, and one Mnestra are mentioned by the poet Melanthius, in some playful verses he wrote upon Kimon, as being beloved by him; and we know that he was passionately fond of Isodike, the daughter of Euryptolemus the son of Megakles, who was his lawful wife, and that he was terribly afflicted by her death, to judge by the elegiac poem which was written to console him, of which Panætius the philosopher very reasonably conjectures Archelaus to have been the author.
V. All the rest that we know of Kimon is to his honour. He was as brave as Miltiades, as clever as Themistokles, and more straightforward than either. Nor was he inferior to either of them in military skill, while he far surpassed them in political sagacity, even when he was quite a young man, and without any experience of war. For instance, when Themistokles, at the time of the Persian invasion, urged the Athenians to abandon their city and territory, and resist the enemy at Salamis, on board of their fleet, while the greater part of the citizens were struck with astonishment at so daring a proposal, Kimon was seen with a cheerful countenance walking through the Kerameikus with his friends, carrying in his hand his horse's bridle, which he was going to offer up to the goddess Athena in the Acropolis, in token that at that crisis the city did not need horsemen so much as sailors. He hung up the bridle as a votive offering in the temple, and, taking down one of the shields which hung there, walked with it down towards the sea, thereby causing many of his countrymen to take courage and recover their spirits. He was not an ill-looking man, as Ion the poet says, but tall, and with a thick curly head of hair. As he proved himself a brave man in action he quickly became popular and renowned in Athens, and many flocked round him, urging him to emulate the glories won by his father at Marathon. The people gladly welcomed him on his first entrance into political life, for they were weary of Themistokles, and were well pleased to bestow the highest honours in the state upon one whose simple and unaffected goodness of heart had made him a universal favourite. He was greatly indebted for his success to the support given him by Aristeides, who early perceived his good qualities, and endeavoured to set him up as an opponent to the rash projects and crooked policy of Themistokles.
VI. When, after the repulse of the Persian invasion, Kimon was sent as general of the Athenian forces to operate against the enemy in Asia, acting under the orders of Pausanias, as the Athenians had not then acquired their supremacy at sea, the troops whom he commanded were distinguished by the splendour of their dress and arms, and the exactness of their discipline. Pausanias at this time was carrying on a treasonable correspondence with the king of Persia, and treated the allied Greek troops with harshness and wanton insolence, the offspring of unlimited power. Kimon, on the other hand, punished offenders leniently, treated all alike with kindness and condescension, and became in all but name the chief of the Greek forces in Asia, a position which he gained, not by force of arms, but by amiability of character. Most of the allies transferred their allegiance to Kimon and Aristeides, through disgust at the cruelty and arrogance of Pausanias. There is a tradition that Pausanias when at Byzantium became enamoured of Kleonike, the daughter of one of the leading citizens there. He demanded that she should be brought to his chamber, and her wretched parents dared not disobey the tyrant's order. From feelings of modesty Kleonike entreated the attendants at the door of his bedchamber to extinguish all the lights, and she then silently in the darkness approached the bed where Pausanias lay asleep. But she stumbled and overset the lamp.He, awakened by the noise, snatched up his dagger, and imagining that some enemy was coming to assassinate him, stabbed the girl with it, wounding her mortally. It is said that after this her spirit would never let Pausanias rest, but nightly appeared to him, angrily reciting the verse—
"Go, meet thy doom; pride leadeth men to sin."
The conduct of Pausanias in this matter so enraged the allied Greeks that, under Kimon's command, they besieged him in Byzantium, which they took by assault. He, however, escaped, and, it is said, fled for refuge to the oracle of the dead at Heraklea, where he called up the soul of Kleonike and besought her to pardon him. She appeared, and told him that if he went to Sparta he would soon be relieved of all his troubles, an enigmatical sentence alluding, it is supposed, to his approaching death there.
VII. Kimon, who was now commander-in-chief, sailed to Thrace, as he heard that the Persians, led by certain nobles nearly related to Xerxes himself, had captured the city of Eion on the river Strymon, and were making war upon the neighbouring Greek cities. His first act on landing was to defeat the Persians, and shut them up in the city. He next drove away the Thracian tribes beyond the Strymon, who supplied the garrison with provisions, and by carefully watching the country round he reduced the city to such straits that Boutes, the Persian general, perceiving that escape was impossible, set it on fire, and himself with his friends and property perished in the flames. When Kimon took the city he found nothing in it of any value, as everything had been destroyed in the fire together with the Persian garrison; but as the country was beautiful and fertile, he made it an Athenian colony. Three stone statues of Hermes at Athens were now set up by a decree of the people, on the first of which is written:—
"Brave men were they, who, by the Strymon fair,
First taught the haughty Persians to despair;"
and on the second—
"Their mighty chiefs to thank and praise,
The Athenians do these columns raise;
That generations yet to come,
May fight as well for hearth and home;"
and on the third—
"Mnestheus from Athens led our hosts of yore,
With Agamemnon, to the Trojan shore;
Than whom no chief knew better to array,
The mail-clad Greeks, when mustering for the fray:
Thus Homer sung; and Athens now, as then,
Doth bear away the palm for ruling men."
VIII. These verses, although Kimon's name is nowhere mentioned in them, appeared to the men of that time excessively adulatory. Neither Themistokles nor Miltiades had ever been so honoured. When Miltiades demanded the honour of an olive crown, Sophanes of Dekeleia rose up in the public assembly and said,—"Miltiades, when you have fought and conquered the barbarians alone, you may ask to be honoured alone, but not before"—a harsh speech, but one which perfectly expressed the feeling of the people.
Why, then, were the Athenians so charmed with Kimon's exploit? The reason probably was because their other commanders had merely defended them from attack, while under him they had been able themselves to attack the enemy, and had moreover won territory near Eion, and founded the colony of Amphipolis. Kimon also led a colony to Skyros, which island was taken by Kimon on the following pretext.
The original inhabitants were Dolopes, who were bad farmers, and lived chiefly by piracy. Emboldened by success they even began to plunder the strangers who came into their ports, and at last robbed and imprisoned some Thessalian merchants whose ships were anchored at Ktesium. The merchants escaped from prison, and laid a complaint against the people of Skyros before the Amphiktyonic council. The people refused to pay the fine imposed by the council, and said that it ought to be paid by those alone who had shared the plunder. These men, in terror for their ill-gotten gains, at once opened a correspondence with Kimon, and offered to betray the island into his hands if he would appear before it with an Athenian fleet. Thus Kimon was enabled to make himself master of Skyros, where he expelled the Dolopes and put an end to their piracies; after which, as he learned that in ancient times the hero Theseus, the son of Ægeus, after he had been driven out of Athens, took refuge at Skyros, and was murdered there by Lykomedes, who feared him, he endeavoured to discover where he was buried. Indeed there was an oracle which commanded the Athenians to bring back the bones of Theseus to their city and pay them fitting honours, but they knew not where they lay, as the people of Skyros did not admit that they possessed them, and refused to allow the Athenians to search for them. Great interest was now manifested in the search, and after his sepulchre had with great difficulty been discovered, Kimon placed the remains of the hero on board of his own ship and brought them back to Athens, from which they had been absent four hundred years. This act made him very popular with the people of Athens, one mark of which is to be found in his decision in the case of the rival tragic poets. When Sophokles produced his first play, being then very young, Aphepsion, the archon, seeing that party feeling ran high among the spectators, would not cast lots to decide who were to be the judges, but when Kimon with the other nine generals, his colleagues, entered to make the usual libation to the god, he refused to allow them to depart, but put them on their oath, and forced them to sit as judges, they being ten in number, one from each of the ten tribes. The excitement of the contest was much increased by the high position of the judges. The prize was adjudged to Sophokles, and it is said that Æschylus was so grieved and enraged at his failure that he shortly afterwards left Athens and retired to Sicily, where he died, and was buried near the city of Gela.
IX. Ion tells us that when quite a boy he came from Chios to Athens, and met Kimon at supper in the house of Laomedon. After supper he was asked to sing, and he sang well. The guests all praised him, and said that he was a cleverer man than Themistokles; for Themistokles was wont to say that he did not know how to sing or to play the harp, but that he knew how to make a state rich and great. Afterwards the conversation turned upon Kimon's exploits, and each mentioned what he thought the most important. Hereupon Kimon himself described what he considered to be the cleverest thing he had ever done. After the capture of Sestos and Byzantium by the Athenians and their allies, there were a great number of Persians taken prisoners, whom the allies desired Kimon to divide amongst them. He placed the prisoners on one side, and all their clothes and jewellery on the other, and offered the allies their choice between the two. They complained that he had made an unequal division, but he bade them take whichever they pleased, assuring them that the Athenians would willingly take whichever part they rejected. By the advice of Herophytus of Samos, who urged them to take the property of the Persians, rather than the Persians themselves, the allies took the clothes and jewels. At this Kimon was thought to have made a most ridiculous division of the spoil, as the allies went swaggering about with gold bracelets, armlets, and necklaces, dressed in Median robes of rich purple, while the Athenians possessed only the naked bodies of men who were very unfit for labour. Shortly afterwards, however, the friends and relations of the captives came down to the Athenian camp from Phrygia and Lydia, and ransomed each of them for great sums of money, so that Kimon was able to give his fleet four months' pay, and also to remit a large sum to Athens, out of the money paid for their ransom.
X. The money which Kimon had honourably gained in the war he spent yet more honourably upon his countrymen. He took down the fences round his fields, that both strangers and needy Athenians might help themselves to his crops and fruit. He provided daily a plain but plentiful table, at which any poor Athenian was welcome to dine, so that he might live at his ease, and be able to devote all his attention to public matters. Aristotle tells us that it was not for all the Athenians, but only for the Lakiadæ, or members of his own township, that he kept this public table. He used to be attended by young men dressed in rich cloaks, who, if he met any elderly citizen poorly clothed, would exchange cloaks with the old man; and this was thought to be a very noble act. The same young men carried pockets full of small change and would silently put money into the hands of the better class of poor in the market-place. All this is alluded to by Kratinus, the comic poet, in the following passage from his play of the Archilochi:
"I too, Metrobius, hoped to end
My days with him, my noblest friend,
Kimon, of all the Greeks the best,
And, richly feasting, sink to rest.
But now he's gone, and I remain unblest."
Moreover, Gorgias of Leontini says that Kimon acquired wealth in order to use it, and used it so as to gain honour: while Kritias, who was one of the Thirty, in his poems wishes to be
"Rich as the Skopads, and as Kimon great,
And like Agesilaus fortunate."
Indeed, Lichas the Spartan became renowned throughout Greece for nothing except having entertained all the strangers who were present at the festival of the Gymnopædia: while the profuse hospitality of Kimon, both to strangers and his own countrymen, far surpassed even the old Athenian traditions of the heroes of olden days; for though the city justly boasts that they taught the rest of the Greeks to sow corn, to discover springs of water, and to kindle fire, yet Kimon, by keeping open house for all his countrymen, and allowing them to share his crops in the country, and permitting his friends to partake of all the fruits of the earth with him in their season, seemed really to have brought back the golden age. If any scurrilous tongues hinted that it was merely to gain popularity and to curry favour with the people that he did these things, their slanders were silenced at once by Kimon's personal tastes and habits, which were entirely aristocratic and Spartan. He joined Aristeides in opposing Themistokles when the latter courted the mob to an unseemly extent, opposed Ephialtes when, to please the populace, he dissolved the senate of the Areopagus, and, at a time when all other men except Aristeides and Ephialtes were gorged with the plunder of the public treasury, kept his own hands clean, and always maintained the reputation of an incorruptible and impartial statesman. It is related that one Rhœsakes, a Persian, who had revolted from the king, came to Athens with a large sum of money, and being much pestered by the mercenary politicians there, took refuge in the house of Kimon, where he placed two bowls beside the door-posts, one of which he filled with gold, and the other with silver darics.Kimon smiled at this, and inquired whether he wished him to be his friend, or his hired agent; and when the Persian answered that he wished him to be a friend, he said, "Then take this money away; for if I am your friend I shall be able to ask you for it when I want it."
XI. When the allies of Athens, though they continued to pay their contribution towards the war against Persia, refused to furnish men and ships for it, and would not go on military expeditions any longer, because they were tired of war and wished to cultivate their fields and live in peace, now that the Persians no longer threatened them, the other Athenian generals endeavoured to force them into performing their duties, and by taking legal proceedings against the defaulters and imposing fines upon them, made the Athenian empire very much disliked. Kimon, on the other hand, never forced any one to serve, but took an equivalent in money from those who were unwilling to serve in person, and took their ships without crews, permitting them to stay at home and enjoy repose, and by their luxury and folly convert themselves into farmers and merchants, losing all their ancient warlike spirit and skill, while by exercising many of the Athenians in turn in campaigns and military expeditions, he rendered them the masters of the allies by means of the very money which they themselves supplied. The allies very naturally began to fear and to look up to men who were always at sea, and accustomed to the use of arms, living as soldiers on the profits of their own unwarlike leisure, and thus by degrees, instead of independent allies, they sank into the position of tributaries and subjects.
XII. Moreover, no one contributed so powerfully as Kimon to the humbling of the king of Persia; for Kimon would not relax his pursuit of him when he retreated from Greece, but hung on the rear of the barbarian army and would not allow them any breathing-time for rallying their forces. He sacked several cities and laid waste their territory, and induced many others to join the Greeks, so that he drove the Persians entirely out of Asia Minor, from Ionia to Pamphylia. Learning that the Persian leaders with a large army and fleet were lying in wait for him in Pamphylia, and wishing to rid the seas of them as far as the Chelidoniæ, or Swallow Islands, he set sail from Knidus and the Triopian Cape with a fleet of two hundred triremes, whose crews had been excellently trained to speed and swiftness of manœuvring by Themistokles, while he had himself improved their build by giving them a greater width and extent of upper deck, so that they might afford standing-room for a greater number of fighting men. On reaching the city of Phaselis, as the inhabitants, although of Greek origin, refused him admittance, and preferred to remain faithful to Persia, he ravaged their territory and assaulted the fortifications. However, the Chians who were serving in Kimon's army, as their city had always been on friendly terms with the people of Phaselis, contrived to pacify his anger, and by shooting arrows into the town with letters wrapped round them, conveyed intelligence of this to the inhabitants. Finally, they agreed to pay the sum of ten talents, and to join the campaign against the Persians. We are told by the historian Ephorus that the Persian fleet was commanded by Tithraustes, and the land army by Pherendates. Kallisthenes, however, says that the supreme command was entrusted to Ariomandes, the son of Gobryas, who kept the fleet idle near the river Eurymedon, not wishing to risk an engagement with the Greeks, but waiting for the arrival of a reinforcement of eighty Phœnician ships from Cyprus. Kimon, wishing to anticipate this accession of strength, put to sea, determined to force the enemy to fight. The Persian fleet at first, to avoid an engagement, retired into the river Eurymedon, but as the Athenians advanced they came out again and ranged themselves in order of battle. Their fleet, according to the historian Phanodemus, consisted of six hundred ships, but, according to Ephorus, of three hundred and fifty. Yet this great armament offered no effective resistance, but turned and fled almost as soon as the Athenians attacked. Such as were able ran their ships ashore and took refuge with the land army, which was drawn up in battle array close by, while the rest were destroyed, crews and all, by the Athenians. The number of the Persian ships is proved to have been very great, by the fact that, although many escaped, and many were sunk, yet the Athenians captured two hundred prizes.
XIII. The land forces now moved down to the beach, and it appeared to Kimon that it would be a hazardous undertaking to effect a landing, and to lead his tired men to attack fresh troops, who also had an immense superiority over them in numbers. Yet as he saw that the Greeks were excited by their victory, and were eager to join battle with the Persian army, he disembarked his heavy-armed troops, who, warm as they were from the sea-fight, raised a loud shout, and charged the enemy at a run. The Persian array met them front to front, and an obstinate battle took place, in which many distinguished Athenians fell. At length the Persians were defeated with great slaughter, and the Athenians gained an immense booty from the plunder of the tents and the bodies of the slain.
Kimon, having thus, like a well-trained athlete at the games, carried off two victories in one day, surpassing that of Salamis by sea, and that of Platæa by land, proceeded to improve his success by attacking the Phœnician ships also. Hearing that they were at Hydrum, he sailed thither in haste, before any news had reached the Phœnicians about the defeat of their main body, so that they were in anxious suspense, and on the approach of the Athenians were seized with a sudden panic. All their ships were destroyed, and nearly all their crews perished with them. This blow so humbled the pride of the king of Persia, that he afterwards signed that famous treaty in which he engaged not to approach nearer to the Greek seas than a horseman could ride in one day, and not to allow a single one of his ships of war to appear between the Kyanean and Chelidonian Islands. Yet the historian Kallisthenes tells us that the Persians never made a treaty to this effect, but that they acted thus in consequence of the terror which Kimon had inspired by his victory; and that they removed so far from Greece, that Perikles with fifty ships, and Ephialtes with only thirty, sailed far beyond the Chelidonian Islands and never met with any Persian vessels. However, in the collection of Athenian decrees made by Kraterus, there is a copy of the articles of this treaty, which he mentions as though it really existed. It is said that on this occasion the Athenians erected an altar to Peace, and paid great honours to Kallias, who negotiated the treaty. So much money was raised by the sale of the captives and spoils taken in the war, that besides what was reserved for other occasions, the Athenians were able to build the wall on the south side of the Acropolis from the treasure gained in this campaign. We are also told that at this time the foundations of the Long Walls were laid. These walls, which were also called the Legs, were finished afterwards, but the foundations, which had to be carried over marshy places, were securely laid, the marsh being filled up with chalk and large stones, entirely at Kimon's expense. He also was the first to adorn the city with those shady public walks which shortly afterwards became so popular with the Athenians, for he planted rows of plane-trees in the market-place, and transformed the Academy from a dry and barren wilderness into a well-watered grove, full of tastefully-kept paths and pleasant walks under the shade of fine trees.
XIV. As some of the Persians, despising Kimon, who had set out from Athens with a very small fleet, refused to leave the Chersonese, and invited the Thracian tribes of the interior to assist them in maintaining their position, he attacked them with four ships only, took thirteen of the enemy's, drove out the Persians, defeated the Thracians, and reconquered the Chersonese for Athens. After this he defeated in a sea-fight the people of Thasos, who had revolted from Athens, captured thirty-three of their ships, took their city by storm, and annexed to Athens the district of the mainland containing the gold mines, which had belonged to the Thasians. From Thasos he might easily have invaded Macedonia and inflicted great damage upon that country, but he refrained from doing so. In consequence of this he was accused of having been bribed by Alexander, the king of Macedonia, and his enemies at home impeached him on that charge. In his speech in his own defence he reminded the court that he was the proxenus, or resident agent at Athens, not of the rich Ionians or Thessalians, as some other Athenians were, with a view to their own profit and influence, but of the Lacedæmonians, a people whoso frugal habits he had always been eager and proud to imitate; so that he himself cared nothing for wealth, but loved to enrich the state with money taken from its enemies. During this trial, Stesimbrotus informs us that Elpinike, Kimon's sister, came to plead her brother's cause with Perikles, the bitterest of his opponents, and that Perikles answered with a smile, "Elpinike, you are too old to meddle in affairs of this sort." But for all that, in the trial he treated Kimon far more gently than any of his other accusers, and spoke only once, for form's sake.
XV. Thus was Kimon acquitted; and during the remainder of his stay in Athens he continued to oppose the encroachments of the people, who were endeavouring to make themselves the source of all political power. When, however, he started again on foreign service, the populace finally succeeded in overthrowing the old Athenian constitution, and under the guidance of Ephialtes greatly curtailed the jurisdiction of the Senate of the Areopagus, and turned Athens into a pure democracy. At this time also Perikles was rising to power as a liberal politician. Kimon, on his return, was disgusted at the degradation of the ancient Senate of the Areopagus, and began to intrigue with a view of restoring the aristocratic constitution of Kleisthenes. This called down upon him a storm of abuse from the popular party, who brought up again the old scandals about his sister, and charged him with partiality for the Lacedæmonians. These imputations are alluded to in the hackneyed lines of Eupolis:
"Not a villain beyond measure,
Only fond of drink and pleasure;
Oft he slept in Sparta's town,
And left his sister here alone."
If, however, he really was a careless drunkard, and yet took so many cities and won so many battles, it is clear that if he had been sober and diligent he would have surpassed the most glorious achievements of any Greek, either before or since.
XVI. He was always fond of the Lacedæmonians, and named one of his twin sons Lacedæmonius, and the other Eleius. These children were borne to him by his wife Kleitoria, according to the historian Stesimbrotus; and consequently Perikles frequently reproached them with the low birth of their mother. But Diodorus the geographer says that these two and the third, Thessalus, were all the children of Kimon by Isodike, the daughter of Euryptolemus the son of Megakles. Much of Kimon's political influence was due to the fact that the Lacedæmonians were bitterly hostile to Themistokles, and wished to make him, young as he was, into a powerful leader of the opposite party at Athens. The Athenians at first viewed his Spartan partialities without dissatisfaction, especially as they gained considerable advantages by them; for during the early days of their empire when they first began to extend and consolidate their power, they were enabled to do so without rousing the jealousy of Sparta, in consequence of the popularity of Kimon with the Lacedæmonians. Most international questions were settled by his means, as he dealt generously with the subject states, and was viewed with especial favour by the Lacedæmonians.
Afterwards, when the Athenians became more powerful, they viewed with dislike Kimon's excessive love for Sparta. He was never weary of singing the praises of Lacedæmon to the Athenians, and especially, we are told by Stesimbrotus, when he wished to reproach them, or to encourage them to do bettor, he used to say, "That is not how the Lacedæmonians do it." This habit caused many Athenians to regard him with jealousy and dislike: but the most important ground of accusation against him was the following. In the fourth year of the reign of king Archidamus, the son of Zeuxidamus, at Sparta, the Lacedæmonian territory was visited by the greatest earthquake ever known there. The earth opened in many places, some of the crags of Taygetus fell down, and the whole city was destroyed, with the exception of five houses. It is related that while the boys and young men were practising gymnastics in the palæstra, a hare ran into the building, and that the boys, naked and anointed as they were, immediately ran out in pursuit of it, while the gymnasium shortly afterwards fell upon the young men who remained and killed them all. Their tomb is at this day called Seismatia, that is, the tomb of those who perished in the earthquake.
Archidamus, perceiving the great dangers with which this disaster menaced the state, and observing that the citizens thought of nothing but saving their most valuable property from the wreck, ordered the trumpet to sound, as though the enemy were about to attack, and made every Spartan get under arms and rally round him as quickly as possible. This measure saved Sparta; for the helots had gathered together from the country round about, and were upon the point of falling upon the survivors. Finding them armed and drawn up in order, they retreated to the neighbouring cities, and openly made war against the Spartans, having won over no small number of the Periœki to their side, while the Messenians also joined them in attacking their own old enemies. At this crisis the Spartans sent Perikleides as an ambassador to Athens to demand assistance. This is the man whom Aristophanes ridiculed in his play as sitting by the altars as a suppliant, with a pale face and a scarlet cloak, begging for an army.
We are told by Kritias that Ephialtes vigorously opposed his mission, and besought the Athenians not to assist in restoring a state which was the rival of Athens, but to let the pride of Sparta be crushed and trampled in the dust. Kimon, on the other hand, postponing the interests of his own country to those of the Lacedæmonians, persuaded the people of Athens to march a numerous body of men to assist them. The historian Ion has preserved the argument which had most effect upon the Athenians, and says that Kimon besought them not to endure to see Greece lame of one foot and Athens pulling without her yoke-fellow.
XVII. When Kimon with his relieving force marched to help the Lacedæmonians, he passed through the territory of Corinth. Lachartus objected to this, saying that he had marched in before he had asked leave of the Corinthians, and reminded him that when men knock at a door, they do not enter before the master of the house invites them to come in. Kimon answered, "Lachartus, you Corinthians do not knock at the doors of the cities of Megara or of Kleonæ, but break down the door and force your way in by the right of the stronger, just as we are doing now." By this timely show of spirit he silenced the Corinthians, and passed through the territory of Corinth with his army.
The Lacedæmonians invited the aid of the Athenians a second time, to assist in the reduction of the fortress of Ithomé, which was held by the Messenians and revolted helots; but when they arrived the Lacedæmonians feared so brilliant and courageous a force, and sent them back, accusing them of revolutionary ideas, although they did not treat any other of their allies in this manner. The Athenians retired, in great anger at the treatment they had received, and no longer restrained their hatred of all who favoured the Lacedæmonians. On some trifling pretext they ostracised Kimon, condemning him to exile for ten years, which is the appointed time for those suffering from ostracism. During this time the Lacedæmonians, after setting Delphi free from the Phokians, encamped at Tanagra, and fought a battle there with the Athenians, who came out to meet them. On this occasion Kimon appeared, fully armed, and took his place in the ranks among his fellow-tribesmen. However, the senate of the five hundred hearing of this, became alarmed, and, as his enemies declared that his only object was to create confusion during the battle and so to betray his countrymen to the Lacedæmonians, they sent orders to the generals, forbidding them to receive him. Upon this he went away, after having begged Euthippus the Anaphlystian and those of his friends who were especially suspected of Laconian leanings, to fight bravely, and by their deeds to efface this suspicion from the minds of their fellow-citizens. They took Kimon's armour, and set it up in their ranks; and then, fighting in one body round it with desperate courage, they all fell, one hundred in number, causing great grief to the Athenians for their loss, and for the unmerited accusation which had been brought against them. This event caused a revulsion of popular feeling in favour of Kimon, when the Athenians remembered how much they owed him, and reflected upon the straits to which they were now reduced, as they had been defeated in a great battle at Tanagra, and expected that during the summer Attica would be invaded by the Lacedæmonians. They now recalled Kimon from exile; and Perikles himself brought forward the decree for his restoration. So moderate were the party-leaders of that time, and willing to subordinate their own differences to the common welfare of their country.
XVIII. On his return Kimon at once put an end to the war, and reconciled the two states. After the peace had been concluded, however, he saw that the Athenians were unable to remain quiet, but were eager to increase their empire by foreign conquest. In order, therefore, to prevent their quarrelling with any other Greek state, or cruising with a large fleet among the islands and the Peloponnesian coast, and so becoming entangled in some petty war, he manned a fleet of two hundred triremes with the intention of sailing a second time to Cyprus and Egypt, wishing both to train the Athenians to fight against barbarians, and also to gain legitimate advantages for Athens by the plunder of her natural enemies. When all was ready, and the men were about to embark, Kimon dreamed that he saw an angry dog barking at him, and that in the midst of its barking it spoke with a human voice, saying,
"Go, for thou shalt ever be
Loved both by my whelps and me."
This vision was very hard to interpret. Astyphilus of Poseidonia, a soothsayer and an intimate friend of Kimon's, told him that it portended his death, on the following grounds. The dog is the enemy of the man at whom he barks: now a man is never so much loved by his enemies as when he is dead; and the mixture of the voice, being partly that of a dog and partly that of a man, signifies the Persians, as their army was composed partly of Greeks and partly of barbarians. After this dream Kimon sacrificed to Dionysus. The prophet cut up the victim, and the blood as it congealed was carried by numbers of ants towards Kimon, so that his great toe was covered with it before he noticed them. At the moment when Kimon observed this, the priest came up to him to tell him that the liver of the victim was defective. However, he could not avoid going on the expedition, and sailed forthwith. He despatched sixty of his ships to Egypt, but kept the rest with him. He conquered the Phœnician fleet in a sea-fight, recovered the cities of Cilicia, and began to meditate an attack upon those of Egypt, as his object was nothing less than the utter destruction of the Persian empire, especially when he learned that Themistokles had risen to great eminence among the Persians, and had undertaken to command their army in a campaign against Greece. It is said that one of the chief reasons which caused Themistokles to despair of success was his conviction that he could not surpass the courage and good fortune of Kimon. He therefore committed suicide, while Kimon, who was now revolving immense schemes of conquest as he lay at Cyprus with his fleet, sent an embassy to the shrine of Ammon to ask something secret. What it was no one ever knew, for the god made no response, but as soon as the messengers arrived bade them return, as Kimon was already with him. On hearing this, they retraced their steps to the sea, and when they reached the headquarters of the Greek force, which was then in Egypt, they heard that Kimon was dead. On counting back the days to that on which they received the response, they perceived that the god had alluded to Kimon's death when he said that he was with him, meaning that he was among the gods.
XIX. According to most authorities Kimon died of sickness during a siege; but some writers say that he died of a wound which he received in a battle with the Persians. When dying he ordered his friends to conceal his death, but at once to embark the army and sail home. This was effected, and we are told by Phanodemus that no one, either of the enemy or of the Athenian allies conceived any suspicion that Kimon had ceased to command the forces until after he had been dead for thirty days. After his death no great success was won by any Greek general over the Persians, but they were all incited by their popular orators and the war-party to fight with one another, which led to the great Peloponnesian war. This afforded a long breathing-time to the Persians, and wrought terrible havoc with the resources of Greece. Many years afterwards Agesilaus invaded Asia, and carried on war for a short time against the Persian commanders who were nearest the coast. Yet he also effected nothing of any importance, and being recalled to Greece by the internal troubles of that country, left Persia drawing tribute from all the Greek cities and friendly districts of the sea-coast, although in the time of Kimon no Persian tax-gatherer or Persian horseman was ever seen within a distance of four hundred stades (fifty miles) from the sea.
His remains were brought back to Attica, as is proved by the monument which to this day is known as the "Tomb of Kimon." The people of Kitium, also, however, pay respect to a tomb, said to be that of Kimon, according to the tale of the orator Nausikrates, who informs us that once during a season of pestilence and scarcity the people of Kitium were ordered by an oracle not to neglect Kimon, but to pay him honour and respect him as a superior being. Such a man as this was the Greek general.
Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans
Alcibiades and Coriolanus - Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar - Aratus & Artaxerxes and Galba & Otho
- PLUTARCH: Lives of the noble Grecians and Romans (Complete and Unabridged)
- Plutarch's Lives: Exploring Virtue and Vice by Timothy E. Duff (Oxford UP: 2002 pb) ISBN 0199252742.
- Albin Lesky, A History of Greek Literature , Hackett Publishing Company; Reprint edition (November, 1996)
Medieval Greece / Byzantine Empire