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Summary.

Introduction: Cimon’s Family and Character.

Cimon’s Early Career.

→ Cimon’s Successes.

The Beginning of Conflict with the Democrats.

Democratic Reforms Behind Cimon’s Back.

The Reforms that Cimon Opposed.

Cimon’s Last Years and Death.

Secondary Works Cited.

Index of Citations

General Index

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Cimon 

Christopher W. Blackwell, edition of January 31, 2003

page 4 of 9

· Cimon’s Successes ·

Read about the evidence
Herodotus (Hdt.).
Plutarch (Plut. Thes.).
Thucydides (Thuc.).
Diodorus (Diod.).
Aristotle (Aristot. Ath. Pol.).
Plutarch (Plut. Cim.).
Plutarch (Plut. Arist.).
Pausanias (Paus.).
 
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Delphi.
Attica.
Scyros.
Athens.
Sparta.
Greece.

Cimon enjoyed this influence over affairs because he was a very successful general, politician, and perhaps self-promoter. After the Persian Wars, when the Athenians were rebuilding their city (it had been sacked by the Persians in 480 [source for date: OCD3, see also Hdt. 8.50.2— CWB]), Cimon acted on a message from the god Apollo, delivered to the Athenians through the oracle at Delphi; the message urged Athens to find the bones of their legendary king Theseus and return them for burial in Attica. Cimon found a large skeleton on the island of Scyros and returned with it, triumphantly, to Athens (Plut. Thes. 36.1-3; Plut. Cim. 8.3-7; Paus. 1.17.6; Paus. 3.3.7; Thuc. 1.98.2; Diod. 11.60.2). We also hear of Cimon and Aristides—both advocates of an aristocratic government (Aristot. Ath. Pol. 28.2; Plut. Cim. 10.7)—sent as an embassy to Sparta in 479, just after Athens and Sparta had led the Greeks in driving the Persians from Greece (Plut. Arist. 10.10; source for date: Rhodes, 293). According to Pausanias, Cimon was instrumental in fortifying the newly rebuilt Acropolis with walls (Paus. 1.28.3).

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Plutarch (Plut. Cim.).
 
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Persia.
Aegean.
Athens.

In the years 478-477, when the Persians has left the Greek mainland but were still a threat to the Greek islands in the Aegean, the Spartans held leadership of a coalition of Greek states united for protection from Persia (Plut. Cim. 6.1; source for date: OHCW). But the Spartan king Pausanias mismanaged the alliance, while Cimon, who was in the Aegean as an Athenian general ( στρατηγός ), acted fairly, thus helping to bring many island-states into alliance with Athens (Plut. Cim. 6.2).

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Thucydides (Thuc.).
Pausanias (Paus.).
Plutarch (Plut. Cim.).
 
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Persia.
Aegean.
Eion.
Thrace.
Athens.
Greece.
Amphipolis.

Those years also marked the beginning of a series of naval battles between Persia and Athens, under the command of Cimon, that would, by 467, eliminate the Persian threat to the Greeks in the Aegean; the first of these battles was in the north, in Thrace, where Cimon attacked the Persians and liberated the city of Eion (Plut. Cim. 7.1; Thuc. 1.98.1; source for date: OHCW). Pausanias (the writer from the 2nd century CE, no relation to the Spartan king of the same name) reports that Cimon pioneered the use of running water to undermine brick walls (which resist battering rams better than stone, he says) during the siege of Eion (Paus. 8.8.9). Cimon’s victory at Eion in Thrace opened the way for Athens to control territory in northern Greece, including the city of Amphipolis (Plut. Cim. 8.2).

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Thucydides (Thuc.).
Pausanias (Paus.).
Plutarch (Plut. Cim.).
 
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Eurymedon.
Hydrus.
Persia.

Cimon’s greatest moment, however, was in 467, when he commanded the Athenian fleet in a battle against the Persians near the mouth of the river Eurymedon (Plut. Cim. 12.1-6; Thuc. 1.100.1; source for date: OHCW). After his fleet had beaten the Persian fleet, it landed troops which another victory on land (Plut. Cim. 13.1-2). Cimon won yet another victory immediately afterwards against a fleet of Phoenician ships that were part patrolling near Hydrus on behalf of Persia (Plut. Cim. 13.3). He became famous as the one general who won a victory on land and on sea on the same day (Paus. 1.29.14). The result of these victories was a treaty between the Greeks and the Great King of Persia, ending the Persian threat to the Greeks, at least for the moment (Plut. Cim. 13.4).

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Plutarch (Plut. Cim.).
Thucydides (Thuc.).
 
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Athens.

Athens was still the leading city of the defensive alliance of Greek states, many of which grew tired of providing ships for the common defense; according to Plutarch, Cimon allowed them to pay money instead of contributing ships, money that the Athenians used to expand their own fleet, which would provide protection to all the allies. Thus, “before they knew it, they were tribute-paying subject rather than allies” (Plut. Cim. 11.1-3; compare Thuc. 1.99, which tells the same story without mentioning Cimon). This was the birth of the Athenian “empire” ( ἀρχή ) that would shape the city’s history in the 5th century (for the term, see Thuc. 1.67.4; Thuc. 1.75).

Read about the evidence
Plutarch (Plut. Cim.).

Plutarch tells the following story to illustrate Cimon’s prestige during these years when he was one of the ten generals elected by the Athenians. On the occasion when the tragedian Sophocles was producing his first tragedies in the Theater of Dionysus, putting them in competition with some tragedies of Aeschylus, the crowd was in an uproar, excited by the young poet’s challenge to the old master. When Cimon and his fellow generals entered the theater, the archon chose them to judge the competition, rather than selecting ten judges at random. Cimon’s reputation calmed the crowd and prevented a riot when the “upstart” Sophocles won the competition (Plut. Cim. 8.7-8). This happened in 468 BCE (source for date: OHCW).

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