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Summary.

Introduction:.

→ Ephialtes’ Family and Character.

The Areopagus Before the Reforms..

The Reforms.

Political Background to Ephialtes’ Reforms: Cimon and Themistocles.

Political Background to Ephialtes’ Reforms: the People.

The Reforms Themselves.

The Death of Ephialtes.

Secondary Works Cited.

Index of Citations

General Index

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Ephialtes 

Christopher W. Blackwell, edition of January 27, 2003

page 3 of 10

· Ephialtes’ Family and Character ·

Plutarch did not write a biography of Ephialtes, unfortunately, and so we know many fewer details about him than about other prominent Athenians. Interested readers should read the article on Cimon, Ephialtes’ principle political rival, to fill out the picture of Athenian politics in the first half of the 5th century BCE.

Read about the evidence
Diodorus (Diod.).
Herodotus (Hdt.).
Aristotle (Aristot. Ath. Pol.).
Plutarch (Plut. Cim.).
Demosthenes (Dem. 13).
Aelian (Ael. VH).

Ephialtes was the son of Sophonides (Diod. 11.77.6). Aelian includes him in a list of important public figures who were not rich (Ael. VH 2.43; Ael. VH 11.9), which we might contrast to the famous wealth of his political rival Cimon (Hdt. 6.136.3; Plut. Cim. 4.4; Aristot. Ath. Pol. 27.2-3; Plut. Cim. 10.1-2; Dem. 13.29). Aelian also calls Ephialtes a “philosopher”, but what that is supposed to mean is not clear (Ael. VH 3.17).

Read about the evidence
Plutarch (Plut. Cim.).
 
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Athens.
Aegean.
Persia.

Ephialtes seems to have held the position of strategos ( στρατηγός ), or General, at Athens, since we hear of him commanding an Athenian fleet in the Aegean, shortly after Cimon’s victories over Persia in 467 (Plut. Cim. 13.5; source for date, OCD3).

Read about the evidence
Diodorus (Diod.).
 
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Athens.

Apart from these few details, most of what we know about Ephialtes has to do with is greatest political triumph, the reform of the Council of the Areopagus at Athens. Diodorus, who is critical of the reform, summarizes the event and adds a “moral,” saying that Ephialtes “persuaded the Assembly to vote to curtail the power of the Council of the Areopagus and to destroy the renowned customs which their fathers had followed. Nevertheless, he did not escape the punishment for attempting such lawlessness, but he was done to death by night and none ever knew how he lost his life” (Diod. 11.77.6).

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