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Athenian Political Art from the fifth and fourth centuries BCE: Images of Historical Individuals 

Amy C. Smith, edition of January 18 2003

page 9 of 14

· Miltiades ·

(statesman/general, before 550-488)

Read about the evidence
Demosthenes (Dem. 23).
Pausanias (Paus.).
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Evidence: Demosthenes states that the Athenians did not set up a statue of Miltiades until long after his death (Dem. 23.196). Demosthenes refers only to publicly commissioned statues at Athens, yet it is possible that a statue of Miltiades may have been privately commissioned during his lifetime. Of the four portraits of Miltiades noted in ancient written sources, the posthumous ones to which Demosthenes referred are most likely that seen in the Prytaneion and/or that seen in the Theater of Dionysos. A portrait of Miltiades and one of Themistocles shown with it in the Prytaneion at Athens later had their names changed to those of a Roman and a Thracian, according to Pausanias (Paus. 1.18.3). Miltiades was also said to have been paired with Themistocles in the Theater of Dionysos at Athens, where the two were shown with Persian prisoners (Sch. Ael. Arist.=ex recensione G. Dindorf, vol. 2.46.181 ll. 131 ff., 3.535 f., Sch. to 161.13).

Read about the evidence
Pliny (Plin. HN).
Pausanias (Paus.).
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A portrait of Miltiades seems to have been set up at Delphi only a few decades after his death: Miltiades was included among other military heroes, Eponymous Heroes, and gods/goddesses in the Marathon group, by Pheidias, dedicated probably in the 460s at Delphi as a tithe from the spoils of Marathon (Paus. 10.10.1). Pliny notes also that Miltiades appeared with other Athenian generals, Callimachus and Cynaigeiros, and the Persians Datis and Artaphernes, on the painting of the Battle of Marathon, by Panainos, in the Stoa Poikile, Athens (Plin. HN 35.57). (The painting has elsewhere been attributed to Mikon and Polygnotos: Paus. 1.15.3; Paus. 5.11.6).

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Extant portraits of Miltiades include an inscribed marble herm, now in Ravenna [1] (and possible copies after the same original; the herm seems to copy a late Classical original created in the style of the early Classical period, i.e. the era in which Miltiades died. If, however, it copies an actual early Classical original, that may have been Pheidias’ image of the general set up at Delphi) as well images on bronze coins of Roman Attica (which seem to illustrate the groups of Miltiades and Themistocles with Persian prisoners from the Theater of Dionysos) [2], and doubtfully a mounted archer on an Attic vase in Oxford [3].

Extant portraits:

  1. Ravenna Miltiades: a marble herm, inscribed ΜΙΛΤΙΑΔΗΣ, with an epigram (in Latin and Greek) (shown here).
  2. Bronze Attic coins from the Roman period: an illustration of Miltiades, wearing a crested helmet and a cuirass, with a Persian prisoner and a trophy, facing Themistocles, similarly depicted (Head 1911, 390).
  3. Oxford 310: a depiction of a mounted Oriental archer on a red-figure kylix painted by Paseas (ca. 520-510) is inscribed Μιλτιάδης καλός, “Miltiades is beautiful” (see ARV2 163.8). As Richter points out, while it is possible that Miltiades was represented at this time, it is far too early for any image of him to have been an individualized portrait Richter 1984, 169. Such “labels,” which were commonly added by Attic vase painters to their works in the sixth century, seem to have designated youths who were admired for their beauty; a younger Miltiades might have been the target of this painter’s admiration.

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page 9 of 14