Cimon in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898)

The son of Miltiades and of Hegesipylé, the daughter of Olorus, a Thracian prince. His education, according to Plutarch, was very much neglected, and he himself indulged, at first, in every species of excess. At his father's death he seems to have succeeded to a very scanty fortune, and he would perhaps have found it very difficult to pay the fine of fity talents which had been imposed upon his parent, and which the son was bound to pay to the public treasury, had not Callias, one of the wealthiest men of Athens, struck by the charms of his half-sister Elpinicé, undertaken to discharge the sum as the price of her hand. (See Elpinicé.) Cimon, however, had attracted notice and gained reputation by the spirit which he displayed on the occasion of leaving the city on the approach of the Persians, when he was the foremost to hang up a bridle in the Acropolis, as a sign that he placed all his hopes in the fleet; and also by the valour with which he fought at Salamis. Aristides, in particular, saw in him a fit coadjutor to himself and antagonist to Themistocles, and exerted himself in his favour; and the readiness with which the allied Greeks, when disgusted by the arrogance of Pausanias, united themselves with Athens, was owing in a great measure to Cimon's mild temper and to his frank and gentle manners. The popularity of Themistocles was already declining, while Cimon, by a series of successful enterprises, was rapidly rising in public favour. He defeated the Persians in Thrace, on the banks of the Strymon, took Eion, and made himself master of the whole country. He conquered the island of Scyros, the inhabitants of which were addicted to piracy; and brought thence to Athens what were deemed the bones of the national hero Theseus. He next subdued all the cities on the coast of Asia Minor, and went against the Persian fleet which lay at the mouth of the Eurymedon. The Persians, although superior in number, did not dare to abide an engagement, but sailed up the river to place themselves under the protection of their land forces. Cimon, however, provoked them to a battle, and, having defeated and sunk or taken two hundred ships, landed his men, flushed with victory, and completely routed the Persian army. Returning to Athens after these two victories thus achieved in a single day, he employed the perquisites of his command, and the resources which he had acquired from his successes over the barbarians, in the embellishment of his native city and in relieving the wants of the indigent. He laid a part of the foundations of the Long Walls with magnificent solidity at his own cost, and the southern wall of the citadel was built with the treasures which he brought from Asia into the coffers of the State. He also set the example of adorning the public places of the city with trees; and, by introducing a stream of water, converted the Academy, a spot about two miles north of the city, from an arid waste into a delightful grove. (See Academia.) He threw down the fences of his fields and orchards, that all who wished might enter and partake of their fruits. He not only gave the usual entertainments expected from the rich to the members of his own borough, but kept a table constantly open for them. He never appeared in public without a number of persons attending him in good apparel, who, when they met with any elderly citizen scantily clothed, would insist on exchanging their warm mantles for his threadbare covering. It was the office of the same persons respectfully to approach any of the poorer citizens of good character whom they might see standing in the market-place, and silently to put some small pieces of money into their hands. This latter kind of expenditure was certainly of a mischievous tendency; and was not the less that of a demagogue because Cimon sought popularity not merely for his own sake, but for that of his order and his party. About B.C. 466, Cimon was sent to the Thracian Chersonesus, of which the Persians still kept possession, and having driven them out, next reduced the island of Thasus, and took possession of the Thasian gold mines on the neighbouring continent. Scarcely, however, had he returned to Attica, when an accusation was preferred against him of having been corrupted by the king of Macedonia, because he had refrained, not, according to the common account, from attacking the Macedonians then at peace with Athens, but from striking a blow at the Thracian tribes on the frontier of that kingdom, who had recently cut off the Athenian settlers on the banks of the Strymon. (See Amphipolis.) From this accusation Cimon had a very narrow escape. Having been sent, however, after this, with a body of troops to aid the Spartans before Ithomé, and the latter having, after some interval, sent back their Athenian allies, whom they suspected of not lending them any effectual assistance, the irritation produced by this national insult fell principally upon Cimon, who was known to be an admirer of the Spartan character and constitution, and he was accordingly driven into exile. Subsequent events, however, made the Athenians feel the want of this able commander, and he was recalled and sent on an expedition against Egypt and Cyprus; but was carried off by illness, or the consequences of a wound, in the harbour of Citium, which place he was besieging (B.C. 449). His spirit, however, still animated his countrymen; for the fleet, when sailing home with his remains, gained a naval victory over a large squadron of Phœnician and Cilician galleys near the Cyprian Salamis, and followed up this victory by another which they gained on shore, either over the troops which had landed from the enemy's ships, or over a land force by which they were supported. Cimon was, beyond dispute, the ablest and most successful general of his day; and his victories shed a lustre on the arms of Athens which almost dimmed the glories of Marathon and Salamis.

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