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Civilization:Greek: Athens
Era: Golden Age
died 449 BCField of Renown:military: General

Cimon, an Athenian statesman and general, was the son of Miltiades, the hero of Marathon who died in disgrace, leaving unpaid the fine imposed upon him for his conduct at Paros. Cimon's first task in life, therefore, was to remove the stain on the family name by paying this fine. In the second Persian invasion, especially at Salamis, and in the consolidation of the Delian League, he won a high reputation for courage and integrity. At first with Aristides, and afterwards as sole commander, he directed the Athenian contingent of the fleet; on the disgrace of Pausanias he commanded nearly the entire Greek fleet and drove Pausanias from his retreat in Byzantium. Having captured Eion (at the mouth of the Strymon), he expelled the Persian garrisons from the entire seaboard of Thrace with the exception of Doriscus, and, having defeated the piratical Dolopians of Scyros (470), confirmed his popularity by transferring thence to Athens the supposed bones of the Attic hero Theseus. The bones were buried in Athens, and over the tomb the Theseum (temple) was erected. In 466 Cimon proceeded to liberate the Greek cities of Lycia and Pamphylia, and at the mouth of the Eurymedon he defeated the Persians decisively by land and sea.

The Persian danger was now over, and the immediate purpose of the Delian League was achieved. Already, however, Athens had introduced the policy of coercion which was to transform the league into an empire, a policy which, after the ostracism of Themistocles and the death of Aristides, must be attributed to Cimon, whose fundamental idea was the union of the Greeks against all outsiders (see Delian League).

In 464 Sparta was involved in war with her Helots and was in great difficulties. Cimon, then the most prominent man in Athens, persuaded the Athenians to send assistance, on the ground that Athens could not "stand without her yoke-fellow" and leave "Hellas lame." The expedition was a failure, and Cimon was exposed to the attacks of the democrats led by Ephialtes and was ostracized in 461. He was recalled some years later in order to negotiate a peace treaty with Sparta. Cimon continued to carry on naval operations against Persia. He died in about 450 B.C. while besieging Citium, while trying to liberate the island of Cyprus from Persian control.

—Uses excerpts from 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Key events during the life of Cimon

Year Event
489 BC Death of Miltiades, father of Cimon.
480 BC Cimon distinguished himself at the Battle of Salamis.
  With Aristides, established the Delian League.
470 BC Great victory over Persians at Eurymedon River; drove Persia out of Thrace.
466 BC Liberated cities of Lycia and Pamphylia from Persian yoke.
464 BC Led a force from Athens to the aid of Sparta during Helot revolt, but was rebuffed by Sparta.
461 BC Exiled from Athens for pursuing pro-Spartan policies.
455 BC Returned from Exile to negotiate peace treaty with Sparta.
450 BC Died while besieging Citium on the island of Cyprus.


Story LinksBook Links
Admiral of the Fleet  in  Children's Plutarch: Tales of the Greeks  by  Gould
Cimon  in  Famous Men of Greece  by  Haaren
Cimon  in  Our Young Folks' Plutarch  by  Kaufman
After the Persian War  in  Story of the Greek People  by  Tappan
Model Aristocrat  in  Pictures from Greek Life and Story  by  Church
Cimon Improves Athens  in  Story of the Greeks  by  Guerber
Delian League  in  Story of Greece  by  Macgregor
Eloquence of Pericles  in  Story of Greece  by  Macgregor
How Athens Rose From its Ashes  in  Historical Tales: 10—Greek  by  Morris

Image Links
Cimon  in Famous Men of Greece A Garden of Ancient Greece, Poynter (adapted)  in Famous Men of Greece The Generosity of Cimon, Hall  in Famous Men of Greece
Cimon Courting the Favor of the Athenians  in Greatest Nations: Greece

Contemporary Short Biography
Themistocles Athenian hero of the Battle of Salamis. He masterminded Athenian naval supremacy.
Aristides Athenian General and Statesman. Fought at Marathon, Salamis; created Delian League.
Miltiades Athenian General who led Greece to great victory at the Battle of Marathon.
Archidamus Spartan King during the early years of Peloponnesian War. Sought peace with Athens, but was forced into the war.