How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg does not make it a leg. — Abraham Lincoln

Aristides

d. 468 BC
Civilization: Greek — Athens
   Field of Renown:  statesman — Archon
Era:  Persian War

Aristides
ARISTIDES AND THE COUNTRYMAN
Aristides the Just first came to prominence in Athens during the first Persian invasion and the battle of Marathon. His reputation for honesty preceded him, and, combined with his valor in battle, he was selected to guard and distribute the spoils after the victory at Marathon. He was soon elected archon, and in this position, resisted Themistocles, who promoted increasing Athens naval capability, although the true difference between the two men was in disposition rather than strategy. Aristides was a patriotic statesman, seemingly above self-interest and his obvious virtues were controversial enough to get him ostracized from Athens, only a few years after being elected archon. His exile was short lived, however, as all exiles were called to return to Athens in 490 B.C., when the second Persian invasion was imminent. As soon as he returned, he again distinguished himself with his heroic exploits during the battle of Salamis, and the row between himself and Themistocles was put aside.

In the years after the Persian war, Aristides played a leading role in rebuilding Athens, and the formation of the Delian League. His reputation for honesty was of great importance to Athens, as she made many alliances in the years following the war, with other Greek cities and islands regarding self-defense. Eventually Themistocles, his arch-rival, fell out of favor and was ostracized, allegedly for corruption and for dealing with the Persians, but Aristides continued in good standing until the end of his life, and was buried at state expense.


Key events during the life of Aristides:


Year
Event
508 BC
Associate and partisan of Cleisthenes and his democratic reforms.
490 BC
Commander of his tribe at the battle of Marathon. Fought with distinction.
489 BC
Elected Archon.
  Resisted Themistocles on many issues.
483 BC
Was ostracized from Athens by his enemies.
480 BC
Returned from exile and distinguished himself at the battle of Salamis.
479 BC
Commanded a division of Athens army at the battle of Plataea.
478 BC
Delian League was founded by Aristides and Cimon.
468 BC
Aristides dies and is buried at state expense.

Other Resources


Story Links
Book Links
Of the Battle of Salamis  in  The Story of the Persian War  by  Alfred J. Church
Just Man  in  Tales of the Greeks: The Children's Plutarch  by  F. J. Gould
Aristides the Just  in  The Story of the Greeks  by  H. A. Guerber
Aristides  in  Famous Men of Greece  by  John H. Haaren and A. B. Poland
Aristides the Just  in  Greek Gods, Heroes, and Men  by  Caroline H. and Samuel B. Harding
Aristides  in  Our Young Folks' Plutarch  by  Rosalie Kaufman
Aristides Is Ostracised  in  The Story of Greece  by  Mary Macgregor
Delian League  in  The Story of Greece  by  Mary Macgregor
Four Famous Men of Athens  in  Historical Tales: Greek  by  Charles Morris
Great Persian Invasion  in  The Story of the Greek People  by  Eva March Tappan
Aristides  in  Plutarch's Lives W. H. Weston  by  


Image Links


Aristides
 in Famous Men of Greece

Aristides and the Countryman, Hillemacher
 in Famous Men of Greece

Sophocles and Aristides
 in Famous Men of Greece

Aristides and the Citizen
 in Plutarch's Lives W. H. Weston


Contemporary
Short Biography
Miltiades Athenian General who led Greece to great victory at the Battle of Marathon.
Themistocles Athenian hero of the Battle of Salamis. He masterminded Athenian naval supremacy.
Cimon Athenian statesman and general. Fought Persians in Ionia after the war. Friend of Sparta.