d. 449 BC

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:

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.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Model Aristocrat  in  Pictures from Greek Life and Story  by  Alfred J. Church
Admiral of the Fleet  in  Tales of the Greeks: The Children's Plutarch  by  F. J. Gould
Cimon Improves Athens  in  The Story of the Greeks  by  H. A. Guerber
Cimon  in  Famous Men of Greece  by  John H. Haaren and A. B. Poland
Cimon  in  Our Young Folks' Plutarch  by  Rosalie Kaufman
Delian League  in  The Story of Greece  by  Mary Macgregor
Eloquence of Pericles  in  The Story of Greece  by  Mary Macgregor
How Athens Rose From its Ashes  in  Historical Tales: Greek  by  Charles Morris
After the Persian War  in  The Story of the Greek People  by  Eva March Tappan

Image Links

 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

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.