Cimon, an Athenian general and statesman, born about 510 B. C, died in 449. He was the son of Miltiades, and his mother was Ilegesi-pyle, the daughter of Olorus, a Thracian king. He is said to have married his half sister El-pinice, but as there is no other instance of such a marriage in Athenian history, the truth of this assertion has been doubted. Diodorus says that on the death of his father, in order to obtain the paternal corpse for burial, he took his father's place in prison as guarantee for the payment of a fine of 50 talents inflicted on Miltiades; but other authorities say that the imprisonment was compulsory, as the debt descended to the heir by the Athenian law. According to Cornelius Nepos, he obtained his liberation by the aid of Callias, a man of low birth but of great wealth, who desired to marry Elpinice, and ottered to pay the debt of Cimon if the latter would put her away and consent to her nuptials with himself. Cimon at first rejected these proposals, but afterward yielded to the pressing entreaties of his sister.
At the battle of Salamis (480) he distinguished himself, and attracted the regard of Aristides, who recognized in the son of Miltiades natural and adventitious advantages which might redound to the future benefit of the conservative party of Athens, and counterbalance the influence of Themistocles. In 477 Cimon and Aristides were placed at the head of the Athenian contingent to the Greek naval armament, under the supreme command of Pausanias, the Spartan regent. They so ingratiated themselves with the confederate Greeks, that on the disgrace of Pausanias the supreme command was transferred to them, and the hegemony of Greece passed thereby from Sparta to Athens. Cimon's first use of his newly acquired power was to destroy the Persian garrison of Ei'on at the mouth of the Strymon, to capture Amphipolis. and to open that whole country to Athenian colonization. In 476 Cimon expelled the Dolopian pirates from the island of Soyros, and planted an Athenian colony in their place. His next feat of arms was to reduce Carystns, a city of Eubcea, and the island of Naxos. These victories gave him great influence in Athenian politics, which he threw into the scale of the aristocratic or conservative party, of which Aristides was the head.
He contributed to the banishment of Themisto-cles, the leader of the opposite party. In 466 he won two decisive land and sea battles over the Persians at the mouth of the Eurymedon, on the S. coast of Asia Minor, when 200 Persian ships, out of 350, were captured. Before nightfall he defeated a reenforcement of 80 Phoenician ships. According to Plutarch, these victories were followed by a treaty of peace, concluded by the Persians on the most humiliating conditions; but the historian Callisthenes disputes the statement. Thucydides is silent upon the subject, and some modern historians deny it altogether. These successes and the death of Aristides left Cimon without a rival at Athens. Thasos revolted in 465, and was reduced to obedience by Cimon two years afterward. Two events occurred about this time which brought about the temporary downfall of Cimon. The Athenian colonists on the Stry-mon and the Chersonese were destroyed by the Macedonians and the Thracians. Cimon was brought to trial for not avenging this injury after the subjection of Thasos; he was accused of having accepted bribes from Alexander, king of Macedon. Pericles was one of the prosecutors, but Cimon was acquitted.
While these events were occurring, an insurrection of helots took place at Sparta. Cimon, who admired the Spartans, persuaded the Athenians to send an army to the aid of their rivals. The Spartans insultingly dismissed the aid so generously offered, and the resentment of the Athenians naturally recoiled upon Cimon, who stood responsible for the original movement. His ruin was completed by his opposition to the democratic party on the question of curtailing the power and jurisdiction of the areopagus. Upon the victory of the popular party, under the lead of Pericles and Ephi-altes, Cimon was ostracized about 459. In 457 a Lacedaemonian army, posted at Tanagra, threatened Attica. It professed friendly feelings toward the aristocratical party of Athens, and hostility only to the then dominant democracy. Cimon, though an exile, begged to be allowed to fight in his tribe in defence of his country; the Athenians, suspicious of treachery, refused permission. Cimon then besought his friends and retainers, as they valued his character, to do their duty. These friends carried his panoply to the field of Tanagra, and fell around it to the last man; the Athenians were utterly defeated.
About 454, after five years of exile, he was recalled at the instance of his great antagonist, Pericles. He was employed in effecting the five years' truce with Sparta, in 450. The next year he was intrusted with an expedition of 200 ships to avenge on the Persian empire the disasters the Athenians had lately suffered in Egypt. While besieging Citium, a town on the S. coast of Cyprus, he fell a victim cither to disease or a wound. His lieutenants, while carrying his remains back to Athens, fell in with and defeated a fleet of Cilician and Phoenician galleys, and at the same time beat the Cyprians on land. Cimon was buried in Athens, and his tomb was visible there in the time of Plutarch (A. I). 100). In his private life Cimon is spoken of by the ancients as the type of generosity, frankness, and affability. After the recovery of his patrimony, he kept a free table for all citizens of his district. He distributed alms in public with prodigality. At his own expense he laid the foundation of the long walls which joined the Piraeus to the city. He beautified his private grounds, and threw them open to the public, who were allowed to pluck the fruit and flowers.
He bequeathed to the Athenians a pleasure ground in the Ceramicus, which afterward became the seat of the famous academy of Plato.