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SECT. III. Cimon begins to make a figure at Athens. His first atchievement and double victory over the Persians, near the river Eurymedon. Death of Themistocles.
Artax. THE Athenians having lost one of their most distinguished citizens, as well as ablest generals, by A. M. the banishment of Themistocles, endeavoured to 3534 retrieve that loss, by bestowing the command of the armies on Cimon, who was not inferior to him in merit.
He spent his youth in such excesses as did him no honour, and presaged no good with regard to his future conduct. *The example of this illustrious Athenian, who passed his juvenile years in so disso◄ lute a manner, and afterwards rose to so exalted a pitch of glory, shows, that parents must not always despair of the happiness of a son, when wild and irregular in his youth; especially when nature has endued him with genius, goodness of heart, generous inclinations, and an esteem for persons of merit. Such was the character of Cimon. The ill reputation he had drawn upon himself, having prejudiced the people against him, he at first was very ill received by them; when, being discouraged by this repulse, he resolved to lay aside all thoughts of concerning himself with the affairs of the publick. But Aristides perceiving that his dissolute turn of mind was united with many fine qualities, he consoled him, inspired him with hope, pointed out the paths he should take, instilled good principles into him, and did not a little contribute, by the excellent instructions he gave him, and the affection he expressed for him on all occasions, to make him the man he afterwards appeared. What more important service could he have done his country?
Plutarch observes, that after Cimon had laid
* Plut. in
Diod. 1. xi. p. 45. Plut. in Cim. p. 482, 483,
aside his juvenile extravagances, his conduct was in Artax. things great and noble; and that he was not inferior Longim. to Miltiades either in courage or intrepidity, nor to Themistocles in prudence and sense, but that he was more just and virtuous than either of them; and that without being at all inferior to them in military virtues, he surpassed them far in the practice of the moral ones.
It would be of great advantage to a state, if those, who excel in professions of every kind, would take pleasure, and make it their duty to fashion and instruct such youths as are remarkable for the pregnancy of their parts and goodness of disposition. They would thereby have an opportunity of serving their country even after their death, and of perpetuating in it, in the person of their pupils, a taste and inclination for true merit, and the practice of the wisest maxims.
The Athenians, a little after Themistocles had left his country, having put to sea a fleet under the command of Cimon, the son of Miltiades, took Eion, on the banks of the Strymon, Amphipolis, and other places of Thrace; and as this was a very fruitful country, Cimon planted a colony in it, and sent ten thousand Athenians thither for that purpose.
The fate of Eion is of too singular a kind to be omitted here. Boges was governor of it under the king of Persia, and acted with such a zeal and fidelity for his sovereign, as have few examples. When besieged by Cimon and the Athenians, it was in his power to have capitulated upon honourable terms, and he might have retired to Asia with his family and all his effects. However, being persuaded he could not do this with honour, he resolved to die rather than surrender. The city was assaulted with the utmost fury, and he defended it with incredible
Herod. 1. vii. c. 107. Plut. p. 482.
*Plutarch calls him Butis. Herodotus seems to place this history under Xerxes; but it is more probable, that it happened under Artaxerxes his successor.
Artax. bravery. Being at last in the utmost want of proLongim, visions, he threw from the walls into the river Strymon, all the gold and silver in the place; and causing fire to be set to a pile, and having killed his wife, his children, and his whole family, he threw them into the midst of the flames, and afterwards rushed into them himself. Xerxes could not but admire, and at the same time bewail, so surprizing an example of generosity. The heathens, indeed, might give this name to what is rather savage ferocity and barbarity.
Cimon made himself master also of the island of Scyros,where he found the bones of Theseus, the son of geus, who had fled from Athens to that city, and there ended his days. An oracle had commanded that search should be made after his bores. Cimon put them on board his galley, adorned them magnificently, and carried them to his native country, par eight hundred years after Theseus had left it. The people received them with the highest expressions of joy; and, to perpetuate the remembrance of this event, they founded a disputation or prize for tragick writers, which became very famous, and contributed exceedingly to the improvement of the drama, by the wonderful emulation it excited among the tragick poets, whose pieces were represented in it. For Sophocles having, in his youth, brought his first play on the stage, the archon, or chief miagistrate who presided at these games, observing there was a strong faction among the spectators, prevailed with Cimon and the rest of the generals his colleagues, (who were ten in number, and chosen out of each tribe) to sit as judges. The prize was adjudged to Sophocles, which so deeply afflicted Aschylus, who till then had been considered as the greatest dramatick poet, that Athens became insupportable to him, and he withdrew to Sicily, where he died.
The confederates had taken a great number of
Barbarian prisoners in Sestus and Byzantium; and, Artax as a proof of the high regard they had for Cimon, Longim. intreated him to distribute the booty. Accordingly Cimon placed all the captives (stark naked) on one side, and on the other all their riches and spoils. The allies complained of this partition as too unequal; but Cimon giving them the choice, they immediately took the riches which had belonged to the Persians, and left the prisoners for the Athenians. Cimon therefore set out with his portion, and was thought a person no ways qualified to settle the distribution of prizes: For the allies carried off a great number of chains, necklaces and bracelets of gold; a large quantity of rich habits, and fine purple cloaks; whilst the Athenians had only for their share a multitude of human creatures quite naked, and unfit for labour. However, the relations, and friends of these captives came soon after from Phrygia and Lydia, and purchased them all at a very high price; so that, with the monies arising from the ransom of them, Cimon had enough to maintain his fleet four months; besides a great sum of money which was put into the exchequer, not to mention what he himself had for his own share. He afterwards used to take exceeding pleasure, in relating this adventure to his friends.
He made the best use of his riches, as Gorgias the rhetor has happily expressed it in few, but ftrong and elegant words. * Cimon, says he, amassed riches, only to use them; and he employed them to no other use, but to acquire esteem and honour. here perceive (by the way) what was the scope and aim of the most exalted actions of the heathens; and with what justice Tertullian defined a pagan, how perfect soever he might appear, a vain-glorious ani
Plut. in Cim. p. 481, Cornel. Nep. in Cim. c. iv. Athen. 1. xii. p. 533.
* Φεσὶ τὸν Κίμωνα τὰ χρήματα κλᾶσθαι μὲν ὡς χρῶτος χρήσεις δὲ ὡς τιμῷτο
Artax. mal, animal gloria. The gardens and orchards of Longim. Cimon were always open, by his order, to the citizens in general; who were allowed to gather whatever fruits they pleased. His table was daily covered in a frugal, but polite manner. It was entirely dif ferent from those delicate and sumptuous tables, to which only a few persons of great distinction are admitted; and which are covered merely to display a vain magnificence or elegance of taste. Now that of Cimon was plain, but abundant; and all the poor citizens were received at it without distinction. In thus banishing from his entertainments, whatever had the least air of ostentation and luxury, he reserved to himself an inexhaustible fund, not only for the expences of his house, but for the wants of his friends, his domesticks, and a very great number of citizens; demonstrating, by this conduct, that he knew much better than most rich men, the true use and value of riches.
He was always followed by some servants, who were ordered to slip privately some piece of money into the hands of such poor as they met, and to give clothes to those who were in want of them, He often buried such persons as had not left money enough behind them to defray the expences of their funeral; and what is admirable, and which Plutarch does not fail to observe, he did not act in this man. ner to gain credit among the people, nor to purchase their voices; since we find him, on all occasions, declaring for the contrary faction, that is, in favour of such citizens as were most considerable for their wealth or authority.
Although he saw all the rest of the governors of his time enrich themselves by the plunder and oppression of the publick, he was always incorruptible, and his hands were never stained with extortion, or the smallest present; and he continued, during his whole life, not only to speak, but to act
Plut. in Cim. p. 485.