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The Chronology of the Pentekontaetia
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ViewAsPDF2 The true chronology of the Pentekontaetia is difficult, perhaps impossible, to establish conclusively. The events between 477 and 432 were of the greatest possible importance: these years saw the creation of the Athenian empire and a precipitious decline in Spartiate manpower,[1]There were over 5000 Spartiates of military age at the time of the battle of Plataia in 479 (Herod. 9.28), while in the life-or-death struggle at Mantinea sixty-one years later, there were only about 4200 Lakedaimonian troops present (Thuc. 5.68), of whom at most perhaps half—or 2000-2500—were Spartiates (Thuc. 4.38 gives us a rough indication that typically less than half of a Lakedaimonian force in this era was Spartiate). drastic political realignments involving nearly every state in Hellas, and military activity often rising to a crescendo scarcely matched at the peak of the Peloponnesian War. Indeed, one might strongly argue that the fifty-odd years prior to 432 had a substantially greater historical significance that the three decades of war which followed, as well as a greater degree of political and military drama. But the Pentekontaetia lacks the unifying historical narrative of a Herodotus, let alone a Thucydides, and this one deficiency has caused events of the utmost significance to fade into near obscurity. There is scarcely a single political or military occurrence during the Fifty Years which can be dated to closer than a year or two, and in some cases, proposed dates have ranged over the better part of a decade. With no firm chronological framework, historical analysis degenerates into guesswork and speculation, especially if even the relative order of events is in dispute. In cognizance of this need, this paper seeks to present portions of a new chronology of the Pentekontaetia, one differing in several very significant features from those previously suggested.[2]The major modern chronologies which this paper will make reference to are those of The Athenian Tribute Lists, Vol. I by B.D. Merritt, H.T. Wade-Gery, and M.F. McGregor (Cambridge, Mass., 1939); A Historical Commentary on Thucydides, Vol. I by A.W. Gomme (Oxford, 1945); and P. Deane, Thucydides’ Dates, 465-431 (Ontario, 1972). In addition, less comprehensive chronological analyses of the Pentekontaetia have recently been presented in A. French, The Athenian Half-Century (Sydney, 1972); M.P. Milton, Historia 28 (1979), 257-75; and J.H. Schreiner, Symbolae Osloenses 51 (1976), 19-63 and 52 (1977), 19-38. The severely limited nature of the available evidence precludes any hope of firmly establishing the validity of any one dating scheme over its rivals; the best we can hope for is plausibility.

Weighing relative plausibility becomes particularly significant when analysing and comparing our sources. Thucydides’ account of the Pentekontaetia is very brief and sketchy, but it is the best which we possess none the less, having been written by a sober, critical, and near contemporaneous historian. Therefore, we will begin with the working hypothesis that its content (as distinct from our own overlaid interpretation) is essentially correct, with the existence of errors and fortuitous textual corruptions to be accepted only as a last resort. Our subsidiary sources will be judged on a case-by-case and category-by-category basis; for example, Diodorus’ accounts of events will be held to carry weight, the particular archon year which he chose to place them under, virtually none at all.[3]Diodorus’ chronological blunders—arising from his ill-considered (and very lazy) attempt to fit the topical narrative of his sources into the annalistic framework of his own history—are so notorious that we will illustrate them by a single example from that period. The single archon year of 471/0 is given over wholly to the narrative of the latter years of Themistokles, from the origins of his downfall because of association with Pausanias, through his travels around Greece and Molossia and his eventual flight to Persia, to his eventual death (which Plutarch, Them. 31 plausibly places in the late 450s)—a span of perhaps twenty years! (Diod. 11.54-9).

I. Naxos

The first major difficulty faced by most chronologies is the dating of the Naxian revolt. Thucydides tells us of Naxos’ revolt and subjugation (and follows this by a long digression into Athens’ increasingly harsh treatment of her allies). Next we are told of Kimon’s great victory over a powerful Persian fleet at the Eurymedon. Some time later come the Thasian revolt and the Athenian disaster at Drabeskos, during an attempt to colonise Ennea Hodoi, near Amphipolis. Next, we learn that the besieged Thasians appealed for and were secretly promised Spartan support, but that this support was prevented by the occurrence of a great earthquake and helot revolt at Sparta, leaving Thasos to surrender in the third year of its siege. Finally, Thucydides tells us that the Spartans requested and received an Athenian contingent under Kimon to assist them in their war against the resisting helots, but soon dismissed it out of fear, causing the angry Athenians to break off their Spartan alliance and form an anti-Spartan coalition with Argos and Thessaly.[4]Thuc. 1.98-102. All major modern chronologies accept this sequence of events.[5]Schreiner (1976) and (1977) is the only dissenter, but his highly unusual (and rather erratic) analysis is based on a fundamental disbelief in Thucydides’ veracity (e.g. [1976], 27), which consequently forces him into a heavy reliance on Diodorus and other secondary sources, supplemented by his own guesswork. As might be expected, this leads to the creation of an almost unrecognizable chronology for the events of the Fifty Years.

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Our problems arise from a later reference in Thucydides. At 1.137 we are told that Themistokles, while fleeing to Persia, passed the Athenian fleet besieging Naxos. Then, upon his arrival at Ephesos (and once he had received money from his friends in Greece with which to reward his obliging sea-captain), he travelled inland and sent a letter to King Artaxerxes, ‘who had just come to the throne’ (νεωστὶ βασιλεύοντα); and Babylonian records prove that Artaxerxes succeeded his father Xerxes in late December 465.[6]A Babylonian legal text is dated to the months of Kislimu of the 21st year of Xerxes (465), which began on December 17, while news of Artaxerxes’ accession had reached Egypt by 2 January 464. Cf. M.E. White, ‘Some Agiad dates,’ JHS 84 (1964), 140-52, especially p. 142 n. 13. Thucydides’ account implies only a very short interval between Themistokles’ arrival in Ephesos and his attempt to contact Artaxerxes, and such a conclusion is strongly supported by the circumstances: Themistokles was fleeing an Athenian death-sentence, and every week he delayed in Athenian-controlled Ephesos increased the likelihood of his detection and capture. The sea-captain, too, would not have been content to remain with his fugitive passenger for any great length of time, thereby putting his own neck in the noose; his desire would have been to receive his gold and clear out as soon as possible, just like Themistokles. A priori, we would believe that Themistokles’ stay in Ephesos lasted no more than a month or two at most; five or six months seems highly unlikely, and the ten or twenty months (or longer) demanded by some chronologies, downright impossible.[7]Deane (1972), 10-11 convincingly argues the case for a short stay at Ephesos. Of our other chronologies, ATL iii.160 dates Naxos to 470, implying a stay of five years in Ephesos, while Gomme makes no attempt to date Naxos, saying that Artaxerxes’ accession date ‘creates great difficulties.’ In the most recent discussion of the problem, Milton (1979), 261-2 argues that a delay of three or four months is reasonable (while Themistokles’ friends were sending him the cash), and, if interrupted by winter, eight or nine months; this is marginally possible. But when Milton attempts to salvage his own chronology by using this to argue that (Thucydides believed) the siege of Naxos ended as early as Autumn 466, his argument begins to break down completely. Xerxes died in December 465, and even if Themistokles had passed Naxos near the end of the 466 sailing season, this would still imply a stay of at least fifteen or sixteen months at Ephesos, violating Milton’s own plausibility argument. Now if we assume that Themistokles sent his letter as early as January 464 (and allow several weeks for his prior journey inland, his meetings with the local Persian officials, etc.), he still cannot have passed Naxos on his voyage much earlier than September or October 465 (with this time of year possibly accounting for the serious storm encountered en route). Unless we are willing to convict Thucydides of a factual error (or such a gross—and illogical—misrepresentation of the facts that it amounts to the same thing), this conclusively proves that the Naxos revolt occurred in (or at any rate extended into) late summer 465.

But a date of 465 for the Naxian revolt creates severe strains for the remainder of the chronological sequence outlined above. First, although the dating of the earthquake and helot rebellion at Sparta is not completely certain, the task of reconciling the available possibilities with a Naxian revolt in 465 ranges from the implausible to the impossible. Pausanias dates the earthquake and uprising to the year of the 79th Olympiad, when Archimedes was Archon at Athens, namely 464/3; and Diodorus (for what it is worth) dates the closely associated Thasian revolt to that same year, although he spells the name of the Athenian Archon as Archedemides.[8]Paus. 4.24.5; Diod. 11.70. Plutarch seems to oppose this date, saying that the earthquake occurred in the fourth year of the reign of King Archidamos, which would seemingly place it in 466/5 since Archidamos probably came to the throne in 469/8; but this latter date is far from certain, and even if we accept it, the ambiguity of ancient dating practices allows us to reconcile Plutarch’s statement with the unambiguous date given by Pausanias.[9]First, it is possible that the Spartan political year in which Archidamos came to the throne would have been considered as the last year of the reign of his predecessor Leotychidas; and the slight displacement between the Spartan political year and the Athenian archon year might possibly account for another year of the discrepancy, if the succession took place during the overlap. However, it seems rather more likely that the 469/8 succession date—which is based on several questionable arguments—is in error.

If we accept this 464/3 dating of the earthquake (let alone the less likely earlier dates), the events of the preceding two years are forced into implausible compression. As mentioned above, Thucydides’ account of these years seemingly places the battle of the Eurymedon after the Naxian revolt, the Thasian revolt some time after Eurymedon, and the earthquake at Sparta after the first few battles of the Thasian revolt. If (as argued above) the Naxian revolt was still in full swing during Autumn 465, then the Eurymedon campaign could not have taken place during that year; to believe otherwise would force us to conclude either that it occurred as a lightning ‘end run’ to Pisidia during the last few weeks of good sailing weather in 465 (which seems highly unlikely),[10]Deane (1972), 11-12 is forced into this conclusion in order to accommodate Eurymedon in his chronology; all of the other main chronologies consider this possibility highly unlikely. or that Kimon sailed out to the Eurymedon while powerful Naxos was still holding out in his rear (which seems equally unlikely, especially since such a reconstruction seemingly contradicts Thucydides).[11]Thucydides mentions the battle of the Eurymedon after he describes the surrender of Naxos; by the orthodox ‘strict chronology’ view, this corresponds to absolute chronological sequence, and even such an opponent of the orthodox case as Deane (1972), 12 accepts this argument without question. But if we place the Eurymedon in 464, then we are forced to believe that the battle and the campaign which preceded it, along with the Thasian revolt and the earthquake at Sparta, all took place within the thirteen or fourteen months between the beginning of good sailing weather in 464 and the end of the 464/3 Athenian political year. This is possible, but rather unpalatable.

These difficulties are compounded when we consider the personal exploits of Kimon. Kimon is known to have been the Athenian commander both at the Eurymedon and at Thasos. Furthermore, we are also told by Thucydides that the siege of Thasos lasted into its third year, and according to Plutarch, Kimon remained the commander until the end, being the one who captured the city.[12]Plut. Kimon 12-14; Thuc. 1.100-101. Plutarch also tells us that upon returning to Athens Kimon was put on trial for his refusal to invade Macedonia in the aftermath of the Thasian victory, and managed only with difficulty to secure his acquittal.[13]Plut. Kimon 14-15. Now unless we assume that the Eurymedon campaign and the outbreak of the Thasian revolt occurred during the same summer (which seems very unlikely, and is suggested by no major chronology), Thasos’ surrender cannot have come any earlier than 461. Since the political reforms of Ephialtes at Athens are dated to the archon year 462/1,[14]Aristotle, Ath. Const. 25 dates them to the archonship of Konon, namely 462/1, and since we would expect accurate dates for constitutional reforms from a constitutional history, this is almost universally accepted, even though the account involves Themistokles (long since ostracized by 462/1) as a leading participant. and were close in time to Kimon’s return from assisting Sparta at Mount Ithome,[15]I will temporarily beg the chicken-and-egg question of whether it was Ephialtes’ reforms which forced Kimon to return from Sparta or Kimon’s humiliating return which created the political climate leading to the reforms. Cf. J.R. Cole, GRBS (1974), 369-85 for a good recent (though partisan) discussion of the issue. we are again forced to accept an almost impossible compression of events, namely that the capitulation of Thasos, Kimon’s return to Athens and trial, Sparta’s request for Athenian aid, Kimon’s expedition to Sparta, the political reforms of Ephialtes, and the Spartan dismissal of the Athenian force all took place within the first six or seven months of 461.[16]Even to place all of these events within a single year—as Deane is forced to do in his chronology—seems very improbable.

But the third and most compelling indication that something is wrong, very seriously wrong, with the interpretative framework of Thucydides’ Pentekontaetia which we have built up above comes from the dating of the Athenian disaster at Drabeskos. Thucydides says that Drabeskos took place twenty-eight years before the successful founding of Amphipolis near the same site, and it seems clear that he has exact archon years in mind.[17]So Gomme (1945), i.390, seconded by Milton (1979), 258. A scholiast to Aeschines, apparently following the Atthis, places the foundation of Amphipolis in the archonship of Euthymenes, namely 437/6, and (for what it is worth) this is supported by Diodorus;[18]Sch. to Aesch. 2.31; Diod. 32.3. Actually, since Diodorus’ account of the foundation of Amphipolis is contained in a single short sentence unconnected to the other events included in the year, it is probably based on his good chronological source and correct. Cf. Meiggs (1972), 453. this dating places Drabeskos in the archon year 465/4, and indeed this date (or one in the two preceding archon years) is supported by the scholion.[19]The scholiast lists a disaster which befell an Athenian attempt at colonisation (undoubtedly Drabeskos) in the Archonship of Lysikrates; this is apparently an error either for Lysistratos (467/6), Lysanias (466/5), or Lysitheos (465/4). But Thucydides places Drabeskos at around the same time as the initial Athenian victories over the rebellious Thasians and the investment of the city of Thasos (which makes excellent sense).[20]Thuc. 1.100. This seemingly forces us into the impossible position of believing that a sequence of events including the Eurymedon campaign, the Athenian-Thasian dispute over Thrakian markets, the Thasian revolt, and the first few battles of the Thasian war all fell within the three or four months of good sailing weather preceding the mid-June end of the 465/4 Athenian political year. Our desperate attempts to construct a plausible chronology seem to have been crushed between the rock of a Naxian revolt still continuing in Autumn 465 and the hard place of a Drabeskian disaster falling during the 465/4 Athenian political year;[21]Milton (1979) attempts to evade this trap by arguing that (Thucydides believed) Themistokles passed Naxos in Autumn 466, but as discussed above in n. 7, this would imply a sojourn of fifteen or twenty months in Ephesos, which violates Milton’s own standards of plausibility. the time required for the Eurymedon campaign appears to have been squeezed out of existence.

Yet perhaps this very difficulty may serve as a signpost to the truth. Perhaps the battle of the Eurymedon preceded rather than followed the revolt of Naxos, and so should not be jammed into the few short months between Naxos and Drabeskos. At first sight, this suggestion might seem outrageous, for it apparently violates the chronology presented by Thucydides, our basic source; but upon re-examination, and using a slightly different understanding of Thucydides’ meaning, this may not be the case.

Thucydides mentions the revolt of Naxos in the context of a passage describing a series of increasingly harsh and oppressive Athenian actions towards the individual cities under her power.[22]Thuc. 1.98-9. First the Athenians take Eion, occupied by the Persians. After that, Skyros is attacked, an island notorious for its piracy. The next victim is Karystos, apparently despised by the other Greeks for its Medising during Xerxes’ invasion. Finally, the Athenians attack Naxos, an ally, simply because it wishes to leave the alliance. Thucydides is describing an evolution in Athenian policy as much as he is describing a year-by-year sequence of campaigns. At first, the Athenians attack only cities held by the Persians; next, they extend their attacks to cities which are lawless and troublesome, such as Skyros; later, they turn on cities such as Karystos, which simply have bad reputations, forcing them to join the League; finally, in a watershed act, they violate the spirit of the Delian charter and subjugate one of their own allies, Naxos, for seeking to leave the League. Thucydides follows his mention of Naxos by saying that its subjugation was followed by that of all the remaining allies, in the order which circumstances dictated. He expands on this general statement, devoting a full paragraph to the reasons for these later revolts and the corresponding Athenian victories, which, following inevitably, step by step transformed a Delian League of free equals into an Athenian empire of cowed subordinates. This lengthy and general digression into the later decades of the Fifty Years should serve to emphasize the topical rather than strictly chronological nature of this segment of Thucydides’ Pentekontaetia, and suggests the very real possibility that Thucydides may be ‘anticipating’ the Naxian revolt as well, violating the strict sequence of events in order to emphasize a continuous process of League evolution.[23]Under this interpretation, the μετὰ ταῦτα introducing the Eurymedon campaign would (ambiguously) be in reference to any of the Athenian actions described in 1.97—perhaps the subjugation of Karystos—rather than the last events described in 1.97-8, namely the surrender of Naxos and the later subjugation of all Athens’ remaining allies. (In fact, if Thucydides had chanced to mention by name any of the later revolts which he vaguely alludes to, modern scholars might have fruitlessly worked to place a Samian or Mytilenean revolt in the early 460s).

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If we tentatively accept the possibility that the Eurymedon may have preceded Naxos, then our entire picture of the period becomes clear; not only are the aforementioned chronological inconsistencies removed, but the sequence of events becomes much more plausible and easier to understand. The Eurymedon campaign was fought against a very powerful Persian fleet numbering hundreds of ships,[24]Thuc. 1.100 claims that the Athenians captured or destroyed the entire Phoenician fleet of 200 ships. Ephorus somewhat more plausibly puts the total Persian fleet at 350 and the ships lost at 200, and along with several other secondary sources contains a much more detailed account of the campaign than Thucydides’ single sentence; for these reasons, Thucydides’ figures should not automatically be preferred. These accounts of the Eurymedon are contained in Plutarch, Kimon 12-13 and Diod. 11.60-62, though the latter conflates the Eurymedon campaign with Kimon’s much later campaign in Cyprus, just prior to the Peace of Kallias. probably the strongest naval effort of the Great King since Salamis and Mykale; it may have represented a long-prepared Persian counteroffensive aimed at reversing the results of the Persian Wars. If so, then it would be very badly out of place during 464 or 463, the first few years of Artaxerxes’ reign, when Diodorus tells us (as we might expect) Artaxerxes was devoting all his efforts to reorganizing his empire and suppressing the unrest and minor revolts which had broken out after the murder of his father. On the other hand, if we place it earlier, possibly at the beginning of the 465 campaigning season, we may speculate that its disastrous failure (over 200 ships lost) contributed to the political climate which led to Xerxes’ murder by Artabanes, one of his highest court officials.[25]Diod. 11.69.

Similarly, Naxos’ decision to terminate its membership in the Delian League has been almost universally ascribed by modern scholars to its belief that the League was no longer necessary, that its burdensome naval contribution was no longer justified by the benefits of League protection against an ebbing Persian threat (this is clearly Thucydides’ implication). Yet such a view makes absolutely no sense if Naxos’ secession came a few short months before the strongest Persian naval thrust in a decade and a half. It would have taken the Persians considerable time to mobilize a fleet of several hundred Phoenician ships, and bring the force to Pisidia, together with a large land army—witness the years of preparation required for Xerxes’ invasion—and almost certainly during this time word of the massive preparations would have reached Greece.[26]Just as happened in 397 (Xen. Hell. 3.4.1). It would have been very strange indeed for Naxos to have chosen this moment of heightening tension to forfeit the powerful protection of a League fleet probably totaling 300 or more triremes.[27]During the first year of the Egyptian expedition, there were 200 League ships in Egypt, and probably at least 100 or more deployed against Aigina (the Aiginetan fleet, renowned for its naval excellence, was heavily defeated in a great sea-battle, and over seventy Aiginetan vessels were captured): Thuc. 1.104-5. During the Samos revolt a decade or two later, Athens, Samos, Chios, and Lesbos deployed a total of 265 warships in the area (Thuc. 1.115-17). But on the other hand, once Kimon’s pre-emptive thrust to the Eurymedon had achieved brilliant success, and 200 Phoenician ships were captured or sunk, the Persian threat might have appeared destroyed for a generation. In this context, a Naxian decision to forgo the now unnecessary protestion of the League makes perfect sense, and indeed might be expected. This further strengthens the case for placing the Eurymedon soon before Naxos, in either 466, or (more likely) early 465.

II. Mount Ithome

The next important historical crux—the question of the length of the siege of Mount Ithome—is not really within the province of this paper; no new ideas will be presented. But since the nature of the crux and the most likely means of its resolution are closely connected to the ideas of this paper, a short summary of the issues involved is warranted.

In 1.102, Thucydides mentions Kimon’s ill-fated expedition to assist the Spartans against the rebels at Mount Ithome, and the Spartan dismissal of the Athenian force. We are told that this leads to a rupture of the alliance, and the formation of an opposing Athenian alliance with Argos and Thessaly, both hostile to Sparta. In the following chapter, Thucydides tells us that the Messenians at Mount Ithome, unable to prolong their resistance, finally surrendered under terms in the tenth year of the rebellion and were promptly relocated by the Athenians to Naupaktos, which Athens had recently captured from the Ozolian Lokrians. After this, we are told of the Megarian-Korinthian border dispute, and Megara’s consequent adherence to the Delian League, and in the next few chapters, the beginning of the League expedition to Egypt and the fighting of the First Peloponnesian War. The long-debated question is whether Thucydides’ mention of the end of the helot revolt is in exact chronological order, i.e. whether the Megarian alliance came after the end of the revolt (and hence seemingly ten years after the earthquake), or whether Thucydides is violating strict chronology and ‘anticipating’ the end of the revolt in order to maintain the flow of his topical treatment.[28]Cf. Deane (1972), 22-30 for a long discussion of the arguments involved, which strongly affirms the second possibility; Gomme (1945), 1.401-11 and ATL (1949), iii.162-8 present the contrary, more orthodox view.

Put in such terms, the choice is forced, with the first possibility ruled out: we know that the beginning of the Egyptian expedition cannot have come as late as 454 (which is what a ten-year helot revolt beginning in 464/3—or equivalently, soon after the Thasian revolt—would force us to conclude). However, there are two fall-back versions of this first possibility. We can suppose that Thucydides is simply mistaken, either in his figure for the length of the war, in his suggestion that the start of the war followed the Thasian revolt, or somewhere else in his chronology of these years:[29]For example, French (1971), 46 n. 63 mentions the suggestion that the helot uprising began several years before the Thasian revolt and was merely intensified by the earthquake at Sparta. Gomme (1945), 407-8 lists several other versions contradicting Thucydides. this is obviously possible, but as mentioned earlier, we should accept such an argument—which involves impugning the basic accuracy of our main source—only as a last resort. A second, more brutally simple approach is to argue away the figure of ten years as being a corruption of the text, and to replace the number by whatever other number suits one’s chronological framework, emending dekatoi to tetartoi, hektoi or even pemptoi as the fancy strikes us;[30]Gomme (1945), i.404 argues for six years, ATL (1949), iii.163-4 supports four years, and D.M. Lewis, Historia 2 (1954), 415-16 holds out for five. Some of these suggestions as to how a corruption might have occurred are ingenious, but the very number of different suggestions weakens the strength of the argument, and the thorough refutation of Deane (1972), 22-30 is very convincing. this is the favoured approach among those scholars who wish to preserve a belief in Thucydides’ exactly sequentially chronological approach to the Pentekontaetia. The only difficulty with such an emendation is that it has no justification, aside from the dubious benefit of allowing us to stamp as ‘solved’ one of the long list of Pentekontaetian chronological puzzles, the others of which are not so vulnerable to solution by eraser. And in some sense, it has less than none, since Diodorous (almost certainly based on Ephorus)[31]Diod. 11.64.4. According to him, the rebellion lasted ten years, while Thucydides says it lasted into its tenth year; but this is a very natural mistake for a third-hand source such as Diodorus to make, even if his number does ultimately derive from Thucydides. also states that the helot revolt lasted ten years, proving that any ‘corruption’ in Thucydides’ manuscript must have entered in Classical times, an improbably early stage.[32]Gomme (1945), i.403 very properly grasps this nettle, admitting that ‘all our other authorities, beginning with Ephorus, say that the war lasted nine years (or ten, as a round number)’.

It is important to realise that although accidental corruptions, numerical or otherwise, could occur at any time in history, they are much less likely to have occurred in classical times. This is because the chances of a textual corruption surviving uncorrected and propagating are inversely related to the number of independent copies of the manuscript in existence and circulating. Soon after Thucydides’ history was ‘published’ (i.e. copied out in large numbers and generally circulated), every significant public or private library would have had its own copy of such an important and influential work. After this (unless the original scribe had made an error in all his copies), textual corruptions could not have widely entered the tradition again until the Middle Ages or later, when the destruction of the great library at Alexandria and most other major repositories of classical manuscripts had drastically reduced the number of surviving copies. For Ephorus’ figure to be based on a corruption in Thucydides would compound improbabilities: we must both assume that Ephorus chanced to use a corrupt text and that this same text also became the basis for all our surviving manuscripts of Thucydides. This is extremely unlikely.

The alternative possibility, that Thucydides simply jumped ahead chronologically in order to tell us the eventual outcome of the helot revolt before returning to his sequential narrative, seems much less far-fetched.[33]The orthodox view, that Thucydides maintained strict chronological sequencing throughout the Pentekontaetia, is stated canonically (and provided with some justification) by Gomme (1945), 391-2, one of its strongest advocates: ‘we must see how far our other evidence…is reconcilable with Thucydides’ narrative, keeping as our guide one fact, namely that he gives his events in strict chronological sequence as he conceives it’. Yet in the footnote to this very sentence, Gomme admits that ‘On the other hand, the fact (or the probability) that the excursus is an unfinished essay, allows a possible disruption of the chronological order, which Thucydides would later have put right. That is, we may admit a greater likelihood of error here than in his main narrative’. It is difficult to understand why Gomme’s belief in an increased chance of chronological error is matched by his absolute disbelief in the possibility of chronological ambiguity (which, after all, one would naturally expect in an unfinished draft of an essay describing an interwoven pattern of events). Later, when Thucydides’ account of the Five Years’ Truce seems to violate Gomme’s (sound) historical common sense, Gomme chooses again to postulate a fortuitous corruption of the text, rather than simple chronological ambiguity (p. 325). More decisively, it accords much better with the general pattern of events. Sparta’s striking lack of participation in the First Peloponnesian War is explained by her continuing preoccupation with the siege of the still-resisting Messenians on Mount Ithome and the smouldering embers of helot rebellions which such a defiant stronghold might kindle. Even more obviously, an Athenian capture of Naupaktos—which Thucydides places just prior to the fall of Mount Ithome—would seem very implausible before Tanagra, when the hinterland of the city would have remained completely outside Athens’ influence or control; while after Oinophyta—and the Athenian conquest of Boiotia, Phokis, and Lokris—it would follow naturally. In fact, Diodorus explicitly states that Tolmides captured Naupaktos and settled the defenders of Mount Ithome in it during his voyage around the Peloponnese, which both he and Thucydides place soon after Myronides’ victory at Oinophyta.[34]Diod. 11.84; Thuc. 1.108. Gomme (1945), 304 argues that since Thucydides’ account of the periplous of Tolmides fails to mention Naupaktos, Diodorus’ account ‘deserves no credence’. But Thucydides’ many very significant omissions in his unfinished Pentekontaetia—which Gomme (1945), 365-70 himself lists at length and discusses—should make such an argument from silence a very weak one, especially about a town whose capture Thucydides had already referred to earlier. Furthermore, a scholiast to Pausanias 1.27.5 and Aeschines 2.75 adds the names of other towns captured, and Gomme apparently believes them (p. 320).

III. The Ostracism of Kimon

The final historical crux to be discussed relates to the story of Kimon’s early return from ostracism. The ancient evidence that Kimon was recalled from exile before the end of his ten-year term is overwhelming, yet to accept this fact leads to fatal difficulties with all existing chronologies. First, let us review the evidence relating to Kimon’s exile and return.

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According to Plutarch, Kimon was ostracized in the aftermath of Sparta’s dismissal of the Athenian force at Ithome, and the Athenian break with Sparta which resulted;[35]For this and the following, cf. Plut. Kimon 15-18, Per. 9.3-10.5. this makes excellent sense, accords well with the complete political ascendancy of the Ephialtes-Perikles faction, and has been accepted by all modern scholars. Plutarch follows this description by stating that just before the battle of Tanagra, Kimon attempted to return in order to support Athens in her hour of danger and demonstrate that his philolaconism did not diminish his patriotic loyalty; but his request was denied by the Boule, under the influence of Perikles’ friends, and he was sent away. However, we are next told that some time after the battle the Athenians became fearful of a Peloponnesian invasion, and recalled Kimon, hoping that he would be able to arrange a peace with Sparta—Perikles himself proposed the special motion. Plutarch places this remarkable occurrence in the immediate aftermath of the battle, and motivates it by the Athenian defeat and fears of a Spartan invasion the following spring; but this is totally out of character with Athens’ spirit and behavior at this time,[36]The losses at Tanagra were heavy on both sides, and afterwards the outnumbered Peloponnesians retreated home. Sixty-two days later, the Athenians invaded Boiotia, were victorious at Oinophyta, and conquered Boiotia, Phokis, and Lokris; soon afterwards Aigina surrendered to Athens, and Tolmides raided the Peloponnese, burning the Spartan dockyards: Thuc. 1.108. and probably represents Plutarch’s own rationalization. In any event, we are told that as soon as Kimon returned he arranged a peace treaty between Athens and Sparta, and took a fleet of 200 ships to Cyprus to fight the Persians. Plutarch adds that some writers claim that Perikles did not agree to support Kimon’s recall until Kimon had promised to sail to Cyprus immediately upon his return, rather than to remain in Athens (and constitute a political threat to Perikles).

The other evidence for Kimon’s recall is also very strong, but much less detailed. A fragment of Theopompus quoted by a scholiast to Aristides says that Kimon was recalled in the fifth year of his ostracism in order to arrange a quick peace between Athens and Sparta, and did so:[37]Scholiast to Aristides 46.158.13. Aristides say that Kimon was recalled before the end of his ostracism, but is unspecific about the date.[38]Aristides 46.158.13. Nepos writes that Kimon was recalled in the fifth year of his ostracism, and arranged a peace between Athens and Sparta.[39]Nepos, Cimon 3.3. Andocides says that Kimon was recalled from exile in order to make peace with Sparta and did so (though nearly all of Andocides historical details are—as usual—confused).[40]Andocides 3.3.

Given such an overwhelming weight of evidence, it seems certain that there must be some truth to such an unusual story. The detail that it was Perikles himself who proposed the special motion necessary for the recall of his arch-rival is especially supportive: such an unlikely fact is not easily invented. However the problems which arise if we accept the story are very considerable.

First, according to all accounts, Kimon made peace with Sparta very soon after he returned, according to Diodorus, a five-year peace treaty.[41]Diod. 11.86.1. Yet the only peace mentioned by Thucydides in this period is the Five Years’ Truce, which all major chronologies date to around 451 (though Gomme[1945], 325 permits himself a whiff of doubt). Since Kimon was ostracized around 461, this would anyway have been the last year of his exile; recalling him at this late date makes little sense, and conflicts with the strong tradition that he was recalled in the fifth year of his ostracism.

Furthermore, Plutarch makes it very clear that his sources say Kimon sailed to Cyprus against the Persians directly upon his recall, yet again we interpret Thucydides to mean that the Cyprus expedition took place around 451 also, just after the signing of the Five Years’ Truce. The same difficulties apply.

But our greatest problem lies in understanding the motivation of Perikles, Kimon’s arch-rival, yet the man who moved his recall. Plutarch tells us that Perikles’ associates had blocked Kimon’s attempt to return during Tanagra, at a moment of great national danger. Yet during the period from the battle of Tanagra down to Kimon’s expedition to Cyprus, the only possible event which could have occasioned the extraordinary return of an ostracized leader such as Kimon was the Egyptian disaster. The aftermath of Tanagra would not have forced his return: Tanagra was a tactical draw, and a strategic victory for Athens. Oinophyta, coming sixty-two days later, could not have been responsible, for it was a great victory. And in the aftermath of these two battles, Athenian success and confidence reached unprecedented heights, as Boiotia, Phokis, and Lokris were conquered, Aigina forced into surrender, and the Spartan homeland itself raided by Tolmides. Thucydides would have been certain to mention any great catastrophe during these years, yet except for Egypt he is silent. None of our other sources reveals any significant Athenian defeat during this period, except for Egypt. Yet Kimon’s recall constitutes one of the only two known cases in Athenian history when a man ostracized was recalled before his ten years of exile had ended, and the other case occurred during the Persian invasion of Greece itself. Only a danger to Athens of the greatest possible magnitude could have prompted such an action. The complete destruction of the enormous Athenian expeditionary force to Egypt is the perfect candidate.

Egypt is the perfect candidate in all ways except one. As currently interpreted, Thucydides’ chronology seems to rule out any possibility that Kimon’s recall followed the Egyptian disaster: Thucydides seems to place the Five Years’ Truce with Sparta and Kimon’s expedition to Cyprus three or more years after Egypt, while our sources for Kimon’s recall all agree that these events took place immediately after Kimon’s return (though only Plutarch’s detailed account mentions Cyprus).

The only means of resolving this dilemma is an extreme one. We must conclude that, just as in the case of the Naxian revolt and in the case of the fall of Mount Ithome, Thucydides is anticipating the final defeat in Egypt, causing confusion for later historians by once again breaking strict chronological sequencing in his rough, unfinished sketch of the Pentekontaetia.[42]Cf. Gomme’s admission, quoted in n. 33 above.

This suggestion is actually not so outrageous as it might seem. Thucydides opens the key passage dealing with the Egyptian disaster by describing Artaxerxes’ attempt to draw off the Athenians from Egypt by sending Megabazus to Greece with gold intended to buy a Peloponnesian invasion of Attica; after some time had gone by and this strategy had achieved no results, Megabazus was recalled. Next, we are told that the Great King sent a different Megabazus to Egypt with a very large army; the Egyptians and their Greek allies were defeated in battle and shut up on the island of Prosopitis, which was then besieged for eighteen months and finally captured, leading to the destruction of the Athenian expeditionary force. It is obvious that the events being described—Megabazus’ dispatch, his long, unsuccessful attempts at bribery, his recall, the preparation of a large army of invasion (which probably occurred simultaneously with Megabazus’ activities), a campaign which defeated the Egyptians and bottled up the Greeks on Prosopitis, and the eighteen months of siege which followed—must have taken a considerable length of time, probably three years at least. Yet if we cling to the notion that every word and phrase of Thucydides is in strict chronological order, we are forced to conclude that nothing of political or military significance took place in Greece during the three or four campaigning seasons overlapped by these Egyptian developments—a highly implausible conclusion given the density of battles and campaigns both before and afterwards.[43]Thuc. 1.108.111. More plausibly, we should consider the possibility that the first part of the summary of Egyptian events (chapters 109-110) is a recapitulation with respect to the events of the previous chapters on Greece (so French[1971], 58 n. 99), that the last part is an anticipation with respect to the following chapters on Greece (as was suggested above), or (very likely) that both are the case.

A final nugget of support for the possibility of a chronological digression may be gleaned from Ctesias. His account provides many additional details of the Egyptian campaign (though some of his naval strengths seem not to tally with those of Thucydides), and according to him, the execution of the rebels’ leader Inaros—which Thucydides mentions (but does not explicitly date) just after the fall of Prosopitas—took place five years after the end of the rebellion and under somewhat different circumstances.[44]Ctesias, 36. Given Thucydides’ extreme brevity, and his failure to put a chronological context to Inaros’ betrayal and execution, we have no reason to doubt Ctesias’ version (especially considering his access to Persian sources); and yet to accept Ctesias is to admit that Thucydides, for no apparent reason (other than the convenience of finishing off the story of Inaros), jumped five years past the end of the revolt in one sentence, before returning to the destruction of the Athenian relief squadron a few short days or weeks after the end of the revolt in the next.[45]French (1971), 60 n. 107 believes Ctesias’ account on this point, and views Thucycides’ five-year digression as an ‘understandable lapse from strict chronological reporting’, but he seems not to realise the extreme significance of this conclusion: a single demonstrated exception to an alleged absolute principle proves that the principle is not absolute, and greatly increases the likelihood that other exceptions may be found. Yet French equivocates on the Mount Ithome crux, weighing the unlikely possibility that Thucydides’ dekatoi (confirmed by Diodorus) is a corruption against the ‘difficult assumption’ that Thucydides violated an ‘established…principle of narration’ by a chronological digression; and French does so without even referring to the execution of Inaros, which is almost an exact parallel, even in length of time.

Although Gomme (1945), i.321-2 discusses the discrepancies between Thucydides’ account of the disaster in Egypt and that of Ctesias (which in many ways he prefers), he (uncharacteristically) never makes explicit the chronological divergences, and the strong implication of the Thucydidean digression.
Such lapses into chronological ambiguity are not in the least surprising in a brief historical sketch, let alone a rough, unfinished one; Thucydides has nothing to answer for. But this example should serve as a potent rejoinder to those who argue that Thucydides managed to achieve the superhuman task of keeping every phrase of his Pentekontaetia sketch in strict chronological order, a task that he never even claimed to be attempting.[46]Thucydides’ criticism of Hellanicus’ earlier history of the Pentekontaetia (1.97.2) as being ‘not accurate’ (οὐκ ἀκριβῶς)—in contrast to his own—is often used to argue (even cited as unargued proof) that the Pentekontaetia will follow absolutely strict chronology (e.g. cf. Gomme [1945], i.361-2), but this is merely an implication; and even if it were true, Thucydides would presumably be contrasting the excursus as he intended it to be (when complete and polished) with Hellenicus’ poor existing version. And if Thucydides might for convenience’ sake violate strict chronology to describe Inaros’ end, there is little reason to believe that he could not have ‘anticipated’ the end of the Egyptian expedition as well.

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If we accept this hypothesis, nearly all the difficulties with our existing chronological framework are eliminated. Upon the destruction of the Egyptian expedition, Kimon was recalled from ostracism, both because of his outstanding military record and because of the hope that he could arrange a truce with Sparta and the Peloponnesians which would allow Athens to concentrate all her resources and effort against Persia.[47]I follow Meiggs (1972), 103-8 and others in believing Thucydides when he repeatedly implies that virtually the entire Delian League expeditionary force of 200 ships remained in Egypt until the end, and was lost. If 200 or more ships—some Athenian and some allied—were lost, then it is likely that most ordinary Athenians, upon learning of the disaster, expected any week to see an enormous and victorious Persian fleet approach the Piraeus, just as they were later to feel after Sicily (Thuc 8.1). These fears were unwarranted: the Athenian forces had been defeated by Persian engineering and land attack in one case and by surprise in the other; but the ‘paper tiger’ nature of Persian naval power would not have become apparent for some time—the bare fact was that a huge fraction of the standing Delian League fleet had been annihilated at a stroke.

The above reasoning is merely weakened, not destroyed, if losses in Egypt came to no more than 100 ships (as many scholars believe). Moreover, the foundations of this more orthodox reconstruction are rather implausible. Under it, we must assume that the Athenians kept no more than fifty or sixty ships (or less) in Egypt after the first year or so of the expedition (e.g. Gomme [1945] i.321-3). Greek naval excellence was high, and the Athenians were notoriously reckless, but even they would have balked at the notion of leaving such a small fleet to maintain continual control of the seas—an absolute necessity—so far from home and so close to Phoenicia, Persia’s principal naval centre. Callisthenes (Plut. Kimon 13.4-5) viewed Perikles’ short sail to the south-western coast of Asia Minor with a mere fifty ships as an act of notable daring; how would he have viewed the idea of keeping such a small expeditionary force within a few days’ sail of Phoenicia for five or six years, winter and summer?
Returning in 454,[48]The eight years between the apparent date of the reforms of Ephialtes (462/1) and the date of the Five Years’ Truce (454/3) do present some difficulty if we are to believe that Kimon returned in the fifth year of his ostracism; however, they can be accommodated. If Kimon had departed for Sparta in early Spring 461, and his absence (along with several thousand members of the more conservative Athenian hoplite class) allowed Ephialtes quickly to gain political ascendancy, then the reforms could have occurred near the end of the 462/1 Athenian political year. Kimon may have remained in Sparta for seven or eight months, hoping to achieve a victory and return in triumph to Athens (with a consequently greater chance of reversing Ephialties’ constitutional changes); the accounts of our sources are vague enough to leave open the possibility that he remained in Sparta over the first winter. Therefore, his ‘dismissal’ (whatever the circumstances) and return to Athens may well have come too late for the first round of the ostracism vote of 461/0, coming in the sixth prytany (some time in December or January), leaving him to spend the next twelve months carrying the burden of his failure at Ithome and unsuccessfully attempting to overturn Ephialtes’ reforms (Plut. Kimon 15). His ostracism might have come the next year, with the preliminary vote in the sixth prytany and the final decision (Kimon or Ephialtes) in the eighth (Arist. Ath. Const. 43.5; Philochorus, FGrHist 328 F 30). The second vote would have forced Kimon to leave Attica within ten days, putting his departure within a few weeks of the end of the 460/59 Athenian political year; for this reason, 459/8 might have been traditionally recorded as the first (full) year of his ostracism. This would place his recall in the political year 455/4, the fifth of his exile; if he had returned in early summer 454, it might have taken him a month or two to arrange the Five Years’ Truce with Sparta, placing it in the next political year 454/3 as required. A number of assumptions are required to produce the above chain of reasoning, but all are rather plausible. This reconstruction would also explain how Kimon returned from Mount Ithome apparently some time before the beginning of the Egyptian expedition, yet returned to Athens in the fifth year of his exile but some time after the end of that six-year expedition. Kimon quickly arranged a five-year ‘non-aggression pact’ with the Spartans,[49]A cynic might argue that Sparta’s leaders would never have granted Athens such a respite, despite their friendship with Kimon and their public commitments to pan-Hellenic solidarity against the barbarian; and such suspicion is very warranted. But in the above chronology, the long helot rebellion would have come to an end in its tenth year—455/4—perhaps only five or six months before, and exhausted Sparta could herself use a breathing space free from major military threat. It is also possible that Sparta hoped to use the five years to deal a crushing blow to Argive power, and this may have resulted in the thirty-year peace treaty which Argos signed in 451/0 (see text below). and sailed for Cyprus with a hastily organized Athenian and allied force in order to forestall a feared Persian advance into the Aegean. Aside from the difficulty with the standard interpretation of the text of Thucydides, this pattern of events is reasonable and realistic, and several additional pieces of evidence may be adduced to support it.

First, the truce arranged between Athens and Sparta was of remarkably short duration—five years—and hence makes much more sense as a ‘breathing space’ after the Egyptian disaster than as anything else.

Second, Diodorus’ account of the Cyprus campaign—one of the fullest in detail—closely connects the campaign with the Egyptian disaster. Furthermore, the Persian commanders identified are the same as those in Egypt, and this would be natural if (as the Athenians may have feared) they were preparing an offensive into Greek waters after their great victory in Egypt.[50]Cf. n. 47 above.

Third, after describing the enormous Athenian disaster in Egypt, Thucydides follows with the accounts of minor Athenian operations in Thessaly and Sikyon.[51]Thuc. 1.111. It seems very unlikely that the Athenians would have undertaken these in the wake of Egypt.[52]Meiggs (1972), 110-11 and n. 1 understandably finds these adventuristic enterprises highly peculiar in the aftermath of Egypt and he even ventures to speculate that they ‘may even have come a little earlier than the capitulation on Prosopitis’, adding in a footnote that ‘Thucydides seems not to have been rigorously chronological in his account of the Egyptian expedition'(!); but this extremely important idea is never carried to its logical conclusion or extended to other chronological cruxes. (i.e. if these operations did chronologically follow the final defeat in Egypt), while they fit in perfectly with the pattern of widespread Athenian thrusts prior to the disaster.

Fourth, the evidence of Argos’ thirty-year peace treaty with Sparta actually supports rather than weakens the case for an earlier date for the Five Years’ Truce. A reference in Thucydides allows us to date the Argive pact to 451/0, and this has often been used to argue that the Athenian treaty must have been made around this same time; but this seems unlikely. A long-term peace treaty extending for thirty years seems a far from natural partner to a brief five-year ‘intermission’ agreement. Moreover, Argos’ notoriously deep hostility to Sparta makes it very unlikely that she would have accepted a thirty-year peace in the absence of a catastrophic defeat;[53]The only previous time that Argos had considered such a lengthy peace treaty with Sparta was after her manpower had been massacred by Kleomanes (Herod. 6.79-83, 7.149-50). and if Athens had been forced to sign a separate peace with Sparta around 454/3 and had withdrawn from the struggle, Sparta might have used the opportunity to deal Argos such a defeat (one might speculate that this was Sparta’s main benefit from the truce).

Fifth, if Kimon’s campaign in Cyprus had occurred earlier than current chronologies suggest, beginning say in summer 454 or spring 453 rather than summer 450, then the Peace of Kallias which followed should also be placed earlier than is now believed, perhaps in 452 or 451 rather than in 449. This would place Perikles’ citizenship decree of 451/0 shortly after the Peace rather than a year or two before it.[54]Arist. Ath. Const. 26.3 dates the decree to the archonship of Antidotos, namely 451/0. Such an ordering is more plausible, since Perikles and the other Athenian leaders must certainly have realized that the decree would have a very negative long-term impact on Athens’ citizen population (and hence her manpower resources), and it would have been a very strange (almost suicidal) measure to take before Kimon’s victories in Cyprus and the signing of the Peace with Persia had removed the Persian military threat. Under exactly the same reasoning, the enormous expenditures on the Parthenon and Propylaia—amounting to the bulk of the Delian League (i.e. Athenian) reserve fund—must obviously have followed rather than preceded peace with Persia. Yet these extraordinary expenditures are usually dated to 450/49,[55]For discussions of the dating and nature of the Strasbourg Papyrus (which contains a scholiast’s commentary on Demosthenes 22.13f, mentioning the expenditures), cf. ATL (1949), iii.281 and Meiggs (1972), 515-18, both of which support the 450/49 dating, and Gomme (1956), ii.28-33, who questions these arguments. The main restorations of the decree are conveniently collected and translated in C.W. Fornara, Archaic Times to the End of the Peloponnesian War (Cambridge, 1983), 95-7. and this is almost impossible to reconcile with a Cyprus campaign beginning in 450 (or even worse 450/49) as in most current chronologies.[56]ATL (1949), iii.281 places the beginning of Kimon’s campaign in Spring 450, and the Peace of Kallias a year later in the first half of 449; Deane (1972), 61-3 and French (1971), 64 n. 119 and 65 n. 123 both support this, the former discussing the various other ideas proposed. Gomme (1945), i.409-10 displaces both dates by a year, putting the Cyprus campaign in Summer 449 and the Peace in Spring 448 (as is noted in the preceding footnote, Gomme refuses to credit the usual date of the Strasbourg Papyrus). Meiggs (1972), 124-8 recognizes the ‘crowding’ which such chronologies would require, and much more consistently places the Cyprus campaign in 451 and the Peace of Kallias in 449. We are forced to believe that a Cyprian campaign of considerable length, the (undoubtedly) long negotiations resulting in the first Hellenic-Persian peace (in which Kallias’ travel time to and from Susa alone must have come to six or seven months), Perikles’ diplomatic maneuvering relating to the abortive Pan-Hellenic Congress, and the subsequent unilateral Athenian decision to spend her (and her allies’) military reserve fund on public works—that all of this can be fitted into the fourteen or fifteen months between the between the beginning of the 450 sailing season and the end of the 450/49 political year.[57]So Meiggs (1972), 124-8. This is totally implausible, even if for no other reason than that a leader of Perikles’ ability would never have spent his military reserve fund while the ink on a permanent peace treaty with Persia was only three or four months dry, and its security completely untested. A Peace of Kallias signed in 452 is far easier to accept.[58]Under my reconstruction, the missing tribute quota list of 449/8 should not be explained by any (rather improbable) remission of tribute in the year following the Peace, but as a consequence of the Periklean building programme begun a couple of years later and paid for by the allied tribute. Since all incoming tribute of that year was directly used to finance building construction, there was no surplus phoros to be stored with the Goddess, and hence no tribute quota was paid. For my arguments on the ‘surplus’ nature of the tribute, cf. R.K. Unz, ‘The surplus of the Athenian phoros’ (to appear in GRBS).

Sixth, Kimon had half-foreign ancestry (his mother was a Thrakian princess).[59]Plut. Kimon 4.1. The context makes it clear that the claim is not simply a standard political slander. This fact makes it extremely unlikely that Perikles’ citizenship decree of 451/0 was passed before Kimon’s death in the middle of the Cyprus campaign. Removing Athens’ greatest living military hero from the citizenship roster would have been going too far even for an enraged demos, and Kimon’s friends would have fought the maneuver to the bitter end. The citizenship decree would stand out in all later sources as the final culmination of the political struggle between Kimon and Perikles. Even if a special exception to the decree had been made for a hero of Kimon’s stature, this fact would have been noted by some source (perhaps as the first stage of the reconciliation with Perikles which led to Kimon’s return from ostracism), just as the special exception made for Perikles’ own illegitimate son Perikles was noted.[60]Plut. Per. 37. Yet according to existing chronologies, Kimon was leading the Athenian grand battlefleet to Cyprus just as (or after!) the Athentian Assembly was blithely abolishing his citizenship. Such an absurdity can be safely ruled out, if only because of the grist this remarkable story would have provided for the moralistic mills of Plutarch and other writers (Carthage’s treatment of Hannibal would seem saintly by comparison).

Finally, Diodorus actually lists the Five Years’ Truce under 454/3, and as Schreiner notes, this is probably one of the few times when a Diodorean date carries significant weight.[61]Schreiner (1976), 26 and n. 17. The Truce is mentioned in a single short sentence directly following Diodorus’ naming of the year’s Athenian archon and Roman consuls; it is completely unconnected with the year’s ‘events’—a long hodge-podge of Sicilian history—or those of the year before, and is very likely taken directly from Diodorus’ good chronological source.[62]Diodorus’ evidence appeals to Gomme(1945), i.325-6, and he considers suggesting another textual corruption in Thucydides to reconcile it, but eventually decides to follow the bulk of the scholarship and reject the date. Meiggs (1972), 453 points to this date of Diodorus as one of a number of such dates which Diodorus probably obtained from a chronological handbook; in each case, the dating is brief—usually just a short sentence—and stands outside the flow (or rather the whirlpool) of Diodorus’ main narrative (though naturally it is sometimes difficult to judge whether some borderline cases fall into this category or not). Meiggs says that dates such as these ‘are more likely to be right than wrong’ (which is something of an understatement, since each of the three or four clear-cut cases which we can independently check turns out to be exactly correct); however, Meiggs asserts that we should flatly reject the 454/3 date for the Five Years’ Truce (where the signs of Diodorus’ having used a chronological source are perhaps the strongest of all). Meiggs’ obvious reason for this inconsistency is to safeguard his own chronological framework.

For these reasons, the case for placing the recall of Kimon and the signing of the Five Years’ Truce in the direct aftermath of Egypt seems compelling.

In all of these chronological puzzles—Naxos, Mount Ithome, and Kimon’s ostracism—the simple assumption that Thucydides’ narrative is not universally strict in its chronology is sufficient to allow resolution. Such a hypothesis seems not implausible, and leads to a far more realistic pattern of events than that produced by orthodox chronological reconstructions, which furthermore require us to postulate one or more unlikely textual ‘corruptions’ in order to avoid outright contradiction. Thucydides, though an outstanding historian, was merely human, and it seems rather contrived to expect absolute and unambiguous chronological rectitude out of his Pentekontaetia, an unfinished historical sketch so manifestly rough and incomplete that it makes no mention whatsoever of the Peace of Kallias, (arguably) the single most significant event during the Fifty Years, and an evolutionary watershed in the development of the Athenian Empire.[63]Cf. Meiggs (1972), 129-51 for a lengthy and thorough discussion of the likelihood and terms of the Peace of Kallias, which firmly concludes that the Peace did in fact exist. Thucydides’ silence is seen as strange and embarrassing, and one of the strongest arguments in the hands of doubters of the Peace. Meiggs bravely admits that ‘no convincing explanation has been given’ for Thucydides’ omission of the Peace and that ‘the best that can be offered…is a palliative’ (p. 140): the unfinished nature of the Pentekontaetia (and indeed the entire history) is the principal one cited. Gomme (1945), 331-5, 364-70 had roughly the same opinion.

 

I wish to acknowledge the helpful comments of E. Badian, John Barron, and an anonymous referee on an earlier draft of this paper, though naturally none of them should be held responsible for such errors as remain, nor for the views presented. I also wish to thank Harvard University, the Winston Churchill Foundation, and the National Science Foundation for their financial support during the preparation of this paper.

Appendix A

Outline of Suggested Chronological Scheme, 466-449

 

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The following chronological chart may help to summarize the ideas of this paper, and conveniently display the suggested pattern of interlocking events. Not all the dates listed are defended in the text; some, followed by question marks, are more or less crude guesses. But the chart is meant to demonstrate that the dates suggested by this paper are consistent with each other, and can be made to accord with virtually all the other established dates of this period Appendix B summarizes the suggested dates of the three main existing chronologies for purposes of comparison.

 

Suggested Chronology, 466-449 [64]Key: E = Early; M = Mid; L = Late; s = Spring; S = Summer; A = Autumn; W = Winter; Boldface type = Attested.

Date Historical Event
466 or E 465 Battle of the Eurymedon
465 Revolt of Naxos
L Dec. 465 Artaxerxes comes to throne
s? 464 Thasos revolts
E 464 Colony at Ennea Hodoi founded
464 Disaster at Drabeskos in 464/3
464 Thasos appeals to Sparta
464/3 Earthquake at Sparta; beginning of the great helot rebellion
E? 462 Thasos capitulates in third year of revolt
462? Kimon returns to Athens and is put on trial; acquitted
Es? 461 Kimon leads expedition to assist Sparta at Mount Ithome
ES? 461 Reforms of Ephialtes in 462/1
LA or W? 461 Kimon returns from Sparta (effectively too late for 6th prytany ostracism vote)
460 Kimon unsuccessfully tries to reverse the reforms of Ephialtes and regain political dominance at Athens
460 Athens breaks political alliance with Sparta, allies with Argos and Thessaly
460 Megara joins the Athenian alliance
s 459 Large Athenian expedition voted to Cyprus
s 459 Ostracism of Kimon after 2nd-stage vote in 8th prytany
S 459 Athenian expedition to Cyprus sails to Egypt, assists revolt
S 459 Athens attacks Peloponnesians at Halieis and Kekryphaleia
459/8 First (full) year of Kimon’s ostracism
LS 459 War with Aigina breaks out
LS 459 Korinth attempts to take advantage of Athens’ military over-extension, attacks in Megarid but is defeated; some casualties occur in same summer as Cyprus/Egypt and Aigina
L 459? Phokians attack Doris
Es 458 Spartans march to Phokis, quickly overawe Phokians
S 458 Tanagra; attempted return of Kimon blocked by Perikles
ES 458 Oinophyta
458 Athenian conquest of Boiotia, Phokis, and Lokris under Myronides
ES 458 Surrender of Aigina after nine months of siege
457? Periplous of Tolmides
456 Megabazus invades Egypt with large army, defeats rebels and Athenians in the field
A 456 Siege of Prosopitis begins
456? Athenian expeditions to Thessaly, attack on Sikyon
456/5?? Other naval raids by Tolmides, conflated with periplous by Diod.
S 454? Helot revolt ends in tenth year; Messenians are settled at Naupaktos by Tolmides
s 454 Draining of waters around Prosopitis (probably a few weeks before the low water point of the Nile in June); destruction of League expeditionary force in sixth year and after eighteen months of siege
s 454 Destruction of the Athenian relief squadron; a few ships escape, carrying word of the disaster to Athens
s 454 Kimon recalled in fifth (full) year of exile
s 454 League treasury transferred from Delos to Athens because of Persian naval threat (move comes after 455/4 tribute collection)
S 454 Kimon arranges Five Years’ Truce (in 454/3), sails to Cyprus (three years after Athens’ expeditions to Thessaly and Sikyon)
L 454 Cyprus campaign; Athens defeats Persian forces coming from victory in Egypt, re-establishes military balance with Persia
March 453 First tribute quota paid to Athena
E 453?? Negotiations leading to Peace of Kallis begin (e.g. Kallias leaves for Susa)
L 453 or 452?? Peace of Kallias ratified by Athenians
451?? Perikles launches Pan-Hellenic Congress proposal
451/0 Athenian citizenship restricted
450/49 Athens authorises liquidation of League reserve fund to pay for construction of Parthenon, Propylaia
449/8 Missing tribute quota list; no surplus tribute stored that year under Goddess’s protection (hence no quota payment) since it was all spent on public works

APPENDIX B

Comparison with Detailed Existing Chronologies [65]Deane [1972], 136-7.

Historical Event Deane Gomme ATL Unz
Naxos 465 ? 470 465
Eurymedon 465 ? 469 466
Thasos rebels 464 ES/LS 465 MS 465 s? 464
Athenian riposte 464 LS 465 464
Colony at Ennea Hodoi s 464 A 465 E 464
Drabeskos 464 LS 465 EW 465/4 464
Thasos appeals to Sparta 464 W 465/4 464
Earthquake at Sparta, helots rise 464 465/4 464 464/3
Thasos capitulates 462/1 463/2 463/2 E? 462
Sparta requests Athenian aid 462/1 462? 462 Es? 461
Athenians dismissed at Ithome 462/1 462/1 462 A or W? 461
Athenian alliance with Argos, Thessaly 462/1 462/1 462/1 460
Megara leaves Sparta, joins Athens 461? s 460 460
Athenian fleet to Cyprus and Phoinike 460 ? 461/0 s 459
Egyptian expedition begins 461/0 ? s 460 S 459
Megabazus in Sparta 457/6 457/6 457/6 458?
Haleis and Kekryphaleia 456? ? s 460 S 459
War with Aigina begins 456? ? s 460 LS 459
Korinthians invade Megarid; defeated Jul. 456 ? A 460 LS 459
Long walls begun 456? ? W 460/59
Siege of Prosopitis begins Jan. 455 ? A 456 A 456
Helots’ revolt ends 455/4 460/59? 461? S 454?
Phokians attack Doris 455/4? 458/7? S 459 L 459?
Spartans attack Phokians 454 459/8 Es 458
Tanagra 454 ES 457? June 458? S 458
Oinophyta 454 ES 457? Aug. 458? S 458
Long Walls completed 454 LS 457? W 458/7
Aigina surrenders 454 457/6 s 457 ES 458
Oinoe 454 457/6? s 457
Tolmides’ raids around the Peloponnese 454 456/5 S 457 457?
Siege of Prosopitis ends June 454 ? S 454 s 454
Athenian relief squadron destroyed 454 ? S 454 s 454
Athenian expedition to Thessaly 454 ? 454 456?
Perikles’ Korinthian Gulf expedition 454 ? S 454 456??
Three years free of hostilities begin 454
Five Years’ Truce A/W 451 ? 451 S 454
Kimon’s expedition to Cyprus 450 450/49? s 450 S 454
Kimon’s death 450 S 450 L 454
(Restriction of Athenian citizenship) 451/0 451/0 451/0 451/0
(Reserve fund spent on public works) 450/49 N.A. 450/49 450/49
(Peace of Kallias signed) E 449 449 E 449 453?
(Perikles’ Pan-Hellenic Congress) s/S 449 ? s/S 449 451??
(Missing tribute quota list; no tributedemanded by Athens because of Peace) 449/8 449/8 449/8 449/8

 

References

[1] There were over 5000 Spartiates of military age at the time of the battle of Plataia in 479 (Herod. 9.28), while in the life-or-death struggle at Mantinea sixty-one years later, there were only about 4200 Lakedaimonian troops present (Thuc. 5.68), of whom at most perhaps half—or 2000-2500—were Spartiates (Thuc. 4.38 gives us a rough indication that typically less than half of a Lakedaimonian force in this era was Spartiate).

[2] The major modern chronologies which this paper will make reference to are those of The Athenian Tribute Lists, Vol. I by B.D. Merritt, H.T. Wade-Gery, and M.F. McGregor (Cambridge, Mass., 1939); A Historical Commentary on Thucydides, Vol. I by A.W. Gomme (Oxford, 1945); and P. Deane, Thucydides’ Dates, 465-431 (Ontario, 1972). In addition, less comprehensive chronological analyses of the Pentekontaetia have recently been presented in A. French, The Athenian Half-Century (Sydney, 1972); M.P. Milton, Historia 28 (1979), 257-75; and J.H. Schreiner, Symbolae Osloenses 51 (1976), 19-63 and 52 (1977), 19-38.

[3] Diodorus’ chronological blunders—arising from his ill-considered (and very lazy) attempt to fit the topical narrative of his sources into the annalistic framework of his own history—are so notorious that we will illustrate them by a single example from that period. The single archon year of 471/0 is given over wholly to the narrative of the latter years of Themistokles, from the origins of his downfall because of association with Pausanias, through his travels around Greece and Molossia and his eventual flight to Persia, to his eventual death (which Plutarch, Them. 31 plausibly places in the late 450s)—a span of perhaps twenty years! (Diod. 11.54-9).

[4] Thuc. 1.98-102.

[5] Schreiner (1976) and (1977) is the only dissenter, but his highly unusual (and rather erratic) analysis is based on a fundamental disbelief in Thucydides’ veracity (e.g. [1976], 27), which consequently forces him into a heavy reliance on Diodorus and other secondary sources, supplemented by his own guesswork. As might be expected, this leads to the creation of an almost unrecognizable chronology for the events of the Fifty Years.

[6] A Babylonian legal text is dated to the months of Kislimu of the 21st year of Xerxes (465), which began on December 17, while news of Artaxerxes’ accession had reached Egypt by 2 January 464. Cf. M.E. White, ‘Some Agiad dates,’ JHS 84 (1964), 140-52, especially p. 142 n. 13.

[7] Deane (1972), 10-11 convincingly argues the case for a short stay at Ephesos. Of our other chronologies, ATL iii.160 dates Naxos to 470, implying a stay of five years in Ephesos, while Gomme makes no attempt to date Naxos, saying that Artaxerxes’ accession date ‘creates great difficulties.’ In the most recent discussion of the problem, Milton (1979), 261-2 argues that a delay of three or four months is reasonable (while Themistokles’ friends were sending him the cash), and, if interrupted by winter, eight or nine months; this is marginally possible. But when Milton attempts to salvage his own chronology by using this to argue that (Thucydides believed) the siege of Naxos ended as early as Autumn 466, his argument begins to break down completely. Xerxes died in December 465, and even if Themistokles had passed Naxos near the end of the 466 sailing season, this would still imply a stay of at least fifteen or sixteen months at Ephesos, violating Milton’s own plausibility argument.

[8] Paus. 4.24.5; Diod. 11.70.

[9] First, it is possible that the Spartan political year in which Archidamos came to the throne would have been considered as the last year of the reign of his predecessor Leotychidas; and the slight displacement between the Spartan political year and the Athenian archon year might possibly account for another year of the discrepancy, if the succession took place during the overlap. However, it seems rather more likely that the 469/8 succession date—which is based on several questionable arguments—is in error.

[10] Deane (1972), 11-12 is forced into this conclusion in order to accommodate Eurymedon in his chronology; all of the other main chronologies consider this possibility highly unlikely.

[11] Thucydides mentions the battle of the Eurymedon after he describes the surrender of Naxos; by the orthodox ‘strict chronology’ view, this corresponds to absolute chronological sequence, and even such an opponent of the orthodox case as Deane (1972), 12 accepts this argument without question.

[12] Plut. Kimon 12-14; Thuc. 1.100-101.

[13] Plut. Kimon 14-15.

[14] Aristotle, Ath. Const. 25 dates them to the archonship of Konon, namely 462/1, and since we would expect accurate dates for constitutional reforms from a constitutional history, this is almost universally accepted, even though the account involves Themistokles (long since ostracized by 462/1) as a leading participant.

[15] I will temporarily beg the chicken-and-egg question of whether it was Ephialtes’ reforms which forced Kimon to return from Sparta or Kimon’s humiliating return which created the political climate leading to the reforms. Cf. J.R. Cole, GRBS (1974), 369-85 for a good recent (though partisan) discussion of the issue.

[16] Even to place all of these events within a single year—as Deane is forced to do in his chronology—seems very improbable.

[17] So Gomme (1945), i.390, seconded by Milton (1979), 258.

[18] Sch. to Aesch. 2.31; Diod. 32.3. Actually, since Diodorus’ account of the foundation of Amphipolis is contained in a single short sentence unconnected to the other events included in the year, it is probably based on his good chronological source and correct. Cf. Meiggs (1972), 453.

[19] The scholiast lists a disaster which befell an Athenian attempt at colonisation (undoubtedly Drabeskos) in the Archonship of Lysikrates; this is apparently an error either for Lysistratos (467/6), Lysanias (466/5), or Lysitheos (465/4).

[20] Thuc. 1.100.

[21] Milton (1979) attempts to evade this trap by arguing that (Thucydides believed) Themistokles passed Naxos in Autumn 466, but as discussed above in n. 7, this would imply a sojourn of fifteen or twenty months in Ephesos, which violates Milton’s own standards of plausibility.

[22] Thuc. 1.98-9.

[23] Under this interpretation, the μετὰ ταῦτα introducing the Eurymedon campaign would (ambiguously) be in reference to any of the Athenian actions described in 1.97—perhaps the subjugation of Karystos—rather than the last events described in 1.97-8, namely the surrender of Naxos and the later subjugation of all Athens’ remaining allies.

[24] Thuc. 1.100 claims that the Athenians captured or destroyed the entire Phoenician fleet of 200 ships. Ephorus somewhat more plausibly puts the total Persian fleet at 350 and the ships lost at 200, and along with several other secondary sources contains a much more detailed account of the campaign than Thucydides’ single sentence; for these reasons, Thucydides’ figures should not automatically be preferred. These accounts of the Eurymedon are contained in Plutarch, Kimon 12-13 and Diod. 11.60-62, though the latter conflates the Eurymedon campaign with Kimon’s much later campaign in Cyprus, just prior to the Peace of Kallias.

[25] Diod. 11.69.

[26] Just as happened in 397 (Xen. Hell. 3.4.1).

[27] During the first year of the Egyptian expedition, there were 200 League ships in Egypt, and probably at least 100 or more deployed against Aigina (the Aiginetan fleet, renowned for its naval excellence, was heavily defeated in a great sea-battle, and over seventy Aiginetan vessels were captured): Thuc. 1.104-5. During the Samos revolt a decade or two later, Athens, Samos, Chios, and Lesbos deployed a total of 265 warships in the area (Thuc. 1.115-17).

[28] Cf. Deane (1972), 22-30 for a long discussion of the arguments involved, which strongly affirms the second possibility; Gomme (1945), 1.401-11 and ATL (1949), iii.162-8 present the contrary, more orthodox view.

[29] For example, French (1971), 46 n. 63 mentions the suggestion that the helot uprising began several years before the Thasian revolt and was merely intensified by the earthquake at Sparta. Gomme (1945), 407-8 lists several other versions contradicting Thucydides.

[30] Gomme (1945), i.404 argues for six years, ATL (1949), iii.163-4 supports four years, and D.M. Lewis, Historia 2 (1954), 415-16 holds out for five. Some of these suggestions as to how a corruption might have occurred are ingenious, but the very number of different suggestions weakens the strength of the argument, and the thorough refutation of Deane (1972), 22-30 is very convincing.

[31] Diod. 11.64.4. According to him, the rebellion lasted ten years, while Thucydides says it lasted into its tenth year; but this is a very natural mistake for a third-hand source such as Diodorus to make, even if his number does ultimately derive from Thucydides.

[32] Gomme (1945), i.403 very properly grasps this nettle, admitting that ‘all our other authorities, beginning with Ephorus, say that the war lasted nine years (or ten, as a round number)’.

It is important to realise that although accidental corruptions, numerical or otherwise, could occur at any time in history, they are much less likely to have occurred in classical times. This is because the chances of a textual corruption surviving uncorrected and propagating are inversely related to the number of independent copies of the manuscript in existence and circulating. Soon after Thucydides’ history was ‘published’ (i.e. copied out in large numbers and generally circulated), every significant public or private library would have had its own copy of such an important and influential work. After this (unless the original scribe had made an error in all his copies), textual corruptions could not have widely entered the tradition again until the Middle Ages or later, when the destruction of the great library at Alexandria and most other major repositories of classical manuscripts had drastically reduced the number of surviving copies. For Ephorus’ figure to be based on a corruption in Thucydides would compound improbabilities: we must both assume that Ephorus chanced to use a corrupt text and that this same text also became the basis for all our surviving manuscripts of Thucydides. This is extremely unlikely.

[33] The orthodox view, that Thucydides maintained strict chronological sequencing throughout the Pentekontaetia, is stated canonically (and provided with some justification) by Gomme (1945), 391-2, one of its strongest advocates: ‘we must see how far our other evidence…is reconcilable with Thucydides’ narrative, keeping as our guide one fact, namely that he gives his events in strict chronological sequence as he conceives it’. Yet in the footnote to this very sentence, Gomme admits that ‘On the other hand, the fact (or the probability) that the excursus is an unfinished essay, allows a possible disruption of the chronological order, which Thucydides would later have put right. That is, we may admit a greater likelihood of error here than in his main narrative’. It is difficult to understand why Gomme’s belief in an increased chance of chronological error is matched by his absolute disbelief in the possibility of chronological ambiguity (which, after all, one would naturally expect in an unfinished draft of an essay describing an interwoven pattern of events). Later, when Thucydides’ account of the Five Years’ Truce seems to violate Gomme’s (sound) historical common sense, Gomme chooses again to postulate a fortuitous corruption of the text, rather than simple chronological ambiguity (p. 325).

[34] Diod. 11.84; Thuc. 1.108. Gomme (1945), 304 argues that since Thucydides’ account of the periplous of Tolmides fails to mention Naupaktos, Diodorus’ account ‘deserves no credence’. But Thucydides’ many very significant omissions in his unfinished Pentekontaetia—which Gomme (1945), 365-70 himself lists at length and discusses—should make such an argument from silence a very weak one, especially about a town whose capture Thucydides had already referred to earlier. Furthermore, a scholiast to Pausanias 1.27.5 and Aeschines 2.75 adds the names of other towns captured, and Gomme apparently believes them (p. 320).

[35] For this and the following, cf. Plut. Kimon 15-18, Per. 9.3-10.5.

[36] The losses at Tanagra were heavy on both sides, and afterwards the outnumbered Peloponnesians retreated home. Sixty-two days later, the Athenians invaded Boiotia, were victorious at Oinophyta, and conquered Boiotia, Phokis, and Lokris; soon afterwards Aigina surrendered to Athens, and Tolmides raided the Peloponnese, burning the Spartan dockyards: Thuc. 1.108.

[37] Scholiast to Aristides 46.158.13.

[38] Aristides 46.158.13.

[39] Nepos, Cimon 3.3.

[40] Andocides 3.3.

[41] Diod. 11.86.1.

[42] Cf. Gomme’s admission, quoted in n. 33 above.

[43] Thuc. 1.108.111.

[44] Ctesias, 36.

ORDER IT NOW

[45] French (1971), 60 n. 107 believes Ctesias’ account on this point, and views Thucycides’ five-year digression as an ‘understandable lapse from strict chronological reporting’, but he seems not to realise the extreme significance of this conclusion: a single demonstrated exception to an alleged absolute principle proves that the principle is not absolute, and greatly increases the likelihood that other exceptions may be found. Yet French equivocates on the Mount Ithome crux, weighing the unlikely possibility that Thucydides’ dekatoi (confirmed by Diodorus) is a corruption against the ‘difficult assumption’ that Thucydides violated an ‘established…principle of narration’ by a chronological digression; and French does so without even referring to the execution of Inaros, which is almost an exact parallel, even in length of time.

Although Gomme (1945), i.321-2 discusses the discrepancies between Thucydides’ account of the disaster in Egypt and that of Ctesias (which in many ways he prefers), he (uncharacteristically) never makes explicit the chronological divergences, and the strong implication of the Thucydidean digression.

[46] Thucydides’ criticism of Hellanicus’ earlier history of the Pentekontaetia (1.97.2) as being ‘not accurate’ (οὐκ ἀκριβῶς)—in contrast to his own—is often used to argue (even cited as unargued proof) that the Pentekontaetia will follow absolutely strict chronology (e.g. cf. Gomme [1945], i.361-2), but this is merely an implication; and even if it were true, Thucydides would presumably be contrasting the excursus as he intended it to be (when complete and polished) with Hellenicus’ poor existing version.

[47] I follow Meiggs (1972), 103-8 and others in believing Thucydides when he repeatedly implies that virtually the entire Delian League expeditionary force of 200 ships remained in Egypt until the end, and was lost. If 200 or more ships—some Athenian and some allied—were lost, then it is likely that most ordinary Athenians, upon learning of the disaster, expected any week to see an enormous and victorious Persian fleet approach the Piraeus, just as they were later to feel after Sicily (Thuc 8.1). These fears were unwarranted: the Athenian forces had been defeated by Persian engineering and land attack in one case and by surprise in the other; but the ‘paper tiger’ nature of Persian naval power would not have become apparent for some time—the bare fact was that a huge fraction of the standing Delian League fleet had been annihilated at a stroke.

The above reasoning is merely weakened, not destroyed, if losses in Egypt came to no more than 100 ships (as many scholars believe). Moreover, the foundations of this more orthodox reconstruction are rather implausible. Under it, we must assume that the Athenians kept no more than fifty or sixty ships (or less) in Egypt after the first year or so of the expedition (e.g. Gomme [1945] i.321-3). Greek naval excellence was high, and the Athenians were notoriously reckless, but even they would have balked at the notion of leaving such a small fleet to maintain continual control of the seas—an absolute necessity—so far from home and so close to Phoenicia, Persia’s principal naval centre. Callisthenes (Plut. Kimon 13.4-5) viewed Perikles’ short sail to the south-western coast of Asia Minor with a mere fifty ships as an act of notable daring; how would he have viewed the idea of keeping such a small expeditionary force within a few days’ sail of Phoenicia for five or six years, winter and summer?

[48] The eight years between the apparent date of the reforms of Ephialtes (462/1) and the date of the Five Years’ Truce (454/3) do present some difficulty if we are to believe that Kimon returned in the fifth year of his ostracism; however, they can be accommodated. If Kimon had departed for Sparta in early Spring 461, and his absence (along with several thousand members of the more conservative Athenian hoplite class) allowed Ephialtes quickly to gain political ascendancy, then the reforms could have occurred near the end of the 462/1 Athenian political year. Kimon may have remained in Sparta for seven or eight months, hoping to achieve a victory and return in triumph to Athens (with a consequently greater chance of reversing Ephialties’ constitutional changes); the accounts of our sources are vague enough to leave open the possibility that he remained in Sparta over the first winter. Therefore, his ‘dismissal’ (whatever the circumstances) and return to Athens may well have come too late for the first round of the ostracism vote of 461/0, coming in the sixth prytany (some time in December or January), leaving him to spend the next twelve months carrying the burden of his failure at Ithome and unsuccessfully attempting to overturn Ephialtes’ reforms (Plut. Kimon 15). His ostracism might have come the next year, with the preliminary vote in the sixth prytany and the final decision (Kimon or Ephialtes) in the eighth (Arist. Ath. Const. 43.5; Philochorus, FGrHist 328 F 30). The second vote would have forced Kimon to leave Attica within ten days, putting his departure within a few weeks of the end of the 460/59 Athenian political year; for this reason, 459/8 might have been traditionally recorded as the first (full) year of his ostracism. This would place his recall in the political year 455/4, the fifth of his exile; if he had returned in early summer 454, it might have taken him a month or two to arrange the Five Years’ Truce with Sparta, placing it in the next political year 454/3 as required. A number of assumptions are required to produce the above chain of reasoning, but all are rather plausible. This reconstruction would also explain how Kimon returned from Mount Ithome apparently some time before the beginning of the Egyptian expedition, yet returned to Athens in the fifth year of his exile but some time after the end of that six-year expedition.

[49] A cynic might argue that Sparta’s leaders would never have granted Athens such a respite, despite their friendship with Kimon and their public commitments to pan-Hellenic solidarity against the barbarian; and such suspicion is very warranted. But in the above chronology, the long helot rebellion would have come to an end in its tenth year—455/4—perhaps only five or six months before, and exhausted Sparta could herself use a breathing space free from major military threat. It is also possible that Sparta hoped to use the five years to deal a crushing blow to Argive power, and this may have resulted in the thirty-year peace treaty which Argos signed in 451/0 (see text below).

[50] Cf. n. 47 above.

[51] Thuc. 1.111.

[52] Meiggs (1972), 110-11 and n. 1 understandably finds these adventuristic enterprises highly peculiar in the aftermath of Egypt and he even ventures to speculate that they ‘may even have come a little earlier than the capitulation on Prosopitis’, adding in a footnote that ‘Thucydides seems not to have been rigorously chronological in his account of the Egyptian expedition'(!); but this extremely important idea is never carried to its logical conclusion or extended to other chronological cruxes.

[53] The only previous time that Argos had considered such a lengthy peace treaty with Sparta was after her manpower had been massacred by Kleomanes (Herod. 6.79-83, 7.149-50).

[54] Arist. Ath. Const. 26.3 dates the decree to the archonship of Antidotos, namely 451/0.

[55] For discussions of the dating and nature of the Strasbourg Papyrus (which contains a scholiast’s commentary on Demosthenes 22.13f, mentioning the expenditures), cf. ATL (1949), iii.281 and Meiggs (1972), 515-18, both of which support the 450/49 dating, and Gomme (1956), ii.28-33, who questions these arguments. The main restorations of the decree are conveniently collected and translated in C.W. Fornara, Archaic Times to the End of the Peloponnesian War (Cambridge, 1983), 95-7.

[56] ATL (1949), iii.281 places the beginning of Kimon’s campaign in Spring 450, and the Peace of Kallias a year later in the first half of 449; Deane (1972), 61-3 and French (1971), 64 n. 119 and 65 n. 123 both support this, the former discussing the various other ideas proposed. Gomme (1945), i.409-10 displaces both dates by a year, putting the Cyprus campaign in Summer 449 and the Peace in Spring 448 (as is noted in the preceding footnote, Gomme refuses to credit the usual date of the Strasbourg Papyrus). Meiggs (1972), 124-8 recognizes the ‘crowding’ which such chronologies would require, and much more consistently places the Cyprus campaign in 451 and the Peace of Kallias in 449.

[57] So Meiggs (1972), 124-8.

[58] Under my reconstruction, the missing tribute quota list of 449/8 should not be explained by any (rather improbable) remission of tribute in the year following the Peace, but as a consequence of the Periklean building programme begun a couple of years later and paid for by the allied tribute. Since all incoming tribute of that year was directly used to finance building construction, there was no surplus phoros to be stored with the Goddess, and hence no tribute quota was paid. For my arguments on the ‘surplus’ nature of the tribute, cf. R.K. Unz, ‘The surplus of the Athenian phoros’ (to appear in GRBS).

[59] Plut. Kimon 4.1. The context makes it clear that the claim is not simply a standard political slander.

[60] Plut. Per. 37.

[61] Schreiner (1976), 26 and n. 17.

[62] Diodorus’ evidence appeals to Gomme(1945), i.325-6, and he considers suggesting another textual corruption in Thucydides to reconcile it, but eventually decides to follow the bulk of the scholarship and reject the date. Meiggs (1972), 453 points to this date of Diodorus as one of a number of such dates which Diodorus probably obtained from a chronological handbook; in each case, the dating is brief—usually just a short sentence—and stands outside the flow (or rather the whirlpool) of Diodorus’ main narrative (though naturally it is sometimes difficult to judge whether some borderline cases fall into this category or not). Meiggs says that dates such as these ‘are more likely to be right than wrong’ (which is something of an understatement, since each of the three or four clear-cut cases which we can independently check turns out to be exactly correct); however, Meiggs asserts that we should flatly reject the 454/3 date for the Five Years’ Truce (where the signs of Diodorus’ having used a chronological source are perhaps the strongest of all). Meiggs’ obvious reason for this inconsistency is to safeguard his own chronological framework.

[63] Cf. Meiggs (1972), 129-51 for a lengthy and thorough discussion of the likelihood and terms of the Peace of Kallias, which firmly concludes that the Peace did in fact exist. Thucydides’ silence is seen as strange and embarrassing, and one of the strongest arguments in the hands of doubters of the Peace. Meiggs bravely admits that ‘no convincing explanation has been given’ for Thucydides’ omission of the Peace and that ‘the best that can be offered…is a palliative’ (p. 140): the unfinished nature of the Pentekontaetia (and indeed the entire history) is the principal one cited. Gomme (1945), 331-5, 364-70 had roughly the same opinion.

 

I wish to acknowledge the helpful comments of E. Badian, John Barron, and an anonymous referee on an earlier draft of this paper, though naturally none of them should be held responsible for such errors as remain, nor for the views presented. I also wish to thank Harvard University, the Winston Churchill Foundation, and the National Science Foundation for their financial support during the preparation of this paper.

[64] Key: E = Early; M = Mid; L = Late; s = Spring; S = Summer; A = Autumn; W = Winter; Boldface type = Attested.

[65] Deane [1972], 136-7.

 
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