Cornelius Nepos : Life of Timotheus

Translated by J.C. Rolfe (1929). Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each chapter.   Click on ** to go to the translator's footnotes.


XII.   Chabrias   


  [1] L   Timotheus, the Athenian, son of Conon. This man increased by his many accomplishments the glory which he had inherited from his father; for he was eloquent, energetic and industrious; he was skilled in the art of war and equally so in statesmanship.  2 Many are his illustrious deeds, but the following are the most celebrated; his arms were victorious over the Olynthians and the Byzantines; he took Samos, and although in a former war the Athenians had spent twelve hundred talents in the siege of that town, ** he restored it to the people without any expense to the state. He waged war against  Cotus ** and gained booty to the value of twelve hundred talents, which he paid into the public treasury.  3 He freed Cyzicus from a blockade. With Agesilaus he went to the aid of Ariobarzanes, and while the Laconian accepted a cash payment for his services, ** Timotheus preferred that his fellow-citizens should have additional territory and cities, rather than that he should receive a recompense of which he could bear a part home with him. Accordingly, he was given Crithote and Sestus.  

  [2] L   Again put in command of the fleet, he sailed around the Peloponnese and pillaged the land of the  Laconians, put their fleet to flight, and brought Corcyra under the sway of Athens; he also joined to Athens as allies the Epirotes, Athamanes, Chaones, and all the peoples bordering on that part of the sea.  2 Thereupon the Lacedaemonians gave up a long-continued contest, and voluntarily yielded to the Athenians the first place in maritime power, making peace on terms which acknowledged the supremacy of Athens on the sea. That victory filled the people of Attica with such great joy that then for the first time an altar was publicly consecrated to Peace and a feast established in her honour. **  3 In order to perpetuate the memory of so glorious a deed, the Athenians set up a statue of Timotheus in the agora, at the cost of the state. This was an honour which had fallen to him alone of all men up to that time, namely, that when the state had erected a statue to a father, a son received the same tribute. ** Thus the new statue of the son, placed beside that of the father, revived the memory of the latter, which had now grown old.  

  [3] L   When Timotheus was advanced in years and had ceased to hold office, war began to threaten the Athenians from every quarter: Samos had revolted, the Hellespont had seceded, ** Philip of Macedon, who was even then powerful, was making many plots. Against the last-named Chares ** had been sent, but was not thought capable of defending the country.  2 Menestheus, son of Iphicrates and son-in-law of Timotheus, was made general, and it was decided that he should undertake that war. He was given as advisers two men eminent for their experience and wisdom, his father and his father-in-law, since they had such high standing as to inspire strong hopes that through them what had been lost might be recovered.  3 The three then sailed for Samos, and Chares, who had been advised of their coming, went with his forces to the same place, in order that nothing might seem to have been done without his presence. As they were drawing near to the island, it chanced that a great storm arose, and the two old generals, thinking it best to avoid it, anchored their fleet.  4 But Chares, adopting a bold course, did not heed the advice of his elders, believing that he was the master of fortune. He arrived at his destination, and sent word to Timotheus and Iphicrates to join him.  

  Then, having suffered defeat and lost a number of his ships, he returned to the place from which he had set out and sent an official report to Athens, alleging that he could easily have taken Samos if he had not been left in the lurch by Timotheus and Iphicrates.  5 The Athenians, being impulsive, distrustful and therefore changeable, hostile and envious (moreover, the men who were accused were powerful), summoned them all back home . ** They were cited to appear in court and accused of treason. Timotheus was found guilty and his fine was fixed at one hundred talents. Whereupon, driven by indignation at his country's ingratitude, he withdrew to Chalcis . **   

  [4] L   After his death the people repented of the sentence they had passed upon Timotheus, remitted nine-tenths of the fine, and required his son Conon to pay, for repairing a part of the city wall, only ten talents. In this event we see the inconsistency of Fortune; for the very walls which his grandfather had restored to his country from booty taken from the enemy the younger Conon was compelled to repair from his own estate with great dishonour to his family.  2 Now Timotheus lived a well-regulated and wise life; although I might give many proofs of this, I shall content myself with one, from which it may easily be imagined how dear he was to his friends. When he was a young man ** and was involved in a law-suit at Athens, not only did his friends at home and those abroad ** in private station flock to his defence, but among the latter was none other than Jason, tyrant of Thessaly, at that time the most powerful of all such rulers.  3 That great man, although he did not think himself safe even in his own country without guards, came to Athens without a single attendant, being so devoted to his guest-friend that he preferred to risk his own life rather than fail Timotheus when he was defending his honour. Yet Timotheus afterwards, by order of the people, made war upon this very Jason, regarding the rights of his country as more sacred than those of hospitality.   

   4 The era of Athenian generals came to an end with Iphicrates, Chabrias and Timotheus, and after the death of those eminent men no general in that city was worthy of notice.   

   5 I now pass to the bravest and ablest man of all the barbarians, with the exception of the two Carthaginians, Hamilcar and Hannibal.  6 About him I shall give the more details, because the greater number of his exploits are less familiar and because his successes were due, not to the greatness of his forces, but to his strategy, in which he excelled all the men of his day. And unless the true inwardness of these successes be explained, his career cannot be understood. 

XIV.   Datames →



1.   In 444-439 B.C., when Samos, which had revolted from Athens, was reduced by Pericles.   

2.   See note to xi. 3. 4.   

3.   Cf. xvii. 7. 2.   

4.   Pulvinar is the cushion on which the image of the goddess was placed, in order that offerings might be set before her. Altars to Peace had existed earlier, the new departure was the annual offering.   

5.   According to Demosthenes (xx. 70), Conon was the first to be honoured with a statue, after Harmodius and Aristogeiton.   

6.   The reference is to the Social War of 357-355 B.C. Nepos is inaccurate in the details.   

7.   He is mentioned also in xii. 3.4. and xix. 2.3.   

8.   This sentence is difficult and probably corrupt. On potentiae . . . vocabantur cf. i. 8.1; ii. 8. 1.   

9.   In 355 B.C.; he died the same year.   

10.   This was in 373 B.C. ; as Timotheus was then forty years of age, adulescentulus is used without diminutive force, as is not unusual in colloquial speech.   

11.   Hospites were those in other states with whom he had relations of guest-friendship; see note to ii. 8. 3.   

XIV.   Datames →

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