Cornelius Nepos : Life of Aristides

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.


II.   Themistocles


  [1] L   Aristides the Athenian, son of Lysimachus, was of about the same age as Themistocles, and consequently disputed with him the first rank in the state; for they were rivals. 2 In fact, the history of these two men makes clear the extent to which eloquence has the advantage of integrity. For although Aristides so excelled in honesty that he is the only one within the memory of man - at least, so far as we have heard - who was given the title of  the 'Just,' yet his influence was undermined by Themistocles and he was exiled for ten years by that well-known process known as the shard-vote. ** 3 Aristides himself, when he realised that the excited populace could not be quieted, and, as he was withdrawing, saw a man in the act of voting that he should be banished, is said to have asked him why he did so, and what Aristides had done to be thought deserving of such a punishment. 4 To which the man replied that he did not know Aristides, but that he was displeased because he had worked so hard to be distinguished from other men by the surname of 'the Just.' ** 5 Aristides did not complete the legal penalty of ten years; for when Xerxes descended upon Greece, in about the sixth year of his exile, he was restored to his native land by decree of the people.   

  [2] L   Aristides took part besides in the naval battle at Salamis, although it was fought before his recall. He was also general of the Athenians at Plataea in the battle in which Mardonius was defeated and the army of the barbarians was slaughtered. 2 Although there is no other brilliant exploit in his military career except the memory of that command, ** there are many instances of his justice, equity and integrity; in particular, that it was due to his equity, when he was on the fleet of the Greek allies in company with Pausanias, the general who had routed Mardonius, that the supremacy of the sea passed from the Lacedaemonians to the Athenians. 3 Until then, indeed, the Lacedaemonians had held the lead on land and sea, but at that time the arrogance of Pausanias and the justice of Aristides led almost all the Greek cities to seek alliance with the Athenians and choose them as their leaders against the barbarians.   

  [3] L   In order to repel the Persians more easily, if by any chance they should attempt to renew the war, Aristides was appointed to determine how much money each state should contribute for the purpose of building fleets and raising armies; and in accordance with his decision four hundred and sixty talents were deposited each year at Delos. That place was selected as the treasury of the league, but later ** all that money was transported to Athens.   

  2 There is no more certain proof of Aristides' integrity than the fact that, although he was entrusted with the management of such important affairs, he left so little money at his death, that there was hardly enough to pay his funeral expenses. 3 The result was that his daughters were supported by the state and, when , they married, were provided with dowries from the public treasury. Aristides died about four years after Themistocles had been banished from Athens.

IV.   Pausanias →



1.   See note on ii. 8. 1.   

2.   According to one version of the story, the man could not write and Aristides wrote his own name for him on the shard.   

3.   He was one of the generals at Marathon, and later against the Persians in Cyprus and on the Hellespont; cf. iv. 2. 1.  

4.   In the time of Pericles; quae omnia pecunia means the contributions as a whole, except what had been expended.   

IV.   Pausanias →

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