Timotheus (general)

From Academic Kids

Timotheus was an Athenian statesman and general, son of Conon, the restorer of the walls of Athens.

From 378-356 BC he frequently held command in the war between Athens (in alliance with Thebes), and Sparta. The object of Athens was to revive the Delian League and to regain command of the sea, and in 375 Timotheus was sent with a fleet to sail round Peloponnesus by way of demonstration against Sparta. He gained over Cephallenia, secured the friendship of the Acarnanians and Molossians, and took Corcyra, but used his victory with moderation. Want of funds and jealousy of the Thebans led to a short peace. In 373 Timotheus was appointed to the command of a fleet for the relief of Corcyra, then beleaguered by the Spartans. But his ships were not fully manned, and to recruit their strength he cruised in the Aegean. The delay excited the indignation of the Athenians, who brought him to trial; but, thanks to the exertions of his friends--Jason, tyrant of Pherae, and Alcetas, king of the Molossians, both of whom went to Athens to plead his cause--he was acquitted. He had previously been superseded in his command by Iphicrates. Being reduced to great poverty--for he had pledged his private property in order to put the fleet in an efficient state--he left Athens and took service with the king of Persia.

We next hear of him about 366, when, having returned to Athens, he was sent to support Ariobarzanes, satrap of Phrygia. But, finding that the satrap was in open revolt against Persia, Timotheus, in conformity with his instructions, abstained from helping him and turned his arms against Samos, then occupied by a Persian garrison, and took it after a ten months' siege (366-365). He then took Sestus, Crithote, Torone, Potidaea, Methone, Pydna and many other cities; but two attempts upon Amphipolis failed.

An action was brought against him by Apollodorus, the son of the banker Pasion, for the return of money lent by the father. The speech for the plaintiff is still extant, and is attributed (though not unanimously) to Demosthenes. It is interesting as showing the manner in which Timotheus had exhausted the large fortune inherited from his father and the straits to which he was reduced by his sacrifices in the public cause.

In 358 or 357, the Athenians, in response to a spirited appeal of Timotheus, crossed over to Euboea and expelled the Thebans in three days. In the course of the Social War Timotheus was despatched with Iphicrates, Menestheus, son of Iphicrates, and Chares to put down the revolt. The hostile fleets sighted each other in the Hellespont; but a gale was blowing, and Iphicrates and Timotheus decided not to engage. Chares, disregarding their opposition, lost many ships, and in his despatches he complained so bitterly of his colleagues that the Athenians put them on their trial. The accusers were Chares and Aristophon, both men of notoriously bad character. Iphicrates, who had fewer enemies than Timotheus, was acquitted; but Timotheus, who had always been disliked for his arrogance, was condemned to pay a very heavy fine. Being unable to pay, he withdrew to Chalcis, where he died soon afterwards. The Athenians showed their repentance by remitting the greater part of the fine to his son Conon. His remains were buried in the Ceramicus and statues erected to his memory in the agora and the acropolis.


See Life by Cornelius Nepos; Diodorus Siculus xv., xvi.; Isocrates, De permutatione; Pseudo-Demosthenes, Adversus Timotheum; C. Rehdantz, Vitae Iphicratis, Chabriae, Timothei (1845); and especially Holm, History of Greece (Eng. trans., vol. iii.).


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