Nepos, Life of Timotheus

Cornelius Nepos: Life of Timotheus, Lives of Eminent Commanders, Translated by the Rev. John Selby Watson, MA (1886). A work in the public domain edited and placed on line by Roger Pearse at This text has 22 tagged references to 17 ancient places.
CTS URN: urn:cts:latinLit:phi0588.abo013; Wikidata ID: Q87769148; Trismegistos: authorwork/122     [Open Latin text in new tab]

§ 1  Timotheus, the son of Conon, a native of Athens, increased the glory which he inherited from his father by many excellent qualities of his own; for he was eloquent, active, persevering, skilled in military affairs, and not less so in managing those of the state. Many honourable actions of his are recorded, the following are the most famous. He subdued the Olynthians and Byzantians by force of arms; he took Samos, on the siege of which, in a previous war, the Athenians had spent twelve hundred talents. This sum he restored to the people without any expense to them; for he carried on a war against Cotys, and thence brought twelve hundred talents' worth of spoil into the public treasury. He relieved Cyzicus from a siege; he went with Agesilaus to the assistance of Ariobarzanes; but while the Lacedaemonians received ready money from him in requital, he chose rather to have his countrymen enriched with lands and towns, than to take that of which he himself might carry a share to his own home; and he accordingly received from him Crithote and Sestos.

Event Date: -375 LA

§ 2  Being made commander of the fleet, and sailing round the Peloponnesus, he laid waste Laconia, and defeated its naval force. He also reduced Corcyra under the power of the Athenians, and attached to them, as allies, the Epirots, the Athamanians, the Chaonians, and all those nations which lie on the sea. After this occurrence, the Lacedaemonians desisted from the protracted struggle, and yielded, of their own accord, the sovereignty at sea to the Athenians, making peace upon these terms, "that the Athenians should be commanders by sea." This victory gave so much delight to the Athenians, that altars were then first publicly erected to Peace, and a pulvinar decreed to that goddess. And that the remembrance of this glorious action might be preserved, they raised a statue to Timotheus in the forum at the public expense. Such an honour, that, after the people had erected a statue to the father, they should also present one to the son, happened, down to that period, to him alone. Thus the new statue of the son, placed close by the other, revived old recollections of the father.

Event Date: -375 LA

§ 3  When he was at an advanced age, and had ceased to hold any office, the Athenians began to be pressed with war on every side. Samos had revolted; the Hellespont had deserted them; Philip of Macedon, then very powerful, was making many efforts; and in Chares, who had been opposed to him, there was not thought to be sufficient defence. Menestheus, the son of Iphicrates, and son-in-law of Timotheus, was in consequence made commander, and a decree was passed that he should proceed to take the management of the war. These two persons, his father and father-in-law, men eminent in experience and wisdom, were appointed to give him advice, for there was such force of character in them, that great hopes were entertained that what had been lost might be recovered by their means. When they had set out for Samos; and Chares, having heard of their approach, was also proceeding thither with his force, lest anything should appear to be done in his absence, it happened that, as they drew near the island, a great storm arose, which the two veteran commanders, thinking it expedient to avoid, checked the progress of their fleet. But Chares, taking a rash course, would not submit to the advice of his elders, but, as if success depended on his own vessel, pushed his way for the point to which he had been steering, and sent orders to Timotheus and Iphicrates to follow him thither. But having subsequently mis-managed the affair, and lost several ships, he returned to the same place from which he had come, and despatched a letter to the government at Athens, saying that it would have been easy for him to take Samos, if he had not been left unsupported by Timotheus and Iphicrates. On this charge they were impeached. The people, violent, suspicious, fickle, and unfavourable to them, recalled them home; and they were brought to trial for treason. On this charge Timotheus was found guilty, and his fine was fixed at a hundred talents; when, compelled by the hatred of an ungrateful people, he sought a refuge at Chalcis.

Event Date: -375 LA

§ 4  After his death, when the people had repented of the sentence passed upon him, they took off nine-tenths of the fine, and ordered that his son Conon should give ten talents to repair a certain portion of the wall. In this occurrence was seen the changeableness of fortune; for the grandson was obliged, to the great scandal of his family, to repair, out of his own estate, the same walls which his grandfather Conon had rebuilt with the spoil taken from the enemy.
Of the temperate and judicious life of Timotheus, though we could produce a great many proofs, we will be content with one, from which it may be easily conjectured how dear he was to his friends. When he was brought to trial, while quite a young man, at Athens, not only his friends, and others connected with him by ties of private hospitality, came to give him their support, but among them also the tyrant Jason, who at that time was the most powerful of all men. Jason, though he did not think himself safe in his own country without guards, came to Athens unattended, having such value for his guest-friend, that he chose to hazard his life rather than not stand by Timotheus when he was contending for his honour. Yet Timotheus, under an order from the people, carried on a war against him afterwards, for he considered the rights of his country more sacred than those of hospitality.
This was the last age of Athenian commanders; the age of Iphicrates, Chabrias, and Timotheus; nor, after their death, was there any leader worthy of remembrance in that city.

Event Date: -375 LA
Event Date: -40

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