Miltiades the younger

Born into the rich and aristocratic Philaïd family, he began his career under the Athenian tyrant Hippias (1). In around 522 B.C. Miltiades left Athens for the Thracian Chersonese—the 50-mile-long peninsula that forms the European side of the Hellespont—to rule the region, inherited from his maternal uncle, the elder Miltiades.

There the young Miltiades reigned as turannos (dictator) over native Thracians and Athenian colonists, but served as a vassal of the Persian king Darius (1). Miltiades married a Thracian king's daughter, who bore his son Kimon. Like other eastern Greek rulers, Miltiades took part in Darius' expedition across the Danube into Scythia (ca. 513 B.C. ). However, after participating in the doomed Ionian Revolt against Darius, Miltiades fled back to Athens (493 B.C. ).

Athens, by then a full-fledged Democracy, was entirely different from the place that Miltiades had left 30 years before. In the turbulent political climate, Miltiades had enemies who resented his prior dictatorship in the Chersonese and his association with Hippias. But before long Miltiades moved to the political fore, being elected as one of Athens' generals for the year 490 B.C.

That summer, when a seaborne Persian army landed at Marathon with the aim of capturing Athens, it was Miltiades who convinced the Athenian commander-in-chief to attack, rather than just defend the city walls. The Battle of Marathon—a complete victory by an outnumbered force over a supposedly invincible foe—was one of the crucial moments in Greek history. The unique battle plan, involving an enveloping tactic by the army's wings, probably came from Miltiades.

When Miltiades claimed a garland. Sochares of Decelea stood up in the midst of the assembly and opposed it, using the words which though ungracious, were received with applause by the people. "When you have gained a victory by yourself, Miltiades, then you may ask to triumph so too."

His glory lasted barely a year. Ambitious, he led a 70-ship Athenian fleet to seize Paros, a wealthy Greek island that had submitted to Darius. But the attack failed, and the 60-year-old Miltiades, with a badly injured knee, returned to face public anger at Athens. The left-wing leader Xanthippus accused Miltiades of deceiving the Athenian people. The hero of Marathon was tried and convicted in the Assembly and fined a ruinous 50 Talents. Soon Miltiades died from his gangrenous injury, and the fine was paid by the young Kimon (himself destined to become the foremost Athenian soldier and statesman of his day).

Among the ancient artifacts now displayed at the Olympia museum is a Greek Hoplite helmet discovered by archaeologists in CE 1961 and inscribed with the words in Greek, "Miltiades dedicated this to Zeus." Presumably it is Miltiades' own helmet, worn at battle vs the Persians while at the Chersonese peninsula and afterward given as an offering to the king of the gods and the lord of victory.

Name: Miltiades
Name in Greek: Μιλτιαδης
Name means: red earth
Father: Kimon the elder
Born: 550 B.C.
Native City: Athens
Clan: Philaïd
Died: 489 B.C.
Reason of death: Gangrene from the Siege of Naxos


1st wife: ?
Children of 1st wife: Metiochus
2nd wife: Hegesipyle, the daughter of King Olorus of Thrace
Children of 2nd wife:


Copyright 2006 to 2012 | All Rights Reserved