Timotheus (general)

Last updated
Possible portrait of Timotheos, wearing a victory wreath, on an electrum stater of Kyzikos, mid 4th century BC. MYSIA, Kyzikos. Early-mid 4th centuries BC. Portrait of Timotheos.jpg
Possible portrait of Timotheos, wearing a victory wreath, on an electrum stater of Kyzikos, mid 4th century BC.

Timotheus (Greek : Τιμόθεος; died 354 BC) was a Greek statesman and general who sought to revive Athenian imperial ambitions by making Athens dominant in a Second Athenian League. He was the son of the Athenian general, Conon. Isocrates considered that Timotheus was superior to the other commanders of his time and showed all the requisites and abilities of a good general. [2]



From 378 BC to 356 BC, Timotheus frequently held command as "strategos" in the wars between Athens (in alliance with Thebes), and Sparta. At this time, Athens' ambition was to revive the Delian League and to regain command of the sea. In 375 BC, during the Boeotian War, Timotheus was sent with a fleet to sail round Peloponnesus by way of a demonstration of Athens' power against Sparta. He persuaded Cephallenia to side with Athens and secured the friendship of the Acarnanians and Molossians. In 373 BC, 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 increase their manpower he cruised in the Aegean. The delay upset the Athenians, who brought him to trial; but, thanks to the intervention of his allies – Jason, tyrant of Pherae, and Alcetas I of Epirus, King of the Molossians, both of whom went to Athens to plead his cause he was acquitted. [3] In way of support, Amyntas, King of Macedon, sent timber to Timeotheus' house in the Piraeus. Upon his acquittal, he went to sea with his fleet and captured Corcyra and then defeated the Spartans at sea off Alyzia (Acarnania).[ citation needed ] However, with little money to his name—for he had used his own funds to build up the Athenian fleet—he left Athens and took service with the king of Persia as a mercenary. [3]

Asia Minor

Having returned to Athens, in 366 BC he was sent to support Ariobarzanes, satrap of Phrygia. But, finding that the satrap was in open rebellion against Persia (Revolt of the Satraps), Timotheus, in line with his instructions, abstained from helping him and rather used his army against Samos, then occupied by a Persian garrison, and took it after a ten months' siege (366 BC-365 BC). He then took Sestus, Crithote, Torone, Potidaea, Methone, Pydna and many other cities; but two attempts to capture Amphipolis failed. [3]

Court case

An action was brought against him by Apollodorus, the son of the banker Pasion, for the return of money lent by his father. The speech for the plaintiff is still extant, and is attributed to Demosthenes (see also Pseudo-Demosthenes). It is interesting as it describes 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. [3]

Social War

In 358 BC or 357 BC, an Athenian force, in response to a spirited appeal from Timotheus, crossed over to Euboea and expelled the Thebans in three days. In the course of the Social War Timotheus was dispatched 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 the advice of his colleagues, lost many ships. [3]

Final years

In his dispatches after the battle, Chares complained so bitterly about Iphicrates and Timotheus that the Athenians put them on their trial. The accusers were Chares and Aristophon. Iphicrates, who had fewer enemies than Timotheus, was acquitted; but Timotheus, who had always been disliked for his perceived arrogance, was condemned to pay a very heavy fine. Being unable to pay, he withdrew to Chalcis, where he died soon afterwards. The Athenians later showed their sorrow over the treatment of Timotheus by forgiving the greater part of the fine that had passed onto his son Conon to pay. Timotheus was buried in the Ceramicus and statues were erected to his memory in the Agora and the Acropolis. [3]


Timotheus inspired much jealousy among his rivals, his reputation somewhat tarnished by the record of his final years. Claudius Aelianus sums up much of the negative perception of Timotheus' generalship. Note that the Athenian general Timotheus was reckoned to be fortunate. People said fortune was responsible, and Timotheus had no part in it. They ridiculed him on the stage, and painters portrayed him asleep, with Tyche (Fortune) hovering above his head and pulling the cities into her net. This commentary is balanced by the credible picture (presented by Isocrates) of a skilled and cautious general, magnanimous victor and low-key diplomat.[ citation needed ]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Peloponnesian War</span> War between Athens and Sparta (431–404 BC)

The Peloponnesian War was an ancient Greek war fought between Athens and Sparta and their respective allies for the hegemony of the Greek world. The war remained undecided for a long time, until the decisive intervention of the Persian Empire in support of Sparta. Led by Lysander, the Spartan fleet, built with Persian subsidies, finally defeated Athens and started a period of Spartan hegemony over Greece.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">400s BC (decade)</span> Decade

This article concerns the period 409 BC – 400 BC.

This article concerns the period 429 BC – 420 BC.

This decade witnessed the continuing decline of the Achaemenid Empire, fierce warfare amongst the Greek city-states during the Peloponnesian War, the ongoing Warring States period in Zhou dynasty China, and the closing years of the Olmec civilization in modern-day Mexico.

This article concerns the period 399 BC – 390 BC.

This article concerns the period 379 BC – 370 BC.

This article concerns the period 369 BC – 360 BC

This article concerns the period 359 BC – 350 BC.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thrasybulus</span> Athenian general and politician (c. 440 – 388 BC)

Thrasybulus was an Athenian general and democratic leader. In 411 BC, in the wake of an oligarchic coup at Athens, the pro-democracy sailors at Samos elected him as a general, making him a primary leader of the ultimately successful democratic resistance to the coup. As general, he was responsible for recalling the controversial nobleman Alcibiades from exile, and the two worked together extensively over the next several years. In 411 and 410, Thrasybulus was in command along with Alcibiades and others at several critical Athenian naval victories.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Conon</span> 5th/4th-century Athenian statesman and general

Conon was an Athenian general at the end of the Peloponnesian War, who led the Athenian naval forces when they were defeated by a Peloponnesian fleet in the crucial Battle of Aegospotami; later he contributed significantly to the restoration of Athens' political and military power.

Year 392 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Poplicola and Capitolinus. The denomination 392 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.

Year 356 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Ambustus and Laenas. The denomination 356 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.

Cotys I or Kotys I was a king of the Odrysians in Thrace from 384 BC to his murder in 360 BC. He was known to have been born during the reign of Seuthes I, based on ancient sources and date of birth estimates for Cotys, his daughter who married the Athenian general Iphicrates, and her son Menestheus. According to Harpokration, he reigned for 24 years, which places his accession in 384 BC. Although his origins are actually unknown, An Athenian inscription dated to 330 BC, which honors Reboulas, brother of Cotys and son of king Seuthes. As the ordinal of Seuthes is not mentioned, it was unclear, however, which of the preceding kings named Seuthes is meant by the inscription. While scholars originally believed Seuthes II to be the father of Cotys I, now it is known that Seuthes I was his father, as Seuthes II was only 7 years old at the time of Seuthes I's abdication in 411 BC.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pharnabazus II</span> Persian satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia from 413 to 374 BC

Pharnabazus II was a Persian soldier and statesman, and Satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia. He was the son of Pharnaces II of Phrygia and grandson of Pharnabazus I, and great-grandson of Artabazus I. He and his male ancestors, forming the Pharnacid dynasty, had governed the satrapy of Hellespontine Phrygia from its headquarters at Dascylium since 478 BC. He married Apama, daughter of Artaxerxes II of Persia, and their son Artabazus also became a satrap of Phrygia. According to some accounts, his granddaughter Barsine may have become Alexander the Great's concubine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Corinthian War</span> Ancient Greek war (395–387 BC)

The Corinthian War was a conflict in ancient Greece which pitted Sparta against a coalition of city-states comprising Thebes, Athens, Corinth and Argos, backed by the Achaemenid Empire. The war was caused by dissatisfaction with Spartan imperialism in the aftermath of the Peloponnesian War, both from Athens, the defeated side in that conflict, and from Sparta's former allies, Corinth and Thebes, who had not been properly rewarded. Taking advantage of the fact that the Spartan king Agesilaus II was away campaigning in Asia against the Achaemenid Empire, Thebes, Athens, Corinth and Argos forged an alliance in 395 BC with the goal of ending Spartan hegemony over Greece; the allies' war council was located in Corinth, which gave its name to the war. By the end of the conflict, the allies had failed to end Spartan hegemony over Greece, although Sparta was durably weakened by the war.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Cnidus</span> 394 BCE naval engagement between the Achaemenid Empire and Sparta

The Battle of Cnidus was a military operation conducted in 394 BC by the Achaemenid Empire against the Spartan naval fleet during the Corinthian War. A fleet under the joint command of Pharnabazus and former Athenian admiral, Conon, destroyed the Spartan fleet led by the inexperienced Peisander, ending Sparta's brief bid for naval supremacy.

Charidemus, of Oreus in Euboea, was an ancient Greek mercenary leader of the 4th century BC. He had a complicated relationship with Athens, sometimes aiding the city in its efforts to secure its interests in the northern Aegean, sometimes working against it. He was castigated by Demosthenes in his oration Against Aristocrates for repeated treacherous actions toward Athens, yet later he received Athenian citizenship and was elected one of its generals. In this capacity he ran afoul of Alexander III of Macedon and was ordered into banishment after the destruction of Thebes in 335. He retired to Persia, where he was first honored by the Great King, but was later executed after sneering at the quality of the Persian army.

<i>Hellenica</i> Work by Xenophon

Hellenica simply means writings on Greek (Hellenic) subjects. Several histories of 4th-century Greece, written in the mould of Thucydides or straying from it, have borne the conventional Latin title Hellenica. The surviving Hellenica is an important work of the Ancient Greek writer Xenophon and one of the principal sources for the last seven years of the Peloponnesian War not covered by Thucydides, as well as the war's aftermath.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chares of Athens</span> 4th-century BCE Athenian politician and general

Chares of Athens was a 4th-century BC Athenian military commander (Strategos), who for a number of years was one of Athens's foremost commanders. He was also a well connected politician enabling him to procure the commands he desired, commands he primarily used to enrich himself and his adherents.

The Social War, also known as the War of the Allies, was fought from 357 BC to 355 BC between Athens with the Second Athenian League and the allied city-states of Chios, Rhodes, Cos and Byzantion.


  1. Leo Mildenberg, "The Cyzicenes, a Reappraisal", American Journal of Numismatics, Vol. 5/6 (1993-94), pp. 1-12.
  2. Isocrates. Antidosis, Section 117.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Chisholm 1911.