Callias (Greek: Καλλίας Kallias) was an Ancient Greek statesman, soldier and diplomat, active in 5th century BCE. He is commonly known as Callias II to distinguish him from his grandfather, Callias I, and from his grandson, Callias III, who apparently squandered the family's fortune.
Born to the wealthy Athenian family which provided slaves to the state-owned silver mine of Laurion, he was one of the richest men in Athens. Callias fought at the Battle of Marathon (490) in priestly attire. His son, Hipponicus, was a military commander.
A supporter of Pericles, who was the effective leader of Athens during this period, Callias took on the role of diplomat and ambassador for Athens and the Delian League. In about 461 BC he made at least one journey as ambassador to the Persian king Artaxerxes I.
Some time after the death of Cimon, probably about 449 BC   he went to Susa to conclude with Artaxerxes I a treaty of peace which became known as the Peace of Callias. This treaty ended the Greco-Persian War and safeguarded the Greek city-states in Asia Minor from Persian attacks. Callias may also been responsible for peace treaties with Rhegion and Leontinoi, as well as the later peace treaty with Sparta known as the Thirty Years' Peace.
Callias' fate upon his return to Athens remains a mystery and information about his later years remain only fragmentary. Some sources allege that his mission to Artaxerxes does not seem to have been successful and that he was indicted for high treason on his return to Athens and sentenced to a fine of fifty talents. Others claim, that the Athenians dedicated an altar of peace and voted special honours to Callias.
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- Herodotus vii. 151; Diodorus Siculus xii. 4; Demosthenes, De Falsa Legatione, p. 428; Grote recognizes the treaty as a historical fact, History of Greece, ch. xlv, while Curtius, bk. iii. ch. ii, denies the conclusion of any formal treaty; see also Ed. Meyer, Forschungen., ii.; JB Bury in Hermathena, xxiv (1898).
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.