Callias II

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Callias (Greek: Καλλίας, translit. Kallias) was an Ancient Greek statesman, soldier and diplomat, active in 5th century BC. 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.[1]

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.[2] Callias fought at the Battle of Marathon (490) in priestly attire. Plutarch relates that after the battle, an enemy soldier confused Callias for a king and showed him where a large quantity of gold had been hidden in a ditch. Callias is said to have killed the man and secretly taken the treasure, though afterward rumor spread of the incident and comic poets gave his family the name Laccopluti, or "enriched by the ditch." 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.[2] In about 461 BC he made at least one journey as ambassador to the Persian king Artaxerxes I.[2]

Some time after the death of Cimon, probably about 449 BC [2][3] 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.[2] 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.[4]

Callias' fate upon his return to Athens remains a mystery and information about his later years remain only fragmentary. Some sources[citation needed] 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,[3] that the Athenians dedicated an altar of peace and voted special honours to Callias.


  1. ^ (in English) Ian Christopher Storey. Eupolis: Poet of Old Comedy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 180. ISBN 9780199259922.
  2. ^ a b c d e (in English) David Sacks; Oswyn Murray (2009). Lisa R. Brody, ed. Encyclopedia of the Ancient Greek World. Facts on File library of world history. New York: Infobase Publishing. p. 177. ISBN 9781438110202.
  3. ^ a b (in English) Matthew Dillon; Lynda Garland. Ancient Greece: Social and Historical Documents from Archaic Times to the Death of Alexander the Great. Routledge Sourcebooks for the Ancient World. Abingdon: Taylor & Francis. p. 402. ISBN 9780415473293.
  4. ^ (in English) Benjamin D. Meritt; H. T. Wade-Gery; Malcolm F. McGregor (1968). The Athenian Tribute Lists. III. Princeton, New Jersey: American School of Classical Studies at Athens. p. 277. ISBN 9780876619131.