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Who's Who Ancient Greece: Civic Affairs

Aristidis the Just (540 - 480 BC)

Political and military leader

Aristidis is a name in use in modern times tooAthenian politician and general, this leader was known for his honesty, integrity and his fervent patriotism and devotion to the Athenian state.

Born in Athens he died in the Black Sea region during his travels in the service of the state. He was one of the ten generals involved in the Battle of Marathon, in 490 BC, said to have done all in his power to ensure victory, and that the Athenians entrusted him with both prisoners of war and prizes from that battle when the army left for Phaleron to prevent a possible Persian attack. He resigned from his position of general when his turn came to assume the role of commander-in-chief of the army, persuading the other eight generals to do the same so that the role fell instead to Miltiades, the most experienced, and hence most deserving, of this post.

The following year, he was elected governor (archon) of Athens, and represented the conservative faction, in oppositon to the democratic faction, led by Themistoklis.

He was ostracized and exiled to the island of Aegina in 482 BC for his opposition to Themistoklis' agenda (which involved building a powerful navy, at the expense of agriculture), though he was recalled from exile three years later by that same leader, who had succeeding in building up the navy.

Aristidhis fought under Themistoklis in the naval battle of Salamis against the Persians, and also in the battle of Plataea in 479 BC and in 478 BC headed the Greek fleet which sailed to Cyprus and Byzantium. He was put in charge of calculating the amount of the contributions of the city-states to the Delian League in 477 BC, so much was his honesty esteemed. When he died, the Athens buried him at public expense and provided dowries to his daughters and a generous gift to his son.