Aristides Greek: (Ἀριστείδης) 530–468 BC was an ancient Athenian statesman. Nicknamed "the Just", he flourished in the early quarter of Athens' Classical period and is remembered for his generalship in the Persian War. The ancient historian Herodotus cited him as "the best and most honourable man in Athens" and he received similarly reverent treatment in Plato's Socratic dialogues.
Aristides was the son of Lysimachus, and a member of a family of moderate fortune. Of his early life, it is only told that he became a follower of the statesman Cleisthenes and sided with the aristocratic party in Athenian politics. He first came to notice as strategos in command of his native tribe Antiochis at the Battle of Marathon, and it was no doubt in consequence of the distinction which he then achieved that he was elected archon eponymos for the ensuing year (489–488). Pursuing a conservative policy to maintain Athens as a land power, he was one of the chief opponents of the naval policy proposed by Themistocles.
According to Plutarch, the rivalry between Aristides and Themistocles began in their youth, when they competed for the love of a beautiful boy called Stesilaüs from Ceos. The conflict between the two leaders ended in the ostracism of Aristides at a date variously given between 485 and 482. It is said that, on this occasion, an illiterate voter who did not recognise Aristides approached the statesman and requested that he write the name of Aristides on his voting shard to ostracize him. The latter asked if Aristides had wronged him. "No," was the reply, "and I do not even know him, but it irritates me to hear him everywhere called 'the Just'." Aristides then wrote his own name on the ballot.
Early in 480, Aristides profited by the decree recalling exiles to help in the defence of Athens against Persian invaders, and was elected strategos for the year 480–479. In the Battle of Salamis, he gave loyal support to Themistocles, and crowned the victory by landing Athenian infantry on the island of Psyttaleia and annihilating the Persian garrison stationed there.
Aristides warned by Alexander I of Macedon of the impending Persian attack at the Battle of Plataea, 479 BC.
In 479, he was re-elected strategos, and given special powers as commander of the Athenian forces at the Battle of Plataea; he is also said to have suppressed a conspiracy among some in the army. He so won the confidence of the Ionian allies that, after revolting from the Spartan admiral Pausanias, they gave him the chief command and left him with absolute discretion in fixing the contributions of the newly formed confederacy, the Delian League. His assessment was universally accepted as equitable, and continued as the basis of taxation for the greater part of the league's duration. He continued to hold a predominant position in Athens. At first he seems to have remained on good terms with Themistocles, whom he is said to have helped in outwitting the Spartans over the rebuilding of the walls of Athens.
After the events of Plateae, Aristides led 30 Athenian ships in the Greek fleet, led by Pausanias, to free the lands of Byzantium and the island of Cyprus from Persian rule. The Delian League’s leadership was entrusted to Aristides, who had proven himself as a skilled and just statesman. He established the fund of the League in Delos, which Pericles later moved to Athens.
Aristides was not a democrat. His political beliefs placed him on the side of the Spartans. He admired mostly Lycurgus, the founder of the Spartan political system. Combined with his immense fame and glory, Aristides was a target of hatred and by the Athenians, especially the politicians, who were very jealous of him. Nonetheless, Aristides did not care what other people believed about him, as long as he did the right thing. He was characterized by a strong sense of justice, morality, prudence and philopatry.
According to tradition, when the Athenians were voting on Aristides’ exile, an illiterate peasant approached Aristides and asked him to write Aristides’ name on the ostracon. Aristides, without revealing his identity asked the peasant the reason why he was voting in favour of his exile. The peasant replied “I don’t even know him, but I am tired of constantly hearing that he is “just”. Without hesitating, Aristides carved his name in the ostracon and gave it to the peasant. In the end, he died in complete poverty with all of Greece’s treasures in his hands.
He is said by some authorities to have died at Athens, by others on a journey to the Black Sea. The date of his death is given by Nepos as 468. He lived to witness the ostracism of Themistocles, towards whom he always displayed generosity, but he died before the rise of Pericles. His estate seems to have suffered severely from the Persian invasions, for apparently he did not leave enough money to defray the expenses of his burial, and it is known that his descendants even in the 4th century received state pensions.
Robert E Lee
As soon as I saw the photographs of Aristides I recognised him as General Robert Edward Lee! Xanthippus was great friends with Aristides and fought together against the Persians on several occasions.
Robert Edward Lee (January 19, 1807 – October 12, 1870) was an American and Confederate soldier best known as a commander of the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He commanded the Army of Northern Virginia from 1862 until its surrender in 1865 and earned a reputation as a skilled tactician.
Cultural Icon of the South
In 1865, Lee became president of Washington College (later Washington and Lee University) in Lexington, Virginia; in that position, he supported reconciliation between North and South. He accepted "the extinction of slavery" provided for by the Thirteenth Amendment, but opposed racial equality for African Americans and died in 1870. Lee enjoys the status of a cultural icon in the South and is largely hailed as one of the Civil War's greatest generals. As commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, he fought most of his battles against armies of significantly larger size, and managed to win many of them. He built up a collection of talented subordinates, most notably James Longstreet, Stonewall Jackson, and J. E. B. Stuart, who along with Lee were critical to the Confederacy's battlefield success. In spite of his success, his two major strategic offensives into Union territory both ended in failure. His aggressive and risky tactics, especially at Gettysburg, which resulted in high casualties at a time when the Confederacy had a shortage of manpower, have come under criticism.
When I was 17 years of age I produced a bust sculpture of a Confederate General Head which graced the Headmaster study. Plus two oil painting of General JEB Stuart and The surrender at Appomattox Court House 1865.