Who was Aristides “The Just,” and Why Was He Kicked Out of Athens?

Published: December 21, 2020

By Jim Lichtman
Read More

“No good deed goes unpunished.” — Oscar Wilde, Irish poet and playwright

Reading about the greatest Greeks in history, I came across Aristides “The Just,” and wondered how a military general and politician came to be recognized for his moral rectitude.

Aristides, who lived between 530 – 468 BC, came to prominence as a strategos (general) who led Athens against Persian invaders in the Battle of Marathon. For his courage and decisiveness, Aristides was elected archon eponymos, chief magistrate of the Greek city-states.

As a political figure, Aristides avoided all personal glory and held the distinction of having the most spotless of reputations. He refused to take bribes, steal public money, or grant favors to his friends. (He’d never make it in today’s Senate.) So morally upright was he, that Greek historian Herodotus called him “…the best and most honorable man in Athens.”

“Pursuing a conservative policy to maintain Athens as a land power,” the website Alchetron writes, “[Aristides] was one of the chief opponents of the naval policy proposed by Themistocles.

“The conflict between the two leaders ended in the ostracism of Aristides… It is said that, on this occasion, an illiterate voter who did not recognize 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, 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.”

And thus, Aristides… “Just” packed up and left, a decision Athenians would soon regret.

Two years later, Greece was invaded, again, by the Persians who attacked them at the Battle of Thermopylae where 7,000 Spartans fought in a narrow pass, reportedly against 100,000 to 150,000 Persian fighters. Guess who won?

What happened, next?

You guessed it. The Greeks pleaded with Aristides to return and lead the Greek armies, again. Under his command, the great strategos defeated the Persian navy at the Battle of Salamis and the Battle of Plataea.

As written in the Intellectual Devotional (Biographies), “When the Greek alliance began to break down after the war, Aristides led the diplomatic effort to ensure that Athens, not Sparta, would emerge as the leading Greek city.

“Able to win the trust of other Greek cities because of his reputation for integrity, Aristides was one of the architects of the Delian League, a confederacy led by Athens.” United, the League would continue to fight the Persians.

According to philosopher and biographer, Plutarch, Aristides died in poverty before the rise of Pericles, the most prominent statesman, orator, and general during Athens’ Golden Age.

While Aristides’ honor was commendable, one wonders how long it would take before being kicked out of today’s Senate under emperor, Mitch McConnell.

Coming Christmas Eve: A New Hope


There are currently no comments. Why don't you kick things off?

Leave a Comment

Read More Articles
The Latest... And Sometimes Greatest
Fraud at the Polls?
The cancer of false conspiracies, lies, and cynicism eating away at the Republic—lies propagated and fed by the former president and his allies—has metastasized to...
September 20, 2022
“I. Do. Not. Like. Bullies.”
That’s Arizona Republican and Speaker of the House . . . correction, former Speaker of the House, Rusty Bowers who had been abruptly shown the...
September 16, 2022
Debate: How We’re Doing It Wrong
Every time another mass shooting occurs, the debate begins again. FOR GUN CONTROL – Nineteen, the number of mass shootings that have occurred since January...
September 13, 2022
Think It Can’t Happen Here?
     “If there’s one American belief I hold above all others, it’s that those who would set themselves up in judgment on matters of what...
September 9, 2022
The Man Who Made America’s Spirit Come to Life
Of all the books written by historian David McCullough the book I return to is a compilation of his speeches. The American Spirit offers exactly...
September 6, 2022
American Integrity in the Era of Trump
“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right and raises at first a formidable outcry in...
July 29, 2022