Callias ( , pronounced
"Kahl-LEE-as"), son of Hipponicus by the
ex-wife of Pericles , an Alcmaeonid and the third head of one of the
most distinguished Athenian families to
bear the name of Callias, was said to be notorious for his
extravagance and profligacy.
Historians sometimes designate
him "Callias III" to distinguish him from his grandfather Callias II
("Callias II") and from his
grandfather's grandfather Callias ("Callias I"). The family was
immensely wealthy: the major part of their fortune came from the
leasing of large numbers of slaves to the state-owned silver mines of Laurium.
return, the Calliai
were being paid a share of the mine
proceeds, in silver. Accordingly they were considered the richest
family in Athens and quite possibly all of Greece, and the head of
the family was often simply referred to as "ho plousios
: "ο πλούσιος", "the wealthy").
The only other family that could rival their wealth were the
Callias must have acceded to the family's fortune in 424 BC, which
is not perhaps irreconcilable with the mention of him in the
, 421 BC, as having recently entered to the
inheritance. In 400 BC, he was engaged in the attempt to
crush Andocides by a charge of
profanation, in having placed a supplicatory bough on the altar of
the temple at Eleusis during the
celebration of the Mysteries ; and, if we may believe the statement
of the accused, the bough was placed there by Callias himself, who
was provoked at having been thwarted by Andocides in a very
disgraceful and profligate attempt.
In 392 BC,
we find him in command of the Athenian heavy-armed troops at
Corinth on the occasion of the famous defeat of a Spartan regiment, or
Mora, by Iphicrates.
He was hereditary proxenus
(roughly the equivalent of the modern
consul) of Sparta, and, as such, was chosen as one of the envoys
empowered to negotiate peace with that state in 371 BC, on which
reports an absurd and
self-glorifying speech of his. He dissipated all his ancestral
wealth on sophists
, flatterers, and women;
and so early did these propensities appear in him, that he was
commonly spoken of, before his father's death, as the "evil genius"
of his family.
The scene of Xenophon's Banquet
, and also that of Plato
, is laid at his house;
and in the latter especially his character is drawn with some vivid
sketches as a dilettante highly amused with the intellectual
fencing of Protagoras
He is said to have ultimately reduced himself to absolute beggary,
to which the sarcasm of Iphicrates in calling him
instead of daduchos
and he died at last in actual want of the common necessities of
life. He left a legitimate son named Hipponicus.
Plutarch, Parallel Lives, "Pericles", 24
Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae, v. 59
Andocides, Speeches, "On the Mysteries", 110
Xenophon, Hellenica, iv. 5
Ibid., vi. 3, v. 4
Andocides, 130; Aristophanes, The Frogs, v. 432; Athenaeus, iv. 67; Aelian, Varia Historia, iv. 16
Plato, Protagoras, pp. 335-38
Aristotle, Rhetoric, iii. 2
Athenaeus, xii. 52; Lysias, Speeches, "On the Property of Aristophanes", 48