Kleophon (politician)

Kleophon (Greek: Κλεοφω̃ν, also transliterated Cleophon) (?-404 BC) was an Athenian politician and demagogue who was of great influence during the Peloponnesian War. He was a staunch democrat, and vehement opponent of the oligarchs; his sparring with Critias rated a mention by Aristotle in his Rhetoric.

On three separate occasions, he inspired the citizens of Athens to reject the Spartans' attempts to make peace; once after the Athenian victory at Cyzicus (410 BC), again after the Athenian victory at Arginusae (406 BC), and once again after the decisive Spartan naval victory at Aegospotami (405 BC). During Lysander's ensuing siege, the tide of opinion turned against the democrats, and the oligarchs used the opportunity to rid themselves of their rival. One of their members, Satyrus, brought a charge against Kleophon of neglect of military duty, leading to his arrest. Since it was by no means certain that Kleophon could be convicted on this, another member of the faction, Nikomachos, drew up a new law specially for the occasion. The oligarch-dominated council voted the new law into effect, and the same day used it to convict Kleophon and sentence him to death.

Kleophon was made the object of satire by the comic poet Plato in an eponymous play (now lost), and by Aristophanes in The Frogs. Both made fun of Kleophon's Thracian origins and accent (since his father is known to have been an Athenian citizen, his mother is conjectured to have been Thracian) and Plato of his low birth (Andocides says that Kleophon was a harp-maker by trade, and Aelian comments on the poverty of his early life).


See also Kleophon the tragic poet, "Kleophon Painter"

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