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Diomedon(Greek Διομέδων

; * c. 450 BC. BC; † 406 BC) was a politician and general in classical Athens at the time of the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC). He was close to the democratic party and was considered particularly God-fearing.

The historian Thucydides first mentions Diomedon in 412 BC, when he was sent to Ionia with 16 ships in the rank of strategist to hold the remaining possessions of Athens after the fall of the island of Chios. At first he succeeded in doing so at the city of Teos.[1]

After the Chians invaded the island of Lesbos a little later, Diomedon, together with his colleague Leon, succeeded in defeating the fleet of the allied Chians and Spartans by a surprise attack in the harbour, and recovered for Athens the chief towns of Mytilene and Methymna, which had already fallen away. They then turned on Chios itself, devastating the island and besieging the city.[2]

The following winter Diomedon and Leon were dispatched to the island of Samos off the coast of Asia Minor, which had by then become the headquarters of the Athenian fleet. From there they undertook a voyage against Rhodes, also a renegade, whose advancing fleet they defeated in battle.[3]

After the oligarchic Council of the Four Hundred took power in Athens in 411 BC, the army and fleet in Samos remained a haven of democratic resistance to the new regime. Led by the democratically-minded strategists, who included Diomedon and Leon as well as Thrasybulos and Thrasyllos, the Athenian soldiers and oarsmen on the island succeeded in reversing the oligarchs’ briefly successful overthrow. The resistance of the fleet in Samos brought about a return to democracy in Athens a little later as well.[4]

By the end of 411 Diomedon was probably among the participants in the battle of Kynossema, although unlike Thrasybul and Thrasyllos his name is not mentioned for several years.[5] Under the high command of Alcibiades he seems to have played at best a minor role, but after the latter’s deposition as a result of the lost battle of Notion (407 BC) Diomedon and Leon were again elected strategists for the year 406.[6]

After Leon fell off Lesbos in the summer of the same year and the rest of the fleet, led by the commander Konon, was trapped in the port of Mytilene, Diomedon made an attempt to bring relief with twelve ships, but failed with heavy losses.[7]

Subsequently, Diomedon was one of the front-line commanders at the Battle of the Arginuses, where he commanded the left-centre alongside the commander-in-chief Aristocrates and defeated the Spartan naval commander Kallikratidas. After the victorious battle, he advocated in the council of generals the urgent rescue of the shipwrecked, but could only partially prevail, since the greater part of the fleet was assigned to the pursuit of the fleeing enemies and the relief of those trapped in Mytilene.[8]

After returning to Athens, Diomedon was then charged with omission in the Arginusian trial and, despite the suave defense speech of his friend Euryptolemos, was sentenced to death along with his fellow commanders. Before the execution, Diomedon exhorted the Athenians to fulfill in his stead the vows he had made to the gods before the battle, since he was now no longer able to do so himself.[9]


  • Thucydides: The Peloponnesian War
  • Xenophon: Hellenika
  • Diodorus: Library


  • Franz Kiechle: Diomedon. In: Der Kleine Pauly (KlP). Band 2, Stuttgart 1967, Sp. 57.
  • Winfried Schmitz: Diomedon[2]. In: Der Neue Pauly (DNP). Band 3, Metzler, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-476-01473-8, Sp. 618.
  • Heinrich Swoboda: Diomedon4). In: Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft (RE). Band V,1, Stuttgart 1903, Sp. 829 f.

Individual references

  1. Thucydides, VIII 19f.
  2. Thucydides, VIII 22-24.
  3. Thucydides, VIII 54f.
  4. Thucydides, VIII 73f.
  5. Thucydides, VIII 104.3.
  6. Xenophon, Hellenika, I 5,16.
  7. Xenophon, Hellenika, I 6,22f.
  8. Xenophon, Hellenika, I 6,29f and I 7,29.
  9. Xenophon, Hellenika, I 7,1ff and Diodorus, Library, XIII 101f.