CALLIAS, PEACE OF, peace made by Xerxes and/or Artaxerxes I with Athens and her confederacy in the 5th century b.c. The stele recording it, destroyed in the Peloponnesian War, seems to have been reengraved and set up in Athens after the King’s Peace (q.v.) imposed by the king on the Greeks of Europe in 387/6 b.c., to which it henceforth provided a glorious con­trast. It is frequently mentioned in Greek and Latin literature, from Plato (Menexenus 241d f.) and Isocrates (first 4.118ff.) to Ammianus Marcellinus (17.11.3) and the Byzantine lexicon called the Suda (s.vv. Kallias 214 and Kimon 620 [Adler]).

Since it is not reported in the surviving fifth-century Greek sources, it has often been rejected as a fourth-­century propagandist fabrication. However, Herodotus (7.151) mentions an embassy led by Callias, brother-in-­law of Cimon (the dominant politician and commander in Athens ca. 475-462 b.c.), at Susa, apparently soon after the accession of Artaxerxes I in 465; and the orator Andocides (3.29) records a peace made by his uncle Epilycus, which was presumably a renewal of the earlier peace after the accession of Darius II. This is also ignored by other Greek authors but has some epi­graphic support. The terms reported (see below) in­cluded an admission of Athens’ inability to “liberate” all the Greek cities under the King, which makes late propagandist forgery unlikely.

Fourth-century sources date the peace (if at all) after Cimon’s victory at the Eurymedon (early 460s), and this is its setting in Plutarch’s Life of Cimon (13.5ff.), with circumstantial details including a reference to a third-century collection of Attic decrees. Diodorus Siculus (12.4), who usually follows the fourth-century historian Ephorus, reports it under 449/8, after Cimon’s death in a victorious campaign on Cyprus. It is agreed that Diodorus is guilty of confusing the Eurymedon cam­paign with the Cyprus campaign and in his account of the latter, yet his date became the accepted date among 20th-century scholars who believed in the peace. Re­cently, however, scholars have drawn attention to the evidence for the earlier date (early 460s), and it has been suggested that the Suda’s account of two treaties—a peace under Cimon’s ascendancy, later renewed after his death—is derived from Ephorus and fits into the known development of Athenian politics.

A peace was negotiated, and probably concluded, by Callias on Cimon’s behalf just before Xerxes’ death (about August 465) and at once confirmed by Arta­xerxes I (see Herodotus, loc. cit.). In 462 Cimon, who believed in friendship with Sparta and coexistence with Persia, lost power and was ostracized. His opponents (an expansionist party ultimately led by Pericles) at once attacked both Sparta and Persia, but after a disastrous defeat by Megabyzus (q.v.) in Egypt in 454, Pericles recognized the limitations of Athens’ resources and prepared for the stabilization of her foreign re­lations. Cimon, on his return to Athens in 451, launched an invasion of Cyprus to reestablish his own standing at home and Athens’ bargaining power vis-à-vis the king. After his death and another great Athenian naval victory, Artaxerxes expressed readiness to renew the peace, and Callias went to Susa, where he was known, and renewed it on the earlier terms (thus Suda). This time it lasted (with Epilycus’ renewal) until finally broken by Athenian support for the rebellion of Amorges against Darius II. This led to decisive Persian intervention against Athens, ending the Peloponnesian War.

The principal terms are clear in outline. Pledges of formal friendship and nonaggression were exchanged. In return for recognition of his sovereignty over Asia Minor, the king exempted its coastal Greek cities from tribute and occupation, de facto handing them over to Athens as tributary subjects. To the Greek cities left under his control he promised autonomy, provided they paid him the tribute, which he undertook not to increase. He also undertook not to move a royal army into Asia Minor, or a fleet south through the Bosporus or west past the gulf of Antalya.

The peace deserves notice as the first compromise treaty between Achaemenid Persia and a Greek city. Previously the two systems had been diplomatically incommensurable. The kings had insisted on sub­mission (offer of “earth and water,” see, e.g. Herodotus, 5.73) as a prerequisite to any formal relationship, while leading Greek cities regarded the king as “the Bar­barian” (e.g. Herodotus, 7.6, 132 and passim) with whom treaty negotiations were inconceivable. The structures setting up this peace were a triumph for Callias and the king’s unnamed ministers and mark the maturation of both Achaemenid and progressive Greek diplomacy. They can be largely recovered from the satraps’ treaties with Sparta in Thucydides (8, 18, 37, 58) and the King’s Peace in Xenophon (Hellenica 5.1.31). Oaths seem to have been exchanged between Athens and the satraps of Syria and Asia Minor. The King was probably thought of (and perhaps represented) in Athens as having sworn, but this was inconceivable. His part must have taken the form of binding edicts, which Callias accepted as trustworthy and which in fact were faithfully observed, in accordance with the Achaemenid kings’ ethical code. (For the binding nature of the king’s oath, see, e.g., Herodotus, 9.109, and cf. 3.139ff.; see also Darius’ imprecations against liars in Kent, Old Persian, DB 4, passim.)

The kings used the lessons learned in their future relations with independent Greek cities, and Callias at once applied some of them in the Thirty Years’ Peace, which he negotiated with Sparta in 446/5 b.c.



The basic work is now K. Meister, Die Ungeschichtlichkeit des Kalliasfriedens und deren historische Folgen, Palingenesia 18, Wiesbaden, 1982, collecting all the ancient sources (nearly all with German translation) and offering a complete bibliog­raphy of modern works from the early 19th century (pp. 124-30).

Meister retrieves the Eurymedon date found in the fourth-century tradition but rejects the authenticity of the peace. For detailed defense of this and interpretation of the peace as a major historical event see E. Badian, “The Peace of Callias,” Journal of Hellenic Studies 107, 1987, pp. 1-39.

On the person of Callias see the collection of material and bibliog­raphy in J. Hofstetter, Die Griechen in Persien, AMI Ergänzungsband 5, Berlin, 1978, pp. 96ff., s.v. Kal­lias (1).

(Ernst Badian)

Originally Published: December 15, 1990

Last Updated: December 15, 1990

This article is available in print.
Vol. IV, Fasc. 7, pp. 679-680