Today I'd like to point out something from an entirely different site. I noticed this as I was doing some book research for the fourth in my series. I won't embarrass the site by naming it. I'll merely repeat the embarrassing bit.
Our subject is a short biography of Callias, who if you've read The Pericles Commission you'll know appears as a character. He was the richest man in Athens and their chief diplomat. Here's what the rather authoritative-looking web site says:
Callias was a diplomat and a notable member of one of the wealthiest families of ancient Athens, as well as an Athenian leader.Correct!
He was a general of the Peloponnesian War.Er...no. There was a Callias who was a strategos (General), but it was a different Callias. It was a relatively common name. The wealthy diplomat was Callias son of Hipponicus. The military leader was Callias son of Calliades.
He distinguished himself at the battle of Marathon (490 B.C.)Very true! (Note the date in parentheses)
In his old age Callias was one of the ambassadors sent to Sparta with Callistratus to negotiate a peace treaty in 371 BC.In his old age indeed. He must have been at least 137 years old by this date, considering he fought at Marathon. The Callias here is the grandson of the one they started with. I mentioned in a previous post that the Greeks almost always named the firstborn son after the paternal grandfather. That's a trap for new players, for anyone writing about ancient Greece.
One short bio has confused three different men. What's probably happened here is whoever wrote this wrong bio did a Google search across "Callias" and "Athens" and just assumed it was the same Callias every time. Then they repeated it all as fact for hapless schoolchildren to copy and paste into their essays. I hope the teachers catch it.
My advice for anyone researching ancient Greeks:
- When you find a reference, always ask yourself, "Is this the guy I want? Could it be his grandson? Could it be his grandfather?"
- Always check the "son of" value! It's like a surname.