The Philaidae or Philaids were a powerful noble family of ancient Athens. They were conservative land owning aristocrats and many of them were very wealthy. The Philaidae produced two of the most famous generals in Athenian history: Miltiades the Younger and Cimon.

The Philaids claimed descent from the mythological Philaeus, son of Ajax. The family originally came from Brauron in Attica. Later a prominent branch of the clan were based at Lakiadae west of Athens. In the late 7th century BC a Philaid called Agamestor married the daughter of Cypselus, the powerful tyrant of Corinth. In 597 BC a man named Cypselus was archon of Athens. This Cypselus was probably grandson of the Corinthian tyrant of the same name and son of Agamestor.

Some years before 566 BC, a member of the Philaid clan, Hippocleides, was a suitor for the hand of Agariste, the daughter of the influential tyrant of Sicyon, Cleisthenes. However Hippocleides lost out to Megacles from the rival Alcmaeonid clan when Cleisthenes was unimpressed with a drunken Hippocleides who stood on his head and kicked his heels in the air at a banquet.[1]

Tyrants of the Thracian Chersonese

In c.560-556 BC a Thracian tribe, the Dolonci, offered the rule of the Thracian Chersonese (a peninsula in a strategic location dominating the grain route through the Hellespont) to the Philaid Miltiades the Elder, the son of Cypselus the archon. Miltiades accepted the offer and became tyrant of the Chersonese. He built a wall across the Bulair Isthmus to protect the peninsula from raiders from Thrace. Pisistratus, the tyrant of Athens, did not object to Miltiades leaving Athens to set himself up as a semi-independent ruler on the far side of the Aegean Sea as it removed a potential rival from the city and gave him a useful role as an ally of Athens in a strategically important location.

Meanwhile a Philaid called Cimon Coalemos, ('coalemos' meaning simpleton), won the prestigious Olympic chariot race three times in succession during the rule of Pisistratid tyrants. He earned a recall from exile by dedicating his second victory to Pisistratus but when he unwisely continued his winning streak by notching up a famous third consecutive Olympic victory he fell foul of Pisistratus' sons Hippias and Hipparchus who had him assassinated.[2]

Around 534 BC Miltiades the Elder died and the tyranny of the Thracian Chersonese passed to his step-brother's son Stesagoras. Then in c.520 BC Stesagoras was succeeded by his brother Miltiades the Younger, son of Cimon Coalemus. This younger Miltiades cemented good relations with neighbouring Thracian tribes by marrying Hegesipyle daughter of the Thracian king Olorus.

Miltiades the Younger also served with King Darius I of Persia during his campaign against the Scythians in c.513 BC and when the Greek contingents were left guarding a bridge over the Danube River Miltiades tried to convince his fellow Greeks to demolish the bridge so as to leave the Persian king stranded in Scythia (or so he later claimed).

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