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This page is part of the "tools" section of a site, Plato and his dialogues, dedicated to developing a new interpretation of Plato's dialogues. The "tools" section provides historical and geographical context (chronology, maps, entries on characters and locations) for Socrates, Plato and their time. For more information on the structure of entries and links available from them, read the notice at the beginning of the index of persons and locations.
Callias was one of the wealthiest men in Athens
in the later part of the Vth century : he is presented
by Socrates at Apology,
20a as "a man who spent more money with the sophists than all others
taken together", and it is in his house, termed "the greatest and most
prosperous in town" (Protagoras,
337d), where he hosted all visiting sophists, that the Protagoras
takes place. He was born somewhere between 455
and 450 in one of the richest families of Athens,
the Ceryces, who, besides owning silver mines in Laurium
that were at the root of its fortune, was one of the families in charge of the
celebration of the Eleusinian mysteries, where
it provided the torch-bearers. His father was Hipponicus, "the richest man
in Greece" (Andocides' On
the Mysteries, 130), and his grandfather was the Callias who negociated
the peace that bears his name, which put an end to the second Persian War in
449 (see Herodotus
VII, 151). Another Callias, the grandfather of the peace negociator, is
also mentioned by Herodotus for his successes at the
Olympic games, his wealth and huge expenditures, and his hate of tyranny (Histories,
VI, 121-122). Callias' mother later married Pericles
314e ; Plutarch's Life
of Pericles, 24, 5), so that he was the half-brother of Xanthippus and Paralus,
the two sons of Pericles mentioned in the Alcibiades
the Protagoras (314e-315a ;
and the Meno (94b).
And his sister Hipparete married Alcibiades (Plutarch's
of Alcibiades, 8).
Callias was married several times. Andocides, in his speech On the Mysteries, delivered in 399 to answer accusations of impiety brought forth against him by Callias and a few others, tells the jury how Callias married a girl and, within a year, made the girl's mother his mistress, living eventually with both mother and daughter, only to abandon them both later, and how he had a son from the mother, born after he had left her, that he initially repudiated but later recognized, after he had fallen in love again with the mother and welcomed her back in his house (On the Mysteries, 117-131).
Callias is most likely the father of the Protarchus staged as the interlocutor of Socrates in the Philebus (see Philebus, 19b). Hermogenes, his less wealthy youger brother (Cratylus, 391b-c) plays a leading role in the Cratylus.