Cimon, as we saw, was very wealthy, and as generous as he was rich. Besides spending so much for the improvement of the city, he always kept an open house. His table was bountifully spread, and he gladly received as guests all who chose to walk into his home.
Whenever he went out, he was followed by servants who carried full purses, and whose duty it was to help all the poor they met. As Cimon knew that many of the most deserving poor would have been ashamed to receive alms, these men found out their wants, and supplied them secretly.
Now, although Cimon was so good and thoughtful, you must not imagine that it was always very easy for him to be so. It seems that when he was a young man he was very idle and lazy, and never thought of anything but his own pleasure.
Aristides the Just noticed how lazy and selfish the young man was, and one day went to see him. After a little talk, Aristides told him seriously that he ought to be ashamed of the life he was living, as it was quite unworthy of a good citizen or of a noble man.
This reproof was so just, that Cimon promised to do better, and tried so hard that he soon became one of the most industrious and unselfish men of his day.
Cimon was not the only rich man in Athens, however; for Pericles, another citizen, was even wealthier than he. As Pericles was shrewd, learned, and very eloquent, he soon gained much influence over his fellow-citizens.
While Cimon was generally seen in the company of men of his own class, and was hence considered the leader of the nobles or aristocrats, Pericles liked to talk with the poorer class, whom he could easily sway by his eloquent speeches, and who soon made him their idol.
Day by day the two parties became more distinct, and soon the Athenians sided either with Pericles or with Cimon in all important matters. The two leaders were at first very good friends, but little by little they drifted apart, and finally they became rivals.