Life Of Pericles
I. One day in Rome, Caesar, seeing some rich foreigners nursing and petting young lapdogs and monkeys, enquired whether in their parts of the world the women bore no children: a truly imperial reproof to those who waste on animals the affection which they ought to bestow upon mankind. May we not equally blame those who waste the curiosity and love of knowledge which belongs to human nature, by directing it to worthless, not to useful objects? It is indeed unavoidable that external objects, whether good or bad, should produce some effect upon our senses; but every man is able, if he chooses, to concentrate his mind upon any subject he may please. For this reason we ought to seek virtue, not merely in order to contemplate it, but that we may ourselves derive some benefit from so doing. Just as those colours whose blooming and pleasant hues refresh our sight are grateful to the eyes, so we ought by our studies to delight in that which is useful for our own lives; and this is to be found in the acts of good men, which when narrated incite us to imitate them. The effect does not take place in other cases, for we frequently admire what we do not wish to produce; indeed we often are charmed with the work, but despise the workman, as in the case of dyes and perfumery which we take pleasure in, although we regard dyers and perfumers as vulgar artizans. That was a clever saying of Antisthenes, who answered, when he heard that Ismenias was a capital flute-player, "But he must be a worthless man, for if he were not, he would not be such a capital flute-player!" and King Philip of Macedon, when his son played brilliantly and agreeably on the harp at an entertainment, said to him, "Are you not ashamed, to play so well?"
It is enough for a king, if he sometimes employs his leisure in listening to musicians, and it is quite a sufficient tribute from him to the Muses, if he is present at the performances of other persons.
II. If a man devotes himself to these trifling arts, the time which he wastes upon them proves that he is incapable of higher things. No well nurtured youth, on seeing the statue of Jupiter Olympius at Pisa, wishes that he were a Pheidias, or that he were a Polykleitus on seeing the statue of Juno at Argos, nor yet while he takes pleasure in poetry, does he wish that he were an Anakreon, a Philetas, or an Archilochus; for it does not necessarily follow that we esteem the workman because we are pleased with the work. For this reason men are not benefited by any spectacle which does not encourage them to imitation, and where reflection upon what they have observed does not make them also wish to do likewise; whereas we both admire the deeds to which virtue incites, and long to emulate the doers of them.
We enjoy the good things which we owe to fortune, but we admire virtuous actions; and while we wish to receive the former, we wish ourselves to benefit others by the latter. That which is in itself admirable kindles in us a desire of emulation, whether we see noble deeds presented before us, or read of them in history. It was with this purpose that I have engaged in writing biography, and have arranged this tenth book to contain the life of Pericles whose disposition was gentle and just, and who was of the greatest service to his country, because he was able to endure with patience the follies of governments and colleagues. Of my success, the reader of the following pages will be able to judge for themself.
III. Pericles was of the tribe Akamantis, and of the township of Cholargos, and was descended from the noblest families in Athens, on both his father's and mother's side. His father, Xanthippus, defeated the Persian generals at Mykalé, while his mother, Agariste, was a descendant of Kleisthenes, who drove the sons of Peisistratus out of Athens, put an end to their despotic rule, and established a new constitution admirably calculated to reconcile all parties and save the country. She dreamed that she had brought forth a lion, and a few days afterwards was delivered of Pericles. His body was symmetrical, but his head was long out of all proportion; for which reason in nearly all his statues he is represented wearing a helmet, as the sculptors did not wish, I suppose, to reproach him with this blemish. The Attic poets called him squill-head, and the comic poet, Kratinus, in his play 'Cheirones,' says,
From Kronos old and faction,
Is sprung a tyrant dread,
And all Olympus calls him,
The man-compelling head
And again in the play of 'Nemesis'
Come, hospitable Zeus, with lofty head
Telekleides, too, speaks of him as sitting
With a dreadful frown,
Because matters of state have gone wrong,
Until at last,
From his head so vast,
His ideas burst forth in a throng
And Eupolis, in his play of 'Demoi,' asking questions about each of the great orators as they come up from the other world one after the other, when at last Pericles ascends, says,
The great headpiece of those below
IV. Most writers tell us that his tutor in music was Damon, whose name they say should be pronounced with the first syllable short. Aristotle, however, says that he studied under Pythokleides. This Damon, it seems, was a sophist of the highest order, who used the name of music to conceal this accomplishment from the world, but who really trained Pericles for his political contests just as a trainer prepares an athlete for the games. However, Damon's use of music as a pretext did not impose upon the Athenians, who banished him by ostracism, as a busybody and lover of despotism. He was ridiculed by the comic poets; thus Plato represents some one as addressing him,
Answer me this, I humbly do beseech,
For thou, like Cheiron, Pericles did'st teach
Pericles also attended the lectures of Zeno, of Elea, on natural philosophy, in which that philosopher followed the method of Parmenides. Zeno moreover had made an especial study of how to reduce any man to silence who questioned him, and how to enclose him between the horns of a dilemma, which is alluded to by Timon of Phlius in the following verses:
Nor weak the strength of him of two-edged tongue,
Zeno that carps at all
But it was Anaxagoras of Klazomenae who had most to do with forming Pericles's style, teaching him an elevation and sublimity of expression beyond that of ordinary popular speakers, and altogether purifying and ennobling his mind. This Anaxagoras was called Nous, or Intelligence, by the men of that day, either because they admired his own intellect, or because he taught that an abstract intelligence is to be traced in all the concrete forms of matter, and that to this, and not to chance, the universe owes its origin.
V. Pericles greatly admired Anaxagoras, and became deeply interested in these grand speculations, which gave him a haughty spirit and a lofty style of oratory far removed from vulgarity and low buffoonery, and also an imperturbable gravity of countenance, and a calmness of demeanour and appearance which no incident could disturb as he was speaking, while the tone of his voice never showed that he heeded any interruption. These advantages greatly impressed the people. Once he sat quietly all day in the market-place despatching some pressing business, reviled in the foulest terms all the while by some low worthless fellow. Towards evening he walked home, the man following him and heaping abuse upon him. When about to enter his own door, as it was dark, he ordered one of his servants to take a torch and light the man home. The poet Ion, however, says that Pericles was overbearing and insolent in conversation, and that his pride had in it a great deal of contempt for others; while he praises Kimon's civil, sensible, and polished address. But we may disregard Ion, as a mere dramatic poet who always sees in great men something upon which to exercise his satiric vein; whereas Zeno used to invite those who called the haughtiness of Pericles a mere courting of popularity and affectation of grandeur, to court popularity themselves in the same fashion, since the acting of such a part might insensibly mould their dispositions until they resembled that of their model.
VI. These were not the only advantages which Pericles gained from his intimacy with Anaxagoras, but he seems to have learned to despise those superstitious fears which the common phenomena of the heavens produce in those who, ignorant of their cause, and knowing nothing about them, refer them all to the immediate action of the gods. Knowledge of physical science, while it puts an end to superstitious terrors, replaces them by a sound basis of piety. It is said that once a ram with one horn was sent from the country as a present to Pericles, and that Lampon the prophet, as soon as he saw this strong horn growing out of the middle of the creature's forehead, said that as there were two parties in the state, that of Thucydides and that of Pericles, he who possessed this mystic animal would unite the two into one. Anaxagoras cut open the beast's skull, and pointed out that its brain did not fill the whole space, but was sunken into the shape of an egg, and all collected at that part from which the horn grew. At the time all men looked with admiration on Anaxagoras, but afterwards, when Thucydides had fallen, and all the state had become united under Pericles, they admired Lampon equally.
There is, I imagine, no reason why both the prophet and the natural philosopher should not have been right, the one discovering the cause, and the other the meaning. The one considered why the horn grew so, and for what reason; the other declared what it meant by growing so, and for what end it took place. Those who say that when the cause of a portent is found out the portent is explained away, do not reflect that the same reasoning which explains away heavenly portents would also put an end to the meaning of the conventional signals used by mankind. The ringing of bells, the blaze of beacon fires, and the shadows on a dial are all of them produced by natural causes, but have a further meaning. But perhaps all this belongs to another subject.
VII. Pericles when young greatly feared the people. He had a certain personal likeness to the despot Peisistratus; and as his own voice was sweet, and he was ready and fluent in speech, old men who had known Peisistratus were struck by his resemblance to him. He was also rich, of noble birth, and had powerful friends, so that he feared he might be banished by ostracism, and consequently held aloof from politics, but proved himself a brave and daring soldier in the wars. But when Aristeides was dead, Themistokles banished, and Kimon generally absent on distant campaigns, Pericles engaged in public affairs, taking the popular side, that of the poor and many against that of the rich and few, quite contrary to his own feelings, which were entirely aristocratic. He feared, it seems, that he might be suspected of a design to make himself despot, and seeing that Kimon took the side of the nobility, and was much beloved by them, he betook himself to the people, as a means of obtaining safety for himself, and a strong party to combat that of Kimon. He immediately altered his mode of life; was never seen in any street except that which led to the market-place and the national assembly, and declined all invitations to dinner and such like social gatherings, so utterly that during the whole of his long political life he never dined with one of his friends, except when his first cousin, Euryptolemus, was married. On this occasion he sat at table till the libations were poured, upon which he at once got up and went away. For solemnity is wont to unbend at festive gatherings, and a majestic demeanour is hard to keep up when one is in familiar intercourse with others. True virtue, indeed, appears more glorious the more it is seen, and a really good man's life is never so much admired by the outside world as by his own intimate friends. But Pericles feared to make himself too common even with the people, and only addressed them after long intervals - not speaking upon every subject, and, not constantly addressing them, but, as Kritolaus says, keeping himself like the Salaminian trireme for great crises, and allowing his friends and the other orators to manage matters of less moment. One of these friends is said to have been Ephialtes, who destroyed the power of the Council of the Areopagus, "pouring out," as Plato, the comic poet, said, "a full and unmixed draught of liberty for the citizens," under the influence of which the poets of the time said that the Athenian people
Nibbled at Euboea, like a horse that spurns the rein,
And wantonly would leap upon the islands in the main
VIII. Wishing to adopt a style of speaking consonant with his haughty manner and lofty spirit, Pericles made free use of the instrument which Anaxagoras as it were put into his hand, and often tinged his oratory with natural philosophy. He far surpassed all others by using this "lofty intelligence and power of universal consummation," as the divine Plato calls it; in addition to his natural advantages, adorning his oratory with apt illustrations drawn from physical science.
For this reason some think that he was nicknamed the Olympian; though some refer this to his improvement of the city by new and beautiful buildings, and others from his power both as a politician and a general. It is not by any means unlikely that these causes all combined to produce the name. Yet the comedies of that time, when they allude to him, either in jest or earnest, always appear to think that this name was given him because of his manner of speaking, as they speak of him as "thundering and lightening," and "rolling fateful thunders from his tongue." A saying of Thucydides, the son of Melesias, has been preserved, which jestingly testifies to the power of Pericles's eloquence. Thucydides was the leader of the conservative party, and for a long time struggled to hold his own against Pericles in debate. One day Archidamus, the King of Sparta, asked him whether he or Pericles was the best wrestler. "When I throw him in wrestling," Thucydides answered, "he beats me by proving that he never was down, and making the spectators believe him." For all this Pericles was very cautious about his words, and whenever he ascended the tribune to speak, used first to pray to the gods that nothing unfitted for the present occasion might fall from his lips. He left no writings, except the measures which he brought forward, and very few of his sayings are recorded. One of these was, that he called Aegina "the eyesore of the Peiraeus," and that "he saw war coming upon Athens from Peloponnesus." Stesimbrotus tells us that when he was pronouncing a public funeral oration over those who fell in Samos, he said that they had become immortal, even as the gods: for we do not see the gods, but we conceive them to be immortal by the respect which we pay them, and the blessings which we receive from them; and the same is the case with those who die for their country.
IX. Thucydides represents the constitution under Pericles as a democracy in name, but really an aristocracy, because the government was all in the hands of one leading citizen. But as many other writers tell us that during his administration the people received grants of land abroad, and were indulged with dramatic entertainments, and payments for their services, in consequence of which they fell into bad habits, and became extravagant and licentious, instead of sober hard-working people as they had been before, let us consider the history of this change, viewing it by the light of the facts themselves. First of all, as we have already said, Pericles had to measure himself with Kimon, and to transfer the affections of the people from Kimon to himself. As he was not so rich a man as Kimon, who used from his own ample means to give a dinner daily to any poor Athenian who required it, clothe aged persons, and take away the fences round his property, so that any one might gather the fruit, Pericles, unable to vie with him in this, turned his attention to a distribution of the public funds among the people, at the suggestion, we are told by Aristotle, of Damonides of Oia. By the money paid for public spectacles, for citizens acting as jurymen and other paid offices, and largesses, he soon won over the people to his side, so that he was able to use them in his attack upon the Senate of the Areopagus, of which he himself was not a member, never having been chosen Archon, or Thesmothete, or King Archon, or Polemarch. These offices had from ancient times been obtained by lot, and it was only through them that those who had approved themselves in the discharge of them were advanced to the Areopagus. For this reason it was that Pericles, when he gained strength with the populace, destroyed this Senate, making Ephialtes bring forward a bill which restricted its judicial powers, while he himself succeeded in getting Kimon banished by ostracism, as a friend of Sparta and a hater of the people, although he was second to no Athenian in birth or fortune, had won most brilliant victories over the Persians, and had filled Athens with plunder and spoils of war, as will be found related in his life. So great was the power of Pericles with the common people.
X. One of the provisions of ostracism was that the person banished should remain in exile for ten years. But during this period the Lacedaemonians with a great force invaded the territory of Tanagra, and, as the Athenians at once marched out to attack them, Kimon came back from exile, took his place in full armour among the ranks of his own tribe, and hoped by distinguishing himself in the battle amongst his fellow citizens to prove the falsehood of the Laconian sympathies with which he had been charged. However, the friends of Pericles drove him away, as an exile. On the other hand, Pericles fought more bravely in that battle than he had ever fought before, and surpassed every one in reckless daring. The friends of Kimon also, whom Pericles had accused of Laconian leanings, fell, all together, in their ranks; and the Athenians felt great sorrow for their treatment of Kimon, and a great longing for his restoration, now that they had lost a great battle on the frontier, and expected to be hard pressed during the summer by the Lacedaemonians. Pericles, perceiving this, lost no time in gratifying the popular wish, but himself proposed the decree for his recall; and Kimon on his return reconciled the two States, for he was on familiar terms with the Spartans, who were hated by Pericles and the other leaders of the common people. Some say that, before Kimon's recall by Pericles, a secret compact was made with him by Elpinike, Kimon's sister, that Kimon was to proceed on foreign service against the Persians with a fleet of two hundred ships, while Pericles was to retain his power in the city. It is also said that, when Kimon was being tried for his life, Elpinike softened the resentment of Pericles, who was one of those appointed to impeach him. When Elpinike came to beg her brother's life of him, he answered with a smile, "Elpinike, you are too old to meddle in affairs of this sort." But, for all that, he spoke only once, for form's sake, and pressed Kimon less than any of his other prosecutors. How, then, can one put any faith in Idomeneus, when he accuses Pericles of procuring the assassination of his friend and colleague Ephialtes, because he was jealous of his reputation? This seems an ignoble calumny, which Idomeneus has drawn from some obscure source to fling at a man who, no doubt, was not faultless, but of a generous spirit and noble mind, incapable of entertaining so savage and brutal a design. Ephialtes was disliked and feared by the nobles, and was inexorable in punishing those who wronged the people; wherefore his enemies had him assassinated by means of Aristodikus of Tanagra. This we are told by Aristotle. Kimon died in Cyprus, while in command of the Athenian forces.
XI. The nobles now perceived that Pericles was the most important man in the State, and far more powerful than any other citizen; wherefore, as they still hoped to check his authority, and not allow him to be omnipotent, they set up Thucydides, of the township of Alopekae, as his rival, a man of good sense, and a relative of Kimon, but less of a warrior and more of a politician, who, by watching his opportunities, and opposing Pericles in debate, soon brought about a balance of power. He did not allow the nobles to mix themselves up with the people in the public assembly, as they had been wont to do, so that their dignity was lost among the masses; but he collected them into a separate body, and by thus concentrating their strength was able to use it to counterbalance that of the other party. From the beginning these two factions had been but imperfectly welded together, because their tendencies were different; but now the struggle for power between Pericles and Thucydides drew a sharp line of demarcation between them, and one was called the party of the Many, the other that of the Few. Pericles now courted the people in every way, constantly arranging public spectacles, festivals, and processions in the city, by which he educated the Athenians to take pleasure in refined amusements; and also he sent out sixty triremes to cruise every year, in which many of the people served for hire for eight months, learning and practising seamanship. Besides this he sent a thousand settlers to the Chersonese, five hundred to Naxos, half as many to Andros, a thousand to dwell among the Thracian tribe of the Bisaltae, and others to the new colony in Italy founded by the city of Sybaris, which was named Thurii. By this means he relieved the state of numerous idle agitators, assisted the necessitous, and overawed the allies of Athens by placing his colonists near them to watch their behaviour.
XII. The building of the temples, by which Athens was adorned, the people delighted, and the rest of the world astonished, and which now alone prove that the tales of the ancient power and glory of Greece are no fables, was what particularly excited the spleen of the opposite faction, who inveighed against him in the public assembly, declaring that the Athenians had disgraced themselves by transferring the common treasury of the Greeks from the island of Delos to their own custody. "Pericles himself," they urged, "has taken away the only possible excuse for such an act - the fear that it might be exposed to the attacks of the Persians when at Delos, whereas it would be safe at Athens. Greece has been outraged, and feels itself openly tyrannised over, when it sees us using the funds which we extorted from it for the war against the Persians, for gilding and beautifying our city, as if it were a vain woman, and adorning it with precious marbles, and statues, and temples, worth a thousand talents." To this Pericles replied, that the allies had no right to consider how their money was spent, so long as Athens defended them from the Persians; while they supplied neither horses, ships, nor men, but merely money, which the Athenians had a right to spend as they pleased, provided they afforded them that security which it purchased. It was right, he argued, that, after the city had provided all that was necessary for war, it should devote its surplus money to the erection of buildings which would be a glory to it for all ages, while these works would create plenty by leaving no man unemployed, and encouraging all sorts of handicraft, so that nearly the whole city would earn wages, and thus derive both its beauty and its profit from itself. For those who were in the flower of their age, military service offered a means of earning money from the common stock; while, as he did not wish the mechanics and lower classes to be without their share, nor yet to see them receive it without doing work for it, he had laid the foundations of great edifices which would require industries of every kind to complete them; and he had done this in the interests of the lower classes, who thus, although they remained at home, would have just as good a claim to their share of the public funds as those who were serving at sea, in garrison, or in the field. The different materials used, such as stone, brass, ivory, gold, ebony, cypress-wood, and so forth, would require special artizans for each, such as carpenters, modellers, smiths, stone masons, dyers, melters and moulders of gold, and ivory painters, embroiderers, workers in relief; and also men to bring them to the city, such as sailors and captains of ships and pilots for such as came by sea; and, for those who came by land, carriage builders, horse breeders, drivers, rope makers, linen manufacturers, shoemakers, road menders, and miners. Each trade, moreover, employed a number of unskilled labourers, so that, in a word, there would be work for persons of every age and every class, and general prosperity would be the result.
XIII. These buildings were of immense size, and unequalled in beauty and grace, as the workmen endeavoured to make the execution surpass the design in beauty; but what was most remarkable was the speed with which they were built. All these edifices, each of which one would have thought, it would have taken many generations to complete, were all finished during the most brilliant period of one man's administration. We are told that Zeuxis, hearing Agatharchus, the painter, boasting how easily and rapidly he could produce a picture, said, "I paint very slowly." Ease, and speed of execution, seldom produces work of any permanent value or delicacy. It is the time which is spent in laborious production for which we are repaid by the durable character of the result. And this makes Pericles's work all the more wonderful, because it was built in a short time, and yet has lasted for ages. In beauty each of them at once appeared venerable as soon as it was built; but even at the present day the work looks as fresh as ever, for they bloom with an eternal freshness which defies time, and seems to make the work instinct with an unfading spirit of youth.
The overseer and manager of the whole was Pheidias, although there were other excellent architects and workmen, such as Kallikrates and Iktinus, who built the Parthenon on the site of the old Hekatompedon, which had been destroyed by the Persians, and Koroebus, who began to build the Temple of Initiation at Eleusis, but who only lived to see the columns erected and the architraves placed upon them. On his death, Metagenes, of Xypete, added the frieze and the upper row of columns, and Xenokles, of Cholargos, crowned it with the domed roof over the shrine. As to the long wall, about which Sokrates says that he heard Pericles bring forward a motion, Kallikrates undertook to build it. Kratinus satirises the work for being slowly accomplished, saying
He builds in speeches, but he does no work
The Odeum, which internally consisted of many rows of seats and many columns, and externally of a roof sloping on all sides from a central point, was said to have been built in imitation of the king of Persia's tent, and was built under Pericles's direction. For this reason Kratinus alludes to him in his play of the 'Thracian Woman' -
Our Jove with lofty skull appears;
The Odeum on his head he bears,
Because he fears the oyster-shell no more
Pericles at that period used his influence to pass a decree for establishing a musical competition at the Panathenaic festival; and, being himself chosen judge, he laid down rules as to how the candidates were to sing, and play the flute or the harp. At that period, and ever afterwards, all musical contests took place in the Odeum.
The Propylaea, before the Acropolis, were finished in five years, by Mnesikles the architect; and a miraculous incident during the work seemed to show that the goddess did not disapprove, but rather encouraged and assisted the building. The most energetic and active of the workmen fell from a great height, and lay in a dangerous condition, given over by his doctors. Pericles grieved much for him; but the goddess appeared to him in a dream, and suggested a course of treatment by which Pericles quickly healed the workman. In consequence of this, he set up the brazen statue of Athene the Healer, near the old altar in the Acropolis. The golden statue of the goddess was made by Pheidias, and his name appears upon the basement in the inscription. Almost everything was in his hands, and he gave his orders to all the workmen - as we have said before - because of his friendship with Pericles. This led to their both being envied and belied; for it was said that Pericles, with the connivance of Pheidias, carried on intrigues with Athenian ladies, who came ostensibly to see the works. This accusation was taken up by the comic poets, who charged him with great profligacy, hinting that he had an improper passion for the wife of Menippus, his friend, and a lieutenant-general in the army. Even the bird-fancying of Pyrilampes, because he was a friend of Pericles, was misrepresented, and he was said to give peacocks to the ladies who granted their favours to Pericles. But, indeed, how can we wonder at satirists bringing foul accusations against their betters, and offering them up as victims to the spite of the populace, when we find Stesimbrotus, of Thasos, actually inventing that unnatural and abominable falsehood of Pericles's intrigue with his own daughter-in-law. So hard is it to discover the truth, because the history of past ages is rendered difficult by the lapse of time; while in contemporary history the truth is always obscured, either by private spite and hatred, or by a desire to curry favour with the chief men of the time.
XIV. When the speakers of Thucydides's party complained that Pericles had wasted the public money, and destroyed the revenue, he asked the people in the assembly whether they thought he had spent much. When they answered "Very much indeed," he said in reply, "Do not, then, put it down to the public account, but to mine; and I will inscribe my name upon all the public buildings." When Pericles said this, the people, either in admiration of his magnificence of manner, or being eager to bear their share in the glory of the new buildings, shouted to him with one accord to take what money he pleased from the treasury, and spend it as he pleased, without stint. And finally, he underwent the trial of ostracism with Thucydides, and not only succeeded in driving him into exile, but broke up his party.
XV. As now there was no opposition to encounter in the city, and all parties had been blended into one, Pericles undertook the sole administration of the home and foreign affairs of Athens, dealing with the public revenue, the army, the navy, the islands and maritime affairs, and the great sources of strength which Athens derived from her alliances, as well with Greek as with foreign princes and states. Henceforth he became quite a different man: he no longer gave way to the people, and ceased to watch the breath of popular favour; but he changed the loose and licentious democracy, which had hitherto existed, into a stricter aristocratic, or rather monarchical, form of government. This he used honourably and unswervingly for the public benefit, finding the people, as a rule, willing to second the measures which he explained to them to be necessary, and to which he asked their consent, but occasionally having to use violence, and to force them, much against their will, to do what was expedient; like a physician dealing with some complicated disorder, who at one time allows his patient innocent recreation, and at another inflicts upon him sharp pains and bitter, though salutary, draughts. Every possible kind of disorder was to be found among a people possessing so great an empire as the Athenians; and he alone was able to bring them into harmony, by playing alternately upon their hopes and fears, checking them when over-confident, and raising their spirits when they were cast down and disheartened. Thus, as Plato says, he was able to prove that oratory is the art of influencing men's minds, and to use it in its highest application, when it deals with men's passions and characters, which, like certain strings of a musical instrument, require a skilful and delicate touch. The secret of his power is to be found, however, as Thucydides says, not so much in his mere oratory, as in his pure and blameless life, because he was so well known to be incorruptible, and indifferent to money; for though he made the city, which was a great one, into the greatest and richest city of Greece, and though he himself became more powerful than many independent sovereigns, who were able to leave their kingdoms to their sons, yet Pericles did not increase by one single drachma the estate which he received from his father.
XVI. This is the clear account of his power which is given by Thucydides the historian; though the comic poets misrepresent him atrociously, calling his immediate followers the New Peisistratidae, and calling upon him to swear that he never would make himself despot, as though his pre-eminence was not to be borne in a free state. And Telekleides says, that the Athenians delivered up into his hands
The tribute from the towns, the towns themselves,
The city walls, to build or to destroy,
The right of making either peace or war,
And all the wealth and produce of the land
And all this was not on any special occasion, or when his administration was especially popular, but for forty years he held the first place among such men as Ephialtes, Leokrates, Myronides, Kimon, Tolmides, and Thucydides; and, after the fall and banishment of Thucydides by ostracism, he united in himself for five-and-twenty years all the various offices of state, which were supposed to last only for one year; and yet during the whole of that period proved himself incorruptible by bribes. As to his paternal estate, he was loth to lose it, and still more to be troubled with the management of it; consequently, he adopted what seemed to him the simplest and most exact method of dealing with it. Every year's produce was sold all together, and with the money thus obtained, he would buy what was necessary for his household in the market, and thus regulate his expenditure. This did not make him popular with his sons when they grew up; nor yet did the women of his family think him a liberal manager, but blamed his exact regulation of his daily expenses, which allowed none of the superfluities common in great and wealthy households, but which made the debit and credit exactly balance each other. One servant, Euangelos, kept all his accounts, as no one else had either capacity or education enough to be able to do so. These proceedings differed greatly from those of Anaxagoras the philosopher, who left his house, and let his estate go to ruin, while he pursued his lofty speculations. I conceive, however, that the life of a philosopher and that of a practical politician are not the same, as the one directs his thoughts to abstract ideas, while the other devotes his genius to supplying the real wants of mankind, and in some cases finds wealth not only necessary, but most valuable to him, as indeed it was to Pericles, who assisted many of the poorer citizens. It is said that, as Pericles was engaged in public affairs, Anaxagoras, who was now an old man and in want, covered his head with his robe, and determined to starve himself to death; but when Pericles heard of this, he at once ran to him, and besought him to live, lamenting, not Anaxagoras's fate, but his own, if he should lose so valuable a political adviser. Then Anaxagoras uncovered his head, and said to him, "Pericles, those who want to use a lamp supply it with oil."
XVII. As the Lacedaemonians began to be jealous of the prosperity of the Athenians, Pericles, wishing to raise the spirit of the people and to make them feel capable of immense operations, passed a decree, inviting all the Greeks, whether inhabiting Europe or Asia, whether living in large cities or small ones, to send representatives to a meeting at Athens to deliberate about the restoration of the Greek temples which had been burned by the barbarians, about the sacrifices which were due in consequence of the vows which they had made to the gods on behalf of Greece before joining battle, and about the sea, that all men might be able to sail upon it in peace and without fear. To carry out this decree twenty men, selected from the citizens over fifty years of age, were sent out, five of whom invited the Ionian and Dorian Greeks in Asia and the islands as far as Lesbos and Rhodes, five went to the inhabitants of the Hellespont and Thrace as far as Byzantium, and five more proceeded to Boeotia, Phokis, and Peloponnesus, passing from thence through Lokris to the neighbouring continent as far as Akarnania and Ambrakia; while the remainder journeyed through Euboea to the Oetaeans and the Malian gulf, and to the Achaeans of Phthia and the Thessalians, urging them to join the assembly and take part in the deliberations concerning the peace and well-being of Greece. However, nothing was effected, and the cities never assembled, in consequence it is said of the covert hostility of the Lacedaemonians, and because the attempt was first made in Peloponnesus and failed there: yet I have inserted an account of it in order to show the lofty spirit and the magnificent designs of Pericles.
XVIII. In his campaigns he was chiefly remarkable for caution, for he would not, if he could help it, begin a battle of which the issue was doubtful; nor did he wish to emulate those generals who have won themselves a great reputation by running risks, and trusting to good luck. But he ever used to say to his countrymen, that none of them should come by their deaths through any act of his. Observing that Tolmides, the son of Tolmaeus, elated by previous successes and by the credit which he had gained as a general, was about to invade Boeotia in a reckless manner, and had persuaded a thousand young men to follow him without any support whatever, he endeavoured to stop him, and made that memorable saying in the public assembly, that if Tolmides would not take the advice of Pericles, he would at any rate do well to consult that best of advisers, Time. This speech had but little success at the time; but when, a few days afterwards, the news came that Tolmides had fallen in action at Koronea, and many noble citizens with him, Pericles was greatly respected and admired as a wise and patriotic man.
XIX. His most successful campaign was that in the Chersonesus, which proved the salvation of the Greeks residing there: for he not only settled a thousand colonists there, and thus increased the available force of the cities, but built a continuous line of fortifications reaching across the isthmus from one sea to the other, by which he shut off the Thracians, who had previously ravaged the peninsula, and put an end to a constant and harassing border warfare to which the settlers were exposed, as they had for neighbours tribes of wild plundering barbarians.
But that by which he obtained most glory and renown was when he started from Pegae, in the Megarian territory, and sailed round the Peloponnesus with a fleet of a hundred triremes; for he not only laid waste much of the country near the coast, as Tolmides had previously done, but he proceeded far inland, away from his ships, leading the troops who were on board, and terrified the inhabitants so much that they shut themselves up in their strongholds. The men of Sikyon alone ventured to meet him at Nemea, and them he overthrew in a pitched battle, and erected a trophy. Next he took on board troops from the friendly district of Achaia, and, crossing over to the opposite side of the Corinthian Gulf, coasted along past the mouth of the river Achelous, overran Akarnania, drove the people of Oeneadae to the shelter of their city walls, and after ravaging the country returned home, having made himself a terror to his enemies, and done good service to Athens; for not the least casualty, even by accident, befel the troops under his command.
XX. When he sailed into the Black Sea with a great and splendidly equipped fleet, he assisted the Greek cities there, and treated them with consideration; and showed the neighbouring savage tribes and their chiefs the greatness of his force, and his confidence in his power, by sailing where he pleased, and taking complete control over that sea. He left at Sinope thirteen ships, and a land force under the command of Lamachus, to act against Timesileon, who had made himself despot of that city. When he and his party were driven out, Pericles passed a decree that six hundred Athenian volunteers should sail to Sinope, and become citizens there, receiving the houses and lands which had formerly been in the possession of the despot and his party. But in other cases he would not agree to the impulsive proposals of the Athenians, and he opposed them when, elated by their power and good fortune, they talked of recovering Egypt and attacking the seaboard of the Persian empire. Many, too, were inflamed with that ill-starred notion of an attempt on Sicily, which was afterwards blown into a flame by Alkibiades and other orators. Some even dreamed of the conquest of Etruria and Carthage, in consequence of the greatness which the Athenian empire had already reached, and the full tide of success which seemed to attend it.
XXI. Pericles, however, restrained these outbursts, and would not allow the people to meddle with foreign states, but used the power of Athens chiefly to preserve and guard her already existing empire, thinking it to be of paramount importance to oppose the Lacedaemonians, a task to which he bent all his energies, as is proved by many of his acts, especially in connection with the Sacred War. In this war the Lacedaemonians sent a force to Delphi, and made the Phokaeans, who held it, give it up to the people of Delphi: but as soon as they were gone Pericles made an expedition into the country, and restored the temple to the Phokaeans; and as the Lacedaemonians had scratched the oracle which the Delphians had given them, on the forehead of the brazen wolf there, Pericles got a response from the oracle for the Athenians, and carved it on the right side of the same wolf.
XXII. Events proved that Pericles was right in confining the Athenian empire to Greece. First of all Euboea revolted, and he was obliged to lead an army to subdue that island. Shortly after this, news came that the Megarians had become hostile, and that an army, under the command of Pleistoanax, king of the Lacedaemonians, was menacing the frontier of Attica. Pericles now in all haste withdrew his troops from Euboea, to meet the invader. He did not venture on an engagement with the numerous and warlike forces of the enemy, although repeatedly invited by them to fight: but, observing that Pleistoanax was a very young man, and entirely under the influence of Kleandrides, whom the Ephors had sent to act as his tutor and counsellor because of his tender years, he opened secret negotiations with the latter, who at once, for a bribe, agreed to withdraw the Peloponnesians from Attica. When their army returned and dispersed, the Lacedaemonians were so incensed that they imposed a fine on their king, and condemned Kleandrides, who fled the country, to be put to death. This Kleandrides was the father of Gylippus, who caused the ruin of the Athenian expedition in Sicily. Avarice seems to have been hereditary in the family, for Gylippus himself, after brilliant exploits in war, was convicted of taking bribes, and banished from Sparta in disgrace. This is more fully set forth in the Life of Lysander.
XXIII. When Pericles submitted the accounts of the campaign to the people, there was an item of ten talents, "for a necessary purpose," which the people passed without any questioning, or any curiosity to learn the secret. Some historians, amongst whom is Theophrastus the philosopher, say that Pericles sent ten talents annually to Sparta, by means of which he bribed the chief magistrates to defer the war, thus not buying peace, but time to make preparations for a better defence. He immediately turned his attention to the insurgents in Euboea, and proceeding thither with a fleet of fifty sail, and five thousand heavy armed troops, he reduced their cities to submission. He banished from Chalkis the "equestrian order," as it was called, consisting of men of wealth and station; and he drove all the inhabitants of Hestiaea out of their country, replacing them by Athenian settlers.
He treated these people with this pitiless severity, because they had captured an Athenian ship, and put its crew to the sword.
XXIV. After this, as the Athenians and Lacedaemonians made a truce for thirty years, Pericles decreed the expedition against Samos, on the pretext that they had disregarded the commands of the Athenians, to cease from their war with the Milesians. It was thought that he began this war with the Samians to please Aspasia, and this is, therefore, a good opportunity to discuss that person's character, and how she possessed so great influence and ability that the leading politicians of the day were at her feet, while philosophers discussed and admired her discourse. It is agreed that she was of Milesian origin, and that her father's name was Axiochus; and she is said to have reserved her favours for the most powerful personages in Greece, in imitation of Thargelia, an Ionian lady of ancient times, of great beauty, ability, and attractions, who had many lovers among the Greeks, and brought them all over to the Persian interest, by which means the seeds of the Persian faction were sown in many cities of Greece, as they were all men of great influence and position.
Now some writers say that Pericles valued Aspasia only for her wisdom and political ability. Indeed Sokrates and his friends used to frequent her society; and those who listened to her discourse used to bring their wives with them, that they too might profit by it, although her profession was far from being honourable or decent, for she kept courtesans in her house. Aeschines says that Lysikles, the sheep dealer, a low-born and low-minded man, became one of the first men in Athens, because he lived with Aspasia after Pericles's death. In Plato's dialogue too, called 'Menexenus,' though the first part is written in a humorous style, yet there is in it thus much of serious truth, that she was thought to discuss questions of rhetoric with many Athenians. But Pericles seems to have been more enamoured of Aspasia's person than her intellect. He was married to a woman who was nearly related to him, who had previously been the wife of Hipponikus, by whom she became the mother of Kallias the rich. By her Pericles had two sons, Xanthippus and Paralus; but afterwards, as they could not live comfortably together, he, at his wife's wish, handed her over to another husband, and himself lived with Aspasia, of whom he was passionately fond. It is said that he never went in or out of his house during the day without kissing her. In the comedies of the time, she is spoken of as the new Omphale and as Deianeira, and sometimes as Hera (Juno). Kratinus plainly speaks of her as a harlot in the following lines:
To him Vice bore a Juno new,
Aspasia, shameless harlot
He is thought to have had a bastard son by her, who is mentioned by Eupolis in his play of 'The Townships,' where Pericles is introduced, asking, "Lives then my son?" to which Myronides answers:
He lives, and long had claimed a manly name,
But that he feared his harlot mother's shame
It is said that Aspasia became so illustrious and well known that the Cyrus who fought with his brother for the empire of Persia, called his favourite concubine Aspasia, though she had before been named Milto. She was a Phokaean by birth, the daughter of Hermotimus. After the death of Cyrus in battle, she was taken into the king's harem, and acquired great influence with him. These particulars about Aspasia occurred to my memory, and I thought that perhaps I might please my readers by relating them.
XXV. Pericles is accused of going to war with Samos to save the Milesians, at the request of Aspasia. These States were at war about the possession of the city of Priéne, and the Samians, who were victorious, would not lay down their arms and allow the Athenians to settle the matter by arbitration, as they ordered them to do. For this reason Pericles proceeded to Samos, put an end to the oligarchical form of government there, and sent fifty hostages and as many children to Lemnos, to ensure the good behaviour of the leading men. It is said that each of these hostages offered him a talent for his own freedom, and that much more was offered by that party which was loth to see a democracy established in the city. Besides all this, Pissuthnes the Persian, who had a liking for the Samians, sent and offered him ten thousand pieces of gold if he would spare the city. Pericles, however, took none of these bribes, but dealt with Samos as he had previously determined, and returned to Athens. The Samians now at once revolted, as Pissuthnes managed to get them back their hostages, and furnished them with the means of carrying on the war. Pericles now made a second expedition against them, and found them in no mind to submit quietly, but determined to dispute the empire of the seas with the Athenians. Pericles gained a signal victory over them in a sea-fight off the Goats' Island, beating a fleet of seventy ships with only forty-four, twenty of which were transports.
XXVI. Simultaneously with his victory and the flight of the enemy he obtained command of the harbour of Samos, and besieged the Samians in their city. They, in spite of their defeat, still possessed courage enough to sally out and fight a battle under the walls; but soon a larger force arrived from Athens, and the Samians were completely blockaded.
Pericles now with sixty ships sailed out of the Archipelago into the Mediterranean, according to the most current report intending to meet the Phoenician fleet which was coming to help the Samians, but, according to Stesimbrotus, with the intention of attacking Cyprus, which seems improbable. Whatever his intention may have been, his expedition was a failure, for Melissus, the son of Ithagenes, a man of culture, who was then in command of the Samian forces, conceiving a contempt for the small force of the Athenians and the want of experience of their leaders after Pericles's departure, persuaded his countrymen to attack them. In the battle the Samians proved victorious, taking many Athenians prisoners, and destroying many of their ships. By this victory they obtained command of the sea, and were able to supply themselves with more warlike stores than they had possessed before. Aristotle even says that Pericles himself was before this beaten by Melissus in a sea-fight. The Samians branded the figure of an owl on the foreheads of their Athenian prisoners, to revenge themselves for the branding of their own prisoners by the Athenians with the figure of a samaina. This is a ship having a beak turned up like a swine's snout, but with a roomy hull, so as both to carry a large cargo and sail fast. This class of vessel is called samaina because it was first built at Samos by Polykrates, the despot of that island. It is said that the verse of Aristophanes,
The Samians are a deeply lettered race
alludes to this branding.
XXVII. When Pericles heard of the disaster which had befallen his army, he returned in all haste to assist them. He beat Melissus, who came out to meet him, and, after putting the enemy to rout, at once built a wall round their city, preferring to reduce it by blockade to risking the lives of his countrymen in an assault. As time went on the Athenians became impatient and eager to fight, and it was hard to restrain their ardour. Pericles divided the whole force into eight divisions, and made them all draw lots. The division which drew the white bean he permitted to feast and take their ease, while the rest did their duty. For this reason those who are enjoying themselves call it a "white day," in allusion to the white bean. Ephorus tells us that Pericles made use of battering engines in this siege, being attracted by their novelty, and that Artemon the mechanician was present, who was surnamed Periphoretus because he was lame, and carried in a litter to see such of the works as required his superintendence. This story is proved to be false by Herakleides of Pontus, he quoting Anakreon's poems, in which Artemon Periphoretus is mentioned many generations before the revolt and siege of Samos. He tells us that Artemon was an effeminate coward who spent most of his time indoors, with two slaves holding a brazen shield over his head for fear that anything should fall upon it, and if he was obliged to go out, used to be carried in a hammock slung so low as almost to touch the ground, from which he received the name of Periphoretus.
XXVIII. In the ninth month of the siege the Samians surrendered. Pericles demolished their walls, confiscated their fleet, and imposed a heavy fine upon them, some part of which was paid at once by the Samians, who gave hostages for the payment of the remainder at fixed periods. Douris, of Samos, makes a lamentable story of this, accusing Pericles and the Athenians of great cruelty, no mention of which is to be found in Thucydides, Ephorus, or Aristotle. He obviously does not tell the truth when he says that Pericles took the captains and marine soldiers of each ship to the market-place at Miletus, bound them to planks, and after they had been so for ten days and were in a miserable state, knocked them on the head with clubs and cast out their bodies without burial. But Douris, even in cases where he has no personal bias, prefers writing an exciting story to keeping to the exact truth, and in this instance probably exaggerated the sufferings of his countrymen in order to gratify his dislike of the Athenians.
Pericles, after the reduction of Samos, returned to Athens, where he buried those who had fallen in the war in a magnificent manner, and was much admired for the funeral oration which, as is customary, was spoken by him over the graves of his countrymen. When he descended from the rostrum the women greeted him, crowning him with garlands and ribbons like a victorious athlete, and Elpinike drawing near to him said, "A fine exploit, truly, Pericles, and well worthy of a crown, to lose many of our brave fellow-citizens, not fighting with Persians or Phoenicians, as my brother Kimon did, but in ruining a city of men of our own blood and our own allies." At these words of Elpinike, Pericles merely smiled and repeated the verse of Archilochus -
Too old thou art for rich perfumes
Ion says that his victory over the Samians wonderfully flattered his vanity. Agamemnon, he was wont to say, took ten years to take a barbarian city, but he in nine months had made himself master of the first and most powerful city in Ionia. And the comparison was not an unjust one, for truly the war was a very great undertaking, and its issue quite uncertain, since, as Thucydides tells us, the Samians came very near to wresting the empire of the sea from the Athenians.
XXIX. After these events, as the clouds were gathering for the Peloponnesian war, Pericles persuaded the Athenians to send assistance to the people of Korkyra, who were at war with the Corinthians, and thus to attach to their own side an island with a powerful naval force, at a moment when the Peloponnesians had all but declared war against them.
When the people passed this decree, Pericles sent only ten ships under the command of Lacedaemonius, the son of Kimon, as if he designed a deliberate insult; for the house of Kimon was on peculiarly friendly terms with the Lacedaemonians. His design in sending Lacedaemonius out, against his will, and with so few ships, was that if he performed nothing brilliant he might be accused, even more than he was already, of leaning to the side of the Spartans. Indeed, by all means in his power, he always threw obstacles in the way of the advancement of Kimon's family, representing that by their very names they were aliens, one son being named Lacedaemonius, another Thessalus, another Eleius. Moreover, the mother of all three was an Arcadian.
Now Pericles was much reproached for sending these ten ships, which were of little value to the Korkyreans, and gave a great handle to his enemies to use against him, and in consequence sent a larger force after them to Korkyra, which arrived there after the battle. The Corinthians, enraged at this, complained in the congress of Sparta of the conduct of the Athenians, as did also the Megarians, who said that they were excluded from every market and every harbour which was in Athenian hands, contrary to the ancient rights and common privileges of the Hellenic race. The people of Aegina also considered themselves to be oppressed and ill-treated, and secretly bemoaned their grievances in the ears of the Spartans, for they dared not openly bring any charges against the Athenians. At this time, too, Potidaea, a city subject to Athens, but a colony of Corinth, revolted, and its siege materially hastened the outbreak of the war. Archidamus, indeed, the king of the Lacedaemonians, sent ambassadors to Athens, was willing to submit all disputed points to arbitration, and endeavoured to moderate the excitement of his allies, so that war probably would not have broken out if the Athenians could have been persuaded to rescind their decree of exclusion against the Megarians, and to come to terms with them. And, for this reason, Pericles, who was particularly opposed to this, and urged the people not to give way to the Megarians, alone bore the blame of having begun the war.
XXX. It is said, that when an embassy arrived at Athens from Lacedaemon to treat upon these matters, Pericles argued that there was a law which forbade the tablet, on which the decree against the Megarians was written, to be taken down. "Then," said Polyalkes, one of the ambassadors, "do not take it down, but turn it with its face to the wall; for there is no law against that!"
Clever as this retort was, it had no effect on Pericles. He had, it seems, some private spite at the Megarians, though the ground of quarrel which he put publicly forward was that the Megarians had applied to their own use some of the sacred ground; and he passed a decree for a herald to be sent to the Megarians, and then to go on to the Lacedaemonians to complain of their conduct. This decree of Pericles is worded in a candid and reasonable manner; but the herald, Anthemokritus, was thought to have met his death at the hands of the Megarians, and Charinus passed a decree to the effect that Athens should wage war against them to the death, without truce or armistice; that any Megarian found in Attica should be punished with death, and that the generals, when taking the usual oath for each year, should swear in addition that they would invade the Megarian territory twice every year; and that Anthemokritus should be buried near the city gate leading into the Thriasian plain, which is now called the Double Gate.
Now, the Megarians say that they were not to blame for the murder of Anthemokritus, and lay it upon Pericles and Aspasia, quoting the hackneyed rhymes from the 'Acharnians,' of Aristophanes:
Some young Athenians in their drunken play,
From Megara Simaetha stole away,
The men of Megara next, with angered soul,
Two of Aspasia's choicest harlots stole
XXXI. How the dispute originated it is hard to say, but all writers agree in throwing on Pericles the blame of refusing to reverse the decree. Some attribute his firmness to a wise calculation, saying that the demand was merely made in order to try him, and that any concessions would have been regarded as a sign of weakness; while others say that he treated the Lacedaemonians so cavalierly through pride and a desire to show his own strength. But the worst motive of all, and that to which most men attribute his conduct, was as follows: Pheidias, the sculptor, was, as we have related, entrusted with the task of producing the statue of the tutelary goddess of Athens. His intimacy with Pericles, with whom he had great influence, gained for him many enemies, who, wishing to experiment on the temper of the people towards Pericles himself, bribed Menon, one of Pheidias's fellow-workmen, to seat himself in the market-place as a suppliant who begged that he might receive protection while he denounced and prosecuted Pheidias. The people took this man under its protection, and Pheidias was prosecuted before the Senate. The alleged charges of theft were not proved, for Pheidias, by the advice of Pericles, had originally fashioned the golden part of the statue in such a manner that it could all be taken off and weighed, and this Pericles bade the prosecutor do on this occasion. But the glory which Pheidias obtained by the reality of his work made him an object of envy and hatred, especially when in his sculpture of the battle with the Amazons on the shield of the goddess he introduced his own portrait as a bald-headed old man lifting a great stone with both hands, and also a very fine representation of Pericles, fighting with an Amazon. The position of the hand, which was holding a spear before the face of Pericles, was ingeniously devised as if to conceal the portrait, which, nevertheless, could plainly be seen on either side of it. For this, Pheidias was imprisoned, and there fell sick and died, though some say that his enemies poisoned him in order to cast suspicion upon Pericles. At the instance of Glykon, the people voted to Menon, the informer, an immunity from public burdens, and ordered the generals of the State to provide for the wretch's safety.
XXXII. About the same time Aspasia was prosecuted for impiety, at the suit of Hermippus, the comic playwright, who moreover accused her of harbouring free-born Athenian ladies, with whom Pericles carried on intrigues. Also Diopeithes proposed a decree, that prosecutions should be instituted against all persons who disbelieved in religion, and held theories of their own about heavenly phenomena. This was aimed at Pericles through the philosopher Anaxagoras. As the people adopted this decree, and eagerly listened to these slanderous accusations, another decree was carried by Drakontides, that Pericles should lay the accounts of his dealings with the public revenue before the Prytanes, and that the judges should carry their suffrage from the altar in the Acropolis, and go and determine the cause in the city. At the motion of Hagnon this part of the decree was reversed, but he succeeded in having the action conducted before fifteen hundred judges, in a form of trial which one might call either one for theft, or taking of bribes, or for public wrong-doing. Aspasia was acquitted, quite contrary to justice, according to Aeschines, because Pericles shed tears and made a personal appeal to the judges on her behalf. He feared that Anaxagoras would be convicted, and sent him out of the city before his trial commenced. And now, as he had become unpopular by means of Pheidias, he at once blew the war into a flame, hoping to put an end to these prosecutions, and to restore his own personal ascendancy by involving the State in important and dangerous crises, in which it would have to rely for guidance upon himself alone.
These are the causes which are assigned for his refusal to permit the Athenians to make any concession to the Lacedaemonians, but the real history of the transaction will never be known.
XXXIII. Now, as the Lacedaemonians knew that if he could be removed from power they would find the Athenians much more easy to deal with, they bade them, "drive forth the accursed thing," alluding to Pericles's descent from the Alkmaeonidae by his mother's side, as we are told by Thucydides the historian. But this attempt had just the contrary effect to that which they intended; for, instead of suspicion and dislike, Pericles met with much greater honour and respect from his countrymen than before, because they saw that he was an object of especial dislike to the enemy. For this reason, before the Peloponnesians, under Archidamus, invaded Attica, he warned the Athenians that if Archidamus, when he laid waste everything else, spared his own private estate because of the friendly private relations existing between them, or in order to give his personal enemies a ground for impeaching him, that he should give both the land and the farm buildings upon it to the State.
The Lacedaemonians invaded Attica with a great host of their own troops and those of their allies, led by Archidamus, their king. They proceeded, ravaging the country as they went, as far as Acharnae (close to Athens), where they encamped, imagining that the Athenians would never endure to see them there, but would be driven by pride and shame to come out and fight them. However, Pericles thought that it would be a very serious matter to fight for the very existence of Athens against sixty thousand Peloponnesian and Boeotian heavy-armed troops, and so he pacified those who were dissatisfied at his inactivity by pointing out that trees when cut down quickly grow again, but that when the men of a State are lost, it is hard to raise up others to take their place. He would not call an assembly of the people, because he feared that they would force him to act against his better judgment, but, just as the captain of a ship, when a storm comes on at sea, places everything in the best trim to meet it, and trusting to his own skill and seamanship, disregarding the tears and entreaties of the sea-sick and terrified passengers; so did Pericles shut the gates of Athens, place sufficient forces to ensure the safety of the city at all points, and calmly carry out his own policy, taking little heed of the noisy grumblings of the discontented. Many of his friends besought him to attack, many of his enemies threatened him and abused him, and many songs and offensive jests were written about him, speaking of him as a coward, and one who was betraying the city to its enemies. Kleon too attacked him, using the anger which the citizens felt against him to advance his own personal popularity, as we see from the following lines of Hermippus:
King of Satyrs, wherefore fear you
Spear to wield, and only dare to
Talk in swelling phrase, while yet you
Cower, Teles like,
And when goaded on, past bearing,
By our Kleon's tongue so daring,
Only gnash your teeth despairing,
Still afraid to strike
XXXIV. Pericles was unmoved by any of these attacks, but quietly endured all this storm of obloquy. He sent a fleet of a hundred ships to attack Peloponnesus, but did not sail with it himself, remaining at home to keep a tight hand over Athens until the Peloponnesians drew off their forces. He regained his popularity with the common people, who suffered much from the war, by giving them allowances of money from the public revenue, and grants of land; for he drove out the entire population of the island of Aegina, and divided the land by lot among the Athenians. A certain amount of relief also was experienced by reflecting upon the injuries which they were inflicting on the enemy; for the fleet as it sailed round Peloponnesus destroyed many small villages and cities, and ravaged a great extent of country, while Pericles himself led an expedition into the territory of Megara and laid it all waste. By this it is clear that the allies, although they did much damage to the Athenians, yet suffered equally themselves, and never could have protracted the war for such a length of time as it really lasted, but, as Pericles foretold, must soon have desisted had not Providence interfered and confounded human counsels. For now the pestilence fell among the Athenians, and cut off the flower of their youth. Suffering both in body and mind they raved against Pericles, just as people when delirious with disease attack their fathers or their physicians. They endeavoured to ruin him, urged on by his personal enemies, who assured them that he was the author of the plague, because he had brought all the country people into the city, where they were compelled to live during the heat of summer, crowded together in small rooms and stifling tents, living an idle life too, and breathing foul air instead of the pure country breezes to which they were accustomed. The cause of this, they said, was the man who, when the war began, admitted the masses of the country people into the city, and then made no use of them, but allowed them to be penned up together like cattle, and transmit the contagion from one to another, without devising any remedy or alleviation of their sufferings.
XXXV. Hoping to relieve them somewhat, and also to annoy the enemy, Pericles manned a hundred and fifty ships, placed on board, besides the sailors, many brave infantry and cavalry soldiers, and was about to put to sea. The Athenians conceived great hopes, and the enemy no less terror from so large an armament. When all was ready, and Pericles himself had just embarked in his own trireme, an eclipse of the sun took place, producing total darkness, and all men were terrified at so great a portent. Pericles, observing that his helmsman was alarmed and knew not what to do, held his cloak over the man's eyes and asked him if he thought that a terrible portent. As he answered that he did not, Pericles said: "What is the difference, then, between it and an eclipse of the sun, except that the eclipse is caused by something larger than my cloak?" This subject is discussed by the philosophers in their schools.
Pericles sailed with the fleet, but did nothing worthy of so great a force. He besieged the sacred city of Epidaurus, but, although he had great hopes of taking it, he failed on account of the plague, which destroyed not only his own men, but every one who came in contact with them. After this he again endeavoured to encourage the Athenians, to whom he had become an object of dislike. However, he did not succeed in pacifying them, but they condemned him by a public vote to be general no more, and to pay a fine which is stated at the lowest estimate to have been fifteen talents, and at the highest fifty. This was carried, according to Idomeneus, by Kleon, but according to Theophrastus by Simmias; whilst Herakleides of Pontus says that it was effected by Lakrateides.
XXXVI. He soon regained his public position, for the people's outburst of anger was quenched by the blow they had dealt him, just as a bee leaves its sting in the wound; but his private affairs were in great distress and disorder, as he had lost many of his relatives during the plague, while others were estranged from him on political grounds. Xanthippus too, the eldest of his legitimate sons, who was a spendthrift by nature and married to a woman of expensive habits, a daughter of Tisander, the son of Epilykus, could not bear with his father's stingy ways and the small amount of money which he allowed him. He consequently sent to one of his friends and borrowed money from him as if Pericles had authorised him to do so. When the friend asked for his money back again, Pericles prosecuted him, at which proceeding young Xanthippus was enraged and abused his father, sneering at his way of life and his discussions with the sophists. When some athlete accidentally killed Epitimus of Pharsalus with a javelin, he said that Pericles spent the whole day arguing with Protagoras whether in strict accuracy the javelin, or the man who threw it, or the stewards of the games, ought to be considered the authors of the mishap. And, besides this, Stesimbrotus tells us that Xanthippus put about that scandal about his father and his own wife, so that the father and son remained irreconcilable enemies until Xanthippus's death, which happened during the plague, by an attack of that disorder. At the same time Pericles lost his sister and most of his relations, especially those who supported his policy. Yet he would not yield, nor abate his firmness and constancy of spirit because of these afflictions, but was not observed to weep or mourn, or attend the funeral of any of his relations, until he lost Paralus, the last of his legitimate offspring. Crushed by this blow, he tried in vain to keep up his grand air of indifference, and when carrying a garland to lay upon the corpse he was overpowered by his feelings, so as to burst into a passion of tears and sobs, which he had never done before in his whole life.
XXXVII. Athens made trial of her other generals and public men to conduct her affairs, but none appeared to be of sufficient weight or reputation to have such a charge entrusted to him. The city longed for Pericles, and invited him again to lead its counsels and direct its armies; and he, although dejected in spirits and living in seclusion in his own house, was yet persuaded by Alkibiades and his other friends to resume the direction of affairs. The people apologised for their ungrateful treatment of him, and when he was again in office and elected as general, he begged of them to be released from the operations of the law of bastardy, which he himself had originally introduced, in order that his name and race might not altogether become extinct for want of an heir. The provisions of the law were as follows: - Pericles many years before, when he was at the height of his power and had children born to him, as we have related, of legitimate birth, proposed a law that only those born of an Athenian father and mother should be reckoned Athenian citizens. But when the king of Egypt sent a present of forty thousand medimni of wheat to be divided among the citizens, many lawsuits arose about the citizenship of men whose birth had never been questioned before that law came into force, and many vexatious informations were laid. Nearly five thousand men were convicted of illegitimacy of birth and sold for slaves, while those who retained their citizenship and proved themselves to be genuine Athenians amounted to fourteen thousand and forty. It was indeed an unreasonable request that a law which had been enforced in so many instances should now be broken in the person of its own author, but Pericles's domestic misfortunes, in which he seemed to have paid the penalty for his former haughtiness and pride, touched the hearts of the Athenians so much that they thought his sorrows deserving of their pity, and his request such as he was entitled to make and they to grant in common charity, and they consented to his illegitimate son being enrolled in his own tribe and bearing his own name. This man was subsequently put to death by the people, together with all his colleagues, for their conduct after the sea-fight at Arginusae.
XXXVIII. After this it appears that Pericles was attacked by the plague, not acutely or continuously, as in most cases, but in a slow wasting fashion, exhibiting many varieties of symptoms, and gradually undermining his strength. Theophrastus, in his treatise on Ethics, discusses whether a man's character can be changed by disease, and whether virtue depends upon bodily health. As an example, he quotes a story that Pericles, when one of his friends came to visit him during his sickness, showed him a charm hung round his neck, as a proof that he must be indeed ill to submit to such a piece of folly. As he was now on his deathbed, the most distinguished of the citizens and his surviving friends collected round him and spoke admiringly of his nobleness and immense power, enumerating also the number of his exploits, and the trophies which he had set up for victories gained; for while in chief command he had won no less than nine victories for Athens. They were talking thus to one another in his presence, imagining that he could no longer understand them, but had lost his power of attending to them. He, however, was following all that they said, and suddenly broke silence, saying that he was surprised at their remembering and praising him for the exploits which depended entirely upon fortune for their success, and which many other generals had done as well as himself, while they did not mention his greatest and most glorious title to fame. "No Athenian," said he, "ever wore black because of me."
XXXIX. Pericles was to be admired, not only for his gentleness and mildness of spirit, which he preserved through the most violent political crises and outbreaks of personal hatred to himself, but also for his lofty disposition. He himself accounted it his greatest virtue that he never gave way to feelings of envy or hatred, but from his own exalted pinnacle of greatness never regarded any man as so much his enemy that he could never be his friend. This alone, in my opinion, justifies that outrageous nickname of his, and gives it a certain propriety; for so serene and impartial a man, utterly uncorrupt though possessed of great power, might naturally be called Olympian. Thus it is that we believe that the gods, who are the authors of all good and of no evil to men, rule over us and over all created things, not as the poets describe them in their bewildering fashion, which their own poems prove to be untrue. The poets describe the abode of the gods as a safe and untroubled place where no wind or clouds are, always enjoying a mild air and clear light, thinking such a place to be fittest for a life of immortal blessedness; while they represent the gods themselves as full of disorder and anger and spite and other passions, which are not becoming even to mortal men of common sense. Those reflections, however, perhaps belong to another subject.
Events soon made the loss of Pericles felt and regretted by the Athenians. Those who during his lifetime had complained that his power completely threw them into the shade, when after his death they had made trial of other orators and statesmen, were obliged to confess that with all his arrogance no man ever was really more moderate, and that his real mildness in dealing with men was as remarkable as his apparent pride and assumption. His power, which had been so grudged and envied, and called monarchy and despotism, now was proved to have been the saving of the State; such an amount of corrupt dealing and wickedness suddenly broke out in public affairs, which he before had crushed and forced to hide itself, and so prevented its becoming incurable through impunity and licence.
End of Life Of Pericles by Plutarch