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( Originally Published Early 1900's )
B. C. 495-429
THE INTELLECTUAL SUPREMACY OF ATHENS
The public life of Pericles, the great statesman of Athens, whose name is inseparably connected with the most intellectual period in the history, not merely of his own, but of any country, began about the time when Themistocles was ostracised and Aristides was passing from the stage of Athenian politics. Pericles must have been then quite young, since he maintained a position of great influence and afterward of unrivaled control in Athens for the long period of nearly forty years.
In politics Pericles was the successor of Themistocles, adopting his broad views and espousing the cause of the democracy; but in character he more nearly resembled Aristides. Through the whole of his long career his probity in money matters was never assailed successfully. He entered upon public life with a mind stored with the best philosophy which the age afforded, and with the additional advantage of an eloquence such, we are told, as no one before had either heard or conceived. One drawback, as Plutarch tells us, rendered him at first timid in appearing before the popular Assembly, and this was that his countenance strongly resembled that of Pisistratus, which led him to dread being ostracised.
Before taking up the story of Pericles, it will be well to go back a little way in the history of Athens.
One of the defensive measures adopted by the Greeks against the Persians, after the final withdrawal of the latter from Greece in B. C. 479, was the formation of a league consisting of the Ionian Islands and some other maritime States, which came to be known as the "Confederacy of Delos," from its being arranged that the allies belonging to it should meet periodically in the Temple of Apollo and Artemis on that island. Aristides, who at this time commanded the Athenian fleet, had been active in forming the League, and it was arranged that Athens, as the leading maritime power, should be recognized as its head. Each State was assessed in a certain contribution either of money or ships, as proposed by the Athenians and accepted by the assembled delegates. The common treasury was at Delos.
Soon after the formation of this League Aristides was succeeded in the command of the Athenian fleet by Cimon, the son of Miltiades, the hero of Marathon. During the ensuing four or, five years several successes against the Persians, on the coast of Thrace and of Asia, were obtained by the allied fleet under Cimon, the most notable being the defeat (B. C. 466) of a Persian fleet of 200 vessels near the mouth of the river Eurymedon, in Pamphilia, and on the same day a land victory over the Persian army which was drawn tip on shore to protect the fleet.
These successes of Cimon gained him great credit at Athens. He became the undisputed leader of the aristocratic party of Athens, and it was against him that Pericles found himself pitted upon his first entrance into public life. No two persons could have been more unlike than, they in character and disposition. Though leaders of the Aristocrats, Cimon was in his intercourse with the people the much more democratic of the two. He was generous, affable, magnificent, and of exceedingly popular manners. He employed the vast wealth acquired in his expeditions in adorning Athens and gratifying his fellow citizens. He kept open house for such of his neighbors as were in want, and when he appeared in public he was attended by well-dressed slaves who were directed to exchange their garments for the threadbare clothing of needy citizens. But he was untaught in music or letters, and possessed the Spartan aversion to rhetoric and philosophy. Pericles, on the other hand, was inclined to be distant and reserved in his demeanor. He was indefatigable in his attention to public business, but he went little into society and made no special effort to render himself popular with his fellow citizens. His delight was in the converse of intellectual persons of Anaxagoras, from whom he acquired a tinge of physical philosophy, that armed him against many of the popular superstitions of the day; of Zeno and the musician, Damon, and above all, later in life, the engaging and cultivated Aspasia. In the management of his household affairs, while not parsimonious, he was rigidly economical, the produce of his lands being all sold and his house being supplied by purchase in the market.
Such were the two leaders who now found themselves opposed to each other, one as the leader of the Aristocratic or Conservative, and the other of the expanding and aggressive Democratical party.
The founding of the Athenian democracy has been described in the article on Solon. Clisthenes, after the expulsion of the Pisistratids from Athens, some thirty years before the time we are now considering, had rendered the Athenian constitution still more democratic by removing the restriction which excluded the fourth and poorest class of the citizens from the archonship and other magistracies, and rendering every Athenian eligible to any and every office in the State. Still, it is probable that the advantage thus secured by the people was more nominal than real, for it can hardly be supposed that so long as the offices were filled by election, a poor and obscure citizen stood a chance of attaining to any position of importance in the government. But about this time another change was introduced whether by Pericles or not, is uncertain whereby the Archons were chosen by lot instead of by vote, though under restrictions such that no unworthy man could compete for the high honor successfully.
From this and other indications it is evident that the Democratic sentiment in Athens was on the increase. The people were demanding and were obtaining a larger share in the government, and the exclusive power of the high-born and wealthy was on the wane. The splendid achievements of the fleet, which was looked upon as a creation of the people, fostered this sentiment. Even the poorest citizen of Athens was stimulated by that increase in the power of his city, to which he had himself directly contributed. The old and unprogressive Aristocracy was looked upon by the great mass of the people as a relic of by-gone days a hindrance to the growth of the new Athens which they were creating. Pericles appeared as the champion of this aggressive popular party. The first public measure with which his name is connected was aimed and successfully at the very stronghold of the Aristocracy the Senate of the Areopagus. The attack upon this institution was accompanied with other important occurrences, which it is necessary now to relate.
The Island of Thasos, one of the members of the Confederacy of Delos, disaffected by the growing power of Athens, revolted against her authority, and Cimon was sent in B. C. 465 to restore the island to its duty. The Thasians secretly applied to Sparta to make a diversion in their favor by invading Attica; and though the Spartans were still ostensibly allied with Athens, they were base enough to comply with this request. Their intended treachery was, however, prevented by a terrible calamity. In the year B. C. 464 their capital was laid in ruins by an earthquake, by which were killed 20,000 of the citizens, besides a large body of their chosen youth, who were engaged in a building in their gymnastic exercises. The earthquake was immediately followed by a revolt of the Helots, who, after having been repulsed in an attempt to take Sparta, retired into Messenia, and fortified themselves upon Mount Ithome.
Unsuccessful in their attempts to take this stronghold, the Spartans called for aid upon some of their allies, among the rest upon the Athenians.
The popular sentiment at Athens was strongly against the Spartans, and it was with great difficulty that Cimon prevailed upon the Athenians to send to their assistance a body of 4,000 heavy-armed infantry, of which he him-self took command. This little expedition, besides leading to other important consequences, was the immediate cause of the downfall of Cimon, who had already begun to lose his popularity at Athens, for not having conducted the affair of Thasos with his usual brilliancy. The Athenians failed to take Ithome, as had been expected of them from their acknowledged superiority in attacking fortified places, and the Spartans, suspecting treachery, curtly informed them that they were no longer needed, and sent them home.
The insult thus offered to Athens was charged directly to Cimon, as the proposer of the expedition. Pericles took advantage of the popular resentment against him and his party to bring forward the measure, already mentioned, directed against the Senate of the Areopagus. This ancient body, made up of ex-Archons and therefore entirely aristocratic, was a sort of Supreme Court in Athens. Besides its judicial functions, it exercised a general censor-ship over the lives and occupations of the citizens. It was charged that the Areopagus was open to corrupt influences, whether rightly or wrongly. At any rate, it had become hateful to the people, and they determined to clip its authority. Pericles led the attack upon it. The fight was bitter and stormy; but it ended in a democratic victory. The Areopagus, stripped of all its judicial authority, except in certain trival cases, was left with but a shadow of its former influence and power.
In the violence of party feeling resulting from this struggle, resort was had to ostracism, and Cimon was condemned to a ten years' banishment.
Pericles had now fairly entered upon his long administration of the affairs of Athens. The effect of his accession to power soon became apparent in the foreign relations of the city. He had succeeded to the political principles of Themistocles. He aimed to render Athens the leading power in Greece. Already the Confederacy of Delos had made her supreme upon the sea. Pericles now took measures to increase her influence also upon the land. In two ways this object might be attained; first, by alliances with other states, and, second, by enlarging the territories of Athens by means of colonies. Both measures were adopted. Sparta was the only rival whom Athens had to fear. In the state of feeling aroused among the Athenians by the insult offered them by Sparta, Pericles easily persuaded them to renounce their alliance with that state and to join themselves to her bitterest enemies. Argos had taken advantage of the embarrassment caused Sparta by the revolt of the Helots to reassert actively her old claim to leadership in Peloponnesus, and with Argos an alliance was now formed by Athens, which was joined also by the Thessalians. Athens also contracted an alliance with the little state of Megara, on the isthmus of Corinth, and thus secured control of the entrance to Peloponnesus.
The immediate consequence of these measures was a war with the AEginetans, who had for some time been watching the increasing power of their old rival with jealousy and fear. But though the AEginetans received some aid from Corinth and some small states of Peloponnesus, the Spartans, hampered by their own difficulties, rendered them no assistance, and the Athenians were victorious. They captured the fleet of AEgina, and landing a large force on the island, laid siege to the capital.
About this time (B. C. 458-457) the Athenians, chiefly through the advice of Pericles, began the construction of the "long walls," which connected Athens with the ports of the Piraeus and Phalerum. This work was in continuation of the plan of fortification by which Themistocles had sought to render the maritime power of Athens wholly unassailable, and it was doubtless suggested at this time by the anticipation that Sparta, though temporarily weakened by her domestic troubles, would ultimately join the confederacy which was arrayed against Athens. The building of these walls was a gigantic undertaking. That which led to Phalerum was four miles in length, and that to the Piraeus was four and a half miles long. This popular measure was violently opposed by the aristocratic party, but without success.
The next important event to be noted is the battle of Tanagra. The Spat-tans, now thoroughly alarmed by the obvious designs of Athens, seized upon a pretext to send an armed force into Boeotia, which was employed in restoring the power of the Thebans, who had lost much of their influence through the attitude taken by Thebes in the Persian war. Some members of the aristocratic party in Athens took the occasion traitorously to send to the Spartans a request to march upon Athens and stop the work upon the long walls. The Spartans listened to the proposal, and took up a position at Tanagra, on the border of Attica. The Athenians suspected treachery, and considered it high time to act. The battle of Tanagra was the consequence. The small army of the Athenians was led by Pericles in person. The battle was a hotly contested one, and the advantage rested finally with the Spartans ; still, their success was not great enough to warrant them in invading Attica, but it allowed them to retire unmolested into Peloponnesus.
Previously to the engagement at Tanagra the ostracised Cimon presented himself before the Athenian army, and begged to be allowed to fight in the ranks, as a volunteer. His request was not granted; but the incident created so strong a sentiment in his favor, that soon after this his ostracism was revoked, the decree for this purpose being proposed by Pericles himself.
Within two months after the battle of Tanagra the Athenians marched into Boeotia and reversed all of the arrangements of the Spartans, driving out the aristocrats from Thebes, and establishing there a democratic government. For a time a short time only the power of Athens was supreme from the gulf of Corinth to the north-ern border of Thessaly. The building of the long walls was completed. The conquest of AEgina was effected, and this island became a dependency of Athens.
About this time occurred a cessation of hostilities with Persia. Ever since the battle of Salamis a war with Persia had been carried on by Athens, as the head of the Confederacy of Delos, for the most part of the time in a desultory manner, and not always with complete success. The last important incident of the war was the sending of an expedition, consisting of 20o ships, to Cyprus, which proved fatal to its leader, Cimon, who died, either of disease or of a wound, during the progress of the siege of a town on the island. His successor in command gained a great victory over the Persian fleet; and a pacification with Persia followed, which is sometimes called, though improperly, "the peace of Cimon."
In the course of the war with Persia great changes were gradually effected in the constitution of the Confederacy of Delos, all of which strengthened the hands of Athens. Many of the smaller islands belonging to the league commuted their required contribution of ships into a payment of money. Even the custody of the funds of the league was transferred from the island of Delos to Athens a change which marked the complete subjugation of the confederates of Athens, and one important consequence of which will be seen presently. At the time of the close of the war with Persia three states only Chios, Lesbos, and Samos still retained their independence. The rest had become tributary to Athens, forming practically parts of an Athenian Empire to the growth of which their own supineness had contributed. Though the purpose for which the league had been formed disappeared with the conclusion of peace with Persia, the contributions were still levied regularly were even increased in amount and these levies went into the treasury of Athens.
Athens now stood at the height of her political supremacy. But the land portion of her Empire quickly crumbled into pieces. First came a revolution in Boeotia, which deprived her of her ascendency in that country. Then followed in quick succession a revolt in the island of Euboea and another in Megara. Pericles himself led an army to quell the Euboean revolt; but he was quickly called home to repel a threatened invasion of Attica itself by the Spartans, led by their youthful King, Plestonax. The Spartans and their allies actually advanced as far as Eleusis, and it is said that their further advance was arrested only by Pericles bribing the Spartan King and his adviser. Pericles now returned to Euboea, which he conquered and apportioned among Athenian colonists. But this was the only revolted territory which was recovered. On all sides hostility to Athens was displaying itself, of which Sparta was the moving spirit. In this condition of affairs the Athenians were induced (in B. C. 445) to conclude with Sparta a truce of thirty years. By the terms of this treaty the Athenians abandoned all the acquisitions which they had made in Peloponnesus, and left Megara to be included among the Spartan allies.
The political Empire of Athens having become thus seriously impaired, Pericles now set to work purposely and systematically to rear for her an Empire of a different character. He resolved to adorn Athens with magnificent buildings and with other works of art, befitting her station as an imperial city, and calculated by their splendor to impose upon the imaginations of her subjects and allies, and to convey the impression of a greater power than really she possessed. And he not only accomplished this design, but aided by talent of extraordinary originality and brilliancy, he succeeded in an incredibly short time in enriching Athens with buildings and sculptures which have been the models, as well as the admiration, of all the subsequent ages.
The means by which was accomplished this great work were such as if the truth must be told, nothing extenuated can, in these days, hardly be approved as strictly honorable. Pericles simply embezzled the funds belonging to the Confederacy of Delos, the treasury of which, as has before been stated, was now at Athens. There was in this treasury a large surplus, since for some years expenditure for war purposes had almost entirely ceased, and the amount of the annual contributions was about 600 talents, or something like 700,000 dollars. It was with this money that Pericles now set to work to strengthen and adorn the imperial city.
The proposal of Pericles to use this fund for a purpose entirely foreign to that for which it was designed, naturally met with violent opposition from the aristocratic party. Cimon, great leader of this party, was now dead. The party itself was decidedly in the minority. But it found a new and able leader in Thucydides not the historian, but a member of the same family who for a time succeeded in opposing a stout resistance to a design which he stigmatized as dishonest and calculated to disgrace Athens in the eyes of Greece. In the violence of party feeling recourse was had to the usual expedient. Thucydides was ostracised, probably about two years after the conclusion of the thirty years' truce with Sparta.
Pericles was now left free to carry out his design. During the fourteen years which elapsed until the breaking out of the long war with Sparta and her allies, his power at Athens was practically absolute. The first great work which he induced the people to undertake was the building of a third, or intermediate wall, running parallel with the first wall to the Piraeus, and distant from it about 150 feet. In time the inner sides of these two walls became lined with buildings and booths; and this long, straight street, leading from the town to the port, became a favorite promenade of the Athenians. At the same time the town of the Piraeus itself was laid out with new streets, running at right angles with each other. Apparently this was something new in Greece, the towns generally, and Athens itself in particular, being built without any attempt at regularity, their streets being both crooked and narrow.
And, indeed, Athens, notwithstanding the magnificence of its public edifices, was even in its best days one of the most slovenly of cities. Its private dwellings had mostly but a single story, and were without windows looking toward the street; even the thoroughfares were narrow, and the streets were never lighted and there was no attempt at drainage.
But the buildings erected on the Acropolis were the real glory of the Periclean age. This was a nearly rectangular rocky eminence, rising with precipitous sides to a height of about 150 feet, with a flat summit of about 1,000 feet in length from east to west, and 500 feet broad from north to south. It stood nearly at the center of the city, as it was enclosed by the walls of Themistocles. The Acropolis had originally been the whole of Athens ; but in process of time buildings had sprung up around its base, and since the destruction of the city by the Persians no private buildings had been erected upon it. On its eastern slope was the theater of Dionysus, a work begun ten years before the invasion of Greece by Darius, and which occupied 16o years in its completion. It was built in the form of a semi-circle, the central part being hollowed out of the rock itself, its stone seats rising in terraces, and it was capable of accommodating the whole population of Athens. The first work of Pericles was a new and smaller theater, called the Odeon, built by the side of the older, and designed for musical and poetical representations at the great Panathenaic solemnity. His next great work was the splendid temple of Athene, or Minerva, called the Parthenon, with all its masterpieces and reliefs. Lastly were erected the costly portals which formed the entrance to the Acropolis, on the western side of the hill, through which the solemn processions on festive days were conducted. Progress was also made in restoring, or reconstructing, the Erechtheum, or ancient temple of Athene, which had been burnt in the invasion of Xerxes. But the breaking out of the Peloponnesian war seems to have prevented the completion of this work, as well as of the great temple of Demeter (Ceres), at Eleusis, for the celebration of the Eleusinian mysteries, which work also was projected by Pericles.
Equally memorable with the architecture was the sculpture which adorned the Acropolis. There were three statues, all by the hand of Phidias and all of colossal pro-portions. First there was in the cella of the Parthenon a statue of Athene forty-seven feet high, all the exposed parts of which were of ivory, instead of marble, while the flowing robe and ornaments were of solid gold. There was a second, of bronze, called the Lemnian Athene, and a third, also in bronze, called Athene Promachos, which stood in the open air between the portal of the Acropolis and the Parthenon, and which was visible to navigators approaching Athens from sea.
It is not, of course, to Pericles alone that the glory of these splendid productions of art belongs. While he conceived the project of their creation and found the funds necessary for carrying it out, he would have been powerless without the aid of the great artists who designed and executed them, and who were themselves a product of that same period of expanding and stimulating democracy, which called forth a similar creative genius in oratory, dramatic poetry and philosophical speculation.
Other measures which Pericles at this time adopted for increasing the power and prestige of Athens was the sending out of colonies to the Thracian Chersonese, to Naxos and other islands; but these measures, important at the time, have little interest for us now, and may be dismissed with a bare mention. Nor was the period we are now engaged upon entirely one of peace for Athens. The most important event in the external history of Athens at this time was the defection of the island of Samos, an important member of the Confederacy of Delos, which had refused to submit to the arbitration of Athens in a quarrel with the Milesians, and to reduce which to sub-mission required the sending of two armaments, at different times, both commanded by Pericles. The successful conclusion of the Samian war was the occasion of a funeral oration by Pericles as a tribute to the Athenians who had perished in the war, and which is described as one of the masterpieces of his oratory.
We are approaching now the close of the career of this 'greatest of Athenian statesmen. The causes which led to the interruption of the thirty-years' truce and the breaking out of the Peloponnesian war need not be narrated in detail. It will be enough to say that Sparta, who had all along been restive under the rising glory of Athens, availed herself of an occurrence which might be construed into an infraction of the terms of the truce by Athens an interference by Athens in an affair between Corinth and the island of Corcyra to listen to complaints which were lodged with her against Athens, and finally to decide upon a declaration of war. Before taking this step, however, she sent a delegation to Athens, designed insidiously to undermine the power of Pericles. Pericles was connected on his mother's side with the family of the Alcmaeonids, who had long been under a ban in Greece, because of the sacrilege, committed nearly two centuries before this time by their ancestor Megacles, who had caused the adherents of Cylon to be slaughtered in the temple of Athene, on the Acropolis at Athens. The Spar-tans now demanded of the Athenians that they should deliver themselves from this "abomination." They can hardly have expected that Athens would consent to banish her great statesman, but they knew that at any rate the demand would afford opportunity for his enemies to vent their spite against him and a pretext for holding him up as the cause of the impending war.
To this extent their scheme was successful, for Pericles, despite the great work which he had done and was doing for Athens, had many enemies, who now, emboldened by the backing of Sparta, came forward to make charges against him. They assailed him through his private connections, and even attacked his established reputation for probity on a flimsy charge of peculation. The relations of the beautiful and cultured Aspasia with Pericles are fully treated of in another place in these volumes.* The philosopher Anaxagoras was another intimate of Pericles. Both of these dear friends of Pericles were indicted by the comic poet Hermippus on a charge of impiety, and were dragged before the Athenian judicial tribunal. Anaxagoras prudently fled from Athens and thus probably escaped a fate which later overtook the venerable Socrates. But Aspasia appeared before the judges, and Pericles conducted her defence. It is said that on this occasion the cold and some-what haughty statesman was seen for the first time to shed tears. His appeal to the judges was successful; Aspasia was acquitted. But another trial awaited him. A charge was brought against the artist Phidias of having embezzled some of the gold intended to adorn the statue of Athene, Pericles himself being implicated in the charge. Fortunately the gold was so affixed to the statue that it could be removed and weighed, so that the truth of the charge was easily disproved. But Phidias was not so fortunate with respect to another charge that of impiety, because he had introduced among the figures which adorned the shield of Athene portraits of himself and Pericles. Phidias was thrown into prison, where he died before the day set for his trial.
After some preliminary hostilities between the Thebans and Plataeans, in which Athens became involved, the great war, which was to last for thirty years and was to end in the complete humiliation of Athens, was at length fairly begun by the invasion of Attica by the Spar-tans and their allies, led by the Spartan King Archidamus, in the early part of the summer of the year B. C. 431. Upon the approach of the Spartan army, which, with the allies included, consisted at the lowest estimate of 6o,000 men, the whole population of Attica took refuge, with all their movable effects, within the walls of the city. This was done on the instruction of Pericles, who had determined to act strictly on the defensive, so far as land operations were concerned. Archidamus advanced slowly, ravaging the country through which he passed, in the hope of provoking the Athenians to leave their stronghold and engage in battle, and finally he encamped within sight of the city. But no provocation could in-duce the Athenians to break away from the orders of Pericles. He, however, soothed their impatience of his defensive plan of campaign by sending a large fleet to ravage the coast of Peloponnesus. Archidamus remained in Attica no longer than until midsummer, when he returned home and disbanded his army. Pericles now issued forth at the head of a considerable army and took vengeance on the Megarans, ravaging their country up to the very gates of the city. Thus ended the first campaign.
Toward the winter Pericles delivered, from a lofty platform erected for the purpose, a funeral oration of those who had fallen in the war. This speech, or at all events the substance of it, has been preserved by Thucydides, who possibly may have heard it pronounced. It is a valuable monument of eloquence and patriotism, and is particularly interesting from the sketch it contains of the growth of the Athenian Constitution, and because in it Pericles also gives an exposition of what had been his own policy. Plato states that this famous oration was written by Aspasia.
In the spring of the next year the Peloponnesians under Archidamus, again invaded Attica. And now a new and more terrible enemy appeared within the very walls of the city. A few days after Archidamus entered Attica a pestilence, or epidemic sickness, suddenly broke out in Athens. It appears that this terrible disorder had been raging for some time around the shores of the Mediterranean, having been brought originally, it was thought, through Egypt from Ethiopia. The crowded and doubtless filthy state of Athens rendered the epidemic which is now believed from descriptions of its symptoms and effects to have been an eruptive typhoid fever particularly virulent. The progress of the disease was as rapid and destructive as its appearance had been sudden. No treatment or remedy appeared to produce any beneficial effect, and the physicians, while trying in vain their customary means, soon ended by catching the malady themselves and perishing. Every man attacked by the disease, we are told, at once lost courage, and lay down to die without the least attempt to seek for any preservatives. And though at first friends and relatives lent their aid to tend the sick with the usual family sympathies, yet so terrible was the number of these attendants who perished "like sheep" from such contact, that at length no man would expose himself, and the sick were left to perish unattended and helpless. The dead and the dying, it has been said by Thucydides, who was an eye-witness, lay piled upon one another, not merely in the public roads, but even in the temples. The numerous bodies thus unburied were in such condition that the dogs which meddled with them died in consequence, and no vultures or other birds of prey would touch them. Those bodies which escaped entire neglect were burnt or buried without the customary mourning and with unseemly carelessness. In some cases the bearers of a body, passing a funeral pile on which another body was burning, would put their own there to be burnt also; or, perhaps if the pile was prepared for a body not yet arrived, would deposit their own upon it, set fire to the pile and then depart. From accounts such as these we may form some idea of the depth of the gloom and heart-less desperation brought upon the city by this terrible visitation.
The numbers carried off by the pestilence can hardly have been less than one-fourth of the population. Such, at least, was the ascertained percentage among the knights, while among the poor the victims must have been proportionately even more numerous.
In spite of the ravages of the plague, the war was still prosecuted on the same plan as in the preceding year. An expedition was fitted out by the Athenians, of which Pericles took command in person, to divert the attention of Archidamus by ravaging the coast of Peloponnesus. Upon returning from this expedition, Pericles found at Athens a state of so great despondency that he convoked a public assembly, for the purpose of vindicating his con-duct and encouraging the citizens to persevere. But though he succeeded in persuading them to prosecute the war with vigor, many of the citizens still continued to harbor resentment against him. His political enemies took advantage of this feeling to bring against him a charge of peculation, with the object of incapacitating him for holding his office of strategus, or general. He was brought before the judges on this charge and was sentenced to pay a heavy fine; but eventually a strong reaction took place in his favor. He was re-elected general and apparently regained all his former influence.
But he was not long to enjoy this renewal of his popularity. His end was drawing near. Among the victims of the plague were not only many intimate and dear friends, but also several members of his own family, among whom were his sister, and his only two legitimate sons, Xanthippus and Paralus. The latter was an especial favorite with his father, and his loss was a severe blow to him. Pericles was now left without an heir. By Aspasia he had, however, an illegitimate son, who bore his own name. The Athenians, touched by his family desolation, now gave him permission to legitimize this son, though in so doing they were obliged to set aside a law of his own proposal, which debarred of citizenship any one who was not an Athenian on both his father's and his mother's side.
Pericles lived about one year after his reinstatement as General, and seems to have retained his influence so long as his health permitted him to engage in public affairs. But we hear nothing further of him. He fell a victim not of the epidemic, but of a lingering fever, which undermined his strength, as well as his capacity. It is related that during his last moments, when he was lying apparently unconscious, friends who were gathered round his bed were passing in review the acts of his life, and mentioned the nine trophies he had erected at different times for so many victories. He heard what they said, though they fancied he was past hearing, and interrupted them by remarking : "What you praise in my life belongs partly to good fortune, and is at best common to me with many other generals. But the peculiarity of which I am the most proud, you have not noticed. It is, that no Athenian has ever put on mourning on my account."
The character of Pericles has been variously presented by different writers, both ancient and modern. His long-continued ascendency in Athens and his final almost absolute control of her people sufficiently attest his political sagacity and the persuasive power of his eloquence. That all of his measures were beneficial to Athens may be questioned. That the general result of his long administration redounded to her glory, there is no need to say.