Plutarch, Pericles (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Plut. Per.].
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8.3But the comic poets of that day who let fly, both in earnest and in jest, many shafts of speech against him, make it plain that he got this surname chiefly because of his diction; they spoke of him as “thundering” and “lightening” when he harangued his audience, [Note] and as “wielding a dread thunderbolt in his tongue.”

There is on record also a certain saying of Thucydides, the son of Melesias, touching the clever persuasiveness of Pericles, a saying uttered in jest. 8.4Thucydides belonged to the party of the “Good and True,” and was for a very long time a political antagonist of Pericles. When Archidamus, the king of the Lacedaemonians, asked him whether he or Pericles was the better wrestler, he replied: “Whenever I throw him in wrestling, he disputes the fall, and carries his point, and persuades the very men who saw him fall.”

The truth is, however, that even Pericles, with all his gifts, was cautious in his discourse, so that whenever he came forward to speak he prayed the gods that there might not escape him unawares a single word which was unsuited to the matter under discussion. 8.5In writing he left nothing behind him except the decrees which he proposed, and only a few in all of his memorable sayings are preserved, as, for instance, his urging the removal of Aegina as the “eye-sore of the Piraeus,” and his declaring that he “already beheld war swooping down upon them from Peloponnesus.” Once also when Sophocles, who was general with him on a certain naval expedition, [Note] praised a lovely boy, he said: “It is not his hands only, Sophocles, that a general must keep clean, but his eyes as well.” 8.6Again, Stesimbrotus says that, in his funeral oration over those who had fallen in the Samian War, he declared that they had become immortal, like the gods; “the gods themselves,” he said, “we cannot see, but from the honors which they receive, and the blessings which they bestow, we conclude that they are immortal.” So it was, he said, with those who had given their lives for their country.

ch. 9 9.1

Thucydides describes [Note] the administration of Pericles as rather aristocratic,—“in name a democracy, but in fact a government by the greatest citizen.” But many others say that the people was first led on by him into allotments of public lands, festival-grants, and distributions of fees for public services, thereby falling into bad habits, and becoming luxurious and wanton under the influence of his public measures, instead of frugal and self-sufficing. Let us therefore examine in detail the reason for this change in him. [Note] 9.2

In the beginning, as has been said, pitted as he was against the reputation of Cimon, he tried to ingratiate himself with the people. And since he was the inferior in wealth and property, by means of which Cimon would win over the poor,—furnishing a dinner every day to any Athenian who wanted it, bestowing raiment on the elderly men, and removing the fences from his estates that whosoever wished might pluck the fruit,—Pericles, outdone in popular arts of this sort, had recourse to the distribution of the people's own wealth. This was on the advice of Damonides, of the deme Oa, as Aristotle has stated. [Note] 9.3

And soon, what with festival-grants and jurors' wages and other fees and largesses, he bribed the multitude by the wholesale, and used them in opposition to the Council of the Areiopagus. Of this body he himself was not a member, since the lot had not made him either First Archon, or Archon Thesmothete, or King Archon, or Archon Polemarch. These offices were in ancient times filled by lot, and through them those who properly acquitted themselves were promoted into the Areiopagus. 9.4For this reason all the more did Pericles, strong in the affections of the people, lead a successful party against the Council of the Areiopagus. Not only was the Council robbed of most of its jurisdiction by Ephialtes, but Cimon also, on the charge of being a lover of Sparta and a hater of the people, was ostracized, [Note]—a man who yielded to none in wealth and lineage, who had won most glorious victories over the Barbarians, and had filled the city full of money and spoils, as is written in his Life. Such was the power of Pericles among the people.

ch. 10 10.1

Now ostracism involved legally a period of ten years' banishment. But in the meanwhile [Note] the Lacedaemonians invaded the district of Tanagra with a great army, and the Athenians straightway sallied out against them. So Cimon came back from his banishment and stationed himself with his tribesmen in line of battle, and determined by his deeds to rid himself of the charge of too great love for Sparta, in that he shared the perils of his fellow-citizens. But the friends of Pericles banded together and drove him from the ranks, on the ground that he was under sentence of banishment.



Plutarch, Pericles (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Plut. Per.].
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