Posts Tagged ‘golden age’

The historian Thucydides, a contemporary of Pericles and often critical of the statesman was asked by Sparta’s king, Archidamus, whether he or Pericles was the better fighter, Thucydides answered without any hesitation that Pericles was better, because even when he was defeated, he managed to convince the audience that he had won. Politics is not for the fainthearted and in Ancient Greece it was played fair or foul and played to win. Pericles means ‘glory surrounding.’In terms of his ability to ward off all attacks of political opponents we might say he was teflon-coated. Like Winston Churchill or Charles deGaulle of the recent times statesmen of old were made from the rough and tumble arena of politics. The Age of Pericles saw Athens locked in a bitter struggle with Sparta and also the full flowering of Greek Art.
Pericles was born c. 495 B.C. in Athens, Greece. He was descended, through his mother, from the powerful and historically influential Alcmaeonid family.
Pericles had such a profound influence on Athenian society that Thucydides, his contemporary historian, acclaimed him as “the first citizen of Athens”. Pericles turned the Delian League into an Athenian empire and led his countrymen during the first two years of the Peloponnesian War. The period during which he led Athens, roughly from 461 to 429 BC, is sometimes known as the “Age of Pericles.” In 461, he assumed rule of Athens—a role he would occupy until his death.
“… It is from the greatest dangers that the greatest glories are to be won.”
Pericles entered politics in 470 B.C. Upon joining the Assembly, Pericles supported major reform of the Athenian constitution and was outspoken about his hostility towards Sparta. 

In 462, Pericles and a fellow politician, Ephiatles, established a vote in the popular assembly. The vote resulted in the complete loss of power for the old noble council, Areopagus. Cimon, the conservative Athenian leader whose policy it was to maintain friendly relations with Sparta, was exiled. To many historians, these events marked the true beginning of Athenian democracy. Pericles quickly seized the helm, organizing democratic institutions throughout the city and in 461 becoming the ruler of Athens.
Pericles, following Athenian custom, was first married to one of his closest relatives, with whom he had two sons, Paralus and Xanthippus, but around 445 BC, Pericles divorced his wife. He offered her to another husband, with the agreement of her male relatives. The name of his first wife is not known. Next he chose to live with Aspasia of Miletus. This relationship supplied ample ammunition to his political opponents who cast slur on her reputation. Even Pericles’ own son, Xanthippus joined in the fray. Most virulent attacks came just before the eruption of the Peloponnesian war.
Since Pericles was highly esteemed and powerful attack against him came roundabout.
Phidias, who had been in charge of all building projects, was first accused of embezzling gold intended for the statue of Athena and then of impiety, because, when he wrought the battle of the Amazons on the shield of Athena, he carved out a figure that suggested himself as a bald old man, and also inserted a very fine likeness of Pericles fighting with an Amazon. Pericles’ enemies also found a false witness against Phidias, named Menon.Aspasia, who was noted for her ability as a conversationalist and adviser, was accused of corrupting the women of Athens in order to satisfy Pericles’ perversions. Such slanders from his enemies did not have the desired effect but the whole experience was very bitter for Pericles. Although Aspasia was acquitted thanks to a rare emotional outburst of Pericles, his friend, Phidias, died in prison and another friend of his, Anaxagoras, was attacked by the ecclesia for his religious beliefs.
Over the course of his leadership, Pericles organized the construction of the Acropolis and the Parthenon in Athens. He also led several crucial military missions. Among them were Athens’ recapture of Delphi from the Spartans in 448, the Athenian Navy’s siege on Samos during the Samian War, and the misfortunate invasion of Megara in 431, which ended in Athens’ defeat and ultimately its ruination.
According to Plutarch, after assuming the leadership of Athens, “he was no longer the same man as before, nor alike submissive to the people and ready to yield and give in to the desires of the multitude as a steersman to the breezes”.
In matters of character, Pericles was above reproach in the eyes of the ancient historians, since “he kept himself untainted by corruption, although he was not altogether indifferent to money-making”.
According to Plutarch, he avoided using gimmicks in his speeches, unlike the passionate Demosthenes, and always spoke in a calm and tranquil manner.[
Quote from his funeral oration:

“Our polity does not copy the laws of neighboring states; we are rather a pattern to others than imitators ourselves. It is called a democracy, because not the few but the many govern. If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice to all in their private differences; if to social standing, advancement in public life falls to reputation for capacity, class considerations not being allowed to interfere with merit; nor again does poverty bar the way, if a man is able to serve the state, he is not hindered by the obscurity of his condition.”
Pericles’ Funeral Oration as recorded by Thucydides
In 429, he died of the plague.(ack:biography.com,wikipedia)


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Aesop needs no introduction and his fables are part of world heritage. I have written a full length fictional biography in a series of episodes tracing his life from his childhood to his exile and death.
Perhaps you might ask if the life of Aesop in particular is relevant to the modern world. He lived as we are, at a time when two world empires were on collision course. I have showed how Aesop with all his prudence and high moral principles was a victim like every other of the larger forces at work. From his life the reader may draw his or her own conclusions as to the manner history is made and principles that take man to rise or fall.
This book has no mindless violence, gratuitous sex or swearing etc but fun and all that adds grace to life in the young or old.
This book published in 2006 is now available as e.book. I am pasting the link here below and you may check it out.
The ISBN number is 978-1-4475-7597-9

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Tantalus was like a second father to Basileus. Iadmon was often away on something or other and the boy always looked to Tantalus for guidance. Once he asked Tantalus of what stuff his spirit was made of. He said his tutor swore by it whereas he could not make head or tail of it. Tantalus knew the boy of 14 was serious. He explained spirit as something similar to heat that accompanied the lighting of the oil lamp. “The life of man burns and the light which we see from his actions would generate heat. The City of Athens is a city of lights, fame of which is supplied by so many men and women. It is the spirit of the city which gives heat in such intensity much more than, say in a small town.” Basileus thought over it and said, “It is the spirit of the times which is the key.” “No, spirit of man is the key,” Tantalus said with a smile, ”If it were not for that how we can judge the quality of any age?” Spirit of man gives his age and place its special flavor. What moves Sparta with their Spartan way of life would leave an Athenian cold.


Man is a physical and moral being.

Aesop sought his mentor out often in order to clear many of his doubts. One day Hesiod narrated story of a sage who wanted to revive one at the point of death. He sent the monkey-god to fetch a certain herb from a mountain. The time was short so the monkey-god brought the whole mountain to the physician-sage so he could choose the exact herb himself. “It is the task of each to find Truth and not leave it for others.” Aesop agreed with his mentor that Truth was for all occasions. Truth applied to both body and spirit. “The body must be true to Truth: actions give it the correct volume and shape. It has that seal of truth: thereby he is seen as human to all. He also ensures his growth by referring to Truth.” (Ch.2 His Baggage-page 45-46)


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