Periclean Athens


The Completion of the Classical Democracy

Ephialtes’ reform, if I am right to represent it as undertaken with the deliberate intention of making Athens more democratic, marks a watershed in Athens’ political development (cf. pp. 40–4). The democracy was not welcomed by all Athenians, but it had come to stay. For one more generation, however, political leadership remained in the hands of aristocrats: leaders of a new kind did not emerge until the 430’s and 420’s (cf. pp. 125–8).

Ath. Pol 26. ii-iv chronicles three changes of the 450’s . In 457/6 the archon-ship, previously restricted to the two highest of Solon’s four property classes, was extended to the third class, putting it on a level with other offices. At first the practice of allotment from an elected shortlist, either reintroduced after what Solon had instituted was abandoned under the tyranny, or else introduced for the first time, in 487/6, was retained; some time later allotment was adopted for the selection of the shortlist as well as for the second stage, a tenth post was created,’ s ecretary to thethesmothetai’, and one of the ten was filled from each of the ten tribes (Ath. Pol. 8. i, 55. i).The archons were becoming less important as the generals became more important: this will have reinforced the tendency to view them as routine rather than leading officials. 453/2 saw the revival of an institution of the sixth-century tyrants which had been abolished on their overthrow: travelling justices, to decide minor lawsuits (where the sum at issue was not more than 10 dr.: Ath. Pol. 53. ii) locally. In their fifth-century manifestation they were called dikastai kata demous, ‘deme justices’, and there were thirty of them, perhaps one for each of the thirty trittyes of Attica. Ephialtes’ reform, the archons’ loss of direct jurisdiction, and the development of the Delian League will all have added to the business of the courts in Athens; many low-level disputes were local, and this will have been a sensible way of relieving the pressure.

In 451/0 we have a law attributed to Pericles, limiting Athenian citizenship to men with an Athenian mother as well as an Athenian father (previously only the father had to be Athenian). According to Ath. Pol. 26. iv the change was made ‘on account of the large number of citizens’; but if, as is likely, legitimate birth was required for citizenship, this law would tend to restrict citizens’ choice of wives more than the number of citizen sons whom they fathered. Earlier, mixed marriages had probably been few but distinguished (one product of such a marriage was Pericles’ opponent Cimon - and the law was not retrospective: he did not lose his citizenship). The development of the Delian League and of Athens as a major city was giving more Athenians the opportunity to travel abroad and more foreigners an incentive to visit Athens. Probably mixed marriages were becoming more frequent and were causing anxiety in some circles, and the democrats, proud of the benefits associated with Athenian citizenship, wanted to ensure that those who enjoyed them were genuine Athenians. The law was annulled or ignored towards the end of the Peloponnesian War, when plague and fighting had seriously reduced the citizen body, but in the fourth century it was reaffirmed, and a positive ban on mixed marriages was added.

Ath. Pol. 27 is a rag-bag of material on Pericles. It includes a reform of the Areopagus (probably in fact an allusion to Ephialtes’ reform: cf. p. 44); and it ends with his introduction of payment for serving on juries, represented as a political gambit against Cimon, who ‘was as rich as a tyrant’ and was using his wealth to exercise patronage on a scale which Pericles could not match (cf. Gorgias fr. B 20 DK ap. Plut. Cim. 10. v). In the form in which the story is told, it is discreditable to Pericles, suggesting that he bought political support with the state’s money since he could not afford to do so with his own; but democrats could have respectable grounds for objecting to Cimon’s use of his wealth, and could argue that, if institutions which were democratic on paper were to work democratically in practice, the poorer citizens (for jury service there was an age qualification of 30 but no properly qualification) had to be compensated for taking time away from their own affairs for public business. This is probably to be dated in the 450’s , when the jury-courts were becoming more important: the story should probably not be pressed to yield the conclusion that payment must have been introduced when Cimon was in Athens, between his return from ostracism and his death. It was to be the first of a whole series of payments for the performance of civilian duties, made to enable the poorer citizens to play an active part in public life: by 411 there were payments for holding various offices and serving in the council of five hundred, and at the beginning of the fourth century payment for attending the assembly was added (cf. pp. 172, 298).The payments were not lavish: that for jury service was 2ob. a day at first, increased to 3ob. in the 420’s , about what an unskilled worker could earn. On this as on so many matters we have very little evidence for states other than Athens: almost certainly Athens was the first to make such payments; at the beginning of the fourth century members of the Boeotian federal council received their travelling expenses (Hell. Oxy. 19. iv Chambers), and in the late fourth century there was payment for attending the assembly at Iasus (R&O 99).

In 445/4 Athens received a gift of grain from another Egyptian ruler, Psammetichus (perhaps hoping for further support against Persia). Before this was distributed among the citizens the registers were checked, and it is alleged that nearly 5,000 men - perhaps about 10 per cent of the total - were found to be wrongly registered and were deleted (Philoch. FGrH 328 F 119 ~ Fornara 86, Plut. Per. 37. iv).This probably has no connection with Pericles’ citizenship law beyond the belief that those who were to enjoy the benefits of citizenship should be truly Athenian; it is hard to believe that so large a number should have been deprived of citizenship without there being more trace of the upheaval, but we have no basis on which to arrive at an alternative figure.

The Government of the Democracy

At this point it will be convenient to survey the Athenian democracy as it functioned in the second half of the fifth century.

Like every Greek polls, Athens was a community of politai, citizens - adult males of Athenian descent, on their mother’s side as well as their father’s after the enactment of Pericles’ law (cf. p. 60). The citizens could own land within the city’s territory (as non-citizens normally could not) and take part in the government of the city, and they had to pay taxes and fight for the city (though for rowing the navy’s ships Athens relied on paid volunteers, not all of them citizens, rather than conscription of the poorer citizens). Citizens’ wives and daughters played no part in public life, except in religious matters, but they were important as transmitters of property (a woman with no brother would commonly be married to a relative, to keep property within the family) and of citizenship. Citizens’ sons became citizens at the age of 18. From 18 to 20 they were epheboi, ‘on the verge of adulthood’: they formed a separate category in the army, and they had some opportunities for military training, which were to be developed into a regular programme in the 330’s (cf. pp. 380–1). There were perhaps as many as 60,000 adult male citizens (some of them living in settlements outside Attica) in 431. Free men who were not of Athenian descent had no automatic right to become citizens, though they might be rewarded with citizenship for exceptional services to the Athenians. Any who stayed for more than a short period were known as metics (metoikoi, ‘migrants’): they had to pay taxes and fight in the army; we can only guess at their numbers, but there may have been as many as 10,000-15,000 adult males in 431.

It is even harder to estimate the numbers of slaves, most of whom were non-Greek. Some were owned by the state (and some of these had administrative duties which required literacy); most were owned by individuals, and employed in the household, on the land or in workshops; the largest concentration, employed in the worst conditions, was to be found in the silver mines. The statistic with the strongest claim to be taken seriously is Thucydides’ statement that more than 20,000 deserted when the Spartans established a fort in Attica in 413 (VII. 27. v: cf. pp. 147–8). In 431 there may have been in the region of 100,000 slaves (of both sexes), and probably only the poorest citizens and metics would not own any. The total population of Attica may have been in the region of 300,000-400,000. The adult male citizens were dependent on the women, children, metics and slaves to the extent that they could not have devoted so much time to public life if there had not been others to work for them while they were working for the city; but most ordinary citizens, for much of the time, had non-citizens working alongside rather than instead of them, and the Athenian citizens were not parasitic on the non-citizens as the Spartan citizens were parasitic on the helots.

Draco in the late seventh century and Solon in the early sixth had been specially appointed legislators; but after that, until the end of the fifth century legislation and decision-making generally were by decree (psephismd) of the citizens’ assembly (ekklesia). As in most Greek states, the assembly’s business was prepared by a smaller body, in Athens the council (boule) of five hundred. Athens interpreted the general principle in such a way as to limit the assembly’s freedom as little as possible: the assembly could not vote on a matter unless it had been the subject of a prior resolution by the council (probouleuma), and put to it by the council’s standing committee, the prytaneis (Ath. Pol. 45. iv). Occasionally an ad hoc board of syngrapheis was used to draft a decree (e.g. IG i3 78 = M&L 73 ~ Fornara 140). An Athenian probouleuma did not have to incorporate a specific recommendation, though it often did so; whether it did or not, any citizen in the assembly was then free to speak, and to propose an alternative motion or an amendment to an existing motion; and the final decision was made by a simple majority (voting was usually by show of hands, with the votes assessed but not precisely counted). There were no organised political parties, and not even a Pericles could be sure that every vote would go as he wanted (there is an element of wishful thinking in Thucydides’ representation of Periclean democracy as ‘rule by the first man’: II. 65. ix). Normally the council could prevent a debate by refusing to refer a matter to the assembly (Hdt. IX. 5 reports an instance from 479); but in one amendment to a decree a man requires the council to put to the assembly what he is going to draft (M&L 73 = IG i3 78 ~ Fornara 140. 59–61).

By the fourth century the assembly was holding four regular meetings in each of the ten prytanies of the year, the periods for which one tribe’s fifty representatives in the council provided the standing committee of prytaneis (there had perhaps been an increase from one to four in the time of Pericles); and the council met every day except major occasions in the religious calendar. Perhaps until the time of Ephialtes (cf. p. 43), the archons presided; in the second half of the fifth century the prytaneis presided, one of their number each day acting as chairman. For some kinds of business in the assembly a quorum was required: in 411, when the citizen body had been reduced by plague and war casualties and many of the survivors were away from Athens, it could be alleged that attendance never reached 5,000 (Thuc. VIII. 72. i); but before 431 attendance probably exceeded 6,000.

There were various safeguards against rash decisions: the council’s prior deliberation and publication of the assembly’s agenda; the possibility of attacking a motion and its author in a lawcourt, in a graphe paranomon (cf. p. 42). Sometimes a major decision was spread over two days, with debate on the first and voting on the second - but no guarantee that the same body of men would be present on both days (cf. p. 89). Sometimes a matter was protected by a clause requiring a vote of immunity, so that one meeting had to vote permission for a discussion before a second could hold that discussion (cf. M&L 58 = IG i3 52 ~ Fornara 119. B. 15–19). But in a crisis the safeguards might be suspended or overridden (cf. pp. 170, 177).

In making decisions all the citizens, or as many of them as wished and conveniently could, were involved together; in carrying out decisions the citizens could not be involved together, but the fifth-century democracy involved the citizens in turn, as far as possible, rather than relying on professional administrators or experts of any kind. Administration was simpler and required less expertise than in the modern world - there was no need to regulate broadcasting, because there was no broadcasting; there was no need to regulate education, because education was not regarded as the state’s concern - but funds still had to be raised and spent for such purposes as roads, water supply, public buildings, and the army and navy. And the state could not straightforwardly run a deficit (though it could borrow money from its temple treasuries: cf. pp. 97–9): it could not spend money unless it had the money, and we hear, for instance, of occasions when the lawcourts were suspended because there was no money to pay the jurors’ stipends (e.g. Dem. XXXIX. Boeotus i. 17, XLV. Stephanus i. 4, cf. XXIV. Timocrates 99).

The fifth-century democracy divided the work that had to be done among a large number of officials, commonly boards of ten, one member appointed each year from each of the ten tribes, and not eligible for reappointment to the same position. The 2 per cent tax on imports and exports (cf. Andoc. I. Myst. 134) will serve as an example. There were no officials who collected the tax: interested groups of individuals submitted bids; the contract was made with the group which offered to raise the highest sum, in the presence of the council by the board of poletai (’s ellers’); the record was kept for the council by a public slave. When the payment fell due it was made to another board, the apodektai (‘receivers’), again in the presence of the council, and the record of the contract was cancelled (Ath. Pol. 47. ii—48. ii). The collectors were bound to pay the sum stipulated in the contract: if they had collected more, they retained the surplus as their profit, but if they had collected less, they had to make good the shortfall. If they failed to pay on time, they were pursued by another board on behalf of the council, the praktores (‘exacters’). In the fifth century, the money collected was paid into a central treasury, whose location is unknown; expenditure from that had to be authorised, as an individual or as a recurring item, by the assembly, and the payments were made by another board (apparently, owing to fear of peculation, appointed not each year but each prytany), the kolakretai (‘ham-collectors’). In the fourth century the central treasury was replaced by separate spending authorities (cf. p. 299).

Separate from the state’s central treasury were the temple treasuries, with their own treasurers, the most important being the treasury of Athena, on the acropolis; but religion was integrated with the rest of the state’s life, the appointments were state appointments, and in time of need the state could borrow from the temple treasuries (cf. pp. 97–9). Also separate, until c.411 (cf. p. 100), was the treasury of the Delian League, moved to Athens in 454/3, whose treasurers were the hellenotamiai (cf. pp. 19–20, 51).

This fragmentation, and the fact that each year nearly every official was new to his job, did not make for efficiency; but efficiency was not the main objective. The jobs were simple, without great opportunities for doing good or harm, and the record-keeping was assisted by a small number of slave clerks; the understanding was that the average citizen should be able and should be willing to play a part, and that the jobs should be shared equitably among those who were willing. The scope for inefficiency was mitigated by the fact that many of the officials, while new to the current year’s job, had done other jobs in previous years; and that the whole administrative process was overseen by the council - itself appointed by lot for one year, from the denies in proportion to their size, and (to provide a large enough pool of candidates) with men allowed to serve twice in their lives (at any rate from the fourth century onwards: we have no evidence for the fifth). The administrative system in turn informed the decision-making of the assembly: the council which prepared the business knew what was happening across the whole range of Athens’ public life; and many of the men who attended the assembly were holding some office at the time or had done so recently (Ath. Pol. 24. iii claims that fifth-century Athens had about 700 internal officials and [probably a different number] external).

Justice had been dispensed in early Athens by the nine archons, and by the former archons who made up the council of the Areopagus. Prosecution was nearly always left to an individual’s initiative; but at the beginning of the sixth century Solon had created a distinction between graphai(literally ‘writings’), public prosecutions on charges on which any citizen could prosecute, and dikai (the general term for ‘lawsuits’), where only the injured party or his or her family could prosecute; and he had also provided for appeals against the archons’ verdicts (Ath. Pol. 9. i). By the second half of the fifth century the system of appeals had developed into one by which the archon held a preliminary enquiry and the case was then tried in a court over which he presided, and the judicial competence of the Areopagus had been reduced (cf. pp. 41–2); while in 453/2 the lesserdikai were entrusted to the travelling deme justices (cf. p. 60). There were special procedures for special cases (for cases retained by the Areopagus, for eisangeliai on charges of major offences against the state, and for procedures for checking officials, cf. p. 42; for the summary treatment of ‘common criminals’ see Ath. Pol. 52. i); but the great majority of cases were dikai and graphai tried in a dikasterion (‘lawcourt’) under the presidency of an archon or other official. The archon presided but did not give expert guidance; there were no professional advocates, but litigants were expected to present their own cases (though they could employ speech-writers, and could also call on supporting speakers); the juries were large (never smaller than 201; for major graphai 1,001 or more). No trial was allowed longer than one day.

In the modern world states’ administrative apparatuses are powerful, and it is thought important to keep the lawcourts independent of the administration so that they can ensure that even the state obeys the law. In Athens, and in the Greek world generally, the administrative apparatus was weak, and it was thought natural that the executive power of the administrative offices should be reinforced by judicial power. Many officials therefore presided over courts trying charges related to their field of administration; and the council also acquired judicial competence in administrative matters, though it had to refer a case to a dikasterion if it thought a heavier penalty was needed than a 500-dr. fine.

The courts were thus amateur bodies representative of the polis, pronouncing the will of the people without expert legal guidance; but the currently fashionable view of a trial as a contest in which the courts decided on the rival claims to the people’s favour of the opposing litigants as citizens rather than on the formal charges made and the cases presented in support of them is misleadingly one-sided. More disturbing from our perspective is the fact that the Athenians did not distinguish as clearly as we should wish between illegal conduct and politically unwise or unsuccessful conduct by public figures: it was too easily assumed that an opposing politician or an unsuccessful commander was wilfully failing to act in the best interests of Athens, and that - since no Athenian would do that of his own free choice - he must have been bribed to do so. Charges like ‘deceiving the people’ (e.g. Hdt. VI. 136. ii) made it all too easy to blur the line between illegality and political misjudgment, and active politicians and military commanders were frequently brought before the courts.

The principal officials of early Athens had been the nine archons, but by the middle of the fifth century they had become routine officials (cf. pp. 43, 59–60), and, at a time when Athens was militarily powerful, the ten generals (strategot) were not only the commanders of the army and navy but the state’s most important officials. Unlike the civilian officials, they were appointed not by allotment but by election, and they could be re-elected indefinitely - so that in this period the citizens elected the men who became their political leaders. When the ten generals were instituted as a regular office, by Cleisthenes, one was appointed from each tribe; by the second half of the fourth century the tribal basis had been abandoned (Ath. Pol. 22. ii, 61. i); but at any rate from 441/0 (Androtion FGrH 324 F 38 ~ Fornara 110) until the middle of the fourth century it appears that, while one general per tribe remained the norm, at least one exception was allowed (so that there could be two generals from one tribe and none from one of the others). It used to be thought that this was introduced to allow for the predominant position of Pericles, to provide one general who would rank above the others and to give a fair chance to other members of Pericles’ tribe. However, it has been made clear that (apart from Alcibiades in 407/6: cf. p. 157) one general did not rank above the others, and it now seems more likely that the intention was to provide for cases in which one tribe did not have a strong candidate. Often, when we know of two generals from one tribe, neither looks like an also-ran who might have been elected only in a second round of voting; so probably in such cases a man from another tribe either offered himself to or was approached by a tribe which lacked a strong candidate of its own, to act as its candidate.

But generals who were elected and who could be re-elected were an exception in a system which was calculated not to create a gulf between the authorities and the ordinary citizens, but which (as in Arist. Pol. III. 1277 B 13–16, VI. 1317 B 2–3) assumed that the good citizen should rule and be ruled in turn. In practice some did avoid public life, while those who liked doing so could hold a variety of different offices over the years; but for the system to work a fair number had to be willing to hold office sometimes. Jury service is represented or misrepresented in Aristophanes’ Waspsas appealing to old men who had time on their hands and found the stipend attractive. For the assembly there was doubtless a spectrum from those who attended regularly to those who attended rarely if ever. At any one time only a small number of men were active politicians who frequently proposed decrees (in the time of Pericles these would include generals and other office-holders, but texts of decrees identify proposers by name without any indication of office), but there would be a large number of men who made a proposal once or twice in their life, perhaps when serving in the council. It was easier to take part in public life for those who lived, or had access to hospitality, in or near the city than for those who lived at a distance (the remotest parts of Attica were about 30 miles = 50 km. from the city); but attending the assembly could be combined with other business in the city, and distance will have been more of a disincentive to regular political activity than to attending the assembly on important occasions. The council, at least, with its membership based on the denies, should not have been dominated by a city clique (though it will inevitably have been easier for those living in or near the city to attend regularly). Similarly, the provision of stipends mitigated but did not eliminate the fact that the rich could devote their time to public service more easily than the poor, but that will have had more effect on the holding of time-consuming offices (and members of the lowest property class were still not eligible to hold offices: cf. p. 296) than on (not yet paid in the fifth century) attendance at the assembly. The demokratia of the second half of the fifth century was not totally egalitarian, but it did indeed place considerable power in the hands of the people, or as many of them as chose to exercise it - and Athens’ empire meant that there were far more decisions to be made by council and assembly, more administrative jobs to be done and positions to be held, and more cases coming before the lawcourts than would have been the case in an ordinary city.

I end this survey with a paragraph on ostracism, introduced by Cleisthenes and first used in the 480’s . Once a year the assembly decided whether to hold an ostracism; if it chose to do so, there was no list of candidates but each voter wrote or had written for him on a potsherd (ostrakon) the name of his preferred victim, and if at least 6,000 votes were cast in all the man with the largest number had to go into exile, without loss of property, for ten years. Surviving ostraka show that large numbers of men were voted against: some no doubt attracted a few votes because of a private grudge, but those who attracted a large number were voted against as public figures. Ostracism was used in effect to choose between rival political leaders, of whom the winner stayed in Athens while the loser was removed: thus at the end of the 470’s Themistocles was ostracised and Cimon was not, at the end of the 460’s Cimon was ostracised and Ephialtes was not (cf. pp. 40–1). The outcome of an ostracism might be unpredictable, and after 415, when neither Nicias nor Alcibiades was ostracised but Hyperbolus was, ostracism was not used again (cf. pp. 164–5).

Public Buildings

The inscribed accounts of the relevant boards of overseers (epistatat) enable us to date a major programme of work on the acropolis (see ill. 7): the Parthenon, the temple of Athena Parthenos (‘Virgin’), was built towards the southern edge of the plateau between 447/6 and 433/2 (on the site of a building begun perhaps after Marathon and not resumed after the Persian Wars: a temple built in the sixth century was nearer the centre of the acropolis) (IG i3 436–51: e.g. M&L 59 ~ Fornara 120). Attributed to the architects Callicrates and Ictinus, the Parthenon is a masterpiece of Doric architecture, which in such respects as the positioning of the columns departs slightly from actual regularity in order to enhance the appearance of regularity; the sculptures included a frieze running round the top of the cella wall, depicting a procession whose significance continues to be disputed (most often, though not always, since J. Stuart in 1789 seen as a representation of the Panathenaic procession - but, if so, what kind of representation?). In recent decades the Parthenon has become controversial in another way: many of its sculptures were among those acquired from the Ottoman empire, which was not interested in caring for its Greek remains, in

Ill. 7 Reconstruction of the Athenian acropolis: watercolour drawing by Peter Connolly. A = the Parthenon, B = the Erechtheum, C = the Propylaea, D = the statue of Athena Promachos, E = the Temple of Athena Nike. Peter Connolly/AKG Images


and after 1801 by Lord Elgin and bought for the British Museum in 1816; these have been particularly emphasised in arguments as to whether objects removed from their original location, legitimately by the standards of the time but illegitimately by the standards which would be applied to comparable objects found nowadays, ought to be returned. The eastern chamber of the temple housed a gold and ivory statue of Athena, by the sculptor Pheidias, who is said to have been a friend of Pericles and the master-mind behind the whole programme: this was made between 447/6 and 438/7 (IG i3 453–60: e.g. M&L 54 ~ Fornara 114). In 437/6 work began under Mnesicles on the new Propylaea, the entrance building at the west end of the acropolis, on an axis exactly parallel to that of the Parthenon (but one did not then have an uninterrupted view of the Parthenon from the Propylaea as one does now) (IG i3 462–6: e.g. M&L 60 ~ Fornara 118. B): this was left unfinished on the approach of the Peloponnesian War (cf. p. 90).

On a bastion at the south-west corner, outside the Propylaea (the symmetry of whose design was modified to allow for it), was built a small temple of Athena Nike (‘Victory’: at the time of writing, dismantled with a view to re-restoration). For this we have two inscriptions, on the front and back of the same stele (M&L 44, 71 = IG i3 35, 36 ~ Fornara 93, 139): the first, with no date surviving but with older-style lettering, instructs Callicrates to draw up plans and provides for the appointment of a priestess (not from a particular family but from all Athenian women - one of the very few cases in which we can see a connection between fifth-century Athenian religion and the democracy); the second, dated 424/3, arranges for the payment of the priestess’s salary. There is argument about the dating of the first decree and the dating of different stages in the building work; but the temple could have been planned in the 440’s , to celebrate victory over the Persians from Marathon onwards, even if it was not actually built and the priestess did not take office until later.

War against the Persians had in fact come to an end, whether its ending was marked by a formal treaty or not (cf. pp. 53–4), and resources were now available for a programme which would celebrate victory over the Persians and the greatness of Athens, so that according to Thucydides one would imagine from the remains of the Athens he knew that it was even more powerful than it actually was (I. 10. ii) - but it is not likely that in 479 there had been an undertaking to leave in ruins as a war memorial temples which the Persians had destroyed (cf. p. 17). But on Delos, no longer the centre of the Delian League, work on a new temple of Apollo was broken off about the middle of the century.

Plutarch devotes a substantial section of his Pericles (12-14) to this building programme. Pericles’ opponents complained that he had taken over the funds of the Greeks from Delos and that money contributed for fighting against the Persians was being spent on adorning Athens like a wanton woman. He replied that Athens was giving the allies the security they were paying for, the work provided not only everlasting glory but also immediate employment for those citizens who could not fight [in fact Athens at this time will have been a flourishing city which did not need to create employment, and many of those employed in this way were not Athenian citizens]; and he offered to pay for the work himself if the assembly was not satisfied. The assembly gave him its enthusiastic backing - fortunately, since the cost must have been far beyond the means of the richest individual, though the figure of 2,000 tal. given for the Propylaea is more probably the total cost of the work on the acropolis in this period (Harp, n 101 = Suda n 2579 npoituXcaa xama ~ Fornara 118. A). The League could have helped indirectly to pay for the work, merely by covering the military expenses which Athens would otherwise have had to fund itself; but it may indeed have contributed directly: the campaigning expenses which had to be funded from the tribute will now have been less, but the tribute was not reduced; it is possible that a papyrus fragment attests the transfer of an accumulated surplus from League funds to Athenian funds (cf. p. 56), and it is possible that in the 440’s and 430’s unspent surpluses were transferred year by year. From the Athenian point of view, it was important that these were public buildings, funded not by rich individuals (cf. p. 37) but (from whatever sources) by the state, under the supervision of publicly appointed epistatai (cf. the statue of Athena Promachos, ‘Fighting in Front’, set up towards the west end of the acropolis before 450: IG i3 435).

There was a good deal of other building, elsewhere in Athens and in the rest of Attica, about this time: in the mid twentieth century much of it was attributed to a single architect and assigned to the 440’s and 430’s (including the temple of Hephaestus, formerly misidentified as the Theseum, on the west side of the agora, and the temple of Poseidon at Sunium), but it is now thought that the similarities are not so great as to require a single architect, and that the work was begun earlier and continued later (cf. pp. 128–9). Two other items, attributed explicitly to Pericles, are worth mentioning: the middle wall, built between the two original long walls linking Athens to the Piraeus, and close to the more northerly (Plut. Per. 13. vii-viii: cf. map 3); and the odeum, south-east of the acropolis, next to the theatre of Dionysus, said to have been ‘many-seated and many-columned’ (not a very practicable combination) and to have been an imitation of the Persian King’s tent (Plut. Per. 13. ix-x) - one manifestation of the fact that, although the Persians were the ultimate enemy, the Athenians and other Greeks were willing to adopt Persian fashions. The harbour town of Piraeus is said to have been laid out on a grid plan by Hippodamus of Miletus (Arist. Pol. II. 1267 B 22–3), who worked also at the Athenian colony ofThurii in Italy (cf. p. 74).

Pericles and Others

Pericles (cf. ill. 8) was undoubtedly one of the leading figures in Athens from the 450’s to his death in 429. We have noted above that he cannot within the

Ill. 8 Bust of Pericles. © The Trustees of the British Museum


Fig. 2 Thucydides the opponent of Pericles and Thucydides the historian (relationships inside the box are conjectural)


Athenian framework have been as powerful as Thucydides wanted his readers to think, and some scholars have been reluctant to believe that the policies pursued by Athens in this period were to a serious extent Pericles’ policies; but our sources associate him with enough items in both internal and external affairs to justify the more usual assumption that, although Pericles can never have been sure that a particular vote in the assembly would go as he wanted, the assembly’s votes did go as he wanted more often than not.

After the death of Cimon, leadership of the opposition to Pericles is said to have passed to one of Cimon’s relatives, Thucydides son of Melesias (for a possible reconstruction of the relationship see fig. 2). According to Plutarch, Thucydides was more a man of the agora and a politician, was responsible for a polarisation of the Athenians into democrats and oligarchs, and made his upper-class supporters sit together in the assembly to form a more effective block. He pressed Pericles particularly on the building programme (and threats against Athenian offenders in some imperial decrees may suggest that he attacked other aspects of the empire); but the assembly backed Pericles, and when an ostracism was held it was Thucydides who was expelled (Plut. Per. 11–14). Plutarch has tried to reconcile his differing sources by claiming that at first Pericles was one competing politician among several, but after Thucydides’ ostracism he was unchallenged leader and was general every year for fifteen years (Per. 16. iii): it would be dangerous to count back from his death and insist that Thucydides must have been ostracised in 444/3, but it must have happened about that time. Although Pericles was not himself ostracised, it is possible that an associate of his was: Damon, said to have been his teacher (e.g. Plut. Per. 4. i-iv; in Ath. Pol. 27. iv and Per. 9. ii Damonides is probably an error for Damon son of Damonides). Another man perhaps ostracised about this time was a celebrated athlete, whose political stance if any is not known, Callias son of Didymias ([Andoc] rV. Alcibiades32). Comedians other than Aristophanes mocked Pericles for his elongated head (a collection of quotations in Plut. Per. 3. iii-vii); Aristophanes’ description of him as ‘the Olympian’ (Ach. 530–1) may refer to his manner and/or to his predominant position in Athens; Eupolis long after his death referred to him as an exceptional orator (fr. 94 Kock = 98 Edmonds =102 Kassel & Austin, from his Denies).

After the removal of Thucydides, Pericles did not in fact have everything his own way. Plutarch, misled by Aristophanes’ Peace (cf. p. 91), links with the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War a series of attacks which seem rather to belong to the early 430’s (Per.31. ii—32). Pheidias, on completing his statue of Athena in 438/7, was accused of embezzlement and fled from Athens; he obtained a new commission, to produce a statue of Zeus at Olympia, but ended his life in trouble there in 432/1 (cf. Philoch. FGrH 121 ~ Fornara 116. A - but the archons’ names have been corrupted in that text and Plutarch badly garbles the story). Pericles’ mistress, Aspasia of Miletus, was prosecuted by Hermippus (or, since he was a comic poet, perhaps simply attacked in a comedy) for impiety: since she bore Pericles a son who held office in 410/09, the liaison began not later than 441, and we might expect an attack when it was comparatively new. (According to schol. Ar. Ach. 67 ~ Fornara 111, a decree ‘concerning not comedying’ was in force from 440/39 to 437/6, but we do not know precisely what it forbade.) Diopithes, who seems to have been a religious zealot, was the author of a decree making it an offence ‘not to believe in divine things or to teach about things up in the air’, apparently aimed at views like those caricatured in Aristophanes’ Clouds, and said to have been aimed at another Milesian friend of Pericles, the philosopher Anaxagoras. The evidence for Anaxagoras’ career is very muddled, but it is possible that he was prosecuted for impiety, possible that that happened in 437/6, and even possible that the prosecutor was Cleon (on whom see pp. 125–8; but an alternative attribution was to Thucydides: for both see Diog. Laert. II. 12).

Finally, Plutarch mentions a prosecution of Pericles himself. A decree proposed by Dracontides required him to submit his accounts to the prytaneis and to undergo an archaic, religious form of trial, for which Hagnon substituted an ordinary trial in a dikasterion.The charge appears to have been financial; we may guess that it was connected with the charge against Pheidias, and, since we hear no more about it, that Pericles was acquitted. If these attacks are to be dated to the early 430’s , they cannot be linked with Thucydides, who will have been out of Athens. In any case, attacks on Pericles’ intellectual friends are more likely to have come from the democratic end of the spectrum: Cleon may have been the prosecutor of Anaxagoras, and Hermippus in one of his comedies referred to Pericles’ being attacked by Cleon (Plut. Per. 33. viii). In Aristophanes’ Knights (128-49 with schol.) Cleon the ‘leather-seller’ is preceded by two other’ s ellers’: it looks as if Cleon and men like him were already making their presence felt in the 430’s .

However, Thucydides the historian says nothing anywhere about opposition to Pericles, except in connection with his strategy for the Peloponnesian War (cf. pp. 118–19), but presents him as an unchallenged leader.

External Affairs

The one episode after the Thirty Years’ Peace which Thucydides mentions in his survey of the growth of Athenian power is the war against Samos, in 440–439 (I. 115. ii-117). Samos and Miletus were both laying claim to Priene, on the Asiatic mainland north of Miletus, and when Samos gained the upper hand Miletus with the support of some dissident Samians invoked Athens. Athens (according to Plut. Per. 24. i, 25. i, after unsuccessfully calling on the Samians to go to arbitration) intervened in Samos, taking hostages, installing a garrison and setting up a democracy; but fugitive Samians obtained the support of Pissuthnes the satrap of Sardis and regained control; Byzantium revolted against Athens in support of Samos. Athens sent sixty ships under Pericles, and then a further forty from Athens and twenty-five from Chios and Lesbos (it appears that by now Samos, Lesbos and Chios were the only members of the Delian League still contributing ships: cf. Ath. Pol. 24. ii), and they won a battle, landed on the island and began to besiege the city. On learning that the Persians’ Phoenician fleet was to come to support Samos, Pericles went with part of his force to deal with that, and in his absence the Samians won a battle and gained control of the sea. He returned and recovered control; he received further reinforcements; and after a nine-month siege the Samians were defeated in another sea-battle and surrendered. They had to demolish part of their walls, to surrender their ships, to give hostages and to refund Athens’ expenditure on the war (what their obligation was after that is not certain, but they were not assessed for tribute in the usual way). Literary texts point to a figure of 1,200 tal. (Isoc. XV. Antid. Ill, Diod. Sic. XII. 28. iii, Nep. XIII. Timoth. 1. ii). An inscription recording payments from the treasury of Athena for the war has items totalling 1,400 tal. or slightly more (M&L 55 = IG i3 363 ~ Fornara 113); in 434/3 a decree will note that a sum of 3,000 tal. due to the treasury of Athena has been paid; and it is perhaps best to assume that for this war the Athenians began the practice of borrowing from the temple treasuries, and that in 434/3 this and other loans were repaid (cf. pp. 97–8). Probably, as at the beginning of the episode, Athens also installed a democracy (cf. p. 151; what we have of the inscribed settlement, M&L 56 = IG i3 48 ~ Fornara 115, is too fragmentary to decide that question, but the text seems to have been more moderate in its language than texts of a few years earlier).

Thucydides does not mention it here, but in his account of the debate at Athens over Corcyra in 433 (cf. pp. 88–9) he has the Corinthians claim that in the Peloponnesian League they had voted successfully against a proposal to support Samos (I. 40. v): for the matter to have gone that far, Sparta must have been in favour of supporting Samos, although that would have been a breach of the Thirty Years’ Peace. Pissuthnes did support Samos, and that will have been a breach of the Peace of Callias if there was one (cf. pp. 53–4). This was a major episode: Athens had to use very large forces; it came nearer than at any other time to being defeated by a rebellious ally (cf. Thuc. VIII. 76. iv); the Peloponnesians might have become involved and the Persians did (enabling or requiring Athens to show that it would still act vigorously against the Persians if the need arose).

Scattered pieces of evidence indicate that, although the Athenians were excluded from mainland Greece proper by the Thirty Years’ Peace, they remained interested in expanding where they could. Thucydides does not mention them in his account of the Pentecontaetia, though it would have strengthened his case that the Peloponnesian War arose from Athens’ power and Sparta’s fear of it (cf. pp. 87–8) if he had done so.

In the west, which was a potential source of grain as well as more generally an opportunity for expansion, Athens’ decree concerning an alliance with Egesta in Sicily is to be dated not 458/7 but 418/7 (cf. pp. 52, 139). In Italy there were various attempts at refounding Sybaris, a city which had been destroyed by its neighbour Croton in 510. On the last of those occasions the Sybarites appealed to Sparta and to Athens for support and Athens responded; in this refoundation there was trouble between the original Sybarites and the newcomers, from which the newcomers emerged victorious; they then made a fresh start, with the new nameThurii, and sent for more settlers from Greece. The newThurii had a democratic constitution, with ten tribes (one named after Athens, the other after different Greek peoples); its laws are attributed to Charondas (but he was a sixth-century legislator: perhaps some of his laws were adopted in Thurii) and the philosopher Protagoras; the men in charge of the foundation were Lampon (an associate of Pericles and a religious specialist) and Xenocritus (Diod. Sic. XII. 9–11 [-18]). Diodorus makes this (after another western item in ch. 8) his main episode for the year 446/5, and includes more on Thurii in his brief entries for the next two years (XII. 22, 23). The orator Lysias is said to have been one of those who joined in the colony, in 444/3 or 443/2 ([Plut.] X Oral. 835 C-D; Dion. Hal. 453. Lys. 1), and Thucydides son of Melesias may have gone to Thurii when he was ostracised c. 444/3 (cf. Anon Life of Thucydides 7); another famous Greek who is said to have joined the colony is Herodotus (Arist. Rh. III. 1409 A 28): it is commonly supposed that the last refoundation of Sybaris was in 446/5 and the new foundation of Thurii in 444/3, though neither date is secure. Settlers came from many places, though Peloponnesians were limited to individuals and places opposed to Sparta. As his main item for 434/3 Diodorus reports conflict within Thurii over who should be regarded as the founder of the city; Delphi was consulted and ascribed the foundation to Apollo - essentially a victory for those who did not want to be beholden to Athens (XII. 35. i-iii); in 415–413 supporters of Athens had the upperhand (e.g. Thuc. VI. 104. ii, VII. 57. xi), but Thurii supported Sparta afterwards (e.g. VIII. 35. i).

It was perhaps about the same time that the Athenians were involved further north, in a refoundation of Neapolis (Strabo 246. V iv. 7, Lycoph. 732–7 with schol.). In 433/2 Athens was to renew alliances with Rhegium, on the toe of Italy, and Leontini, in Sicily (cf. p. 90): the lettering would support a date in the mid 440’s for the original alliance with Rhegium, slightly earlier for Leontini.

In the north-west of Greece (on the mainland but outside the area in which Sparta was interested), at a date which is uncertain but could be in the early 430’s , an Athenian force under Phormio assisted in a refoundation of Amphilochian Argos, in opposition to Corinth’s colony Ambracia (Thuc. II. 68. ii-viii: cf. p. 108).

In the Aegean world, after the failure of earlier attempts (cf. pp. 21–2), in 437/6 the Athenians at last succeeded in establishing a colony at Amphipolis, in an area important for timber and for silver, where the Strymon could be crossed inland from Ei’on; again the settlers were a mixture of Athenians and non-Athenians (Thuc. IV. 102. iii, Diod. Sic. XII. 32. iii, schol. Aeschin. II. Embassy 31 ~ Fornara 62). Hagnon was in charge of the foundation; and, unusually, he appears to have been venerated there as a hero during his lifetime (Thuc. V. 11. i with Hornblower’s commentary). Amphipolis was to be lost by the Athenians in 424/3, and it was a cause of great annoyance that they never recovered it (cf. pp. 117–18, 120, 338, 352).

Pericles himself is said to have led an expedition to the Black Sea, founding a colony on the south coast at Sinope (Plut. Per. 20. i-ii, cf. the casually list IG i3 1180); the colony at nearby Amisus (Plut. Luc. 19. vii, Strabo 547. XII. iii. 14) may belong to the same occasion, as may a colony at Astacus in the Propontis, reported by Diodorus from his chronological source under 434/3 (XII. 34. v [name emended], cf. Strabo 563. XII. iv. 2). It may also have been in the 430’s that Athens first made an alliance with the Spartocid kings of the Cimmerian Bosporus (the Crimea): a new dynasty was founded by Spartocus I c. 43 8/7, and Athens made an alliance with his son Satyrus I, who succeeded him c.433/2 (R&O 64. 20–4).


On Pericles’ citizenship law see Patterson, Pericles’ Citizenship Law of 451–50 BC; A. L. Boegehold, ‘Perikles’ Citizenship Law of 451/0 BC’, in Boegehold and Scafuro (eds.), Athenian Identity and Civic Ideology, 57–66. On the working of the democracy in general, Stockton, The Classical Athenian Democracy, is concerned with the fifth century and earlier; Sinclair, Democracy and Participation in Athens, spans the late fifth century and the fourth; Hansen, The Athenian Democracy in the Age of Demosthenes, concentrates on the fourth century but contains much that is applicable to the fifth. See also Rhodes, ‘Political Activity in Classical Athens’, JHS cvi 1986, 132–44, reprinted in Rhodes (ed.), Athenian Democracy, ch. 7 (a detailed study); ‘Who Ran Democratic Athens?’, in Polis and Politics … M. H. Hansen, A65-11, reprinted in Robinson (ed.), Ancient Greek Democracy, 201–11 (a broad-brush treatment).

On the modified system for appointing generals, K. J. Dover, ‘SeKaxoq amoq’, JHS lxxx 1960, 61–77 = his The Greeks and their Legacy, 159–80, established that one general was not superior to the other nine; on why and how the system was modified see L. G. Mitchell, ‘A New Look at the Election of Generals at Athens’, KLio lxxxii 2000, 344–60. For ostracism see the note at the end of chapter 4.

On all buildings in Athens Travlos, Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Athens, is invaluable. The most up-to-date books on the acropolis are Hurwit, The Athenian Acropolis, and The Acropolis in the Age of Pericles; the multi-volume publication of the agora excavations includes as vol. xiv Thompson and Wycherley, The Agora of Athens. On the temple of Athena Nike see Mark, The Sanctuary of Athena Nike in Athens; I. M. Shear, ‘The Western Approach to the Athenian Akropolis’, JHS cxix 1999, 86–127 at 120–5. On Pericles’ odeum see M. Miller, Athens and Persia in the Fifth Century BC, ch. 9. For a general reconsideration of the dates of fifth-century buildings in Attica see M. M. Miles, ‘A Reconstruction of the Temple of Nemesis at Rhamnous’, Hesp. lviii 1989, 131–249 at 221–35.

Against the view that all Athens’ policies were Pericles’ policies see, e.g., Gomme, Historical Commentary on Thucydides, i. 306–7. On opposition to Pericles see, for the 440’s , H. T Wade-Gery, ‘Thucydides Son of Melesias’, JHS Hi 1932, 205–27 = his Essays in Greek History, 239–70; A. Andrewes, ‘The Opposition to Perikles’, JHS xcviii 1978, 1–8; for the 430’s , F. J. Frost, ‘Pericles, Thucydides the Son of Melesias, and Athenian Politics before the War’, Hist, xiii 1964, 385–99, and ‘Pericles and Dracontides’, JHSlxxxiv 1964, 69–72; R. W Wallace, ‘Private Lives and Public Enemies’, in Boegehold and Scafuro (eds.), Athenian Identity and Civic Ideology, 127–55. On attempts to restrain comedians see A. H. Sommerstein, ‘Comedy and the Unspeakable’, in Law, Rhetoric and Comedy in Classical Athens … D. M. MacDowell, ch. 13.

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