The Age of Pericles: A History of the Politics and Arts of Greece from the Persian to the Peloponnesian War - Vol. 2

By William Watkiss Lloyd | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXIV.
EPHIALTES AND PERICLES IN OPPOSITION TO THE AREOPAGUS.-- THE ORESTEIA OF AESCHYLUS.
B.C. 459-458; Ol. 80. 2.

IT is within the year of the Archon Phrasycleides ( 460- 59 B.C.), when the foreign politics of the city were at such a pitch of excitement, that Diodorus dates an event--the murder of the democratic leader Ephialtes--which was traceable too clearly to the sympathy of domestic antagonists of the demus with its enemies abroad. Ephialtes was at this time prosecuting with all his usual vigour, and in conjunction with Pericles, an attack on the powers of the court of the Areopagus, an attack which owed its chief success to his exertions, though scarcely completed before his catastrophe. The institution had been threatened for some time, and had even been affected to a certain extent by a series of changes of which we cannot determine the precise dates and stages, but which were all in the same direction, and were now on the point of resulting in a remodel which involved a social revolution scarcely less important than the political.

When the legislation of Aristides conceded to the very poorest class of citizens eligibility to the highest offices of the state, it might seem to the promoters of the innovation that Athens indeed enjoyed the equality of laws for which Harmo-

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