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 XLI.

ATHENIAN DEMOCRACY AS ADMINISTERED BY PERICLES.

WITH the administration of Athenian democracy by Pericles history opens its most resplendent page, --the page which should be most resplendent if the historian were competent to do justice to what records of its incidents-- unhappily too scanty--have been preserved and recovered. Essentially by birth and by predilections a Eupatrid, Pericles was the chosen and trusted guide of at once the most pure and the most important democratic government the world had ever,--nay has ever seen, and which owed this qualification at last, very importantly, to himself. What it achieved under his guidance, what he achieved by command of its councils and resources, it has taxed the best powers of the best critics and the best historians, both of politics and of the arts, to tell. What failure such a career and such a system were liable to is a more painful but not less instructive story.

The murder of Ephialtes was more likely to give aid than hindrance to him in carrying through his great measure of the payment of the citizens for their attendance at public duties. According to 1 Plutarch, quoting the authority of Aristotle from a lost treatise, it was with the aid of a certain Demonides, of the deme Oea, that he instituted both the

VOL. II. H

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1
Plut. V. Peric. 9.

-97-

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