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Pericles   


spite, as to some evil genius, when even Stesimbrotus the Thracian
has dared to lay to the charge of Pericles a monstrous and fabulous
piece of criminality with his son's wife? So very difficult a matter
is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history, when,
on the one hand, those who afterwards write it find long periods of
time intercepting their view, and, on the other hand, the contemporary
records of any actions and lives, partly through envy and ill-will,
partly through favour and flattery, pervert and distort truth.
When the orators, who sided with Thucydides and his party, were at
one time crying out, as their custom was, against Pericles, as one
who squandered away the public money, and made havoc of the state
revenues, he rose in the open assembly and put the question to the
people, whether they thought that he had laid out much; and they saying,
"Too much, a great deal," "Then," said he, "since it is so, let the
cost not go to your account, but to mine; and let the inscription
upon the buildings stand in my name." When they heard him say thus,
whether it were out of a surprise to see the greatness of his spirit
or out of emulation of the glory of the works, they cried aloud, bidding
him to spend on, and lay out what he thought fit from the public purse,
and to spare no cost, till all were finished.
At length, coming to a final contest with Thucydides which of the
two should ostracism the other out of the country, and having gone
through this peril, he threw his antagonist out, and broke up the
confederacy that had been organized against him. So that now all schism
and division being at an end, and the city brought to evenness and
unity, he got all Athens and all affairs that pertained to the Athenians
into his own hands, their tributes, their armies, and their galleys,
the islands, the sea, and their wide-extended power, partly over other
Greeks and partly over barbarians, and all that empire, which they
possessed, founded and fortified upon subject nations and royal friendships
and alliance.
After this he was no longer the same man he had been before, nor as
tame and gentle and familiar as formerly with the populace, so as
readily to yield to their pleasures and to comply with the desires
of the multitude, as a steersman shifts with the winds. Quitting that
loose, remiss, and, in some cases, licentious court of the popular
will, he turned those soft and flowery modulations to the austerity
of aristocratical and regal rule; and employing this uprightly and
undeviatingly for the country's best interests, he was able generally
to lead the people along, with their own wills and consents, by persuading
and showing them what was to be done; and sometimes, too, urging and
pressing them forward extremely against their will, he made them,
whether they would or no, yield submission to what was for their advantage.
In which, to say the truth, he did but like a skilful physician, who,
in a complicated and chronic disease, as he sees occasion, at one
while allows his patient the moderate use of such things as please
him, at another while gives him keen pains and drug to work the cure.
For there arising and growing up, as was natural, all manner of distempered
feelings among a people which had so vast a command and dominion,
he alone, as a great master, knowing how to handle and deal fitly
with each one of them, and, in an especial manner, making that use
of hopes and fears, as his two chief rudders, with the one to check
the career of their confidence at any time, with the other to raise
them up and cheer them when under any discouragement, plainly showed
by this, that rhetoric, or the art of speaking, is, in Plato's language,
the government of the souls of men, and that her chief business is
to address the affections and passions, which are as it were the strings
and keys to the soul, and require a skilful and careful touch to be
played on as they should be. The source of this predominance was not
barely his power of language, but, as Thucydides assures us, the reputation
of his life, and the confidence felt in his character; his manifest
freedom from every kind of corruption, and superiority to all considerations
of money. Notwithstanding he had made the city of Athens, which was
great of itself, as great and rich as can be imagined, and though

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