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Pericles   


contention with the Megarians, he was regarded as the sole cause of
the war.
They say, moreover, that ambassadors went, by order, from Lacedaemon
to Athens about this very business, and that when Pericles was urging
a certain law which made it illegal to take down or withdraw the tablet
of the decree, one of the ambassadors, Polyalces by name, said, "Well,
do not take it down then, but turn it; there is no law, I suppose,
which forbids that;" which, though prettily said, did not move Pericles
from his resolution. There may have been, in all likelihood, something
of a secret grudge and private animosity which he had against the
Megarians. Yet, upon a public and open charge against them, that they
had appropriated part of the sacred land on the frontier, he proposed
a decree that a herald should be sent to them, and the same also to
the Lacedaemonians, with an accusation of the Megarians; an order
which certainly shows equitable and friendly proceeding enough. And
after that the herald who was sent, by name Anthemocritus, died, and
it was believed that the Megarians had contrived his death, then Charinus
proposed a decree against them, that there should be an irreconcilable
and implacable enmity thenceforward betwixt the two commonwealths;
and that if any one of the Megarians should but set his foot in Attica,
he should be put to death; and that the commanders, when they take
the usual oath, should, over and above that, swear that they will
twice every year make an inroad into the Megarian country; and that
Anthemocritus should be buried near the Thracian Gates, which are
now called the Dipylon, or Double Gate.
On the other hand, the Megarians, utterly denying and disowning the
murder of Anthemocritus, throw the whole matter upon Aspasia and Pericles,
availing themselves of the famous verses in the Acharnians-
"To Megara some of our madcaps ran,
And stole Simaetha thence, their courtesan.
Which exploit the Megarians to outdo,
Came to Aspasia's house, and took off two."
The true occasion of the quarrel is not so easy to find out. But of
inducing the refusal to annul the decree, all alike charge Pericles.
Some say he met the request with a positive refusal, out of high spirit
and a view of the state's best interest, accounting that the demand
made in those embassies was designed for a trial of their compliance,
and that a concession would be taken for a confession of weakness
as if they durst not do otherwise; while other some there are who
say that it was rather out of arrogance and a willful spirit of contention,
to show his own strength, that he took occasion to slight the Lacedaemonians.
The worst motive of all, which is confirmed by most witnesses, is
to the following effect: Phidias the Moulder had, as has before been
said, undertaken to make the statue of Minerva. Now he, being admitted
to friendship with Pericles, and a great favourite of his, had many
enemies upon this account, who envied and maligned him; who also,
to make trial in a case of his, what kind of judges the commons would
prove, should there be occasion to bring Pericles himself before them,
having tampered with Menon, one who had been a workman with Phidias,
stationed him in the market-place, with a petition desiring public
security upon his discovery and impeachment of Phidias. The people
admitting the man to tell his story, and the prosecution proceeding
in the assembly, there was nothing of theft or cheat proved against
him; for Phidias, from the very first beginning, by the advice of
Pericles, had so wrought and wrapt the gold that was used in the work
about the statue, that they might take it all off, and make out the
just weight of it, which Pericles at that time bade the accuser do.
But the reputation of his works was what brought envy upon Phidias,
especially that where he represents the fight of the Amazons upon
the goddess's shield, he had introduced a likeness of himself as a
bald old man holding up a great stone with both hands, and had put
in a very fine representation of Pericles fighting with an Amazon.
And the position of the hand which holds out the spear in front of
the face, was ingeniously contrived to conceal in some degree the

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