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Pericles   


less than nine trophies, which, as their chief commander and conqueror
of their enemies, he had set up for the honour of the city. They talked
thus together among themselves, as though he were unable to understand
or mind what they said, but had now lost his consciousness. He had
listened, however, all the while, and attended to all, and, speaking
out among them, said that he wondered they should commend and take
notice of things which were as much owing to fortune as to anything
else, and had happened to many other commanders, and, at the same
time, should not speak or make mention of that which was the most
excellent and greatest thing of all. "For," said he, "no Athenian,
through my means, ever wore mourning."
He was indeed a character deserving our high admiration not only for
his equitable and mild temper, which all along in the many affairs
of his life, and the great animosities which he incurred, he constantly
maintained; but also for the high spirit and feeling which made him
regard it, the noblest of all his honours that, in the exercise of
such immense power, he never had gratified his envy or his passion,
nor ever had treated any enemy as irreconcilably opposed to him. And
to me it appears that this one thing gives that otherwise childish
and arrogant title a fitting and becoming significance; so dispassionate
a temper, a life so pure and unblemished, in the height of power and
place, might well be called Olympian, in accordance with our conceptions
of the divine beings, to whom, as the natural authors of all good
and of nothing evil, we ascribe the rule and government of the world.
Not as the poets represent, who, while confounding us with their ignorant
fancies, are themselves confuted by their own poems and fictions,
and call the place, indeed, where they say the gods make their abode,
a secure and quiet seat, free from all hazards and commotions, untroubled
with winds or with clouds, and equally through all time illumined
with a soft serenity and a pure light as though such were a home most
agreeable for a blessed and immortal nature; and yet, in the meanwhile,
affirm that the gods themselves are full of trouble and enmity and
anger and other passions, which no way become or belong to even men
that have any understanding. But this will, perhaps seem a subject
fitter for some other consideration, and that ought to be treated
of in some other place.
The course of public affairs after his death produced a quick and
speedy sense of the loss of Pericles. Those who, while he lived, resented
his great authority, as that which eclipsed themselves, presently
after his quitting the stage, making trial of other orators and demagogues,
readily acknowledged that there never had been in nature such a disposition
as his was, more moderate and reasonable in the height of that state
he took upon him, or more grave and impressive in the mildness which
he used. And that invidious arbitrary power, to which formerly they
gave the name of monarchy and tyranny, did then appear to have been
the chief bulwark of public safety; so great a corruption and such
a flood of mischief and vice followed which he, by keeping weak and
low, had withheld from notice, and had prevented from attaining incurable
height through a licentious impunity.
THE END

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