Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others. — Cicero

Aspasia

~ 450 BC
Civilization: Greek — Miletus
   Field of Renown:  heroine — Courtesan
Era:  Golden Age

Aspasia
ASPASIA
Aspasia was born of a noble family in Miletus, a Greek city in Asia Minor. She was beautiful and very well educated, and eventually traveled to Athens, which had already achieved predominance among Ionian cities by the time of her birth. There, she became a hetaira, or companion of the foremost citizens of Athens. In this role, she was allowed to mingle with the wealthy and powerful, but was not permitted to marry. She became acquainted with Pericles however, and after he divorced his first wife, she lived openly with him and bore him a son. She was well known to most leading citizens of Athens during its golden age, including Socrates, Alcibiades, Plato, and many others. Her intelligence and influence with Pericles made her the object of both admiration and scorn. She was blamed by her enemies for unpopular events in foreign policy, from the Samian invasion of 440 B.C., to the Peloponnesian War, and was at one point formally charged with impiety and prostitution. After the death of Pericles in 429 B.C., her son was granted Athenian citizenship, and she continued to have influence in the democratic party.


Key events during the life of Aspasia:


Year
Event
430 BC
Moved from to Athens. Became a hetaira
  Lived openly with Pericles after his divorce.
440 BC
Influenced Pericles to invade Samos.
431 BC
Helped Pericles compose his famous Funeral Oration.
431 BC
After death of Pericles legitimate son, Aspasia's son granted Athenian citizenship.
429 BC
Death of Pericles.
  Aspasia marries Lysides.

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Other Resources


Story Links
Book Links
Statesman and His Friends  in  Pictures from Greek Life and Story  by  Alfred J. Church
Pericles  in  Our Young Folks' Plutarch  by  Rosalie Kaufman

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Image Links


Aspasia: From a bust found near Civita-Vecchia.
 in Pictures from Greek Life and Story

Pericles and Aspasia at the Studio of Phidias
 in Pictures from Greek Life and Story

A Reunion at the House of Aspasia
 in Historical Tales: Greek


Contemporary
Short Biography
Pericles Athenian statesman during Golden Age of Athens. Made Athens cultural center of Greece.
Socrates First moral philosopher, immortalized by Plato.
Alcibiades Controversial statesman and general of Athens, who betrayed the city, then returned as hero.
Lysides Prominent democratic leader, married Aspasia after death of Pericles.