Causes of the Power of Pericles. - Judicial Courts of the dependant Allies transferred to Athens. - Sketch of the Athenian Revenues. - Public Buildings the Work of the People rather than of Pericles. - Vices and Greatness of Athens had the same Sources. - Principle of Payment characterizes the Policy of the Period. - It is the Policy of Civilization. - Colonization, Cleruchia.
I. In the age of Pericles (B. C. 444) there is that which seems to excite, in order to disappoint, curiosity. We are fully impressed with the brilliant variety of his gifts - with the influence he exercised over his times. He stands in the midst of great and immortal names, at the close of a heroic, and yet in the sudden meridian of a civilized age. And scarcely does he recede from our gaze, ere all the evils which only his genius could keep aloof, gather and close around the city which it was the object of his life not less to adorn as for festival than to crown as for command. It is almost as if, with Pericles, her very youth departed from Athens. Yet so scanty are our details and historical materials, that the life of this surprising man is rather illustrated by the general light of the times than by the blaze of his own genius. His military achievements are not dazzling. No relics, save a few bold expressions, remain of the eloquence which awed or soothed, excited or restrained, the most difficult audience in the world. It is partly by analyzing the works of his contemporaries - partly by noting the rise of the whole people - and partly by bringing together and moulding into a whole the scattered masses of his ambitious and thoughtful policy, that we alone can gauge and measure the proportions of the master-spirit of the time. The age of Pericles is the sole historian of Pericles.
This statesman was now at that period of life when public men are usually most esteemed - when, still in the vigour of manhood, they have acquired the dignity and experience of years, outlived the earlier prejudices and jealousies they excited, and see themselves surrounded by a new generation, among whom rivals must be less common than disciples and admirers. Step by step, through a long and consistent career, he had ascended to his present eminence, so that his rise did not startle from its suddenness; while his birth, his services, and his genius presented a combination of claims to power that his enemies could not despise, and that justified the enthusiasm of his friends. His public character was unsullied; of the general belief in his integrity there is the highest evidence ; and even the few slanders afterward raised against him - such as that of entering into one war to gratify the resentment of Aspasia, and into another to divert attention from his financial accounts, are libels so unsupported by any credible authority, and so absurd in themselves, that they are but a proof how few were the points on which calumny could assail him.