Revision of the Census. - Samian War. - Sketch of the Rise and Progress of the Athenian Comedy to the Time of Aristophanes.
I. In proportion as it had become matter of honourable pride and lucrative advantage to be a citizen of Athens, it was natural that the laws defining and limiting the freedom of the city should increase in strictness. Even before the time of Themistocles, those only were considered legitimate  who, on either side, derived parentage from Athenian citizens. But though illegitimate, they were not therefore deprived of the rights of citizenship; nor had the stain upon his birth been a serious obstacle to the career of Themistocles himself. Under Pericles, the law became more severe, and a decree was passed (apparently in the earlier period of his rising power), which excluded from the freedom of the city those whose parents were not both Athenian. In the very year in which he attained the supreme administration of affairs, occasion for enforcing the law occurred: Psammetichus, the pretender to the Egyptian throne, sent a present of corn to the Athenian people (B. C. 444); the claimants for a share in the gift underwent the ordeal of scrutiny as to their titles to citizenship, and no less than five thousand persons were convicted of having fraudulently foisted themselves into rights which were now tantamount to property; they were disfranchised ; and the whole list of the free citizens was reduced to little more than fourteen thousand. 
II. While under this brilliant and energetic administration Athens was daily more and more concentrating on herself the reluctant admiration and the growing fears of Greece, her policy towards her dependant allies involved her in a war which ultimately gave, if not a legal, at least an acknowledged, title to the pretensions she assumed. Hostilities between the new population of Miletus and the oligarchic government of Samos had been for some time carried on; the object of contention was the city of Priene - united, apparently, with rival claims upon Anaea, a town on the coast opposite Samos. The Milesians, unsuccessful in the war, applied to Athens for assistance. As the Samians were among the dependant allies, Pericles, in the name of the Athenian people, ordered them to refer to Athens the decision of the dispute; on their refusal an expedition of forty galleys was conducted against them by Pericles in person. A still more plausible colour than that of the right of dictation was given to this interference; for the prayer of the Milesians was backed and sanctioned by many of the Samians themselves, oppressed by the oligarchic government which presided over them. A ridiculous assertion was made by the libellers of the comic drama and the enemies of Pericles, that the war was undertaken at the instigation of Aspasia, with whom that minister had formed the closest connexion; but the expedition was the necessary and unavoidable result of the twofold policy by which the Athenian government invariably directed its actions; 1st, to enforce the right of ascendency over its allies; 2dly, to replace oligarchic by democratic institutions. Nor, on this occasion, could Athens have remained neutral or supine without materially weakening her hold upon all the states she aspired at once to democratize and to govern.