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Headword: Περικλῆς
Adler number: pi,1179
Translated headword: Perikles, Pericles
Vetting Status: high
An Athenian. In his time the Peloponnesian War began, and the Kylonian pollution, in which Perikles was implicated, was driven from the Athenians. Now, Kylon was an Athenian who had won a victory at the Olympic games and was the son-in-law of Theagenes, the tyrant of Megara. He attempted to become tyrant of Athens but fled immediately after the attempt and took refuge at [the altar of] the Erinyes. Associates of Perikles dragged him from the altar and killed him.[1] They [sc. the Spartans] issued counter-orders. But Perikles did not allow [the Athenians] to be persuaded.[2] And they say that when Perikles' mother was about to give birth to him she dreamt she had given birth to a lion.[3] On one occasion when there was thunder and lightning and the Athenians were thrown into confusion by the noise, as they were marching out to battle under his command Perikles hit two rocks together and struck fire from them. "This," he said, "is thunder and lightning."[4] He married Aspasia the Milesian, and had sons by her, Xanthippos and Paralos,[5] naming the latter, contrary to ancestral tradition, after a hero, which was not permitted.[6]
Greek Original:
Περικλῆς, Ἀθηναῖος. ἐπὶ τούτου ἤρξατο ὁ Πελοποννησιακὸς πόλεμος. ἐπὶ τούτου τὸ Κυλώνειον ἄγος ἠλαύνετο παρὰ Ἀθηναίων, ᾧ ἐνείχετο Περικλῆς: Κύλωνα γὰρ ἄνδρα Ἀθηναῖον, Ὀλύμπια νενικηκότα, γαμβρὸν Θεαγένους τοῦ Μεγαρέων τυράννου, ἐπιθέμενον τυραννίδι τῶν Ἀθηναίων, παραχρῆμα φυγόντα, καταφυγόντα δὲ ἐπὶ τὰς Σεμνὰς θεὰς ἀποσπάσαντες οἱ περὶ Περικλέα ἀπέκτειναν. οἱ δὲ ἀντεπέταττον. Περικλῆς δὲ οὐκ εἴα πείθεσθαι. ὃς ἦν Ξανθίππου παῖς, στρατηγοῦ Ἀθηναίων, Ἀναξαγόρου δ' ὁμιλητής. φασὶ δέ, ὅτι μέλλουσα τὸν Περικλέα τίκτειν ἡ μήτηρ ὄναρ εἶδεν ὡς λέοντα τέκοι. οὗτος κεραυνοῦ ποτε γενομένου καὶ θορυβηθέντων Ἀθηναίων, ὡς ἐξῄεσαν ἐς μάχην ὑπ' αὐτῷ στρατηγῷ, δύο λίθους συγκρούσας καὶ πῦρ ἐξ αὐτῶν ἐκκόψας, τοῦτο, εἶπεν, ἐστὶν ὁ κεραυνός. ἔγημε δὲ Ἀσπασίαν τὴν Μιλησίαν, ἐξ ἧς ἔσχε παῖδας Ξάνθιππον καὶ Πάραλον: ὃν παρὰ τὰ πάτρια ὠνόμασεν, ἥρωος ἐπιθεὶς ὄνομα, οὐκ ἐξόν.
OCD4 Pericles(1).
[1] cf. kappa 2673. For Kylon's coup in c.640 BC (i.e. long before the time of Perikles) see Herodotus. 5.71 (web address 1) and Thucydides 1.126 (web address 2). See also Simon Hornblower, A Commentary on Thucydides, vol.1 (Oxford 1991) ad loc.
[2] Though cryptic, these two short sentences probably bring us back from the C7 BCE to the 430s, i.e. they refer to the Spartans' demand immediately before the Peloponnesian War that the Athenians drive out the curse of the Alkmeonidai by expelling Perikles: Thucydides 1.126.2, 127 (web addresses 2 and 3). (Thuc. uses the verb ἀντεκέλευον at 1.128.1 of the Athenians' counter-demand that the Spartans drive out the curse of Tainaros. Compare the Suda's very similar ἀντεπέταττον. )
[3] cf. Herodotus 6.131.2 (web address 4) and Plutarch, Pericles 3.3 (web address 5). For discussion see Philip A. Stadter, A Commentary on Plutarch's Pericles (Chapel Hill and London 1989) on 3.3.
[4] cf. Perikles' eclipse-related ruse at Plutarch, Pericles 35.2 (web address 6; and Frontinus, Stratagems 1.12.10).
[5] These were in fact Perikles' legitimate children by his first wife (Plutarch, Pericles 24.8; web address 7). They both died of the plague (Plutarch, Pericles 36.6-9; web address 8). Perikles' son by Aspasia was the younger Perikles, who was among those tried and executed after the battle of Arginousai in 406/5. (For sources and discussion of the trial see M.H. Hansen, Eisangelia: the Sovereignty of the People's Court in Athens in the Fourth Century BC and the Impeachment of Generals and Politicians [Odense 1975], catalogue no.66.)
[6] cf. omicron 873. Paralos was 'named, like one of the two Athenian sacred triremes, after the Athenian hero and patron of sailors, a son of Poseidon. The more common name is Paralius' (Stadter [n.3 above] p.330). Another Paralos, from another family, is attested in the following century.
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2,
Web address 3,
Web address 4,
Web address 5,
Web address 6,
Web address 7,
Web address 8
Keywords: athletics; biography; chronology; dreams; ethics; geography; historiography; history; imagery; military affairs; politics; religion; women; zoology
Translated by: Debra Hamel on 16 November 1998@23:42:20.
Vetted by:
Ross Scaife ✝ (added translated headwords for searches) on 21 February 2000@09:34:38.
David Whitehead (modified translation; augmented notes; added bibliography and keyword; cosmetics) on 22 January 2001@05:44:41.
Elizabeth Vandiver (Added italics;changed display of betacode to Greek in notes; added links; added keyword; cosmetics) on 25 October 2003@16:08:54.
Catharine Roth (minor cosmetic) on 25 October 2003@16:20:44.
David Whitehead (more keywords; cosmetics) on 9 October 2005@06:21:55.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 9 October 2005@08:44:08.
David Whitehead (more keywords; tweaks and cosmetics; raised status) on 25 September 2013@07:36:57.
David Whitehead on 10 August 2014@04:56:16.
David Whitehead (coding and other cosmetics) on 22 May 2016@10:09:04.
David Whitehead (note typo) on 10 September 2016@06:50:02.


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