Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
College of Humanities and Fine Arts
Denvy A. Bowman
From 460 to 429 BC, the dominant figure in Athens was the statesmen and general Pericles. Although affairs were run by more than one strategoi, control of domestic and foreign policy consolidated in his hands for the most part. However, coinciding with this concentration of powers was his burgeoning relationship with the Milesian courtesan Aspasia. Pericles began making certain policies and decisions that ran contrary to his earlier cautious, pro-Athens stance. His critics and enemies denounced Aspasia for implanting ideas in their leader's head, others believed her wisdom provided Pericles with a shrewd partner for his plans, while still others disregarded any such concepts of control. The controversy has existed ever since over how much influence Aspasia had on the actions of Pericles. The two drastic views on either end of the spectrum fall short when confronted with the evidence. The middle ground offers Aspasia a role more suitable, where she impacted Pericles directly on some issues, such as his policy toward foreigners, but usually provided him with avenues to expand the Athenian empire, even if she may have had other concerns in mind. Being very difficult to prove, this work examines three controversial policies made by Pericles and focuses on the creation of scandal that tarnished the relationship.
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Trail, Derek, "Pericles and Aspasia: How One Woman Affected Athenian Politics and Society" (2000). Honors Theses. 308.