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140. The influence of Cimon had greatly declined at Athens. The democratic party had recovered from its loss in Themistocles, for a new leader was arising whose popularity and services to the state were destined to eclipse even the great men who had preceded him. This was Per'icles, the son of that Xanthippus who had impeached Miltiades. His mother was niece of Clisthenes, who is called the second founder of the Athenian constitution. Born of an illustrious family, and educated in all the opportunities of Athenian camps and schools, Pericles was said to have nothing to contend against except his advantages. His beautiful face, winning manners, and musical voice reminded the oldest citizens of Pisistratus; and the vigilance with which the Athenians guarded their liberties, turned the admiration of some into jealousy. Pericles, however, made no haste to enter on his public career, but prepared himself by long and diligent study for the influence he hoped to attain. He sought the wisest teachers, and became skilled in the science of government, while he cultivated his gifts in oratory by training in all the arts of expression.
Anaxagʻoras, the first Greek philosopher who believed in one supreme Intelligence, creating and governing the universe, was the especial friend and instructor of Pericles, and to his sublime doctrines men attributed the elevation and purity of the young statesman's eloquence. Instead of relying solely upon the wisdom of his counsels, like Themistocles, or upon his natural gifts, like Pisistratus, Pericles chose every word with care, and was the first who committed his orations to writing, that he might subject every sentence to the highest polish of which it was capable. The Athenian people, the most sensitive, perhaps, to beauty of style of any that ever existed, enjoyed with keen delight the clear reasoning and brilliant language which characterized the discourses of Pericles. Nor was his perfection of detail gained by any sacrifice of energy. His public speaking was compared to thunder and lightning, and he was said to carry the weapons of Zeus upon his tongue. Above all, the sweetness of his temper, and the command which philosophy had enabled him to gain over his passions, gave him advantage over less disciplined orators. The fiercest debate or the most insulting interruptions never disturbed for a moment the cheerful and dignified composure of his manner.
141. Thasos surrendered B. C. 463; its walls were leveled, its shipping transferred to the Athenians, and all its claims upon the Thracian gold mines were given up. The people were compelled to pay all their arrears of tribute to the Delian treasury, beside engaging to meet their dues punctually in future.
B. C. 461.
142. A second time the Spartans asked the aid of Athens in their servile war, and Cimon again led an army to their relief. But the superiority of the Athenians in siege operations aroused the envy of the Lacedæmonians, even when employed in their defense; and the
long siege of Ithome afforded time for the rivalries of the two nations to break out into open feuds. The Spartans declared that they had no further need of the Athenians, and dismissed their troops. Other allies were retained, including Ægina, the ancient rival of Athens. The latter, considering herself insulted, made an alliance with the Argives and the Aleuads of Thessaly against Sparta. The Hellenic treasury was removed from Delos to Athens, for safe keeping, it was said, against the needy and rapacious hands of the Spartans.
The popular resentment naturally extended itself to Cimon. The favor with which he was regarded in Sparta was now his greatest crime. The Athenians had indeed some reason to fear, for the Spartan nobles always maintained a party in their city who were supposed to be secretly plotting against its free government. However honestly Cimon supported aristocratic principles, the people, with equal honesty and greater wisdom, opposed him. He was subjected to the ostracism and banished for ten years.
The power of Athens was increased by the Persian war; and her home government, which had been confined to the nobles, was thrown open to the people. Themistocles rebuilt the walls and improved the harbor. Pausanias, becoming a traitor, died of starvation in the temple of Athena, at Sparta. Athens became the chief of the Hellenic League, whose seat and treasury were at Delos. Cimon, son of Miltiades, in command of the allied forces, captured Eion, cleared Scyros of pirates, subdued rebellions in Carystus and Naxos, and conquered the Persians, both on sea and land, in the battle of the Eurymedon. He beautified Athens by a liberal use of his enormous wealth, and improved the military and naval discipline of his fellow-citizens, at the expense of their allies. Themistocles, exiled through suspicion, took refuge in the Persian dominion, where he died. Sparta suffered a double calamity, in an earthquake and a servile rebellion, known as the Third Messenian War. Her insulting treatment of her Athenian aids destroyed the popularity of Cimon; and Pericles, the most accomplished of the Athenians, rose into power.
SUPREMACY OF ATHENS.
143. Athens, under the lead of Pericles, now entered upon the most brilliant period of her history. A dispute between Megara and Corinthi involved Athens on the former and Sparta on the latter side, and thus led to the First Peloponnesian War (B. C. 460-457). At the same time, a more distant enterprise tempted the Athenians. Egypt had now cast off the last semblance of obedience to Persia, and hailed a deliverer and sovereign in the person of Inarus. In looking about him for allies, Inarus naturally sought the aid of those who, at Marathon, had first broken the power of the Persians. The Athenians engaged gladly in the war, and sent a fleet of two hundred triremes to the Nile. The events of the campaign have been recorded in the History of Persia. *
*See p. 93.
144. The war in Greece went on with great vigor. The Athenians were defeated at Hale, but soon after won a naval battle at Cec'ryphali'a,* which more than retrieved their reputation. Ægina now joined in the war, and the Athenians landed upon the island and besieged the city. A Peloponnesian army came to the aid of Ægina, while the Corinthians seized the opportunity to invade Megaris. With all her forces employed either in Egypt or Ægina, they hoped that Athens would be overcome by this new attack. But Myron'ides mustered an army of boys and old men exempt from service, and marched at once to the assistance of Megara. In the battle which ensued, neither party acknowledged itself defeated, but the Corinthians withdrew to their capital, while the Athenians held the field and erected a trophy. Unable to bear the reproaches of their government, the Corinthian army returned after twelve days and raised a monument upon the field, claiming that the victory had been theirs. But the Athenians now attacked them anew, and inflicted a decisive and disgraceful defeat.
B. C. 457.
145. In the midst of these enterprises abroad, great public works were going on in Athens. Cimon had already planned a line of fortifications to unite the city with its ports, and the spoils of the Persians, taken at the Eurymedon and at Cyprus, had been assigned for the expense. Under the direction of Pericles, the building began in earnest. One wall was extended to Phalerum, and another to Piræus; but as it was found difficult to defend so large an inclosed space, a second wall to Piræus was added, at a distance of 550 feet from the first. Between these Long Walls a continuous line of dwellings bordered the carriage-road, nearly five miles in length, which extended from Athens to its principal harbor.
146. The Spartans were still too much absorbed in the siege of Ithome to interfere with the great and sudden advancement of Athenian power; but a disaster which befell their little ancestral land of Doris, in war with the Phocians, withdrew their attention even from their own troubles. An army of 1,500 heavy-armed Spartans and 10,000 auxiliaries, sent to the relief of the Dorians, drove the Phocians from the town they had taken, and secured their future good behavior by a treaty. The retreat of the Spartans was now cut off by the Athenian fleet in the Gulf of Corinth and the garrison in the Megarid. Their commander, Nicome’des, had, however, reasons beyond the necessity of the case for remaining a while in Boeotia. He was plotting with the aristocratic party in Athens for the return of Cimon, and he also desired to increase the power of Thebes, as a near and dangerous rival to the former city.
The conspiracy becoming known, the Athenians were roused to revenge. They raised an army of 14,000 men and marched against Nicomedes, at
* A small island in the Saronic Gulf, between Ægina and the coast of Argolis.