This is often held up as one of history’s great love stories – Plutarch wrote that Pericles kissed Aspasia every single day. And that’s very sweet and romantic, but their high-profile relationship was central to a key period in Greek history.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Here's the thing. Saving money with Geico was almost better than playing pick up basketball because there's always there, who joined your game He never passes the rock he constantly rex theories and who completely you and then put his hands up and say no foul, no foul with Geico? It's easy switch and save on car insurance. No. the vacant fake, an ankle sprain because you're absolutely exhausted. So which in save with Geiger it's almost better than sport Welcome to stuff you, Mr History Class from Housetop works, tat come welcome upon, can't I'm probably fry and I'm Tracy. We will then be like. I have to do a true convention on this, and which is that I was thinking well, would be. A good Valentine's day exists, for example, that there are two areas
and I ended up with a couple, but it's not very Valentine and you don't really have to do it. You can guess. I am currently researching a specifically Valentine episodes, who I understand: yeah yeah, but their this and fell apart. We're gonna talk about classical Athens, a little bit, which was a male dominated world, but of course, there were women and the women they were talking about today made waves because she wanted to be treated as me of men and in many ways was- and additionally, she was in a long term relationship with one of the most prominent men of the day the pair never married their union was never formally recognised, will talk about why- and this is an instance because we're talking about events of the fifth century,
We see that there is a lot of variation in interpretation in the lives of Pericles, please head of the athenian city state and his mistress, Aspasia, and the way they are characterized as we go along. We're gonna point out how various different accounts relay their story in slightly different ways, and this one, as I mentioned, are boot, have this on my list for awhile and would also be good Valentine story, because this often held up as one of histories, great love stories. Plutarch, for example, wrote that Pericles kissed Aspasia every single day once when he went out for the day and again when he returned, and that is very sweet and romantic. But their relationship is really more important because it was central to a key period. Angry history and moral
their entire story. We should point out, is largely known only through unverifiable writing. So we have to take things like the writings of Plutarch Chap and several hundred years after apparently is in a spot. You lived with a little bit of a grain of salt and we have to think critically about their story said again to that story, where we will start with Athens and the middle of the fifth century BC. Athens was coming off of fifty years of conflict and the Greco Persian wars. Greece had defeated the occasion, an empire. We ve talked about that empire on the show before Greece. It also driven the person's back in Athens, evolved into a really prosperous city state period between the Greco, Persian wars and the next major conflict, which was the Peloponnesian wars beginning in four thirty one b c e was known as the athenian Golden Age, Greek, women for context, and this time period and this location,
were generally married off when they were quite young in their early teens two men who are usually much older than they were this point in our homes, women were generally excluded from a lot of public life. They were not participants in the popular sports or theatre of the day, and they had really very few rights among the rightly did have reflect the women. Could own property and their financial dealings were protected under athenian law, but they had no involvement in politics, even though this is a time often held up as a great democracy, and even if a woman's finances were threatened, Lee and she chose to pursue that matter in court. She still had to have a male guardians speak on her behalf during those proceedings, so that, as is the little bit of the set up of the situation that were walking into before retransmission over to the life of Pericles, Pericles was born into privilege. His fathers
this was a war hero. His mother was from a really powerful family and in the delta head, Pericles made a name for himself as a military leader, a politician and a patron of the arts. He was elected to the military governmental leadership position after tea goes through democratic vote and for forty three b C as one of Athens leaders apparently made many contributions. They would come to be part of the historical identity of the city So during the Greco Persian more that we reference to building moment ago, Athens had burned and a lot of it had been destroyed and as part of an ongoing remit, of the city. It was perfectly who initiated the construction of such iconic structures as the Temple to as many gay and the Parthenon. He also subsidize the arts enabling the poor of Athens to attend theatre any started paying citizens for civic service, such as
hang on juries, Esparza was born and the ionian Greek settlement of militants, her father, was actually yoga sinned in a move it. pretty unusual. For his time. He wanted his daughter to have an education. This has also been cited as evidence that the family was a wealthy one, because a poor family probably wouldn't have been able to prioritize giving an education to a daughter, source of that education then gets a little mark here. This is one of those things that gets embellished are fleshed out a little bit differently in different history. So, according to some accounts, espouses mother and the enslaved people in their household were responsible for this education. So it was not a formal education in a school with a structured curriculum, but other versions do suggest a slightly more formal education process, but by all accounts, Esparza got a very well rounded education, far more than the average greek women. The next important part of a spasm story is that sheet
hold away from her home in villages to Athens if she had been traveling alone, as some of the writings indicate, this would have been a really unusual move. even young men would normally have done such a thing, but it is also possible that she travelled with her newly married sister and brother in law. Her sisters, husband with me Elsa bodies. The second and this could be her connections appear cleave because he was known to that family and its policy of time in Athens began some time in the four forties b c, and it was in Athens that Aspasia would become famous, though not always in the most flattering ways
long after she got to Athens that she met pyrrhic leave. As we mentioned a moment ago, this meeting might have been through her sisters, husband or maybe at a symposium empirically was married with a family that wasn't arranged. Marriage first sort of mutual social and political benefit. He left his wife and two sons around the same time as Aspasia came into his life, but the time line is not entirely clear in terms of this being a cause and effect situation. Divorce was not uncommon in Greece at the time it did not stigma that would later become attached to it. In many cultures, at both men and women were known to marry more than once in their lifetime. Pericles and his wife had been where, as I said, through beneficial arrangement, but they didn't really have a particularly good relationship, so it really shouldn't be portrayed as a showing up and becoming a homer
that torn apart happy family. The family also already had its own problems. At least one of his thumbs was never very fond of Pericles, and although Pericles did divorce wife, he didn't wind up marrying Aspasia, although the two of them did live together as a couple and we'll get into why and a little bit. So, of course, of this sort of thing happened today, like a prominent at issue moved in with his mistress. It would cause gossip and that same thing was true in Athens at the time soon the couple was constantly talked about, but a sponsor was the recipient of far more venomous attacks than Pericles is one of the more common accusation. was that a spasm was a quarter. Then this particular avenue of gossip took on a bunch of different lurid details. Some claimed that she was a high class quarters in, and these were known as a tariff other
over three were painted. Her is more of a basic sex worker, but others claimed that she served Pericles by bringing him young girls for his own pleasure. So from the time Esparza. Empirically back involved with one another. These rumours we're going around and they persisted long after she died and coming up. We're gonna talk about the possibility that this Bosnia was accorded them and the information that a lines there with that theory that first work in a pause and have a little sponsor break this episode of stuff you missed in history class, is brought to you by W W formerly wait. Watchers they have, a new might be to be program at their most groundbreaking and customize programme. Ever I joined Debbie W because I was really looking for something that was going to help encourage me to make healthier eating choices. They have really done that when you joined them W W program, you will take a personal assessment. It asking questions You're eating habits in your behaviors minute scientifically matches you up with which plan is going to be the best for you.
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sexual relations were also part of their work, but in a culture where men didn't usually Mary until later in life and when wives were usually kept in a position where they were uneducated and restricted to home life. Most of the time, the Tierra offered the opportunity to spend time with a woman who was knowledgeable and could discuss the issues of the day, as this was generally a job filled by women who were not athenian. They also had to pay taxes, and they consequently lived outside of a lot of the restrictions that the wives of the Athens City state lived with. I should probably know that today's geisha aren't are not generally described as sex workers, even though that comparison is made with a terror
correct. There is also no conclusive evidence, one way or another as to whether as Bosnia was ahead here or not, or whether just people assumed that she was because her behaviour seemed to fall in line with this line of work, and while this is a completely legal and common vocation and Athens at the time, it was awaited the mean her and, in turn, to demean Pericles, but perhaps in more jarring to the people of Athens than the idea that Pericles would fall in love and live with a woman formalities who may or may not have been a court, is on and perhaps leading his family to do so was that he treated Esparza as an equal. He consulted with her on matters of
date and she mingled with the men of power in Athens at the urging of her beloved. Eventually, the playwright Hermes accused Esparza of impiety. She was initially suspected of questioning the existence of the gods, but in the end, her trial seem to boil down to the idea that a spasm was turning the women of Athens to life sentence ways. The application was that it was too please Pericles. She was eventually cleared of these charges, but only after Pericles himself appeared in court and made an impassioned plea on her behalf yeah. This is tied to the whole thing that she was bringing him young girls for his sexual pleasure. That kind of ties into this whole impiety charge. It's also really important to contextual eyes. Some of the intent of these attacks on his policy of because really it had more to do with her being a friend and lover
apparently, is than anything related to her actual life or profession. To have power and democratic. Athens was not all that different from the american democracy. The last two hundred years, so friends and allies, were always targets as much as the person in power, for example, in addition to a spot where his close friend five years was also the subject of criticism and derision. In the case of farmers, who was overseer of many of the construction works that we talked about, Pericles initiating, he was used of. Embezzlement was actually a law that Pericles himself sponsored that kept him from ever marrying Aspasia and for fifty one b c e law known as the citizenship law barred any sign, worn through a non athenian mother from having citizenship in Athens before this law existed a child. He was born to em.
of Athens and a woman from somewhere else could still be considered an athenian citizen. There are a couple of reasons that such a law might have been enacted. One idea was the men of Athens, no longer Mary, wealthy foreigners to form alliances and gain power and the other is that a time when Athens was experiencing a high level of prosperity remember, this is the athenian golden age. It would limit citizenship numbers to curtail losing that prosperity. So, for example, not long after this law was enacted. The king of Egypt gifted Athens with a load of green with the attempted it would be distributed equally among Athenians, ends and there were soon lawsuits challenging the validity of various citizens. Statuses, as people were eager to keep as much of that Graham is possible for themselves so had
at least married Esparza. Any mail child they had wouldn't have been considered Athenian. This would have been politically disastrous. That would have suggested that the very law that Pericles sponsored was basically meaningless to him personally and so marriage was never on the table for him and Esparza. But there was also the benefit of Pericles having already Father two sons with his wife before he met Esparza those two sons existing took some of the pressure off of the situation, so if his first born son had the child of this foreign woman. There would have been a lot more controversy, but as Bosnia, Pericles did have a child
gather a son who was also named Pericles he's a moment will get into the place of provenance this couple held in athenian culture at the time. First, we will take one more quick break in here from one of our sponsors. This episode of stuff, you missed in history classes, brought to you by Norton three sixty with lifelong, what they your shopping online with your smartphone. Its super feels like ear. Personal information is just right there in your hand, but that's not always the case, because, as soon as you hit submit your person, information could start going other places. In fact, whenever you shop Bank or browse online, your personal invoking get out of your control, and that can we be vulnerable to cyber criminals. More threats demand more protection. That's why Norton and Lifelong are now part of one company, Norton three
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Literary generals were all entertained their regularly and the spot was known as incredibly smart and skilled debate. She is, in fact, sometimes credited with inventing the use of inductive reasoning into the Bay rhetoric and Plato even wrote of a sponsor teaching. Socrates rhetoric so Plato, the famed student of Socrates reference. This teaching in his work mix in us, which we are getting is the way to say that this writing is a socratic dialogue in which Socrates and the exodus discuss a funeral speech the Pericles had given. I will talk more about that speech in a moment, so this dialogue plays out this way. Socrates says that I should be able to speak. Is
oh great, wonderment exodus. Considering that I have an excellent mistress in the art of rhetoric. She who has made so many good speakers and one who was the best among all the Helen's. Pericles, please, the Son of SAM Purpose and the mass exodus responds and who is she? I suppose that you mean Esparza. There are, however, two notes to make about this particular piece of writing. One is that there is some debate about its authenticity too, even if it is authentic. It's also possible with us sexist mockery at the very idea that a woman could teach a man to be an eloquent speaker and that these lines are written to be sarcastic. So this is again of the bigger problem in unravelling the lives of Pericles, and especially as a couple we mention that a lot of the writing is murky, but also what we
no about them are a lot of what we know about them was written by playwrights and poets, who were largely composing. Comedies often is critiques, so everything is hidden in the record kind of has to be backwards, engineered in guessed at and put through this filter of. Are they making a duke at their expense or not by the fact that they and specifically Esparza word the focus of so much? Writing is a pretty clear indicator of the importance and prominence of both hers. A woman, Andy relationship, Athens and Sparta once united against the Persians eventually went to war with one another in this conflict between Greek city states was attributed, at least in part to Esparza, but the blame was not based on just one theory Without the gossip surrounding whether Esparza was a cortisone, her guilt among the gossip hers was from a vote. Eighty of different things
One theory was that the war was really caused by Spartans kidnapping, young women from a brothel that its policy was running, and this theory is actually discussed in the play. The occurrence that was written by aristophanes in for twenty five b c e Pericles granted assistance to military when it was at war with Samuelsen for forty one b c e Sparta had supported the Santos and took this assistance to its enemy a front. It's possible that spotty I had influenced the move, asking Pericles to intercede on her homelands behalf and the fat had provided a spark to the future conflict and pollute our growth of this episode quote and as these measures against the Sami ends are thought to have been taken to please Esparza. This may be a fit point. Four enquiry about the woman, what art or charming faculty she had that enabled her to captivate as she did the greatest statesmen and to give the philosophers occasion to speak so much.
her and that to not to her disparagement. Shortly after the Peloponnesians war began, Athens experienced a plague and because it was a densely populated city, illness spread really quickly was, is big enough deal that it was known as the great plague of Athens. Nearly a quarter of the population died in this outbreak and Pericles, please was blue for the plague. It was believed by the enraged and dismayed and understandably, terrified people that overcrowding was the cause of this pestilence. Athens was at this point so crowded, because in anticipating a move on the Spartans part to attack Attica,
perfectly had moved all the residents of the more rural spaces into the city, and, incidentally, Pericles was correct in this prediction, but that also means that, while he felt like he was protecting those people from the attack, their undefended homes and Atticus were completely sacked by the Spartans and all property was destroyed, and this further incense, the citizens of Athens During this time, Pericles gave his most famous speech a funeral oration delivered after one of the battles in this war, so there's a possibility that the speech was actually written by Aspasia. These are the final two paragraphs before Pericles disperses, the mourners turning to the sons or brothers of the dead see an arduous struggle before you. When a man is gone. All I want to praise him, and should your merit be ever so transcendent, you will still find it difficult not merely to overtake, but even to approach their renown. The living have envy to contend.
while those who are no longer in our path are honoured with a good will into which rivalry does not enter. On the other hand, if I must say anything on the subject of female excellence to those of you who will now be an widowhood, it will be all comprised in this brief exhortation. Great will be your glory in not falling short of your natural character and greatest will be hers, who is least talked of among the men, whether for good or forbad. Might Ask is now finished. I have performed it to the best of my ability, and in word at least the requirements of the law are now satisfied if deeds being question. Those who are here interred have received there. It is their honours already and for the rest, their children will be brought up till manhood at the public expense. The state thus offers of valuable prize as the garland of three in this race of valor for the reward both of those who have fallen and their survivors,
here, the rewards for merit our greatest there are found the best citizens. So this speech Then temporarily put off public anger but sentiment against Pericles swelled. Once again, he was removed from office and find, but eventually years reinstated and for twenty nine b c e, he was re elected as strategic owes, but that year would again turn tragic. Pericles himself was not so the illness that have devastated the rest of Athens, he became ill and illness dragged on for months. There is also the secondary problem. Of a dire matter of legacy that was taking a toll on parental leave, as he reckoned with his own end. His to legitimate son had also died and the plague, and he was desperate to preserve his legacy so much so that he petition to have his son with a sponsor named as his air. Remember. That son was.
and if any and citizen- and that was a request, which initially was neither honoured nor welcomed when Pericles finally succumb to his illness and died, and for twenty nine b c e, the future of Athens and espouses place in it was fraught with uncertainty. The people of Athens made a somewhat surprising move at this point, though, the bleak situation with before them, with no leadership and a plague. Still running rampant. They finally voted that the child of Pericles and Aspasia should be recognised as an Athenians citizen. This is another one of those It's that is relate a little bit differently in terms of timeline, depending on the account your reading. Some ratings actually say that the citizenship was conferred on Pericles, the younger before his father died, whereas the version that we just really say that it happened after the words as the city state continued
had regained its putting Esparza moved on to another romantic interest. This was a man named license, please. This is also recounted in the writings of Plutarch and they reference. The writings of ask unease quote: ask unease, tells us also that licence pleased a sheep dealer, a man of low birth in character, by keeping spotty accompany after Pericles is death, came to be a chief man in Athens. So once again, that's another indicator that, even though Aspasia may have been the brunt of many jokes and the target of a lot of attack, she clearly had some power because she was able to help us man rise to power of his own heraclius. The younger, the son of a sponsor apparently, was elected general informed, six b c E. He died at a young age in the Peloponnesian war. The end of a species life is pretty unclear, wiseacres died and for twenty eight b,
ie and a five year more or less vanishes from a historical record at that point, so we really dont know if she was still alive to mourn her son when he died. Yes, she sometimes is having died in four hundred or four hundred one b c e usually linked to writings about the death of Socrates, which we know she was gone by and that's how they use that as a marker. But we really have no idea when she passed away, but it is certain it's interesting. It's one of those things like. I said people always hold her up, as this amazing accept. to all of the rules of Athens and Emily she was, but at the same time there are aspects of her story that actually fall in line with with those you know, sort of cultured quarters on that were part of athenian culture as well. So it you know and there's so much guesswork in their story, because we just don't know a lot of details like we don't know what she was like his approach
if she was funny or if she was you know our or have no idea about any of this good debate is what we know and very beautiful by all accounts. So it's there are many mysteries. There does have some listener mail I do, and this is actually a postcard that came. We got it at the beginning of this but it was sent to us at the end of last year by religion, Lilla Society While I'm eleven am I love your broadcast, my mom and I love the listen to it in the car right now. We're in
oh Norway, to perform with wood. Petite Cirque at the Nobel Peace Prize concert twenty seventeen we had to visit the Nobel Peace Centre and learn all about its history. This postcard that she sat is a photograph of Mother Teresa, and she would like to request an opposite about her, we'll see if that makes it in their attention. But I just love that she takes time while they were travelling to send us is lovely postcard. So thank you. I love and thank you for listening. If you'd like to write to us, you can do so at history. Pie cast a house works dot com. You can also find us at missed in history. Dot, com and missed in history is aren't able, across the spectrum of social media seed and interact with us on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest Facebook and pretty much every where you would like to be so. You can also visit us, as I mentioned it, missed in history,
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