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Of his power there can be no doubt, since Thucydides gives so clear an exposition of it, and the comic poets unwittingly reveal it even in their malicious gibes, calling him and his associates ‘new Peisistratidae,’ and urging him to take solemn oath not to make himself a tyrant, on the plea, forsooth, that his preeminence was incommensurate with a democracy and too oppressive. [2] Telecleides says1 that the Athenians had handed over to him

With the cities' assessments the cities themselves, to bind or release as he pleases,
Their ramparts of stone to build up if he likes, and then to pull down again straightway,
Their treaties, their forces, their might, peace, and riches, and all the fair gifts of good fortune.
And this was not the fruit of a golden moment, nor the culminating popularity of an administration that bloomed but for a season; nay rather he stood first for forty years2 among such men as Ephialtes, Leocrates, Myronides, Cimon, Tolmides, and Thucydides, [3] and after the deposition of Thucydides and his ostracism, for no less than fifteen of these years did he secure an imperial sway that was continuous and unbroken, by means of his annual tenure of the office of general. During all these years he kept himself untainted by corruption, although he was not altogether indifferent to money-making; indeed, the wealth which was legally his by inheritance from his father, that it might not from sheer neglect take to itself wings and fly away, nor yet cause him much trouble and loss of time when he was busy with higher things, he set into such orderly dispensation as he thought was easiest and most exact. [4] This was to sell his annual products all together in the lump, and then to buy in the market each article as it was needed, and so provide the ways and means of daily life. For this reason he was not liked by his sons when they grew up, nor did their wives find in him a liberal purveyor, but they murmured at his expenditure for the day merely and under the most exact restrictions, there being no surplus of supplies at all, as in a great house and under generous circumstances, but every outlay and every intake proceeding by count and measure. [5] His agent in securing all this great exactitude was a single servant, Evangelus, who was either gifted by nature or trained by Pericles so as to surpass everybody else in domestic economy.

It is true that this conduct was not in accord with the wisdom of Anaxagoras, since that philosopher actually abandoned his house and left his land to lie fallow for sheep-grazing, owing to the lofty thoughts with which he was inspired. [6] But the life of a speculative philosopher is not the same thing, I think, as that of a statesman. The one exercises his intellect without the aid of instruments and independent of external matters for noble ends; whereas the other, inasmuch as he brings his superior excellence into close contact with the common needs of mankind, must sometimes find wealth not merely one of the necessities of life, but also one of its noble things, as was actually the case with Pericles, who gave aid to many poor men. [7] And, besides, they say that Anaxagoras himself, at a time when Pericles was absorbed in business, lay on his couch all neglected, in his old age, starving himself to death, his head already muffled for departure, and that when the matter came to the ears of Pericles, he was struck with dismay, and ran at once to the poor man, and besought him most fervently to live, bewailing not so much that great teacher's lot as his own, were he now to be bereft of such a counsellor in the conduct of the state. Then Anaxagoras—so the story goes—unmuffled his head and said to him, ‘Pericles, even those who need a lamp pour oil therein.’

1 In a play of unknown name. Kock, Com. Att. Frag. i. p. 220.

2 Reckoning roundly from 469 to 429 B.C.

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