Pericles was of the tribe Acamantis, of the deme Cholargus, and of the foremost family and lineage on both sides. His father, Xanthippus, who conquered the generals of the King at Mycale,1
married Agariste, granddaughter2
of that Cleisthenes who, in such noble fashion, expelled the Peisistratidae and destroyed their tyranny, instituted laws, and established a constitution best tempered for the promotion of harmony and safety.
She, in her dreams, once fancied that she had given birth to a lion, and a few days thereafter bore Pericles.3
His personal appearance was unimpeachable, except that his head was rather long and out of due proportion. For this reason the images of him, almost all of them, wear helmets, because the artists, as it would seem, were not willing to reproach him with deformity. The comic poets of Attica used to call him
‘Schinocephalus,’ or Squill-head (the squill is sometimes called
So the comic poet Cratinus, in his
‘Faction and Saturn, that ancient of days, were united in wedlock; their offspring was of all tyrants the greatest, and lo! he is called by the gods the head-compeller.’
And again in his
‘Come, Zeus! of guests and heads the Lord!’
And Telecleides speaks of him as sitting on the acropolis in the greatest perplexity,
‘now heavy of head, and now alone, from the eleven-couched chamber of his head, causing vast uproar to arise.’
And Eupolis, in his
‘Demes,’ having inquiries made about each one of the demagogues as they come up from Hades, says, when Pericles is called out last:—
The very head of those below hast thou now brought.