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So long, then, as Pericles held the headship1 of the People, the affairs of the state went better, but when Pericles was dead they became much worse. For the People now for the first time adopted a head who was not in good repute with the respectable classes, whereas in former periods those always continued to lead the people. [2] For Solon was the first and original head of the People, and the second was Peisistratus, who was one of the men of nobility and note. After the tyranny had been put down, Cleisthenes, a member of the family of the Alcmaeonidae, was head of the People, and he had no opponent, since the party of Isagoras was banished; but after this Xanthippus held the headship of the People, and Miltiades of the notables; and then Themistocles and Aristeides; and after them Ephialtes held the headship of the People, and Cimon son of Miltiades of the wealthy; and then Pericles of the People and Thucydides of the others, he being a relation of Cimon. [3] When Pericles died, Nicias, who died in Sicily, held the headship of the men of distinction, and the head of the People was Cleon son of Cleaenetus, who is thought to have done the most to corrupt the people by his impetuous outbursts, and was the first person to use bawling and abuse on the platform, and to gird up his cloak before making a public speech, all other persons speaking in orderly fashion. Then after these Theramenes son of Hagnon was chief of the others and Cleophon the lyre-maker of the People, who first introduced the two-obol dole2; he went on distributing this for a time, but afterwards Callicrates of the Paeanian deme abolished it, being the first person to promise to add to the two obols another obol. Both of these two leaders were afterwards condemned to death; for even though the multitude may be utterly deceived, subsequently it usually hates those who have led it to do anything improper. [4] From Cleon onward the leadership of the People was handed on in an unbroken line by the men most willing to play a bold part and to gratify the many with an eye to immediate popularity. [5] And it is thought that the best of the politicians at Athens after those of early times were Nicias, Thucydides and Theramenes. As to Nicias and Thucydides, almost everybody agrees that they were not only honorable gentlemen but also statesmanlike and patriotic servants of the whole state, but about Theramenes, owing to the confused nature of the constitutional changes that took place in his time, the verdict is a matter of dispute. However, the view of writers not making mere incidental references is that he was not a destroyer of all governments, as critics charge him with being, but guided them all forward into a fully law-abiding course, since he was capable of serving the state under all of them, which is the duty of a good citizen, but did not give in to them when they acted illegally, but faced their enmity.

1 See note on Aristot. Ath. Pol. 2.3.

2 By instituting the 'theater-fund' (τὸ θεωρικόν), which was a state fund for defraying the cost of an ordinary seat at the theater, 2 obols. Plutarch attributes its institution to Pericles. An obol was about 1 1/2 d., 6 to a drachma.

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    • Aristotle, Constitution of the Athenians, 2.3
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