Well, then, whatever the original ground for enacting the decree,—and it is no easy matter to determine this,—the fact that it was not rescinded all men alike lay to the charge of Pericles. Only, some say that he persisted in his refusal in a lofty spirit and with a clear perception of the best interests of the city, regarding the injunction laid upon it as a test of its submissiveness, and its compliance as a confession of weakness; while others hold that it was rather with a sort of arrogance and love of strife, as well as for the display of his power, that he scornfully defied the Lacedaemonians.
But the worst charge of all, and yet the one which has the most vouchers, runs something like this. Pheidias the sculptor was contractor for the great statue, as I have said, and being admitted to the friendship of Pericles, and acquiring the greatest influence with him, made some enemies through the jealousy which he excited; others also made use of him to test the people and see what sort of a judge it would be in a case where Pericles was involved. These latter persuaded one Menon, an assistant of Pheidias, to take a suppliant's seat in the market-place and demand immunity from punishment in case he should bring information and accusation against Pheidias.
The people accepted the man's proposal, and formal prosecution of Pheidias was made in the assembly. Embezzlement, indeed, was not proven, for the gold of the statue, from the very start, had been so wrought upon and cast about it by Pheidias, at the wise suggestion of Pericles, that it could all be taken off and weighed,1
and this is what Pericles actually ordered the accusers of Pheidias to do at this time.
But the reputation of his works nevertheless brought a burden of jealous hatred upon Pheidias, and especially the fact that when he wrought the battle of the Amazons on the shield of the goddess, he carved out a figure that suggested himself as a bald old man lifting on high a stone with both hands, and also inserted a very fine likeness of Pericles fighting with an Amazon. And the attitude of the hand, which holds out a spear in front of the face of Pericles, is cunningly contrived as it were with a desire to conceal the resemblance, which is, however, plain to be seen from either side.
Pheidias, accordingly, was led away to prison, and died there of sickness; but some say of poison which the enemies of Pericles provided, that they might bring calumny upon him. And to Menon the informer, on motion of Glycon, the people gave immunity from taxation, and enjoined upon the generals to make provision for the man's safety.