So, then, the man is to be admired not only for his reasonableness and the gentleness which he maintained in the midst of many responsibilities and great enmities, but also for his loftiness of spirit, seeing that he regarded it as the noblest of all his titles to honor that he had never gratified his envy or his passion in the exercise of his vast power, nor treated any one of his foes as a foe incurable.
And it seems to me that his otherwise puerile and pompous surname is rendered unobjectionable and becoming by this one circumstance, that it was so gracious a nature and a life so pure and undefiled in the exercise of sovereign power which were called Olympian, inasmuch as we do firmly hold that the divine rulers and kings of the universe are capable only of good, and incapable of evil. In this we are not like the poets, who confuse us with their ignorant fancies, and are convicted of inconsistency by their own stories,
since they declare that the place where they say the gods dwell is a secure abode and tranquil, without experience of winds and clouds, but gleaming through all the unbroken time with the soft radiance of purest light,1
—implying that some such a manner of existence is most becoming to the blessed immortal; and yet they represent the gods themselves as full of malice and hatred and wrath and other passions which ill become even men of any sense. But this, perhaps, will be thought matter for discussion elsewhere.
The progress of events wrought in the Athenians a swift appreciation of Pericles and a keen sense of his loss. For those who, while he lived, were oppressed by a sense of his power and felt that it kept them in obscurity, straightway on his removal made trial of other orators and popular leaders, only to be led to the confession that a character more moderate than his in its solemn dignity, and more august in its gentleness, had not been created.
That objectionable power of his, which they had used to call monarchy and tyranny, seemed to them now to have been a saving bulwark of the constitution, so greatly was the state afflicted by the corruption and manifold baseness which he had kept weak and grovelling, thereby covering it out of sight and preventing it from becoming incurably powerful.