Thus, then, seeing that political differences were entirely remitted and the city had become a smooth surface, as it were, and altogether united, he brought under his own control Athens and all the issues dependent on the Athenians,—tributes, armies, triremes, the islands, the sea, the vast power derived from Hellenes, vast also from Barbarians, and a supremacy that was securely hedged about with subject nations, royal friendships, and dynastic alliances.
But then he was no longer the same man as before, nor alike submissive to the people and ready to yield and give in to the desires of the multitude as a steersman to the breezes. Nay rather, forsaking his former lax and sometimes rather effeminate management of the people, as it were a flowery and soft melody, he struck the high and clear note of an aristocratic and kingly statesmanship, and employing it for the best interests of all in a direct and undeviating fashion,
he led the people, for the most part willingly, by his persuasions and instructions. And yet there were times when they were sorely vexed with him, and then he tightened the reins and forced them into the way of their advantage with a master's hand, for all the world like a wise physician, who treats a complicated disease of long standing occasionally with harmless indulgences to please his patient, and occasionally, too, with caustics and bitter drugs which work salvation.
For whereas all sorts of distempers, as was to be expected, were rife in a rabble which possessed such vast empire, he alone was so endowed by nature that he could manage each one of these cases suitably, and more than anything else he used the people's hopes and fears, like rudders, so to speak, giving timely check to their arrogance, and allaying and comforting their despair. Thus he proved that rhetoric, or the art of speaking, is, to use Plato's words,1
‘an enchantment of the soul,’ and that her chiefest business is a careful study of the affections and passions, which are, so to speak, strings and stops of the soul, requiring a very judicious fingering and striking.
The reason for his success was not his power as a speaker merely, but, as Thucydides says,2
the reputation of his life and the confidence reposed in him as one who was manifestly proven to be utterly disinterested and superior to bribes. He made the city, great as it was when he took it, the greatest and richest of all cities, and grew to be superior in power to kings and tyrants. Some of these actually appointed him guardian of their sons, but he did not make his estate a single drachma greater than it was when his father left it to him.