Discussion:
WI: Pericles doesn't take Aspasia as his mistress
Add Reply
jerry kraus
2017-06-09 13:16:52 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Raw Message
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspasia

"According to Plutarch, she was put on trial for impiety, with the comic poet Hermippus as prosecutor.[f][32] The historical nature of the accounts about these events is disputed, and apparently no harm came to her as a result.[33]

In The Acharnians, Aristophanes blames Aspasia for the Peloponnesian War. He claims that the Megarian decree of Pericles, which excluded Megara from trade with Athens or its allies, was retaliation for prostitutes being kidnapped from the house of Aspasia by Megarians.[13] "


Just for a change, let's consider this possibility. Pericles was certainly pivotal in bringing about the Peloponnesian War, which was certainly pivotal in the history of Classical Greece, which was certainly pivotal in the history of Western Civilization, as a whole. And, it seems clear that his brilliant mistress, Aspasia, had considerable influence on Pericles' oratorical style, and, quite possibly, his policies themselves. So, let's suppose that these two never get together. That shouldn't require any alien space bats at all, since love is such an unpredictable thing. How would this change history, if at all?

Bear in mind, traditional Athenian society kept most women at the level of virtual slaves, very much like traditional Japanese society. Aspasia was quite unusual for her time and place, in terms of her influence and power.
Pete Barrett
2017-06-10 17:09:26 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by jerry kraus
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspasia
"According to Plutarch, she was put on trial for impiety, with the comic
poet Hermippus as prosecutor.[f][32] The historical nature of the accounts
about these events is disputed, and apparently no harm came to her as a
result.[33]
In The Acharnians, Aristophanes blames Aspasia for the Peloponnesian War.
He claims that the Megarian decree of Pericles, which excluded Megara from
trade with Athens or its allies, was retaliation for prostitutes being
kidnapped from the house of Aspasia by Megarians.[13] "
Aristophanes is a source for opinion and social conditions, but I'd put
about the same reliance on any 'facts' he reports as I would on something
stated in a satirical TV programme such HIGNFY!

Rather importantly, Thucydides, doesn't mention that story (doesn't mention
Aspasia at all, as I recall), and does mention a lot of other reasons for
the war, of which the Megarian Decree was simply one (and very likely just
an excuse).

On historical matters, I'm inclined to have more faith in Thucydides than
Aristophanes, so I don't think keeping Percles and Aspasia apart would
prevent the Peleponnesian War.
Post by jerry kraus
Just for a change, let's consider this possibility. Pericles was
certainly pivotal in bringing about the Peloponnesian War, which was
certainly pivotal in the history of Classical Greece, which was certainly
pivotal in the history of Western Civilization, as a whole. And, it
seems clear that his brilliant mistress, Aspasia, had considerable
influence on Pericles' oratorical style, and, quite possibly, his policies
themselves. So, let's suppose that these two never get together. That
shouldn't require any alien space bats at all, since love is such an
unpredictable thing. How would this change history, if at all?
At the very least, his son by Aspasia wouldn't exist to have been one of the
commanders at the Battle of Arginusae, and wouldn't have been executed in
the aftermath. Would that make a difference? It might, because if he wasn't,
then presumably someone else would be. If that someone was Conon, then that
would have major ramifications later as regards the Athenian resurgence
after 399.
Post by jerry kraus
Bear in mind, traditional Athenian society kept most women at the level of
virtual slaves, very much like traditional Japanese society. Aspasia was
quite unusual for her time and place, in terms of her influence and power.
If indeed she had much. She's not, as I said, mentioned by Thucydides, which
suggests that he didn't consider her influence as very strong. Though
Thucydides doesn't mention women much anyway, perhaps because as you say,
thier position in most Greek society wasn't an influential one (they did
rather better in Sparta, of course). That she wasn't actually married
probably helped.
--
Pete BARRETT
jerry kraus
2017-06-12 13:13:52 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Pete Barrett
Post by jerry kraus
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspasia
"According to Plutarch, she was put on trial for impiety, with the comic
poet Hermippus as prosecutor.[f][32] The historical nature of the accounts
about these events is disputed, and apparently no harm came to her as a
result.[33]
In The Acharnians, Aristophanes blames Aspasia for the Peloponnesian War.
He claims that the Megarian decree of Pericles, which excluded Megara from
trade with Athens or its allies, was retaliation for prostitutes being
kidnapped from the house of Aspasia by Megarians.[13] "
Aristophanes is a source for opinion and social conditions, but I'd put
about the same reliance on any 'facts' he reports as I would on something
stated in a satirical TV programme such HIGNFY!
Rather importantly, Thucydides, doesn't mention that story (doesn't mention
Aspasia at all, as I recall), and does mention a lot of other reasons for
the war, of which the Megarian Decree was simply one (and very likely just
an excuse).
On historical matters, I'm inclined to have more faith in Thucydides than
Aristophanes, so I don't think keeping Percles and Aspasia apart would
prevent the Peleponnesian War.
Post by jerry kraus
Just for a change, let's consider this possibility. Pericles was
certainly pivotal in bringing about the Peloponnesian War, which was
certainly pivotal in the history of Classical Greece, which was certainly
pivotal in the history of Western Civilization, as a whole. And, it
seems clear that his brilliant mistress, Aspasia, had considerable
influence on Pericles' oratorical style, and, quite possibly, his policies
themselves. So, let's suppose that these two never get together. That
shouldn't require any alien space bats at all, since love is such an
unpredictable thing. How would this change history, if at all?
At the very least, his son by Aspasia wouldn't exist to have been one of the
commanders at the Battle of Arginusae, and wouldn't have been executed in
the aftermath. Would that make a difference? It might, because if he wasn't,
then presumably someone else would be. If that someone was Conon, then that
would have major ramifications later as regards the Athenian resurgence
after 399.
Post by jerry kraus
Bear in mind, traditional Athenian society kept most women at the level of
virtual slaves, very much like traditional Japanese society. Aspasia was
quite unusual for her time and place, in terms of her influence and power.
If indeed she had much. She's not, as I said, mentioned by Thucydides, which
suggests that he didn't consider her influence as very strong. Though
Thucydides doesn't mention women much anyway, perhaps because as you say,
thier position in most Greek society wasn't an influential one (they did
rather better in Sparta, of course). That she wasn't actually married
probably helped.
--
Pete BARRETT
I suppose, Pete, I'm playing a bit with the "women are the source of all evil" notion, so prevalent in much of human civilization. So, is it at all possible, even hypothetically, that Aspasia did, in fact, cause the Peloponnesian War? And, if so, and she hadn't been around, would Greek Classical civilization have progressed much farther, to the benefit of Western Civilization? I suppose this ties into the broader notion of the actual significance of the Peloponnesian War in Western Civilization as a whole. And, also, the extent to which the Peloponnesian War was inevitable.
Pete Barrett
2017-06-12 17:23:26 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by jerry kraus
I suppose, Pete, I'm playing a bit with the "women are the source of all
evil" notion, so prevalent in much of human civilization. So, is it at
all possible, even hypothetically, that Aspasia did, in fact, cause the
Peloponnesian War?
No. There were far too many other causes of tension between Athens and
Sparta. 5th century Greece was a s much of a tinderbox as 1900s Europe. Even
if we removed Pericles completely, it would have burst into flame before
long.
Post by jerry kraus
And, if so, and she hadn't been around, would Greek
Classical civilization have progressed much farther, to the benefit of
Western Civilization?
After the Peloponnesian War, Greek civilisation produced Aristotle,
Archimedes, Hero, Zeno, Epicurus, Aristarchus, Eratosthenes, Theocritus,
Apollonius of Rhodes - hard to see how it could have done much better
_without_ the Peloponnesian War. The record is heavy on Physics,
Mathematics, Astronomy, Lieterature, and Philosophy; light on Biology (after
Aristotle), Medicine, Geography, and History (unless you count Polybius).

Did the Peloponnesian War make a difference to the _balance_ of Greek
intellectual endeavour? Would removing it have made the Greeks think more
about medicine or geography? I doubt it, but you may think differently.
Post by jerry kraus
I suppose this ties into the broader notion of the
actual significance of the Peloponnesian War in Western Civilization as a
whole. And, also, the extent to which the Peloponnesian War was
inevitable.
--
Pete BARRETT
Loading...