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Who is Aspasia of Greece? Part 2

With Pericles, Aspasia gave birth to a son, who was named Pericles the Younger. This child went on to become a general in the Athenian military, but was executed after the Battle of Arginusae, which was part of the Peloponnesian War.

The following years would see Aspasia rise in social circles as a true beauty who also knew how to maintain a conversation, as well as play the role of advisor. Plutarch noted that their house became a center for intellectuals in Athens. Many well-known writers and thinkers, including the like of philosopher Socrates, made their way to their household.

Later Years and Death

The Plague of Athens that took place in 429 BC swept through the city, claiming the lives of Pericles’ sister and both of his legitimate sons, Xanthippus and Paralus (from his first wife). He took the deaths hard and not even Aspasia could help him through the storm. Interestingly, just before he died, the Athenians permitted a change in the citizenship law of 451 BC. As a result, his half-Athenian son with Aspasia, Pericles the Younger became a citizen and legitimate heir. Ironically, it was Pericles who had pushed for the law to pass in the first place, which called for Athenian parentage on both sides to establish citizenship. Pericles would die that same year from the plague.

After the Death of Pericles

After Pericles the Elder passed away, Aspasia is thought to have become the courtesan of Lysicles , another Athenian statesman and general, who fought in the name of democracy. According to Aeschines Socraticus, Lysicles and Aspasia lived with one another after the death of her love. They also had a son together. Once again, historians gave Aspasia credit for aiding in the success of Lysicles’s political career. Plutarch mentioned that she played a role in making him the “first man at Athens.” However, Lysicles was killed during battle in 428 BC.

What Happened to Aspasia?

Not much is known about the details of her life after Lysicles dies. Historians are unable to pinpoint whether she was alive when her son, Pericles, was elected general or even when he died after the Battle of Arginusae. Most accounts place her death around 401 BC or 400 BC because some texts state that she was not alive before Socrates was executed in 399 BC.

Her Legacy , In Literature

Since Aspasia is closely related to Pericles’ glory and fame, she appears in a variety of literary texts, including a bevy of works by well-known poets and novelists , especially those who write about romance. For example, Aspasia was a popular muse for 19th century romanticists and historical novelists of the 20th century. If you are interested in reading one of these texts, ‘Philothea,’ written by Lydia Maria Child offers a classical romance using the time period of Pericles and Aspasia as inspiration.