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Dr J's Audio-Visual Resources for Classics

Courses Taught

INTELLECTUAL HERITAGE (at Temple University)

Course Info:
Sample Syllabus


Course Themes

Delphi- A Focal Point for IH 51 Texts

Writing Guides:
Writing Guidelines

style guide

Writing Analogies

Subject Study Aids:
Aeschylus' Agamemnon Study Guide

Aeschylus' Libation Bearers Study Guide

Aeschylus' Eumenides Passages

Sophocles' Oedipus and the Sphinx Lecture

Dr. J's Illustrated Pericles' Funeral Oration

Dr. J's Illustrated Pericles and America

Dr. J's Illustrated Pericles and Philadelphia

Dr. J's Illustrated Aeschylus' Oresteia

Dr. J's Curse of the House of Atreus Outline

Dr. J's Background Lecture on Greek Philosophy

Dr. J's Apology Study Questions

Dr. J's Illustrated Plato's Apology

Socrates and the Apology Lecture

Dr. J's Plutarch's Pericles

Judaism Study Guide

Sundiata Study Guide

Epic Qualities of the Sundiata Lecture

Othello Study Guide

Machiavelli Study Guide

Galileo and Humanism Lecture



Courses Proposed
(needs some pruning):

Topics in Classical Culture:
The Legend of the House of Atreus: Greek Tragedy in Greece

Religious Foundations of Greek Culture

The Intersection of Myth and History

The Ancient Greek Cultural Nexus- Art, Archaeology, Literature and Topography

From 1996-2001 I taught in the Intellectual Heritage Program at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This page is part of my teaching materials for Intellectual Heritage 51, a course covering literature and ideas from Sappho through Shakespeare...

Notes from Plutarch's Life of Pericles

by Dr. Janice Siegel

Pericles’ father: Xanthippus, defeated King of Persia’s generals at Mycale
Mother: Agariste, grandchild of Cleisthenes, responsible for expelling Athens’ last tyrants

Pericles’ mother dreamed she would bear a lion days before Pericles was born

His head is disproportionately long – called “Onionhead” by contemporary comic authors (which is why he insisted on having official portraits with helmet)

P’s teachers: Zeno of Elea, student of Parmenides

Most influential: Anaxagoras:

Pericles devoted his early politicking to befriending the common man, for he was an aristocrat by birth and feared ostracism from those who would fear him as a power-seeker.

 Known for his oratory skill

 Concerning the conduct of a man in power in regard to sexual pursuits: “A general should not only have pure hands, but pure eyes.”

Pericles used the public treasury to pay for diversions for the people and for jury-duty.

Thucydides (not the historian, another one) provided the balance the Athenians sought to avoid setting up Pericles as an absolute ruler. It became the people (Pericles) versus the nobility (Thucydides).

Things Pericles did:

-  sent out shiploads of men on nautical expeditions to improve their skills, found colonies (and thereby make Athens look good to her enemies), and rid Athens of idle men.

-public works – Pericles’ enemies accused him of unrightfully removing the treasury from Delos and misusing the other cities’ donations to dress up Athens like a vain woman, prancing about wanting to be gawked at.

 -          Pericles responded: the other cities have nothing to complain about since Athens is indeed protecting them from the barbarians; the monuments are eternal proofs of the glory that is Athens; and every sector of the economy is benefiting.

 Pericles’ idea that all members of the society thrive equally well: soldiers, mariners, merchants, craftsmen, artisans, common laborers as well as wagoners, rope-makers, leather-cutters,  - so the wealth of the public treasury was distributed throughout the different populations of the city.

 Phidias – superintendent of all building projects

  • Kallicrates and Ictinus – rebuilt the Parthenon, destroyed by the Persian sack of Athens in 480.

  • Coroebus – began the Temple of Initiation at Eleusis and Metagenes finished it.

  •  Odeum – music theater – a roofed structure

  • Pericles started the tradition of vying for musical prize during the Panathenea in the Odeum. He paid for the prize and he appointed the judge.

  •  Mnesicles: in five years built the Propylaia, entryway or vestibule to the Acropolis. (workman injured on the job was visited by Athena in a dream and he was healed).

 When Pericles’ enemies publicly accused him of over-spending, Pericles asked the people – they agreed. When he said that he would then take the responsibility for the expenditure and put his own name on the buildings instead of the name of Athens, the citizens cried out that he should spend as much as he wanted!

 After the ostracism of his only real political rival (Cimon), Pericles’ power soared. Always the people remembered the tyrants (Plutarch tells us that Pericles in his features rather resembled the Pesistratid family, to the chagrin of his enemies). Eventually, after a certain number of years (unclear), Pericles’ political enemies targeted those around him (says Plutarch):

  • Phidias is charged with stealing the gold intended for the chryselephantine statue of Athena. Pericles helps him disprove this charge (they remove and weigh the gold). Then Phidias is accused of sneaking in likenesses of himself and of Pericles onto the battle scene with the Amazons on Athena’s shield. Phidias is sent to jail, where he dies.

  • Aspasia, Pericles’ courtesan, is accused of impiety for employing women above the status of slave (acquitted of all charges)

  • Anaxagoras (natural philosopher tutor to Pericles) tried for disputing the existence of the gods (Socrates also mentions him – that he suggested that the sun was not the god Apollo, but a white-hot rock about the size of the Peloponnesus.) – Pericles feared he would be found guilty, so abetted his flight from Athens.

               The war begins not soon thereafter, and Pericles takes the people within the walls of the city. The plague hits after that. Plutarch suggests that because Pericles loses his legitimately born sons to the plague, this is the reason he repeals the law against bastards becoming citizens – for he feared that he would bequeath nothing to posterity. Ironically, it was Pericles who orginally drew up the law to limit Athenian citizenship to those whose parents on both sides were already citizens, causing much hardship at the time.

 Plutarch concludes his Life of Pericles by stating that Pericles built no less than nine memorials to the honor of Athens.


copyright 2001 Janice Siegel, All Rights Reserved
send comments to: Janice Siegel (jfsiege@ilstu.edu)

date this page was edited last: 10/25/2005
the URL of this page