Aspasia preparing herself to go out, from The Greeks documentary
Aspasia preparing herself to go out, from The Greeks documentary

Pericles never married Aspasia, probably for the simply reason he could not. In an effort to prevent aristocratic families making alliances with other cities he had introduced a new citizenship law in 451 BC. As a result the sons of non-Athenian women could not become full citizens. Pericles would therefore be risking his whole political career if he married Aspasia in defiance of the very law he had introduced.

With two sons already Pericles' family line seemed secure, so Aspasia lived as his pallakis, his companion. In 440 BC she bore him a son, named after his father. Also living with them was Pericles' ward, Alcibiades. In years to come both children would rise to greatness and come to play pivotal roles in the Peloponnesian War, though both would leave mixed legacies.

Independently minded, witty, and with a gifted intellect even the philosopher Socrates acknowledged as being among the best of the city, Aspasia enjoyed a life of constant stimulation and excitement. No doubt with her help and encouragement, Pericles made Athens the greatest city of its day, the very epicenter of learning, art, politics and achievement. Just to walk around it was described as an education in itself.

The Streets of Athens

The Populace of Athens

The Houses of Athens

The Agora

Leisured Life: The Gymnasia

Intellectual Life in Athens during its height