Aspasia (ancient)

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Ideal portrait of Aspasia from the 1st century BC BC, bust of Hermes in the Vatican Museums (Museo Pio Clementino, inv. 272)

Aspasia ( ancient Greek Ἀσπασία * around 470 BC in Miletus ; † around 420 BC in Athens ) was a Greek philosopher, speaker and the second wife of Pericles .


Aspasia of Miletus (now in the province of Aydın , Turkey) founded a philosophical salon in Athens, in which she was not only a host, but also a valued speaker. Aspasia's own works have not survived, even if an alleged speech by Aspasia is reproduced in Plato's dialogue Menexenus . From the records of other philosophers and contemporary witnesses, however, it emerges that the highly educated woman probably had contact with the new philosophical currents from Ionia . Socrates , Sophocles , Euripides , Pheidias and the elite of the time could have haunted their home. In Plato's Menexenus , Socrates refers to Aspasia as his teacher of rhetoric . On the other hand, Aspasia is portrayed and belittled as a hetaera by ancient comedy writers, especially Aristophanes . According to Plutarch , she is said to have taken Thargelia of Miletus as a model.

Aspasia in conversation with the Greek philosopher, Michel Corneille the Younger (1642–1708), Versailles

Plutarch reports that she is descended from a certain Axiochus and comes from Miletus. Aspasia presumably had a son with Pericles , who took his father's name. Due to the new civil rights law of 451/450 BC, introduced by Pericles himself. BC, the so-called bastard law, according to which full citizenship could only arise from the association of Attic citizens, Pericles the Younger , who later became one of the Athenian generals, was initially excluded from it. The marital union between an Athenian and a Milesian was not legally a valid marriage. This led to the portrayal of Pericles' lover or hetaera in the comedies of the time . The foul talk was followed by the accusation that she was responsible for the outbreak of the Sami uprising (441 BC), and an indictment by the comedy poet Hermippus , who accused her of acebie and pimp (433/32 BC). Pericles himself found it difficult to obtain an acquittal.

After Pericles' death (429 BC), Aspasia married Lysikles, a cattle dealer and follower of Pericles who had lived as early as 428 BC. BC died. With this she also had a son who was nicknamed Poristes in the comedy.


Wieland published the verse story Aspasia ( digital copy, pp. 120-135) in the first volume of Deutsches Merkurs (1773 ). In the year of the French Revolution (1789), Grétry performed the opera Aspasie ( libretto : Étienne Morel de Chédeville). Iakovos Rhizos Nerulos wrote the tragedy Aspasia in 1813 in archaic Greek . Aspasia also found its way into the visual arts . The feminist artist Judy Chicago made her role in the history of women clear: In The Dinner Party (1974–1979) she dedicated one of the 39 place settings to her. http: //vorlage_digitalisat.test/1%3D~GB%3DIHQGAAAAQAAJ%26pg%3DRA1-PA120%26dq%3Dwieland%2Baspasia%26hl%3Dde%26sa%3DX%26ved%3D0ahUKEwj_s-_BiqLXe6AhXn26% DAC26% 3Dfalse ~ IA% 3D ~ MDZ% 3D% 0A ~ SZ% 3D ~ double-sided% 3D ~ LT% 3D ~ PUR% 3D

The life of Aspasia and its relationship to Pericles devoted to literary works:

  • Aspazija : Aspazija. Sen-Helladas drāma piecos cēlienos (septiņās ainās) (Aspazija. Drama from Old Hellas in five acts or seven scenes). A. Gulbja apgādībā, Riga 1923. Digitized ( PDF, 70.3 MB ) in the LNB .
  • Robert Hamerling : Aspasia. An artist and romance novel from ancient Hellas. Richter, Hamburg 1876.
  • Elisabeth Hering : Aspasia is accused. Prisma, Leipzig 1967.
  • Taylor Caldwell : Aspasia. Novel. Neff, Vienna 1974. Paperback edition: Heyne, Munich 1980, ISBN 3-453-01136-8 .
    Novel double biography about Aspasia, the later wife of Pericles, the youth and the rise of Pericles as a politician and in a third part the meeting between Pericles and Aspasia. The further course deals with the development of this relationship against the background of political and personal fundamental decisions as well as the position of women in ancient Greece and Aspasias and Perikles' common struggle for development and educational opportunities for young girls in society.
  • Daniela Mazzon: Aspasia. Maestra e amante di Pericle. Edizioni Anordest, Villorba 2011, ISBN 978-88-96742-28-0 .
  • Julio Médem : Aspasia. Amante de Atenas. Espasa, Barcelona 2012, ISBN 978-84-670-3939-9 .


  • Plutarch : Greek heroic lives. Pericles. Transferred and edited by W. Ur. Leipzig 1933, pp. 58-68.


Web links

Commons : Aspasia  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Plutarch, Pericles 24.2.
  2. Plutarch, Pericles 24.2.
  3. ^ Hans-Joachim Gehrke : Family. Greece. In: The New Pauly (DNP). Volume 4, Metzler, Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 3-476-01474-6 , Sp. 408-412 (here: Sp. 409).
  4. ^ Elke Hartmann : marriage, hetarianism and concubinat in classical Athens. Campus Verlag, Frankfurt / New York 2002, pp. 52–58. 61 f.
  5. Plutarch, Pericles 24.4.
  6. Brooklyn Museum page on the artwork , accessed April 15, 2014.