That said Sophocles? The gods are silent. The men are alone. The laws of the city are righteous, but often cruel to humans. Like Antigone, they must break them when they go against the unwritten laws, but firm and steadfast of the gods. As the whole of Athens, Pericles witnessed the tragedy of Sophocles. The strategist (he has just been elected) is a man of letters. He has been friends with the sophist Protagoras, Zeno of Elea, who holds the paradoxes with the dexterity of a conjurer, and Anaxagoras, in which he has perfect control of his emotions. He made his first steps in civic life, with the democrat Ephialtès.

In 461 bc, the latter was attacked at the Areopagus. The council is traditionally controlled by the class of people well-born”. The reform, aimed to take away all their powers to aréopagites, was adopted on the Pnyx. The assembly of the eupatrides is nothing more than a court of justice. His powers have been divided between the Boule and the Ecclesia.

soon after, Ephialtès was murdered. Pericles, who was his second, was replaced at the head of the democratic party. It is in the majority in Athens and Pericles became the strong man of the city. Generous donor, excellent speaker, he managed to pass most of his proposals, including a reform of the citizenship: it is now necessary to have both parents athenians to become. Several measures grandstanding have also been passed by the Ecclesia. The benefits perceived when one participates in public life has earned him the ire of the oligarchs and the ridicule of Aristophanes, who never misses an opportunity to gloat to his “head of onion”, a skull, large as it hides under a helmet. The comic writer peddles also gossip about her mistress, Aspasie.

Pericles suffers from these rumors, but it is forbidden to comment on. His private life looks at him. His friendship with Anaxagoras, that the conservatives accuse of impiety, and to the sculptor Phidias, who was suspected of wrongdoing since the construction of the Parthenon has been entrusted to him, is also a subject that he refuses to deal with. It is in 447 bc that Pericles has decided to launch a programme of great works on the Acropolis to enhance the prestige of Athens, but also because its small and people lacked work.

The Acropolis became a hive. Assisted by the architects Iktinos and Callicratès, Phidias has developed the iconographic programme of the two pediments of the Parthenon and of the ionic frieze of the cella in the interior of which occupies the statue chryséléphantine of Athena. Nothing is too good. Nothing is too big. For Pericles, the new Acropolis, with its temples, its shrines, its Propylaea will bear witness to the superiority of Athens, school of Greece”.

persistent rumours accusing Phidias of stealing gold

in The aftermath of his victories over the Persians, at Salamis and at Plataea, Athens had created in 477 bc, the Delian league, in order to perfect the victory for the reconquest of the islands and Greek cities of the asian coast. It enabled it to impose its hegemony on Greece, at the expense of Sparta, the city earth which was holding the prestige of its age and the invulnerability of its army. When the peace of Callias was signed in 449 bc with the Persians, a number of cities have tried to leave the confederation. Because that all danger was now averted, but also because Athens was encroaching more and more on their independence. Pericles did not hesitate to bring it back, by force, the recalcitrants to reason. It has made the alliance the instrument of an empire. The allies were forced to pay tribute to the treasury of Delos was transferred to Athens. Pericles assumes this imperialism. The members of the league didn’t they all unloaded on Athens military operations? The sacrifices, both human and financial provided by the city didn’t give him a they not a right of scrutiny over the internal affairs of the confederates? Pericles is convinced of this.

Sophocles was awarded first prize in the Large Dionysies. At the exit of the theatre, Pericles has been addressed by two leaders of the democratic party. They advise that persistent rumours accusing Phidias of stealing gold intended for the statue of Athena and that he himself is suspected of the use of the treasury of the Delian league to finance the construction of the Parthenon. Sparta, relayed by the party of the oligarchs, would be the source of these allegations. Pericles immediately decided to convene the Ecclesia. It will propose to the assembly to take at his expense the building of the sanctuary of Athena. As for the Lacédémoniens, if it is necessary to confront them, he will do it.

Figaro Hors série

The miracle athenian

Its heroes by the names of Themistocles, Pericles, Socrates, Aeschylus. Among the gods of Olympus, she chose Athena, and he has dedicated the most beautiful of the temples, a miracle of architecture that sculpts to him alone, on the rock of the Acropolis, the idea of civilization. Le Figaro Hors-Series celebrates this immense white city, which extends like a sea, between its seven hills. Alive, as its millennial destiny, haunting as the genius Greek, that adversity does not turn off but reinforces, this walk through the centuries and neighborhoods takes you in the footsteps of illustrious personages, in the heart of the traditions, to the discovery of the site of the current culture. Athens yesterday and today, as you’ve never seen it.

Le Figaro Hors-série : Athens eternal, 164 pages, 12,90€