Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Aspasia of Miletus

Although not much is known about Aspasia, her birth has been determined as falling somewhere in between 460-455 B.C. in Miletus, Greece. Sometime around 445 B.C., Aspasia moved to Athens and acted as a hetaira, a kind of prostitute, but one that was almost treated like the upper class. There, she met the most powerful and influential men in Athens, including Pericles, to whom she became a mistress.

Aspasia is thought to have had a great influence over Pericles, even though she wasn't his wife. It was she who convinced Pericles, the ruler of Athens in part of the Classical Period, to go to war against Samos over a border dispute. She also bore him a son which they also named Pericles. Pericles, the son, later became a general and was executed sometime after the death of Aspasia.

While in Athens, Aspasia wrote many orations, for she is thought to be the leader of rhetoric in the Classical Age. She also discussed philosophy with Socrates, who called her his teacher. One of her lessons involved a husband and a wife, whom she convinced that they would never be happy as long as they were searching for ideal spouses. It is thought that because of this talent, both Pericles and Aspasia were targets for Pericles' enemies. Once, Aspasia was accused of impiety, but Pericles was able to defend her well enough so that she was acquitted.

In 429 B.C., Pericles was killed by the plague, and in 428 B.C., Aspasia met a sheep seller named Lysicles, who soon became her husband. She taught him etiquette and public speaking so well that he became a prominent political leader in Athens.

After this point, nothing more is known of Aspasia other than that she died around 410 B.C. Yet she was one of the few Greek women still remembered today and her name is used often by playwrights and historians to demonstrate the philosophy, rhetoric, and politics of the Classical Age in Greece, as well as the lives of Socrates and Pericles. She was also one of the few to have chosen her own name -- Aspasia, meaning "Greatly Welcomed." Lastly, while she lived she had taught, in some ways, the same philosophy as Plato and Socrates, two well-known Greek philosophers to whom much is attributed.

Back to Important Women