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Aspasia of Miletus

Aspasia in Greek Comedy

More of this Feature
Aspasia of Miletus and Her Status As Metic
Aspasia of Miletus and the Greek Philosophers

Related Resources
Aristophanes and Greek Old Comedy
Plutarch's Life of Pericles

Aspasia Book
Prisoner of History, by Madeleine Henry

Web Sources
Aspasia of Miletus from PBS
The Representation of Prostitutes Versus Respectable Women on Ancient Greek Vases, by Jill Kleinman
• www.ucd.ie/~classics/94/Arkins94.html - Sexuality in Fifth-Century Athens, by Brian Arkins

Besides Plutarch, who reports on the rumors about Aspasia of Miletus in his "Life of Pericles," we hear of Aspasia mainly through allusions and fragments of comedy and philosophy. Through comedy we meet with Aspasia in connection with personification of traditionally feminine but despised traits.

Aristophanes on Aspasia

From the Acharnians by Aristophanes, we see this picture of Aspasia:

It was men of ours--I do not say our polis;
remember that, I do not say our polis--
but some badly-minded troublemaking creeps,
some worthless counterfeit foreign currency,
who started denouncing shirts from Megara
and if they spotted a cucumber or a bunny
or piglets, cloves of garlic, lumps of salt,
it was Megarian, grabbed, sold off that very day.
Now that was merely local; small potatoes.
But then some young crapshooters got to drinking
and went to Megara and stole the whore Simaétha.
And then the Megarians, garlic-stung with passion,
got even by stealing two whores from Aspasia.
From this the origin of the war broke forth
on all the Greeks: from three girls good at blow-jobs.
And then in wrath Olympian Pericles
did lighten and thunder and turn Greece upside-down,
establishing laws that read like drinking-songs....
Aristophanes - Acharnians

Hernippus Against Aspasia

It was even a comic poet who brought Aspasia to trial:
"About the same time, Aspasia was indicted of impiety, upon the complaint of Hermippus the comedian, who also laid further to her charge that she received into her house freeborn women for the uses of Pericles."
Plutarch - Life of Pericles

Next page > Aspasia and the Greek Philosophers Xenophon and Socrates > Page 1, 2, 3

Henry, Madeleine M., Prisoner of History
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Aspasia of Miletus - Aspasia and Greek Comedy
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