Successful and Unsuccessful Lovers of the Rich and Powerful in History

Aspasia by Pierre Olivier Joseph Coomans, nineteenth century. Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.

34. Aspasia of Miletus acted as adviser to her lover, the Greek statesmen Pericles — and may even have written his speeches.

Aspasia of Miletus became the lover of the great ancient Greek statesman, Pericles when she left her birthplace to set up as a courtesan in Athens, sometime in the mid-fifth century BC. Pericles became so enamoured by Aspasia that after he parted from his wife in 440BC, he moved her into his home.  Pericles could not marry Aspasia as she was not an Athenian citizen. But the couple had a son who Pericle’s later legitimise. Aspasia was much more than Pericles’s lover. Educated and intelligent, she exerted considerable influence over her lover, advising him on political and military matters — and reputedly even writing his speeches. Aspasia is rumoured to have written Pericle’s most famous oratory: the funeral oration delivered during the Peloponnesian war.