Aspasia of Miletus




Aspasia from Miletus


Aspasia of Miletus

Aspasia was a young woman in a rich Greek family who went into a profession related to the sex trade. Why would she do something like that, and how did she end up with Pericles, the leader of Athens during its Golden Age? Following her experiences tells us much about Classical Athens and the remarkable people who made its great accomplishments possible.

Although Aspasia was born in the Greek city of Miletus on the eastern side of the Aegean Sea, she apparently made her way to Athens when her sister married Alcibiades and the three of them moved to Athens together. It should be mentioned that this Alcibiades was the grandfather of the more famous Alcibiades who was associated with Socrates. But clearly Aspasia had many new in-laws who were highly placed in Athenian society.

Well-educated women such as Aspasia were not in much demand as wives in those days due to social customs which mainly reserved that training for men. However it was excellent preparation for her to become a hetaira, which was the Greek equivalent of a Japanese geisha. Such women were supposed to be charming companions for men, since in those days women were often left at home while men went out to social events such as their infamous symposium drinking parties.

At those parties, hetaira women would be generously paid to sing, play instruments, converse intelligently on current events and -- occasionally but not always -- entertain in the bedroom as well. Aspasia was supremely qualified for this way of life, and quickly rose to the top of the social ladder. There she met Pericles and captivated him. Their relationship would last for the rest of his life.

Aspasia, Pericles and Socrates

Pericles, Socrates and Aspasia

How big an effect did she have in Athens? Aspasia was so well known for her social and educational deeds that she was cited in writings by the celebrated ancient Greek authors Plato, Xenophon, Aeschines Socraticus, Antisthenes and Plutarch.

Aspasia was an exceptional woman in exceptional times.

Also see Pericles and Aspasia as

well as Socrates and Aspasia.

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This page updated on August 26, 2020.

Aspasia of Miletus

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How much of Classical Athens can we still see today in the City and in the Arts? And what is the fascinating history behind each of those during the Golden Age of Greece? Discover all these things here in beautiful detail.

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Everyone knows that Pericles was the leader of Athens during its Golden Age, and was the general of its armies. Yet it is the personal side of his life that reveals the most about this incredibly influential man. 

See Pericles and Aspasia.


Here we see Socrates as not only an educator, but as someone who had to make his way through a society of high-powered people. One of his allies on that journey was Aspasia, who had been well-educated in Miletus before coming to Athens.

See Socrates and Aspasia.

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Aspasia of Miletus

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