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Two lovers crest the wave of the golden age of Athens: Pericles, statesman and general, and Aspasia, his courtesan, a philosopher's daughter and a brilliant woman in her own right. In a world of hierarchies, he is at the top when she arrives as little more than flotsam cast up on Athenian shores. Their love transcends social sanctions, enduring and deepening despite the grave threat it presents to Pericles' reputation as a leader of the Athenian democracy.
The novel unfolds against the background of the arts and history of the Golden Age seen through the eyes of two individuals who lent their particular brilliance to make it "golden," Pericles, the great orator and visionary of democracy and its most influential woman, Aspasia. Their story takes them from the Agora-Athens' marketplace-to the Acropolis, from the mercantile, raunchy Athenian Port Piraeus across the Aegean Sea to East Greece. Pericles and Aspasia-together and apart-navigate treacherous paths from venal calculations to impassioned philosophical inquiry, from high-stakes sea battles to the passions of family life.
Pericles and Aspasia engages issues that are vital today-the paradoxes of democracy, the tensions of hierarchy, the ironies of gender, and others-but this novel is immersed in classical Athens: the city, its sunshine, its physical presence, its people and their struggles and aspirations.