The plague had not only carried away many of the poorer citizens, but had also stricken down the nobles and the rich. Pericles’ family suffered from it too. All his children took it and died, with the exception of one.
The great man, in spite of his private cares and sorrows, was always in and out among the people, helping and encouraging them, and he finally caught the plague himself.
His friends soon saw, that, in spite of all their efforts, he would die. They crowded around his bed in tears, praising him in low tones, and saying how much he had done for the Athenians and for the improvement of their city.
“Why,” said one of them warmly, “he found the city bricks, and leaves it marble!”
Pericles, whose eyes had been closed, and who seemed unconscious, now suddenly roused himself, and said, “Why do you mention those things? They were mostly owing to my large fortune. The thing of which I am proudest is that I never caused any fellow-citizen to put on mourning!”
Pericles then sank back, and soon died; but his friends always remembered that he had ruled Athens for more than thirty years without ever punishing any one unjustly, and that he had always proved helpful and merciful to all.