of Miletus was a true rhetorician. She got out of the hetaira business as soon
as the opportunity arose, and soon settled down in her own salon, famed for
attracting the best of Athens' intellectuals. She taught political oratory,
as well as domestic economics, to both Athenian men and their wives (oh, the
Aspasia was either the wife or mistress of Pericles, one of architects of Athenian democracy. Whether she was wife or mistress depended upon who was doing the talking. Pericles was so smitten with her that he divorced his Athenian wife and settled down with "the Milesian whore." There was difference of opinion about the legality of that action, thus her rather shady status.
Aspasia's talents as a teacher of rhetoric were mentioned by many ancient authorities: Plato (Menexenus), Xenophon (Memorabilia), Aeschines of Sphettus (Aspasia), Antisthenes (Aspasia), Plutarch (Life of Pericles), and Cicero (De Inventione) all noted her abilities. Their opinion of her affects their assessment. Plato made fun of her, as he made fun of every sophist who was not Socrates. Xenophon flatters her, despite the hash she made of him in front of his wife. Antisthenes despises her, but then, he didn't much like anyone. Pericles obviously adored her; he even kissed her in public! (Antisthenes was totally grossed out by this.)
The most interesting claim made about Aspasia was that she "ghost wrote" Pericles' speeches for him, including the famous "Funeral Oration." Not surprisingly, this claim is made more often to slander Pericles than to praise Aspasia. There is really no reason why she couldn't have. She was a professional rhetorician with a good reputation, at least in that field. Since foreign women were doubly excluded from public discourse, she would have had to practice her art through someone else. Pericles would have been foolish not to use her talents.
After Pericles died, Aspasia remarried. Rumor had it that she took her rather nondescript husband and made a successful politician of him.