More than 30 years of leadership marked Pericles as one of the most important figures in Athenian and Greek History. From 461BC to 430BC, he oversaw the expansion of Athenian democracy, the consolidation of the empire, the growing prosperity of Athens, the creation of social welfare, and the blossoming of Athenian culture.
Family Connections -
Pericles was born about 494BC into a wealthy, noble family.
His mother, Agariste, was an Alcmaeonid
His father Xanthippus was a general and politician
Cleisthenes, the law giver was Pericles’ great uncle
Pericles was taught by Damon of Oa, a music teacher, and the philosopher, Anaxagoras.
Pericles was a friend of the philosopher, Protagoras, and the dramatist, Sophocles. Their influence on his intellectual development must have been substantial. He was, presumably prepared for his role in politics and the state by these scientific and progressive thinkers.
The Radical Democrat -
Pericles was greatly drawn to the idea of a fuller democracy and entered politics as a radical. He first spoke in the assembly as a democrat in 469BC.
Personal Abilities -
Pericles was a gifted individual and the Athenian people recognised his talents. He displayed the following traits and abilities -
An intense desire to make Athens great. Pericles was an Athenian patriot
A high intellect, as he could and did converse with great philosophers , and was rational in argument;
A plan for Athenian pre-eminence and the ability to implement it;
A very persuasive orator
Very trustworthy, especially with Athenian finances
A wise and strong-minded statesman and clever politician
Above popular superstitions, he was a humanist and a realist
Achievements can be measured against aims Pericles wanted to make Athens powerful, prosperous, fully democratic, and the centre of Greek Culture.
He succeeded on all fronts until the Peloponnesian War brought Athens a