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Pericles(pĕr`ĭklēz), c.495–429 B.C., Athenian statesman. He was a member of the AlcmaeonidaeAlcmaeonidae
, Athenian family powerful in the 7th, 6th, and 5th cent. B.C. Blamed for the murder of the followers of the would-be tyrant Cylon (c.632 B.C.), which had been ordered by Megacles, an archon who was a member of the family, they were considered attainted and were
..... Click the link for more information. family through his mother, a niece of Cleisthenes. He first came to prominence as an opponent of the AreopagusAreopagus
[Gr.,=hill of Ares], rocky hill, 370 ft (113 m) high, NW of the Acropolis of Athens, famous as the sacred meeting place of the prime council of Athens. This council, also called the Areopagus, represented the ancient council of elders, which usually combined judicial
..... Click the link for more information. (462) and as one of the prosecutors of CimonCimon
, d. 449 B.C., Athenian general and statesman; son of Miltiades. He fought at Salamis and shared command (with Aristides) of the fleet sent to rescue the Asian Greek cities from Persian domination. From 478 to 477 he helped Aristides form the Delian League.
..... Click the link for more information. , whom he replaced in influence. From then on he was the popular leader in Athens. As strategos, or military commander, c.454 he campaigned unsuccessfully against Sicyon and Oeniadae, and his plans to bring these Peloponnesian regions under Athenian control failed. While in Athens between campaigns, Pericles carried through a number of reforms that advanced democracy. As a result, all officials in Athens were paid salaries by the state and every office was opened to most citizens. In 451–450 he limited citizenship to those of Athenian parentage on both sides. He made an attempt, probably in 448, to call a Panhellenic conference, but Spartan opposition defeated his effort. Under Pericles the Delian LeagueDelian League
, confederation of Greek city-states under the leadership of Athens. The name is used to designate two distinct periods of alliance, the first 478–404 B.C., the second 378–338 B.C.
..... Click the link for more information. reached its maximum efficiency as an instrument of Athenian imperialism; in 446 Pericles destroyed Euboea (now Évvoia), which had revolted against the league. A 30-year truce was arranged in 445 between Athens and Sparta. The 14 years of peace that followed gave Pericles a chance to develop the splendor of Athens. He became a great patron of the arts and encouraged drama and music. Under his direction Ictinus and Callicrates, Phidias and others produced such monuments as the Parthenon and the Propylaea on the Acropolis. Pericles established colonies at Thurii in Italy and at Amphipolis. He was one of the participants in the events that led to the Peloponnesian WarPeloponnesian War
, 431–404 B.C., decisive struggle in ancient Greece between Athens and Sparta. It ruined Athens, at least for a time. The rivalry between Athens' maritime domain and Sparta's land empire was of long standing. Athens under Pericles (from 445 B.C.
..... Click the link for more information. . The war, which began in 431, brought on the ruination of Athens. The celebrated funeral oration that Pericles made at the end of the first year of war (as told by Thucydides) was a strong appeal to the pride and patriotism of the citizens. However, Pericles was driven from office by his enemies, only to be reelected strategos in 429. He died six months later.
See V. Ehrenberg, Sophocles and Pericles (1954); A. R. Burn, Pericles and Athens (1966); C. M. Bowra, Periclean Athens (1971); L. Abbot, Pericles and the Metaphysics of Political Leadership (2 vol., 1984).
Born circa 490 B.C. in Athens; died there 429 B.C. Greek statesman. Strategos (commander-in-chief) of Athens from 444/443 to 429 B.C., except for the year 430 B.C.
Pericles belonged to an aristocratic family and received a well-rounded education. On entering politics, he affiliated himself with the middle strata of the slaveholding democratic group led by Ephialtes. These strata had an interest in the growth of the naval power of Athens and the expansion of commercial ties. After Ephialtes’ death, Pericles assumed leadership of the Athenian democrats, becoming head of the Athenian state in 443 B.C.
Pericles is associated with legislation that led to increased democratization of the Athenian governmental system. Property ownership was eliminated as a qualification for enjoyment of political rights, sortition was substituted for the voice vote in electing most officials, and officials began receiving payment for their services. Under Pericles a special fund was set up to provide poorer citizens with theorica, that is, money to attend the theater. The construction of the Parthenon, the Propylaea, the Odeum, and other public buildings provided work for many citizens. The poor were resettled in cleruchies, colonies established in subjugated or allied states. All these measures, however, were undertaken solely in the interests of the fully enfranchised citizenry.
Pericles’ foreign policy was aimed at expanding and strengthening Athenian maritime power. As strategos, he personally led a series of military campaigns and expeditions. He crushed a rebellion on Samos in 440 B.C. and attempts by various cities to leave the Delian League. Pericles’ position was shaken by the Peloponnesian War (431–404 B.C.), Spartan incursions into Attica, and a serious epidemic in besieged Athens. In 430 B.C. he was not elected strategos and was fined a great deal of money for financial abuses. He regained his influence the following year and was made strategos once again but died of the plague.
Pericles’ popularity can be explained by his pursuit of policies corresponding to the interests of the majority of Athenian citizens. Under his rule, Athens became the major economic, political, and cultural center of the Hellenistic world. In the words of K. Marx, “Greece flourished at its best internally in the time of Pericles” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch, 2nd ed., vol. 1, p. 98).
REFERENCESBuzeskul, V. P. Afinskaia demokratiia: Obshchii ocherk. Kharkov, 1920.
Buzeskul, V. P. Perikl: Lichnost’, deiatel’nost’, znachenie. Petrograd, 1923.
Willrich, H. Perikles. Göttingen, 1936.
Sanctis, G. de. Pericle. Milan-Messina, 1944.
Cloché, P. Le Siècle de Périclés. Paris, 1949.
Homo, L. Périclés. Paris, 1954.
D. P. KALLISTOV (this article, with abridgments, was taken from the Sovietskaia istoricheskaia entsiklopediia)