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Pericles (pĕrˈĭklēz), c.495–429 B.C., Athenian statesman. He was a member of the Alcmaeonidae family through his mother, a niece of Cleisthenes. He first came to prominence as an opponent of the Areopagus (462) and as one of the prosecutors of Cimon, 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 League 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 War. 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).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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).


Buzeskul, 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)

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


?495--429 bc, Athenian statesman and leader of the popular party, who contributed greatly to Athens' political and cultural supremacy in Greece. In power from about 460 bc, he was responsible for the construction of the Parthenon. He conducted the Peloponnesian War (431--404 bc) successfully until his death
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
The statement, "Thucydides demonstrates a freedom even greater than Perikles', for he speaks without any pretense of self-sufficiency" exemplifies vatic puzzles for "mere" historians (50).
C A van Rooy, Antieke Griekse geskiedenis (van die Steentydperk tot die eeu van Perikles).
However, the qualities are always shaped by a modular index: space can be mythic (the frightening ocean beyond Hercules' pillars), aesthetic (wonderful cliffs over the sea!), legal (territorial waters), historical (the Mediterranean under Perikles, Carthage, and so on) or geometric (geography or the fractal shape of the coast).
It makes clear the significance of financial and political contexts in relation to the viewer's response to the monuments while comparing remarks by Perikles (in Thucydides), Thucydides, and Herodotus.
According to one new analysis, modern Lysikrates Square "is the most probable beginning of the ancient Street of the Tripods, comprising the Prytaneion and the Odeion of Perikles." (44) Archaeological evidence demonstrates that the ancient street began at the eastern entrance of the Sanctuary and Theater of Dionysos (Fig.
But, according to owner Perikles Katsaros, Roger was drawn to dine here regularly because of the quality and freshness of the food.
On one hand, we find an abiding interest in the sentence as the site of formal artistry: from Sherko Fatah's forged and burnished tracings of the Iraqi desert to Perikles Monioudis's crystalline depictions of the perils of flight to Ulrich Peltzer's swiftly lingering transitions.
As Orwin (1988, 843) notes, the Athenians "go so far as to avenge themselves on Perikles for the plague by fining and temporarily deposing him"; more important, they respond vengefully to the Mytilinean revolt, which occurs during the plague (2.59, 65.1-3, 3.3.1, 13.3, 16.1, 36-40, 87; 104).
Miltos Vassilis Kolovos Stelios Perikles Moustakis Cleanthis Antonis Vlissidis Giorgos Antonis Maibatzis Sergeant Yannis Tsikis Fanny Fotini Meletea Smaro Katerina Paplomata Commander Thanassis Skarlingos For his feature debut, noted Greek documentary director Leonidas Vardaros has delved into the history of his native Aegean island of Ikaria for a drama exploring the political rifts that bedeviled post-WWII Greece.
The same view is taken in Perikles' funeral oration in Thucydides:
More seriously, despite a chapter entitled `the system in practice' -- which in fact is given over to a short history of the Athenian Empire, the career of Perikles, and assorted sneers from Aristophanes and the Old Oligarch (59-75) -- the actual political process and power relations in Athens are barely discussed at all, and as a result it never becomes quite clear what the practical impact of the various constitutional reforms would have been, other than to create a vague `sense of involvement' and an even vaguer `sense of unified purpose' among the citizens (77-80).