Pericles (pĕr´Ĭklēz), c.495–429 BC, 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).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Pericles: Selected full-text books and articles

Pericles: A Sourcebook and Reader By Stephen V. Tracy University of California Press, 2009
Pericles and Athens By A. R. Burn Macmillan, 1949
Sophocles and Pericles By Victor Ehrenberg Basil Blackwell, 1954
FREE! Pericles and the Golden Age of Athens By Evelyn Abbott G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1891
Greek Civilization By André Bonnard; A. Lytton Sells Allen and Unwin, 1957
Librarian's tip: Chap. Ten "Pericles the Olympian"
Aspects of Greek History, 750-323 BC: A Source-Based Approach By Terry Buckley Routledge, 1996
Librarian's tip: Chap. 13 "The Democratic Reforms of Ephialtes and Pericles, 462/1-451/0"
A History of Greece By Cyril E. Robinson Barnes & Noble, 1957
Librarian's tip: Chap. X "The Age of Pericles"
Taming Democracy: Models of Political Rhetoric in Classical Athens By Harvey Yunis Cornell University Press, 1996
Librarian's tip: Chap. III "Thucydides on Periclean Rhetoric and Political Instruction"
Thucydides and Internal War By Jonathan J. Price Cambridge University Press, 2001
Librarian's tip: "The Periclean Speeches" begins on p. 171
Plato's Democratic Entanglements: Athenian Politics and the Practice of Philosophy By S. Sara Monoson Princeton University Press, 2000
Librarian's tip: Chap. Seven "Remembering Pericles: The Political and Theoretical Import of Plato's Menexenus"
Eros and Polis: Desire and Community in Greek Political Theory By Paul W. Ludwig Cambridge University Press, 2002
Librarian's tip: Discussion of Pericles begins on p. 320
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