But then, there were also relations that emphasized distance: some philosophical accounts presented him as a man close to the sophists or even as a freethinker. , By 450–449 BC the revolts in Miletus and Erythrae were quelled and Athens restored its rule over its allies. [β] He was the son of the politician Xanthippus, who, though ostracized in 485–484 BC, returned to Athens to command the Athenian contingent in the Greek victory at Mycale just five years later. Papagrigorakis 2013, “The Plague of Athens: An Ancient Act of Bioterrorism?”) or the death of a leader.  Simon Hornblower has argued that Pericles' selection of this play, which presents a nostalgic picture of Themistocles' famous victory at Salamis, shows that the young politician was supporting Themistocles against his political opponent Cimon, whose faction succeeded in having Themistocles ostracized shortly afterwards.  According to Plutarch, he avoided using gimmicks in his speeches, unlike the passionate Demosthenes, and always spoke in a calm and tranquil manner. This statement would appeal to any audience and gain followers for his cause because by nature humans long for an everlasting legacy.  Another consideration that may well have influenced Pericles' stance was the concern that revolts in the empire might spread if Athens showed itself weak. The Spartans attacked and he ordered that Athens should prepare for a siege. , In the mid-450s the Athenians launched an unsuccessful attempt to aid an Egyptian revolt against Persia, which led to a prolonged siege of a Persian fortress in the Nile Delta. How many people throughout history have so much impact on the world that an entire time period has been named after them? Pericles is known as the most prominent Athenian leader during the Peloponnesian War. For men can endure to hear others praised only so long as they can severally persuade themselves of their own ability to equal the actions recounted: when this point is passed, envy comes in and with it incredulity. , Pericles' most visible legacy can be found in the literary and artistic works of the Golden Age, much of which survive to this day. , In politics, Victor L. Ehrenberg argues that a basic element of Pericles' legacy is Athenian imperialism, which denies true democracy and freedom to the people of all but the ruling state. Pericles was born c. 495 BC, in the deme of Cholargos just north of Athens.α[›] He was the son of the politician Xanthippus, who, although ostracized in 485–484 BC, returned to Athens to command the Athenian contingent in the Greek victory at Mycale just five years later.  In the summer of the same year an epidemic broke out and devastated the Athenians.  Just before the eruption of the Peloponnesian War, Pericles and two of his closest associates, Phidias and his companion, Aspasia, faced a series of personal and judicial attacks. Nonetheless, the "serious purpose" (namely the bribery) was so obvious to the auditors that they approved the expenditure without official meddling and without even investigating the mystery. These years mark the zenith of Athenian greatness. Pericles contracted the plague, and unlike Thucydides, he did not recover and in fact died in 429 B.C.E. [ζ] Thucydides hints at the same thing, believing the reason for the war was Sparta's fear of Athenian power and growth. His father, Xanthippus (c. 525-475 BCE) was a respected politician and war hero and his mother, Agariste, a member of the powerful and influential Alcmaeonidae family who encouraged the early development of Athenian democracy.Pericles’ family's nobility, prestige, and wealth allowed him to pursue his inclination toward education in any subject he fancied. (Symposium, 201d) He also mentions the recent death of Pericles (Gorgias 503e), but not its cause. In 430 BC, the army of Sparta looted Attica for a second time, but Pericles was not daunted and refused to revise his initial strategy. The campaign culminated in disaster; the besieging force was defeated and destroyed. Kagan criticizes the Periclean strategy on four counts: first that by rejecting minor concessions it brought about war; second, that it was unforeseen by the enemy and hence lacked credibility; third, that it was too feeble to exploit any opportunities; and fourth, that it depended on Pericles for its execution and thus was bound to be abandoned after his death.  In 451 BC, Cimon returned from exile and negotiated a five years' truce with Sparta after a proposal of Pericles, an event which indicates a shift in Pericles' political strategy. We strive for accuracy and fairness. Pericles and his friends were never immune from attack, as preeminence in democratic Athens was not equivalent to absolute rule. After his death, the government of Athens became unstable and was not able to get organized in order to continue fighting the war.  The exact identity of the disease is uncertain; typhus or typhoid fever are suspected, but this has been the source of much debate. Pericles' mother, Agariste, a scion of the powerful and controversial noble family of the Alcmaeonidae, and her familial connections played a crucial role in starting Xanthippus' political career.  His sister and both his legitimate sons, Xanthippus and Paralus, died during an epidemic of plague. Pericles - Pericles - Restoring Athens’s preeminence: Hostilities among the Greek states had also come to an end in the Five Years’ Truce of 451. References. Two major events coincide with the beginning and end of Pericles’ rule – the Persian and Peloponnesian wars respectively. These glories may incur the censure of the slow and unambitious; but in the breast of energy they will awake emulation, and in those who must remain without them an envious regret. Constantine Paparrigopoulos, a major modern Greek historian, argues that Pericles sought for the expansion and stabilization of all democratic institutions. Significance of Pericles' Death The death of Pericles was a significant event in the course of the Peloponnesian War; however, even without Pericles' leadership the Athenian Assembly had countless opportunities to …  According to Plutarch, just before the sailing of the ships an eclipse of the sun frightened the crews, but Pericles used the astronomical knowledge he had acquired from Anaxagoras to calm them.  Pericles is lauded as "the ideal type of the perfect statesman in ancient Greece" and his Funeral Oration is nowadays synonymous with the struggle for participatory democracy and civic pride. Pericles was born c. 495 BC, in Athens, Greece.  After all, Cimon finally accepted the new democracy and did not oppose the citizenship law, after he returned from exile in 451 BC.. , After the Spartan threat had been removed, Pericles crossed back to Euboea to crush the revolt there.  When the enemy retired and the pillaging came to an end, Pericles proposed a decree according to which the authorities of the city should put aside 1,000 talents and 100 ships, in case Athens was attacked by naval forces. , Further assessments about Pericles and his era, "Perikles" redirects here. He learned music from the masters of the time (Damon or Pythocleides could have been his teacher) and he is considered to have been the first politician to attribute importance to philosophy.  Although Cimon was acquitted, this confrontation proved that Pericles' major political opponent was vulnerable.  In 447 BC Pericles engaged in his most admired excursion, the expulsion of barbarians from the Thracian peninsula of Gallipoli, to establish Athenian colonists in the region. The period during which he led Athens, roughly from 461 to 429 BC, is sometimes known as the "Age of Pericles", but the period thus denoted can include times as early as the Persian Wars or as late as the next century. He died 2 years before the peoplessian war. He even caught the plague himself, but miraculously survived! Pericles believed these should be the goals for every Athenian to live and die for. The only statement about Aspasia of Miletus which can be maintained as objectively true is that she was a foreign-born woman living in Athens c. 445 BCE who was the lover of Pericles and operated a salon of some sort. Pericles was faced with a tough task, to speak at a large funeral of war victims, where the people are not going be in a positive state of mind at all. Do you have an ancestral connection to ancient Athenians? Pericles as Leader While he was not a king or dictator in charge of Athens, Greece, Pericles was the foremost statesman of Athens from 461-429. Euboea and Megara revolted.  In response, Pericles passed a decree dispatching an expedition to Samos, "alleging against its people that, although they were ordered to break off their war against the Milesians, they were not complying". He started an ambitious project that generated most of the surviving structures on the Acropolis, including the Parthenon. Sophocles also has the plague as the centerpiece of his play Oedipus the King.  Donald Kagan called the Periclean strategy "a form of wishful thinking that failed", Barry S. Strauss and Josiah Ober have stated that "as strategist he was a failure and deserves a share of the blame for Athens' great defeat", and Victor Davis Hanson believes that Pericles had not worked out a clear strategy for an effective offensive action that could possibly force Thebes or Sparta to stop the war. He had rallied Athenians to continue supporting the war despite grave losses. , In 446 BC, a more dangerous uprising erupted. According to Vlachos, Thucydides must have been about 30 years old when Pericles delivered his Funeral Oration and he was probably among the audience. , Thucydides argues that Pericles "was not carried away by the people, but he was the one guiding the people". The Spartan army was at this time gathered at Corinth, and, citing this as a hostile action, the Athenians refused to admit their emissaries.  He based his military policy on Themistocles' principle that Athens' predominance depends on its superior naval power and believed that the Peloponnesians were near-invincible on land.  The crisis was brought to an official end by the Thirty Years' Peace (winter of 446–445 BC), in which Athens relinquished most of the possessions and interests on the Greek mainland which it had acquired since 460 BC, and both Athens and Sparta agreed not to attempt to win over the other state's allies. Ephialtes' murder in 461 BC paved the way for Pericles to consolidate his authority.  His strategy is said to have been "inherently unpopular", but Pericles managed to persuade the Athenian public to follow it. Some of his strongest arguments included in the Introduction of the speech, (Thuc.11.35). Although Thucydides mentions the fining of Pericles, he does not mention the accusations against Pericles but instead focuses on Pericles' integrity. After reviewing the symptoms described in Thucydides’ accounts, many scholars and physicians concluded that the plague of Athens was most likely caused by typhus, smallpox or measles. Just before his death, Pericles' friends were concentrated around his bed, enumerating his virtues during peace and underscoring his nine war trophies.  Beloch also believes that Pericles deliberately brought on the war to protect his political position at home.  This reform signaled the beginning of a new era of "radical democracy". Pericles was born in 495 BCE into one of the leading families of Athens, with his father Xanthippus who had a political career and was a hero of the Persian war and his mother belonging to a powerful family. He analyses how people responded to the plague – their selfishness and apathy.  In Menexenus, however, Socrates (through Plato) casts aspersions on Pericles' rhetorical fame, claiming ironically that, since Pericles was educated by Aspasia, a trainer of many orators, he would be superior in rhetoric to someone educated by Antiphon.  Kagan estimates Pericles' expenditure on his military strategy in the Peloponnesian War to be about 2,000 talents annually, and based on this figure concludes that he would have only enough money to keep the war going for three years.  (The fleet, backbone of Athenian power since the days of Themistocles, was manned almost entirely by members of the lower classes. , Beyond these initial prosecutions, the ecclesia attacked Pericles himself by asking him to justify his ostensible profligacy with, and maladministration of, public money. What is interesting about Thucydides’ accounts though is that he not only records the epidemic from a medical perspective, but also from a social one.  The two groups addressed were the ones who were prepared to believe him when he praised the dead, and the ones who did not.  In 433 BC the enemy fleets confronted each other at the Battle of Sybota and a year later the Athenians fought Corinthian colonists at the Battle of Potidaea; these two events contributed greatly to Corinth's lasting hatred of Athens.  The name of his first wife is not known; the only information about her is that she was the wife of Hipponicus, before being married to Pericles, and the mother of Callias from this first marriage. Anthony J. Podlecki argues, however, that Pericles' alleged change of position was invented by ancient writers to support "a tendentious view of Pericles' shiftiness". His choice of words were perfect for crushing all feelings of despair and making people realize that the reason they were fighting was because they had something so great that was worth defending, their country.  The promotion of such an arrogant imperialism is said to have ruined Athens.  Thus, at the start of the Peloponnesian War, Athens found itself in the awkward position of entrusting its future to a leader whose pre-eminence had just been seriously shaken for the first time in over a decade. Kagan estimates Pericles' expenditure on his military strategy … , John Fine, in contrast, suggests that the first peace between Athens and Persia was concluded in 450–449 BC, due to Pericles' calculation that ongoing conflict with Persia was undermining Athens' ability to spread its influence in Greece and the Aegean.  He then unsuccessfully tried to conquer Oeniadea on the Corinthian gulf, before returning to Athens. Internet The cause of the plague of Athens has been and continues to be debated to this day. According to Aristotle, Pericles' stance can be explained by the fact that his principal political opponent, Cimon, was both rich and generous, and was able to gain public favor by lavishly handing out portions of his sizable personal fortune.  The accusations against her were probably nothing more than unproven slanders, but the whole experience was very bitter for Pericles. Two major events coincide with the beginning and end of Pericles’ rule – the Persian and Peloponnesian wars respectively.  Kakridis proposes that it is impossible to imagine Pericles deviating away from the expected funeral orator addressing the mourning audience of 430 after the Peloponnesian war. The Athenian general and histo … During the same period, Pericles proposed the Megarian decree, which resembled a modern trade embargo. As a result of Sparta’s superiority on land during the Peloponnesian wars, Pericles ordered the retreat of Athenians into the city walls of Athens.  Although Plutarch claims that this deformity was the reason that Pericles was always depicted wearing a helmet, this is not the case; the helmet was actually the symbol of his official rank as strategos (general). In 455 Tolmides ravaged Laconia and secured Naupactus on the Corinthian gulf; in 454 Pericles himself defeated the Sicyonians, and made a descent upon Oeniadae at the mouth of the gulf, and in 453 conducted a cleruchy to the Thracian Chersonese. , Other analysts maintain an Athenian humanism illustrated in the Golden Age. The characteristics of the Periclean age have been discussed here. Theories about the cause of the plague include influenza, typhus, typhoid, bubonic plague, smallpox, and measles. The process by which the Delian League transformed into an Athenian empire is generally considered to have begun well before Pericles' time, as various allies in the league chose to pay tribute to Athens instead of manning ships for the league's fleet, but the transformation was speeded and brought to its conclusion by Pericles. Pericles quickly seized the helm, organizing democratic institutions throughout the city and in 461 becoming the ruler of Athens—a title he would hold until his death. He organized the Athenian Empire and commanded his people in the Peloponnesian War against the rival … He then punished the landowners of Chalcis, who lost their properties.  With Boeotia in hostile hands, Phocis and Locris became untenable and quickly fell under the control of hostile oligarchs.  Angelos Vlachos, a Greek Academician, points out the use of the alliance's treasury, initiated and executed by Pericles, as one of the largest embezzlements in human history; this misappropriation financed, however, some of the most marvellous artistic creations of the ancient world. , His family's nobility and wealth allowed him to fully pursue his inclination toward education.  Although his countrymen engaged in several aggressive actions soon after his death, Platias and Koliopoulos argue that the Athenians remained true to the larger Periclean strategy of seeking to preserve, not expand, the empire, and did not depart from it until the Sicilian Expedition. The Athenians demanded their immediate surrender, but after the Battle of Coronea, Pericles was forced to concede the loss of Boeotia to recover the prisoners taken in that battle. With other decrees he lowered the property requirement for the archonship in 458–457 BC and bestowed generous wages on all citizens who served as jurymen in the Heliaia (the supreme court of Athens) some time just after 454 BC.  He enjoyed the company of the philosophers Protagoras, Zeno of Elea, and Anaxagoras. For example, he would often avoid banquets, trying to be frugal. [θ] In any case, the city's plight, caused by the epidemic, triggered a new wave of public uproar, and Pericles was forced to defend himself in an emotional final speech, a rendition of which is presented by Thucydides. For heroes have the whole earth for their tomb; and in lands far from their own, where the column with its epitaph declares it, there is enshrined in every breast a record unwritten with no tablet to preserve it, except that of the heart. During his reign from 461 B.C.  Consequently, Pericles asked the Spartans to offer a quid pro quo. Our polity does not copy the laws of neighboring states; we are rather a pattern to others than imitators ourselves. , To analyze Pericles's relations with gods, one has to position oneself at the intersection of the general and the particular, where what was personal and what was shared by the whole community came together.  According to King, by increasing the power of the people, the Athenians left themselves with no authoritative leader.  The historian Loren J. Samons II argues, however, that Pericles had enough resources to make a political mark by private means, had he so chosen.  At that time, the Athenians unhesitatingly followed Pericles' instructions. Pericles held the generalship from 444 BC until 430 BC without interruption. Vlachos underlines, however, that the defeat of Athens could entail a much more ruthless Spartan empire, something that did indeed happen. He was 65 years old and the supposed … Pericles may simply have died of old-age-related problems. , According to another historian, Justin Daniel King, radical democracy benefited people individually, but harmed the state. Hatred and unpopularity at the moment have fallen to the lot of all who have aspired to rule others. Thucydides initially managed to incite the passions of the ecclesia regarding these charges in his favor. , After consultations with its allies, Sparta sent a deputation to Athens demanding certain concessions, such as the immediate expulsion of the Alcmaeonidae family including Pericles and the retraction of the Megarian Decree, threatening war if the demands were not met.  This relationship aroused many reactions and even Pericles' own son, Xanthippus, who had political ambitions, did not hesitate to slander his father.  The Athenians' justification was that the Megarians had cultivated the sacred land consecrated to Demeter and had given refuge to runaway slaves, a behavior which the Athenians considered to be impious. Pericles, though moribund, heard them and interrupted them, pointing out that they forgot to mention his fairest and greatest title to their admiration; "for", said he, "no living Athenian ever put on mourning because of me". The plague of Athens death toll is estimated to have reached 75,000 to 100,000. You may wish to take a look at 'The Plague of Thebes, a Historical Epidemic in … , In 431 BC, while peace already was precarious, Archidamus II, Sparta's king, sent a new delegation to Athens, demanding that the Athenians submit to Sparta's demands. Nevertheless, within just a year, in 429 BC, the Athenians not only forgave Pericles but also re-elected him as strategos. His decree was passed but rescinded the next day, in time to save Mytilene. 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