Who is Pericles?

Pericles: The Architect of Athens’ Golden Age

Pericles was one of the most influential and memorable statesmen of 5th century BC Athens. His era is often referred to as Athens’ Golden Age, a period marked by significant advancements in art, philosophy, architecture, and democracy. The life, political career, and legacy of Pericles play a crucial role in understanding Athenian democracy and classical Greek civilization.

Early Life and Education

Born into an aristocratic family in Athens in 495 BC, Pericles was educated by some of the most respected philosophers and teachers of his time, deeply influenced by sophistic thought and rhetoric. This education played a significant role in shaping him as both a statesman and an orator.

Political Career

Pericles entered Athenian political life at a young age and gradually became one of the city’s most influential leaders. During his tenure as strategos, he implemented a series of reforms to strengthen and expand Athens’ democratic institutions. He also played a decisive role in Athens’ foreign policy, particularly in its relations with the Persian Empire and other Greek city-states.

Athens’ Golden Age and Cultural Developments

Under Pericles’ leadership, Athens experienced a flourishing in arts, philosophy, theater, and architecture. Monumental structures like the Parthenon, constructed during this period, stand as quintessential examples of classical Greek architecture. Pericles supported artists and thinkers residing in Athens, enriching the city’s cultural life.

The Peloponnesian War and Later Years

Under Pericles’ guidance, Athens entered the long and devastating Peloponnesian War against Sparta in 431 BC, affecting the entire Greek world. Pericles had a significant influence on Athens’ strategy during the early years of the war, but he succumbed to a plague outbreak in 429 BC.


Pericles is remembered for his democratic ideals, effective leadership, and contributions to Athens’ cultural and political life. His era is considered one of the brightest periods in classical Greek history and continues to influence contemporary thoughts on democracy, art, and cultural development.

In conclusion, the life and era of Pericles hold immense significance not only for Athens but for all Western civilization. His legacy carries forward fundamental values and inspirations for the development of democracy, culture, and art to the present day.

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