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Pericles (Greek Statesman, 495-429 BC)


Pericles Demographics:
  • Name - Pericles (also spelled Perikles)
  • Name meaning - "surrounded by glory"
  • Born - c. 495 BC
  • Birthplace - deme of Cholargos just north of Athens.
  • Death - 429 BC
  • Occupation - Greek Statesman, orator, & general of Athens.
  • Nationality - Greek
  • Father - Xanthippus
  • Mother - Agariste (from noble family of the Alcmaeonidae).
  • Lineage - Descended (through mother) from the Alcmaeonid family.
  • Wife - Previously married to Hipponicus, Pericles divorced her in 445 BC.
  • Children - 2 legitimate sons (Paralus & Xanthippus) and also an illegitimate son (Pericles the Younger, born of Aspasia).
  • Mistress - Aspasia of Miletus, whom Pericles truly adored.
Pericles General Facts:
  • Pericles had such a profound influence on Athenian society.
  • Described by Thucydides as "the first citizen of Athens".
  • Pericles promoted the arts and literature.
  • Pericles' skull was an unusual size, and this was a popular target of comedians from the time.
  • Pericles liked the company of the philosophers Protagoras, Zeno of Elea & in particular Anaxagoras (who became a close friend).
  • Pericles' sister and also both legitimate sons died from the plague.
  • Pericles, he himself heartbroken, also died of the plague in the autumn of 429 BC.
Pericles Childhood & Education:
  • Agariste dreamed, a few nights before Pericles' birth, that she had borne a lion (according to Herodotus & Plutarch).
  • The young Pericles was introverted, devoting his time to studies.
  • He learned music from the masters of the time.
  • Influenced significantly by the study of philosophy (see quotes).
Pericles - Politics & War:
  • Pericles turned the Delian League into an Athenian empire.
  • General, leading his countrymen during the first two years of the Peloponnesian War against Sparta.
  • His period of Athenian leadership (~ 461 to 429 BC) is sometimes known as the "Age of Pericles".
  • He is considered to be the first politician to place great importance to philosophy.
  • Pericles fostered Athenian democracy with some critics calling him a populist.
  • He was a very calm and self-controled ruler (probably as a result of Anaxagoras' influence).
  • Pericles was the leading prosecutor (in 463 BC) of Cimon, the leader of the conservative faction in Athens.
  • By 461 BC, Pericles had been instrumental in the ostracism of Cimon, through levelling that his opponent was a friend of Sparta.
  • Pericles became the unchallengeable ruler of Athens, after Ephialtes was murdered, in 461 BC; and remained in power till his death from the plague in 429 BC.
Quotes by Pericles:
“Time is the wisest counsellor of all.”

“Freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it.”

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”

“Time is the king of all men, he is their parent and their grave, and gives them what he will and not what they crave.”

“Having knowledge but lacking the power to express it clearly is no better than never having any ideas at all”

“We do not imitate, but are a model to others”

“A woman's greatest glory is to be little talked about by men, whether for good or ill”

“The whole earth is the tomb of heroic men and their story is not given only on stone over their clay but abides everywhere without visible symbol woven into the stuff of other mens lives.”

“Trees, though they are cut and loped, grow up again quickly, but if men are destroyed, it is not easy to get them again”

Image Credit - by mitko_denev (cc) modified

Posted by ALCHEssMIST.
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