Pericles

Pericles - First Citizen of Democratic Athens, Facts and Childhood

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Pericles's Personal Details

Pericles was an important Greek statesman, orator, patron of the arts, politician, and general of Athens who lived from 495–429 B.C

InformationDetail
Birthday494 BC
NationalityGreek
FamousLeaders, ENFJ, First Citizen of Democratic Athens, Greek Men
SpousesAspasia
Known asPerikles
ChildrensParalus, Pericles the Younger, Xanthippus
Birth PlaceAthens
GenderMale
FatherXanthippus
MotherAgariste of Sicyon
Born inAthens
Famous asFirst Citizen of Democratic Athens
Died at Age65

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Who is Pericles?

Pericles was an important Greek statesman, orator, patron of the arts, politician, and general of Athens who lived from 495–429 B.C. He had such a profound influence on the society that historian Thucydides named him “the first citizen” of democratic Athens. His era is also often referred to as the ‘Age of Pericles’ or broadly as the ‘Golden Age of Athens’. He encouraged the flourishing of arts, literature, philosophy and freedom of expression. Under his influence, Athens became the hub of art, culture, education, and democracy. Artists, sculptors, playwrights, poets, architects and philosophers considered Athens a thrilling haven for their work. Hippocrates practiced medicine in Athens then while sculptors like Phidias and Myron created statues in marble and stone. Playwrights like Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes invented the modern-day theatre during this period. The great philosophers Protagoras, Zeno of Elea, and Anaxagoras were all his close friends. Moreover, the ‘father of western philosophy’ Socrates lived in Athens at the time. His era also witnessed the building of the Acropolis and the glory of the Parthenon. He is the first politician to credit great importance to the study of philosophy as a realistic subject. After his death, the golden age of Athens eventually slipped away.

Childhood & Early Life

Pericles was born in 495 B.C. in Athens, Greece. His father, Xanthippus, was a politician and a hero of the Persian War while his mother, Agariste, was the niece of famous statesman and reformer, Cleisthenes, and belonged to the powerful Alcmaeonidae family.

Since he belonged to a noble and wealthy family, he could spend most of his youth studying. He grew up in the company of prominent artists and philosophers like Protagoras, Zeno, and Anaxagoras.

He also learnt music from the leading musicians of the time. As a young man, he avoided public appearances as he was introvert and calm by nature.

At the age of 17, he inherited huge wealth and became a patron of art. He funded a staging of Aeschylus’ play ‘The Persians’ in 472 B.C which echoed the young politician’s support for Athens’ besieged populist leader Themistocles over his political opponent, the aristocrat Cimon.

Career

In 461 B.C. Pericles got Cimon banished for supposedly betraying Athens and emerged as the leader of Athens’ democratic party.

His earliest military venture was during the First Peloponnesian War. In 454 B.C., he attacked Sicyon and Acarnania, following which he tried to conquer Oeniadea, but in vain. He also funded the establishment of Athenian colonies in Thrace and on the Black Sea coast.

During the Second Sacred War, he led the Athenian army against Delphi and reinstated Phocis in its sovereign rights on the oracle. In 447 B.C. he evicted the barbarians from the Thracian peninsula of Gallipoli, and established Athenian colonies in the region. He was elected Strategos (one of Athens’ leading generals) in 443 B.C.

From 449 B.C. to 431 B.C., he funded several cultural developments in Athens, especially famous structures on the hilltop Acropolis: the temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheum, and the gigantic Parthenon.

He also made efforts to modernize the Athenian society. He popularised fine arts by making theatre admission free for poor citizens and facilitated public participation in civil service.

A patron of art, he was friends with the most important intellects of his time, such as playwright Sophocles and sculptor Phidias. Even his spouse Aspasia was quite famous and taught oratory to the young philosopher Socrates.

He was a great orator himself. His speeches (recorded and interpreted by Thucydides) commemorate the magnitude of democratic Athens at its zenith.

Seeing Athens prosper, Sparta felt increasingly threatened and began to demand allowance which Pericles refused. In 431 B.C. disagreement between Athens and Sparta’s supporter Corinth prompted Spartan king Archidamus II to invade Attica near Athens.

Strategically, Pericles evacuated the residents of Attica to Athens, thus leaving the superior Spartan armies no one to fight with. He then made seaborne attacks on Sparta’s friends. This expensive approach was quite fruitful initially.

Eventually, a plague broke out in Athens claiming several lives and rousing disgruntlement among the people. This resulted in him being temporarily overthrown from power in 430 B.C. Before long, when the Athenians’ attempt to settle disagreements with Sparta failed, he was quickly given his authority back.

In 429 B.C., he succumbed to the plague. His death was devastating for Athens as his successors lacked his prudence and cautiousness. Gradually, the golden age of Athens faded away.

Major Works

Athens prospered under Pericles; during his era, Athens experienced political supremacy, economic growth and cultural flourishing.

Part of the golden age of Athenian culture, from 449 to 431 B.C., is attributed to Pericles. Apart from supporting art and culture, he funded the construction of the Acropolis and the Parthenon in Athens.

He led several military missions for more than 20 years. Some of them were Athens' recapture of Delphi from the Spartans in 448 B.C., Athens’ siege on Samos during the Samian War in 440 B.C., and the ill-fated attack on Megara in 431 B.C., which resulted in Athens' defeat and finally downfall.

Personal Life & Legacy

Pericles initially married one of his closest relatives with whom he had two sons, Paralus and Xanthippus. Around 445 B.C., he separated from his wife and gave her to another man in marriage.

Eventually, he grew close to Aspasia of Miletus. They lived together and their relationship was rebuked by many, including his son, Xanthippus.

He was deeply troubled by the untimely death of his sister and both his legitimate sons because of the plague. He could never recover from the blow.

The plague eventually claimed his life as well in the autumn 429 B.C. A timely change in the law of 451 B.C. allowed his half-Athenian son with Aspasia, Pericles the Younger, to be a citizen and legal heir.

His legacy is the literary and artistic works of the Athenian golden age, which have largely survived the test of time. The Acropolis, although damaged, is still present and is an icon of modern Athens. Freedom of expression is also derived from the same era.

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Pericles biography timelines

  • // 495 BC
    Pericles was born in 495 B.C. in Athens, Greece. His father, Xanthippus, was a politician and a hero of the Persian War while his mother, Agariste, was the niece of famous statesman and reformer, Cleisthenes, and belonged to the powerful Alcmaeonidae family.
  • // 472 BC
    At the age of 17, he inherited huge wealth and became a patron of art. He funded a staging of Aeschylus’ play ‘The Persians’ in 472 B.C which echoed the young politician’s support for Athens’ besieged populist leader Themistocles over his political opponent, the aristocrat Cimon.
  • // 461 BC
    In 461 B.C. Pericles got Cimon banished for supposedly betraying Athens and emerged as the leader of Athens’ democratic party.
  • // 451 BC
    The plague eventually claimed his life as well in the autumn 429 B.C. A timely change in the law of 451 B.C. allowed his half-Athenian son with Aspasia, Pericles the Younger, to be a citizen and legal heir.
  • // 449 BC To 431 BC
    From 449 B.C. to 431 B.C., he funded several cultural developments in Athens, especially famous structures on the hilltop Acropolis: the temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheum, and the gigantic Parthenon.
  • // 449 BC
    Part of the golden age of Athenian culture, from 449 to 431 B.C., is attributed to Pericles. Apart from supporting art and culture, he funded the construction of the Acropolis and the Parthenon in Athens.
  • // 447 BC To 443 BC
    During the Second Sacred War, he led the Athenian army against Delphi and reinstated Phocis in its sovereign rights on the oracle. In 447 B.C. he evicted the barbarians from the Thracian peninsula of Gallipoli, and established Athenian colonies in the region. He was elected Strategos (one of Athens’ leading generals) in 443 B.C.
  • // 445 BC
    Pericles initially married one of his closest relatives with whom he had two sons, Paralus and Xanthippus. Around 445 B.C., he separated from his wife and gave her to another man in marriage.
  • // 440 BC
    He led several military missions for more than 20 years. Some of them were Athens' recapture of Delphi from the Spartans in 448 B.C., Athens’ siege on Samos during the Samian War in 440 B.C., and the ill-fated attack on Megara in 431 B.C., which resulted in Athens' defeat and finally downfall.
  • // 431 BC
    Seeing Athens prosper, Sparta felt increasingly threatened and began to demand allowance which Pericles refused. In 431 B.C. disagreement between Athens and Sparta’s supporter Corinth prompted Spartan king Archidamus II to invade Attica near Athens.
  • // 430 BC
    Eventually, a plague broke out in Athens claiming several lives and rousing disgruntlement among the people. This resulted in him being temporarily overthrown from power in 430 B.C. Before long, when the Athenians’ attempt to settle disagreements with Sparta failed, he was quickly given his authority back.
  • // 429 BC
    In 429 B.C., he succumbed to the plague. His death was devastating for Athens as his successors lacked his prudence and cautiousness. Gradually, the golden age of Athens faded away.

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Pericles's FAQ

  • When was Pericles died?

    Pericles was died at 2020-04-14

  • Where was Pericles died?

    Pericles was died in Athens

  • Which age was Pericles died?

    Pericles was died at age 65

  • Where is Pericles's birth place?

    Pericles was born in Athens

  • What is Pericles nationalities?

    Pericles's nationalities is Greek

  • Who is Pericles spouses?

    Pericles's spouses is Aspasia

  • Who is Pericles childrens?

    Pericles's childrens is Paralus, Pericles the Younger, Xanthippus

  • Who is Pericles's father?

    Pericles's father is Xanthippus

  • Who is Pericles's mother?

    Pericles's mother is Agariste of Sicyon

  • How famous is Pericles?

    Pericles is famouse as First Citizen of Democratic Athens