He issued his so-called Congress Decree in 449 BCE inviting all the city-states to gather for talks on a unified country but when Sparta refused to attend, the initiative stalled. First written in about the third century C.E. He then inflicted a stringent punishment on the landowners of Chalcis, who lost their properties. ), in which Athens relinquished most of the possessions and interests on the Greek mainland which it had acquired since 460 B.C.E., and both Athens and Sparta agreed not to attempt to win over the other state's allies.  Although Cimon was acquitted, this confrontation proved that Pericles' major political opponent was vulnerable. Books It was a grave insult to a man of Athens, especially a statesman, to claim a woman was responsible for his successful career and Pericles’ political enemies would focus on this charge repeatedly. If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice to all in their private differences; if to social standing, advancement in public life falls to reputation for capacity, class considerations not being allowed to interfere with merit; nor again does poverty bar the way, if a man is able to serve the state, he is not hindered by the obscurity of his condition. According to Plutarch, after assuming the leadership of Athens, "he was no longer the same man as before, nor alike submissive to the people and ready to yield and give in to the desires of the multitude as a steersman to the breezes". " 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. Pericles had such a profound influence on Athenian society that Thucydides, his contemporary historian, acclaimed him as "the first citizen of Athens." During the Age of Pericles, Athens blossomed as a center of education, art, culture, & democracy. Background and education. Pericles’ earliest recorded act, the financial sponsorship of a play by Aeschylus in 472 B.C., foreshadowed the future leader’s wealth, artistic taste and political savvy.  Some historians think that he wanted to prompt some kind of confederation with the participation of all the Greek cities, others think he wanted to assert Athenian pre-eminence. , Complicating the account of this complex period is the issue of the Peace of Callias, which allegedly ended hostilities between the Greeks and the Persians. He also avoided convening the ecclesia, fearing that the populace, outraged by the unopposed ravaging of their farms, might rashly decide to challenge the vaunted Spartan army in the field. ), Cimon, on the other hand, apparently believed that no further free space for democratic evolution existed. Although democracy was developing in Athens long before Pericles, his initiatives allowed it to flourish and, as it did, so did Athenian culture. What problems do you see in Pericles' description of Athens and how might these ideas have contributed to the Peloponnesian War? Hatred and unpopularity at the moment have fallen to the lot of all who have aspired to rule others.".  Thus, at the start of the Peloponnesian War, Athens found itself in the awkward position of entrusting its future to a leader whose preeminence had just been seriously shaken for the first time in over a decade. On each line there is a link to the page where the name can be found. In exchange for retracting the Megarian Decree, the Athenians demanded from Sparta to abandon their practice of periodic expulsion of foreigners from their territory (xenelasia) and to recognize the autonomy of its allied cities, a request implying that Sparta's hegemony was also ruthless. The obvious purpose of these proposals was the instigation of a confrontation between Pericles and the people; this event, indeed, would come about a few years later. The Funeral Oration of Pericles (431 BCE) Our constitution is called a democracy because the power is in the hands not of a minority but of the whole people. He was certain that democracy had reached its peak and Pericles’ reforms were leading to the stalemate of populism. Mark, J. J. " Consequently, Pericles asked the Spartans to offer a quid pro quo. The speech, recorded by Thucydides, highlights how Athenian democracy encourages personal freedom and sets the city apart from the rest as an example to all: Our constitution does not copy the laws of neighboring states; we are rather a pattern to others than imitators ourselves. The first source glorifies the city, the second shows their impe.  If this was so, Pericles must have taken up a position of leadership by the early 460s B.C.E. The primary sources give little information about Aspasia. Just before his death, Pericles' friends were concentrated around his bed, enumerating his virtues during peace and underscoring his nine war trophies. The Acropolis, though in ruins, still stands and is a symbol of modern Athens. Nevertheless, within just a year, in 429 B.C.E., the Athenians not only forgave Pericles but also re-elected him as strategos.θ[›] He was reinstated in command of the Athenian army and led all its military operations during 429 B.C.E., having once again under his control the levers of power. Throughout these years he endeavored to protect his privacy and tried to present himself as a model for his fellow citizens. ", "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. He has taught history, writing, literature, and philosophy at the college level. The Ecclesia (the Athenian Assembly) adopted Ephialtes' proposal without strong opposition. Soon after the war began, the great leader who had directed the city through the first conflict died in 429 BCE; the plague struck the city and Pericles was among its victims. Pericles responded resolutely, proposing to reimburse the city for all the expenses from his private property, under the term that he would make the inscriptions of dedication in his own name. What we know of Pericles comes from three main sources. Aspasia of Miletus was a scholar and philosopher whose intellectual influence distinguished her in Athenian culture, which treated women as second-class citizens during the 5th century B.C.E. Credit is due under the terms of this license that can reference both the New World Encyclopedia contributors and the selfless volunteer contributors of the Wikimedia Foundation. In his History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides makes clear what a disaster Pericles’ death was for Athens in that those who came after him desired to be popular rather than effective and, in so doing, doomed the city to ruin: The reason [Pericles was such a superior statesman was that he was] strong in both repute and intellect and was conspicuously incorruptible, held the masses on a light rein, and led them rather than let them lead him. , 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 River Delta. His mother was the (II.  After the Spartan threat had been removed, Pericles crossed back to Euboea to crush the revolt there. Mark, published on 28 March 2018 under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. ", Thucydides argues that Pericles "was not carried away by the people, but he was the one guiding the people". 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. Phidias, who had been in charge of all building projects, was first accused of embezzling gold intended for the statue of Athena, and then of impiety, because, when he wrought the battle of the Amazons on the shield of Athena, he carved out a figure that suggested himself as a bald old man, and also inserted a very fine likeness of Pericles fighting with an Amazon. eval(ez_write_tag([[970,250],'newworldencyclopedia_org-large-mobile-banner-1','ezslot_3',168,'0','0'])); In 431 B.C.E., 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.  Through this comment, the historian illustrates what he perceives as Pericles' charisma to lead, convince and, sometimes, to manipulate.  The accusations against her were probably nothing more than unproven slanders, but the whole experience was very bitter for Pericles. Pericles’ Funeral Oration. He brings Athens's political atmosphere to life with archaeological evidence and the accounts of those close to Pericles, including Thucydides, Aristophanes, Herodotus, … " Another consideration that may well have influenced Pericles' stance was the concern that revolts in the empire might spread if Athens showed herself weak. New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article Nonetheless, the "serious purpose" (namely the bribe) was so obvious to the auditors that they approved the expenditure without official meddling and without even investigating the mystery. , Such measures impelled Pericles' critics to regard him as responsible for the gradual degeneration of the Athenian democracy. Cite This Work Pericles, as commander-in-chief, led the Athenian forces in a number of battles but neither side could gain a significant advantage. ", Art, Music, Literature, Sports and leisure, Online Encyclopedia Britannica 11th Edition, https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/p/index.php?title=Pericles&oldid=1017949, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License, "Our polity does not copy the laws of neighboring states; we are rather a pattern to others than imitators ourselves.  According to King, by increasing the power of the people, the Athenians left themselves with no authoritative leader. Tracy compiles and translates the scattered, elusive primary sources relating to Pericles. Grades: 9 th, 10 th, 11 th, 12 th. This relationship aroused many reactions and even Pericles' own son, Xanthippus, who had political ambitions, did not hesitate to slander his father.  Pericles tried also to minimize the advantages of Sparta by rebuilding the walls of Athens. He was descended, through his mother, from the powerful and historically influential Alcmaeonid family.  This reform signalled the commencement of a new era of "radical democracy". Anaxagoras, in fact, is said to have influenced Pericles’ public demeanor and acceptance of fate, especially after the death of Pericles’ sons from plague. He himself died of the plague in the autumn of 429 B.C.E.  According to Josiah Ober, professor of classics in Princeton University, the strategy of rebuilding the walls radically altered the use of force in Greek international relations.  Kagan believes that Pericles used Callias, a brother-in-law of Cimon, as a symbol of unity and employed him several times to negotiate important agreements. Samons, Loren J. Other Ancient History. "Aspasie, l'étrangère, l'intellectuelle". There are many other sources available in translation online - for a fuller but less precise search, Search Ancient Texts. Pericles was deposed in the autumn of 430 but almost immediately rehabilitated. , The causes of the Peloponnesian War have been much debated, but most ancient historians laid the blame on Pericles and Athens. In Pericles: A Sourcebook and Reader, Stephen V. Tracy visits the fifth century B.C. , Plutarch states that Cimon struck a power-sharing deal with his opponents, according to which Pericles would carry through the interior affairs and Cimon would be the leader of the Athenian army, campaigning abroad. the leadership of the democratic party decided it was time to take aim at the Areopagus, a traditional council controlled by the Athenian aristocracy, which had once been the most powerful body in the state. ), who said he was quoting Pericles himself. Early years [edit | edit source]. With other decrees he lowered the property requirement for the archonship in 458–457 B.C.E.  When Pericles was later audited for the handling of public money, an expenditure of ten talents was not sufficiently justified, since the official documents just referred that the money was spent for a "very serious purpose." Property requirement for the gradual degeneration of the party and mentor of Pericles ’.! 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