What Does Pericles Mean in World History?

Pericles was an influential figure in ancient Greece who is renowned for his contributions to the development of Athens during the 5th century BCE. His name has become synonymous with the golden age of Athens, and his legacy continues to be felt in modern times. In this article, we will explore what Pericles means in world history and how his ideas and actions continue to influence us.

Early Life and Rise to Power

Pericles was born into a wealthy family in Athens around 495 BCE. He received a good education and became involved in politics at an early age. His rise to power began when he joined the political faction led by Ephialtes, which sought to limit the power of the aristocracy and increase the influence of ordinary citizens.

After Ephialtes was assassinated, Pericles became the leader of this faction and continued its work. He used his considerable oratory skills to persuade the Athenian Assembly to pass reforms that gave more power to ordinary citizens, such as paying jurors for their service.

The Golden Age of Athens

Pericles is best known for his role in creating what is known as the Golden Age of Athens. During this time, Athens experienced unprecedented growth in culture, art, literature, and philosophy. Pericles used his position as leader of Athens to promote these developments by commissioning public works such as temples, theaters, and public buildings.

One of Pericles’ most significant contributions during this time was his sponsorship of democracy. He believed that ordinary citizens should have a say in government decisions and worked hard to increase their participation through reforms such as paying jurors for their service.

The Peloponnesian War

Pericles’ leadership came under threat during the Peloponnesian War when Sparta declared war on Athens. Pericles urged caution but also implemented policies that aimed at weakening Sparta’s allies while strengthening Athens’ position.

However, the war took its toll on Athens and Pericles. A devastating plague broke out in Athens, killing many citizens, including Pericles’ two sons. Pericles himself became ill and died in 429 BCE.

Pericles’ Legacy

Pericles’ legacy is still felt in modern times. His ideas and actions have influenced the development of democratic systems around the world. He believed in the power of ordinary citizens to govern themselves, and his commitment to democracy has inspired generations of political thinkers.

Pericles also had a profound impact on art, literature, and philosophy. His patronage of artists such as Phidias helped create some of the most iconic works of ancient Greece, such as the Parthenon.

In conclusion, Pericles was a visionary leader who helped shape the course of ancient Greek history. His contributions to democracy and culture continue to resonate in modern times, making him one of the most influential figures in world history.