Pericles 2 Essay, Research Paper
Pericles, a Greek Statesman, was the leader of the Athenian government for 30 years (Age of Pericles). Pericles was born into a noble family in Athens. His mother was a niece of Cleisthenes, a statesman who had made many democratic reforms in the Athenian government. After Cleisthenes death Pericles was determined to continue the reforms of his great-uncle and entered politics with the democratic popular party led by Ephialtes. Pericles and Ephialtes worked together to limit the power of the Areopagus. Pericles continued his reforms but found himself opposed by Cimon, the leader of the aristocratic party. He managed to have his rival banished for favoring Spartans.
After Ephialtes died in about 460 BC Pericles became leader of the popular party and the most powerful man in the state. As head of state Pericles made many changes. One was that he introduced salaries public officials. According to Aristotle s Constitution of Athens, as many as 20,000 people were on the payroll. Then in 547 BC Pericles made it so that common people were allowed to serve in any state office. Pericles had a reputation of supporting freedom, giving both the rich and the poor the right to vote and participate in the government. Pericles also used money from the treasury to build up the Athenian navy and to beautify Athens. He built the temple of Athena Nike, the Propylaea, the Parthenon, and many other structures for the glory of Athens.
Pericles was always extending the influence of Athens. IN 455-454 BC, he formed the Delian League, an alliance with other Greek city states. Although Pericles had bee at peace with the Spartans since 446 BC, allowing Athens influence to expand, Sparta and its allies quickly grew fearful and jealous of the power of Athens. In 449 BC, Pericles had successfully negotiated peace with the Persians, giving the Athenians more breathing room. Also, Pericles issued a decree that hindered the economy of Cornith, Sparta s most important ally. These actions caused the Spartans to attack Athens, which incited the Pelloponesian War. Pericles ordered all the country side citizens to flee to Athens, planning to ship food supplies in from the port. He used the Athenian naval superiority while using the Cities walls to defend against the army of Sparta. Although Pericles successfully defended Athens for a long time, the overcrowding of the city attracted a plague, which in turn caused Pericles to be tried, fined, and temporarily lose his influential position in the Athenian government. However, he was elected one of the Athenian Generals the next year, yet died shortly after.
Pericles built many notable monuments during his beautification of Athens. He was also responsible for the Athenian Long Walls, a system of walls that enclosed the Athenian settlements and its port. He also established the first true Democratic government. Pericles greatly influenced the development of the entire world. If it were not for him, most governments in the world would probably resemble the Roman Republic. Also, the culture of the world would be less developed, for the Athenian culture was developed greatly under the rule of Pericles, as a result Athens was one of the main cultural centers of the world.