Pericles was a prominent Greek statesman , orator, and general during the Golden Age of Athens . The period in which he led Athens, in fact, has been known as the Age of Pericles due to his great influence, not only in generating fortunes for his city, but in the entire history of Greece during the 5th century BC. and even after his death. He was a tireless defender of democracy , although the form he took was different from what we see in modern times, as only male citizens of Athens were allowed to participate in politics.. Still, his reforms would lay the foundations for the development of later democratic political systems .


Personal information

  • When was he born:  494 BC
  • Where he was born:  Athens, Greece
  • When he died:  429 BC
  • Where he died:  Athens, Greece

Who was Pericles?

Pericles was an important lawyer , politician and orator of the Athenian state considered the main strategist of Greece , who influenced society and the forms of government and politics.

  • Biography of Pericles
  • Death
  • What did
  • Pericles funeral speech
  • government
  • Reforms
  • Golden Age of Pericles
  • Athens of Pericles
  • Physical characteristics
  • Personality
  • Phrases
  • Pericles works
  • Importance

Biography of Pericles

Pericles was born in Athens in 495 BC, into an aristocratic family . His father, Xanthippus, was a respected politician and war hero, and his mother, Agariste , a member of the powerful and influential Alcmaeonidae family , who encouraged the early development of Athenian democracy . The nobility, prestige and wealth of the Pericles family allowed him to continue his inclination towards education in whatever subject he liked. He read widely, showing a special interest in philosophy , and was recognized as the first Athenian politicianattributing importance to philosophy as a practical discipline that could help guide and direct the thinking and actions of one rather than a mere passive past or exchange of information.

His first years were quiet and, being an introvert, he avoided appearances and public speeches , dedicating himself to his studies. He learned oratory in his youth. Pericles had become involved in politics in the early 460s . He prosecuted a case against his political rival Cimon, accusing the latter of corruption in his dealings with Macedon. Cimon was acquitted, but this may be due more to his political connections and influence than to any failure on the part of Pericles to prosecute the case.


During the spring of the year 430 BC in Athens, after having passed the first year of war, the months most cold came greatly affecting the inhabitants of Athens, one of the hardest blows was the arrival of the plague . This plague would have arisen in Ethiopia spreading to Egypt and Libya until reaching the Persian Empire . In the wake of this deadly epidemic, Pericles passed away .

What did

Pericles was a man who fought for his people. He established the payment of fees to citizens who served as jurors in the supreme court of Athens , gave Athenian citizenship only to people who were born to citizens of Athens, ruled Athens, and remained in power uninterruptedly until the day of his death. He made the State cultured , rich and supportive through the Attic-Delica League .

He managed to organize three governing bodies: Heliea , Bulè and Ekklesia . The first was the People’s Court , the Bulé: it was the Counselor of the Five Hundred made up of ten groups of various citizens, and each group represented the ten tribes of the Athenian community . The last, Ekklesia, was the People’s Assembly , and the proposals of the ten tribes of the Bulé were discussed there . Another contribution to the policy of Pericles was the institution of democracy so directly and notrepresentative , in short, the citizen intervened directly in the government, as a daily act.

Pericles funeral speech

His speech or funeral work was a classic piece composed by Pericles in honor of all the fallen men during the Peloponnesian War . It is a political manifesto that exposes the idea of democracy through ancient eyes. In his prayer, Pericles immersed himself in the term of democracy, because for him, this was a series of behaviors that could be carried out by people. Pericles invites in his speech to dominate the tyrant that man has within him, he mentions that democracy is a way of life and that it constitutes a tool first order to get to it.


The Pericles government was based on democracy , emphasizing equality , justice and entry to public office by all people, without excluding the poor. In his government, the private life of citizens was respected and they exercised total freedom , respecting the laws and authorities . It magnified the military system in a surprising way, it also provided a salary to the magistrates so that all could serve in political positions. Division prevailedof social classes  and also gave importance to the arts .


His reforms included laws of all kinds that covered the social , political , legal and economic fields . In the judicial sphere, it passed a law that established that when a citizen served as a jury , the Athenian judicial system had to pay him a small sum of money . In the social sphere it approved an amendment to the law of citizenship which stated that both parents have citizenship had to be Athenian citizens .

Golden Age of Pericles

Pericles gave Athens a time of great heyday , encouraged the construction of important public works and greatly improved the lives of the inhabitants of Athens, also giving impetus to artistic and cultural manifestations . He established the foundations of a powerful empire and developed the process of political democracy, making Athens the most beautiful city of antiquity for its works and its temples . During his century, the life of the Athenians was modest and did not have great luxuries or fortunes, their economyIt was based mainly on maritime trade , although agriculture and the artisan industry were also given importance . Reading and writing , math, and music were taught in schools .

The art and culture managed to reach its peak and noted historians like Herodotus who described the Persian Wars . The public works and art were built in this century and were funded by the Delian League .

Athens of Pericles

In the Athens of Pericles the objective was always very clear and was to make the city the most important in the world. Through its architectural renovation plan, full of important and imposing works of art. Its key was above all, the democratic system imposed by Pericles, which had already started several years ago. It also had an important influence on the course of current history .

Physical characteristics

There is no exact description of his physical characteristics of Pericles to date, although it is said that he was a tall and elegant man . Some historians claim that it was known by the name of ” onion head  because it had a marked formation on one side of the skull due to a malformation .


Pericles was an elegant, eloquent person who cared greatly about his personal prestige . He was very good at strategizing and believed himself invincible . He had a special lucidity in dealing with public affairs, he was brilliant in his persuasion, and he had an unshakable personal insubordination. He was a man full of lucidity and eloquence .


Some of the most important phrases of Pericles were the following:

  • He who knows how to think , but does not know how to express what he thinks, is on the same level as the one who does not know how to think.
  • Not being able to bear poverty is a shame, and not knowing how to reject it through work is even more shameful.
  • When tyrants seem to kiss, the time has come to tremble.
  • The tomb of the heroes is the entire universe and it is not in the columns loaded with lavish inscriptions.
  • The time is the wise counselor .
  • The illustrious men have all the land grave.

Pericles works

Among his most recognized works we mention:

  • It turned the Delos Confederacy into the Athenian Empire.
  • It founded on solid foundations the naval and colonial power that Athens had.
  • He promoted the arts and literature and gave Athens a reputation as the cultural and educational center of Ancient Greece.
  • He built a large number of public works that were responsible for beautifying the city and employing the neediest people.
  • He consolidated democracy and defended him above all else.


Its importance does not only lie in the magnitude of the architectural works ordered by him, but its greatest importance was based on the political order that, despite having undergone changes, continues to this day, in addition to the important contributions that they were made in his time with respect to art and sculpture .

Leave a Comment