Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Pericles, greatest of Athenian statesmen, was born about the close of the 6th century B.C. He was of noble descent, and was the son of Xanthippus, who routed the Persians at Mycale. He was educated by the best masters obtainable, among them being Zeno the Eleatic, and Anaxagoras. About 467 B.C. he entered public life as a member of the democratic party, and soon became its leader. He differed from many of his powerful opponents in having few traces of the demagogue about.him; nor did he depend upon the generous distribution of money for supporters. Cimon, the leader of the aristocratic party, has been credited with the merit of putting an end to the long war with Persia; but it was Pericles's moderation, sagacity, and dignity which brought about that result. His magnanimity was seen in the action he took after the banishment of Cimon in passing a decree enabling Cimon to return. He had been impressed with the latter's patriotism and bravery in offering to fight at the battle of Tanagra (B.C. 457) as a common soldier. Pericles disapproved of the "spirited foreign policy" of his day, and tried to curb the impulsive enterprise of the Athenians, who were continually seeking to conquer new worlds. He wished to unite the Grecian States, which were at enmity, instead of. waging war on other nations while weakened by division. He proposed that delegates from all the Hellenic States should meet at Athens; but the jealousy and envy of Sparta prevented the realisation of his patriotic idea. The Athenians, however, united, and by a series of brilliant victories, which were largely due to Pericles's strategy and courage, gradually extended their influence and possessions from the isthmus of Corinth to the Thermopytean Strait. After the death of Cimon and banishment of his successor, Thucydides, son of Melesias, his power was almost absolute. He subdued several states and forced tribute from them, and the treasury of the Athenian confederacy was removed during this period from Delos to Athens. He settled colonies in various places, and rendered Athens almost impregnable by the building of walls. Under his wise rule noble edifices arose in Athens, adorned with the choicest examples of Grecian art, the theatre was encouraged, and some important legal reforms were effected, his jury system standing the test of many generations. Sparta and other Grecian states, envious of Athens, conspired to humble it, and hence the Peloponnesian War. Pericles's strategy was not approved of at first, but he succeeded in his plans. Unfortunately the plague broke out in Athens, and the people turned on him. When the reaction came he had lost some of his dearest friends and relatives, and at length, in 429 B.C., he succumbed. [Aspasia.] His orations have not been preserved, though one of them was pronouncedthe greatest of all ancient compositions. His fame rests on his wisdom, foresight, and splendid administrative power and military genius.