495 - 429 BC
Pericles was the Greek statesman who led Athens to the height of its political
power and its artistic achievement during the 'Periclean Age'. He gave one
of the most famous speeches in history - the famous
for the fallen of the first battle in the Peloponnesian War.
Pericles was born into a wealthy Athenian family related to the democratic reformer Cleisthenes. Pericles became leader of the popular party and continued the reforms of Cleisthenes. He introduced salaries for public officers and allowed the poor to serve in any state office.
Pericles used the war hoard gained from the wars with Persia to built up a powerful navy and to beautify his city. He built the temple of Athena Nike, the Propylaea, the Parthenon, and many other structures for the glory of Athens. Literature, drama and philosophy flourished.
The growing power of Athens aroused the jealousy of other Greek states. Under the leadership of Sparta they declared war on Athens. Pericles evacuated the people from the surrounding districts into the city.
In 430 BC a plague broke out in the city and Pericles died of the plague in the middle of the war.
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