Golden Age of Pericles


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The Golden Age of Pericles was a period of political hegemony, prosperity, cultural flourishing and stability that reached its peak during the 5th century BC.
Fifth century BC Athens was a time when learning and the arts thrived within a democratic constitution and a wonderful culture that has been admired for centuries and have become the foundation of western civilization.
The Golden Age of Pericles symbolizes the greatness of ancient Greek civilization and the power and glory of the ancient city-state of Athens at its peak.


Early Life

Golden Age of Pericles
Pericles was born in Athens, in 495 BC, to an aristocratic family surrounded by wealth and prestige.
His father, Xanthippus ( (Greek: Ξάνθιππος - 525-475 BC), was a respected politician, general and war hero.
His mother, Agariste was a niece of Cleisthenes and a member of the powerful Alcmaeonidae family who encouraged the early development of Athenian democracy.
Cleisthenes (Greek: Κλεισθένης) - 570 – 508 BC) was an ancient Athenian statesman and a member of the aristocratic Alcmaeonid clan who is credited with reforming the constitution of Athens and setting it on a democratic foundation in 508 BC - historians refer to him as "the Father of Athenian democracy."
Pericles had a special interest in philosophy as a practical discipline for guiding one's thought and actions.
He was first married to one of his closest relatives, with whom he had two sons, Paralus and Xanthippus, but he divorced his wife around 445 BC.
Aspasia (Greek: Ἀσπασία - 470 – 400 BC) from the Ionian, Greek city of Miletus, Asia Minor then became the consort of Pericles with whom she had a son, Pericles the Younger.


Golden Age of Pericles

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During the Golden Age of Pericles with its democratic system of government, Greece became the first and most prominent ancient European civilization.
This was the Golden Age of Pericles (Greek: Περικλῆς 495–429 BC) whose leadership made Athens the greatest of the Greek city-states during the 5th century BC that had such a profound effect in the shaping of the modern world.
Athens was re-built into the most beautiful and thriving cultural city where education, literature, the fine arts, the performing arts, science, philosophy, classical architecture, athletic games and military strength reached their pinnacle.
The 5th century, Golden Age of Athens was characterized by the building of the Parthenon on the Acropolis and other famous architectural feats of all time, Phidias sculptures, Sophocles tragedies, Aristophanes comedies, Herodotus Histories and Socrates philosophy set the foundation for all western civilization to follow.


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The Agora

Golden Age of Pericles
The Agora was an important component of all ancient Greek towns and villages across the Mediterranean.
The name was first found in the works of 8th century BC, Homer, and is commonly translated as “assembly” or “market place” of the people.
The Agora located in the center of Athens was both a thriving market and public meeting place that brought together citizens, merchants, philosophers and politicians.
Business was conducted here with a great variety of products from all over the Mediterranean and other parts of the then known world.
People also came here to meet with friends, engage in political debate, watch performers and listen to famous philosophers.


Pericles Four Goals

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Golden Age of Pericles
As a statesman, Pericles directed the affairs of his city-state, Athens, to the height of her glory through through four important goals.
1. Strengthen Athenian democracy through a culture that valued liberty.
"Freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it."
-Pericles
Classical civilization's intellectual, artistic and architectural ideas have become foundations of western thought and culture.
2. Make the Athenian Empire as the political focus over all the Greek city-states.
Pericles turned the Delian League that was founded in 478 BC into the Athenian Empire.
3. Glorify Athens as the educational and cultural center of the ancient Greek world.
Pericles hired sculptors, architects and artists to fill Athens with grand public buildings and temples of marble and decorated with magnificent sculpture.
During this time Greek theater also produced some of its greatest playwrights such as Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides.
4. Expand Athenian naval power as protection from another invasion by the Persian Empire.
Pericles influence on Athenian society, politics and culture was so great that the historian Thucydides (l. 460/455 - 399/398 BC), his contemporary and admirer, called him "the first citizen of Athens."


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Parthenon on the Acropolis

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Golden Age of Pericles
The iconic Parthenon on the Acropolis honoring the goddess Athena was built for the Hellenic victory over the Persian Empire during the Greco-Persian Wars (499 BC – 449 BC)
Athena was one of the twelve chief Olympian deities and the goddess associated with wisdom, craft, and warfare - she was also one of the most intelligent and wisest of the Greek gods.
Like most Greek temples, the Parthenon served as the treasury of the Delian League which later became the Athenian Empire.
Construction of the Parthenon on the Acropolis started in 447 BC and over the centuries has become an enduring symbol of ancient Greece proudly standing as the epitome of Greek architectural design that has been emulated the world over in modern structures.
Upon and around the Parthenon on the Acropolis are also twenty one of the world's most impressive ancient cultural monuments still standing.
Today, the Parthenon on the Acropolis is regarded as an enduring symbol of ancient Greece and one of the world's great monuments.


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The Delian League

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Golden Age of Pericles
The Delian League under the leadership of Pericles was founded in 478 BC following the Greek victory in the Battle of Plataea at the end of the Second Persian invasion of Greece.
Two goals of the Delian League were:
1. Form a military alliance of Greek city-states to liberate and safeguard Ionian Greeks against any enemies that might threaten to invade.
Money collected was used for making weapons, armor and preparing armies to fight and protect all members.
The Athenian-dominated Delian League enjoyed many successes against the Persian Empire.
They defeated the Persian fleet in the battle of Salamis in 479, expelled almost all Persian garrisons from the Greek world and the Persian fleet was driven out from the Aegean.
The Greek navy expanded its domination of the Aegean Sea resulting in the freeing of several Ionian Greek colonies from the Persian yoke.
2. Building the Athenian Empire.
As Athens emerged as the dominant economic power in Greece after 460 BC.
The Delian League became the Athenian Empire and began to take control over the other city-states causing conflict and rivalry throughout the various Greek city-states.
There were many causes that brought about the Peloponnesian War - one of them was the growing power of Athens.
Although the ancient Greek city-states shared a common language, culture and religion, they were very independent of each other - every Greek citizen's loyalty was directed only to their own city-state.
The rivalry between the two dominant city-states, Athens and Sparta, culminated in the devastating Peloponnesian War which lasted from 431 BC to 404 BC and brought about the end of the Golden Age of Greece.
Pericles along with several members of his family became victims to the Plague of Athens which struck in 429 BC during the Peloponnesian War.
The population of Athens was infected, and as many as 75,000 to 100,000 of the city's population died and greatly weakened the historic city of culture, wisdom and beauty.


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