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Pericles as Athens’ Greatest Leader

Among many antique politicians and orators who ruled Greek city-states, Pericles was described as one of the most influential historical figures. The leader ruled Athens in 461 BC – 429 BC, and that period was named the city’s Golden Age (Mark, 2018). Pericles contributed to the development of democracy, promoted freedom, impacted the arts and education development of his city-state, and these actions’ outcomes benefited Athens long after the statesman’s death (Mark, 2018). This paper aims to describe the antique leader’s accomplishments in politics, military, and culture to discuss if the title “Athens’ greatest leader” was truly deserved.

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The Athens’ Golden Age was when citizens felt the safest, free to express themselves and experience the rise of culture. Pericle, who was born in the city in the politician’s family, contributed to the development of Athenian democracy due to the willingness to help his homeland thrive (Mark, 2018). At the beginning of the political career, statesman prosecuted a corruption case against their political rival Cimon (Mark, 2018). Despite the latter’s influential authority, Pericle was able to prove the guilt and ostracize the opponent from the city for ten years (Mark, 2018). The leader started ruling the democratic party in 461 BC, promoted the citizens’ values, and developed stable democracy in Athens. However, Pericle maintained the governance in their own hands and was the only person with the decision-making power (Cline, 2020). The statesman also established the payment policy for public officials and expanded the boundaries of getting a job or position based on personal skills instead of social status (Cline, 2020). The internal political improvements helped Pericles succeed in military campaigns due to the citizens’ support.

Pericles governance in Athens coincided with The First and Second Peloponnesian Wars and tensions with Sparta. Athens was the center of Greece’s protection, and other city-states paid to the city for defense, providing it with enough economic resources to prosper. As the commander-in-chief, Pericles maintained the connection with the most influential intellectuals of the city to build the best strategies in fighting against the rivals. The significant military accomplishment was that Athens made Sparta and their allies fear of the city-states’ power. Moreover, Pericles’ famous Funeral Oration spoken at the end of The First Peloponnesian War revealed how Athenian democracy encouraged the citizens to achieve freedom and simultaneously serve the beloved homeland (Mark, 2018). The speech became an example of cultural

Pericles contributed to Athens’ cultural development by making different kinds of arts more available to perform by citizens regardless of their social position. Such significant architectural achievements as Acropolis and Parthenon were constructed and taken care of under the statesman’s governance (Cline, 2020). Moreover, the rise of educational institutions profoundly impacted Athens’s culture. Pericles had many philosophers as friends and helped them open and promote schools where the students of Socrates and Plato formed the values and thought of the Greek and overall western people (Mark, 2018). During the Golden Age of Athens, playwrights were regularly conducted and formed the foundation for modern theatre. The most valuable cultural accomplishment of Pericles’ statesmanship was establishing of the atmosphere in the city where a person could improve themselves and contribute the Athens’ development.

Pericles moved Athens towards becoming the political, military, and cultural center of Ancient Greece. The statesman’s accomplishments in democracy development, the city-states’ military success, and enforcement showed the citizens how they could move their homeland towards prosperity. Pericles deserves to be called the “Athens’ greatest leader” because his whole governance was dedicated to improve the city-states’ political positions and make people feel free to live better.


Cline, D. H. (2020). Athens as a small world. Journal of Historical Network Research, 4, 36-56. Web.

Mark, J. J. (2018). Pericles. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Web.

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