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Pericles' Background In Ancient History And His Influence In Athens.

2087 words - 8 pages

PericlesLars HoogvlietMr. Zeller11 Ancient HistoryPericles, or Perikles, (495-429BC), was a prominent and influential leader during his rule over Athens, which was also known as the city's Golden Age (Between the Persian and Peloponnesian wars).Pericles was a successful speaker, general and statesman, and a descendant of the renowned Alcmaeonidae family.Pericles was such an influence on Athens that Thucydides (ancient Greek historian and author of "The Peloponnesian War") named him 'the first citizen of Athens,' and the period between 461BC and 429BC is often referred to as the 'Age of Pericles.'Pericles is also famous for transforming the Delian League into the Athenian Empire, and for extending art, democracy and literature throughout Athens, and for a great building project on the Acropolis, main one being the Parthenon.Pericles also introduced three main political reforms, which restructured aspects of Athens. These are, the payment of Jurors in the jury courts (461BC), citizens from the zeugitae (third class) to hold the archonship (458BC), and new citizenship laws (451BC).The very roots of how Pericles came into such a position to exert influence started with his birth. Pericles was born from the rich and famous Alcmaeonidae family, which had influence, and many renowned members, such as Cleisthenes (Pericles' great-uncle), who was famous for his democratic ideals. Then there was Xanthippus, his father, who was a great warrior, who led the Greeks to victory against the Persians. Obviously, Pericles grew up in privileged surroundings, giving him an easy path into politics.Due to this 'birth advantage,' Pericles was immediately given private education; he took lessons from Xeno, in rhetoric, the study of debating and arguing, which was highly valued back then."[Pericles] had first distinguished himself when, as a young man, he prosecuted Cimon in the examination after his generalship."AristotleDuring his time in power, Pericles is famous for introducing three new political reforms, which are listed above. For the payment of jurors, it encouraged more and poorer lower class citizens to participate, as it didn't cut into their income, and it also evenly distributed the power among the classes so that no one class could control the law courts.As for the zeugitae opened to archonship, they were now also paid, likewise for the members of the Boule. Pericles' 3rd reform restricted citizenship to all except those born by two Athenian parents who were legally married under Athenian law. Pericles did this because he wanted to shield Athens from those who might want to come and abuse it.These reforms turned Athens into a direct democracy, and no doubt increased his trust among the citizens, thus increasing his influence among them. He doubly increased his sway over the public with these reforms, as one, the politicians now were paid, and two, the lower class could become politicians (which were now paid jobs).As Pericles used to be in the army himself,...

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