Pericles was the most famous leader of the most famous ancient Greek democracy - and also the most controversial in his own time and ever since. Was he a brutal imperialist ready to oppress other Greeks, or a clear-eyed defender of Athens' need for power to survive in a relentlessly hostile world? How did his intellectual training in ideas that many Athenians regarded as dangerous make him the most persuasive leader Athenian democracy ever knew? Why was his personal lifestyle so idiosyncratic? How should we evaluate his responsibility for the suffering and loss of the Peloponnesian War? Thomas R. Martin's unique emphasis on the effect on Pericles of his family's notorious history, his youthful experiences as a wartime refugee, and his unusual education reveals a brilliant politician whose hyper-rationality could not, in the end, protect him or his community from tragedy.
With nearly forty years of experience teaching ancient history to non-specialist audiences, Thomas R. Martin is the author of books including surveys of ancient Greece, ancient Rome, Alexander the Great, the works of Herodotus and Sima Qian, and An Overview of Classical Greek History online at the Perseus Project, which has been consulted by countless readers since its appearance as the first resource of its kind on the subject. He has also appeared in various documentaries on ancient history shown on television around the world.
Introduction: a biography of Pericles in the context of the ancient sources; 1. The notorious family history of Pericles' mother; 2. The harsh lessons of the career of Pericles' father; 3. Pericles becomes a teenager during a family crisis and national emergency; 4. Pericles becomes a refugee during Athens' greatest peril; 5. Pericles becomes an adult as Athens builds an empire; 6. Pericles' innovative education for leadership in Athenian democracy; 7. Pericles becomes a leader as Athens and Sparta become enemies; 8. Pericles becomes the first man of Athens; 9. Pericles' responsibility for the Samian Revolt and the Peloponnesian War; 10. Pericles' fate, then and later; Suggested readings.