Pericles has had the rare distinction of giving his name to an
entire period of history, embodying what has often been taken as
the golden age of the ancient Greek world. "Periclean" Athens
witnessed tumultuous political and military events, and
achievements of the highest order in philosophy, drama, poetry,
oratory, and architecture. "Pericles of Athens" is the first book
in more than two decades to reassess the life and legacy of one of
the greatest generals, orators, and statesmen of the classical
In this compelling critical biography, Vincent Azoulay provides
an unforgettable portrait of Pericles and his turbulent era,
shedding light on his powerful family, his patronage of the arts,
and his unrivaled influence on Athenian politics and culture. He
takes a fresh look at both the classical and modern reception of
Pericles, recognizing his achievements as well as his failings
while deftly avoiding the adulatory or hypercritical positions
staked out by some scholars today. From Thucydides and Plutarch to
Voltaire and Hegel, ancient and modern authors have questioned the
great statesman's relationship with democracy and Athenian society.
Did Pericles hold supreme power over willing masses or was he just
a gifted representative of popular aspirations? Was Periclean
Athens a democracy in name only, as Thucydides suggests? This is
the enigma that Azoulay investigates in this groundbreaking
"Pericles of Athens" offers a balanced look at the complex life
and afterlife of the legendary "first citizen of Athens" who
presided over the birth of democracy.
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