Sunday, August 14, 2016

"Pericles of Athens" by Vincent Azoulay

This is very interesting historical analysis about Pericles. I came to know about Pericles after reading historical fiction series by Gary Corby. In Athenian mystery series Gary Corby provided picture of Pericles as a great Athenian statesman (that he was indeed).   

So, I decided to further read about this real life historical figure who led Athenian maritime empire for 25 years. 

Initially I thought it will be organized chronologically and based on Pericles biography, but in fact it was organized by topics that the authors thought were relevant to understand 5th century BC Athens and Pericles role in city's life.

Over centuries since fall of ancient Greek civilization educated establishment in the West took mutually exclusive view of Pericles. Until 19th century, most writings dedicated to ancient Greek considered Pericles in negative light due to Athens legacy in Peloponnesian war that ended in its defeat by Sparta and its allies. Many blamed Pericles for initiating this great war and leaving Athens unprepared.

However, opposite view shared by the author of this book suggests that Pericles was not in a position to single handedly decide the fate of Athens but rather he was a great statesman that skillfully operated within the framework of Athenian democracy. The fact that Athens ultimately lost the war to Sparta indicates that Athenian democracy as it is existed in 5th century BC simply had not developed sufficient check and balances that ensures that state properly directs its resources independently who is nominal head of the state.

posted David Usharauli


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