Today's Featured Biography
Pericles, the greatest statesman of ancient Greece, was born of distinguished parentage in the early part of the fifth century B.C. His father was that Xanthippus who won the victory over the Persians at Mycale, 479 B.C.; and by his mother, Agariste, the niece of the great Athenian reformer, Cleisthenes, he was connected with the princely line of Sicyon and the great house of the Alcmaeonidae. He received an elaborate education, but of all his teachers the one whom he most reverenced was the serene and humane philosopher, Anaxagoras. Pericles was conspicuous all through his career for the singular dignity of his manners, the Olympian grandeur of his eloquence, his "majestic intelligence" in Plato's phrase, his sagacity, probity, and profound Athenian patriotism. Both in voice and in appearance he was so like Pisistratus, who had once overturned the Athenian republic and ruled as a king, that for some time he was afraid to come forward in political life. When he entered on public life Aristides had only recently died, Themistocles was an exile, and Cimon was fighting the battles of his country abroad. Although the family to which he belonged was good, it did not rank among the first in either wealth or influence, yet so transcendent were the abilities of Pericles that he rapidly rose to the highest power in the state as the leader of the dominant democracy. The sincerity of his attachment to the popular party has been questioned, but without a shadow of evidence. At ...
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