Chapter

Thucydides' Portrait of Pericles I

Stephen V. Tracy

in Pericles

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780520256033
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520943629 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520256033.003.0004
Thucydides' Portrait of Pericles I

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The historian Thucydides provides us with our only extensive portrait of Pericles by a contemporary. He portrays him as the principal leader of the Athenians at the outset of the war between the Athenians and the Spartans. Thucydides depicts a Pericles who has been a successful military leader in three different wars—against the Sicyonians, allies of Corinth and Sparta; against the Euboeans, very important neighboring Athenian allies, and against the Samians, a major naval power and critically important member of Athens' naval alliance. During the course of the second campaign, he also dealt with a Peloponnesian invasion of Attica, keeping the incursion to a minimum. He is thus shown as actively strengthening and defending Athens' empire against its major rivals as well as keeping in line unwilling allies. The portrait that Thucydides presents is conveyed largely by the three speeches that he gives to Pericles at crucial points in the narrative of books 1 and 2.

Keywords: Pericles; Thucydides; Athens; wars; Sicyonians; Euboeans; Samians; Attica; speeches; Sparta

Chapter.  5160 words. 

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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