Pericles’ background and rise to Prominence
Pericles was born in 494 BC into a very powerful family. His father was a rising political leader and general during the Persian wars. Despite his father’s key role as a strategos in defeating the Persians at Mycale, he was ostracized in 484 BC. At this time, Pericles was only 10 and this left an impact on Pericles as he was afraid of being ostracized himself due to the powerful position he was born into as well as his increasing power and popularity he gained as he grew up. His mother was part of the Alcmaeonids who were an Aristocratic family that was heavily involved in Athenian politics and very influential. His great uncle, Cleisthenes was also a very powerful political figure who had reformed Athenian government in 507 BC, creating a more democratic system.
During the time Pericles was being educated, the main subjects studied were gym, music and the recital of epic poems by Homer.
Pericles had three main teachers, Damon, Zeno and Anaxagoras. Damon was his teacher of music and poetry. He also trained Pericles for his political contests. It is thought that it was because of Damon that Pericles joined politics as Damon had a love of politics and philosophy. Some believe that it was Damon that convinced Pericles to introduce his law to pay Jurors. Damon was ostracized for suspicion of supporting tyranny. Zeno, was a Greek philosopher and taught philosophy to Pericles as well as teaching him a technique of cross examination, which he could use to corner his opponent by a method of question and answer. Anaxagoras was Pericles’ most influential teacher, it is said his studies were in natural science. It is said by Plutarch that Anaxagoras taught Pericles to rise above the superstitions of the people, also that he taught Pericles how to impress his audience through his dress and presentation as well as staying clear from the buffooneries of mob oratory.
In 480 BC the Persians invaded Greece and Pericles...
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