When delving into the annals of ancient history, the name "Pericles" surfaces as a prominent figure of ancient Greece. But what does Pericles mean, and what significance does it hold in the realm of history and culture? In this article, we’ll explore the multifaceted meaning of Pericles and the role this figure played in shaping the course of Athens and Greek history.
Unveiling the Origins
Pericles or Perikles (ca. 495–429 BC, Greek: Περικλῆς, meaning "surrounded by glory") was more than just a name. He stood as a figurehead, recognized as a national and international leader, shaping the course of Athenian history and culture during his time.
Pericles in Ancient Greece
Pericles was an Athenian statesman who played a pivotal role in developing democracy in Athens, establishing it as the political and cultural nucleus of ancient Greece. He was born in 495 B.C.E. into an aristocratic family in Athens, marking the beginning of a journey that would significantly impact the history of this great civilization.
Ancient depictions portray Pericles as an adult adorned with a Corinthian helmet, symbolizing his military role as a strategos. This portrayal showcases a man surrounded by glory, with short curly hair bursting out at the temples.
The Commemorative Speech
In the annals of history, Pericles is celebrated for delivering his famous Funeral Oration in 431, shortly after the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War. The purpose of this speech was to honor and commemorate the troops who had fallen in battle, emphasizing the value of their sacrifice for Athens.
Pericles’ Impact on Democracy
Pericles was not just a military leader; he embarked on an ambitious project that resulted in the construction of most of the surviving structures on the Acropolis, including the iconic Parthenon. This not only beautified and protected the city but also showcased its glory and provided employment for its residents. His strong promotion of Athenian democracy even led to him being labeled a populist by critics.
The Legacy of Pericles
The so-called golden age of Athenian culture, as described by historian Thucydides, flourished under the leadership of Pericles (495-429 B.C.), who was a brilliant general, orator, patron of the arts, and politician. He was often referred to as "the first citizen" of democratic Athens.
Exploring the Term "Hellas"
The word "Hellas" is a transliteration of the Ancient Greek name for Greece, serving as a testament to the deep-rooted historical and cultural significance of this region.
The Age of Pericles
The "Age of Pericles" signifies a period in Greek history when Athens reigned as the dominant polis in terms of culture and politics. Many of the cultural wonders associated with ancient Greece date back to this era, emphasizing the enduring impact of Pericles on this society.
Pericles and the Persian Wars
Pericles’ early years were marked by significant historical events. When he was about three years old, Athens faced its first major Persian assault and secured a decisive victory at the Battle of Marathon. A decade later, Athens found itself in another clash with the Persians, further shaping the path of Pericles’ life.
Pronunciation and More
For those wondering about the pronunciation of "Pericles," it is phonetically rendered as "per-i-cles." Synonyms often associated with Pericles include "statesman," underlining his significant role in governance.
Pericles’ Tragic End
Tragedy befell Pericles when Athens was struck by the plague in 430 BC, believed to be caused by typhoid fever. The epidemic devastated the city, claiming the lives of up to a third of its population, including Pericles himself, the city’s esteemed leader.
The Statue of Pericles
A Roman copy of a bronze statue created by the Greek sculptor Kresilas pays homage to Pericles. The original bust was artistically active between 450-420 B.C. and was discovered on the Greek island of Lesbos, standing as a testament to Pericles’ enduring legacy.
The Outcome of the Peloponnesian War
History reveals that Athens was compelled to surrender to Sparta, marking the victory of the Peloponnesian War in 404 BC. The Spartans imposed relatively lenient punishments.
Pericles’ Vision of Athens
Pericles passionately believed that Athens was worth defending and even dying for. He conveyed this sentiment by reflecting on the legacy of their forefathers and the unique political and military landscape of Athens, setting it apart from its neighbors.
Priorities for the State
In his speeches, Pericles articulated the need for Athenian citizens to continue supporting the war. He emphasized the significance of their fight, stating that the soldiers who perished were safeguarding Athens, its inhabitants, and its cherished freedom.
The Father of Medicine
Hippocrates (c. 460 – c. 370 BC), often referred to as the "father of medicine," significantly contributed to the field of healthcare by teaching that illnesses had scientific causes. His influence extended far beyond his time, leaving a lasting mark on the history of medicine.
The Enduring Legacy
In the grand tapestry of history, the name "Pericles" resonates as a symbol of leadership, democracy, and cultural advancement. His legacy endures through the ages, inspiring generations with his vision and impact on ancient Greece.
In summary, "What Does Pericles Mean" encompasses a rich tapestry of historical significance and cultural impact that extends far beyond a mere name. It embodies the ideals, achievements, and influence of a man who shaped the course of a nation and left an indelible mark on the annals of history.
So, when contemplating the name "Pericles," it’s not just a name—it’s a journey through the tapestry of ancient Greece and a legacy that continues to captivate the imagination.
Pericles Through History: Significance and Symbolism
What Does Pericles Mean?
Pericles refers to a notable figure in ancient Greek history, best described as a Greek politician and general who thrived during the Golden Age of Athens. His name originates from the Greek Περικλῆς, derived from περί (meaning "surrounded by") and κλέος (meaning "glory"). This name signifies a historical icon associated with the classical times of ancient Greece. Pericles (c. 495 – 429 BC) played a pivotal role in shaping the political landscape of Athens and remains a symbol of that illustrious era.
Who was Pericles and what did he do?
Pericles (Greek: Περικλῆς; c. 495–429 BC) stands as a significant figure of ancient Greece, serving as both a Greek politician and a general. His influence was most pronounced during the Golden Age of Athens, marking him as a celebrated statesman and military leader. Pericles played a pivotal role in Athenian politics, particularly in the transitional period between the Greco-Persian Wars and the Peloponnesian War. His remarkable contributions to Athens earned him the esteemed title of "the first citizen of Athens," as recognized by Thucydides, a contemporary historian.
Do Pericles’ speeches represent his own words?
In contemporary analyses of Thucydides’ historical accounts, as well as in the views of modern historians and writers, there exists a range of opinions regarding the authenticity of the speeches attributed to Pericles by Thucydides. The debate centers on the extent to which these speeches faithfully convey Pericles’ original words, with some asserting that they represent his genuine expressions, while others suggest they may involve elements of artistic interpretation or paraphrasing by Thucydides.
Where did Periclesia come from?
In 1932, the botanist Albert Charles Smith introduced Periclesia, a monotypic genus of flowering plants originating from Ecuador. This genus is classified within the family Ericaceae and derives its name from the notable figure, Pericles. Interestingly, a wall painting featuring the likeness of Pericles, alongside Homer and Aristotle, graces the exterior of the ETH Zurich University Archives, showcasing the enduring influence of this historical icon.
What is the meaning of the word Pericles?
Pericles is a masculine Greek name with a profound meaning – "far-famed." In the historical context of Ancient Greece, this name carries great significance as it is associated with the renowned statesman and general, Pericles. He is credited for ushering in the Golden Era of Athens, characterized by flourishing arts, architectural marvels, philosophical advancements, and the establishment of democracy. Pericles earned the esteemed title of "the first citizen of Athens" from many of his contemporaries.
What is Pericles known for?
Pericles is renowned for his mastery of oratory. His speeches and elegies, as recorded and potentially interpreted by Thucydides, exalted the glory of a democratic Athens during its zenith. Of all his orations, the most celebrated is the "Funeral Oration," delivered in the aftermath of the first year of the Peloponnesian War, a poignant tribute to honor those who had fallen in the conflict.