Ancient History Pericles Early Life

Final assessment

A) Pericles was born around 495 BC in the deme of Cholargos (modern day Kamatero or Peristeri), just north of Athens. He was the son of the politician Xanthippus, under whose leadership Athens had won in Mycale in 479 BC, though he had been ostracized only five years before. Pericles' mother, Agariste, was the offspring of the noble though controversial family of the Alcmaeonids. It was this marriage that boosted Xanthippus' political career. Agariste was the great-granddaughter of the tyrant of Sicyon Cleisthenes and the niece of the Athenian reformer Cleisthenes also belonging to the Alcmaeonidae family. According to Herodotus and Plutarch a few days before Pericles' birth, Agariste dreamed she bore a lion, an ambivalent symbolism, alluding to the unusual size of Pericles' skull. In fact, the asymmetric dimensions of his head led the comedians of his era to taunt and ridicule him.

His family's nobility and wealth allowed him to follow his natural inclination toward education. He learned music from the masters (Damon or Pythocleides) and he is considered to be the first politician to attribute great importance to philosophy. He enjoyed the society of Zeno of Elea and Anaxagoras, who became a close friend and influence on him. Pericles' thinking and rhetorical charisma are due partly to the philosopher’s teaching of emotional calm in the face of trouble as well as skepticism about divine phenomena. His proverbial calmness and self-control are also regarded as resulting from the philosopher’s influence.

Because of customary in Athenian society, Pericles married one of his close relatives in an arranged marriage. He had two sons named Paralus and Xanthippus with his wife. However, his marriage was not a happy one, he got divorced when he was about 50 years old, and lived with the woman he truly loved Aspasia of Miletus, she was said to come from a wealthy family that’s why she was educated, but living in Athens she was a Medic....