This article is brought to you by the years 500 - 300 B.C.E.!
It takes a long time to develop great things. When it comes to history, it can take hundreds, if not thousands of years. For a people to feel their city is truly great and invest in it, heart and soul, many things have to happen. Buildings must rise! Trade must thrive! New thoughts must be born from the city! They have to make their own art that is uniquely theirs! They need to be in a time of peace! Welcome to the Golden Age of Greece.
Before you can have something great, you must have a vision. Sometimes that vision is held by many people and sometimes it's held by just one person. It definitely helps when the one person with a vision is born into one of the leading families in their city. Pericles
was a top general in Athens from 460 to 429 B.C.E. and was known for building beautiful buildings and letting the people make choices for the laws of the land. Not only was he a big supporter of the arts, which meant the city became filled with beautiful work, but also he led his people in war, taking back a city from the Spartans. He made great choices that grew his City State into a rich empire . . . and yet he didn't think he was the best person to make all the choices.
Pericles liked to talk about things. He thought the best ideas came from people arguing about what was best for the country. He also believed that the majority of people would make better choices for the whole than the one person who ruled them. A democracy
is a kind of government where people vote for their leaders or the laws. Who knows better which laws are best than the people who live under them? Under the leadership of Pericles, this kind of government helped to bring people together and talk about decisions that were to be made. Many people had a say in laws and choices Athens had to make. It worked.
Pericles hung out with artists and people who spent a lot of time thinking about the world. When he started ruling, he used a lot of these ideas to help his his country grow. He knew great ideas would come from education and talking about right and wrong. Philosophy
is the study of right and wrong, wisdom, knowledge, and why we are here. Athens had some of the world's best thinkers and many of them are still read by people today because their ideas were truly great. They tried to make the people think about their place in the world and these ideas helped to make Athens great too. These thinkers left the ideas of gods in stories and they started to turn people to think about why people do what they do . . . and how they could do it better. They would not do things because "that's the way they have always been done." They would question everything.
All of these things add up to one great city, where the people have great art, can choose the people who make the laws, and become free thinkers. Athens
was one of the most powerful city states in Ancient Greek civilization and is now the capital of Greece. It's home to many of Greece's most beautiful buildings. It grew the most in Greece's Golden Age, which was kicked off by Pericles, one of the most loved leaders. He gave his people democracy, which meant they could choose the people who made the laws. He also spread philosophy, which made people think about the meaning of life and their place on Earth. You would think that so much attention to art and free thought would keep people inside and stop the city from spreading. But the opposite happened. During the Golden Age, Greece grew its empire bigger than it had ever been.
Bio. "Pericles" biography.com, 2015. <http://www.biography.com/people/pericles-9437722#political-career
History. "Pericles" A&E, 2011. <http://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/pericles