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Pericles of Athens$
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Vincent Azoulay

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691154596

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691154596.001.0001

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After Pericles: The Decline of Athens?

After Pericles: The Decline of Athens?

(p.127) Chapter 9 After Pericles: The Decline of Athens?
Pericles of Athens

Vincent Azoulay

, Janet Lloyd
Princeton University Press

This chapter considers the notion that Pericles' death marked the starting point of Athens's decadence. In The Peloponnesian War, Thucydides asserts that the death of Pericles was a turning point in the history of Athens. He describes Pericles' “reign” as a clear dividing line between a community led by a virtuous elite and a democratic city abandoned to the hands of kakoi—the despicable demagogues. The chapter first considers the claim that the death of Pericles opened the door to “demagogues” who led Athens to disaster, in contrast to the stratēgos who led the city to its greatest achievements. It then examines the argument of the Socratic authors—Plato, Xenophon, and Antisthenes—that Pericles was incapable of educating his contemporaries. It also discusses the relations between Pericles and democracy by drawing on Plato's analyses.

Keywords:   democracy, Athens, The Peloponnesian War, Thucydides, death, Pericles, demagogues, Plato, Xenophon, Antisthenes

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