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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the life and influence of the most powerful statesman in the new democracy of Athens, flourishing between the Persian and Peloponnesian wars.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Pericles (495-429BC), the statesman who dominated the politics of Athens for thirty years, the so-called Age of Pericles, when the city’s cultural life flowered, its democracy strengthened as its empire grew, and the Acropolis was adorned with the Parthenon. In 431 BC he gave a funeral oration for those Athenians who had already died in the new war with Sparta which has been celebrated as one of the greatest speeches of all time, yet within two years he was dead from a plague made worse by Athenians crowding into their city to avoid attacks. Thucydides, the historian, knew him and was in awe of him, yet few shared that view until the nineteenth century, when they found much in Pericles to praise, an example for the Victorian age.


Edith Hall
Professor of Classics at King's College London.

Paul Cartledge
AG Leventis Senior Research Fellow at Clare College, University of Cambridge


Peter Liddel
Senior Lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Manchester

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Available now

49 minutes

Last on

Thu 17 Sep 2020 21:30


Edith Hall at King's College London

Paul Cartledge at the University of Cambridge

Peter Liddel at the University of Manchester

‘The Greatest Speech of all Time: Pericles' Funeral Oration’ - A lecture by Edith Hall, Visiting Professor of Classics, Gresham College, 2019

Demos: Classical Athenian Democracy

Athenian Agora Excavations

Pericles – Wikipedia


Vincent Azoulay (trans. Janet Lloyd), Pericles of Athens (Princeton University Press, 2014)

Madeleine M. Henry, Prisoner of History: Aspasia of Miletus and Her Biographical Tradition (Oxford University Press, 1997)

Jeffrey M. Hurwit, The Acropolis in the Age of Pericles (Cambridge University Press, 2004)

Donald Kagan, Pericles of Athens and the Birth of Democracy (Free Press, 1990)

Robin Osborne, Short Oxford History of Europe: Classical Greece (Oxford University Press, 2000)

Plutarch (trans. Ian Scott-Kilvert), The Rise and Fall of Athens: Nine Lives (Penguin, 1973), especially Life of Pericles

Plutarch (trans. Robin Waterfield), Greek Lives (Oxford University Press, 2008), especially Life of Pericles

Anthony J. Podlecki, Perikles and his Circle (Routledge, 1997)

Anthony J. Podlecki, Plutarch: Life of Pericles - A Companion to the Penguin Translation (Bristol Classical Press, 1998)

P.J. Rhodes, A History of the Classical Greek World, 478–323 BC (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010)

Loren J. Samons II, The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Pericles (Cambridge University Press, 2007)

Philip A. Stadter, A Commentary on Plutarch's Pericles (University of North Carolina Press, 1989)

Robert B. Strassler (ed.), The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War (Simon & Schuster, 1998)

Thucydides (trans. Richard Crawley), The History of the Peloponnesian War (Barnes & Noble, 2006)

Thucydides (trans. Martin Hammond), The Peloponnesian War (Oxford University Press, 2009), especially book 2 chapter 65

Thucydides (trans. Jeremy Mynott), The War of the Peloponnesians and the Athenians (Cambridge University Press)

Stephen V. Tracy, Pericles: A Sourcebook and Reader (University of California Press, 2009)


  • Thu 17 Sep 2020 09:00
  • Thu 17 Sep 2020 21:30

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