Pericles of Athens
Pericles has had the rare distinction of giving his name to an entire period of history, embodying what has often been taken as the golden age of the ancient Greek world. "Periclean" Athens witnessed tumultuous political and military events, and achievements of the highest order in philosophy, drama, poetry, oratory, and architecture. Pericles of Athens is the first book in more than two decades to reassess the life and legacy of one of the greatest generals, orators, and statesmen of the classical world. In this compelling critical biography, Vincent Azoulay provides an unforgettable portrait of Pericles and his turbulent era, shedding light on his powerful family, his patronage of the arts, and his unrivaled influence on Athenian politics and culture. He takes a fresh look at both the classical and modern reception of Pericles, recognizing his achievements as well as his failings while deftly avoiding the adulatory or hypercritical positions staked out by some scholars today. From Thucydides and Plutarch to Voltaire and Hegel, ancient and modern authors have questioned the great statesman's relationship with democracy and Athenian society. Did Pericles hold supreme power over willing masses or was he just a gifted representative of popular aspirations? Was Periclean Athens a democracy in name only, as Thucydides suggests? This is the enigma that Azoulay investigates in this groundbreaking book. Pericles of Athens offers a balanced look at the complex life and afterlife of the legendary "first citizen of Athens" who presided over the birth of democracy.show more
- Hardback | 312 pages
- 154 x 236 x 26mm | 559.99g
- 21 Jul 2014
- Princeton University Press
- New Jersey, United States
- . ed.
- 10 halftones. 5 line illus. 1 map.
Other books in Biography: Historical, Political & Military
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"Fascinating... Azoulay has given us much to think about."--Peter Green, London Review of Books "Less a biography than a critical examination of the Pericles legend. Mr. Azoulay analyzes by turns the many facets of this legend--Pericles' role as orator, as military leader, as builder of the Parthenon and other great shrines--adducing an impressive but often inconsistent array of ancient sources to address each one... Azoulay reminds us of how unclear the life of Pericles remains, but one learns much from his efforts to penetrate the fog."--James Romm, Wall Street Journal "Striking a balance between adulation and hypercriticism, the author depicts Pericles as a formidable strategos overseeing grandiose public works, including the Parthenon, Odeon, and Long Walls linking Athens to its port of Piraeus, while inwardly mastering the art of remaining silent and suffering 'outrageous assaults without striking back.'... Solid, well-researched ... a worthwhile addition for lovers of ancient history and classical Greece."--Publishers Weekly "[Azoulay] writes with great clarity, and with an impressive depth of interpretative sophistication."--From the foreword by Paul Cartledge "Remarkable in every way."--Roger-Pol Droit, Le Monde "Rigorous and finely argued."--Pascal Payen, Bryn Mawr Classical Review "Should you read it? If you want to know more about the period of the Peloponnesian War in ancient Greece or more about the strategos himself, despite Azoulay's comments about Pericles' lack of significance for our time, then, definitely. You might also want to read it for the survey of changing attitudes towards the Classics over the centuries."--N.S. Gill's Ancient Matters "Writing with precision and avoiding cliches and anachronisms, Azoulay carefully balances the credibility of classical sources. He presents a convincing account of the strategos in the Athens that emerged from the Persian Wars as a fragile democracy in which Pericles played a central role... Azoulay has provided us with a valuable new biography."--Benjamin Bilski, Standpoint "A masterfully crisp study... The tidiness Azoulay achieves is astonishing... An elegiac epilogue... Azoulay's marvellous study should revive [Pericles]."--Iona McLaren, The Telegraph "Azoulay [offers] a balanced tale of ancient Athens's most famous famous leader, complete with all his faults and attributes... Azoulay provides a fascinating study on the complexity of Pericles's personality... [He] has added a very sound, much needed biographical volume to the scholarship of classical Greece."--Choice "[F]ascinating...Azoulay is one of France's most coruscating classicists...With a pellucid foreword by the peerless British ancient historian Paul Cartledge, maps, illuminating figures...it is indispensable reading for historians. The elegant, pungent prose of the translation itself is exquisite...An intellectual feast awaits those interested in the problems of extracting truth about any particular historical figure from a maze of discordant voices."--Edith Hall, Literary Reviewshow more
Back cover copy
"This is a wonderful book, a must-read for anyone who cares about ancient Greece and its legacy. Vincent Azoulay gives us the complete Pericles--clever general, brilliant orator, crafty politician, cruel imperialist, and passionate lover. He offers us an eye-opening tour of Pericles' city of Athens in all its classical glory and with all of its ancient horrors intact. And he shows us why Pericles and Athens have never been forgotten. The scholarship is up to the minute and the story is told with great panache. Whether he is viewed from the perspective of ancient evidence or modern reinvention, Pericles of Athens will never look the same."--Josiah Ober, Stanford University "Azoulay's book is highly accessible to the general public, yet stimulating to the scholar for its insightful interpretations of the complexity of Pericles' relationship to the Athenian people. Azoulay hews a middle road between traditions that idealize Pericles and others that vilify him. Painting a subtle portrait of a man who was a key player in the most glorious years of the Athenian democracy, Azoulay succeeds in evoking both the man and the era."--Sara Forsdyke, University of Michigan "Azoulay follows the many lives of Pericles--Athenian aristocrat, bruising young man in a hurry, charismatic and lonely democratic politician, visionary, confidence man, man with a plan at the start of an ultimately uncontrollable world war, and cipher for the Athens of our desires or our fears--in an extraordinarily surefooted, accessible, and shrewd work of deep history that has much to tell us about Pericles, ancient Athens, democratic politics, and our investment in ancient Greek history."--John Ma, University of Oxford "This impressive book successfully strikes a critical balance between the excessive praise and hypercriticism that have dominated scholarship in recent decades. "Pericles of Athens" is accessible to a broad readership including students and nonspecialists, but will be of interest to scholars as well."--Kurt Raaflaub, author of "The Discovery of Freedom in Ancient Greece"show more
About Vincent Azoulay
Vincent Azoulay is assistant professor of ancient Greek history at the Universite Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallee and a leading expert on the politics of classical Greece.show more