Lived:495-429 BC
The great-nephew of Cleisthenes (the founder of Athenian democracy), Pericles led Athens to the height of its political power, wealth, and artistic achievement. He dominated Athenian politics from 460 BC until his death in 429. His policy was that of extending Athenian control over Greece to to the north and their political power in the Delian League, while supporting more democratic reforms in Athens. He saw Athens through the Persian wars, which ended in 448 BC. The 15 years of peace following the wars with Persia are considered to be the Golden Age of Athenian culture, during which time such monuments as the Parthenon and The Temple of Athena Nike were built. Athens became the most populous city-state in Greece, but this power and wealth drew competition from Sparta in the Peloponnesian War, which began in 431 BC. When the Spartans besieged Athens, the harsh conditions inside caused the spread of a plague which killed 1/3 of the population, including Pericles himself in 429 BC. Though Sparta won the war, a popular uprising ultimately liberated the city of Athens and restored the democracy.