After the assassination of Efialte (461), Pericles becomes for three decades, radical democracy leader, making its entire political program, thus Athens’ democracy reaches it’s peak.
Pericles initiated the construction of long walls of Athens and Piraeus and Faleron (462-445), the fight against Sparta and Persia (supported by a body of Athenian expedition,trying to step out of Egypt under the domination ahemenida), participate as a strateg in the battle from Tanagra (457) gradually transforming it into an Athenian empire.
Pericles is often referred to as the founder of democracy in Athens. However, recent critical studies have cast doubt on this and describe the formation of democracy as a slow process. The credit for creating the first democracy on earth goes to social, political and economic circumstances which a single individual could influence, but not create.
Pericles began to fall out of favor in Athens while still being able to maintain power. The Spartans attacked and he ordered that Athens should prepare for a siege. Unfortunately, during the siege, a plague spread through Athens and its allies, but not to its enemies, killing many, including Pericles himself and most of his family. However, after Pericles lost his last Athenian son, the Athenians allowed a change in the law that made Pericles’ non-Athenian son a citizen and legitimate heir.
Unfortunately the information we have about Pericles is highly distorted by centuries of legends and myth. The biography most people rely on is written by Plutarch, who lived about 500 years after Pericles. Plutarch was more interested in studying the character of men than in writing history. Pericles is also featured in Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, which includes accounts of several of Pericles’ speeches.
The speeches of Pericles were not written down and preserved. However, Thucydides in his history of the Peloponnesian War provides some idea of Pericles’ power as an orator.