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Périclès

Date de naissance: 494 av. J.-C.
Date de décès: 429 av. J.-C.

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Périclès , né à Athènes vers 495 av. J.-C. et mort dans cette même ville en 429 av. J.-C., est un éminent et influent stratège, orateur et homme d'État athénien durant l'âge d'or de la cité, plus précisément entre les guerres médiques et la guerre du Péloponnèse. Il est le fils de l'homme politique Xanthippe et d’Agaristé, laquelle appartient à la puissante famille des Alcméonides.

Périclès fait de la Ligue de Délos un empire athénien et mène ses compatriotes au cours des deux premières années de la guerre du Péloponnèse. Il a eu une influence si profonde sur la société athénienne que Thucydide, un historien contemporain, le qualifie de « premier citoyen de sa patrie » et que son époque est parfois appelée le « siècle de Périclès ». Les sources sur sa vie sont nombreuses mais discordantes ; Périclès a marqué ses contemporains et les générations suivantes à Athènes, dans le monde hellénistique, puis romain : il existe de nombreuses sources littéraires antiques à son sujet dont les auteurs sont parfois devenus des classiques. Ces sources riches en renseignements ne sont jamais neutres et leurs orientations ont fait l'objet de nombreux débats historiographiques.

Il s'illustre également dans la promotion des arts, une des principales raisons pour lesquelles Athènes détient la réputation d'être le centre éducatif et culturel du monde grec antique. Il est à l'origine du projet de construction de la plupart des structures encore présentes aujourd'hui sur l'Acropole d'Athènes dont le Parthénon. En outre, il favorise la démocratie athénienne à tel point que des critiques le qualifient de démagogue.

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Citations Périclès

„Time is the wisest counselor of all.“

—  Pericles
As quoted in Until Tomorrow Comes (1979) by Orville E. Kelly, p. 160

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„Future ages will wonder at us, as the present age wonders at us now.“

—  Pericles
Context: Future ages will wonder at us, as the present age wonders at us now. We do not need the praises of a Homer, or of anyone else whose words may delight us for the moment, but the estimation of facts will fall short of what is really true. As quoted in Eternal Greece (1961) by Rex Warner, p. 34

„They gave her their lives, to her and to all of us, and for their own selves they won praises that never grow old, the most splendid of sepulchers — not the sepulchre in which their bodies are laid, but where their glory remains eternal in men's minds, always there on the right occasion to stir others to speech or to action. For famous men have the whole earth as their memorial: it is not only the inscriptions on their graves in their own country that mark them out; no, in foreign lands also, not in any visible form but in people's hearts, their memory abides and grows. It is for you to try to be like them. Make up your minds that happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous.“

—  Pericles
Context: I could tell you a long story (and you know it as well as I do) about what is to be gained by beating the enemy back. What I would prefer is that you should fix your eyes every day on the greatness of Athens as she realty is, and should fall in love with her. When you realize her greatness, then reflect that what made her great was men with a spirit of adventure, men who knew their duty, men who were ashamed to fall below a certain standard. If they ever failed in an enterprise, they made up their minds that at any rate the city should not find their courage lacking to her, and they gave to her the best contribution that they could. They gave her their lives, to her and to all of us, and for their own selves they won praises that never grow old, the most splendid of sepulchers — not the sepulchre in which their bodies are laid, but where their glory remains eternal in men's minds, always there on the right occasion to stir others to speech or to action. For famous men have the whole earth as their memorial: it is not only the inscriptions on their graves in their own country that mark them out; no, in foreign lands also, not in any visible form but in people's hearts, their memory abides and grows. It is for you to try to be like them. Make up your minds that happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous. Book 2, chapter 44: Funeral oration, as translated at "In Defense of Democracy" http://www.cooperativeindividualism.org/pericles_in-defense-of-democracy.html Verse 4 is sometimes freely translated as The secret to happiness is freedom. And the secret to freedom is courage.

„What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.“

—  Pericles
As quoted in Flicker to Flame : Living with Purpose, Meaning, and Happiness (2006) by Jeffrey Thompson Parker, p. 118 This quotation is likely a modern paraphrasing of a longer passage from Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War, II.43.3.

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„We do not say that a man who takes no interest in politics is a man who minds his own business; we say that he has no business here at all.“

—  Pericles
Pericles commenting the participation of Athenian citizens in politics, as quoted in Models of Democracy (2006) by David Held, Stanford University Press, p. 14. Book II, chapter 40.

„Although only a few may originate a policy, we are all able to judge it.“

—  Pericles
As quoted in The Open Society and Its Enemies by Karl Popper (1966). Book II, chapter 40.

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