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.

Play on BBC Sounds website


  • Edith Hall 19 episodes
    Professor of Classics at King's College London
  • Paul Cartledge 21 episodes
    AG Leventis Senior Research Fellow at Clare College, University of Cambridge
  • Peter Liddel No other episodes
    Senior Lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Manchester

Reading list

  • Pericles of Athens
    Vincent Azoulay (trans. Janet Lloyd) (Princeton University Press, 2014) Google Books →
  • Prisoner of History: Aspasia of Miletus and Her Biographical Tradition
    Madeleine M. Henry (Oxford University Press, 1997) Google Books →
  • The Acropolis in the Age of Pericles
    Jeffrey M. Hurwit (Cambridge University Press, 2004) Google Books →
  • Pericles of Athens and the Birth of Democracy
    Donald Kagan (Free Press, 1990) Google Books →
  • Short Oxford History of Europe: Classical Greece
    Robin Osborne (Oxford University Press, 2000)
  • The Rise and Fall of Athens: Nine Lives
    Plutarch (trans. Ian Scott-Kilvert) (Penguin, 1973) Google Books →
  • Greek Lives
    Plutarch (trans. Robin Waterfield) (Oxford University Press, 2008) Google Books →
  • Perikles and his Circle
    Anthony J. Podlecki (Routledge, 1997) Google Books →
  • Plutarch: Life of Pericles - A Companion to the Penguin Translation
    Anthony J. Podlecki (Bristol Classical Press, 1998)
  • A History of the Classical Greek World, 478-323 BC
    P.J. Rhodes (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010) Google Books →
  • The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Pericles
    Loren J. Samons II (Cambridge University Press, 2007) Google Books →
  • A Commentary on Plutarch's Pericles
    Philip A. Stadter (University of North Carolina Press, 1989) Google Books →
  • The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War
    Robert B. Strassler (ed.) (Simon & Schuster, 1998) Google Books →
  • The History of the Peloponnesian War
    Thucydides (trans. Richard Crawley) (Barnes & Noble, 2006) Google Books →
  • The Peloponnesian War
    Thucydides (trans. Martin Hammond) (Oxford University Press, 2009) Google Books →
  • The War of the Peloponnesians and the Athenians
    Thucydides (trans. Jeremy Mynott) (Cambridge University Press ) Google Books →
  • Pericles: A Sourcebook and Reader
    Stephen V. Tracy (University of California Press, 2009) Google Books →

Related episodes

Programme ID: m000mk25

Episode page:

Auto-category: 938.05 (Classical Greece)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, we're back with a new series.