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Pericles of Athens and the Dangers of Democracy (lecture)

Date: Thursday, June 5, 2008
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Location: Getty Villa, Auditorium
Admission: Free; a ticket is required.

Pericles is closely associated with "Golden Age of Athens" in the 400s B.C., a time of political, artistic, intellectual, and literary ferment. The statesman, general, and orator fostered democracy, created the Athenian empire, and helped mold Athens into the cultural center of the Greek universe. But how much praise does Pericles really deserve for Athens' achievements—and how much blame must he assume for the Peloponnesian War that would undermine its power?

Classicist Loren J. Samons II examines the legacy of the "first citizen of Athens," addressing questions that are still relevant to democratic societies today. Did Pericles' popularity stem in part from his ability to fund Athens' military might? Did his building program, which included the Acropolis, weaken the state's finances even as it created hundreds of jobs? Did Pericles encourage the Athenians to exploit their fellow Greeks in order to fund a radical and expensive form of government? And why did the people of Athens re-elect this controversial leader, even after his disastrous military miscalculations?

About Loren J. Samons
Loren J. Samons II is professor of classical studies at Boston University, where he received the Metcalf Award for excellence in teaching in 1998. He is the editor of The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Pericles (2007), a collection of essays that reveal the political, religious, economic, social, artistic, literary, intellectual, and military infrastructure that made the Age of Pericles possible.

Bust of Pericles

Samons is also the author of What's Wrong with Democracy? From Athenian Practice to American Worship (2004), Empire of the Owl: Athenian Imperial Finance (2000), and, with Charles W. Fornara, Athens from Cleisthenes to Pericles.

How to Get Here
The Getty Villa is located at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, California, approximately 25 miles west of downtown Los Angeles. See Hours, Directions, Parking for directions and parking information.

Parthenon / Stillman

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