"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." - Pericles
In conjunction with the founding of democracy, Athens ushered in the "Golden Age" of the Ancient Greeks. This saw the invention or mastery of everything from mathematics and engineering to philosophy and art. Among the Athenians, none were as influential as Pericles, the West's first great statesman.
Leading Athens for upwards of 40 years between the Second Persian War and the Peloponnesian War, Pericles has become an idealized figure over the last millennia, but he was a polarizing figure among his contemporaries. According to some, he was an honest and upstanding politician, while for others he was the lowest kind of demagogue. They thought he was a political opportunist whose ability to wriggle free of criticism was best summed up by the typically pithy comment of his rival Thucydides (not to be confused by the famous historian of the same name, one of the main sources for Pericles's life). When asked who the better fighter was, Thucydides replied, "Pericles - even when he loses, he still convinces the Athenians he's won"