Athens was one of the first known democracies even after other Greek had cities set up their own democracies. They set up their own democracies while imitating the Athenian model. Pericles was the longest-serving leader in Athens. His death resulted in the Athenian democracy being interrupted twice by oligarchic revolution. This happened towards the end of the Peloponnesian war. Pericles was an influential leader in Athens during the cities golden age.
He led his army during the first two Peloponnesian wars and turned the Delian league into an Athenian empire. He loved the arts and literature and thus promoted them. The main reason Athens in the ancient Greek world is known as a prestigious educational and cultural Centre is because of Pericles constant promotion of the arts and literature. One of his best known projects that are still surviving is the Acropolis. Not only did it beautify the city but it also gave the people a source of income.
Some scholars refer to Pericles as a populist in his democratic style of ruling. Others admire his style of ruling. He was submissive to his people; ready to yield to their every wish. His political opponent, Archimadas, admitted that Pericles was a better fighter than he was because even when he lost in battle, he would still manage to persuade the crowd that he had won fair and square.
Ancient historians viewed him as a man who was not easily swayed by the greed for money, although he was altogether indifferent to money-making. He is known to have bribed his way through certain incidents. For instance, in order to diffuse an imminent threat in Attica, he bribed and negotiated till eventually the Sparta army was free to return home.
Pericles is admired for being able to expel the barbarians from the Thracian Peninsula in 447 BC. His main aim was to establish Athenian colonists in the area. Pericles had conservative opponents who rebelled against the democratic factions.
Critics however emphasize that Pericles was not an authoritative leader. He depended largely on popular support to govern and this was obvious during the Peloponnesian war. He was simply a charismatic face that acted as if to take advice from his advisors or his people.
Before Julius Caesar came to power, an emperor ruled Rome and its empire. Before then, it was not ruled by an emperor but by consuls. The Roman citizens elected the consuls. The Roman society was stratified such that it had been divided into three classes: the Patricians, the Plebians and the slaves. The Patricians were the wealthiest people in Rome and lived in big houses. They had slaves for workers. The Plebians were not as wealthy and had to work for a living. The slaves, however, had no rights in Rome and were not allowed to vote. Magistrates, senates and tribunes were elected by the Roman citizens. Women however, were not allowed to vote.
The two consuls that were elected had to be in sync and agree on all decisions. They only served one term and would be eligible for an election after ten years. The magistrates were responsible for maintaining law and order and managing the countries financial affairs. They were eligible to become senates, once they were retirement. The tribunes, however, were there to make sure that the people of Rome received fair treatment and justice.
The Roman emperor received advice from the senate which mainly consisted of retired magistrates. This gave him insight on how to rule Rome and the empire. The magistrates had a lot of knowledge about the country’s governmental issues and this made them most suitable for this post. In addition, they were required to give advice to the consuls when necessary.
Living in Athens would have been a disaster according to critics because they believed Pericles rule in Athens was a form of imperialism which denied true democracy. This ultimately destroyed Athens in the long run. On the other hand, living in Rome before the Julius Caesar era may have been a disaster because the society was highly stratified. This denied many people, such as women, opportunities in life.