Understanding the politics of Pericles around 450 BC: The benefits of an economic perspective

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPaper in conference proceeding


Pericles is usually viewed as a great statesman and clever leader of the Athenians. In the mid-fifth century BC, however, he seems to have been in serious political trouble and may well have been in danger of losing a political struggle against his opponent Kimon. The fact that his incentives changed considerably at this point in time seems to have escaped attention in the literature. In contrast, we see this fierce competition as a motivation for several important policy measures that Pericles introduced at this particular time: the pay to jurors, the new law on citizenship (which has been a puzzle to many historians), and the building projects on the Acropolis and elsewhere. An economic rational-actor approach thus provides a diachronic analytical benefit by focusing on the way in which incentives change over time and a synchronic benefit by considering various decisions in a common framework.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Classical Archaeology and Ancient History
  • Economics


  • economics, ancient history, Athens, Pericles, law on citizenship, payment to jurors
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAncient History and Contemporary Social Science
EditorsMirko Canevaro, Andrew Erskine, Benjamin Grey, Josiah Ober
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
ISBN (Print)978-1-4744-2177-5
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jul
Publication categoryResearch

Publication series

NameEdinburgh Leventis Studies