Pericles ruled in ancient Greece from 461 BC until 429 BC. This period of time was called the Golden Age of Greece. Pericles became a politician as a young man. He and Ephiatles, who was also a politician, led a vote in the popular assembly. This vote caused major political changes in Athens. Pericles used this opportunity to gain power. He became the ruler of Athens. In this role, he promoted democracy. In doing this, he also promoted voting for men in a direct democracy. It was Pericles who organized construction of the Parthenon, and also the Acropolis. Conservative leaders criticized the money that Pericles spent on building projects. Pericles challenged these criticisms.
As an strong public speaker, Pericles was convincing and popular. He was able to sway opinions before a vote because of these talents. Those who were against democracy were concerned that a popular man or a convincing speaker could control the vote. In one of his popular speeches, Pericles said the following:
When it is a question of settling private disputes, everyone is equal before the law; when it is a question of putting one person before another in positions of public responsibility, what counts is not membership of a particular class, but the actual ability which the man possesses.