Who is Pericles and what significant actions did he undertake?

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Pericles was an Athenian politician, the leader of faction within Athens that pushed for both democratic reforms within Athens, and, more importantly, the expansion and strengthening of an Athenian empire. Pericles sought to do this by converting the Delian League, a system of military alliances created to fight off the Persians, into an empire dominated by Athens. In particular, he began using the tributes paid by member city-states to finance building projects in Athens. Pericles turned also to military conquest, forcing some city-states to join the Delian League. Athenian expansionism under Pericles eventually brought it into conflict with Sparta, which used its influence to encourage some members of the Delian League to revolt. Pericles managed to suppress these revolts, and to maintain peace with Sparta through bribery and diplomatic maneuvering, but in 431 BC, the Peloponnesian War broke out. It was Pericles who came up with the strategy of securing the Athenian population within the city walls while Spartan forces ransacked the countryside. It was effective, but it led to the outbreak of plague, which many Athenians blamed on Pericles. The Athenian leader himself died of the disease in 429. His "Funeral Oration," which has achieved canonical status among students of rhetoric, famously extolled the virtues of Athenian democracy. 

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Pericles was a general in Athens, Greece in ancient times.  He was very influential during the Peloponnesian War.  Pericles was not just a warrior, however.  He wanted to turn Athens into a cultural center, focusing on education and the arts.

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