Every year, for 15 consequent years the Athenians were voting him to be the leader of their city. He was born in Athens around 495 BC into a wealthy family. His mother was related to Cleisthenes and his father was a famous general who fought against the Persians.
We know very little about his earlier years accept that he most certainly left shortly from Athens during the battle of Salamis, when the generals led by Themistocles urged the immediate evacuation of Athens. He was educated by famous philosophers of his time.
In 472 BC he became famous when the play he had sponsored by the playwright Aeschylus called ôThe Persians ô won first prize.
In 461 BC he took his first major steps in politics by aliening himself with another politician named Ephialtes. Together they quashed the powers of the old noble council. After Ephialtes was assassinated, and with the banishment of Cimon, who was his chief political adversary, he assumed the leading position in the state. For the next ten years he led several military and naval expeditions that led to unprecedented outward expansion of Athenian power. After the setting up of the naval alliance called the Delian League a peace treaty was signed with Persia.
In 451 BC Pericles pioneered radical changes to Athenian democracy. He introduced the policy of payment from the public treasury for state services such as jurymen and he limited citizenship to only those of Athenian parentage on both sides.