From the beginning of the article:
I start from Thucydides, 2.65: in 430, after deposing Perikles from his generalship of 431/0 (which is mentioned by Diod. 12.45.4 and Plut. Per. 35.4-5 but not by Thucydides), the Athenians again “elected him general and entrusted the whole conduct of affairs to him” (2.65.4); he “held the masses on a light rein, and led them rather than let them lead him” (2.65.8); “the result was in theory democracy but in fact rule by the first man” (2.65.9). Elsewhere in Book 2 we read that at the time of the Peloponnesian invasion in 431 Perikles “refused to call an assembly or any kind of meeting, fearing that the people might make a mistake if they met in a spirit of passion rather than judgment” (2.22.1); but at the time of the second invasion in 430, when the Athenians’ commitment to the war was wavering, “he called a meeting (since he was still in office as general)” (2.59.3).
My concern in this paper is not with Thucydides’ representation of Perikles but with the system in which Perikles and the other Athenian politicians had to work. If it is wrong to talk of Perikles as “prime minister of Athens”, and of such entities as the “moderate democratic party” or the “war party”, as people used to talk, how ought we to talk? Did the Athenians, could the Athenians, “entrust the whole conduct of affairs” to Perikles? What formal powers could a Perikles or a Kleon possess? What further means of exercising influence did they have, in addition to their formal powers? How far was anybody able to work out a policy for Athens and to see that Athens followed that policy? If there was not anything like a “moderate democratic party” or a “war party”,'what groups of like-minded citizens were there?