Googles Tried: "Pericles", "Pericles suzerain", "Ancient democracy", "Greek democracy"
Most relevant things I've found: the wikipedia pages on the athenian democracy, Pericles, Ephialtes, Cleisthenes and Solon and this page on Athenian democracy
Also this page on Ancient Indian democracy (not that relevant to this particular question, but still interesting :))
I'm writing a story set in a society with a democracy based somewhat on that of ancient Athens. I have a character who is the leader of this country, and afaict Pericles or Ephialtes would act as a good model to start from. Unfortunately, I am rather confused by what it meant to be "The Leader of Athens" given that Athenian democracy was all about short term appointments and consensus by large groups of random people.
Pericles official position was one of the strategoi, the elected military leaders. Was he officially the head strategoi, or just in practice? He was also an orator, one of a group of speakers who often spoke at council meetings. Were these orators elected or officially chosen in some way or just popular speakers whose voices were listened to out of habit and respect? He's often referred to as the leader of Athens: was this official or just in practice? A few places refer to him as the "undisputed suzerain" of Athens, but as far as I can tell that just means "leader of Athens, which was as it happens a suzerainity".
Was Ephialtes position any different from Pericles? Pages refer vaguely to the democratic leaders after Pericles and before democracy fell (I tried looking them up on Wikipedia but couldn't find much), did they have official positions as "The Leader of Athens" or is this just talking about the strategoi and other men of political influence?
Also, I've seen several references to other greek city-states following Athens lead into democracy but cannot find a description of which states this was or how they implemented it anywhere.
Finally, a vague "just answer if you can think of something off the top of your head" question:
If there's any other sorts of leader-of-a-pre-modern-democracy you think is worth learning about please let me know (either the position or interesting individuals). I'm having trouble getting my head around any system of government that isn't either rigidly hierarchical or anachronistically modern (ie resembling the westminister system of my own country) for I am woefully ignorant of history and politics.