Alcibiades was the ward and relative of Pericles, he was also a student of Socrates, who saved his life when they served together in the army.

He was the primary driving influence behind the Sicilian Expedition, winning over support despite the opposition of Nicias, a much more experienced general. It is believed that Alcibiades saw Sicily as more than just an asset against Sparta and that his real goal was to create a permanent Athenian presence on Sicily. Once the Peloponnesian War was over this would allow him to bring Athens into conflict with Carthage, who also had a significant interest in Sicily. If Athens could defeat Carthage, they would be able to expand significantly into the western Mediterranean. For Alcibiades this would make his career as offensive wars generated more supporters at home with the inflow of plunder and later tribute.

Unfortunately Alcibiades lost control of the expedition after he was recalled to Athens to face charges over the mutilation of the herms. The herms were statues of Hermes placed outside doors and they had prominent genitalia, the night before the expedition a large group cut the genitalia off almost all of the statues in Athens. Most believe that it was more than a drunken prank due to the scale of the vandalism. Also most doubt Alcibiades involvement since he would not be looking to damage his expedition. Alcibiades did the smart thing in not returning to Athens when he was accused since his supporters were all with him on the ships, and the Athenian mob could be very harsh in their judgements. However when he went to Sparta and tried to convince them to go to Sicily he became a traitor. Athens later requested him back in desperation and he obliged but again there was a disagreement, this time after the naval defeat at Notium and he retired to family land in Thrace. He was assassinated in a move engineered by Lysander and the Thirty Tyrants.

Alcibiades was an attention seeker, apparently the first time he entered the Assembly he had a quail under his cloak, the bird reacted badly and he ended up chasing it around the Assembly. Alcibiades also managed to get the wife of King Agis of Sparta pregnant. Interestingly enough Thucydides' opinion of Alcibiades's appears to change through his work, some historians theorise that since both lived in Thrace, Alcibiades had a chance to put across his own arguments for his actions.

Alcibiades was an ambitious and charismatic leader of men, had he not changed sides it is possible that the Athenians would have won the Second Peloponnesian War

A good-looking, if lisping, Athenian citizen and statesman, friend of Socrates and one of those biographied by Roman historian Plutarch in his Nine Greek Lives. He lived a life of adventure and intrigue, from 450 to 404 BCE. Aside from his biography in Plutarch, he is documented in Plato's "Symposium," as the leader of a wild drunken bunch of revelers who briefly crash the party, where he criticizes Socrates for, among other things, not loving him like a man when they were out on campaign together. Thucydides and few of the playwrights also mention this dashing, conceited, well-spoken and frustrating young man.

Despite his lisp, Alcibiades seems always to have been popular, which of course means envied and loathed outside his circle, and made and remade enemies constantly. He was always good looking and charming, throughout all stages of his life, on account of his "his happy constitution and natural vigor of body," according to Plutarch. He aged well, and his lisp seemed to suit his quick manner of speech.

He was always ambitious and persuasive of speech. Once, when young, he was nearly bested in a wrestling match, but bit his opponent's hand. The defeated lad criticized, "You bite like a woman," to which Alcibiades retorted, "No, like a lion." Throughout his life, he was always to justify the means by the ends, and, whenever possible, in flowing speech. People led him on to thrust his ambition into politics, and only Socrates tried to humble him.

He gained his wife Hipparete by dubious means--having dreadfully insulted her father and later coming to him in such an extravagant show of obeisance that her father gave him not only his girl but also a good deal of silver. He was, however, so unfaithful that she soon left him and abode in her brother's house, though Al wouldn't give her a divorce.

The Peloponnesian War, which had been going on all his life, gave Alcibiades a vast array of leadership opportunities. He was a decent general, but not an exceedingly loyal one. Indeed, he switched sides several times during the war. When working for Sparta--a notoriously militaristic state--he ate black beans and hard bread with the other Spartans and easily gave up the "exorbitant luxury and wantonness, in his eating and drinking and dissolute living" Plutarch credits him with in Athens. He was able to go back to former friends a number of times and talk his way back into their confidence.

This, however, could not last. In the end, he had made too many enemies. Living in exile from Athens, he was assassinated by barbarians at night. A cultural icon, a manipulator of the system, a royal wise-ass, a rogue about town, Alcibiades was one of the greatest our civilization has ever known, and he is missed by some of his twenty-first century heirs.

Plutarch is highly recommended for details on his, and others', stories.

Along with Alexander the Great, one of the preeminent military strategists of antiquity. Unlike Alexander, however, Alkibiades was neither 1. a gentleman or 2. the head of a nation. Alkibiades was, within a period of 10 years from 415 BC when the Sicilian Expedition left Athens until Antiochus' failure at Notium in 406, the lead military strategist of 1. Athens, 2. Sparta, and 3. the Persian Empire. He was one of the most charismatic figures in all of recorded history, as demonstrated by his ability to continualy realign his political sympathies.

While still a young soldier, he rose to power as an orator in Athens during the period after the outbreak of the 2nd Peloponnesian War (commonly known as The Peloponnesian War, 431 BC - 405 BC). He is also famous for serving in an early battle of the war at the side of Socrates, many years his senior, and thereafter developing an erotic obsession with the philosopher. There is historical evidence to support the possibility that they engaged in a sexual relationship, although Socrates generally was repulsed by Alkibiades' demeanor and politicaly inclined nature.

The day after Athenian forces departed for the fateful Sicilian Expedition of 415 BC, there occured in Athens what is commonly called the Defamation of the Hermes (pronounced 'Hurms'). The Hermes were small statues of the god Hermes with an erect phallus that stood outside nearly every building in Athens as a kind of good-luck charm. While this may seem odd in modern times, it would be analogous to a group covertly chopping off the tops of all crucifixes in churches or other buildings in New York City -- it would be rather unsettling to many people. The day after the forces left Athens, citizens of the city woke up to find that almost all of the Hermes had been attacked and defaced during the night. There was an ensuing investigation by the government of Athens, which found out almost no information about the event whatsoever. Based on how little information had been unearthed during the investigation, the investigators began to suspect that the Defamation was one part in a highly organized attempt by a covert faction to overthrow the government of Athens. The investigation quickly broadened to include any enemies of the polis of Athens, and Alkibiades' political oponents used it as a way to put him out of favor in the city during his absence. He was was implicated in the event and recalled to Athens to face trial.

Rather than return, however, Alkibiades fled to Sparta, the polis with which Athens was engaged in war. He was recieved by the kings of Sparta, and on his advice the kings seized Dekeleia and fortified it in 413. Alkibiades' time in Sparta was short-lived, however, because he was found to be having an affair with one of the kings' wife, who gave birth to a child widely suspected to be Alkibiades'. He fled from Sparta in 412, and was recieved by the satrap Tissaphernes of Persia. He stayed there briefly until 411, until the recently reinstated democracy of Athens voted to recall him. He did not return to Athens, but assumed command of a fleet in Samos and campaigned in the Cherosonese.

After recovering Byzantium, he returned to a hero's welcome at Athens in 408. He resumed campaigning in the Cherosonese later that year, and continued to win battles over the Spartan navy (which sucked). He continued to command his fleet until 406, when he made the tragic mistake of leaving his friend Antiochus in charge of his fleet for a few short days with explicit instruction to NOT ENGAGE THE PERSIANS IN A NAVAL BATTLE. Antiochus, possibly seeing the opportunity to make a name for himself, engaged the Persians in 406 at the battle of Notium and suffered a defeat. Alkibiades was held responsible and, less than 2 full years after he had been hailed as a hero by the citizens of the polis of Athens and welcomed back, they expelled him again (read: why democracy sucks). He retired to a castle he owned on the Cherosonese, and lived out his days there until he turned into senile. He tried to consul the Athenian commander before the disasterous 'battle' of Aegospotamai, but the commander was unwilling to listen to Alkibiades' advice to not leave his ships unmanned during the soldiers' lunch breaks, and the massacre occured.

I hope I have as much fun in my life as this guy did. He belongs in the same class of military strategists as Alexander, Phillip, Leonidas, Hannibal, Cincinatus, Scipio, Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, et al.

He was one of those people that everyone loves. You've met them; they're everywhere. Handsome, charming, soft spoken; and not arrogant - never arrogant, he was, after all, an aristocrat, but an aristocrat of the people.

He lisped; so what's a lisp? Demothscenes lisped. He taught himself to speak around his lisp, to speak so loud, and clear, and smoothly, without any alteration in his tone, that even his enemies would listen to him go on in the Agora and be amazed, and be worried about their ability to keep their adherents to their own point of view.

And yet, they all admired him. Oh how well the guy knew how to live! Women, power, war, and wine; if he wanted it he had it, because he was charming and charm is clearly a gift from the gods. The men loved him; the women loved him; even Socrates, the incorruptible, had to fight with his own soul, late at night, in his chambers, telling himself: "Virtue is more important than lust; virtue is more important than lust".

Oh, sure, there were things wrong with him; Pericles taught him, after all. Great man, built the Parthenon; but wasn't he the ruin of the state? Very well, then, not the ruin; but he did piss off some important people. And a dissimulator, too: they say he used to drop all his aristocratic friends the moment he went into politics; taught himself to hang around the markets, buying the cheapest vegetables and fruit. Alcibiades had a bid of that in him, to be sure; why he could use his charm to convince you of something one day, and damn, convince you of the opposite the next.

Money, women, (whores), and wine - he had it all; but he wanted Glory. It was the day's of Glory: who didn't want it. And where was Glory to be had? Sicily. Sicily was just sitting there, in the middle of the water, large, fertile, and rich. It just wanted to be taken and the Athenians had a right to it, a birthright!

What birthright? Better not go into the details. The details didn't really matter anyway, not to the Hoi Polloi and the elite: well, they were as willing to turn a blind eye in an excuse as everybody else.

The only problem Alcibiades had, charming as he was, was: he had enemies. Athens was just that kind of country; they invented the ostracism you know: pick someone popular, put his name in a jar, and if enough people vote for him, out he goes for ten years; for some half-baked reason or no reason at all. Some of them were older, wiser than the young man; and they decided let him go to Sicily; he's overextended himself; just the perfect time to lay our trap.

The Generals - his friends and enemies alike - were worried about the expedition anyway - it was sort of like America at the end of WWII - we just beat Hitler and you think we're gonna fight the Russians? They had just beat off the Persians - and barely, too; the alliance of the Greeks was beginning to crumble; an Athenian Sicily would be a great boon - but if they lost? < /p>

That's silly, they couldn't lose: not under the command of Alcibiades.

Still, the old men thought, it couldn't hurt to be prudent; and they picked as Alcibiades co-general the most efficient old man that Athens had: Niciades. Countless time his caution had saved the country, even during the darkest days when he had to face off all the citizens clamoring for war. Go off and watch the young man, they told him. Are you crazy? He responded in council after council: we can't win a war in Sicily. I say don't go. Let Alcibiades work off his ambition somewhere else? Let him go off and screw his whores since that's what seems to interest him almost as much as war?

But it didn't help. In the noble method of committees ever since time began, they sent him off as a compromise between leaving the campaign in Alcibiades hands and calling off the war. It was right after he left for the war that the envious enemies of Alcibiades struck: they declared him guilty of defying the Gods and let him know that he was to return at once and be tried for sacrilege: and if convicted, be put to death.

He fled of course; he left Nicias to lose the war; Nicias wasn't a bad general, not exactly, but was much better on the defense than on the offense; never feeling comfortable enough to attack he presided over the massacre of the entire Athenian army by a ragtag band of Latin sailors. Alicibides headed for Persia; when asked by one of his followers whether he didn't trust the Athenians to give him a fair trial he said, "Where my life is concerned, I don't trust my mother; maybe she'll put a black ball in the pot instead of a white one by accident."

He never really had a country, and now he proved it; first he went to Persia and offered his services to the Persian king. He spent a few years screwing around with the Emperor's wives and dressing in flowing Oriental robes. Spoke Persian fluently, of course; and probably just as pleasantly, with that slight little charming lisp. Then when things got hot in Persia, he moved to Sparta; this time he had to drop the flowing robes and wear simple, undyed cloth; eat a sparse diet; and affect Spartan Virtue as best as he could. Still, he managed to impregnate the wife of the Spartan King. (He was later to say he did this so his seed would inherit the Spartan throne.) He had to take his chances back in Athens after that. The Athenians (lucky for him) were sick of getting their buttocks kicked by different armies commanded by their former general, over and over again; and welcomed him home - in time to watch his country, weakened by his own attacks against them, lose. He fled again - he could expect no quarter from Sparta, after all, the least from Sparta's cuckolded ephor - and one of his many enemies did for him in the countryside soon after.

Socrates knew he would end up this way: he saw something extraordinary in the dashing young man and tried to turn him to philosophy. It filled him with nothing but half-lived remorse. He broke in drunk to Socrates' banquet and told the assembled crowd (while groping Socrates with drunken arms) - "I love this man; for every time I talk to him he makes me seemed ashamed, and seems to show me that I am not living in the way that I ought;" and yet, though he had Socrates himself to show him the way he had to live, he followed his own internal fire until he burned himself to death in his own flame.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.