Alcibiades

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Alcibiades

(ălsĭbī`ədēz), c.450–404 B.C., Athenian statesman and general. Of the family of Alcmaeonidae, he was a ward of Pericles and was for many years a devoted attendant of Socrates. He turned to politics after the Peace of Nicias (421 B.C.), and during the Peloponnesian WarPeloponnesian War
, 431–404 B.C., decisive struggle in ancient Greece between Athens and Sparta. It ruined Athens, at least for a time. The rivalry between Athens' maritime domain and Sparta's land empire was of long standing. Athens under Pericles (from 445 B.C.
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 he was the leader in agitating against Sparta. He was so successful that Athens joined an alliance against Sparta. When Sparta attacked (418 B.C.) Argos, Alcibiades led an Athenian force to help the Argives, but Athens and the allies were beaten at Mantinea. He was (415 B.C.) the chief promoter of the Sicilian campaign and was one of the three leaders (with Nicias and Lamachus) of the Athenian forces. When the forces reached Sicily, he proposed an attempt to win allies rather than attacking the hostile cities of Selinus and Syracuse at once. NiciasNicias
, d. 413 B.C., Athenian political leader and general. After Pericles' death he emerged as the primary rival of Cleon and his war party. He was a moderate democrat, not an oligarch, and he wanted peace with Sparta. In 421 he arranged the Peace of Nicias.
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 carried out this policy to ultimate disaster. Alcibiades had meanwhile been summoned home to stand trial for the mutilation of the statues of Hermes, a crime of which he was almost certainly innocent. Instead he fled to Sparta, where he gave advice to King Agis IAgis
, name of four Spartan kings. Agis I, fl. late 10th cent. B.C., was the traditional founder of the Agiad dynasty, one of the two ruling dynasties of Sparta, which had a dual kingship. The other dynasty, the Eurypontids, fathered the succeeding Agises.
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, who was successful against Athens. Alcibiades later fell into trouble with the Spartan king, and c.413 he fled to the protection of the Persian satrap TissaphernesTissaphernes
, d. 395 B.C., Persian satrap of coastal Asia Minor (c.413–395 B.C.). He was encouraged by Alcibiades (412) to intervene in the Peloponnesian War in support of Sparta.
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 and then sought to return to Athens. After the oligarchy of the Four Hundred fell (411), he was recalled at the request of Thrasybulus. Athens had a short era of greatness as Alcibiades directed brilliantly the Athenian fleet in the Aegean and in 410 won a victory over the Peloponnesian fleet off Cyzicus, and later recovered (408) Byzantium. However, Lysander, a new Spartan commander, defeated the Athenian fleet at Notium in c.406 B.C., so Alcibiades was exiled. He went to a castle he owned on the western shore of the Hellespont. There in 405 B.C. he attempted to warn the Athenian fleet at AegospotamosAegospotamos
, river of ancient Thrace flowing into the Hellespont. At its mouth in 405 B.C. occurred the culminating battle of the Peloponnesian War. Lysander and his Spartan fleet had come north to cut the grain supply of Athens.
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 against a surprise attack by the Spartans, but his advice was ignored. In 404 at the behest of Lysander, the Persian satrap PharnabazusPharnabazus
, d. after 374 B.C., Persian governor. He had an important satrapy in Asia Minor under Darius II and Artaxerxes II. He was responsible for the assassination (404 B.C.) of Alcibiades, and in the same year he supported Artaxerxes in the rebellion of Cyrus the Younger.
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 had Alcibiades murdered.

Alcibiades

 

circa 450–404 B.C. Athenian political and military figure.

Born into an aristocratic family, Alcibiades was a relative and ward of Pericles and a disciple of Socrates. He entered the political arena at an early age, joining the most radical and militant-minded group of Athenian democrats. Extremely ambitious, Alcibiades frequently changed his political orientation. During the Peloponnesian War he took part in the military operations against Potidaea (432–430) and in the battle of Delium (424). From 421 he was repeatedly elected general. After the conclusion of the Peace of Nicias in 421, Alcibiades sought to renew the war by forming an anti-Spartan coalition of Argos, Mantinea, and Elis, some of the city-states of Peloponnesus. In 415 he organized and together with Nicias and Lamachus led an Athenian military expedition to Sicily against Syracuse. Summoned back to Athens to be tried by the assembly of the people on the charge of sacrilege, for mutilating the hermae (statues of Hermes), Alcibiades fled to Sparta and offered the Spartans a plan for conducting the war against the Athenians. On his advice, the Spartans gave military aid to besieged Syracuse, occupied Decelea (in Attica), supported the anti-Athenian movement in Ionia, built a strong fleet, and entered into negotiations with Persia concerning financial support. However, suspected of treason, Alcibiades had to flee to Asia Minor to the Persian satrap, Tissaphernes, and in 411 entered into secret negotiations with the oligarchic government in Athens, promising that Persia would support it. But when the Athenian fleet at Samos rebelled against the oligarchy, Alcibiades gave his support to the rebels and was elected their commander. After the restoration of democracy in Athens (411), the Athenian fleet under the command of Alcibiades won a number of important victories in Ionia (at Abydos, Cyzicus, Byzantium, and so on) and reestablished the control of Athens over the straits (the Dardanelles). In 407, Alcibiades returned in triumph to Athens and was given command over the army and fleet, but after a number of defeats of the Athenian forces in 407–406, he was suspected of striving to create a tyranny and was forced to go to Thrace, later to Bithynia, and finally, to the Persian satrap Pharnabazus, who, at the insistence of the Spartans, ordered Alcibiades murdered.

REFERENCES

Plutarch. Sravnitel’nye zhizneopisaniia, vol. 1. Moscow, 1961. (Russian translation.)
Hatzfeld, J. Alcibiade. Paris, 1951.

D. P. KALLISTOV

Alcibiades

450--404 bc, Athenian statesman and general in the Peloponnesian War: brilliant, courageous, and unstable, he defected to the Spartans in 415, but returned and led the Athenian victories at Abydos (411) and Cyzicus (410)