Alcibiades (450-404 BC) was handsome, clever and since the childhood showed high abilities to sciences and military science. The gifted speaker made the convincing speeches differing in an elegance. If necessary Alcibiades was hardworking and patient, differed in special love for sports and to competitions that served good service to future commander.
Alcibiades belonged to one of the richest and most noble families of the Athenian aristocracy. The father Alkiviada was Cleinias. He was from a noble family Skambonidov, his family was descended from Zeus. Deinomache, the daughter of Megacles, and could trace her family back to Eurysaces and the Telamonian Ajax. Through it Alcibiades had the relative to Pericles and, in more remote degree to Cimon.
Ancestors on the maternal line long since played a significant role in the history of Athens and participated in the most important events of the Athenian history. On the contrary, the family to which Alcibiades on the father belonged, despite antiquity and eminence, entered not many well-known names in history. The exception is made, perhaps, by his grandfather Alcibiades Old — the associate Clisfen trying to subvert dominion of the Athenian aristocracy and to transform a state system in compliance with democratic principles.
Image of Alcibiades as the king of meetings and the beautiful speaker can often be met in Renaissance pictures
Perhaps it is the presence of the ancestors influenced the Alcibiades, who showed himself as a great warrior for Athens.
Alcibiades enjoyed wide popularity during lifetime. About him and its activity wrote works the historian Thucydides who was his contemporary, Theopompus, the author of “The Greek history”, the successor of work of Thucydides , Plutarch, Cornelius and others. Thanks to their products was a lot of information on this great commander and the politician.
Some time Alcibiades was Socrates’ pupil and together with it participated in military campaigns. So military career of future commander began. Alcibiades received baptism of fire in battle at Pitied at the beginning of Peloponnesian War. In fight Alcibiades was wounded, and Socrates rescued it, having reflected the attacking enemies and having kept Alcibiades’s weapon which loss was considered as dishonor. After a while Alcibiades rescued Socrates. In fight at Delia when Greeks suffered defeat and receded, Alcibiades saw the receding pedestrian Socrates who is beating off from numerous enemies. Then Alcibiades came back returned to Socrates that near it to beat off from the enemy. So Alcibiades repaid the debt.
In the battlefield Alcibiades always was among the first, running in attack.
Despite the high level of abilities to sciences, Alcibiades decided to devote the life to military science and policy. Since early years it showed enthusiasm for policy and was aimed at strengthening of the power, as source of stability and tranquility.
Still living in Pericles’s house, it somehow came to it to talk about affairs, but to it told that Pericles is occupied and considers performance with the report on affairs before people’s assembly. Having heard it, Alcibiades told:
“But whether it was better for it to think how not to give to Athenians any report at all?”
In 420 BC Alcibiades leads Cleon’s party which main goal was an establishment of the power for the people taking into account its interests and requirements. The party differed in special determination and readiness for battles.
Alcibiades sought to gain authority and love of citizens the speeches and to convince of the correctness people’s assembly. He often managed as the commander was the beautiful strategist and the speaker.
Many Athenians admired beauty and force, eloquence, military experience and bravery of the commander. In merits to it big donations and gifts to the city were put, and it forced people to concern to Alcibiades indulgently, to forgive it intrigues which quite often had to be applied against political opponents. For example, it’s considered coming to power in meeting of Athens. Nicias who started conducting negotiations with Sparta was the main political opponent of Alcibiades. When ambassadors arrived to the Athens to discuss conditions of new agreements, Alcibiades started dispute. As a result of debate it became clear that they arrived ambassadors from Sparta aren’t authorized to sign the contract. Nicias who earlier encouraged meeting that ambassadors would be capable to sign all necessary contracts similar lie considerably undermined the authority. Then Alcibiades ‘s power in meeting became stronger and unambiguous.
Having headed meeting in 420 Alcibiades began rough political activity, contacting to democrats in many cities and urging them to oppose oligarchic Sparta. In a short space of time Alcibiades was succeeded to incline on side of Athens of the city of Argos, Elide and Mantinea and as Plutarch notices, it “separated and shook all Peloponnese”. That Sparta gave military aid to Epidaurus which Athens in 419 BC who was attacked. It was the cause for renewal of military operations. Alcibiades accused Spartans of violation of the truce called earlier, and war was resumed.
Nicias’s party made huge efforts to incite meeting against Alcibiades. And they managed it. In 418 BC Nicias was elected the strategist. And about it time success in military affairs refused to Athens. In the summer of the same year Athenians suffered defeat at Mantineia — Alcibiades was in this battle among simple soldiers.
Nicias’s party made a huge efforts to incite meeting against Alcibiades. And they managed it. In 418 BC Nicias was elected the strategist. And about it time success in military affairs refused to Athens. In the summer of the same year Athenians suffered defeat at Mantineia — Alcibiades was in this battle among simple soldiers.
For Alcibiades it is defeat became new take-off of his political career since the commander found the solution in this situation. He suggested creating the Mediterranean Sea power covering Peloponnese, Italy, Sicily, Carthage and Africa under the auspices of Athens. Conquest of Sicily had to become the first step on the way to creation of the power. The people’s assembly with pleasure accepted the plan of expedition to Sicily.
Alcibiades, Nicias and Lamas were appointed strategists of expedition. But at night before departure there was an event which compelled to postpone a campaign for Sicily. Someone destroyed street pillars, symbolizing Hermes. The opponent Alcibiades began to build false proofs in confirmation of fault of the commander. But that fact that Alcibiades insisted on court and investigation testified to innocence of the speaker.
If campaign of a gain of Sicily was carried out in time, as well as Alcibiades planned, Athens came out winners in war with Sparta.
In the middle of 415 BC the Athenian expedition could move forward in so expected campaign to the west. Its beginning was very successful. Having connected to allies at the island of Corfu, the integrated fleet approached coast of Italy. Having borrowed the cities of Narks and Katan, Alcibiades began preparation for a siege Syracuse.
But he didn’t manage to make much. During preparation for a siege from Athens there arrived the messengers who handed it the requirement of people’s assembly about an immediate appearance of court. Alcibiades was necessary to obey, but on the way to Athens he in the city of the Fury forcedly descended on the coast and couldn’t return on the ship. The court passed in Athens without it, and in absentia death sentence was pronounced to it. Alcibiades’s property was confiscated, and it was ordered to priests to damn his name. Having learned it, Alcibiades hid in Italy, and then got over to Peloponnese. Sparta was its purpose. The proud desire to revenge the opponents was stronger than love to Athens.
Alcibiades addresses to Spartans with the speech in which presents itself the honest person. He says that combats not against Athens, and against the enemies who are as well enemies of Sparta. Many allies of Athens through Alcibiades began to conduct secret negotiations with Sparta that at approach of Spartan fleet to terminate the union with Athens.
By means of Alcibiades Sparta concluded the military alliance with the Persian satrap Tissafern which gave it gold and the ships. Alcibiades persuaded Spartans to send the help besieged Syracuse that led to the Sicilian accident — defeat of the Athenian army and part of fleet of Athenians.
In Sparta Alcibiades became the general favorite soon. He perfectly managed to adapt to a Spartan way of life and strictly followed customs and traditions. He surpassed many Spartans in simplicity of food and clothes. But didn’t escape an event which cause it was from its attention. So, holding in remembrance the homeland, Alcibiades tried not to allow full defeat of Athens. Suspecting similar plans at Alcibiades, Spartans compelled the commander to run to Persians. With their help he intended to return to Athens the winner.
He persuades Tissafern to who became the close friend, to stop the help to Sparta in fight against Athens. Having the Persian money, Alcibiades establishes connection with the Athenian aristocracy and helps it to overthrow Democratic Party. But aristocrats didn’t hurry to call Alcibiades back to Athens. Then he enters negotiations with heads of the Athenian fleet standing at the island of Samos. He promises fleet the support in fight against fleet of Sparta provided that the fleet will support him at return to Athens. He well calculated the situation which developed at that time in Athens.
The won democrats invited him to rise at the head of fleet. In October, 411 BC there was a battle at Abydos between the Athenian fleet and a Peloponnesian squadron under Minder’s command which considerably surpassed Athenians in number of the ships. When military good luck abandoned Athenians, from the South there was Alcibiades with eighteen ships. Its emergence also turned a battle outcome in favor of Athens. So, after careful strategy, Alcibiades was succeeded to achieve a victory of Athens in war with Sparta.
For these three years Alcibiades participated in ten fights, sank or seized 200 ships and huge production and now could return to Athens the winner. The city met him as hero. Alcibiades’s property (it was confiscated on court) was returned to it at the expense of treasury, and it was ordered to priests to remove from it a damnation. But Alcibiades didn’t trust ardent love of fellow citizens, understanding that all his authority keeps only on military glory, and rather slightest failure that from it turned away.
In the fall of 408 BC it equips a new campaign — the 100th grain-cleaning machine, 1,5 thousand infantry and 150 riders. Having landed on the island of Andros, he inflicts defeat over group of endorsers and their allies to Spartans. But the situation changed not in favor of Athenians by then. Opponents still saved forces and avoided resolute actions. Alcibiades also didn’t seek for decisive battle and was limited to small skirmishes. It kept very carefully that caused discontent in the Athenian society waiting from it for loud victories. But loud victories couldn’t be.
Alcibiades personally was engaged in financing of army to avoid increase in taxes and the victims among the people. Therefore he often had to leave fleet to earn necessary money for its contents. During one of such trips, contrary to the strictest ban of Alcibiades not to enter military operations against Lysander, the Athenian military leader Antiochus after all engaged with Spartan fleet. It occurred at Notiya, and Antiochus got to the trap placed by Lysander and suffered defeat, having lost 15 ships. Having learned about it, Alcibiades at once returned to Samos and tried to call Lysander on fight continuation, but the Spartan from fight evaded. Though defeat at Notiya didn’t affect the course of military campaign in any way, it gave a reason to Alcibiades’s opponents to accuse him of change, having incited against it people’s assembly.
On Alcibiades ‘s account of 19 won sea battles. More than 200 enemy ships were flooded.
Alcibiades was necessary to leave in voluntary exile to Thrace where it constructed three small fortresses. Once, when the Athenian fleet appeared in these regions, Alcibiades, seeing as by the ships Athenians carelessly behave — leave long on the coast, disperse the ships and so on — he decided to warn them about consequences of such carelessness, knowing that the Spartan fleet is somewhere nearby. Having listened to him, the strategist Tides ordered to be moved away to it, having told that now it here not the chief. But, unfortunately, there was that Alcibiades predicted. Lysander used carelessness of Athenians and took the Athenian fleet, and then and Athens.
Alcibiades again was necessary to leave the shelter. It went to the former opponent, the Persian satrap Tharnabas. He decided to go further, to the Persian tsar Artaxerxes II, and to warn him about plot which was prepared against it by Spartans and the brother reigning Cyrus. He expected to involve the Persian tsar on side of Athens and with his help to crush Spartans and to free the city.
One of new governors of Athens was Krit who convinced Lysander that if Alcibiades will survive, Spartans can quickly lose the power in Athens. To Tharnabas the messenger, with the requirement to give out Alcibiades live or dead was sent. But also to Tharnabas Alcibiades it was dangerous as Tharnabas was the participant of plot of Cyrus against the tsar of Persians. It sent the brother and the uncle with an order to take or kill Alcibiades.
At night the group of Persians surrounded the house where there lived Alcibiades , and, being afraid to rush into it, Persians imposed it with brushwood and set fire. Alcibiades was succeeded to escape from the burning house with a sword in a hand. Persians were frightened to engage with it and threw it copies and arrows. Alcibiades’s body was taken away by the hetera Timandra and buried him.
But Alcibiades’s glory didn’t die together with him. Even through one hundred years his name wasn’t forgotten. During war Romans addressed to the oracle, and that enjoined over it to erect on the square where passed popular vote, two statues — the cleverest and the most courageous of Greeks. And soon two copper statues decorated the area: one represented Pythagoras, another — Alcibiades .