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date: 30 November 2022


, 451/450–404/403 BCE


, 451/450–404/403 BCE
  • Henry Dickinson Westlake
  •  and P. J. Rhodes


Alcibiades (451/0–404/3 BCE), son of Cleinias, Athenian general and politician. Brought up in the household of his guardian *Pericles (1), he became the pupil and intimate friend of *Socrates. A flamboyant aristocrat, he competed in politics with the new-style *demagogues, and his ambitious imperialism drew Athens into a coalition with *Argos (1) and other enemies of *Sparta. This policy, half-heartedly supported by the Athenians, was largely discredited by the Spartan victory at *Mantinea (418). Though Alcibiades temporarily allied with *Nicias (1) to avoid *ostracism, the two were normally adversaries and rivals, and when Alcibiades sponsored the plan for a major Sicilian expedition, Nicias unsuccessfully opposed it. Both were appointed, together with *Lamachus, to command this expedition (415). After the mutilation of the *herms, Alcibiades had been accused of involvement in other religious scandals, and soon after the fleet reached Sicily he was recalled for trial. He escaped, however, to Sparta, where he encouraged the Spartans to send a general to Syracuse, and to establish a permanent Spartan post at *Decelea in Attica (which was eventually done in 413).


  • Greek History and Historiography

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