Athens, 450 - 404 B.C.

Alcibiades, political and military leader of Athens in the 5th century BC, he was born in 452 and died in 404 BC. During the second and third decades of the Peloponnesian war, he emerged as the most important personality of his city. He was a scion of the highest Athenian aristocracy. From his father Cleinias, who was fought bravely in 480 BC in the naval battle of Artemisius and met a glorious death in 446 BC in the battle of Coroneia against the Boeotians, his generation reached the Aiakids, since, according to tradition, he was a descendant of the son of Aiades Eurysakis.

Nature endowed the young Alcibiades with excellent qualities: beauty and intellectual skill allied with the nobility of origin. His beauty, which embodied the ideal beauty of the Athenian teenager and which combined aesthetic perfection, elegance and grace, was praised by many of the writers of antiquity.. Alcibiades was not only conscious of his charm, but also passionate about preserving it immutable and indestructible in time. The handicap that nature gave him, a stammer in speech, he managed to change into a virtue of speech, so that many of the aristocratic and elegant young people of the time imitated it.

His intellectual prowess was characterized by the vivacity and quickness of a mind that could charm even Socrates. In Sparta, he excelled in austere diet and exercise. The Boeotians were amazed by his skill in physical exercises. In Ionia he surpassed all in pleasure-seeking and debauchery, in Thrace in drunkenness, and in Asia Minor Tissaphernes in luxury and magnificence.

Orphaned at the age of five, Alcibiades was brought up by the guardians of Xanthippus' son, his mother's first cousins, Ariphron and the most prominent politician of Athens, Pericles. Lakaina Amykla is mentioned as his nurturer, Zopyros as his tutor, who did not have the strength to rein in his awkward character. Pericles, although he took him home, because of his many preoccupations with the affairs of the Athenian democracy, did not have the strength to rein in his wayward character, to instill in him the notion that freedom and duty go hand in hand and that necessary pillars of politics are prudence and morality.

The Sophists and Socrates undoubtedly played a very important part in his education. Prodicus taught him the charm of myth and speech, Protagoras dialectic and agnosticism. No one, however, could captivate him more than Socrates, the only teacher of life he knew and the only one to whom his antinomial nature could be disciplined. The bond between teacher and student often reached the limits of self-sacrifice. In the Potidaea campaign (432 BC) Socrates not only saved the young and wounded Alcibiades from certain death but also convinced the generals to crown him for heroism. In the battle at Delium (424 BC) Alcibiades repaid his debt: although on horseback he did not flee with the other Athenian horsemen, but fought until he rescued Socrates who was fighting on foot.

The young people of Athens imitated his dress and eccentricities. Finally, the municipality deified him when he won three consecutive victories in Olympia with his seven chariots. It is worth noting that other Greeks also honored him for his victory: the Ephesians who decorated his tent with every luxury, the representatives of Chios who offered a large number of carcasses to the celebrants and the Lesbians who treated everyone to their fragrant wine.

The end of the great leader of Athens was bitter. While he slept, the envoys of Pharnavazus, his nephew Mazaeus and his uncle Susamitris, set fire around his house, and when he, always courageous, came out of it with his concubine Timandra and a certain Arcada they killed him with arrows. His head was taken to the satrap, while his body was buried by his faithful wife Timandra.