P J Rhodes

Language: English

Pages: 160

ISBN: 1848840691

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Alcibiades is one of the most famous (or infamous) characters of Classical Greece. A young Athenian aristocrat, he came to prominence during the Peloponnesian War (429-404 BC) between Sparta and Athens. Flamboyant, charismatic (and wealthy), this close associate of Socrates persuaded the Athenians to attempt to stand up to the Spartans on land as part of an alliance he was instrumental in bringing together. Although this led to defeat at the Battle of Mantinea in 418 BC, his prestige remained high. He was also a prime mover in Athens' next big strategic gambit, the Sicilian Expedition of 415 BC, for which he was elected as one of the leaders. Shortly after arrival in Sicily, however, he was recalled to face charges of sacrilege allegedly committed during his pre-expedition reveling. Jumping ship on the return journey, he defected to the Spartans.

Alcibiades soon ingratiated himself with the Spartans, encouraging them to aid the Sicilians (ultimately resulting in the utter destruction of the Athenian expedition) and to keep year-round pressure on the Athenians. He then seems to have overstepped the bounds of hospitality by sleeping with the Spartan queen and was soon on the run again. He then played a devious and dangerous game of shifting loyalties between Sparta, Athens and Persia. He had a hand in engineering the overthrow of democracy at Athens in favor of an oligarchy, which allowed him to return from exile, though he then opposed the increasingly-extreme excesses of that regime. For a time he looked to have restored Athens' fortunes in the war, but went into exile again after being held responsible for the defeat of one of his subordinates in a naval battle. This time he took refuge with the Persians, but as they were now allied to the Spartans, the cuckolded King Agis of Sparta was able to arrange his assassination by Persian agents.

There has been no full length biography of this colorful and important character for twenty years. Professor Rhodes brings the authority of an internationally recognized expert in the field, ensuring that this will be a truly significant addition to the literature on Classical Greece.


“…this treatment of Alcibiades by P. J. Rhodes, one of the most outstanding Greek historians of our time, is successful in bringing one of the most interesting and controversial characters to a wider audience in an intelligent manner that should also prove valuable as a classroom text… with a masterful control of literary and epigraphic sources, he places Alcibiades in his proper context as an ultimately disastrous figure who was, however, profoundly successful in convincing his contemporaries―and posterity as a result―of his importance. This book is particularly useful not only to the general reader, but as a classroom text for upper-level courses. I should add that it also provides an outstanding summary of fifth-century political and military history; the necessarily close coverage of the period from 412-406 BC, which is fraught with controversy, is especially good.”
Bryn Mawr Classical Review

“…quite informative…a clear and multifaceted portrait of Alcibiades that should be informative and useful for newcomer and veteran reader alike. The book has a distinct academic edge and clearly does it best to strive for scientific objectivity, but it never goes so far as to become a dry read…”
Ancient Warfare, VI Issue 3

Ancient Greece at Work (History of Civilization)














c. 415 would have suggested that increasing the tribute to help pay for the war was wrong, and this passage provides one reason for thinking that the text is not a genuine work of the late fifth century but a later composition. One other item relating to the mid 420s is vouched for by Thucydides and can be accepted. In 425 an Athenian force bound for Corcyra and Sicily fortified Pylos, on the west coast of Spartan-ruled Messenia. The Spartans tried to dislodge the Athenians, but the Athenians got

treated in the negotiations of 4209) was happy to cooperate with him. The Spartans did decide to operate in the Aegean first and to move north afterwards, and while they prepared ships of their own their allies prepared a fleet to set out from Cenchreae, Corinth’s port on the Saronic Gulf. But the allies delayed while Corinth celebrated the Isthmian games, about June 412. This gave the Athenians the chance to discover what was afoot, and when the allied fleet did set out an Athenian squadron

force opposing him to change sides).57 All three settlements which we know of from this year were generous. Calchedon was to pay tribute at its previous rate; Selymbria, as we have seen, was left free to decide its own constitution and was well treated in other respects; Byzantium became an ally again and, in accordance with Alcibiades’ promise, none of its citizens was killed or exiled. It was clearly a policy of Alcibiades and his colleagues that regaining the support of cities brought back to

Hornblower, Comm. Thuc., iii. 147. 82 Thuc. V. 56; cf., for the clause in the alliance, 47. v. 83 Thuc. V. 57–60. 84 Andrewes, in H.C.T., iv. 86–7, noting that no payment for it is mentioned in 418/7: M&L 77, translated Fornara 144, 2–23. 85 Thuc. V. 61. i–ii. 86 Thuc. V. 57. i. 87 Andrewes, in H.C.T., iv. 83. 88 Thus Hornblower, Comm. Thuc., iii. 161. Diod. Sic. XII. 79. i states explicitly that Alcibiades was an idiotes, not a general but a private citizen, but that may simply have been

Alcibiades - Printer PDF__ 15/04/2011 11:20 Page 123 Notes t Chapter VI Notes to Chapter VI 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Thuc. VIII. 99–103. Thuc. II. 90–2. Thuc. VIII. 104–7. Cf. Miletus, p. 66; and we are told here that Cnidus had expelled its Persian garrison too. Thuc. VIII. 108–9; for St. Paul see Acts, xix. 23–41. Notably, Thuc. II. 65. xii, V. 26. There is an edition of the part dealing with the last years of the Peloponnesian War, Xen. Hell. I. i. 1–II. iii. 10, with

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