The Ancient Library

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had attained their 20th year, he could not have been born later than b. c. 449. If he served in the first campaign (b. c. 432), he must have been at least five years old at the time of his father's death. Nepos (Alcib. 10) says he was about forty years old at the time of his death (b. c. 404), and his mistake has been copied by Mitford.

Alcibiades was connected by birth with the noblest families of Athens. Through his father he traced his descent from Eurysaces, the son of Ajax (Plat. Alcib. I. p. 121), and through him from Aeacus and Zeus. His mother, Deino-mache, was the daughter of Megacles, the head of the house of the Alcmaeonids.* Thus on both sides he had hereditary claims on the attachment of the people; for his paternal grandfather, Alci­biades, took a prominent part in the expulsion of the Peisistratids (Isocrat. De Big. 10), and his mother was descended from Cleisthenes, the friend of the commonalty. His father Cleinias did good service in the Persian war. He fitted out and manned a trireme at his own expense, and greatly distinguished himself in the battle of Artemisium. (Herod, viii. 17.) One of his ancestors of the name of Cleinias earned a less enviable notoriety by taking fraudulent advantage of the Seisachtheia of Solon. The name Alcibiades was of Laconiaii origin (Thuc. viii. 6), and was derived from the Spartan family to which the ephor Endius belong­ed, with which that of Alcibiades had been an­ciently connected by the ties of hospitality. The first who bore the name was the grandfather of the great Alcibiades.

On the death of his father (b. c. 447), Alcibiades was left to the guardianship of his relations Pericles and Ariphron.f Zopyrus, the Thracian, is men­tioned as one of his instructors. (Plat. Ale. i. p. 122.) From his very boyhood he exhibited signs of that inflexible determination which mark­ed him throughout life.

He was at every period of his life remarkable for the extraordinary beauty of his person, of which he seems to have been exceedingly vain. Even when on military service he carried a shield inlaid with gold and ivory, and bearing the device of Zeus hurling the thunderbolt. When he grew up, he earned a disgraceful notoriety by his amours and debaucheries. At the age of 18 he entered upon the possession of his fortune, which had doubtless been carefully husbanded during his long minority by his guardians. Connected as he was with the most influential families in the city, the inheritor of one of the largest fortunes in Athens (to which he afterwards received a large accession through his marriage with Hipparete, the daughter of HipponicusJ), gifted with a mind of singular ver-

* Demosthenes (Mid. p. 561) says, that the mother of Alcibiades was the daughter of Hippo-nicus, and that his father was connected with the Alcmaeoniclae. The latter statement may possibly be true. But it is difficult to explain the former, unless we suppose Demosthenes to have confounded the great Alcibiades with his son.

*)* Agariste, the mother of Pericles and Ariphon, was the daughter of Hippocrates, whose brother Cleisthenes was the grandfather of Deinomaehe. (Herod, vi. 131; Isocr. De Big. 10; Boeckh, Escplic. ad Pind. Pyth. vii. p. 302.)

£ He received a portion of 10 talents with his wife, which was to be doubled on the birth of a


satility and energy, possessed of great powers of eloquence, and urged on by an ambition which no obstacle could daunt, and which was not over scrupulous as to the means by which its ends were to be gained,—in a city like Athens, amongst a people like the Athenians, (of the leading features of whose character he may not unaptly be regarded as an impersonation,) and in times like those of the Peloponnesian war, Alcibiades found a field singularly well adapted for the exercise and display of his brilliant powers. Accustomed, however, from his boyhood to the flattery of admiring com­panions and needy parasites, he early imbibed that inordinate vanity and love of distinction, which marked his whole career; and he was thus led to place the most perfect confidence in his own powers long before he had obtained strength of mind sufficient to withstand the seductive influence of the temptations which surrounded him. Socrates saw his vast capabilities, and attempted to win him to the paths of virtue. Their intimacy was strengthened by mutual services. In one of the engagements before Potidaea, Alcibiades was dangerously wounded, but was rescued by So­crates. At the battle of Delium (b. c. 424), Al­cibiades, who was mounted, had an opportunity of protecting Socrates from the pursuers. (Plat. Conviv. pp. 220, 221 ; Isocr. De Big. 12.) The lessons of the philosopher were not altogether without influence upon his pupil, but the evil ten­dencies of his character had taken too deep root to render a thorough reformation possible, and he listened more readily to those who advised him to secure by the readiest means the gratification of his desires.

Alcibiades was excessively fond of notoriety and display. At the Olympic games (probably in 01. 89, b. c. 424) he contended with seven chariots in the same race, and gained the first, second, and fourth prizes. His liberality in discharging the office of trierarch, and in providing for the public amusements, rendered him very popular with the multitude, who were ever ready to excuse, on the score of youthful impetuosity and thoughtlessness, his most violent and extravagant acts, into which he was probably as often led by his love of noto­riety as by any other motive. Accounts of various instances of this kind, as his forcible detention of Agatharchus, his violence to his wife Hipparete, his assault upon Taureas, and the audacious man­ner in which he saved Hegemon from a lawsuit, by openly obliterating the record, are given by Plutarch, Andocides, and Athenaeus. (ix. p. 407.) Even the more prudent citizens thought it safer to connive at his delinquencies, than to exasperate him by punishment. As Aeschylus is made to say by Aristophanes (Frogs, 1427), "A lion's whelp ought not to be reared in a city; but if a person rears one, he must let him have his way." Of the early political life of Alcibiades we hear but little. While Cleon was alive he probably appeared but seldom in the assembly. From allu­sions which were contained in the AcuraAetV of Aristophanes (acted b. c. 427) it appears that he had already spoken there. (For the story con­nected with his first appearance in the assembly, see Plutarch, Alcib. 10.) At some period or other

son. His marriage took place before the battle of Delium (b. c. 424), in which Hipponicus was slain. (Andoc. Alcib. p. 30.)

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