Alcibiades was an ancient Greek who made the rest of the ancient Greeks look like little sissy retard babies. Including the Spartans.
Just The Facts
1. Athenian orator, commander, and flamboyant aristocrat during the Peloponnesian War. Lived about 451-404 BCE.
2. Had a golden shield made for himself with Eros (i.e. Cupid) holding a thunderbolt on it. If there's a better way of saying "I will kill you and bone your wife," we'd like to hear it.
3. Was accused of failing on purpose if he didn't succeed immediately at anything he tried. We did not make this up.
4. Yes, he was that guy in Plato's Symposium who really wanted to bone Socrates. Cut him some slack, he was a little drunk at the time (a "symposium" being an ancient Greek frat party).
From an early age, Alcibiades was gifted with amazing physical prowess, which he made a point of abusing. For example, as a teenager, he decided one day he felt like reading some Homer (this was much cooler in ancient Greece). He found a schoolteacher and asked him for a copy. When the teacher said he didn't have anything of Homer's, the young Alcibiades promptly punched him out and walked away.
Not that he needed a reason to beat people up. He once assaulted some rich, important Athenian dude purely for lulz. The rest of Athens became understandably outraged, but Alcibiades made it all better by heading over to the person's house and inviting the man to scourge him as he thought fit. This is kind of like being attacked by a UFC fighter, then him showing up later at your front door and asking you to punish him.
How would you respond?
How about "No, that's okay, please don't hurt me again, you can marry my daughter oh God don't hurt me"? Because that's what happened. Alcibiades walked out unscathed, and soon married the man's wealthy heiress. (More on her later.)
Another time, Alcibiades decided he wanted some nice paintings decorating his house. Rather than "paying money" or "not kidnapping someone," he opted to kidnap a painter and keep the poor bastard there until he was done adorning the place. The painter apparently received a handsome gift upon his release, which we're guessing was something like "no longer being imprisoned in the house of a violent lunatic."
Alcibiades could, however, channel his insane physical abilities for more constructive purposes, like when he had to flee to Sparta after receiving a death warrant in Athens (on false charges). Despite having lived his entire life in luxury and ease, in order to impress his new allies he immediately embraced the famously harsh Spartan lifestyle. In fact, he was so fanatical about it that the actual Spartans thought he was overdoing it.
When those guys tell you to tone it down a bit, you can probably tone it down.
Alcibiades was born into an old aristocratic Athenian family at a time when Athens was at the height of its imperial power, making him wealthier than a dirt magnate in the little-studied Dirt Age. Instead of wasting this money on things that weren't ridiculous, he decided to make a mockery of one of his society's most important and sacred institutions: the Olympic Games.
The ancient Games were much like today's Summer Games, only the athletes wore less (read: no) clothing and more olive oil.
However, oddly enough, the most prestigious event did not involve nudity. This was the four-horse chariot race. Rich people would buy a team of extremely expensive horses and a professional driver (who participated fully clothed), pay for their training and upkeep, and enter them in the Games. The winning sponsor would bring his city tremendous honor, even though no skill or effort was involved on his part, only vast sums of cash. This was a holdover from Greece's aristocratic past, when the wealthy openly dominated society due to their being able to afford things like weapons, armor, horses, and chariots.
That all sounded good to Alcibiades. He wasn't about to risk losing, though, so he made the surprise decision to enter seven fucking teams, even though nobody had entered more than one in the entire three-and-a-half-century history of the Games. Presumably fearing a swift and devastating punch (see above), nobody stopped him. He didn't go cheap, either-- depending on which source you believe, his teams either won the first, second and fourth prizes, or swept the top three. This made him a hero in Athens and a giant douchebag everywhere else.
Possibly at these same Games (416 BCE), one of his friends, named Diomedes, asked Alcibiades to buy him a chariot owned by the nearby city-state of Argos. Alcibiades agreed... and then entered the chariot in the Games under his own name, "bidding Diomedes go hang." (We're pretty sure that's fancy translator-speak for "telling his friend to fuck himself.") Diomedes sued him, but Alcibiades probably didn't give a shit, for reasons we're about to discuss.
Not content with being rich and jacked, Alcibiades was also a brilliant orator (possibly because he was tutored by fucking Socrates). This was in spite of his silly lisp, which we are told only made his speech more endearing. Even the comic playwright Aristophanes riffed on it in his play Wasps:
SOSIAS: Then Alcibiades said to me with a lisp, said he,
"Cwemahk Theocwus! What a cwaven's head he has!"
XANTHIAS: That lisp of Alcibiades hit the mark for once!
(Hilarious! Ha ha... no, just kidding, we have no fucking clue what this means. It's probably much funnier in ancient Greek. Either way, we prefer Aristophanes' poop jokes.)
Anyway. In the middle of the long and brutal Peloponnesian War, the Athenians and Spartans, who led the warring alliance systems, realized they were both suffering horribly from the 10+ years of relatively pointless fighting. Therefore, they called a truce. This did not sit well with Alcibiades, who had recently reached the minimum age to become a general and wanted to make a name for himself as a commander.
As such he decided to convince the Athenians to ally with Sparta's longtime rival Argos, which had remained neutral. Therefore, when some Spartan ambassadors came to Athens to help clear things up, Alcibiades tricked them into saying they hadn't come with the power to actually do anything (even though they had). They didn't realize this meant they were just wasting precious Athenian time-- but the Athenians sure did. Led by Alcibiades himself, the Athenians shouted the ambassadors down before they could say anything else, then voted for the alliance with Argos.
Immediately after this bit of douchebaggery, Alcibiades was promoted to general. Either the Athenians didn't realize they had all been tricked, or they did but he threatened to beat them up and steal their wives.
Later, when he had to flee Sparta (yes, this was after he had to flee Athens), he went to the court of Tissaphernes, the Persian governor of Asia Minor (modern Turkey). Still wanting to be on Sparta's good side, Alcibiades convinced Tissaphernes to support the Spartan navy with money and ships-- well, kind of. The pay was erratic and the vast fleet he promised never showed up, even though Alcibiades assured the Spartans it totally existed and he'd totally seen it himself.
Really though, he was covering all his bases. He buddied up with Tissaphernes while seeming to help Sparta, and simultaneously aiding Athens by making their enemy's war effort more confused and inefficient. We don't know if being a devious mastermind was on Socrates' syllabus, but if so, Alcibiades aced the fucking course.
A couple years afterward, following one particularly ass-kicking victory (he happened to be fighting for Athens at this point), he headed back to Tissaphernes' court to show off. The Persian, however, wanted to be on Sparta's good side, so he had Alcibiades arrested. Naturally, Alcibiades escaped within a month, then had the balls to accuse Tissaphernes himself of helping him flee, just to slander him.
From before he was elected Athenian general, almost right up until his death over fifteen years later, Alcibiades controlled the tide of the Peloponnesian War, seizing the initiative for whichever side he happened to be fighting for at the time.
The naval Battle of Abydos proved a miniature of the entire conflict. The Athenian and Spartan fleets remained deadlocked all day, but then Alcibiades showed up with a few ships. Neither fleet knew who he was supporting until he raised Athenian colors, at which point the Athenians immediately stormed to victory.
He had such a reputation for military brilliance that sometimes he didn't even have to fight. When he led an Athenian army against the rebel town of Chalcedon, he found that the citizens had lent their possessions to the Bithynians, a neutral tribe nearby, for safe-keeping. Not in the mood to deal with that shit, he marched over and terrified the Bithynians into giving up all the loot. They also signed a treaty of friendship with him, just to be safe.
After he was done with Chalcedon, he conquered another rebel town, Selymbria, using the size of his balls alone.
The plan was for him to lead an advance guard of thirty men into the city at night, followed by the rest of the Athenian army. Insiders would open the gates for him, then signal the main force to come up in support. The first part went fine, but the signal guy chickened out, leaving Alcibiades and thirty soldiers stranded inside a town full of angry rebels. Too badass to surrender and unable to retreat, he simply commanded the Selymbrians that they "must not bear arms against Athens."
To put this in contemporary terms, it's like if a beloved four-star U.S. general walked into a base of Iraqi insurgents which the army was about to attack. By himself. ...And then told them they best not be shooting at America. They already hate him, they're already at war with his country, and his loss would have a major impact on the conflict.
The Selymbrians were stunned. While they were deliberating, presumably about how to remove Alcibiades' titanic man-nuggets from the city once they had killed him, the rest of the Athenian army finally showed up. Realizing they were now thoroughly dicked, the townspeople surrendered.
Eventually the Athenians seemed to get tired of not losing the war, which meant Alcibiades' presence was a problem, since he kept winning spectacular victories. Fearing for his life, he used his vast personal fortune to buy himself some mercenaries, then fled to a few nearby forts he happened to own (because, you know, whatever). He then started raiding and plundering the local tribes. In other words, at this point he was basically a pirate captain, and also his own state.
Alcibiades was universally agreed to be the best-looking Greek man of his generation, and the Greeks aren't exactly known for being dumpy.
He was married for a time, to the daughter of that guy he punched for no reason (see above), but it should be no surprise by now that he didn't really give a shit about the whole "marriage" thing. In fact, he had so many mistresses that his otherwise affectionate and loyal wife decided to sue for divorce. He said that was fine, but she had to show up in court herself, instead of sending a proxy. She agreed.
When the couple showed up for the proceedings, Alcibiades simply picked her sorry ass up and carried her back to their home. We're not sure if this was legal or if he was just above the law, but we have a guess. As it happens, she remained at home until she died, shortly thereafter. We're not saying she definitely perished of wounds sustained during a beating of mythical proportions, but we have a guess about that too.
During his later stay in Sparta, Alcibiades seduced Queen Timaea, both because he was feuding with her husband, King Agis, and because he wanted his offspring to rule Sparta. This was no ordinary seduction either-- rather, she became so obsessed with him that she bore his child and privately called the kid Alcibiades, though to be fair, she did have to give him a different official name.
Now, given that he was an ancient Greek, it's pretty safe to assume Alcibiades had both male and female lovers. However, the ancient accounts agree that one sexy old man in particular escaped his charms.
In both Plato's Symposium and the ancient biographer Plutarch's account of Alcibiades' life, Socrates repeatedly rejects his amorous advances. That said, he was one of Socrates' favorite students, they saved each other's lives on the battlefield, and they even slept in the same tent on campaign. Even if, as we're told, Socrates could drink like Keith Moon without being affected, we have to imagine he gave Alcibiades a little play for his battlefield heroics.
Because really, otherwise Socrates is just a cold-hearted dick.
After the Athenians lost the war-- which only happened because they refused to listen to him and change their retarded strategy at Aegospotami-- Alcibiades headed back into Asia Minor, hoping to reach the court of Pharnabazus, the new local Persian governor. However, the bright new Spartan admiral Lysander decided he was sick of Alcibiades' shit and sent a message to Pharnabazus, demanding that he hunt down and kill Alcibiades, who was traveling with only his latest mistress-- no guards. Pharnabazus agreed to send a band of armed men on that terrifying mission.
The troops tracked him down to a house in Asia Minor. Attacking by night, they stormed the place and, using their tremendous numerical superiority, they mercilessly cut him down.
...nah, just kidding. The men were too scared to enter the house, even though Alcibiades was probably naked, asleep, and exhuasted from a long night of hot sex.
Instead, the soldiers set fire to the house. Alcibiades wasn't about to burn to death like a bitch, though, so he threw on a cloak, grabbed his mistress in one hand and his sword in the other, and charged out of the house. Where he was mercilessly cut down by the large band--
Ha, yeah right. Alcibiades, alone and half-naked, single-handedly scattered the armed soldiers like tiny children. They fled to a nearby grove, where they finally worked up the man-nugget juice to turn around and shoot arrows and javelins at him until he died. History is unclear as to whether his vengeful ghost impregnated all of their wives, but we have a guess about that as well.
Shamelessly copied from Cracked.com
Alcibiades was young, good looking, and smart. Three ingredient that can be extremely dangerous (Jim Morrison). But, he kept tripping over his own feet. He never saw any projects through. He was a traitor. He was afraid of failure and therefore never learned from his mistakes. Alexander made many mistakes but would improve on them.ReplyDelete