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Alcibiades fought and strategized for Athens, Sparta, Persia, Athens (again), and Thrace, proving that he fought the entire time only for himself. Was it vanity or pride? Enjoy the first truly negative portrayal Plutarch tries to give, though Plutarch in all his humanity can still defend Alcibiades from his most malicious detractors.

Parallel: Coriolanus

Important People


  • Agis II – Spartan King at the time Alcibiades defects to the Spartans. Alcibiades advises Agis to occupy Deceleia, preventing the Athenians from accessing their farms for the remainder of the war. 
    • Timaea – Spartan Queen
    • Leotychides – son of Timaea and Alcibiades, disinherited from the throne.
  • Lysander – Wily Spartan naval commander who finally manages to defeat the Athenians decisively at sea. He then besieges Athens and sets up a government of thirty tyrannical oligarchs backed up by a Spartan bodyguard. Alcibiades wisely never engages directly with Lysander, though one of his lietuenant does in Alcibiades's absence. 


  • Pharnabazus – One of two powerful Persian satraps in Western Asia Minor with which Alcibiades fights once while trying to keep access to the Black Sea open for Athens. The second time they meet, Alcibiades has abandoned Athens for the last time and seeks to become what Themistocles was, a resident and advisor of the Persian Empire. 
  • Tissaphernes – A scheming satrap with a great deal in common with Alcibiades. He does and says what he needs to to get his own way. We'll see him again in the Life of Agesilaus.
  • Cyrus – Younger son of the Persian King Darius II, Cyrus comes out to Asia Minor to deal with squabbling satraps and to crush Athens for good. He allies himself with Lysander and funds the navy that ultimately destroys Athens. 


  • Nicias – Alcibiades's main political rival in Athens, famous for his superstition and his vacillation, Alcibiades's confidence and charisma attract a much larger following. 
  • Antiochus – A vice-commander left in charge while Alcibiades away. He ignore Alc's direct command. notto engage with Lysander and in the ensuing battle loses and dies. 

Important Places

Deceleia (23.2) – A mountain citadel of Attica, about 14 miles from Athens towards Boeotia, commanding the Athenian plain and the shortest routes to Euboea and Boeotia, occupied by the Spartans in 413 B.C. at Alcibiades's advice!

Samos (25) – Island in the east-central Aegean originally conquered by Pericles but serving as a strategic base for the Athenian navy during the Peloponnesian Wars. When an oligarchic revolution occurs in Athens, Samos becomes the base-in-exile of the democratic faction, which Alcibiades leads triumphantly home. 

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