Character Series nº 3 - Alcibiades
And here we are folks, the dream you have all been dreaming of: a chance to read another fantastic post in this wonderful Series!
Maybe some of you thought I had forgotten all about this gig; that I was lazy; that I did not deserve to write this kind of nonsense in this most elevated and cultured web space... Well, I hope I am wrong about these thoughts of yours, otherwise you guys will be getting into serious trouble with me. In extremis, I might even ask MM to let his wild cat loose on you!
By the way: MM, when are we getting more pics of your cat? At least we can see all his details clearly - I cannot say the same about most of your 1/300 models paint jobs ;-)
Enough about trivial matters. AL's story is waiting to be told!
I will be mentioning a few facts in this post that can only be understood if you already know something about that momentum event that took place in the V century B.C.: The Peloponnesian War (431-404)! For those of you that do not know anything about it, this would be a good time to start. On the other hand, you can do as JF usually does: ignore this history investigation thing, and continue reading.
By 425 B.C. Athens had the upper hand, in the war being waged by the Athenian Empire against the Peloponnesian League, led by Sparta. As you all know (this is wishful thinking...) Sparta and her allies were more numerous and powerful in land forces. The skill and prowess of the Spartan hoplites was already well established. The Athenian edge lay on the sea. Her fleet was huge and her sailors were among the best in the ancient world. In 425 B.C. Athens managed to secure a foothold in Spartan territory, more precisely in the peninsula of Pylos, in the province of Messenia (south-western Peloponnesus). The Pylos campaign (battles of Pylos and Sphacteria) brought Athens numerous advantages, in military and moral terms. They not only defeated and captured large numbers of Spartan (about 400) hoplites, but also created a focus for the defection of the helots (a large population enslaved by Sparta). These factors contributed to depress the fighting spirit of the Spartans, and combined with a few others made them do the unthinkable at the start of the war: sue for peace.
With this in mind, a delegation from Sparta arrived in Athens, claiming to have full powers to negotiate a peace treaty. Well, our boy AL was against any kind of peace, since it could only drastically reduce his unlimited political and personal ambitions.
Therefore, AL persuaded the Spartan delegates to deny in the presence of the Assembly of the Athenian people, sheduled to convene to appreciate the peace proposal, that they had full plenipotentiary powers to negotiate. He also claimed that, by doing so, he would be in the position to obtain the favour of the Athenians in order to conclude a peace treaty in very favourable terms to Sparta.
Well, those poor delegates believed him.
In the day of the Assembly, the Spartan delegates denied having plenipotentiary powers, in reply to a question made by AL himself. Imediatly after that, AL went on a rampage, publicly calling the delegates untrustworthy liars, because they dared appear before the Athenian people to negotiate a peace treaty, without having full powers to that effect.
Very nice, huh?
With the Spartan delegates thoroughly humiliated and the Athenians full of confidence in victory, peace became a forlorn hope.
Well, with whom do you think some guys in politics nowadays learned to say one thing and do precisely the opposite? With good old AL, of course!
This way Athens lost a golden opportunity to negotiate a very favourable peace treaty, while on the upper hand. A similar opportunity would not appear in this war, with gruesome consequences to the Athenian Empire.
But AL got what he wanted: public recognition as defender of the State interests and a nomination as military commander. And he set about promoting and organizing what would prove to be another cataclysmic event to Athens - The Sicilian Expedition.
Hopefully, you will know more about in in my next post.