quinta-feira, 5 de agosto de 2010

Character Series nº 3 - Alcibiades

(Part IV)

Mais uma volta, mais cinquenta paus!
I could translate this into english, in order to allow the dissemination of a profound portuguese proverb throughout the world.
However, I will not do it. The most probable justification for this could be just plain laziness. But it is not. I am offering a substancial cultural prize to the fortunate guy that guesses it's meaning. The only guy that cannot apply to this is JMM - this guy seems to always find a way to win every available prize...

By the way: did you notice that I fulfilled this week's deadline, this time? It's the second time in a row!
Peixoto: I think this achievement is also deserving of a prize, don't you? Something related to painting 15 mm figures, maybe...?

Well, enough of small talk. AL's story must go on!

(Alcibiades in Sparta)

As I mentioned in my last post, at a given point of the Peloponnesian War the Athenians had enough of this guy and proposed to, in plain terms, cut his life short. Sensing he could not talk his way out of this, AL went ot Sparta and asked for protection against his former countrymen (from 415 to 412 B.C.).
And I say "former" with good reason, since immediately after arriving there AL took all the traits of a true Spartan citizen. Those of you that are curious about such things can compare the speeches Thucydides atributes to AL against the Spartans (while he was in favour in Athens) with those against Athens (while he was in favour in Sparta) - they are a real treat!

AL is (among other things...) a perfectly good example of how valuable the art of rhetoric can be.

Remember I said AL, while in Athens, lived the life of a bon vivant ?
Well, all of that was forgotten the minute he set his foot in Sparta. No more dragging of his purple died cloak (the equivalent nowadays of using a mink coat for the same purpose) through the streets, as he did in Athens, since that would be fatal while living with the frugal Spartans.
He started practicing the same physical exercices and calisthenics the Spartans did; he washed himself in the (very cold...) rivers, as the Spartans did and he even ate the same (awful) food.

Meanwhile, he even found time to get one of the Spartans King's wife (named Tímaea or Timaia) pregnant with his son. Those guys had two Kings and the lucky one was Agis II. Remember I said the Spartans would be sorry to welcome him...
By the way, in Sparta the women were also tough customers. They not only had a liberty and autonomy unheard of to women in the rest of Greece at the time, but were also taught to read and write. On top of it, they were allowed and even incentivated to practice several sports.
On the other hand, their husbands could only "visit" them by night, and even then in the most stealthy way possible, since they lived and slept (...) with their messmates and matrimonial visits were considered bad for military discipline. However, Spartan women were not deterred by that. Whenever their husbands did not have the appetite or will to be "stealthy" on a regular basis, they usually found someone that would - and this was a socially accepted thing.
I guess Agis II was not doing his duty properly...

AL also played a crucial role as military adviser to the Spartans in the war against Athens, instructing them on how to defeat the Athenians. His advices contributed to the defeat of the Athenians in Sicily - By 413 B.C. the Athenian fleet and army sent there were thoroughly defeated. In mainland Greece/Helas, his advice, among others, to conquer and fortify Decelea (a region in Attica, near Athens, with high strategical importance) also played a significant part in weakening the Athenian power.

But there is more.

This guy also proposed another important and useful war expedient to the Spartans - to promote the revolt from the Athenian Empire of the Greek cities of Ionia (Asia Minor). As you all know (another instance of wishful thinking on my part...) the Athenian Empire extended throughout the regions and cities that bordered the Aegean Sea, who supplied Athens with food, money and all sorts of men and material crucial for the war effort - as AL very well knew.
Therefore, he proposed that a Spartan fleet should be sent there for the purpose of promoting the rebellion of those cities.
And who do you guess he suggested should be appointed as leader of that expedition? Right on!
At that time (about 412 B.C.) ) Tissaphernes was the Satrap of Lidia and Caria (the regions where AL suggested the initial effort should be made) in Asia Minor, and leader of the Persian army extant there. This guy was a good match for AL. Well, at least he (Tissaphernes) survived AL.

And our boy AL by this time was just about ripe for another twist in his allegiances.

If Peixoto delivers my well deserved prize, you will know more about it next Friday.