One of ancient
Greece's most adventurous and controversial personalities, Alcibiades was
a disciple of Socrates, and is one of the characters in Plato's Symposium.
Extremely good-looking, very wealthy and always living according to local custom wherever he was: on horse in Thessaly, constantly drunk in Thrace or taking ice-cold baths in Sparta, he was subject to much gossip, admiration but also animosity.
As a general, he was sent to lead an expedition to Sicily where a Greek town needed help. On his way there, he was sent for by the Athenians, who wanted him to return immediately to face charges of vandalisation and sacrilege. On the night before his departure, almost all Hermes statues in Athens had been damaged and the Athenians suspected that Alcibiades and his party lay behind this after a drunken last night in town. Also, they had satirised the Eleusinian Mysteries, which was considered severe blasphemy.
When Alcibiades learnt of this, he fled to Sparta and offered the Spartans to help defeat Athens. The Athenians sentenced him to death in his absence, and all his property was confiscated by the state.
Because of problems with the Spartan leaders, Alcibiades was once again forced to flee. This time he went to the Persians, but soon managed to win back the confidence of the Athenians. They made him general again, and he won some important victories for Athens, amongst others he conquered the cities of Chalcedon and Byzantium.
This was not to last, though, because when his new expedition to Asia failed, the Athenians again became hostile towards him and Alcibiades fled to the Persians.
One night, his house was set on fire and when he ran outside he was killed by a gang of bowmen. Apparently, the Spartans had put pressure on the Persians to assassinate him.