by cheri block
I am the only one in my group who likes Alcibiades.
We have read and discussed Thucydides and two of Plato’s Dialogues, Alcibiades I and II. This morning, we will begin analyzing the historian Plutarch’s take on Alcibiades and the first part of Plato’s Symposium.
Alcibiades’ complex personality continues to engender heated discussion in a small hot room.
Is it all that complicated?
Here is a paragraph from Thucydides about the Athenians. Let me set the scene:
The Corinthians were in town to complain bitterly about the Spartans’ provincial approach to the expanding Athenian aggression, especially because the Corinthian colony of Potidaea was under siege at the hands of the Athenians.
The boldfaced words are my emphasis.
“The Athenians are addicted to innovation, and their designs are characterized by swiftness alike in conception and execution; you [the Spartans] have a genius for keeping what you have got, accompanied by a total want of invention, and when forced to act you [the Spartans] never go far enough. Again, they [the Athenians] are adventurous beyond their power, and daring beyond their judgment, and in danger they are sanguine…they are swift to follow up a success, and slow to recoil from a reverse…a scheme unexecuted is with them a positive loss, a successful enterprise a comparative failure…Thus they toil on in trouble and danger all the days of their life…To describe their character in a word, one might truly say that they were born into the world to take no rest themselves and to give none to others. Such is Athens, your antagonist…”
Although the Corinthians envoys here are referring to Athens, they could have been characterizing Alcibiades. He was all of these things and more.
He was Athens incarnate.