A prosperous fool is a grievous burden. — Aeschylus

Story of the Greeks - Helene Guerber




Youth of Alcibiades

As the Greeks all loved the Olympic games, Alcibiades was always seen there. He took part in the chariot races especially; and his horses won three prizes in succession, to the delight of his admirers.

Alcibiades was shrewd enough, in spite of all his vanity, to understand that the people of Athens loved him principally because he was handsome and rich. He also knew that they delighted in gossip, and he sometimes did a thing merely to hear them talk about it.

He had a very handsome dog, for instance; and for a little while its beauty was praised by every one. But the Athenians soon grew used to the animal, and ceased to talk about it. Then Alcibiades had the dog's tail cut off, and of course every one began to exclaim about that.

Some of the Athenians became so inquisitive that they asked why he had done so, and he laughingly answered that it was merely in order to supply them with material for conversation and wonder.

Alcibiades was so merry and light-hearted that he treated even serious matters in a joking way. We are told, that, when he was first admitted to the city council, he acted like a schoolboy, and mischievously let loose a captive quail, which ran in and out among the feet of the councilors, and fluttered about so wildly as to upset the gravity of the whole assembly.

On another occasion the councilors were all waiting for Alcibiades to begin their proceedings. He entered the hall with a crown of flowers on his head; begged them to excuse him, because he could really not attend to business, as he had a banquet at his house; and asked them to adjourn and go home with him.

Strange to relate, his manner was so fascinating that the grave councilors did as he wished, and dropped their important business to feast with him. It was on account of this influence that an Athenian citizen once bitterly exclaimed, "Go on, my brave boy! Your prosperity will bring ruin on this crowd."

Alcibiades was such a favorite among rich and poor, that the Athenians would gladly have made him king. Fortunately, however, the young man still had sense enough to refuse this honor; but, although he would not accept the title, he exercised much of the power of a king, and soon he and Nicias were the principal politicians of the day.

Alcibiades was as ambitious as Nicias was careful; and while the latter was always trying to keep the Athenians as quiet and contented as possible, Alcibiades was always ready to think of some plan by which the power of the city could be extended.

This ambition of Alcibiades was destined to have a very bad effect upon his own fortunes and upon those of his native land, as you will see by the end of his career.



Contents

Front Matter
Review

Early Inhabitants of Greece
The Deluge of Ogyges
Founding of Important Cities
Story of Deucalion
Daedalus and Icarus
The Adventures of Jason
Theseus Visits the Labyrinth
The Terrible Prophecy
The Sphinx's Riddle
Death of Oedipus
The Brothers' Quarrel
The Taking of Thebes
The Childhood of Paris
Muster of the Troops
Sacrifice of Iphigenia
The Wrath of Achilles
Death of Hector and Achilles
The Burning of Troy
Heroic Death of Codrus
The Blind Poet
The Rise of Sparta
The Spartan Training
The Brave Spartan Boy
Public Tables in Sparta
Laws of Lycurgus
The Messenian War
The Music of Tyrtaeus
Aristomenes' Escape
The Olympic Games
Milo of Croton
The Jealous Athlete
The Girls' Games
The Bloody Laws of Draco
The Laws of Solon
The First Plays
The Tyrant Pisistratus
The Tyrant's Insult
Death of the Conspirators
Hippias Driven out of Athens
The Great King
Hippias Visits Darius
Destruction of the Persian Host
Advance of the Second Host
The Battle of Marathon
Miltiades' Disgrace
Aristides the Just
Two Noble Spartan Youths
The Great Army
Preparations for Defense
Leonidas at Thermopylae
Death of Leonidas
The Burning of Athens
Battles of Salamis and Plataea
The Rebuilding of Athens
Death of Pausanias
Cimon Improves Athens
The Earthquake
The Age of Pericles
Teachings of Anaxagoras
Peloponnesian War Begins
Death of Pericles
The Philosopher Socrates
Socrates' Favorite Pupil
Youth of Alcibiades
Greek Colonies in Italy
Alcibiades in Disgrace
Death of Alcibiades
Overthrow of Thirty Tyrants
Accusation of Socrates
Death of Socrates
The Defeat of Cyrus
Retreat of the Ten Thousand
Agesilaus in Asia
A Strange Interview
The Peace of Antalcidas
The Theban Friends
Thebes Free Once More
The Battle of Leuctra
Death of Pelopidas
The Battle of Mantinea
The Tyrant of Syracuse
Damon and Pythias
The Sword of Damocles
Dion and Dionysius
Civil War in Syracuse
Death of Dion
Philip of Macedon
Philip Begins His Conquests
The Orator Demosthenes
Philip Masters Greece
Birth of Alexander
The Steed Bucephalus
Alexander as King
Alexander and Diogenes
Alexander's Beginning
The Gordian Knot
Alexander's Royal Captives
Alexander at Jerusalem
The African Desert
Death of Darius
Defeat of Porus
Return to Babylon
Death of Alexander
Division of the Realm
Death of Demosthenes
Last of the Athenians
The Colossus of Rhodes
The Battle of Ipsus
Demetrius and the Athenians
The Achaean League
Division in Sparta
Death of Agis
War of the Two Leagues
The Last of the Greeks
Greece a Roman Province