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(born c. 450 BC, Athensdied 404, Phrygia) Athenian politician and commander. Pericles was his guardian, his father having died in battle. Alcibiades grew up without much guidance, but as a youth he was drawn to Socrates' moral strength and keen mind. Socrates, in turn, was attracted to the youth's physical beauty and intellectual promise. They served together in the Peloponnesian War, saving each other's life in battle, yet eventually Alcibiades was led by his own unscrupulous ambition. By 420 he was a general. Recalled from a Sicilian expedition in 415 on charges of sacrilege, he fled to Sparta. Though he aided the Spartan cause against Athens, he was eventually rejected and sought haven with the Persian governor at Sardis. The Athenian fleet eventually recalled him, and he directed Athenian victories 411–408. Though he achieved hero status, his enemies forced him to leave. From Thrace he warned Athens presciently of danger at the Battle of Aegospotami. He fled from Thrace to Phrygia, where the Spartans conspired to have him murdered. His political agitation was a decisive factor in the defeat of Athens in the Peloponnesian War. His notorious behaviour helped strengthen the charges brought against Socrates in 399.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Alcibiades, visit Britannica.com.