The abrupt vacuum at the top of Athenian politics was an opportunity for the young Alcibiades. He was looked the part of a superstar, a cross between John Edwards and JFK. And in politics, image is reality. First Alcibiades was a real Olympic athlete, considered “the Adonis of Athens…tall, shapely, remarkably handsome, fond of showy attire and luxurious surroundings…” (p 221, Baldwin Project) He was a powerful public speech maker, whose slight lisp made him all the more endearing. And he had that Bill Clinton appeal; he seduced women and men with equal ease and equally often. But Alcibiades really seduced them. No, I mean really. All the way.
Now, Alcibiades’ priniciple political opponent was Nicias. Obviously Nicias could not afford to let Alcibiades' invasion succeed. So Nicias warned the citizens of Athens that Alcibiades' expedition would end up being twice the size he was claiming, and far more than twice as expensive. The plan would, claimed Nicias, require 140 ships and 6,000 men. And that was about twice the size that Alcibiades was suggesting. And maybe Nicias was right, maybe Alcibiades was hiding the truth. Pericles had. And maybe Alcibiades' was teling the truth. It's been 2,000 years and the arguement seems a little redundant by this time. But what ever the truth, when the arguement was submitted to the city council, both Nicias and Alcibiades were shocked by their decision. The Athenian council bought the whole thing, the 6,000 men and the 140 ships. And then they placed both Alcibiades and Nicias in charge of it. In other words they decided to deliver Alcabiades' dagger strike with Nicias' hammer, with both men guiding the weapon.
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