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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.
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
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
coun-  cil, 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.
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.