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ALCIBIADES RETURNS TO ATHENS
 ALCIBIADES fled from the Athenians to Sparta, but he did not stay
there long, for he soon grew tired of living as simply
and frugally as the people of that country. He had,
too, made an enemy of one of the kings of Sparta, so in
the autumn of 412 B.C. he fled to Miletus in Asia
Minor, where Tissaphernes, the Persian governor, ruled
for the great king.
Tissaphernes was a cruel man, but he was easily pleased
by flattery. Alcibiades soon discovered the governor's
weakness, and he determined to win his favour by his
agreeable speeches. He succeeded so well that the
Persian named some of his parks and pavilions
Alcibiades, in honour of the eloquent Athenian.
The luxury and ease with which the Persians were
surrounded pleased Alcibiades after his course of
Spartan fare and discipline, and he indulged for a time
in even greater magnificence than did Tissaphernes.
His anger against the Athenians had gradually grown
less vehement, and he now began to wish that they would
forget their hatred of him and recall him from exile.
But they had little thought to spare for the traitor,
for troubles were pouring in upon them on every side.
They had but lately heard of the complete overthrow of
their fleet and army in Sicily, and they were now
building a new fleet with money which Pericles had put
aside long before, lest at any time Attica should be
invaded by sea.
The Spartans, too, were still at Decelea, where they
had built a fort, not fourteen miles from the city.
 town that had been allied with Athens in the time of
her prosperity now became her enemy.
In their despair the Athenians had taken a desperate
step—they had asked their old enemies the Persians to
come to their aid.
It was then that Alcibiades saw an opportunity, as he
thought, to help the people whom he had so cruelly
betrayed, and at the same time to please the Persians.
So he sent a message to the Athenians to say that if
they would place the government of Athens in the hands
of a party named "The Four Hundred," he would be able
to persuade Tissaphernes to make an alliance with them.
For his master, the great king, would make no terms
with Athens as long as she was a democracy.
The Athenians followed Alcibiades" advice, and the
government of the city was entrusted to The Four
Hundred for a short time. But Alcibiades had not so
much influence as he had believed, and the Persian
government still refused to help the Athenians.
Partly perhaps in anger with Tissaphernes, partly
because the Athenians were not satisfied with the rule
of The Four Hundred, Alcibiades helped to overthrow
them and to make Athens once again a democracy.
So grateful were the people for his help, that they
declared his exile was at an end, and bade his return
But although Alcibiades longed to go back to Athens, he
was content to wait until he could return covered with
glory. By his own request he was given the command of
a few ships, and with these he set sail for the
Hellespont. Mindarus, the Spartan admiral, with a
large army was there, hoping to stop the corn supply of
Athens on its way to the city from the Black Sea. If
the corn supply was stopped, Athens would starve, and
Mindarus knew that the city would then soon be in the
hands of the Spartans.
The Athenian fleet was in three divisions, and the one
commanded by Alcibiades passed the Hellespont unseen by
the enemy and took Mindarus by surprise.
 By land and sea desperate battles were fought, and in
both the Athenians were victorious. Mindarus was
slain, and the Spartan fleet was destroyed. The
Hellespont was not blocked, and Athens was no longer in
danger of starving.
The Spartans in their own laconic way sent a brief
message to Sparta to tell of their defeat. The
dispatch was seized by the Athenians before it reached
its destination. This is what the victorious people
read: "The ships are gone; Mindarus is slain; the men
are starving; we know not what to do."
For two years, from 409 B.C. to 407 B.C., Alcibiades
stayed at the Hellespont retaking cities which had
thrown off their allegiance to Athens and joined
Sparta. Then feeling that now he might return with
glory, he set sail for Athens.
Plutarch tells us that as Alcibiades drew near to the
Piræus he was afraid to venture on shore, until he saw
friends waiting to welcome him:
"As soon as he was landed the multitude who came out to
meet him scarcely seemed so much as to see any of the
other captains, but came in throngs about Alcibiades
and saluted him with loud acclamations, and still
followed him; those who could press near him crowned
him with garlands, and they who could not come up so
close, yet stayed to behold him afar off, and the old
men pointed him out and showed him to the young ones."
The multitude saluted him with loud acclamations
In the assembly, crowns of gold were placed on his
head, and he was created general, with absolute power,
over both the land and the sea forces.
His estates were given back to him, and a "holy herald"
was bidden to absolve him from the curses which had
been pronounced against him.
The high priest alone refused to obey, for he said, "If
he is innocent, I never cursed him."