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The Greek Triple Agent: Alcibiades, The Strategist Who Fought On 3 Sides of the Peloponnesian War

December 22, 2020
00:00 50:32
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Imagine if Benedict Arnold defected from America, went to England, then conspired against England with France during the Napoleonic Wars. During the War of 1812, America asks for him to come back but because his military skills were so desperately needed. He then is granted the position of general and wins the entire war of 1812 against the British. We would admire him as a smooth operator – like a James Bond and Loki the god of mischief – but never look up to him like an Abraham Lincoln.

We have that in the Ancient Greek character of Alcibiades. He was called the chameleon by Greek and Roman writers and for good reason.

Alcibiades, (born in 450 BC) was a brilliant but unscrupulous Athenian politician and military commander who provoked the sharp political antagonisms at Athens that were the main causes of Athens’ defeat by Sparta in the Peloponnesian War.

Alcibiades was intertwined with the conflicts in Athens between democracy, oligarchy, and tyranny. Depending upon the circumstances, he could be said to be a proponent of each form of regime. Those shifting allegiances became even more complicated with Persia, as all of the parties within both Athens and Greece sought Persian support.

Learn how this Benedict Arnold of the ancient world played all sides and managed to stay alive far longer than anyone expected... until fate finally caught up with him.

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Meet Your Host
Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to
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