Among the many personages associated with the Peloponnesian War, none are as colorful as the Athenian general Alcibiades. In Nemesis: Alcibiades and the Fall of Athens
(Harvard University Press, 2018), David Stuttard
recounts the dramatic life of this controversial figure. A scion of a wealthy family, Alcibiades was adopted by the statesman Pericles after his father died in battle. Growing up he demonstrated a flair for the dramatic, which in combination with his fortune made him a prominent figure at a young age. Yet Alcibiades desired more, and sabotaged the peace agreement with the Spartans orchestrated by Nicias in an effort to prolong the war so as to gain new opportunities for glory. The Sicilian Expedition presented him with just such an opportunity, though controversial actions attributed to Alcibiades and his friends undermined his standing. Faced with mounting opposition, Alcibiades defected, first to Sparta, then to Persia before being recalled and reinstated as an Athenian general. Though Alcibiades subsequently led the Athenians to victory in battle, he fled his home city again after his defeat at Notium, only to be assassinated at Phrygia in the final year of the war.