HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF
In the midst of this display of statesmanship, eloquence, cleverness, and exalted ambition, Alcibiades lived a life of prodigious luxury, drunkenness, debauchery, and insolence. He was effeminate in his dress and would walk through the market-place trailing his long purple robes, and he spent extravagantly. He had the decks of his triremes cut away to allow him to sleep more comfortably, and his bedding was slung on cords, rather than spread on the hard planks. He had a golden shield made for him, which was emblazoned not with any ancestral device, but with the figure of Eros armed with a thunderbolt.
The leading men of Athens watched all this with disgust and indignation and they were deeply disturbed by his contemptuous and lawless behavior, which seemed to them monstrous and suggested the habits of a tyrant. The people’s feelings towards him had been very aptly expressed by Aristophanes in the line: “They long for him, they hate him, they cannot do without him. . . .”
The fact was that his voluntary donations, the public shows he supported, his unrivalled munificence to the state, the fame of his ancestry, the power of his oratory and his physical strength and beauty . . . all combined to make the Athenians forgive him everything else, and they were constantly finding euphemisms for his lapses and putting them down to youthful high spirits and honorable ambition.
—PLUTARCH, THE LIFE OF ALCIBIADES,”THE RISE AND FALL OF ATHENS: NINE GREEK LIVES, TRANSLATED BY IAN SCOTT-KILVERT