LAJ ARTICLES

Alcibiades the Musical! (first draft)

Alcibiades 89

Adorable child wearing glasses in the first row turns to face the crowd, he has a big book in his hands, he opens it and reads “Same Shit Different Day. We know much about the mechanics of Athenian democracy from the writings of Athenian historian Thucydides. Within his history of the Peloponnesian War Thucydides incorporated many pairs of speeches arguing opposing points of view that reveal how politicians sought to put down, outmaneuver and even humiliate their rivals”
Child shuts book and sits back down. Then lots of singing and dancing (music and lyrics TBA)
Such was his charisma that even those who feared him or were jealous of him fell victim to his charms – From a biography of Alcibiades
Musical overture
Act one: Alcibiades is a well-respected Athenian military leader.
Alcibiades puts himself on the other side of conventions. Athenians of his social status had warlike symbols painted on their shields, Alcibiades had Eros.
A man who thinks highly of himself should not be expected to lower himself to the general level of mankind. Those who are fortunate show contempt toward those who are unfortunate, and that’s the way it is. – Alcibiades
In 415 B.C., the Athenian democracy was debating whether to invade and conquer Sicily. Athens had concluded an uneasy peace with Sparta six years earlier. But the war was not ended, it was only hibernated. Voting for a military expedition was taking a huge gamble, committing their resources overseas at a time when they might require them to defend Athens against attack.
Nicias was wealthy and well-respected, he argued that the Athenians were in no position to control Sicily even if they could conquer the island. He then employed a disastrous political tactic; he tried to divide the older “sensible and rational” citizens like himself from the younger “ignorant and stupid” citizens. Nicias accused his opponent of being motivated wholly by self-interest. He claimed that the only reason Alcibiades was supporting the expedition was that he wanted to profit from it financially and enhance his prestige. Alcibiades, he claimed, didn’t care a jot for the state.
Alcibiades responded by attacking Nicias for trying to divide the old from the young. He promoted himself as the “unifier,” About 15 years before this showdown, Athens had fallen victim to a plague, which carried off about a quarter of the population. It had only just recovered and Alcibiades felt this the optimal time for the state to assert itself again. The Athenians took Alcibiades lead and voted overwhelmingly in support of the expedition.
Aa major military expedition to Sicily was launched against Syracuse, the most powerful city-state in Sicily. But then a strange thing happened, all the heads of the god Hermes were mysteriously mutilated throughout Athens, a sacrilege.
Alcibiades was accused of being the originator of the sacrilege, the act was seen as an attempt to sabotage the voyage to Sicily. Alcibiades demanded an immediate inquiry to clear his name, but his enemies fearing that soldiers loyal to him might protect him, ensured that he sailed with the charge still hanging over him. However, when he and his troops reached Sicily, he was recalled alone to stand trail, and a state ship was sent to bring him back to Athens.
Act 2.  Fearing for his life, Alcibiades did not return to Athens. Instead he fled to Sparta where he convinced the Spartans that he could assist them in their cause.
Alcibiades collaborated with the Spartans and advised them how to beat the Athenians. He even seduced the Spartan queen “so that my descendants will one day rule over the Spartans.”
Act 3. A death warrant was issued for Alcibiades, fortunately for him, he was sailing to Asia Minor at the time.
In Asia minor Alcibiades offered his services as an adviser to the satrap, Tissaphernes the Satrap accepted the offer.
Alcibiades knew that Athens had been instigating the Asian Greek states under Persian rule not to pay taxes, counselled the Persian to adopt a more aggressive approach towards Athens. The militant Alcibiades also persuaded the Persian satrap that Persia’s best policy was to play Athens and Sparta against one another.
Act 4. Through emissaries Alcibiades persuaded a group of Athenian generals and admirals to overthrow the “radical” Athenian democracy and install in its place a dictatorship.
As part of his plan, Alcibiades promised to use his influence with Tissaphernes and the King of Persia, to switch sides and support the Athenian cause against the Spartans. The generals and admirals in turn persuaded their soldiers and sailors to support the coup with promises of lucrative pay from the Persian king.
Alcibiades used his considerable oratorical and persuasion skills to convince the Athenian soldiers and sailors stationed in Samos to elect him as their general. He managed to rile the troops to such an extent and they wished to waste no time in sailing to Athens in an attempt to depose the oligarchs, only to be dissuaded by Alcibiades.
Act 5. Newly elected as an admiral, Alcibiades sailed to a Persian controlled port with his fleet to show-off his new-found status and power to the Persian satrap Tissaphernes.
He told the Greeks that his purpose was to convince Tissaphernes not to sail against the Athenians.
The war between Sparta and Athens continued unabated. In 408 BCE the Persian emperor Darius II decided to actively support Sparta in its war against Athens. He removed the non-interventionist satrap Tissaphernes from the generalship of the western Persian armies.
Actively supporting Sparta is what Alcibiades had been pushing the Persians to do in the first place. But now that Alcibiades had switched sides and joined the Athenians, that made him an adversary of the Persians.
Athens and Sparta had in the meantime been preparing themselves for a ‘mother of all’ sea battle to end all battles. When the two fleets engaged, the Athenian fleet gained the upper-hand and were set to destroy the Spartan fleet entirely, when a timely intervention by the Persian saved the Spartan fleet from utter destruction. The reprieve was only temporary, for the Spartan-Persian alliance suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Athenians during their next engagement. Alcibiades was now fully engaged as a restored Athenian admiral and general and is credited with many Athenian victories over the Spartans and their Persian supporters.
In 406 BCE Alcibiades was back to his generalship of an Athens fleet just in time for the Spartan-Persian alliance to score an important victory over the Athenians. Alcibiades’ enemies in Athens used the defeat to blame him and the resulting internal divisions in Athens served to further weaken them. In 405 the Athenians would suffer a more devastating defeat at Aegospotami. That defeat cut off the main source of Athenian food supply which was brought in by sea from the wheat fields to the north of the Black Sea.
Athens surrendered to Sparta. (it works out okay!)
(showstopper song, the one everyone will talk about!) Self delusion is a dangerous thing, Alcibiades proved this once again to be true by attempting to enlist Persian assistance in another scheme, advising the Persian emperor on how to deal with the Greeks.
Act 6, 7 and 8 are lots of musical numbers, dancing, a sad song, a few catchy medleys, a child singing a solo.
Act 9. Alcibiades is executed at the age of 40 in his home (sad song to make people cry like that scene in Les Miz when Jean Valjean dies)
The End

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