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Inasmuch as the Athenians had experienced setbacks so serious at one and the same time, everyone had assumed that the war was at an end; for no one expected that the Athenians could possibly endure such reverses any longer, even for a moment. However, events did not come to an end that tallied with the assumption of the majority, but on the contrary it came to pass, such was the superiority of the combatants, that the whole situation changed for the following reasons. [2]

Alcibiades, who was in exile from Athens, had for a time fought on the side of the Lacedaemonians and had rendered them great assistance in the war; for he was a most able orator and far the outstanding citizen in daring, and, besides, he was in high birth and wealth first among the Athenians. [3] Now since Alcibiades was eager to be allowed to return to his native city, he contrived every device whereby he could do the Athenians some good turn, and in particular at the crucial moments when the Athenians seemed doomed to utter defeat. [4] Accordingly, since he was on friendly terms with Pharnabazus, the satrap of Darius, and saw that he was on the point of sending three hundred ships to the support of the Lacedaemonians,1 he persuaded him to give up the undertaking; for he showed him that it would not be to the advantage of the King to make the Lacedaemonians too powerful. That would not, he said, help the Persians, and so a better policy would be to maintain a neutral attitude toward the combatants so long as they were equally matched, in order that they might continue their quarrel as long as possible. [5] Thereupon Pharnabazus, believing that Alcibiades was giving him good advice, sent the fleet back to Phoenicia. Now on that occasion Alcibiades deprived the Lacedaemonians of so great an allied force; and some time later, when he had been allowed to return to Athens and been given command of a military force, he defeated the Lacedaemonians in many battles and completely restored again the sunken fortunes of the Athenians. [6] But we shall discuss these matters in more detail in connection with the appropriate period of time, in order that our account may not by anticipation violate the natural order of events.

1 Cp. chap. 36.5.

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