The family of Alcibiades, it is thought, may be traced back to Eurysaces,1
the son of Aias, as its founder; and on his mother's side he was an Alcmaeonid, being the son of Deinomache, the daughter of Megacles. His father, Cleinias, fitted out a trireme at his own cost and fought it gloriously at Artemisium.2
He was afterwards slain at Coroneia,3
fighting the Boeotians, and Alcibiades was therefore reared as the ward of Pericles and Ariphron, the sons of Xanthippus, his near kinsmen.4
It is said, and with good reason, that the favour and affection which Socrates showed him contributed not a little to his reputation. Certain it is that Nicias, Demosthenes, Lamachus, Phormio, Thrasybulus, and Theramenes were prominent men, and his contemporaries, and yet we cannot so much as name the mother of any one of them; whereas, in the case of Alcibiades, we even know that his nurse, who was a Spartan woman, was called Amycla, and his tutor Zopyrus. The one fact is mentioned by Antisthenes, the other by Plato.5
As regards the beauty of Alcibiades, it is perhaps unnecessary to say aught, except that it flowered out with each successive season of his bodily growth, and made him, alike in boyhood, youth and manhood, lovely and pleasant. The saying of Euripides,6
‘beauty's autumn, too, is beautiful,’ is not always true. But it was certainly the case with Alcibiades, as with few besides, because of his excellent natural parts.
Even the lisp that he had became his speech, they say, and made his talk persuasive and full of charm. Aristophanes notices this lisp of his in the verses wherein he ridicules Theorus:—
Then Alcibiades said to me with a lisp, said he,
‘Cwemahk Theocwus? What a cwaven's head he has!’
That lisp of Alcibiades hit the mark for once!
And Archippus, ridiculing the son of Alcibiades, says:
He walks with utter wantonness, trailing his long robe behind him, that he may be thought the very picture of his father, yes,
He slants his neck awry, and overworks the lisp.