During this time Androcles, the popular leader, produced sundry aliens and slaves who accused Alcibiades and his friends of mutilating other sacred images, and of making a parody of the mysteries of Eleusis in a drunken revel. They said that one Theodorus played the part of the Herald, Pulytion that of the Torch-bearer, and Alcibiades that of the High Priest, and that the rest of his companions were there in the role of initiates, and were dubbed Mystae.
Such indeed was the purport of the impeachment which Thessalus, the son of Cimon, brought in to the assembly, impeaching Alcibiades for impiety towards the Eleusinian goddesses. The people were exasperated, and felt bitterly towards Alcibiades, and Androcles, who was his mortal enemy, egged them on. At first Alcibiades was confounded.
But perceiving that all the seamen and soldiers who were going to sail for Sicily were friendly to him, and hearing that the Argive and Mantinean men-at-arms, a thousand in number, declared plainly that it was all because of Alcibiades that they were making their long expedition across the seas, and that if any wrong should be done him they would at once abandon it, he took courage, and insisted on an immediate opportunity to defend himself before the people. His enemies were now in their turn dejected; they feared lest the people should be too lenient in their judgement of him because they needed him so much.
Accordingly, they devised that certain orators who were not looked upon as enemies of Alcibiades, but who really hated him no less than his avowed foes, should rise in the assembly and say that it was absurd, when a general had been appointed, with full powers, over such a vast force, and when his armament and allies were all assembled, to destroy his beckoning opportunity by casting lots for jurors and measuring out time for the case.
‘Nay,’ they said,
‘let him sail now, and Heaven be with him! But when the war is over, then let him come and make his defence. The laws will be the same then as now.’
Of course the malice in this postponement did not escape Alcibiades. He declared in the assembly that it was a terrible misfortune to be sent off at the head of such a vast force with his case still in suspense, leaving behind him vague accusations and slanders; he ought to be put to death if he did not refute them; but if he did refute them and prove his innocence, he ought to proceed against the enemy without any fear of the public informers at home.