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This page is part of the "tools" section of a site, Plato and his dialogues, dedicated to developing a new interpretation of Plato's dialogues. The "tools" section provides historical and geographical context (chronology, maps, entries on characters and locations) for Socrates, Plato and their time. For more information on the structure of entries and links available from them, read the notice at the beginning of the index of persons and locations.
Alcibiades was born around 450 in one of the
noblest and wealthiest families of Athens. His
father was Clinias, a member of an old aristocratic Athenian family that traced
its origins to Eurysaces, the son of Ajax, king of Salamis,
who had earned Athenian citizenship by handing the island over to Athens.
His mother was Deinomache, a member of the Alcmeonidæ family, the family
of Cleisthenes, the Athenian lawgiver
who, in 508, had reformed the Athenian constitution
and instituted the system of demes. And Deinomache's
father, Megacles, who had played important enough an role in Athenian politics
to deserve ostracism, was the brother of Pericles'
mother Agariste. This explains why, when Alcibiades' father Clinias, who had
won fame at the naval battle of Artemisium
in 480, was killed at the battle of Coronea
in 447, Pericles
became his guardian (Alcibiades was about 4 at the time).
Besides being well-born, extremely wealthy and raised in the anteroom of power next to the most powerful man of the time, Alcibiades was also incredibly beautiful and very bright. In a word, he had everything one could desire. And as if all that weren't enough, when he married, he took his wife in the richest family of Athens, the Ceryces, torch-bearers at the Eleusinian mysteries : she was Hipparete, the daughter of Hipponicus and sister of Callias and Hermogenes.