‘History rarely repeats itself in a blatant manner, but when the events are over, it often turns out to have performed an old play behind new masks and in updated costumes.’
This monumental, richly-documented, historical novel tells the true story of the rise and fall of Alcibiades, Greece’s most handsome man. He was Athens’s extravagant, brilliant, sensational, androgynous, bisexual and controversial politician and strategist during the Great War against Sparta. Playboy, traitor, general, darling of the people, exhibitionist, ruthless manipulator: he was all of these things and more. The story is a journey through time to the world almost two and a half millennia ago, when an increasing number of signs – disturbingly recognisable to us today – began to point to the decline of democracy, and led to Athens’s defeat. The question remains: to what extent was Alcibiades implicated in all of this? Was he a populist who dismantled democracy or could he have saved Athens? In this novel, he offers an account of his vision, ideals, strategies and lifelong struggles in his own words.
In this rich, ambitious novel, Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer combines the resoluteness of a meticulous historical reconstruction with the courage to bring to life a great, inimitable and incorrigibly memorable man and to allow him to speak to us about his aspirations and doubts around themes that are undiminishedly relevant and urgent in today’s world.
Alcibiades is at once a historical study and a great novel for our time and for any time, telling a poetic, deeply human and moving story of the pursuit of ambitions in an imperfect world.