Vol. 21 (2023)

Alcibiades and popular emotions

Cinzia Bearzot
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Published 2024-01-31


  • Alcibiades,
  • Athenian politics,
  • popular emotions,
  • assembly,
  • individual emotions


The prevalence of emotional over rational aspects in the decision-making process is for Thucydides a characteristic element of post-Periclean political degeneration. The people in the assembly become for the politician a mass of maneuver, whose negative feelings it may be useful to encourage. Given the role Alcibiades played in this transition from old to new politicians, this paper tries to identify, in the tradition concerning him, references to popular emotions in the assembly context: emotions of which Alcibiades was the object, but also an able fomenter. Since the essays in this section focus on the intertwining of individual emotions and collective passions, the paper does not neglect the references to individual emotions that are often the basis of the initiatives of politicians, Alcibiades included.