There is no reason to doubt that the foreign affairs of Athens might have gone on improving, had they not been endangered by the treason of a fraction of her own citizens. That treason took its first rise from the exile Alkibiadês.
In the course of a few months he had greatly lost the confidence of the Spartans. The revolt of the Asiatic dependencies of Athens had not been accomplished so easily and rapidly as he had predicted: Chalkideus, the Spartan commander with whom he had acted, was defeated and slain near Milêtus; the Ephor Endius, by whom he was chiefly protected, retained his office only for one year, and was succeeded by other Ephors about the end of September, when the Athenians gained their second victory near Milêtus, and were on the point of blocking up the town; lastly, king Agis, the personal enemy of Alkibiadês, still remained to persecute him.
It was thus that, after the defeat of Milêtus, Agis was enabled to discredit Alkibiadês as a traitor to Sparta; upon which the new Ephors sent out at once an order to the general Astyochus, to put him to death. Alkibiadês had now an opportunity of tasting the difference between Spartan and Athenian procedure. Though his enemies at Athens were numerous and virulent - with all the advantage, so unspeakable in political warfare, of being able to raise the cry of irreligion against him; yet the utmost which they could obtain was, that he should be summoned home to take his trial before the Dikastery. At Sparta, without any positive ground of crimination, his enemies procure an order that he shall be put to death.
Alkibiadês, however, got intimation of the order in time to retire to Tissaphernês. Probably he was forewarned by Astyochus himself, not ignorant that so monstrous a deed would greatly alienate the Chians and Milêsians. With that flexibility of character which enabled him at once to master and take up a new position, Alkibiadês soon found means to insinuate himself into the confidence of the satrap. He began now to play a game neither Spartan, nor Athenian, but Persian and anti-Hellenic, a game of duplicity to which Tissaphernês himself was spontaneously disposed, but to which the intervention of a dexterous Grecian negotiator was indispensable. It was by no means