Thus he also reflects on the state of his own reality in an even more indirect fashion, using the example of the Persians to decry the attempts at empire made by Athens and
However, this treatise makes evident that anti-democratic sentiments were extant in Athens in the late 5th century BC and were only increased after its shortcomings were exploited
and made apparent during the Peloponnesian War.
This was among the first attacks in depth ever made, 23 years after Delium and 30 years before Epaminondas’ more famous use of it at Leuctra.
Persians as centaurs The Cyropaedia as a whole lavishes a great deal of praise on the first Persian emperor, Cyrus the Great, on account of his virtue and leadership
quality, and it was through his greatness that the Persian Empire held together.
Once the Great King had sent into their country an army of 120,000 men, to subdue them, but of all that great host not one had ever seen his home again.
On the topic of campaigns in Asia Minor and in Babylon, Xenophon wrote Cyropaedia outlining both military and political methods used by Cyrus the Great to conquer the Neo-Babylonian
Empire in 539 BC.
“ Historical reality Although Xenophon claims to have been present at the Symposium, this is impossible as he was only a young boy at the date which he proposes
There is no mention of the Persians, although according to Herodotus and the current consensus the Medians had been made “slaves” of the Persians several years previously.
By showing that only someone who is almost beyond human could conduct such an enterprise as empire, Xenophon indirectly censures imperial design.
It does not seem that Nabonidus would be completely misled about who his enemies were, or who was really in control over the Medes and Persians just one to three years before
his kingdom fell to their armies.
Hellenica mentions the response of the commander of the Ten Thousand (likely Xenophon) “But men of Lacedaemon, we are the same men now as we were last year; but the commander
now is one man (Dercylidas), and in the past was another (Thimbron).
Old Oligarch A short treatise on the Constitution of the Athenians exists that was once thought to be by Xenophon, but which was probably written when Xenophon was about
five years old.
19th-century illustration The mercenaries, known as the Ten Thousand, found themselves without leadership far from the sea, deep in hostile territory near the heart of Mesopotamia,
with a hostile population and armies to deal with.
By this example Xenophon sought to show that empires lacked stability and could only be maintained by a person of remarkable prowess, such as Cyrus.
Although Olmstead followed the consensus view that Cyrus subjugated the Medes, he nevertheless wrote, “Medes were honored equally with Persians; they were employed in high
office and were chosen to lead Persian armies.
He cites the regression of the Persians directly after the death of Cyrus as a result of this instability, a union made possible only through the impeccable character of Cyrus.
Anabasis is a unique first-hand, humble, and self-reflective account of a military leader’s experience in antiquity.
The opening line reads: It occurred to me one day that Sparta, though among the most thinly populated of states, was evidently the most powerful and most celebrated city in
Greece; and I fell to wondering how this could have happened.
However, following the lead of Leo Strauss, David Johnson suggests that there is a subtle but strong layer to the book in which Xenophon conveys criticism of not only the
Persians but the Spartans and Athenians as well.
He even goes so far to say that he desires that no Persian kalokagathos (“noble and good man” literally, or simply “noble”) ever be seen on foot but always on a horse, so
much so that the Persians may actually seem to be centaurs (4.3.22–23).
At a period when the Greeks were in desperate need of food, they decided upon attacking a wooden castle known to have had storage.
When Cyaxares died about two years later the Median kingdom passed peaceably to Cyrus, so that this would be the true beginning of the Medo-Persian Empire under just one monarch.
 The level of detail with which Xenophon describes Thimbron’s campaign in Hellenica suggests first hand knowledge.
Xenophon framed Socrates’ defense, which both men admit was not prepared at all, not as a failure to effectively argue his side, but as striving for death even in the light
of unconvincing charges.
Although empire emerges in this case, this is also a sequence of events associated with democracy.
For at least two millennia, Xenophon’s many talents fueled the debate of whether to place Xenophon with generals, historians or philosophers.
For the majority of time in the past two millennia, Xenophon was recognized as a philosopher.
At the age of 30, Xenophon was elected commander of one of the biggest Greek mercenary armies of the Achaemenid Empire, the Ten Thousand, that marched on and came close to
capturing Babylon in 401 BC.
Xenophon’s scouts quickly found another ford, but the Persians moved and blocked this as well.
“ Expedition with Cyrus the Younger Written years after the events it recounts, Xenophon’s book Anabasis (Greek: literally “going up”) is his record of the expedition
of Cyrus and the Greek mercenaries’ journey home.
In 398 BC, Xenophon was likely a part of the Greek force capturing the city of Lampsacus.
Filled with a plethora of originality and tactical genius, Xenophon’s conduct of the retreat caused Dodge to name the Athenian knight the greatest general that preceded Alexander
Much of what is known today about the Spartan society comes from Xenophon’s works – the royal biography of the Spartan king Agesilaus and the Constitution of the Lacedaemonians.
Nevertheless, much of Xenophon’s Socratic writing, especially Apology, concerns that very trial and the defence Socrates put forward.
• Born: c. 430 BC, Athens; Died: Probably 354 or 355 BC (aged c. 74 or 75), likely Corinth; Nationality: Greek; Occupation(s): Military leader, mercenary, philosopher,
historian, writer; Notable work: Hellenica, Anabasis, Education of Cyrus, Memorabilia, Symposium, Oeconomicus, Hiero, Apology, Agesilaus, Constitution of the Lacedaemonians; Children: Gryllus and Diodorus; Parent: Gryllus Life Early years
Xenophon was born around 430 BC, in the deme Erchia of Athens.
Xenophon’s query to the oracle, however, was not whether or not to accept Cyrus’ invitation, but “to which of the gods he must pray and do sacrifice, so that he might best
accomplish his intended journey and return in safety, with good fortune”.
Thus he puts into the latter’s mouth what he would have thought him to say.
This would create a bridge across which Xenophon could lead his men before the Persians could get to them.
 It has been conjectured that this was Cyrus’s first wife, which lends credibility to the Cyropaedia’s statement (8.5.19) that Cyaxares II gave his daughter in marriage
to Cyrus soon (but not immediately) after the fall of the city, with the kingdom of Media as her dowry.
By contrast, Plato does not go so far as to claim that Socrates actually desired death but seems to argue that Socrates was attempting to demonstrate a higher moral standard
and teach a lesson.
 Although partially graced with hindsight, having written the Cyropaedia after the downfall of Athens in the Peloponnesian War, this work criticizes the Greek attempts
at empire and “monarchy”, dooming them to failure.
The strength of Cyrus in holding the empire together is praiseworthy according to Xenophon.
Xenophon sent a small force back toward the other ford, causing the anxious Persians to detach a major part of their force parallel.
The blare of their many trumpets gave notice of their successful detour to Xenophon, as well as added to the confusion of the enemy.
Return Xenophon leading his Ten Thousand through Persia to the Black Sea.
“They say that Socrates met [Xenophon] in a narrow lane, and put his stick across it and prevented him from passing by, asking him where all kinds of necessary things were
Xenophon was away on his Persian campaign during the trial and death of Socrates.
At Tarsus the soldiers became aware of Cyrus’s plans to depose the king, and as a result, refused to continue (Anabasis 1.3.1).
The author, often called in English the “Old Oligarch” or Pseudo-Xenophon, detests the democracy of Athens and the poorer classes, but he argues that the Periclean institutions
are well designed for their deplorable purposes.
Today, Xenophon is best known for his historical works.
“peers”) suggests, their small band (1000 when Cyrus fought the Assyrians) shared equally in the spoils of war.
When the Persian cavalry arrived the next day, now firing within several yards, Xenophon suddenly unleashed his new cavalry in a shock charge, smashing into the stunned and
confused enemy, killing many and routing the rest.
Xenophon probably followed Agesilaus’ march to Sparta in 394 BC and finished his military journey after seven years.
In the Nabonidus Chronicle, there is mention of the death of the wife of the king (name not given) within a month after the capture of Babylon.
Before their departure, the Greeks made an alliance with the locals and fought one last battle against the Colchians, vassals of the Persians, in mountainous country.
 However, in the face of overwhelming numbers in a campaign against the Assyrians, Cyrus armed the commoners with similar arms instead of their normal light ranged armament
One of the main plots of the Symposium is about the type of loving relationship (noble or base) a rich aristocrat will be able to establish with a young boy (present at the
banquet alongside his own father).
“ Diogenes Laërtius also relates an incident “when in the battle of Delium Xenophon had fallen from his horse” and Socrates reputedly “stepped in and saved his life.
Xenophon’s Anabasis recounts his adventures with the Ten Thousand while in the service of Cyrus the Younger, Cyrus’s failed campaign to claim the Persian throne from Artaxerxes
II of Persia, and the return of Greek mercenaries after Cyrus’s death in the Battle of Cunaxa.
“ After heavy mountain fighting in which Xenophon showed the calm and patience needed for the situation, the Greeks made their way to the northern foothills of the mountains
at the Centrites River, only to find a major Persian force blocking the route north.
Once there, they helped Seuthes II make himself king of Thrace, before being recruited into the army of the Spartan general Thimbron (whom Xenophon refers to as Thibron).
Herodotus says that Cyrus led a rebellion against his maternal grandfather, Astyages king of Media, and defeated him, thereafter (improbably) keeping Astyages in his court
for the remainder of his life (Histories 1.130).
The Colchians, seeing they were being outflanked, divided their army to check the Greek deployment, opening a gap in their line through which Xenophon rushed in his reserves,
scoring a brilliant Greek victory.
The Hellenica continues directly from the final sentence of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War covering the last seven years of the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC)
and the subsequent forty-two years (404 BC–362 BC) ending with the Second Battle of Mantinea.
Necessity to Xenophon was truly the mother of invention, but the centuries since have devised nothing to surpass the genius of this warrior.
Many homotīmoi found this unfair because their military training was no better than the commoners, only their education, and hand-to-hand combat was less a matter of skill
than strength and bravery.
As the military historian Theodore Ayrault Dodge wrote, “the centuries since have devised nothing to surpass the genius of this warrior”.
The former is set during the trial of Socrates, essentially defending Socrates’ loss and death, while the latter explains his moral principles and that he was not a corrupter
of the youth.
Xenophon ordered small parties of his men to appear on the hill road, and when the defenders fired, one soldier would leap into the trees, and he “did this so often that at
last there was quite a heap of stones lying in front of him, but he himself was untouched.”
That Xenophon was able to acquire the means of feeding his force in the heart of a vast empire with a hostile population was astonishing.
The Anabasis is a narrative of how “Xenophon rouses the despairing Greeks into action and leads them on their long march home; and the narrative of his successes has won him
noteworthy if uneven admiration for over two millennia.
Then, “the other men followed his example, and made it a sort of game, enjoying the sensation, pleasant alike to old and young, of courting danger for a moment, and then quickly
[‘Strassler et al., xvii Archived 2022-04-20 at the Wayback Machine.
o ^ Jump up to:a b Lu, Houliang (2014). Xenophon’s Theory of Moral Education. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 155. ISBN 978-1443871396. In the case of Xenophon’s date of death
most modern scholars agree that Xenophon died in his seventies in 355 or 354 B.C.
o ^ “Xenophon | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy”.
o ^ Theodore Ayrault Dodge, Alexander: A History of the Origin and Growth of the Art of War from Earliest Times
to the Battle of Ipsus, B.C. 301, Vol. 1, Houghton Mifflin, 1890, p. 105.
o ^ Nadon, Christopher (2001), Xenophon’s Prince: Republic and Empire in the Cyropaedia, Berkeley: UC Press, ISBN 0520224043
o ^ Gray, Vivienne J., ed. (2010). Xenophon
(Oxford Readings in Classical Studies). Xenophon’s works and controversies about how to read them: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199216185.
o ^ Diogenes Laërtius. Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers. Book II, part 6.
o ^ “Xenophon”.
Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 21 September 2009.
o ^ Ambler, Wayne (2011). The Anabasis of Cyrus. Translator’s preface: Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0801462368.
o ^ ἀνάβασις Archived 2020-07-25 at the Wayback Machine, Henry George
Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
o ^ Dodge, pp. 105–106
o ^ Witt, p. 123
o ^ Dodge, p. 107
o ^ Brownson, Carlson L. (Carleton Lewis) (1886). Xenophon;. Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press.
o ^ Witt, p. 136
Dodge, p. 109
o ^ Witt, p. 166
o ^ Witt, pp. 175–176
o ^ Witt, pp. 181–184
o ^ Dodge, Theodore Ayrault. Great Captains: A Course of Six Lectures on the Art of War. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston and New York: 1890. p. 7
o ^ Hellenica III,
o ^ Jump up to:a b Hellenica III, 2
o ^ Diogenes Laërtius. Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers. Book II, part 5.
o ^ “Pausanias, Description of Greece, Elis 1, chapter 6”. www.perseus.tufts.edu.
o ^ Pangle, “Socrates Founding Political
Philosophy in Xenophon’s Economist, Symposium, and Apology”, ISBN 978-0226642475
o ^ Ashley Cooper, Maurice (1803). Cyropædia; or, The institution of Cyrus, . London. Printed by J. Swan for Vernor and Hood [etc.]
o ^ Steven W. Hirsch, “1001 Iranian
Nights: History and Fiction in Xenophon’s Cyropaedia”, in The Greek Historians: Literature and History: Papers Presented to A. E. Raubitschek. Saratoga CA: ANMA Libr, 1985, p. 80.
o ^ Pritchard, James B., ed. (1969). Ancient Near Eastern Texts
Relating to the Old Testament (3rd ed.). Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press. pp. 562–63.
o ^ Olmsted, A. T. (1948). History of the Persian Empire. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press. p. 37.
o ^ Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts, p. 306b.
Jump up to:a b c d e f Johnson, D. M. 2005. “Persians as Centaurs in Xenophon’s ‘Cyropaedia'”, Transactions of the American Philological Association. Vol 135, No. 1, pp. 177–207.
o ^ Johnson, D. M. 2005. “Persians as Centaurs in Xenophon’s ‘Cyropaedia'”,
Transactions of the American Philological Association. Vol 135, No. 1, pp. 177–207
o ^ “Xenophon, Constitution of the Lacedaimonians, chapter 1, section 1”. www.perseus.tufts.edu.
o ^ Norwood 1930, p. 373.
o ^ Laertius, Diogenes. “thegreatthinkers.org”.
Great Thinkers. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
o ^ Laertius, Diogenes. “Socrates”. Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers.
o ^ Jump up to:a b c Danzig, Gabriel. 2003. “Apologizing for Socrates: Plato and Xenophon on Socrates’ Behavior in Court.”
Transactions of the American Philological Association. Vol. 133, No. 2, pp. 281–321.
o ^ Jump up to:a b O’Flannery, Jennifer. 2003. “Xenophon’s (The Education of Cyrus) and Ideal Leadership Lessons for Modern Public Administration.” Public Administration
Quarterly. Vol. 27, No. 1/2, pp. 41–64.
o ^ See for example the Landmark edition of Xenophon’s Hellenika. In the preface Strassler writes (xxi), “Fifteen works were transmitted through antiquity under Xenophon’s name, and fortunately all fifteen
have come down to us”.
• Bradley, Patrick J. “Irony and the Narrator in Xenophon’s Anabasis”, in Xenophon. Ed. Vivienne J. Gray. Oxford University Press, 2010 (ISBN 978-0199216185.
• Anderson, J.K. Xenophon. London: Duckworth, 2001 (paperback,
• Buzzetti, Eric. Xenophon the Socratic Prince: The Argument of the Anabasis of Cyrus. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014 (hardcover, ISBN 978-1137333308).
• Xénophon et Socrate: actes du colloque d’Aix-en-Provence (6–9 novembre
2003). Ed. par Narcy, Michel and Alonso Tordesillas. Paris: J. Vrin, 2008. 322 p. Bibliothèque d’histoire de la philosophie. Nouvelle série, ISBN 978-2711619870.
• Dodge, Theodore Ayrault. “Alexander. A History of the Origin and Growth of the Art
of War, from the Earliest Times to the Battle of Ipsus, b.c. 301”. Boston and New York, Houghton Mifflin Company: 1890. pp. 105–112
• Dillery, John. Xenophon and the History of His Times. London; New York: Routledge, 1995 (hardcover, ISBN 041509139X).
R.L.S. “Xenophon” in The Dictionary of Literary Biography: Greek Writers. Ed.Ward Briggs. Vol. 176, 1997.
• Gray, V.J. The Years 375 to 371 BC: A Case Study in the Reliability of Diodorus Siculus and Xenophon, The Classical Quarterly, Vol. 30, No.
2. (1980), pp. 306–326.
• Gray, V. J., Xenophon on Government. Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics. Cambridge University Press (2007).
• Higgins, William Edward. Xenophon the Athenian: The Problem of the Individual and the Society of the “Polis”.
Albany: State University of New York Press, 1977 (hardcover, ISBN 087395369X).
• Hirsch, Steven W. The Friendship of the Barbarians: Xenophon and the Persian Empire. Hanover; London: University Press of New England, 1985 (hardcover, ISBN 978-0874513226).
Godfrey. Xenophon and the Art of Command. London: Greenhill Books, 2000 (hardcover, ISBN 1853674176).
• The Long March: Xenophon and the Ten Thousand, edited by Robin Lane Fox. New Heaven, Connecticut; London: Yale University Press, 2004 (hardcover,
• Kierkegaard, Søren A. The Concept of Irony with Continual Reference to Socrates. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992 (ISBN 978-0691020723)
• Moles, J.L. “Xenophon and Callicratidas”, The Journal of Hellenic Studies,
Vol. 114. (1994), pp. 70–84.
• Nadon, Christopher. Xenophon’s Prince: Republic and Empire in the “Cyropaedia”. Berkeley; Los Angeles; London: University of California Press, 2001 (hardcover, ISBN 0520224043).
• Norwood, Gilbert (1930). “The Earliest
Prose Work of Athens”. The Classical Journal. 25 (5).
• Nussbaum, G.B. The Ten Thousand: A Study in Social Organization and Action in Xenophon’s “Anabasis”. (Social and Economic Commentaries on Classical Texts; 4). Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1967.
A.A & Willcock M.M. Xenophon & Arrian On Hunting With Hounds, contains Cynegeticus original texts, translations & commentary. Warminster: Aris & Phillips Ltd., 1999 (paperback ISBN 0856687065).
• Pomeroy, Sarah, Xenophon, Oeconomicus: A social and
historical commentary, with a new English translation. Clarendon Press, 1994.
• Rahn, Peter J. “Xenophon’s Developing Historiography”, Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, Vol. 102. (1971), pp. 497–508.
Tim. The Sea! The Sea!: The Shout of the Ten Thousand in the Modern Imagination. London: Duckworth Publishing, 2004 (paperback, ISBN 0715633082); Woodstock, New York; New York: The Overlook Press, (hardcover, ISBN 1585676640); 2006 (paperback, ISBN
• Strassler, Robert B., John Marincola, & David Thomas. The Landmark Xenophon’s Hellenika. New York: Pantheon Books, 2009 (hardcover, ISBN 978-0375422553).
• Strauss, Leo. Xenophon’s Socrates. Ithaca, New York; London: Cornell University
Press, 1972 (hardcover, ISBN 0801407125); South Bend, Indiana: St. Augustines Press, 2004 (paperback, ISBN 1587319667).
• Stronk, J.P. The Ten Thousand in Thrace: An Archaeological and Historical Commentary on Xenophon’s Anabasis, Books VI, iii–vi
– VIII (Amsterdam Classical Monographs; 2). Amsterdam: J.C. Gieben, 1995 (hardcover, ISBN 905063396X).
• Usher, S. “Xenophon, Critias and Theramenes”, The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 88. (1968), pp. 128–135.
• Witt, Prof. C. “The Retreat
of the Ten Thousand”. Longmans, Green and Co.: 1912.
• Waterfield, Robin. Xenophon’s Retreat: Greece, Persia and the End of the Golden Age. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2006 (hardcover, ISBN 0674023560);
London: Faber and Faber, 2006 (hardcover, ISBN 978-0571223831).
• Xenophon, Cyropaedia, translated by Walter Miller. Harvard University Press, 1914, ISBN 978-0674990579, (Books 1–5) and ISBN 978-0674990586, (Books 5–8).
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tabor-roeder/14597445311/’]