From Phantis
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Xenophon (In Greek Ξενοφών, c. 427-355 BC) was a soldier, mercenary and Athenian student of Socrates and is known for his writings on the history of his own times, the sayings of Socrates, and the life of Greece.

While a young man, Xenophon participated in the expedition led by Cyrus the Younger against his older brother, the emperor Artaxerxes II of Persia, in 401 BC. In this effort, Cyrus used many Greek mercenaries left unemployed by the cessation of the Peloponnesian War. Cyrus fought Artaxerxes at Cunaxa: the Greeks were victorious but Cyrus was killed, and shortly thereafter their general, Clearchus of Sparta, was invited to a peace conference, betrayed, and executed. The mercenaries, the Ten Thousand ("Myrioi") Greeks, found themselves deep in hostile territory, near the heart of Mesopotamia, far from the sea, and without leadership. They elected new leaders, including Xenophon himself, and fought their way north through hostile Persians, Armenians, and Kurds to Trapezus on the coast of the Black Sea and then sailed westward and back to Greece. In Thrace, they helped Seuthes II make himself king. Xenophon's record of this expedition and the journey home was titled Anabasis ("The Expedition" or "The March Up Country" ).

Xenophon’s historical account in the Anabasis is one of the first written accounts of an analysis of the characters of a leader and an example of a type of leadership analysis that has come to be known as Great man theory. In the account, Xenophon described the character of the younger Cyrus, saying that “of all the Persians who lived after Cyrus the Great, he was the most like a king and the most deserving of an empire (p. 91).” Chapter six is recommended reading because it describes the characters of five defeated generals who were turned over to the enemy. Clearchus was quoted as believing that “a soldier ought to be more frightened of his own commander than of the enemy (p. 131).” Menon was described as a man whose dominant ambition was to become wealthy (p. 133). Agias the Arcadian and Socrates the Achean were remembered for their courage and their consideration for friends (p. 135). (Reference: Xenophon. (published in Antiquity). The Persian Expedition. (Rex Warner, Trans.). With an introduction and notes by George Cawkwell. New York, NY: Penguin Books. First Penguin publication date of 1949.)

Xenophon was later exiled from Athens, probably because he fought under the Spartan king Agesilaus against Athens at Coroneia. (It is possible that he had already been exiled for his association with Cyrus, however.) The Spartans gave him property at Scillus, near Olympia in Elis, where the Anabasis was composed. His son fought for Athens at Mantinea, while Xenophon was still alive, so Xenophon's banishment may have been revoked. Xenophon died at Corinth, or perhaps Athens, and his date of death is uncertain; it is known only that he survived his patron Agesilaus, for whom he wrote an encomium.

List of Works

Xenophon's writings, especially the Anabasis, are often read by beginning students of the Greek language. His Hellenica is one chief source for events in Greece from 411 to 362 BC, and his Socratic writings, preserved complete, are the only surviving representatives of the genre of Sokratikoi logoi other than the dialogues of Plato.

Historical and Biographical works

Socratic works and dialogues

Short treatises

In addition, we have a short treatise once thought to be by Xenophon, but which was probably written when Xenophon was about five, on the Constitution of Athens. This is found in manuscripts among the short works of Xenophon, as though he had written it also. The author, often called in English the "Old Oligarch", detests the democracy of Athens and the poorer classes - but argues that the Periclean institutions are well designed for their deplorable purposes.

'Willing obedience always beats forced obedience' -Xenophon

Project Gutenberg e-texts

External links

A portion of content for this article is credited to Wikipedia. Content under GNU Free Documentation License(GFDL)