Xenophon

Xenophon 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 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. 

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 His son fought for Athens at Mantinea, while Xenophon was still alive, so Xenophon's banishment may have been revoked.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.

Diogenes Laertius says Xenophon was sometimes known as the "Attic Muse" for the sweetness of his diction; very few poets wrote in the Attic dialect.

Xenophon is often cited as being the original "horse whisperer", having advocated sympathetic horsemanship in his On Horsemanship.


Main Works

Anabasis

Cyropaedia

Hellenica

Memorabilia

Oeconomicus

Symposium

Apology

On Horsemanship

References - List of Other Works


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