Article

Xenophon

Vivienne Gray

in Classics

ISBN: 9780195389661
Published online April 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0111
Xenophon

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Xenophon (c. 430 to post-355 bce) wrote fourteen works of varied content and style. His interest in leadership gives them some unity, and they can be grouped into philosophic, historical, biographical, and technical writings; but they have separate manuscript traditions and bibliographies. The works are known by Greek or Latin or translated titles. Anabasis is the account of Xenophon’s march with Cyrus the Younger of Persia to challenge Artaxerxes for the Persian kingdom and his march back after Cyrus’s death (401–400 bce). Hellenica is a history of events from where Thucydides left his history unfinished down to the battle of Mantinea (411–362 bce). Cyropaedia describes how Cyrus the Great of Persia secured and maintained his empire. Among the Socratic works, Memorabilia defends Socrates, Xenophon’s teacher, against the charges of impiety and corruption for which he was executed by the Athenians, and then demonstrates through largely conversational vignettes that he helped people rather than harmed them as the charges alleged; Oeconomicus has Socrates teach Critobulus how to manage an estate and reports to him the conversation he once had with the master economist, Ischomachus; Symposium has Socrates and companions discuss their virtues at a party; Apologia Socratis explains why Socrates was so brazen at his trial. Xenophon’s minor works (opuscula) include a dialogue between Simonides and Hiero of Syracuse (Hiero), an encomium for Agesilaus of Sparta (Agesilaus), an account of the laws of Lycurgus that secured Spartan success (Lacedaemoniorum Politeia, LP), two works on horses and their management (De re equestri On Horsemanship and Hipparchicus Cavalry Commander), one on hunting with dogs (Cynegeticus), and the essay on how to improve the Athenian economy (Poroi). Athenian Constitution is included among his minor works, but it is not treated here as his work. Xenophon was a pioneer of new literary forms, but there is no complete study of this. Anabasis combines autobiographical history and travel book. Cyropaedia pioneers historical biography and contains early novellas. His Socratic works are new forms of dialogue and economic treatise. Hiero comes from the traditions of meetings of the wise and powerful, now lost in a stand-alone form. Agesilaus rivals Isocrates’s Evagoras as the first extant encomium. His technical treatises are the first extant.

Article.  10871 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Art and Architecture ; Classical History ; Classical Literature ; Classical Philosophy

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