4. At the Boundary of Historiography: Xenophon and his Corpus

Roberto Nicolai

1. Historians and Sophists

The terms sophist and sophistic are commonly applied to a diverse group of people, united by a broad range of interests, areas of expertise, and a preference for disseminating their works by way of public recitations (ἀκροάσεις). [1] If to an Athenian of the fifth century BCE, Socrates was a sophist (Aristophanes Clouds), [2] the same must have been true for Herodotus and, to some degree, for Thucydides as well. [3] Thucydides, however, explicitly takes a stand against creating a piece meant simply to display his rhetorical skills (1.22.4); instead, he made a τέχνη of political-military history, which he addresses to those who, through his history, would be capable of understanding the dynamics of politics and war. Thucydides’ polemic against the logographers (1.21.1) anticipated that of Plato against the sophists, which endowed the term, sophist, with a negative connotation. [4] In the cases of both Thucydides and Plato, the issue at stake was the control of the education of the ruling classes.
Current scholarly consensus distinguishes historians from philosophers, relegating the so-called sophists to the latter category and thereby disregarding their contribution to the study of the past. But we can note general historical interests, looking only at the Vorsokratiker, in the work of Democritus, [5] Protagoras, [6] Hippias (in the description of his interests in Plato Hippias maior 285d), and Critias (πολιτεῖαι). At the same time, the history of historiography has privileged the strand of so-called ‘Great’ historiography, which treats the history of the Greeks and the majority of the Barbarians, to paraphrase Thucydides’ incipit. In so doing, it has marginalized inquiries into the distant past (ἀρχαιολογία), as well as the various forms of local and regional historiography and the political treatment of history in the epitaphs, to say nothing of poetic works with historical content: epic, narrative elegy, tragedy (e.g. Phrynichus’ Miletou Alosis; Aeschylus’ Persae), and dithyrambs (Timotheus’ Persae). The history of historiography, then, has become a history less of a literary genre than of a method, teleologically projected towards the achievements of modern historical science. The loss not only of the sophists’ works, which had been condemned by Plato’s judgment and by Aristotle’s doxographies, but also of what are classified as minor branches of historiography has contributed to the emergence of a particular picture of the development of historiography that takes us, after the first uneasy steps, to the wide-ranging ἱστορίη of Herodotus and the mature historical analysis of Thucydides, only to decay afterwards into rhetorical or moralistic historiographical forms, or those designed to achieve dramatic effects. In recent years, this reconstruction of the history of historiography has been challenged on many fronts. [7]
The aim of this contribution is a thorough revaluation of Xenophon’s work, particularly in relation to that of another great experimenter of various prose genres, Isocrates. Xenophon and Isocrates share paideutic aspirations, a freedom to move among preexisting literary genres and the ability to change them from within, and the tendency to assign a demonstrative and exemplary function to historical matter.

2. A Necessary Revisionism

In a famous article from 1935, Arnaldo Momigliano wrote: “Senofonte è tra gli scrittori greci uno di quelli che hanno più urgente bisogno di essere riesaminati nel loro complesso. La sua singolare e un poco ambigua personalità, ricca di motivi e di problemi quale pochi, ma incapace di fonderli in modo che essi diventino un sistema e perciò un programma, ha una perfetta aderenza alle condizioni spirituali del quarantennio 390-350 a.C., il quale dà una impressione di vita intensa, ma dispersa.” [8] In the seventy years since Momigliano’s pronouncement, some progress has been made towards a reappraisal of Xenophon’s work, but more work still needs to be done. In fact, if Xenophon requires a general reexamination, we cannot today avoid feeling the need also to revise the interpretation of Xenophon given by Momigliano and successive critics. [9] In recent literature on Xenophon, one tendency is clear: often very early on in the introductory chapters, we find a discussion of the literary genre to which the work in question belongs. This phenomenon is particularly evident in criticism of the Cyropaedia, which some scholars actually describe as a collection of different literary genres, [10] sometimes even resorting to such blatant anachronisms as calling the work a pedagogical or historical novel, or a fictionalized biography. But the difficulties we have in defining the Cyropaedia (along with much of Xenophon’s work), derives from a faulty approach to the problem of genres and models: Xenophon created literary products that were completely disconnected from any specific occasions of publication, and he used generic strategies appropriate for preexisting literary genres that he adapted to his own aims. [11] In this regard, Xenophon is not very different from Isocrates, except for the fact that the latter, as a teacher of rhetoric, explicitly thought about the choices he made, turning his reflections into tools for teaching rhetoric. [12]
Another frequently emphasized feature of Xenophon’s work is what seems to be an unusual integration of literature and politics. [13] Once again, our categories of what is ‘political’ and what is ‘literary’ are inadequate. And, once again, the comparison with Isocrates is instructive. Just like Xenophon, Isocrates did not intend to influence the decision-making process: for this, he would have used different tools. Being political for him, in fact, meant inserting traditional political themes into speeches devised for didactic purposes, teaching politics through political discourse.
Finally, to complete the picture, Xenophon is often depicted as a split personality, a historian with modest capabilities and an aspiring philosopher of little talent. [14] It is doubtful that the label ‘philosopher’, as we understand it, can be applied before Aristotle—and, in some respects, the same can be said for ‘historian’, too—but, more to the point, Xenophon’s works elude even such an elementary distinction as this: historical material is as present in his corpus as is philosophical speculation. In order better to understand Xenophon, we must change our perspective and explore not the contents of the various works of the corpus but their function with respect to their reception.

3. Historical Matter in Xenophon’s Corpus

The Hellenika, inasmuch as it is closest to our standards of historical writing, serves as a good point of entry for our exploration of Xenophon’s approach to historical matter. The Hellenika covers only a segment of the past, with a beginning arbitrarily determined by the abrupt conclusion of Thucydides’ work. [15] I do not want to resume the debate about the original shape of the work: whether, for example, the so-called paralipomena was meant to constitute a unity with Thucydides; nor do I believe that the different stages of its redaction can be reconstructed with any reasonable certainty—indeed, this is in many ways a false problem, stemming from our own publication practices and positivist obsessions with questions of origin and evolution. [16] Without venturing into indemonstrable hypotheses, we may note only that Xenophon’s narrative is continuous; that is to say, there are no proemia or introductions to particular sections, nor general remarks on the history he is narrating. [17] The only exception is the conclusion: the Hellenika is not itself a work that is open to continuation, unless, that is, someone should take up the challenge of the final provocation. [18] The historical events narrated in the Hellenika as a whole can only be paradigms of crisis and confusion, as Xenophon points out in the conclusion, where the battle of Mantinea becomes the metaphor of a Greece without stable hegemonies; but various other clearly marked paradigms are also introduced in the course of the narrative. [19] The structure of the Hellenika is not consistently annalistic, nor does it follow the Herodotean model. [20] Rather, Xenophon selects what he considers the central themes and facts and uses them to search for a behavioral model that is different not only from the political-military one employed by Thucydides but also from the ethical perspective of later biography. [21]
The Anabasis, which delineates the ideal military commander (Xenophon himself), also treats only a segment of history—in fact, Xenophon equates it directly with the Hellenika (see Hellenika 3.1.2: “As to how Cyrus collected an army and with this army made the march up country against his brother, how the battle was fought, how Cyrus was slain, and how after that the Greeks effected their return in safety to the sea—all this has been written by Themistogenes the Syracusan.”) [22] Both works, moreover, correspond to contemporary definitions of the historical genre. [23] Xenophon’s central role and the exemplarity of his behavior in the Anabasis in some respects allow the work to be compared to the Cyropaedia and the Agesilaus, as well as to Isocrates’ Cypriot speeches. [24] That it is a new and innovative genre is uncontested, but similarities with later literary genres certainly should not imply that the Anabasis can be defined as a commentarius or a novel. The innovation consists in the fact that it recounts, in the style of a Thucydidean monograph (i.e. with narration and speeches), an event in which the author acts as the main character and becomes himself a paradigm of behavior. Like the Hellenika, the Anabasis conspicuously lacks a proemium; but whereas this absence presents the Hellenika as a continuation of Thucydides, the Anabasis opens as an autonomous segment of history, beginning with the death of Darius. There is a further difference between the two works: the Anabasis, even without a proemium, nevertheless has a beginning (which provides background information), but it lacks an explicit conclusion or any remarks that could lend an overall meaning to the work, or at any rate a key to reading it. Perhaps the meaning of the Anabasis is clear enough from the narrative itself, while the intricate affairs recounted in the Hellenika close with a battle in which everybody is a winner and a loser at the same time. Xenophon’s use of a pseudonym in the Anabasis, we should note, sheds some light on the manner of its publication; Xenophon clearly wanted to disseminate the work as if the enterprise had been recorded by a neutral narrator. [25] This would lend the description of Xenophon’s exemplary behavior some credibility, a τέχνη inside the work, we might say, in the same way that the speeches can be defined as a τέχνη, albeit in this case a rhetorical one. [26]
The Agesilaus begins with a clear and unequivocal statement of genre, which apparently distinguishes it from historiography:
Οἶδα μὲν ὅτι τῆς Ἀγησιλάου ἀρετῆς τε καὶ δόξης οὐ ῥᾴδιον ἄξιον ἔπαινον γράψαι, ὅμως δ’ ἐγχειρητέον. Οὐ γὰρ ἂν καλῶς ἔχοι εἰ ὅτι τελέως ἀνὴρ ἀγαθὸς ἐγένετο, διὰ τοῦτο οὐδὲ μειόνων ἂν τυγχάνοι ἐπαίνων.
I know how difficult it is to write an appreciation of Agesilaus that shall be worthy of his virtue and glory. Nevertheless the attempt must be made. For it would not be seemly that so good a man, just because of his perfection, should receive no tributes of praise, however inadequate. (Translation by E. C. Marchant)
Xenophon Agesilaus 1.1
But after a canonical introduction dedicated to the family and country of the laudandus, the work takes a different turn:
Ὅσα γε μὴν ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ διεπράξατο νῦν ἤδη διηγήσομαι· ἀπὸ γὰρ τῶν ἔργων καὶ τοὺς τρόπους αὐτοῦ κάλλιστα νομίζω καταδήλους ἔσεσθαι.
I will now give an account of the achievements of his reign, for I believe that his deeds will throw the clearest light on his qualities. (Translation by E. C. Marchant)
Xenophon Agesilaus 1.6
The verb διηγήσομαι is less a marker of genre than the phrase Ὅσα γε μὴν ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ διεπράξατο, which is explained by ἀπὸ ... τῶν ἔργων. The emphasis on τρόποι, a characteristic of the encomium, is substantiated in the historical account of Agesilaus’ deeds, which occupies the central part of the work (1.6 to 2.31) and which itself concludes with clear indications of genre:
Καὶ ταῦτα μὲν δὴ εἴρηται ὅσα τῶν ἐκείνου ἔργων μετὰ πλείστων μαρτύρων ἐπράχθη. τὰ γὰρ τοιαῦτα οὐ τεκμηρίων προσδεῖται, ἀλλ’ ἀναμνῆσαι μόνον ἀρκεῖ καὶ εὐθὺς πιστεύεται.
Such, then, is the record of my hero’s deeds, so far as they were done before a crowd of witnesses. Actions like these need no proofs; the mere mention of them is enough and they command belief immediately. (Translation by E. C. Marchant)
Xenophon Agesilaus 3.1
In addition to the recurrence of the term, ἔργα, we should note the distinction between μάρτυρες and τεκμήρια, which, aside from confirming the narrative as true, emphasizes the exemplary character of the recent and well-known facts the narrative describes. This distinction further recalls, although with different terminology, that made by Thucydides between ancient history, reconstructed ἐκ τῶν ἐπιφανεστάτων σημείων (“from the clearest signs,” 1.21.1), and contemporary history, which is based upon eyewitnesses (1.22.2 f.). This historical section, which can be compared with the sections in the Hellenika devoted to Agesilaus, is followed by another one devoted to “the virtue in his soul” (ἐν τῇ ψυχῇ αὐτοῦ ἀρετή), echoed in summary in chapter 11. Exceptionally, just before this passage, Xenophon discusses the genre of the Agesilaus:
ἀλλὰ γὰρ μὴ ὅτι τετελευτηκὼς ἐπαινεῖται τούτου ἕνεκα θρῆνόν τις τοῦτον τὸν λόγον νομισάτω, ἀλλὰ πολὺ μᾶλλον ἐγκώμιον. πρῶτον μὲν γὰρ ἅπερ ζῶν ἤκουε ταὐτὰ καὶ νῦν λέγεται περὶ αὐτοῦ· ἔπειτα δὲ τί καὶ πλέον θρήνου ἄπεστιν ἢ βίος τε εὐκλεὴς καὶ θάνατος ὡραῖος; ἐγκωμίων δὲ τί ἀξιώτερον ἢ νῖκαί τε αἱ κάλλισται καὶ ἔργα τὰ πλείστου ἄξια;
However, let it not be thought, because one whose life is ended is the theme of my praise, that these words are meant for a funeral dirge. They are far more truly the language of eulogy. In the first place the words now applied to him are the very same that he heard in his lifetime. And, in the second place, what theme is less appropriate to a dirge than a life of fame and a death well-timed? What more worthy of eulogies than victories most glorious and deeds of sovereign worth? (Translation by E. C. Marchant)
Xenophon Agesilaus 10.3
He emphasizes that this work belongs to the genre of the encomium—distinguishing it from the θρῆνος (lament)—and this is the opposite of what Isocrates did in his Panegyricus, where a panegyric discourse is combined with themes more appropriate to epitaphs: [27]
καίτοι μ᾽ οὐ λέληθεν ὅτι χαλεπόν ἐστιν ὕστατον ἐπελθόντα λέγειν περὶ πραγμάτων πάλαι προκατειλημμένων, καὶ περὶ ὧν οἱ μάλιστα δυνηθέντες τῶν πολιτῶν εἰπεῖν ἐπὶ τοῖς δημοσίᾳ θαπτομένοις πολλάκις εἰρήκασιν· ἀνάγκη γὰρ τὰ μὲν μέγιστ᾽ αὐτῶν ἤδη κατακεχρῆσθαι, μικρὰ δ’ ἔτι παραλελεῖφθαι. ὅμως δ’ ἐκ τῶν ὑπολοίπων, ἐπειδὴ συμφέρει τοῖς πράγμασιν, οὐκ ὀκνητέον μνησθῆναι περὶ αὐτῶν.
And yet I have not failed to appreciate the fact that it is difficult to come forward last and speak upon a subject which has long been appropriated, and upon which the very ablest speakers among our citizens have many times addressed you at the public funerals; for, naturally, the most important topics have already been exhausted, while only unimportant topics have been left for later speakers. Nevertheless, since they are apposite to the matter in hand, I must not shirk the duty of taking up the points which remain and of recalling them to your memory. (Translation by George Norlin)
Isocrates Panegyricus 74
Xenophon’s argumentation here is consistent with the ennobling aims of encomia, yet his explicit reflections on literary genres and codes are characteristic of the fictional speeches of the Isocratean type. It may be instructive, then, to think of the Agesilaus, like Isocrates’ speeches, as a literary encomium, not connected with any specific occasion; as far as we can tell, it lacks only one of the features inherent in Isocrates’ work: it was not meant for school use.
In the fourth chapter of Xenophon’s Socratic dialogue, the Oeconomicus, we find a brief outline of the τέχναι (arts) that should be practiced, with the King of Persia held up as example—that he is here a paradigm is clear from Socrates’ words, “should we be ashamed of imitating the King of the Persians?” (Ἆρ(α) . . . μὴ αἰσχυνθῶμεν τὸν Περσῶν βασιλέα μιμήσασθαι; 4.4) The τέχναι practiced by the King of Persia are agriculture and the art of war: the King takes care of the needs of the army, inspects troops, and rewards with gifts and promotions the most efficient commanders and administrators, while punishing the corrupt and inefficient (see especially 4.7-9). Already in these first paragraphs, it is evident that the King of Persia in question is either the Cyrus of the Cyropaedia himself or his homonymous descendent, Cyrus the Younger, the protagonist of the Anabasis. [28] In fact, this section of the Oeconomicus can be considered to be a variation of the theme of the Cyropaedia, here realized through the technique of the Socratic dialogue. So too, the theme of paradeisoi (4.13f.), used here as evidence of the King’s commitment to agriculture, finds a parallel in Anabasis 1.2.7 and in the many references to paradeisoi in the Cyropaedia. In the Oeconomicus, the anecdote at 4.16 refers clearly to Cyrus the Elder, inasmuch as this Cyrus is defined as “the most well-esteemed king” (εὐδοκιμώτατος . . . βασιλεύς), but Cyrus the Younger appears immediately afterwards (4.18), in addition to (καὶ) his illustrious predecessor. [29] Cyrus’ skills as a commander are not presented in detail but are rather summarized by way of a sort of praeteritio that refers to the theme of the Anabasis: “One of the many proofs that he has given of this is the fact that, when he was on his way to fight his brother for the throne . . .” (Translation by E. C. Marchant, 4.18–19). [30] Only two episodes are explicitly recorded: first, the fact that nobody abandoned Cyrus to join Artaxerxes­­—although many troops of the King defected to Cyrus—and, second, the death of all of Cyrus’ φίλοι (except Arieus) atop his body at Cunaxa (4.18f.; cf. Anabasis 1.9.29 and 1.9.31, almost ad litteram). More space is devoted to a dialogue between Cyrus and Lysander (4.20–25), which Lysander related to a Megarian guest. [31] The dialogue, keeping with the theme of the paradeisos that had been in part cultivated by Cyrus himself, closes the entire section, with Lysander praising Cyrus as “happy” (εὐδαίμων) because he is “a good man” (ἀγαθὸς . . . ἀνήρ).
Another variation on the theme of the Cyropaedia (although connected also to the Anabasis, Agesilaus, and to the Hiero as well) emerges in the conclusion of the dialogue in a discussion devoted to τὸ ἀρχικὸν εἶναι (21.2): [32]
Νὴ Δί’, ἔφη ὁ Ἰσχόμαχος, ἀλλὰ τόδε τοι, ὦ Σώκρατες, τὸ πάσαις κοινὸν ταῖς πράξεσι καὶ γεωργικῇ καὶ πολιτικῇ καὶ οἰκονομικῇ καὶ πολεμικῇ τὸ ἀρχικὸν εἶναι, τοῦτο δὴ συνομολογῶ σοὶ ἐγὼ πολὺ διαφέρειν γνώμῃ τοὺς ἑτέρους τῶν ἑτέρων·
‘Of course it is,’ cried Ischomachus; ‘but I grant you, Socrates, that in respect of aptitude for command, which is common to all forms of business alike—agriculture, politics, estate-management, warfare—in that respect the intelligence shown by different classes of men varies greatly.’ (Translation by E. C. Marchant)
Xenophon Oeconomicus 21.2
That leadership skills are common not only to agriculture, the topic with which the discussion began, but also to politics, economy, property management, and the art of war confirms that this is a key theme in the Oeconomicus, intentionally placed in a significant position, as in the beginning of the Cyropaedia. Xenophon’s use of the same historical examples in works of different literary genre, thus, illustrates the interconnections between his historical and philosophical works.

4. Cyrus: Between Xenophon and Plato

Already in antiquity an allusion to Xenophon’s Cyropaedia was recognized in the third book of Plato’s Laws. [33] The reference in Plato, which could be extended to other works (now lost) that revolved around Cyrus (I am thinking of Antisthenes), may shed some light on the discussion in which Xenophon took part, on his fellow debaters and possible opponents, and on the literary genres involved. The passage is usually read in isolation (694c or 694c–695b) but should be kept in the context of the argument. That said, we ought to begin from 693d5, where the Athenian interlocutor raises the question about the balance between τὸ μοναρχικόν (monarchy) and τὸ ἐλεύθερον (freedom). The example that he suggests immediately thereafter is that of the Persian empire under Cyrus (694a2f.). The Athenian poses a further problem: the crisis of the empire under Cambyses and its recovery under Darius. He will proceed in his inquiry, he says, by way of divination (694c2f. “Shall I use a kind of divination to picture this?”), [34] a claim to which we should pay particular attention, since it clearly indicates that the characters in the dialogue (and Plato himself) had no sources on which to rely and were obliged instead to resort to conjecture, or rather to mantic arts. The passage to which I refer is as follows:
μαντεύομαι δὴ νῦν περὶ γε Κύρου, τὰ μὲν ἄλλ’ αὐτὸν στρατηγόν τε ἀγαθὸν εἶναι καὶ φιλόπολιν, παιδείας δὲ ὀρθῆς οὐχ ἧφθαι τὸ παράπαν, οἰκονομίᾳ τε οὐδὲν τὸν νοῦν προσεσχηκέναι.
What I now divine regarding Cyrus is this,—that, although otherwise a good and patriotic commander, he was entirely without a right education, and had paid no attention to household management. (Translation by R. G. Bury)
Plato Laws 694c5–8
The key to the passage lies in the proposition, παιδείας δὲ ὀρθῆς οὐχ ἧφθαι (“he was . . . without a right education”), which some scholars have erroneously interpreted as a reference to the education that Cyrus himself never received. [35] It is, in fact, clearly explained by what immediately follows: while Cyrus was busy with warfare and could not pay enough attention to the education of his children and to the administration of his own house, women and eunuchs took care of these affairs in accordance with the customs of the Medes but contrary to the very different educatory principles of the Persians (694e6–695b8). The verb ἅπτω here means “engage in, undertake” (LSJ s.v.). [36] Dorion, then, is right to change the terms of the problem: Plato agrees with Xenophon on the excellence of Persian education and on Cyrus’ virtues, but he differs from him regarding one important point. For Xenophon, law by itself is not enough to produce good leaders, and the responsibility falls entirely on the men in power; for Plato, on the other hand, laws are the foundation for a proper education of those who will be in power (696a3–8).
It seems clear, then, that if there is indeed an allusion to the Cyropaedia in the Laws, the debate between Plato and Xenophon is not so much about the education of children (to which Xenophon only briefly refers at 7.5.86), but in fact involves a far more important theme, namely the foundation of power and the paideia from which that power derives: their disagreement, that is to say, is about the very function and role of Law. [37] Cyrus remains a paradigm, therefore, but, like every paradigm, he can be manipulated to fulfil different functions. Antisthenes, according to Diogenes Laertius (6.2), used the example of Cyrus to demonstrate that hard work is something good (a frequent theme in the Cyropaedia and in chapter 4 of the Oeconomicus as well). We should note, however, that among Antisthenes’ writings there are as many as three works dedicated to Cyrus, in the fourth, fifth, and tenth volumes of his collected works (6.16; 6.18); the treatise that Diogenes assigns to volume five, Cyrus or On Kingship, might in fact partly overlap with the contents of the Cyropaedia.
To conclude, the paradigm of Cyrus was used with particular frequency in works related to the genre of the politeia, owing its popularity both to general Greek interest in the Persians and to the diffusion of works specifically about Persia (Ctesias) or at any rate engaged in Persian history and customs (Herodotus). [38] That Plato belongs to this tradition is confirmed by Laws 695a2–5, a passage that seems to recall the final sentence of Herodotus’ work, Cyrus’ response to Artembares (9.122). [39] In Herodotus, as in Plato, it is the harsh soil of Persia that engenders strong warriors and future conquerors, with Plato specifying that Cambyses and Xerxes were products of a soft education entrusted to women and eunuchs in the luxury of the court. Herodotus himself seems to be one of the authors who has contributed most to the popularity of the paradigm. [40] Cyrus’ paradigmatic function should make us rethink the aim of works that we are quick to classify either as historical or as philosophical and works on which we bestow anachronistic labels, as in the case of the Cyropaedia.
One last consideration regarding the origin of the Persian paradigm: as far as we know, it was first used not by a historian but by Aeschylus, who in his Persae exploited geographical and anthropological distance in order to endow with exemplary force an event that had occurred only eight years before. [41] Already in the Persae we can note the centrality of the theme of decadence resulting from the inappropriate use of power. In this regard, we should note that it is Darius and his successor, Xerxes, who are introduced in Plato’s Laws directly after Cyrus and Cambyses as examples, respectively, of revival and decay (695c5–696a3).

5. The Memorabilia as a Genre

In light of Tatum’s observation that the Memorabilia begins as an apology and finishes as an encomium, we ought to reconsider this work with an eye toward generic markers. [42] We should first note that the apologetic opening statement uses the same words that Isocrates employs in his Panegyricus (Πολλάκις ἐθαύμασα). The apology proper finishes at 1.2.62–64, at which point Xenophon turns to the benefits of Socrates’ activity, both in action and in speech:
Ὡς δὲ δὴ καὶ ὠφελεῖν ἐδόκει μοι τοὺς συνόντας τὰ μὲν ἔργῳ δεικνύων ἑαυτὸν οἷος ἦν, τὰ δὲ καὶ διαλεγόμενος, τούτων δὴ γράψω ὁπόσα ἂν διαμνημονεύσω.
In order to support my opinion that he benefited his companions, alike by actions that revealed his own character and by his conversation, I will set down what I recollect of these. (Translation by E. C. Marchant)
Xenophon Memorabilia 1.3.1
The conclusion of the Memorabilia refers precisely to this passage, thereby closing the extensive encomiastic component in a ring. It is worth pointing out that Xenophon, in this recapitulation of Socrates’ virtues, emphasizes that the image he has drawn corresponds to the truth:
All who knew what manner of man Socrates was and who seek after virtue continue to this day to miss him beyond all others, as the chief of helpers in the quest of virtue. For myself, I have described him as he was: so religious that he did nothing without counsel from the gods; so just that he did no injury, however small, to any man, but conferred the greatest benefits on all who dealt with him; so self-controlled that he never chose the pleasanter rather than the better course; so wise that he was unerring in his judgment of the better and the worse, and needed no counsellor, but relied on himself for his knowledge of them; masterly in expounding and defining such things; no less masterly in putting others to the test, and convincing them of error and exhorting them to follow virtue and gentleness. To me then he seemed to be all that a truly good and happy man must be. But if there is any doubter, let him set the character of other men beside these things; then let him judge. (Translation by E. C. Marchant)
Xenophon Memorabilia 4.8.11 [43]
On closer inspection, we can see that we are faced here with a multilayered correspondence: through his actions, Socrates revealed the way he was (1.3.1 οἷος ἦν); Xenophon, who knew the way he was (οἷος ἦν), emphasizes the sorrow of those who aspire to virtue (4.8.11); the picture that Xenophon has drawn of Socrates matches precisely with what he was (ibid. τοιοῦτος ὢν οἷον ἐγὼ διήγημαι); and finally, in the final synthesis, Socrates seems to be like the man who excels in every virtue (ibid. ἐδόκει τοιοῦτος εἶναι οἷος ἂν εἴη ἄριστός τε ἀνὴρ καὶ εὐδαιμονέστατος). Again, the parallel with Isocrates is instructive. In the long proemium to the Antidosis, Isocrates reflects on the genre in which he has chosen to describe his thought and life. Isocrates represents himself as embittered by his fellow citizens’ incorrect opinion of him and committed to finding a way of explaining to them and to posterity “the character that I have, the life I lead, and the education which I practice” (καὶ τὸν τρόπον ὃν ἔχω, καὶ τὸν βίον ὃν ζῶ, καὶ τὴν παιδείαν περὶ ἣν διατρίβω, 6). The best solution, it seems to him, is to write a speech that would be the very image of his thought and of his life. [44] In this way, he would be able to achieve his two main objectives: to let his fellow citizens know who he really is, and, at the same time, to leave a monument of himself. [45]
At this point (8), Isocrates pauses to reflect on literary genre, rejecting the encomium (ἐπαινεῖν) in favor of the judicial speech, in particular the apologia. In the same way, Xenophon opens his Socratic work with an articulate apologia. Both strategies, in fact, are designed to mask an encomium, implicitly in Xenophon, explicitly in Isocrates, whose intention, after all, is to use his speech for pedagogic purposes. What is denied, of course, is just what is actually done: in Isocrates’ case, an elaborate encomium (a self-encomium, moreover), built into a mixed-genre speech, as the author himself admits (Antidosis 12, quoted infra).
Isocrates’ reflections on the genre of the encomium, however, are not unique to the Antidosis: in the Helen and Busiris, he deliberately straddles the line between encomium and apologia; in the Evagoras, moreover, he insists that it was his own innovation to have composed an encomium in prose, and he explores another boundary, this time between encomium and protreptic; finally, in many instances, like in the Nicocles, the Panathenaicus, and in the aforementioned Antidosis, Isocrates reflects on self-encomium. [46]

6. Xenophon, Isocrates and the Genres of Prose

Of the themes that Xenophon tends to privilege, I am most interested here in paideia and the exercise of power. [47] It is often in relation to these themes that Xenophon introduces historical matter into his various works, in some cases closer to the style of Thucydidean historiography (e.g. the so called paralipomena at the beginning of the Hellenika), in other cases rather farther from this model. The work that structurally most resembles the Hellenika is the Anabasis, to which Xenophon himself refers in the Hellenika ostensibly to avoid repeating a story. But the Anabasis introduces an important innovation: a clear protagonist, Xenophon himself, who speaks about himself in the third person. The role of Xenophon and also of Cyrus the Younger links the Anabasis to the Cyropaedia, and to the Agesilaus as well, a work that is formally an encomium and that outlines the characteristics of an ideal commander. Also present in the Anabasis is the theme of paideia, and not only in the passage that we might call the Cyropaedia minor (Anabasis 1.9): think, for example, of the profile of Proxenus, who believed himself ready for command because he had studied with Gorgias (2.6.16f.), and the entertaining dispute between Xenophon and Cheirisophus about κλέπτειν (stealing) in Spartan and Athenian education (4.6.15f.). One might ask why Xenophon does not speak about his own paideia in the Anabasis but appears there already perfectly ready for speech and action, a sort of Athena, who emerges fully armored from the head of Zeus. The answer lies in the different paradigms pursued in the Cyropaedia and in the Anabasis.
At the centre of Xenophon’s literary output we should place the Cyropaedia, which shares with the Anabasis the centrality of a character who embodies a political and paideutic ideal but is also in some parts openly sophistic, with dialogues quite in harmony with works labeled as ‘philosophical’. [48] The other, so-called minor works, are deeply connected to the major ones: the Hiero, a philosophical dialogue on power, [49] a theme that frequently recurs in the Memorabilia as well; the Oeconomicus, another dialogue, this time on the theme of household administration, which differs only in scale from the government of a city, as Xenophon himself affirms [50] ; the Constitution of the Lacedaimonians, which traces Sparta’s success back to Lycurgus’ laws and discusses the reasons for the recent crisis of the city; [51] the Poroi, on the revenues of the city of Athens; the Cynegeticus, a treaty on hunting as a form of education; the On Horsemanship and the Hipparchicus, which deal with the art of horsemanship from the private and public perspective respectively. [52] In this last work, too, there are allusions to the theme of paideia: see Hipparchicus 1.7 (the commander must make his men εὐπειθεῖς) and 6.1 (comparison of the cavalry commander with the potter molding his clay). More distinct, at least from a formal perspective, are the Apologia, Memorabilia and Symposium, which bear the signs of another codified genre, that of the λόγοι Σοκρατικοί. The very presence of Socrates as a central character in these works, of course, ensures here too the importance of the theme of education.
With respect to preexisting literary production, Xenophon behaves with the great freedom that is granted to prose, employing codes of pre-existing genres to change them from within: this is the case with Thucydidean historiography in the Hellenika and in the Anabasis and with technical treatises in the Cynegeticus, the On Horsemanship, and the Hipparchicus. The philosophical dialogue, too, is adapted to Xenophon’s own interests (Hiero, Oeconomicus), as is the encomium (Agesilaus), a genre with a long poetic tradition but a much more limited history as a prose genre (Isocrates, as we recall, had claimed that his Evagoras was a complete innovation). We can think about the Constitution of the Lacedaimonians in the same way, a work that certainly invokes the genre of the πολιτεῖαι but intends to be neither an exhaustive exposition of Lycurgus’ laws, nor a political reflection along the lines of Plato’s Republic and Laws. [53] Any knowledge of sophistic prose, now only dimly graspable through bare titles and scanty fragments, would certainly enable us better to understand Xenophon’s attitude towards preexisting prose genres.
We must not position Xenophon after Thucydides, as an inadequate continuator, or beside Plato, as a less perceptive disciple of Socrates, but rather beside Isocrates, the other great innovator and experimenter of Greek prose, who was, like Xenophon, committed to the themes of education and politics. [54] Isocrates considered the path of rhetoric to be the key to the proper formation of the citizen and the political man; Xenophon, on the other hand, aimed at teaching the technical skills required by the exercise of power and, on a reduced scale, in private life for the administration of one’s own property. These skills, all of which fall within paideia, range from war to horsemanship, from hunting to economy, from constitutional theory to dialectic. Both Isocrates and Xenophon refused to consider philosophy as merely an abstract speculation, and both claimed to be representatives of the one philosophy that was truly useful, capable of shaping competent men and good citizens. [55] After listing some of Socrates’ disciples, Xenophon explains what prompted them to follow their teacher: “not that they might shine in the courts or the assembly, but that they might become gentlemen, and be able to do their duty by house and household, and relatives and friends, and city and citizens. [56] And he adds: “Of these not one, in his youth or old age, did evil or incurred censure” (Memorabilia 1.2.48, translation by E. C. Marchant). [57] In his portrait of Agesilaus, where he focuses on particular character traits, we find those same qualities described in greater detail:
Another quality that should not go unrecorded is his urbanity. For although he held honour in fee, and had power at his beck, and to these added sovereignty—sovereignty not plotted against but regarded with affection—yet no traces of arrogance could have been detected in him, whereas signs of a fatherly affection and readiness to serve his friends, even if unsought, were evident. He delighted, moreover, to take his part in light talk, yet he showed an eager sympathy with friends in all their serious concerns. Thanks to his optimism, good humour, and cheerfulness he was a centre of attraction to many, who came not merely for purposes of business, but to pass the day more pleasantly. Little inclined to boastfulness himself, he heard without annoyance the self-praise of others, thinking that, by indulging in it, they did no harm and gave earnest of high endeavour. On the other hand, one must not omit a reference to the dignity that he showed on appropriate occasions. (Translation by E. C. Marchant)
Xenophon Agesilaus 8.1–3 [58]
If we compare these passages with Isocrates’ conception we find a number of convergences:
Whom, then, do I call educated, since I exclude the arts and sciences and specialties? First, those who manage well the circumstances which they encounter day by day, and who possess a judgement which is accurate in meeting occasions as they arise and rarely misses the expedient course of action; next, those who are decent and honorable in their intercourse with all with whom they associate, tolerating easily and good-naturedly what is unpleasant or offensive in others and being themselves as agreeable and reasonable to their associates as it is possible to be; furthermore, those who hold their pleasures always under control and are not unduly overcome by their misfortunes, bearing up under them bravely and in a manner worthy of our common nature; finally, and most important of all, those who are not spoiled by successes and do not desert their true selves and become arrogant, but hold their ground steadfastly as intelligent men, not rejoicing in the good things which have come to them through chance rather than in those which through their own nature and intelligence are theirs from their birth. Those who have a character which is in accord, not with one of these things, but with all of them—these, I contend, are wise and complete men, possessed of all the virtues. (Translation by George Norlin)
Isocrates Panathenaicus 30–32 [59]
Like Isocrates, Xenophon has been misunderstood: his works have been isolated from each other and evaluated on an essentially formal basis. Those works that were the pieces of a paideutic and political project have been reduced to pamphlets of interest only to the antiquarian or specialist in military and economic history. But like Isocrates, Xenophon was read in antiquity above all as a model of clear Attic prose.
On the subject of literary genres, leaving aside the congeries method employed by some scholars in order to describe the Cyropaedia, we must entertain the possibility that Xenophon deliberately practiced a kind of Kreuzung der Gattungen. This possibility was explicitly theorized by Christopher Tuplin, who situates the Cyropaedia “in a crosscut of four ‘ordinary’ genres”: historiography, encomium, Socratic dialectic, and technical pamphlet. [60] Here, too, it may be helpful to think of Isocrates, who did not operate as a scientist in search of surprising intersections among different literary genres, but rather created new genres, completely unconnected with any specific occasion and relying instead on written publication. [61] Such experimentation with literary genres allows him to use the codes and communicative strategies appropriate to these preexisting genres without the new work losing its own identity. Had Xenophon wanted to describe the genre of the Cyropaedia, he might have done so along the lines of Isocrates’ definition of his Antidosis (10-12). Here, Isocrates first lists the different elements of the work: the judicial frame, the reflections on culture, the aspects useful for the education of the young, and citations from his previous works:
For, I assure you, it has not been an easy nor a simple task, but one of great difficulty; for while some things in my discourse are appropriate to be spoken in a court-room, others are out of place amid such controversies, being frank discussions about philosophy and expositions of its power. There is in it, also, matter which it would be well for young men to hear before they set out to gain knowledge and an education; and there is much, besides, of what I have written in the past, inserted in the present discussion, not without reason nor without fitness, but with due appropriateness to the subject in hand. (Translation by George Norlin)
Isocrates Antidosis 10 [62]
After emphasizing the difficulty of mastering the length of the speech and the variety of forms it contains, [63] Isocrates reaffirms his determination to complete it, in spite of his old age, strongly insisting on the veracity of the speech. [64] He concludes by advising future readers to take into account the fact that they are dealing with a mixed genre. [65]
The fictional juridical frame is of course absent from the Cyropaedia, which employs instead a historical frame according to which the material is arranged in chronological order. Also absent is one of the most extraordinary innovations in the Antidosis, namely the anthology of some passages by the author himself. [66] Broad philosophical reflections and considerations useful on the pedagogical level are, however, widely present in this work, as is the concept of ἀλήθεια, which is itself reinforced by the formally historical narrative. Although it is true that nowhere in Xenophon’s work do we find any explicit guidelines for the reader, we should nevertheless be on the lookout for possible internal markers that refer to the recitation: this may well be the case with the brief summaries appended to the beginning of many books of the Anabasis.
It is also important to recall that, quite unlike other works of Xenophon, the Cyropaedia has a proemium, which contains a strong marker of genre: the definition of the theme, namely the correct exercise of power (1.1.3 τὸ ἀνθρώπων ἄρχειν (“to rule over men”); cf. 1.1.6) aimed at its own preservation. On this basis, Levine Gera maintains that the proemium is intended to ensure that the work has a place in the genre of the political pamphlet or ‘πολιτεία literature’. [67]
In the position that I have tried to outline, it is no longer meaningful, in Tatum’s words, to investigate the boundary between history and fiction. [68] Tatum maintains that “it was the generic flexibility of prose itself that enabled Xenophon to move so easily across the boundary between history and fiction” and that “like any prose writer, he was engaged in the invention of his own genre.” We can agree with this formulation, except for the idea that a boundary did, in fact, exist: Xenophon was interested in establishing not so much the truth of his information as its exemplarity. The two categories of history and fiction belong to our literary and historiographical perception, not to that of an Athenian of the fourth century. Despite important and admirable attempts like those of Herodotus and Thucydides, very few were interested in investigating the reliability of an account of an event from the remote past, if it had some fundamental and paradigmatic value. At best, they tried to forward the most likely possibility. Similarly, the need to generate new paradigms took precedence over questions of veritas. Thucydides’ genius lies in the fact that he linked exemplarity to the reliability of the reconstruction and that he highlighted the limits of his own work (and that of others): ancient history can only be sketched; speeches can not be precisely reported. The fact that after Thucydides the link between reliability and exemplarity was not consistently emphasized is due not the inferior caliber of later historians, but rather to their different aims. On this point, Tuplin has said that we cannot exclude the possibility that the Cyropaedia, from the point of view of its author, was essentially an historical work. [69] More precisely, according to Tuplin, Xenophon would not have thought of the material in the Cyropaedia as non-historical, because Greek authors did not use as a factual framework for an historical discourse what they did not consider to be historical. [70] The Cyropaedia, Tuplin continues, is not fiction, and the analogy with Herodotus and Thucydides is actually inapplicable, as Xenophon is doing something different: he is using a version of the life of Cyrus to illustrate how power has to be exercised. On the basis of his didactic and ideological aims, Xenophon, according to this reading, made a selection from the Achaemenid historical tradition and from other information gathered directly and indirectly. [71] We cannot, then, speak of fictionality; we must rather question our own concept of history.
Xenophon experimented with several historiographical forms, some that are today canonical, others that are far from our models: his liminality (with respect to modern categories) has made him an atypical author. It is perhaps time to give him a more appropriate position, however, not only in the delicate transition between the aural and written diffusion of literature but also in the evolution of historical literature, which cannot be separated from the genres related to sophistic prose: πολιτεῖαι, encomia, technical treatises, and so forth. The whole of his corpus could be better understood in apposition to the polygraphia of other corpora, precisely those, now alas lost, of the sophists. [72]


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[ back ] 1. Nicolai 2004c.
[ back ] 2. Segoloni 1994.
[ back ] 3. Thomas 2000.
[ back ] 4. On the implications of the term λογογράφος for the way in which the work was published, see Ferrucci 2001.
[ back ] 5. Diogenes Laertius 9.49: Περὶ τῶν ἐν Βαβυλῶνι ἱερῶν γραμμάτων, Περὶ τῶν ἐν Μερόῃ, Περὶ ἱστορίης, Χαλδαϊκὸς λόγος, Φρύγιος λόγος, Νομικὰ αἴτια.
[ back ] 6. Diogenes Laertius 9.55: Περὶ πολιτείας, Περὶ τῶν οὐκ ὀρθῶς τοῖς ἀνθρώποις πρασσομένων, Περὶ τῆς ἐν ἀρχῇ καταστάσεως.
[ back ] 7. Nicolai 2006 and Schepens 2006.
[ back ] 8. Momigliano 1935:208.
[ back ] 9. A very useful overview of Xenophontic scholarship in the last thirty years of the twentieth century can be found in Vela Tejada 1998.
[ back ] 10. See e.g. Tatum 1989:xv; Levine Gera 1993:1; Azoulay 2004:x, who speaks of a “monstrum littéraire.”
[ back ] 11. The experimental nature of Xenophon’s works has made it difficult to classify them by genre: for example, according to Tatum 1989:35, Xenophon appears to us as a novelist but maintains a vague profile in terms of literary genre. The comparison with the novel is actually unhelpful, and it even causes problems on the level of literary system and functions of the various genres. Tatum 1989:40f., also states that Xenophon had a “protean imagination,” which led him to work simultaneously on what we now regard as different literary forms.
[ back ] 12. On Isocrates, see Nicolai 2004a. My research on the literary genres used by Isocrates has its roots in, and originates from, Rossi 1971 and Rossi 2000.
[ back ] 13. Tatum 1989:xiv speaks of “political uses of fiction.”
[ back ] 14. On the tendency to separate the historian from the philosopher, see Dillery 1995:7, including n5 (with his example of the Cambridge History of Classical Literature); some negative opinions about Xenophon can be found in the examples suggested at 255n6. On Xenophon as a second-class author, a pale imitator of Thucydides, and an unimpressive copier of Plato, see Azoulay 2004:x.
[ back ] 15. For a cogent analysis of passages that attest an awareness in Xenophon of Thucydides’ work, on both a thematic and verbal level, see Rood 2004. On the complex relationship between the Hellenika and Herodotus and Thucydides, see Tamiolaki 2008. Important contributions to the reinterpretation of the Peloponnesian War by fourth-century historians can be found in Schepens 2007.
[ back ] 16. On this issue, note the balanced position of Dillery 1995:12–15.
[ back ] 17. Dillery 1995:10 deals with the absence of a proemium and concludes (11): “Xenophon may have deliberately avoided an introduction, inasmuch as it would have demanded, among other things, that he explains what was important about the recent past and how it explained the present and future, something he may well have been unable to do.”
[ back ] 18. The conclusion of the Hellenika does not allow us to consider it as incomplete: so Tatum 1989:50; see also 46 on the difficulties of trying to develop a consistent theme and building a coherent literary genre. The conclusion of the Hellenika with the battle of Mantinea, which did not prove to be as crucial as Xenophon had expected, is the object of important remarks by Dillery 1995:17–38.
[ back ] 19. Nicolai 2006:700–702. On the conclusion, see 702f. Paradigms related to individuals and communities are analysed in Dillery 1995:123–176, especially in part IV, Ideal Community, Ideal Leader: Paradigm as History.
[ back ] 20. See e.g. Dillery 1995:4.
[ back ] 21. See Nicolai 2006:695–706, for a definition of the genre of the Hellenika and the function of this work, with a discussion of recent bibliography. On Xenophon’s project, see Dillery 1995, especially the conclusion, 241–254.
[ back ] 22. ὡς μὲν οὖν Κῦρος στράτευμά τε συνέλεξε καὶ τοῦτ’ ἔχων ἀνέβη ἐπὶ τὸν ἀδελφόν, καὶ ὡς ἡ μάχη ἐγένετο, καὶ ὡς ἀπέθανε, καὶ ὡς ἐκ τούτου ἀπεσώθησαν οἱ Ἕλληνες ἐπὶ θάλατταν, Θεμιστογένει τῷ Συρακοσίῳ γέγραπται. (Translation by C. L. Brownson) This passage in the Hellenika shares some features of the summaries at the beginning of Books 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7, which are not generally accepted by editors. For a different position, see Canfora 1970:26, with earlier bibliography.
[ back ] 23. Isocrates Antidosis 45 ἕτεροι δὲ τὰς πράξεις τὰς ἐν τοῖς πολέμοις συναγαγεῖν ἐβουλήθησαν, Panathenaicus 1 τοὺς [sc. τῶν λόγων] τὰς παλαιὰς πράξεις καὶ τοὺς πολέμους τοὺς Ἑλληνικοὺς ἐξηγουμένους, Aristotle Rhetoric 1.4.1360a36-37 αἱ τῶν περὶ τὰς πράξεις γραφόντων ἱστορίαι. Hornblower 2007:30, compares the Anabasis to Caesar’s Commentarii and stresses that both works are deeply apologetic. I shall not consider the details that this comparison entails, but I doubt that the apologetic aim prevails in Xenophon.
[ back ] 24. Tatum 1989:5 states that the Cyropaedia is comparable to Isocrates’ Cypriot speeches, if not for its literary type, at least as far as concerns it intentions.
[ back ] 25. According to Tatum 1989:12, the detachment of the author/narrator is a rhetorical strategy borrowed from Thucydides.
[ back ] 26. For this interpretation of speeches in historiography, with particular attention to Thucydides, see Cole 1986 and 1991 and Nicolai 1992:63–69.
[ back ] 27. Cuniberti 2007:385, highlights the way in which Xenophon willingly stresses “la natura pubblica della laudatio del re Agesilao.” As Cuniberti later says, “Senofonte propone così un encomio di fronte a tutti, una sorta di panegirico, rivolto, come quello di Isocrate, a tutti i Greci e finalizzato a celebrare il re spartano, per il quale è inutile chiedere onori, perché gli sono già attribuiti dalla legge di Licurgo, che lo innalza ad eroe, ma è necessario perpetuarne la memoria.”
[ back ] 28. For parallel passages, see Anabasis 1.9.14f., 1.9.19, 1.9.22–26 and Cyropaedia 8.2.8 and 8.6.11.
[ back ] 29. See on this topic Pomeroy 1994:248: the confusion between Cyrus the Elder and Cyrus the Younger seems to be deliberate; Xenophon might have transferred the virtues of the Elder to his unlucky namesake.
[ back ] 30. καὶ τούτου τεκμήρια ἄλλα τε πολλὰ παρέσχηται, καὶ ὁπότε περὶ τῆς βασιλείας τῷ ἀδελφῷ ἐπορεύετο μαχούμενος.
[ back ] 31. Pomeroy 1994:251 hypothesizes that Xenophon used either Persian officials or Ctesias.
[ back ] 32. I will not address here the problem of the stages of publication of the Oeconomicus, which primarily involves the passage quoted here. On this subject, see Roscalla 1991:21–25.
[ back ] 33. Pomeroy 1994:26, and Corcella 2010:47.
[ back ] 34. βούλεσθε οἷον μαντείᾳ διανοηθέντες χρώμεθα, translation by R. G. Bury.
[ back ] 35. Dorion 2003.
[ back ] 36. As in Republic 3.411c5: μουσικῆς δὲ καὶ φιλοσοφίας μὴ ἅπτηται.
[ back ] 37. Xenophon Cyropaedia 8.1.8: ὅταν μὲν ὁ ἐπιστάτης βελτίων γένηται, καθαρώτερον τὰ νόμιμα πράττεται· ὅταν δὲ χείρων, φαυλότερον.
[ back ] 38. On the differing perceptions that the Greeks had of the Persians and their fortune in western culture, see Corcella 2007 and Corcella 2010, with bibliography.
[ back ] 39. Flower 2006:287.
[ back ] 40. See Flower 2006:282, according to whom Herodotus had enough cultural distance to give an impartial account of Cyrus’ failures.
[ back ] 41. On the Persae as a reflection on memory, open to interpretation on a meta-literary level; on the creation of identity through ethnic and chronological distance; and on the relation between past and present in tragedy, see Grethlein 2007.
[ back ] 42. Tatum 1989:54.
[ back ] 43. τῶν δὲ Σωκράτην γιγνωσκόντων, οἷος ἦν, οἱ ἀρετῆς ἐφιέμενοι πάντες ἔτι καὶ νῦν διατελοῦσι πάντων μάλιστα ποθοῦντες ἐκεῖνον, ὡς ὠφελιμώτατον ὄντα πρὸς ἀρετῆς ἐπιμέλειαν. ἐμοὶ μὲν δή, τοιοῦτος ὢν οἷον ἐγὼ διήγημαι, εὐσεβὴς μὲν οὕτως ὥστε μηδὲν ἄνευ τῆς τῶν θεῶν γνώμης ποιεῖν, δίκαιος δὲ ὥστε βλάπτειν μὲν μηδὲ μικρὸν μηδένα, ὠφελεῖν δὲ τὰ μέγιστα τοὺς χρωμένους αὐτῷ, ἐγκρατὴς δὲ ὥστε μηδέποτε προαιρεῖσθαι τὸ ἥδιον ἀντὶ τοῦ βελτίονος, φρόνιμος δὲ ὥστε μὴ διαμαρτάνειν κρίνων τὰ βελτίω καὶ τὰ χείρω μηδὲ ἄλλου προσδεῖσθαι, ἀλλ’ αὐτάρκης εἶναι πρὸς τὴν τούτων γνῶσιν, ἱκανὸς δὲ καὶ λόγῳ εἰπεῖν τε καὶ διορίσασθαι τὰ τοιαῦτα, ἱκανὸς δὲ καὶ ἄλλως δοκιμάσαι τε καὶ ἁμαρτάνοντα ἐλέγξαι καὶ προτρέψασθαι ἐπ’ ἀρετὴν καὶ καλοκαγαθίαν, ἐδόκει τοιοῦτος εἶναι οἷος ἂν εἴη ἄριστός τε ἀνὴρ καὶ εὐδαιμονέστατος. εἰ δέ τῳ μὴ ἀρέσκει ταῦτα, παραβάλλων τὸ ἄλλων ἦθος πρὸς ταῦτα οὕτω κρινέτω.
[ back ] 44. Antidosis 7: λόγος ὥσπερ εἰκὼν τῆς ἐμῆς διανοίας καὶ τῶν ἄλλων τῶν [ἐμοὶ] βεβιωμένων.
[ back ] 45. Ibid.: μνεμεῖόν μου καταλειφθήσεσθαι πολὺ κάλλιον τῶν χαλκῶν ἀναθημάτων.
[ back ] 46. Nicolai 2004a:87–99.
[ back ] 47. See e.g. Tatum 1989:37, according to whom the largest part of Xenophon’s career is dedicated to the theme of the ‘ideal leader’, a theme explored by way of different literary genres: philosophic dialogue, technical monograph, encomium, philosophical and military memoir, philosophy, and history. The enquiry into the true nature of power is a central theme in Mueller-Godingen 2007 analysis. See also Azoulay 2004:xiv, who deals with the quest for models of authority, investigated from different points of view.
[ back ] 48. Levine Gera 1993:26–131.
[ back ] 49. Gray 2007:36, observes that Simonides’ aporetic style in the dialogue can be compared to that of Socrates in the Memorabilia. See also 2, where she emphasizes the difficulty of deciding whether Xenophon preferred the rule of the law (Constitution of the Lacedaimonians) or personal rule (Hiero). The fact, highlighted by Gray, that similar difficulties arise when comparing Plato’s Laws and Republic, demonstrates that this is a false problem. Questions posed by different works are in part independent from each other, and the idea of constructing a systematic political philosophy, aside from being anachronistic, takes no account of the dynamics of the literary system. Other problematic combinations, related to law and personal power, are suggested by Gray 2007:12f.: Cyropaedia 8.1.24, Oeconomicus 12.20. On the Hiero, see also Sevieri 2004.
[ back ] 50. Memorabilia 3.4.6 and 3.4.12. See Pomeroy 1994:241, in particular on the rewards to subordinates, common in Persian administration and used in housekeeping by Isomachus and his wife.
[ back ] 51. See Gray 2007:39: Xenophon’s innovation consists in ascribing Spartan success to the consistent plan of only one legislator. On the Constitution of the Lacedaimonians see Gianotti 1990; Rebenich 1998; and Lipka 2002. On the problematic chapter 14, see Meulder 1989; Bianco 1993; and Humble 2004.
[ back ] 52. See Althoff 2002.
[ back ] 53. According to Gray 2007:40, the focus of the Constitution of the Lacedaimonians on education implies that it does not aim to be a complete catalogue of Sparta’s laws.
[ back ] 54. According to Tuplin 1997:66, “Education is a—perhaps the—great social or cultural issue of the later classical era,” and the Cyropaedia, Antidosis and Republic, are contributions to the same debate.
[ back ] 55. According to Gray 2007:3, Xenophon was a philosopher capable of contributing to political thought. The problem, of course, is what we mean by ‘philosopher’. On the relationship of Xenophon to contemporary philosophical trends, see Eucken 1983.
[ back ] 56. οὐχ ἵνα δημηγορικοὶ ἢ δικανικοὶ γένοιντο, ἀλλ’ ἵνα καλοί τε κἀγαθοὶ γενόμενοι καὶ οἴκῳ καὶ οἰκέταις καὶ οἰκείοις καὶ φίλοις καὶ πόλει καὶ πολίταις δύναιντο καλῶς χρῆσθαι. Isocrates also dismisses the charge that he gave instruction in writing judicial speeches: Antidosis 2, 30 and 228.
[ back ] 57. καὶ τούτων οὐδεὶς οὔτε νεώτερος οὔτε πρεσβύτερος ὢν οὔτ᾽ ἐποίησε κακὸν οὐδὲν οὔτ᾽ αἰτίαν ἔσχεν.
[ back ] 58. Ἀλλὰ μὴν ἄξιόν γε αὐτοῦ καὶ τὸ εὔχαρι μὴ σιωπᾶσθαι· ᾧ γε ὑπαρχούσης μὲν τιμῆς, παρούσης δὲ δυνάμεως, πρὸς δὲ τούτοις βασιλείας, καὶ ταύτης οὐκ ἐπιβουλευομένης ἀλλ’ ἀγαπωμένης, τὸ μὲν μεγάλαυχον οὐκ εἶδέ τις, τὸ δὲ φιλόστοργον καὶ θεραπευτικὸν τῶν φίλων καὶ μὴ ζητῶν κατενόησεν ἄν. καὶ μὴν μετεῖχε μὲν ἥδιστα παιδικῶν λόγων, συνεσπούδαζε δὲ πᾶν ὅ τι δέοι φίλοις. διὰ δὲ τὸ εὔελπις καὶ εὔθυμος καὶ ἀεὶ ἱλαρὸς εἶναι πολλοὺς ἐποίει μὴ τοῦ διαπράξασθαί τι μόνον ἕνεκα πλησιάζειν, ἀλλὰ καὶ τοῦ ἥδιον διημερεύειν. ἥκιστα δ’ ὢν οἷος μεγαληγορεῖν ὅμως τῶν ἐπαινούντων αὑτοὺς οὐ βαρέως ἤκουεν, ἡγούμενος βλάπτειν οὐδὲν αὐτούς, ὑπισχνεῖσθαι δὲ ἄνδρας ἀγαθοὺς ἔσεσθαι. ἀλλὰ μὴν καὶ τῇ μεγαλογνωμοσύνῃ γε ὡς εὐκαίρως ἐχρῆτο οὐ παραλειπτέον.
[ back ] 59. Τίνας οὖν καλῶ πεπαιδευμένους, ἐπειδὴ τὰς τέχνας καὶ τὰς ἐπιστήμας καὶ τὰς δυνάμεις ἀποδοκιμάζω; Πρῶτον μὲν τοὺς καλῶς χρωμένους τοῖς πράγμασι τοῖς κατὰ τὴν ἡμέραν ἑκάστην προσπίπτουσι, καὶ τὴν δόξαν ἐπιτυχῆ τῶν καιρῶν ἔχοντας καὶ δυναμένην ὡς ἐπὶ τὸ πολὺ στοχάζεσθαι τοῦ συμφέροντος· ἔπειτα τοὺς πρεπόντως καὶ δικαίως ὁμιλοῦντας τοῖς ἀεὶ πλησιάζουσι, καὶ τὰς μὲν τῶν ἄλλων ἀηδίας καὶ βαρύτητας εὐκόλως καὶ ῥᾳδίως φέροντας, σφᾶς δ’ αὐτοὺς ὡς δυνατὸν ἐλαφροτάτους καὶ μετριωτάτους τοῖς συνοῦσι παρέχοντας· ἔτι τοὺς τῶν μὲν ἡδονῶν ἀεὶ κρατοῦντας, τῶν δὲ συμφορῶν μὴ λίαν ἡττωμένους, ἀλλ’ ἀνδρωδῶς ἐν αὐταῖς διακειμένους καὶ τῆς φύσεως ἀξίως ἧς μετέχοντες τυγχάνομεν· τέταρτον, ὅπερ μέγιστον, τοὺς μὴ διαφθειρομένους ὑπὸ τῶν εὐπραγιῶν μηδ’ ἐξισταμένους αὑτῶν μηδ’ ὑπερηφάνους γιγνομένους, ἀλλ’ ἐμμένοντας τῇ τάξει τῇ τῶν εὖ φρονούντων καὶ μὴ μᾶλλον χαίροντας τοῖς διὰ τύχην ὑπάρξασιν ἀγαθοῖς ἢ τοῖς διὰ τὴν αὑτῶν φύσιν καὶ φρόνησιν ἐξ ἀρχῆς γιγνομένοις. Τοὺς δὲ μὴ μόνον πρὸς ἓν τούτων, ἀλλὰ καὶ πρὸς ἅπαντα ταῦτα τὴν ἕξιν τῆς ψυχῆς εὐάρμοστον ἔχοντας, τούτους φημὶ καὶ φρονίμους εἶναι καὶ τελέους ἄνδρας καὶ πάσας ἔχειν τὰς ἀρετάς.
[ back ] 60. Tuplin 1997:67.
[ back ] 61. Nicolai 2004a.
[ back ] 62. Ἔστιν γὰρ τῶν γεγραμμένων ἔνια μὲν ἐν δικαστηρίῳ πρέποντα ῥηθῆναι, τὰ δὲ πρὸς μὲν τοὺς τοιούτους ἀγῶνας οὐχ ἁρμόττοντα, περὶ δὲ φιλοσοφίας πεπαρρησιασμένα καὶ δεδηλωκότα τὴν δύναμιν αὐτῆς· ἔστιν δέ τι καὶ τοιοῦτον, ὃ τῶν νεωτέρων τοῖς ἐπὶ τὰ μαθήματα καὶ τὴν παιδείαν ὁρμῶσιν ἀκούσασιν ἂν συνενέγκοι, πολλὰ δὲ καὶ τῶν ὑπ’ ἐμοῦ πάλαι γεγραμμένων ἐγκαταμεμιγμένα τοῖς νῦν λεγομένοις, οὐκ ἀλόγως οὐδ’ ἀκαίρως, ἀλλὰ προσηκόντως τοῖς ὑποκειμένοις.
[ back ] 63. Antidosis 11: Τοσοῦτον οὖν μῆκος λόγου συνιδεῖν καὶ τοσαύτας ἰδέας καὶ τοσοῦτον ἀλλήλων ἀφεστώσας συναρμόσαι καὶ συναγαγεῖν καὶ τὰς ἐπιφερομέναςt οἰκειῶσαι ταῖς προειρημέναις καὶ πάσας ποιῆσαι σφίσιν αὐταῖς ὁμολογουμένας οὐ πάνυ μικρὸν ἦν ἔργον.
[ back ] 64. Antidosis 11: μετὰ πολλῆς μὲν ἀληθείας εἰρημένον . . . .
[ back ] 65. Antidosis 12: Χρὴ δὲ τοὺς διεξιόντας αὐτὸν πρῶτον μὲν ὡς ὄντος μικτοῦ τοῦ λόγου καὶ πρὸς ἁπάσας τὰς ὑποθέσεις ταύτας γεγραμμένου ποιεῖσθαι τὴν ἀκρόασιν.
[ back ] 66. Nicolai 2004b.
[ back ] 67. Levine Gera 1993:11; see also 13: Xenophon insists that the Cyropaedia is not just a portrait of an ancient Persian King but his own contribution to contemporary political theory.
[ back ] 68. Tatum 1989:57.
[ back ] 69. Tuplin 1997:68.
[ back ] 70. Tuplin 1997:96.
[ back ] 71. Tuplin 1997:153.
[ back ] 72. On Xenophon’s polygraphia, see the effective definition in Azoulay 2004:xi: “S’en tenant aux seuls ouvrages parus dans la collection des universités de France, cette liste donne l’impression d’un inventaire à la Prévert, juxtaposant genres, thèmes et espaces sans nécessité apparente.”