To read these suggestions a few times is enough; but it is always necessary for the commander to hit on the right thing at the right moment, to think of the present situation and to carry out what is expedient in view of it. To write out all that he ought to do is no more possible than to know everything that is going to happen. [2] The most important of all my hints, I think, is this: Whatever you decide to be best, see that it gets done. Whether you are a farmer,1 a skipper or a commander, sound decisions bear no fruit unless you see to it that, with heaven's help,2 they are duly carried out. [3]

Further, I am of opinion that the full complement of a thousand cavalry would be raised much more quickly and in a manner much less burdensome to the citizens if they established a force of two hundred foreign cavalry.3 For I believe that the presence of these men would improve the discipline of the whole force and would foster rivalry in the display of efficiency. [4] I know that the fame of the Lacedaemonian horse dates from the introduction of foreign cavalry: and in the other states everywhere I notice that the foreign contingents enjoy a high reputation; for need helps to produce great eagerness. [5] To defray the cost of their horses,4 I believe that money would be forthcoming from those who strongly object to serve in the cavalry—since even men actually enrolled5 are willing to pay in order to get out of the service—from rich men who are physically unfit, and also, I think, from orphans6 possessed of large estates. [6] I believe also that some of the resident aliens would be proud to be enrolled in the cavalry. For I notice that, whenever the citizens give them a share in any other honourable duty, some are willing enough to take pride in doing the part assigned to them. [7] I fancy, too, that infantry attached to the cavalry will be most effective if it consists of persons who are very bitter against the enemy.

All these things are feasible provided the gods give their consent. [8] If anyone is surprised at my frequent repetition of the exhortation to work with God, I can assure him that his surprise will diminish, if he is often in peril, and if he considers that in time of war foemen plot and counterplot, but seldom know what will come of their plots. [9] Therefore there is none other that can give counsel in such a case but the gods. They know all things, and warn whomsoever they will in sacrifices, in omens, in voices, and in dreams.7 And we may suppose that they are more ready to counsel those who not only ask what they ought to do in the hour of need, but also serve the gods in the days of their prosperity with all their might.

1 Oeconomicus 11.8.

2 This expression undoubtedly comes here; compare especially the maxim “Act with god” (8), and the end of the Ways and Means.

3 The 200 mercenaries would be included in the total of 1000.

4 The mercenaries would not receive “establishment” money.

5 οις καθίστησι is not right; but the translation gives the approximate sense of what Xenophon must have written.

6 Orphans were exempt from state burdens until a year after attaining their majority. The meaning seems to be that during this period of exemption they might fairly be asked to contribute to such a fund.

7 Xen. Mem. 1.1.3.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1920)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (1 total)
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
    • Xenophon, Memorabilia, 1.1.3
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: