Xe'nophon（Ξενοφῶν), the Athenian, was the son of Gryllus, and a native of the demus Ercheia. The time of his birth is not known, but it is approximated to by the fact mentioned in the Life of Xenophon by Diogenes Laertius, and in Strabo (p. 403, ed. Cas.) that Xenophon fell from his horse in the flight after the battle of Delium, and was taken up by Socrates, the philosopher, on his shoulders and carried a distance of several stadia. The battle of Delium was fought B. C. 424 between the Athenians and Boeotians (Thuc. 4.96), and Xenophon therefore could not well have been born after B. C. 444. The time of his death also is not mentioned by any ancient writer. Lucian says (Macrob. 21) that he attained to above the age of ninety, and Xenophon himself in his Hellenica (6.4.35) mentions the assassination of Alexander of Pherae which happened in B. C. 357, according to Diodorus (16.14). Between B. C. 424 and B. C. 357, there is a period of sixty-seven years, and thus we have evidence of Xenophon being alive nearly seventy years after Socrates saved his life at Delium. There has been much discussion on the age of Xenophon at the time when he joined the expedition of the younger Cyrus, B. C. 401. Those who would make him a young man between twenty and thirty must reject the evidence as to the battle of Delium. Plutarch has a story that Socrates saved the life of Alcibiades at Potidaea, and that Alcibiades protected Socrates in the retreat after the defeat at Delium (Alcib. 7). The passage in the Anabasis (2.1.12) in which Xenophon is called νεανίσκος is not decisive, for in this passage of the Anabasis the best MSS. read " Theopompus" instead of " Xenophon ;" and, besides this, the term νεανίσκος is not used in such a way as to limit it to a young man. Xenophon seemed to Seuthes (Anab. 7.2.8) old enough to have a marriageable daughter. This question is discussed at some length by C. W. Krüger (De Xenophontis Vita Quaestiones, Halle, 1822). The most probable conclusion seems to be that Xenophon was not under forty at the time when he joined the army of Cyrus. The mode in which Xenophon introduces himself in the Anabasis (3.1) would almost lead to the conclusion that his name ought not to occur in the first two books. (Comp. Clinton, Fast. Hell. B. C. 401.) Xenophon is said to have been a pupil of Socrates at an early age, which is consistent with the intimacy which might have arisen from Socrates saving his life. Philostratus states that he also received instruction from Prodicus of Ceos, during the time that he was a prisoner in Boeotia, but nothing is known of this captivity of Xenophon from any other authority. Photius (Biblioth. cclx.) says that Xenophon was also a pupil of Isocrates, which may be true, though Isocrates was younger than Xenophon, being born in B. C. 436. A story reported by Athenaeus (x. p. 427) of something that Xenophon said at the table of Dionysius the tyrant, may probably refer to the elder Dionysius who lived till B. C. 367; and if the statement is true, Xenophon must have visited Syracuse. Letronne (Biog. Univ. art. Xenophon), endeavours to show that Xenophon wrote the Symposium and the Hiero before B. C. 401; but his conclusion can hardly be said to be even a strong probability. Xenophon was the editor of the History of Thucydides, but no time can be fixed for this; nor can we assent to Letronne's conclusion that he published the work before B. C. 401. Xenophon may have been at Athens in B. C. 402, and Thucydides may have been dead then ; but these two facts prove nothing as to the time when the work of Thucydides was published. [THUCYDIDES.] Xenophon in the Anabasis (3.1) mentions the circumstances under which he joined the army of Cyrus the younger, who was preparing his expedition against his brother, Artaxerxes Mnemon, the king of Persia. Proxenus, a friend of Xenophon, was already with Cyrus, and he invited Xenophon to come to Sardis, and promised to introduce him to the Persian prince. Xenophon consulted his master Socrates, who advised him to consult the oracle of Delphi, for it was rather a hazardous matter for hint to enter the service of Cyrus, who was considered to be the friend of the Lacedaemonians and the enemy of Athens. Xenophon went to Delphi, but he did not ask the god whether he should go or not : he probably had made up his mind. He merely asked to what gods he should sacrifice in order that he might be successful in his intended enterprise. Socrates was not satisfied with his pupil's mode of consulting the oracle, but as he had got an answer, he told him to go; and Xenophon went to Sardis, which Cyrus was just about to leave. The real object of the expedition was disguised from the Greeks in the army of Cyrus, or at least they affected not to know what it was. But Clearchus knew; and the rest might suspect. Cyrus gave out that he was going to attack the Pisidians, but the direction of his march must have very soon shown that he was going elsewhere. He led his forces through Asia Minor, and over the mountains of Taurus to Tarsus in Cilicia. From thence he passed into Syria, crossed the Euphrates, and met the huge army of the Persians in the plain of Cunaxa, about forty miles from Babylon. In the affray that ensued, for it was not a battle, Cyrus lost his life, his barbarian troops were dispersed, and the Greeks were left alone on the wide plains between the Tigris and the Euphrates. It was after the treacherous massacre of Clearchus and other of the Greek commanders by the Persian satrap Tissaphernes, that Xenophon came forward. He had held no command in the army of Cyrus, nor had he in fact served as a soldier. In the commencement of the third book of the Anabasis he states how he was called to take a part in conducting the hazardous retreat. Instead of attempting to return by the road by which they advanced, where they would have found no supplies, at least till they reached the Mediterranean, the Greek leaders conducted their men along the Tigris and over the high table lands of Armenia to Trapezus, now Trebizond, a Greek. colony on the south-east coast of the Black Sea. From Trapezus the troops were conducted to Chrysopolis, which is opposite to Byzantium. The Greeks were in great distress, and some of them under Xenophon entered the service of Senthes, king of Thrace, who wanted their aid, and promised to pay for it. The Greeks performed what they agreed to do, but Seuthes was unwilling to pay, and it was with great difficulty that Xenophon got from him part of what he had promised. The description which Xenophon gives (Anab. 6.3,&c) of the manners of the Thracians is very curious and amusing. As the Lacedaemonians under Thimbron were now at war with Tissaphernes and Pharnal azus, Xenophon and his troops were invited to join the army of Thimbron, and Xenophon led them back out of Asia to join Thimbron B. C. 399. Xenophon, who was very poor, made an expedition into the plain of the Caicus with his troops before they joined Thimbron, to plunder the house and property of a Persian named Asidates. The Persian, with his women, children, and all his moveables was seized; and Xenophon, by this robbery, replenished his empty pockets (Anab. 7.8.23). He tells the story himself as if he were not ashamed of it. Socrates was put to death in B. C. 399, and it seems probable that Xenophon was banished either shortly before or shortly after that event. His death during Xenophon's absence in Asia appears to be collected from the Memorabilia (4.8.4). Xenophon was not banished at the time when he was leading the troops back to Thimbron (Anab. 7.7.57), but his expression rather seems to imply that his banishment must have followed soon after. It is not certain what he was doing after the troops joined Thimbron. The assumption of Letronne. that he went to Athens is unsupported by evidence. As we know nothing of his movements, the conclusion ought to be that he stayed in Asia, and probably with Thimbron and his successor Dercyllidas. Agesilaus, the Spartan king, was commanding the Lacedaemonian forces in Asia against the Persians in B. C. 396, and Xenophon was with him at least during part of the campaign. When Agesilaus was recalled B. C. 394, Xenophon accompanied him (Anab. 5.3.6), and he was on the side of the Lacedaemonians in the battle which they fought at Coroneia B. C. 394 against the Athenians (Plutarch, Agesil. 18). It seems that he went to Sparta with Agesilaus after the battle of Coroneia, and soon after he settled at Scillus in Eleia, not far from Olympia, a spot of which he has given a description in the Anabasis (5.3.7, &c). Here he was joined by his wife Philesia and his children. It has been said that Philesia was his second wife; but when he married her, or where, is unknown. His children were educated in Sparta, or at least Agesilaus advised him to educate them there. (Plut. Agesil. 20.) Xenophon was now an exile, and a Lacedaemonian so far as he could become one. His time during his long residence at Scillus was employed in hunting, writing, and entertaining his friends; and probably his historical writings, the Anabasis and the Hellenica, or part of the Hellenica, were composed here, as Diogenes Laertius says. The treatise on hunting and that on the horse were probably written during this time, when amusement and exercise of that kind formed part of his occupation. Xenophon was at last expelled from his quiet retreat at Scillus by the Eleans, but the year is uncertain. It is a conjecture of Krüger's that the Eleans did not take Scillus before B. C. 371, the year in which the Lacedaemonians were defeated by the Thebans at the battle of Leuctra. Diogenes says that the Lacedaemonians did not come to the aid of Xenophon when he was attacked by the Eleans, a circumstance that may lead to the probable inference that they were too busily employed in other ways either to prevent his expulsion or to reinstate him; and this is a reason why Letronne supposes that the Eleans probably attacked Scillus in B. C. 368 during the invasion of Laconica by Epaminondas. Xenophon's residence at Scillus in either case was above twenty years. The sentence of banishment from Athens was repealed on the motion of Eubulus, but it is uncertain in what year. In the battle of Mantineia which was fought B. C. 362, the Spartans and the Athenians were opposed to the Thebans, and Xenophon's two sons, Gryllus and Diodorus, fought on the side of the allies. He sent them, says Diogenes, to Athens to fight on behalf of the Spartans. Gryllus fell in the same battle in which Epaminondas lost his life. From the circumstance of Xenophon's two sons being in the battle. Letronne assumes that the decree for Xenophon's banishment must have been repealed before B. C. 362, a conclusion which is far from being necessary. Krüger concludes for other reasons that it was repealed before Ol. 103, that is, before the battle of Mantineia. There is no evidence that Xenophon ever returned to Athens. He is said to have retired to Corinth after his expulsion from Scillus, and as we know nothing more, we assume that he died there. (Ding. Laert.) The Hipparchicus was written after the repeal of the decree of banishment, and the treatise on the revenues of Athens. The events alluded to in the Epilogus to the Cyropaedia (8.8.4) show that the Epilogus at least was written after Ol. 104. 3. (Diod. 15.92.) Diogenes quotes Stesicleides as authority for Xenophon having died in the first year of the 105th Olympiad, or in B. C. 359. The time of his death may have been a few years later. Compare Clinton, Fasti Hell B. C. 359; Krüger, de Xenophontis, &c. p. 28.
WorksThe titles of the works of Xenophon which Diogenes enumerates are the same as those which are now extant. He says that Xenophon wrote about forty books (βιβλία), and that they were variously divided, which expression and the list of works which he gives, show that by the word books he meant the several divisions or books of the larger works, and the smaller works which consist of a single book. The number of books of Xenophon thus estimated is thirty-seven, which is tolerably near the number mentioned by Diogenes, and shows that a division of Xenophon's works into books existed at that time.
Of the historical writings of Xenophon, the Anabasis, or the History of the Expedition of the Younger Cyrus, and of the retreat of the Greeks, who formed part of his army, has immortalised his name.
It is a clear and pleasing narrative, written in a simple style, free from affectation; and it gives a great deal of curious information on the country which was traversed by the retreating Greeks, and on the manners of the people.
It was the first work which made the Greeks acquainted with some portions of the Persian empire, and it showed the weakness of that extensive monarchy.
The skirmishes of the retreating Greeks with their enemies and the battles with some of the barbarian tribes are not such events as elevate the work to the character of a military history, nor can it as such be compared with Caesar's Commentaries. Indeed those passages in the Anabasis which relate directly to the military movements of the retreating army are not always clear, nor have we any evidence that Xenophon did possess any military talent for great operations, whatever skill he may have had as a commander of a division.
The editions of the Anabasis are numerous : one of the most useful editions for the mere explanation of the Greek text is by Krüger.
The work of Major Rennell " Illustrations chiefly geographical of the History of the Expedition of Cyrus, &c London, 1807, 4to." is a useful commentary on the Anabasis, to which may be added various remarks in the London Geographical Journal. (See the Index to the first ten volumes.)
The translation by Spelman is perhaps the best English version.
In a passage in the Hellenica (3.1.1), the author says, "Now how Cyrus got his army together and marched up the country with it against his brother, and how the battle was fought, and how he died, and how after this the Greeks made their retreat to the sea, has been written by Themistogenes of Syracuse."
This passage seems sufficiently to indicate the Anabasis, though the extract says nothing of the course which the Greeks took from Trapezus to Byzantium. Plutarch (De Gloria Athen. vol. ii. ed. Wyttenbach) says, that Xenophon attributed the Anabasis to Themistogenes in order that the work might have more credit, than if it appeared as the narrative of one who had to say so much about himself. We might suppose that there was a work on the expedition of Cyrus by Themistogenes, and that Xenophon wrote his Anabasis after he had written this passage in the Hellenica. But this is merely a conjecture, and not a satisfactory one. When we read the Anabasis we never doubt that Xenophon was the author of it, for he speaks of himself in many places in a way in which no other person could speak : he records, for instance, dreams and thoughts, which no one could know except from his evidence. The Anabasis, then, as we have it, was either written by Xenophon, or compiled from his notes; and the reference to the work of Themistogenes either proves that there was such a work, or that Xenophon's work passed under the name of Themistogenes, at the time when the passage in the Hellenica was written, if Xenophon wrote the passage in the Hellenica. Bornemann's proposal to translate the words in the Hellenica, Θεμιστογένει τῷ Συρακουσίῳ γέγραπται, " das habe ich für den Themistogenes geschrieben" is altogether inadmissible.
The Hellenica (Ἑλληνικά) of Xenophon are divided into seven books, and comprehend the space of forty-eight years, from the time when the history of Thucydides ends [THUCYDIDES] to the battle of Mantineia, B. C. 362.
But the fact of the assassination of Alexander of Pherae is mentioned (6.4. 35), as to which the reference already made to Clinton's Fasti may be consulted.
It is the opinion of Niebuhr and others that the Hellenica consists of two distinct parts or works written at different times. The History of Thucydides would be completed by the capture of Athens, B. C. 404, which is described in the second book (Hellen. 2.2); the remainder of this book carries the history to the restoration of Thrasybulus and the exiles, B. C. 403.
The second paragraph of the third book in which Themistogenes is mentioned, may be considered as completing the history up to B. C. 399; and a new narrative appears to begin with the third paragraph of the third book (Ἐπεὶ μέντοι Τισσαφέρνης, &c).
But there seems no sufficient reason to consider the Hellenica as two works, because an expression at the end of the second book refers to the Athenian amnesty (ἔτι καὶ νῦν ὀμοῦ, &c) of B. C. 403, and because the death of Alexander of Pherae is recorded in the sixth.
This would only prove that Xenophon had the work a long time under his hands.
The division into books proves nothing, for that was posterior to Xenophon's time. (The Hellenica of Xenophon, and their division into books, by G. C. Lewis, Classical Museum, No. iv. )
The Hellenica is generally a dry narrative of events, and there is nothing in the treatment of them which gives a special interest to the work. Some events of importance are briefly treated, but a few striking incidents are presented with some particularity.
There is an English translation of the Hellenica by W. Smith, the translator of Thucydides.
The Cyropaedia (Κυροπαιδεία) in eight books, is a kind of political romance, the basis of which is the history of Cyrus, the founder of the Persian monarchy.
It shows how citizens are to be made virtuous and brave; and Cyrus is the model of a wise and good ruler.
As a history it has no authority at all. Xenophon adopted the current stories as to Cyrus and the chief events of his reign, without any intention of subjecting them to a critical examination; nor have we any reason to suppose that his picture of Persian morals and Persian discipline is any thing more than a fiction, for we know that many of the usages of the Persians in the time of the first Dareius and his successors were different from the usages which Xenophon attributes to the Persians; and Xenophon himself affirms this. Besides this, Xenophon could know no more of the Persians in the time of the first Cyrus than other Greeks; and, setting aside the improbability of his picture, we are certain that he could not know many things which he has introduced into his romance. His object was to represent what a state might be, and he placed the scene of his fiction far enough off to give it the colour of possibility. His own philosophical notions and the usages of Sparta were the real materials out of which he constructed his political system. The Cyropaedia is evidence enough that Xenophon did not like the political constitution of his own country, and that a well-ordered monarchy or kingdom appeared to him preferable to a democracy like Athens.
The genuineness of the Epilogus or conclusion, in which Xenophon shows how the Persians had degenerated since the time of Cyrus, is doubted by some critics; but there seem to be no sufficient reasons.
The author here says that the " Persians of his time, and the rest who were among them, were proved to be both less reverential towards the gods and less just to their kin, and more dishonest towards others, and less courageous in war now than they were before; and if any man has a contrary opinion, he will find, if he looks to their acts, that they testify to the truth of what I say." The Cyropaedia is one of the most pleasing of Xenophon's works, and it contains many good hints on the training of youth. Xenophon's remarks are practical; we do not find in his writings any thoughts that strike us as very profound or new, but we always discover careful observation of human life, good sense, and honest purpose.
The dying speech of Cyrus (8.7) is worthy of the pupil of Socrates, and Cicero (de Senectute, 22) has transferred the substance of it to enforce his argument for the immortality of the soul.
This passage may be assumed as evidence of Xenophon's belief in the existence of the soul (Ψυχή) independent of the organised being in which it acts. " I never could be persuaded," says Cyrus, " that the soul lives so long as it is in a perishable body, and that it dies when it is released from it."
The argument of Xenophon bears some resemblance to the argument of Bishop Butler, in his Analogy, where he treats of a future life (chap. i.).
There is an English translation of the Cyropaedia, by Maurice Ashley Cowper.
The Agesilaus (Ἀγησίλαος) is a panegyric on Agesilaus II., king of Sparta, the friend of Xenophon. That Xenophon wrote such a work is proved by the list of Diogenes, and the testimony of Cicero (Cic. Fam. 5.12), who considers it a monument more glorious than all the statues of kings. Some modern critics do not consider the extant work as deserving of high praise, to which it may be replied, that it will be difficult to find a panegyric which is.
It is a kind of composition in which failure can hardly be avoided. However true it may be, it is apt to be insipid and to appear exaggerated.
The Hipparchicus (Ἱππαρχικός) is a treatise on the duties of a commander of cavalry, and it contains many military precepts. One would be inclined to suppose that it was written at Athens, but this conclusion, like many others from internal evidence, is not satisfactory.
A strain of devotion runs through the treatise; and on this the author makes the following remark near the end : " Now if any one admire that I have often used the expression ` God willing,' he must know that if he happen to be frequently in a state of danger, he will admire the less; and if he consider, that when there is war, the hostile parties form their designs against one another, but very seldom know what designs are formed against them severally.
But all these things the gods know, and presignify them to whom they please by means of sacrifices, birds, voices, and dreams."
On the Horse (Ἱππική）
The treatise on the Horse (Ἱππική) was written after the Hipparchicus, to which treatise he refers at the end of the treatise on the Horse. " Since," says Xenophon, at the beginning of this treatise, " it happens that I have been accustomed to riding a horse for a long time, I consider that I am well acquainted with horses, and I wish to show my younger friends in what way I think that they may best meddle in the matter of a horse."
The treatise is not limited to horsemanship, as regards the rider : it shows how a man is to avoid being cheated in buying a horse, how a horse is to be trained, and the like.
In the beginning of the treatise Xenophon refers to a treatise on the same subject by Simon. The Ἱππική was translated into English, and printed by Henry Denham, London, 1584, 4to.
The Cynegeticus (Κυνηγετικός) is a treatise on hunting, an amusement of which Xenophon was very fond; and on the dog, and the breeding and training of dogs, on the various kinds of game, and the mode of taking them.
It is a treatise written by a genuine sportsman, who loved the exercise and the excitement of the chase; and it may be read with delight by any sportsman who deserves the name.
Constitution of the Spartans (Λακεδαιμονίων Πολιτεία), and the Constitution of the Athenians (Ἀθηναίων Πολιτεία）
The two treatises on the Spartan and Athenian states (Λακεδαιμονίων Πολιτεία, and Ἀθηναίων Πολιτεία) were not always recognised as genuine works of Xenophon, even by the ancients. They pass, however, under his name, and there is nothing in the internal evidence that appears to throw any doubt on the authorship.
The writer clearly prefers Spartan to Athenian institutions. The " Republic of Athens" was translated into English by James Morris, 1794, 8vo.
Πόροι ἢ περὶ Προσόδων) is designed to show how the public revenue of Athens may be improved : it treats of the mode of increasing the number of resident strangers (μέτοικοι), by improving their condition at Athens, which improvement would ultimately be beneficial to the revenue, and attract strangers; and it recommends such facilities to be given to strangers trading to Athens, as would induce them to come to a port where they were not compelled, as in many ports, to take merchandise, for want of a good current coin, but where they could take silver as a commodity in exchange, if they preferred it : he then proceeds to discuss the mode of improving the revenue by a better management of the Athenian silver mines, and to show that provision may thus be made for the poorer citizens and other purposes, without levying contributions on the allies and the subject states. This treatise was translated into English by Walter Moyle, 1697, 8vo., and is reprinted in his works. Böckh, in his Public Economy of Athens, translated into English by G. C. Lewis, has discussed this treatise of Xenophon, and the matter of it.