The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Xenophon (Greek Ξενοφῶν, c. 427-355 BCE) was an Athenian citizen, an associate of Socrates, a Philodorian and is known for his writings on Hellenic history and culture.

While a young man, Xenophon participated in the expedition led by Cyrus the Younger against his older brother, the emperor Artaxerxes II of Persia. Cyrus hoped to depose his brother and gain the throne, but did not tell his mercenaries, the so-called "Ten Thousand," of this true goal of the expedition. A battle took place at Cunaxa, where the Greeks were victorious but Cyrus was killed, and shortly thereafter their general, Clearchus of Sparta, was captured and executed. The mercenaries found themselves deep in hostile territory, near the heart of Mesopotamia, far from the sea, and without leadership. They elected new leaders, including Xenophon himself, and fought their way north to the Black Sea through Armenia and then westward and back to Greece. In Thrace he helped Seuthes II to establish himself as a king. Xenophon's record of this expedition and the journey home was titled Anabasis ("Expedition" or "The March Up Country" which carries in Greek the same connotation it does in English).

At some point, Xenophon was exiled from Athens, because of either his collaboration with the Thirty Tyrants, or his allegiance to Cyrus, or his later association with the Spartan general Agesilaus. The Spartans gave him property at Scillus, near Olympia, where his Anabasis was composed. Later the banishment was revoked, and Xenophon spent his last years at Athens, where his son Gryllus was memorialized for his valiant death at Mantinea. Xenophon is said to have died at Corinth, though he may have died in Athens, and his date of death is uncertain; it is known only that he survived his patron Agesilaus, for whom he wrote an encomium.

Xenophon is often cited as being the original Horse Whisperer, having been an advocate of sympathetic horsemanship, and the author of works on horsemanship.

List of Works

Xenophon's writings, especially the Anabasis, are often read by beginning students of the Greek language. His Hellenica is one chief source for events in Greece from 411 to 362, and his Socratic writings, preserved entire, are the only surviving representatives of the genre of Sokratikoi logoi other than the dialogues of Plato.

Historical and Biographical works

Socratic works and dialogues

Short treatises

  • On Horsemanship
  • The Cavalry General
  • Hunting with Dogs
  • Ways and Means
  • Constitution of Sparta

In addition, we have a short treatise, which was written when Xenophon was about five, on the Constitution of Athens . This is found in manuscripts among the short works of Xenophon, as though he had written it also. The author, often called in English the "Old Oligarch ," detests the democracy of Athens and the poorer classes - but argues that the Periclean institutions are well designed for their deplorable purposes.

Project Gutenberg e-texts

External links

Last updated: 05-07-2005 18:09:53