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The World's First Online Collaborative Commentary to an Ancient Text

Xenophon’s Cyropaedia in the 21st Century

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Question: Outside of professional academia what is the place for Xenophon’s Cyropaedia in the 21st century culture?

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 This fall (2012) the Center for Hellenic Studies through its Sunoikisis outreach program will be working with colleges and universities to teach an introductory Greek course with the specific goal of using Cyrus’ Paradise as a third semester text and commentary. After they read the Cyropaedia, the hope is that students will want to read many complementary Greek texts, e.g., the novels, Herodotus, Plato, Isocrates, Aeschylus’ Persians, Plutarch’s Life of Alexander, or of course more Xenophon. The Center is also in the process of developing shorter outreach seminars on leadership in the ancient world, part of which would treat Xenophon’s Cyrus. In the following post I want to build on the very stimulating discussions started by David Johnson by posing a series of questions about the place of the Cyropaedia outside professional academia, e.g., in classrooms at the high school or college level, in businesses, in politics, in the military, and more generally in popular culture. The level of interest shown by all of us on this commentary is a testament to the fact that we find the Cyropaedia fascinating on many levels.  How can we communicate this fascination to others outside our fields?

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 1 On the cover of Larry Hedrick’s recent (very loose) translation or adaptation of the Education of Cyrus, the renowned management theorist, Peter Drucker, calls the work “Still the best book on leadership.” Is he right? Should we be passing out copies of the Cyropaedia to every leader and would-be leader on the planet? Casting aside for a moment the debates about the tone of the work, what problems of leadership do you think the Cyropaedia is “best” at solving or addressing, either by showing how a leader should behave or presenting the leader as an example to be avoided or guarded against? Can the work help people to become better leaders (or followers), and if so, how?

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Of what value is the Cyropaedia to a military leader?

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Of what value is the Cyropaedia to a business leader?

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Of what value is the Cyropaedia to a politician (or someone hoping to understand politicians)?

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 Are there other leaders who could benefit from the Cyropaedia, e.g., coaches, parents, college administrators, or teachers?

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 How might the Cyropaedia be of interest to a general audience for reasons other than leadership and politics?

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 1 What is the potential for the Cyropaedia to address perceived divisions between “East and West”? Do you see any potential for the Cyropaedia to be misused? Consider the documentary in progress on Cyrus the Great or this recent post about Xenophon’s Cyrus in Forbes.

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 How would you (or how do you) pitch the Cyropaedia to students in high school or college? Could the Cyropaedia ever serve as children’s literature (since it deals heavily with childhood)?

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 What courses might you use the Cyropaedia in? Would you read the whole work or just selections?

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 What other works of literature, ancient or modern, would you include a study of the Cyropaedia?

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 Would the Cyropaedia make for a good full-length motion picture? What other media could you envision the work being translated into?

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 What challenges do we face in presenting the Cyropaedia to modern audiences? (See David Johnson’s post on the Cyropaedia’s perceived “dullness.”)