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April 12, 2013 at 7:08 pm
Plutarch says that Cyrus was hawk-nosed: “The Persians affect such as are hawk-nosed and think them most beautiful, because Cyrus, the most beloved of their kings, had a nose of that shape” (Πέρσαι τῶν γρυπῶν ἐρῶσι καὶ καλλίστους ὑπολαμβάνουσι διὰ τὸ Κῦρον ἀγαπηθέντα μάλιστα τῶν βασιλέων γεγονέναι γρυπὸν τὸ εἶδος, Plutarch Moralia, Remarkable Sayings of Kings and Great Commanders 172E4-6, translation Goodwin; cf. also Πέρσαι δ’, ὅτιγρυπὸς ἦν ὁ Κῦρος, ἔτι καὶ νῦν ἐρῶσι τῶν γρυπῶν καὶ καλλίστους ὑπολαμβάνουσιν, Plutarch Moralia, Political Precepts 821F1-2). Perhaps coincidentally, Cyrus himself describes Chrysantas as having this type of nose (the only such mention of a hook-nose in all of Xenophon), offering to pair him with a snub-nosed woman so that they complement one another (Cyropaedia 8.4.21; cf. Plutarch Moralia, What, as Xenophon Intimates, are the most agreeable questions and most pleasant raillery at entertainment? 633B11-C1).
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March 27, 2013 at 4:14 pm
Both Stark 1958:203-210 and Stadter 1980:60-88 cite several interesting parallels between the narratives of Alexander’s career by Plutarch and Arrian of Nicomedia and the Cyropaedia (#reception #Alexander).
January 15, 2013 at 3:10 am
I was just reading a bit on Alexander the Great today, and I came across an interesting factoid. Onesicritus, a Cynic philosopher and Alexander’s chief helmsman, “consciously imitated Xenophon’s Cyropaedia and tried to turn his Alexander into a philosopher in arms” (Cartledge 2004: 276). Onesicritus is one of just six eyewitness sources extant on Alexander. I think it would be valuable to compare his work to the Cyropaedia as well as to see how the Cyropaedian tradition of Onesicritus’ work has shaped subsequent narratives on Alexander. In antiquity, Onesicritus’ work apparently prompted Nearchus, one of Alexander’s admirals, to write an account amending Onesicritus’ tale.
November 28, 2012 at 3:58 pm
An excellent source for all things equine is Glenn Bugh’s The Horsemen of Athens. David Johnson also has an interesting piece on horses and centaurs in TAPA 135 (2007) 177-207, “Persians as Centaurs in Xenophon’s Cyropaedia“. You might also take a look at Xenophon’s Cavalry Commander and The Art of Horsemanship. Please share with us your answers to this great question!
November 28, 2012 at 2:34 am
Is there more information on equestrian training in antiquity as linked to leadership? The most obvious example is probably the precocious Alexander and his horse, Bucephalus, but perhaps it is the only one needed to demonstrate the utility of experiencing control over an animal and mastering a skill used in war. By being the only one who could tame Bucephalus, the young Alexander could begin to understand when to persuade, punish, or reward his subjects. I suppose the question is if there is evidence that equestrian training was common for youths who were expected to take power.
November 17, 2012 at 8:45 pm
Thanks for the link: a fascinating little lecture, though in some ways very depressing. I hadn’t actually thought specifically of games designed to emulate life from start to finish, nor was I familiar with some of the games Lepore mentions. Thinking of it now, however, the comparison sheds some light on the different ways control levels are included in narrative: each of these games balances chance with free will and authorial control in different ways. I think this needs further investigation.
November 14, 2012 at 8:21 pm
Cf. the fragment of Heracleides of Cumae (F2; c. 350 BCE) in Athenaeus’ Deipnosophistae (145b). Perhaps Xenophon means to say that Cyrus is the founder of this practice.
November 14, 2012 at 5:00 pm
Is it a normal custom to show gratitude to servants in this way or is Xenophon stating this to show how generous Cyrus is?
November 14, 2012 at 1:31 pm
I thought that Astyages genuinely felt, as he told Cyrus in the previous paragraph, “γευόμενος δὲ καὶ σύ, ἔφη, γνώσῃ ὅτι ἡδέα ἐστίν”– he’d like it if he tried it.
I thought the focus was more on Cyrus’ reaction, and that perhaps that was the more inappropriate (disrespecting a foreign king)– until one considers the likely purpose of such an anecdote relating Cyrus’ precociousness, fearlessness, and self-control.
Considered in that light, then any Astyages-shaped figure is supposed to test Cyrus’ meddle. In the previous section, Xenophon took pains to describe the typical Persian upbringing and their focus on ingraining self-control, especially about food, so this is probably a reinforcement of the fact that Cyrus was a well-educated boy.
November 13, 2012 at 4:45 pm
I wonder what Xenophon would make of the current sex scandal with Generals Petraeus and Allen? Here is a good article on generals, military leadership training, and lack of self-control: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/13/us/petraeuss-resignation-highlights-concern-over-military-officers-ethics.html?ref=us
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