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

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  • Allen RomanoAllen Romano (13 comments; 1768 words; 1.42% of total commentary)

    • To pick up on the thread that a title may refer to the events of the beginning of a work, as is the case in Anabasis, this would make particular sense to an ancient audience accustomed to referring to poetic works by their first line. As this is not a custom confined to Greece, but with a very long pedigree (e.g. Enuma Elish), an ancient reader would probably have little problem understanding that the “Education of Cyrus” is the starting point, the first book, of a work that includes much more than this. As a multi-book (i.e. multi-scroll) work is only a complete whole in the sense that all the rolls are put together in the same bucket, the idea that the title has value as hermeneutic for understanding anything beyond the first book (pace Tatum and Higgens) is more compelling to a modern reader than it would likely have been to an ancient reader. 

      On the other hand, one approach to the question of the title’s implications for understanding the work might be to ask how the meaning of the title, which has a direct and obvious connection to the first book, might be exploited in oblique ways in later books. To put it another way, book 1 provides a measure for later books. This paradigmatic relationship between book 1 and subsequent books may extend to the title, such that the paideia here is a potential model for things which are sort of like but not exactly “paideia” in later parts of the work. 

    • See also Gera 1993:13-22, especially Gera 1993:16.

    • The coordination recurs later in the book, Cyropaedia 1.4.25. There it becomes more specific, as it is this good repute which impacts directly Cyrus’ relationship with Astyages and Cambyses. Further, the mention there of Cyrus’ good repute follows directly on the fact that Astyages didn’t know what to say ( Cyropaedia 1.4.24: οὐκ ἔχων…) about Cyrus’ deeds. This silence is, in turn, contrasted with Cyrus’ boasting over the conquered foes.

    • ἔτι καὶ νῦν: This phrase and its variants are regular in describing lasting institutions and foundations. This is the first such usage in the work. How is it used here?

    • This phrase is used later of customs ( Cyropaedia 1.3.2 of Persian clothing, Cyropaedia 1.4.27 of the custom of kissing on the lips, Cyropaedia 1.6.33 on a ῥήτρα passed which requires teaching boys to tell the truth), but this first usage of the phrase in the work seems to require that sense that something that is done “still even now” is a law or custom or ordinance. It may be then that the practice of speech and song about Cyrus is performed like a custom and Xenophon is being hyperbolic. Or, perhaps, Xenophon here reflects the fact that praise of Cyrus was regularly given at certain types of commemorative events.

    • σωφροσύνην: How is σωφροσύνη of value to a prince?

    • Though “moderation” or “self-control” is very familiar as a Greek value, it has an important resonance in the customary praise of kings. It is important here that the two values Xenophon highlights as part of describing Cyrus’ early education are justice and good sense. Justice (δικαιοσύνη, above in section 6) has an obvious role in kingship  (e.g. in Hesiod Theogony). The importance of “good-sense” in rule may be equally conventional. To take two tragic examples, Menelaus in Sophocles Ajax 1073-6 wants his armies to behave “moderately”. Sophocles Phaedra fr. 683 Radt similarly refers to good sense as a mark of civic good order. See in general Rademaker 2005:165 (Sophrosyne and the Rhetoric of Self-Restraint, Brill) on justice and moderation; North 1966:32ff. (Sophrosyne: Self Knowledge and Self-Restraint in Greek Literature, Ithaca, Cornell University Press) on political uses of the term. This section seems work in two ways at once. Against the paradigm of good order in the city, justice and good-sense are appropriate to citizens. They are thus values which continue Xenophon’s focus, from earlier in the work, on what makes a good and orderly authority. But it is also entirely conventional praise for a king, in part because his justice and self-control are models and guarantors of such attributes in the people he rules.

    • On other places where Xenophon talks about sophrosyne, I am not sure what (if any relevance) the mention in Cynegeticus 1.1.23 (assuming that this is authentic Xenophon) of Hippolytus being honored for his sophrosyne and piety (ὁσιότητι) might have. Piety can be explained as something with a particular importance for Hippolytus, but I suspect that this is part of the conventional praise of legitimate and good rulers. Piety   of a good king, in purely practical terms, means making the right sort and quality of dedications to gods. “Moderation” and “piety”, however relevant to Hippolytus’ particular story, are near antitheses in value judgment about how a ruler in particular must negotiate too much and too little and plot that middle course between over-consumption and under-consumption. In Xenophon’s account of Hieron — to take another Xenophonic work for comparison to Cyropaedia — it is interesting how much time is spent discussing dietary habits of kings. Against expectation that kings consume a lot, we hear that they do not (or should not) over indulge. And we could of course get into issues of Macedonian heavy drinking and then to anecdotes about Alexander. But my point would be that all these sorts of self-control seem to be very material (as opposed, perhaps to intellectual). So, for the question about how this particular mode of learning self-control might work, is it the implication that the youths were to be corrected frequently (i.e. like the fathers teaching sophrosyne through crying rather than laughter in Cyropaedia 2.2.14) and the very fact of performing this service would force them to suffer into sophrosyne. On the erotic self-control which comes later in the work, I wonder how much this is part of an expected progression. Erotic sophrosyne becomes the most visible marker of a potential failure or test of one’s self-control?

    • How does Cyrus speak? Is his manner of speech distinct from other speakers within the work or in other works?

    • Cyrus’ transition from talkative lad to somewhat more laconic but charming (ἐπίχαρις) youth is presented in the best possible light. It is not an over-boldness (θράσος) but rather ἁπλότης καὶ φιλοστοργία. Recent scholarship, along these lines, finds in many conversations in the Cyropaedia a “Socratic tenor” Gera 1993:27 and Cyrus as Socrates. But in this and in the next paragraph of the work, Xenophon seems to back off from the qualities which, as described in the present paragraph, would underpin Cyrus’ Socratic discourse. The topic of talkativeness and children is an important one in modern research in child development and social psychology [ref]see, e.g. (Leaper 2004:993-1027) Leaper, C. and Smith, T. “A Meta-Analytic Review of Gender Variations in Children’s Language Use: Talkativeness, Affiliative Speech, and Assertive Speech” Developmental Psychology 40.6, 2004:993-1027[/ref] Though this modern work is of limited value because it takes as data modern, culturally narrow groups (mostly upper middle class and American or European), it provides some orientation to the sort of issue that may be relevant here.  One of the more consistent findings across cultures (though again, data is limited) is that male speech tends to be more assertive against female speech which is more affiliative (i.e. aiming to establish relationships with others). This is not in itself surprising, as certain markers of male speech in Greek (first person verbs in particular) would seem to be evidence of this distinction as well. As the authors of the above-mentioned study note, “the ability to coordinate the use of self-assertive and affiliative communication functions is generally viewed as the hallmark of the highest levels of psychosocial competence” (Leaper 2004:993). It may be that in Cyrus’ speech, whether we characterize it as Socratic or in some other way, we have something of this precocious combination of assertiveness and affiliative competence. This passage seems to describe both sides of the coin, with Cyrus both asking questions and able to answer questions put to him, in all cases making himself someone that others want to hear more from.

    • ὄλβον . . . εὐδαιμονίαν . . μεγὰλας δὲ τιμὰς: The endpoint here seem conventionally Greek (e.g. as the endpoint in epinician praise); is there a specifically Persian inflection or more specific resonance to any of these goals which, according to Cyrus, are the endpoint of the warrior?

    • Why is Cambyses (or, as some critics think, Xenophon) hating on manteis here?

    • This is a fascinating question. On the issue of style, and as you point out in the book (Hirsch 1985:94), stylistic assertions about this passage are often subjective and short on specific features that we might use to gauge authenticity. One potential line of investigation here is to use computer analysis. I wonder whether others know of any analysis along these lines already? In the interest of getting more specific data on this question, I had before run some data mining tests on Xenophon’s corpus against various non-Xenophon sets. (There are a number of limitations here– an incomplete corpus of prose, certain omissions; I mention this here only as an initial foray into this question.)  A lot of what you get back is an artifact of the small corpus size and overfits the content of the material. That is, even though the statistical test will pick up all types of information and, in cases where sociolinguistic patterns are quantifiable (e.g. male vs. female speech, high status vs. low status speech) will be quite revealing about important markers of differences in language, for the Xenophon vs. not Xenophon test I am so far finding that it is not much better than noise. For what it is worth though, this section ( Cyropaedia 8.8) has some of the markers of “Xenophon” and very few of the markers that I’m getting for “Not Xenophon”. I don’t think that proves anything, as one needs more data and I offer this only as a quick and dirty result of some initial tests, but I suspect it reflects the problem and maybe a restatement of the question. How would we know whether it is Xenophon or not? Or, rather, would you imagine that anyone reading this in antiquity would have difficulty imagining in is authentic Xenophon? More if I can find anything that is not noise in these sorts of statistical tests…

  • Andrea HinojosaAndrea Hinojosa (2 comments; 339 words; 0.27% of total commentary)

    • The story about Alexander pouring out water in front of his troops also comes from Arrian Anabasis of Alexander 6.26.It seems to me that this is Xenophon’s attempt at setting a Greek standard for the type of characteristics typical of a great leader. Similarly, Alexander’s biographers (such as Arrian) set him up as an exemplar of leadership, who the Romans looked to as an ideal leader. I think it is interesting to think of this kind of description as a tradition, which was crucial to the image of a successful leader, and also a tradition that continued across cultures.I have seen this type of leader standard in early ancient near eastern art. For example, the stele of Naram-Sin portrays the king as a warrior king, endowed with kuzbu (sexual allure). See I. Winter 1996, “Sex,Rhetoric, and the Public Monument,” in (ed.) Kampen, Sexuality in Ancient Art. I know Naram-Sin is an early example, but the aspects of kingship, leadership, etc., as described in this passage, can also be found in later depictions of Assyrian and Achaemenid kings. So imitation seems to follow a standard of leadership previously established.

    • This is an interesting parallel! Here, Xenophon casts Cyrus as a future philosopher-king, like Alexander is cast by Plutarch Life of Alexander 5.1. I think Xenophon’s young Cyrus is πολυλογώτερος because (following Plato Republic) a true lover of learning must, from his earliest youth, desire all truth (see http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/plato-republic-philosopherking.asp); a truth which can be achieved through inquiry.Plato’s influence on Xenophon (and Plutarch) reveals itself here. But it also seems a bit one-sided when we consider material representations of Achaemenid kings. Are there any examples from the Persian sources that have Achaemenid kings cast as philosopher-kings? Maybe on cylinder seals? I am interested to know what was the Persian concept of a philosopher-king. There may be some Greek and Persian connections worth exploring.

  • Benjamin McCloskey (6 comments; 849 words; 0.68% of total commentary)

    • There is also the the Old Oligarch Constitution of the Athenians 1.10 who complains that one cannot beat slaves in Athens for fear of accidentally beating a free man (since Athenian slaves dress as well as Athenian citizens).

    • This scene started with Astyages giving Cyrus παντοδαπὰ ἐμβάμματα καὶ βρώματα ( Cyropaedia 1.3.4) to ward off homesickness, yet after Cyrus vigorously criticizes Median food, Astyages responds by giving him κρέα…θήρεια καὶ τῶν ἡμέρων anyway. What might we make of his (inappropriate?) reaction? Is Astyages not really listening to Cyrus or does Astyages just think he knows better than Cyrus? If Cyrus’ arguments against Median food do not convince Astyages, would they (or could they) convince anyone or is there something different about Astyages?

    • Maybe this would be the best place to ask this question: are there slaves in Persia prior to Cyrus’ career as general? There are slaves in Media (Sakas, the slaves who riot in the Median camp at Cyropaedia 4.5.8), there are slaves in Assyria ( Cyropaedia 4.5.56), but there is no mention of slaves in Persia or slaves owned by Persians before Cyrus re-enslaves the freed slaves at Cyropaedia 4.5.57 (the distribution of prisoners comes shortly afterwards at Cyropaedia 4.6.11).

    • The parallel example of how Cyrus adopts luxurious Median foods perhaps undermines what the narrator says, as you note, at 8.8.15. The Persians before the capture of Babylon are moderate in food: they eat bread, greens, and water ( Cyropaedia 1.2.8) and seem to only eat meat if they have hunted animals ( Cyropaedia 1.2.11). Yet after Cyrus becomes king in Babylon, his diet, like his clothes, mirrors Astyages’. The narrator implies that in Cyrus’ palace there is, in Ambler‘s translation, “one person to boil meats, for another to roast them, for another to boil fish, for another to roast them, for another to make loaves of bread—and not even loaves of all kinds, but it is sufficient if he provides some one form that is well regarded ( Cyropaedia 8.2.5-6).” Unlike the old Persians, when Cyrus marches with his army his soldiers don’t rely on simple food but when he sets up a camp Cyrus “determined, first of all, how far distant from the king’s tent his bodyguards should pitch their tents; then he showed a place on the right for the breadmakers, and one on the left for the saucemakers, and another on the right for the horses ( Cyropaedia 8.5.3)…” Cyrus is accompanied on the march by saucemakers (which he had once condemned) and prioritizes them over his cavalry (and seems to place the bakers closer than the cavalry to the safety at the center of the camp). In the epilogue the narrator complains of the Persians after Cyrus that “as for foods baked for their meals, they have not omitted anything previously discovered; rather, they are forever contriving new ones. So too with sauces, for they possess inventors of both ( Cyropaedia 8.8.16).” The narrator criticizes innovation and specialization in food and sauces as effeminacy, but it was Cyrus who personally introduced these specialist and innovative cuisine to Persia.  

    • τὸ πρόσωπον τοῦ πάππου ἠγριωμένον ἐπὶ τῇ θέᾳ τῇ αὑτοῦ: why is Astyages angry at the sight of Cyrus? Is it because Cyrus has been disobedient throughout this skirmish, because he is μαινόμενον τῇ τόλμῃ, because he was staring at the corpses of the dead, or for another reason?

    • That’s an intriguing reading of thea I hadn’t considered. I had read it as ‘the sight of him (returning from the battle).’ As for whether Cyrus does this again, Nadon 2001:160 suggests that Cyrus might enjoy the sight of Abradatas’ corpse more than the sight of the living Pantheia, but I’m not sure whether this is tongue-in-cheek. In regard to your question about Leontius, I think there is absolutely a connection: they both look at corpses and there is a struggle. The difference is that Leontius’ struggle is internal and Cyrus’ is external. Leontius knows that staring at corpses is ‘wrong’ but the appetitive part of his soul forces him to. Even the combination of the rational part of his soul and his anger cannot in the end check his impulse. His struggle is internal between the various parts of his soul. Cyrus, on the other hand, does not have an internal struggle. He looks at the corpses with no hesitation, which suggest that the appetitive and rational parts of his soul agree that looking at corpses is desirable. If Cyrus is placed onto the model of Leontius, it seems that something that Leontius has is lacking in Cyrus: perhaps his knowledge of justice is not as fully formed as Leontius’ or he lacks Leontius’ empathy. Cyrus’ struggle is external: he only stops looking at the corpses when he is bodily dragged away by the soldiers (and it is only once he sees Astyages’ anger that he acts ashamed). Leontius struggles against himself to avoid looking at the dead, but Cyrus struggles with soldiers in order to continue looking at the dead.

  • Brian Booker (3 comments; 276 words; 0.22% of total commentary)

  • Carol AtackCarol Atack (189 comments; 20461 words; 16.49% of total commentary)

  • cbosakCarolyn Bosak (13 comments; 1257 words; 1.01% of total commentary)

    • In addition to the ruling (in both senses) metaphors that Norman mentions, we might also account for Xenophon’s preference for monarchy, or at least the way the text appears to elevate monarchy, by considering the pressure exerted by Cyrus as Xenophon’s focus. That is, instead of seeing “the theoretical question of how to maintain the willing obedience of followers” as leading to Cyrus as an example, we might instead consider Cyrus’ life itself as the subject that gives rise to this theoretical frame – a frame which, given Cyrus’ success, naturally favors monarchy. To put it another way, Cyrus’ success as a monarch in the story overdetermines the political philosophy that frames the story. As Steven says regarding the constitutional debate, “monarchy has to win out, not because of the superiority of the arguments but because Darius did, in fact, become king.” 

    • Jwilson (et. al.), could you elaborate on what qualifies something as a manual? I have thought about this issue in the context of agricultural and other didactic poetry, but not government. What are the characteristics of a manual? To what extent do positively-valued/exemplary portraits of leaders, governments, and societies “teach” even when they are not in manual-form? 

    • The scarcity of books and education in the ancient world and the academic quality of Xenophon’s discourse should not lead us to assume that Xenophon was writing exclusively for an informed audience or that such an audience is the only one for whom his text is intelligible. Vergil is less meaningful without Homer (in the literal sense that fewer meanings are available), but not meaningless.Why are you opposed to different readerships?   

    • I don’t know, but it might be interesting to compare Herodotus Histories, who, in Rosalind Thomas 2000 (Herodotus in Context, 2000), sees human nature as implicated in the nature of the cosmos (or at least its other constituents).  

    • A few reasons: (1) The system is interesting in its own right; Xenophon is participating in a long, Herodotean tradition of giving time and attention to foreign nomoi even when they appear “superfluous” to the main narrative. (2) Cyrus’s only partial participation in the curriculum wouldn’t stand out as much if we hadn’t been introduced to the abstraction first. (3) I’m not sure whether it’s problematic, but Cyrus’s unorthodox movement through the curriculum certainly creates a lot of suspense: can he transcend the disruption? What will be the effect on his character? The gap between Cyrus’s particular education and what his education should or could have been seems to me emblematic (especially with reference to the work’s title) of an underlying concern of the text, i.e., the relationship between abstraction — political philosophy, ethnographic description — and biography, the history of a particular life. How does a writer grapple with these different genres of writing, and how does a reader evaluate the data they provide? If we want to emulate Cyrus, do we have to adopt the Persian educational system? If we adopt this system, how much can we deviate from it? In this sense, it doesn’t make sense to speak of a philosophical “frame” around a biographical “story” as I did in my comment on Cyropaedia 1.1. We see here how the intertwining and interdependence of different generic elements is what’s really interesting.  

    • The text is sensitive to the feminizing and softening potential of Median luxury, including Median dress, but Cyrus’s generosity ( Cyropaedia 1.4.26, where he gives away the robe itself) and adherence to Persian hardiness and excellence ( Cyropaedia 1.5.1, where Cyrus, back in Persia, is initially suspected of corruption but finally accepted) seem to counteract this potential. Xenophon describes this dynamic explicitly at Cyropaedia 8.8.15 (in Miller’s translation): “Furthermore, they are much more effeminate now than they were in Cyrus’s day. For at that time they still adhered to the old discipline and the old abstinence that they received from the Persians, but adopted the Median garb and Median luxury; now, on the contrary, they are allowing the rigour of the Persians to die out, while they keep up the effeminacy of the Medes.” This is a neat way of acknowledging the trope of  “eastern luxury” without allowing it to poison our opinion of Cyrus.  

    • What is the significance of Cyrus’s description of the meal as a “road” (ὁδός), through which the Medes “wander” (πλανώμενοι)? Are there any parallels for this image?

    • I’m nervous about gendered language too, but then Euripides Bacchae comes to mind…could scholarship on Dionysus help us out? Those Homeric similes are fascinating, but is motherhood feminine in the same way that beauty and luxury are?

    • Those are fascinating possibilities, but I think we can understand Cyrus’s comments more locally. He criticizes the Medan paradise (1) because he’s used up most and the best of the game within the enclosure, as we learn at Cyropaedia 1.4.5, and (2) because, as you say, he’s ready to move on to bigger and more dangerous tasks. The animals of the paradise are perhaps actually defective, because they’re the only ones left, but, more importantly, appear defective to Cyrus because he now sees them with a man’s eyes. The attractiveness of the animals outside the paradise is also important for motivating the poaching expedition of the Assyrian king, at Cyropaedia 1.4.16, an episode that is fundamental for cementing both our and Cyrus’s family’s sense of his maturity. Thank you for highlighting this scene; the way that Xenophon uses hunting to provoke Cyrus’s inner development and to progress the plot is really masterful!  

    • We discussed this also at Cyropaedia 1.3.3. It should be remembered that Herodotus’s comment about soft countries producing soft peoples is itself meant to illustrate a decline, that is, a change; negative change is definitely possible in Herodotus’s and Xenophon’s worlds – I’m not sure about positive change. Cyrus was able to “ward off” the corrupting influence of the Medes, but the Persians as a whole, in the end, were not. Are they doomed now to a corrupt existence?

    • Your science-fiction parallels put me in mind of the last chapter of James Romm 1994 The Edges of the Earth in Ancient Thought

    • I don’t know enough about the ancient novel to have an opinion about whether the Cyropaedia counts, but I am struck by the “sub-genre-y” nature of a lot of your parallels, the fact that we would class many of them as “genre fiction” rather than “serious” novels. Could a similar sort of distinction (I’m tempted to say prejudice) be at play in our evaluation of the Cyropaedia and its intruding “genre” material?  

    • Sean: As you say, the absence of natural wonders is quite striking, but the war-technologies you mention seem a lot like the maybe-it’s-possible-maybe-it’s-not sorts of technical wonders one finds in science fiction. The question of escapism is really important, I think. Of course, a lot of science fiction (including Heinlein), and other exemplary/utopian fiction (like Ayn Rand), is at least in some sense dead serious – even if it’s also seen as “frivolous” by literati.    Carol: Thank you so much for that observation about seeing our favorite genres!  

  • Christine Brown (5 comments; 149 words; 0.12% of total commentary)

  • dpowersDan Powers (7 comments; 2194 words; 1.77% of total commentary)

    • This is a great observation.  Certainly there are a number of contextual realities that are somewhat unique for Xenophon’s experience.  Having grown up in the midst of the Peloponnesian War, particularly as a young adult through the later stages, this might certainly give him a sour disposition towards democracy. Also acknowledging his close association with Socrates, and the lengths he goes to, (as we will see), to import or even manufacture a Socrates-like character in the Cyropaedia highlights the probability that he was very critical of democracy based on the Athenian form.  It seems to be a long tradition in academic study of Classical Greece that Athens was the superior polis in all ways, especially government.  Is not therefore possible that Xenophon also represents a philosophical reaction to the Periclean Age, where Pericles operates in actuality very much like a constitutional monarch in imperial practice, but for the sake of appearance has no official title?  For the sake of argument, during the height of the Athenian Empire, we can just say that the democracy of Athens was something less than a technical democracy, precisely because it was so completely dominated by the efforts of Pericles.  Those decades and policies were the antagonist that sparked the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War.  Athens as a polis sat at the head of an empire that was anything else – certainly not a democracy.  It seems logical that Xenophon correctly saw the dressing of democracy that was (and often still is hailed as a great governmental achievement) as something of a sham. These circumstances also ushered in horrific consequences that affected the entire Greek world, throwing it into political chaos.  The democracy which was defended in the Persian Wars, then turned and exiled the most prominent of its defenders, Cimon, Miltiades, Themistocles – even those great leaders held up as the standard Athens had thanked them for their services by exiling them.  Very early on Xenophon himself was exiled, therefore is so difficult to see the logic that Xenophon saw democracy as being vulnerable to be counterproductive to itself?

    • It does seem, especially in the case of the post Peloponnesian War reality, that the varying democracies have failed.  At least it is easy to understand why Athenians and other Greeks may come to the conclusion at the end of the 5th Century going into the 4th Century.  With that in mind, is it easier to try and “fix” the problems that brought on conflict between Athens and Sparta? And of course attempts were made from within, but those reformers, (who probably had their own not so noble agenda in mind), also failed.  Then I ask, would it not be easiest to presume that some other more successful government be the “magical solution” to cure these ails?  Of course the Achaemenid Empire had been running at various levels of competency, for over a century.

    • Some excellent points.  I think the question I was attempting to tease out, how the cumulative effects (or experiences) in Xenophon’s own life influenced his memory of past events.  In this case, allow me to offer an obvious observation, dealing with his perception of ruling government.  Xenophon was himself exiled by the Athenian Democracy.  He also witnessed that same group of men allow the trial and subsequent execution of his teacher Socrates for nothing more than trumped up charges.  As we all know, neither of these instances were extraordinary in Classical Athens.  Contrary to the what is often claimed by modern talking heads, sadly even within our profession, Athenian ‘rash’ action tended to be the rule rather than the exception.  If you stood heroically in battle leading a phalanx or defeating an enemy the chances were that you would return home and face a trial with the probability of execution or exile as your reward.  With that context in mind, it seems only logical that Xenophon was rightly suspicious of democracy that lacked sensibility to reserve the gravest of actions for the gravest of offenses.  In many cases these trials and punishments were meted out by those citizens who for that time, were at home rather than abroad participating or even observing the actions which were claimed the offense that brought on the specific trial.Of course from what we know, this was the right of the people in the institutions, but it is easy to see how a young man, as Xenophon, in his formative years would have a keen distaste for this type of charade.  In my own experience I can empathize with the difficult position of desiring the noble conduct on the battlefield (land or sea), but also knowing that no battlefield is conducive to bringing out the best of people.  Contrary, a battlefield does more often bring out the unmitigated determination of the participants.  It is true that there are many noble annals from the battlefields, survival and victory must serve as the watchwords if there is any expectation for a side to prevail.I do not downplay the presence of what we consider atrocities and war crimes, ancient or modern, they exist on the battlefield and they always have.  For most of recorded history those things existed as simply part of war.  The reaction in Athens in Athens following the massacre on Melos does serve as a credible distinction between what was acceptable and actions which were not.  Of course Melos was not at war with Athens, and thus I think that is what elicited such a strong reaction once news spread of the incident. Taking the realities of the years immediately following Peloponnesian War, into account – it is easy to follow Xenophon’s own (probable) association putting democracy and uncontrollable emotion together as precisely what not to do. My thought is that familiarity with conflict, of the first-hand order, focuses an acute awareness that is rarely discussed.  Ironically, the Spartans (who had 2 kings) opted not to allow their decision in regards to Athens be ruled by reaction.  Likewise the “historical” Cyrus the Great after conquering an area, integrated his newly acquired subjects – to some level and degree.  Looking at Cyrus to Cambyses, is exposed for failing to totally grasp this in the Egypt episode.  Relevant considering how to or not to deal with newly acquired subjects in the immediate aftermath of victory on the battlefield.  That is precisely the point I try to bring out.

    • It is an excellent question, of course I believe the answer to be more complicated than it might appear as there are more than one ‘type’ of resource being discussed what appears to me to be layered as well as overlapping fashion.  The type of resources I am referring to are those that Xenophon discusses in Cyropaedia 1.6.5-8, the resources of the family.  If we use two young men, one born into the wealthy part of the spectrum and one born as a slave.  In this context the wealthy young man would be taught to hunt as appropriate to his rank and class, and thus he would be taught the necessary horsemanship, navigation, and tactical skills to conclude a hunt with success.  He would also be introduced with the vital aspects (what we call “combat service and support”), the supply and communication problems and solutions as appropriate – fundamental to a successful hunt.  All of these are embodied as part of the “hunt.”
      On the other side the slave, may even participate at a level on the same hunt, but his experience is merely to carry this pack from here to there, without even an explanation of why.  To him there would be no context.  He may or may not be bright enough to understand that the pack he carries contains the necessary tools to repair the weapons periodically – vital to success of the hunt.   The large difference being that the wealthy young man is made involved in the entire process presumably for the purpose of learning the entire context and the slave is serving as simple labor.  He may pick it all up and come to understand but generally the lower men are meant primarily to follow orders, certainly it is above their “station” to understand the how and why.  As far as teaching the lower men to be capable of understanding the whole process especially the preparation for the hunt.
      What is interesting to me about the conversation Xenophon presents in these sections, is the emphasis that he places on the difficulty in learning the entire process.  It reads to me as an idea that must be pursued in order that it can be learned well enough to be mastered – a level of competence that must be obtained for a great leader.  He implies that competence requires effort in order to be gained gain in Cyropaedia 1.6.5.  In Cyropaedia 1.6.6, he refers specifically to this idea referencing cavalry, marksmanship, naval encounters before moving on to non-battle successes.  He implies that competence in those areas is required before asking the assistance of the gods in those matters. 

    • It is appropriate to acknowledge our lack of verifiable corroborating historical evidence in these cases.  Even if such additional sources survived, everything that is written is done so through a respective agenda that we have no way to account for.  Certainly Xenophon is known for writing with specific perspectives, not always clearly identifiable and he is notorious in several works for what must certainly be deliberate omissions, (most notably in the Hellenika).  Only complicating the task further.  Perhaps whatever those motivations were for deliberate omissions in other works, provides unknown insight into his undertaking of the Cyropaedia as a quasi-(non)-historical work?  so that he could avoid the encumbrance of being ‘absolutely historically accurate’ and convey his own idea of the perfect situations?

    • The importance of intelligence, its collection, and most important the application of that information cannot be understated.  Xenophon goes to considerable effort to sketch the importance of information in several of his works.  I do think that he places varied levels of importance on them depending on the situation, since that information’s respective importance can be measured more or less depending on the respective situation. 

      There is also the important distinction between applying tactical intelligence on the battlefield ( Pol. Strat. 1.49.2-3) and the larger ‘operational/strategic’ intelligence noted in Cyropaeida 1.5.14. At the highest levels it is absolutely essential to the long term success of a commander.  I would argue however that at the lowest levels of command, while helpful at every level, such skills are not always “required” per se.  At the ruler or commander of army – it is a requirement absolutely.  In the context of the Near East, more acutely in the dynastic succession struggles of Achaemenid Persian court – ‘political’ intelligence was essential to survival.

    • It is a good question to ask, how many could imitate this ideal leader if indeed any at all could. I would venture the idea that Xenophon was not necessarily attempting to write a ‘field manual’ that every military leader should follow – meaning I do not get the impression he was pushing every military leader to pursue world conquest even on a small scale. It seems he was far too pragmatic for such an idea, though we have no way of knowing and that may be exactly what he thought. Given his vast experience with rulers and military leaders this seems unlikely.

      Defining or guessing his exact audience, is problematic for sure. It is fair to assume that he was writing for an audience like himself. At least it would be logical to assume that those are the people (by virtue of shared background/experience), were most likely to understand his perspective. However, it is interesting to consider that very few hippeis would have any comparable experience to his march into and out of Persia. Precious few would be able to relate, in real terms, to the challenges of a campaign distance over a few hundred miles let alone thousands of miles through scorching dessert, high mountains, and snow! In fact, based on what we know from surviving sources, Xenophon’s fellow cadre members are the only Greeks who could truly understand these challenges and difficulties. To others who read it, it must have surely seemed like a fantastic tale indeed! It may also be the case that both the Cyropaedia and Anabasis were not widely circulated until after most of these fellows were gone. But it does seem that the Anabasis was written with the intent to repudiate the claims made by Sophaentus. (Cf. Loeb Anabassi 2006, p. 7 for a full discussion of additional ancient sources.) This is a strong indicator that multiple accounts of Cyrus the Younger’s campaign were available including Xenophon’s in his own time. The intentions of the various authors involved were likely quite varied.

  • dbranscomeDavid Branscome (6 comments; 691 words; 0.56% of total commentary)

    • Is Astyages angry at Cyrus’ “gazing” (ἐθεᾶτο , θέᾳ) at the fallen in itself or Cyrus’ persistence in gazing? I suggest the latter. “Gazing” (θεᾶσθαι) at battlefield dead does not seem a blameworthy activity in and of itself. In Herodotus Histories 6.120, for example, the Lacedaemonians “gaze at” the fallen Persians on the battlefield of Marathon, and Xerxes’ sailors “gaze at” the fallen on the battlefield of Thermopylae ( Herodotus Histories 8.24-25). Where Cyrus in Cyr. 1.4.24 goes wrong (and where he angers his grandfather) is that he refuses to stop gazing; he has to be dragged off the battlefield by Astyages’ men. I attribute Cyrus’ persistence here more to Cyrus’ youthful enthusiasm than to any “gloating” (as the heading in the commentary has it). In Cyropaedia 1.4.24 Cyrus has just won his first battle, and he does not want the experience to end. “Gloating” implies a maliciousness that appears to be totally absent from Cyrus’ awestruck gazing. 

    • In Cyropaedia 7.1.3, thunder, at any rate, is taken as a good sign by Cyrus.  When “thunder sounded on the right” (βροντὴ δεξιὰ ἐφθέγξατο) Cyrus said, “We will follow you, greatest Zeus” (ἑψόμεθά σοι, ὦ Ζεῦ μέγιστε).

    • Are Cyropaedia 7.5.13 and Cyropaedia 7.5.14 the only instances in the Cyropaedia of negative laughter? In both passages, the Babylonians “laughed at/mocked” (κατεγέλων) Cyrus’ army as it surrounded Babylon. By negative laughter, I mean laughter that reflects the laugher’s ignorance or arrogance (as it does in the case of the soon-to-be-conquered Babylonians). In Herodotus, laughter usually (but not exclusively, as in Herodotus Histories 4.36.2) reflects poorly on and often portends disaster for the laugher. But in the Cyropaedia laughter usually seems positive; Cyrus and especially his friends engage in good-natured laughter with each other on several occasions (e.g., Cyropaedia 4.5.54-55).

    • In Cyropaedia 7.5.50, I am struck by Artabazus’ image of the allied Hyrcanians being almost like babies to the Persians. Artabazus says that the Persians were so happy to have the Hyrcanians as their first allies “that we all but carried them around in our arms, cherishing them” (ὥστε μόνον οὐκ ἐν ταῖς ἀγκάλαις περιεφέρομεν αὐτοὺς ἀγαπῶντες). Does anyone have any other references to passages in which allies are talked about fondly as one’s children or even babies? 

    • Perhaps the prominence of Helios (particularly in Cyropaedia 8) could also be explained by the prominence of horses in the Cyropaedia. Horses, horsemanship, and cavalry are a thread that runs throughout the work (see David Johnson 2005 TAPA article on the Persians as centaurs). Persians in general did seem to connect horses, moreover, with the worship of the Sun. In the Cyropaedia, horses are sacrificed specifically to the Sun in both 8.3.12 and 8.3.24. For his part, Herodotus lists the Sun among the gods that Persians worship ( Herodotus Histories 1.131.2, cf. Herodotus Histories 1.138.1), and he also tells of the way that Darius secured the kingship by having his horse be the first to neigh at sunrise ( Herodotus Histories 3.84-87). 

    • Another example of an “anonymous introduction” in the Cyropaedia involves Tigranes. At Cyropaedia 3.1.7 Xenophon first mentions the Armenian prince Tigranes by name and says that he was the one “who once had gone on a hunt together with Cyrus” (ὃς καὶ σύνθηρός ποτε ἐγένετο τῷ Κύρῳ). To find out what Xenophon is talking about here we have to go back to Cyropaedia 2.4.15, where Cyaxares is discussing the Armenians with Cyrus. Cyaxares agrees with Cyrus that Cyrus himself has a good chance of winning over the Armenian king. “For, I hear,” says Cyaxares, “that some of his [i.e., the Armenian king’s] children were companions of yours on the hunt” (ἀκούω γὰρ καὶ συνθηρευτάς τινας τῶν παίδων σοι γενέσθαι αὐτοῦ). Is the narrator Xenophon in 3.1.7 correcting Cyaxares in Cyropaedia 2.4.15, not only by giving a specific name (Tigranes), but also by implying that it was only one Armenian prince who was Cyrus’ hunting companion, and not several as Cyaxares implies?  

  • David CarlisleDavid Carlisle (202 comments; 10323 words; 8.32% of total commentary)

  • David JohnsonDavid Johnson (73 comments; 6665 words; 5.37% of total commentary)

    • Comment on Bibliography on May 20th, 2015

      Appeared in 2012 (or at least with a 2012 date).

    • I might suggest that Xenophon rather moves us away from democracy by listing it first, only to leave it behind and make the transition to individual leaders. After all, the reversals of Athenian democracy listed above took place some time before the Cyropaedia was written, and the Athenian democracy was rather stable in the 4th century.It is hard to see an political application of the Cyropaedia at Athens, then–even if one thinks Xenophon was rather anti-democratic, it is hard to imagine him advocating a transition to monarchy.  Philip Stadter 1991:461-491 rather interestingly argues that the work was rather directed at individuals as private persons–as the end of section one suggests–i.e., that individual aristocrats could adopt Cyrus’ virtues in their own lives, without founding empires of their own  (“Fictional Narrative in the Cyropaedia,” American Journal of Philology 112). I think Stadter goes too far in making the work less political than it appears, but he does certainly come up with a way of making the Cyropaedia relevant at Athens, and hence explains why “Xenophon the Athenian” wrote it.

    • The wonder here is passive and not ascribed to Xenophon/the narrator himself, it least not immediately, so if there is any admiration for tyrants we cannot assume he shares it . Xenophon begins the Memorabilia by noting at his wonder that the Athenians convicted Socrates. Unless one reads that work very ironically indeed, his θαυμα there is not admiration puzzlement. But in our current passage the verb θαυμάζω must mean something like “admire”, given the adjectives, and Norman’s comment well elucidates what many people may find impressive about long-lasting tyrannies

    • I suppose we must also throw Thrasymachus’ comparison from Plato Republic I into the mix (shepherds are interested in profiting from the meat and wool from sheep, not in the welfare of the sheep). This comparison is particularly pointed given that Xenophon explicitly notes that the sheep let their leaders make whatever use they’d like to of their “fruits”. But as the Iliad language makes clear, shepherds were often used as a positive comparison for leaders of men, rather than to imply that leaders exploit their followers as shepherds do sheep.Compare the ambiguity of the famous moschophoros illustrated here. On the one hand, we have the happy shepherd who, like many a pet owner, is coming to resemble his pet.  But he is presumably bringing that cute lamb to be slaughtered as a sacrifice a top the Acropolis.

    • At Memorabilia 3.2 Xenophon has Socrates teach a man elected general that his goal ought to be the eudaimonia of those he rules, so Xenophon does recognize the factor you note above–at least Xenophon’s Socrates does there. Eudaimonia there (as Louis-André Dorion 2011 stresses in his new commentary on the Memorabilia–Paris, 2011) is most likely to be understood in material terms. Here (as you note elsewhere) Xenophon is concentrating on what is most amazing about Cyrus, and what he finds most amazing is people’s willingness to obey Cyrus, rather than Cyrus’ success in making them fortunate. This doesn’t mean Cyrus didn’t do the latter, but it is not the stress here. Cyrus’ subjects were not remarkably well-off; they were remarkably willing to obey, especially given how many of them there were.

    • At the end of the Oeconomicus Ischomachus himself (the master of those slaves) admits that leadership is something very difficult (much more difficult than farming, which merely requires effort-epimeleia), so difficult that it is in some sense divine. You are of course right that elsewhere in the work Ischomachus gives plenty of apparently successful advice about how to manage slaves, so this remark is surprising even within the Oeconomicus.

    • Another essential comparison is Oeconomicus 13. Ischomachus, discussing how he trains his overseer, notes that the methods used for animals also work with human beings, to a point–and in fact suffice in many cases for slaves. Humans can be moved not only by carrots and sticks but by words, especially praise and reproach. Cyrus will of course be a past master when it comes to praise and rewards (and, though more rarely, reproach). In the Oeconomicus passage, in other words, the metaphor is more than a metaphor.

    • The relationship between Plato Republic and Cyropaedia must of course be complex (starting with the question of whether Xenophon even knew the Republic in the form we know it, though I think that is likely). One interesting point of comparison (especially for those obsessed with the epilogue of the Cyropaedia, as I am) is the failure of succession in Cyrus’ case, and the corresponding stress on the difficulty of succession in the Republic (the business about the “birthing number”, which must be deliberately and even ridiculously obscure). That is, both Republic and Oeconomicus may concur that a paradisaical community is unlikely, given how rare individuals like Cyrus or like philosopher-kings are. But I’ll grant that this passage itself implies that leadership is easy, if one just knows how. The question is whether anyone other than the (fictional?) Cyrus has ever known how.  (Xenophon comes to mind, but his leadership of the 10,000, for all its glories, was hardly the success that Cyrus’ leadership is.)

    • Another possibility to consider is that Xenophon isn’t at all critical of early Persia–I see nothing ironic in his treatment of the Persia of Cyrus’ youth–but that the appendix raises questions about what Cyrus does to Persia and the Persians. One doesn’t have to claim that everything is ironic (as, say, Nadon does in Xenophon’s Prince), that Xenophon is critical of all existing regimes. I found your own argument that the appendix is inconsistent with a positive reading of the Cyropaedia pretty convincing, but consider it (ironically?) an argument against the positive reading of the Cyropaedia, rather than against the authenticity of the appendix. To be convincing, though, ironic readings need to rely on more than the appendix.  

    • Perhaps we ought to bring the verb καταπλῆξαι to bear here when trying to understand this variety of fear. A closer parallel passage then may be Cyropaedia 3.1.25 (which I stumbled over in LSJ).

      The fear in Cyropaedia 8.7.7 instead followed alongside Cyrus throughout his days (συμπαρομαρτῶν) and prevented him from being completely at ease–until he died, at which point he seems to think, with Solon, that he can die a happy man.

    • μέν . .. δέ need not ‘underscore’ any tension; cf. Cyropaedia 1.1.1 just above. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a real question here–how much Cyrus achieves by fear versus something more like ‘admiration’ (if not love). But the strange thing to me seems to be Xenophon’s not underscoring what strikes us (post Machiavelli?) as a fundamental distinction between modes of ruling.

    • A way to start here would be to consider ἐδοκοῦμεν καταμεμαθηκέναι in Cyropaedia 1.1.1 and ἐδοκοῦμεν ὁρᾶν in Cyropaedia 1.1.2. Those versions of δοκέω don’t seem to be particularly speculative; they rather perhaps Xenophon’s self-awareness. A quick skim of other 1ppl usages of the verb elsewhere in Cyropaedia also suggests that δοκἐω is more focalizing than hedging–i.e. “we’re conscious of x-ing” rather than “we seem to be x-ing”. Cf. Gray’s work on source citations in Gray 2010 (Oxford Readings on Xenophon).

      In this particular passage we do have a possible contrast with ἐπυθόμεθα, true enough, and, heaven knows, much of the Cyropaedia seems speculative enough. For that general issue see however C. Tuplin 1996 (“Xenophon’s Cyropaedia: Education and Fiction” in Sommerstein and Atherton, eds. Education in Greek Fiction, Nottingham); Tuplin suggests Xenophon would have regarded Cyropaedia as historical.

    • I’ve always taken the old time Persian education as being something Xenophon regards very highly, but is there any hint of litigiousness in this emphasis on having the typical disputes of the young turned into quasi-legal proceedings? And would having an adult resolve these disputes result in the young learning about justice more effectively than having them work it out for themselves? Cyrus himself tells of his undergoing judgement of this sort in Cyropaedia 1.3.16-18 (on which see Danzig 2009).

    • See Davidson’s Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens for lots on the meaning of ὄψον.

    • Given that Persian education is rather idealized in these chapters, is it surprising to hear that there are villains to be tracked down and bandits to run down?

    • ἡ πολιτεία αὕτη, ᾗ οἴονται χρώμενοι βέλτιστοι ἂν εἶναι So the Persians think they have the constitution that produces the best men. Does Xenophon agree? To the extent he does, is there a contrast with the pessimism about leadership at the outset of the work?

    • Does the account of sweat, urine, and flatulence come as an anticlimax? Do Xenophon’s allusions to present day Persia throughout the text prepare us for the so-called palinode in Cyropaedia 8.8?

    • πρὸς δὲ τούτοις μανθάνουσι καὶ τοξεύειν καὶ ἀκοντίζειν this bit appended to Xenophon’s account looks like a glancing allusion to Herodotus Histories 1.136-oh, they also learn what you’ve heard elsewhere. But Xenophon omits to say that the Persians learn to tell the truth. Is that significant? The boys are taught justice and moderation, but in neither case is the truth a significant theme.

    • On this see now Norman’s own Sandridge 2012.

    • I’ve argued in my article (Johnson 2007:177-207) “Persians as Centaurs in Xenophon’s Cyropaedia” (TAPA 135 (2005) 177-201) that the introduction of horses, as clued by the comparison to centaurs at 4.3.19-20, is meant to signal the onset of their decline from a tough foot soldiers to the luxurious weaklings of Cyropaedia 8.8. This despite Xenophon’s own appreciation for horses and horsemanship.

    • Well, if the Persian education produced superb leaders, then the problem Xenophon presents at the outset of the Cyropaedia would have been solved already–just send your lads to Persia, and they’ll be capable leaders. So I suppose there is a sense in which we should expect Cyrus will need to transcend this educational system, for all its apparent value. Perhaps it forms good followers but not great leaders? If so, given the obvious similarities to Sparta (with ‘improvements’!), this would lead us to wonder if Sparta could produce capable leaders.

    • His reply to the question about who’s the fairest shows considerable charm & finesse. One wonders what his mother was thinking!

    • Perhaps an odd comparison, but Cavendish’s life of Cardinal Wosley shows a similar fascination with robes, silver furnishings, etc. as objects marking out the Cardinal’s vast wealth & status before his fall. In the preindustrial world items like this counted not only as symbols of status but as real honest to goodness wealth–it’s not like one had a large bank account. Robes and jewelry could be a substantial portion of one’s wealth. So such items were symbols, but not only symbols.

    • It doesn’t seem very similar at first, but the joke about ἰσηγορία might connect it to some extent. Do we have any other evidence to associate this quality with the Medes? Or could this be a subtle dig at the Athenians, who are better known for that quality? We could then have a little parody both of Persian and Athenian deliberative practices.

    • The poison Sakas testing for is of course not alcohol but intended to protect against something rather worse: the cupbearer’s participation in an assassination plot. Is there any resonance with that darker possibility here?

    • This is the sort of observation I expected to find in the Struassian Nadon‘s book on Cyropaedia (Xenophon’s Prince) but did not find, at least via the index locorum. In support of this sort of dark reading I suppose we could say this: the boyish Cyrus goes on to compare Astyages’ drinking unfavorably with that of his father in the next paragraph; Xenophon earlier made self-control a central part of Persian custom; Cyrus here not only replaces Sakas but rules him, taking on Astyages’ role (at least in that small respect); Cyrus the Persian eventually takes over Media.

      At any rate, one could argue that one has here, in nuce, the whole of the Cyropaedia: Cyrus charms and serves his way to the top. Whether there appears to be anything dark about that may say more about the reader than the author.

    • In Memorabilia 4.4, Socrates discusses justice with Hippias and argues that justice and nomos are one and the same. There may be more to it than that–or at least so I argue in my Johnson 2003 and Johnson 2012 articles on the relevant passages, but at first glance it certainly looks like all one needs to do to be just is to obey the law, i.e., the written statues of Athens. And at Memorabilia 1.2.39-46 a mischievous Alcibiades tangles up his guardian Pericles by arguing that anything that is biaion can’t be nomimon–so the poor can’t force the rich to pay taxes, say.

    • What’s going on with Median ἰσηγορία? Is this a little Xenophontic jibe directed toward Athens, which was famed for that “freedom/license/excessive of speech”?

    • Given that Cyrus’ uncle is Cambyses, whom he will later outmaneuver, it seems to me there’s some foreshadowing of that in his saying that he’ll credit Astyages with any beast he kills. That is, the youthful Cyrus smartly/cunningly gives others the credit while at the same time showing himself increasingly independent of them, just as the older Cyrus will take Cambyses’ troops, do with them what Cambyses couldn’t, and make them his troops.

    • I wonder how much of this whole episode is passive-aggressive. At paragraph 12 above I thought Cyrus was being entirely manipulative, goading his friends into begging him to go to Asytages; he had after all just had a very successful encounter with his πάππος.

      Βut in 13 the narrator, who is presumably reliable, tells us that Cyrus was stung by their words and then had to gird up his loins to go to Astyages, implying it wasn’t all a show.

      Perhaps it’s a bit of both–that’s how we passive-aggressive types tend to experience life in any event, unsure of how manipulative we are being. In that case, we might say that Cyrus learns that he can use a certain shyness to his advantage just as effectively as he used his chattery childhood. Unless I’m reading way too much into this, the psychological realism here, mixed with acute observation of the development of an adolescent, is rather acute.

    • Why do we see this entire hunt through Astyages eyes?

    • Does anyone else feel ‘robbed’ of an account of a conversation between Astyages and Cyrus after the battle? Cyrus keeps his escort out in front of him in an effort to avoid making eye contact with his grandfather, which I suppose explains the absence of any conversation here, but that of course is just another way of saying that Xenophon decided not to discuss why Astyages was upset–i.e., to discuss the very things the earlier comments on this chapter go into. Perhaps Astyages is indeed dumbstruck by Cyrus (cf. ὑπερεξεπέπληκτο in the next chapter, a very rare word)–though that is just another reflection of the narratological choice.

    • I’d look to the immediate context: Cyrus shows himself brilliantly able to forestall punishment and manipulate Cyaxares and Astyages by distributing the spoils to Astyages. Cyaxares’ comment shows a surprising amount of insight for one who will later be so thoroughly outmaneuvered by Cyrus. There is boldness here not only on the hunt but in the court.

    • What was Cyrus attempting to achieve with his question here?

    • My guess is that he expected the answer he got, but that Astyages said a bit more than he expected. That is, Cyrus would be content to receive a whipping upon his return, so long as he was treated the same way otherwise–all the more so if the whipping were no more severe than that he got the first time around, i.e., no whipping at all! But Astyages quickly adds that it would be foolish of him to allow his grandson to risk his life for some meat, momentarily checking Cyrus’ plan.

      We see the runaway slave analogy again in the trial of the Armenian ( Cyropaedia 3.1.11-12). I’m not sure if this is meant to be striking or in some way parallel–perhaps it is only evidence for the prevalence of this problem in antiquity, hence something that regularly comes to mind to the ancients.

    • διὰ τὸν πόλεμον So were the Medes and Assyrians at war? In what sense?

    • Unless I’m missing something, this is the first hint of any such conflict. Perhaps we’re just to think of the sort of low-scale conflict over borderlands that may have be endemic in the ancient–Greek? Persian?–world. I wonder if this event plays any role in the later great conflict between Media and Assyria, which is obviously on a different order of magnitude. Clearly the Assyrians are the aggressors, as they hunt on Median land, but Cyrus’ bold pursuit does not merely chase off the hunters and retake their kills, but results in many dead Assyrians. Could it be that in some sense Cyrus’ boldness contributes to the Assyrian decision to attack Media later? Or are we to think of it mainly as an isolated episode that showcases Cyrus’ character in formation?

    • It is presumably  significant that Araspas is a Mede, not a Persian, given the contrast between the customs of the two peoples early in the Cyropaedia, and the fact that his ignorance of Persian kissing customs is thematic here. Hence this episode tells us nothing about pederasty among the Persians (though your question of course wasn’t about this episode, but any background knowledge we might possess).

      Araspas, as we later learn in the Pantheia episode, is not particularly self-controlled. Cyrus, rather like Socrates in this respect, appears perfectly comfortable with homoerotic banter, but does not appear to get very involved in physical consummation of such desires (not that we hear of any heterosexual consummation on his part either, save in parenting).

    • Compare the Assyrian’s use of preemption as a justification for war to that of Croesus in Herodotus and perhaps to more contemporary cases of preemption as a justification/motivation for waging war.

    • We just heard of sacrifices at Cyropaedia 1.5.6, though that was rather brief. I’m not quite sure where we would have expected attention to the gods earlier. Before the battle with the Assyrians over the hunt? But that was a rather hurried affair. Perhaps the absence of any pre-battle sacrifice there was symptomatic of the ad hoc nature of that battle–or is there some difference between Median and Persian customs?

    • Has anything we’ve seen previously prepared us for Cyrus’ comment that the Persian elders never gained anything for the Persian community or themselves through their practice of virtue?

    • ἐπειδὴ καὶ ἐκποδὼν ἡμῖν γεγένηται τὸ δόξαι τῶν ἀλλοτρίων ἀδίκως ἐφίεσθαι Does Cyrus maintain the interest shown here in waging war justly? How do his justifications for war compare to those of the Assyrian, as outlined above? How important is justice as a motive/explanation/justification for war compared to the pursuit of riches, happiness, honor in paragraph 9 above?

    • Applying these analogies for the traditional Persian way of life, are we to conclude that the Persians have heretofore enjoyed no happiness, riches, or honor? Is it fair to compare them to farmers who (bizarrely!) leave their crops unharvested, or someone who trains for athletic competition but does not compete?

    • Does anyone else find Cyrus’ sign off comment here rather lame? After giving a rousing speech to his chosen followers, he tells them he’s going to quickly learn about warfare from his father, and then rejoin them? Not a comment I’d be comfortable from someone about to lead me into battle!

    • Thinking about it, I realize that my question is predicated on the assumption that we are to read Cyrus’ comment mainly as addressed to his followers. The followers won’t be reassured by his conversation with Cambyses, which they aren’t privy to, though that does certainly show that Cyrus knows a good amount about military leadership (though there are also gaps).

      Xenophon’s line closing this chapter frankly sounds to me more like a transition to the next paragraph (aimed at readers) than something a leader would direct to his followers. One could argue that similar issues are at play in the next chapter, i.e., that the apparent gaps in Cyrus’ knowledge (as concerning logistics) are more a means to allow Xenophon to introduce new lessons to readers than hints as to Cyrus’ level of preparation. I’m not particularly comfortable thinking that Xenophon’s text doesn’t work both within and outside the ‘fourth wall’, but sometimes I find it hard to avoid suspecting that Xenophon is talking directly at us and over the heads of the audience within the text.

      These sort of narratological issues (if that is the right term for this sort of thing) are distinct from the ‘dark’ and ‘light’ readings of Cyropaedia–this is a different sort of ‘realism’. But they will interact with such questions. If you are right that Xenophon never (or at least rarely) presents the Persians as a group with a difficult issue to consider, we might be expecting the wrong sort of realism from the text. I wonder, though, whether the decision to arm the commoners wouldn’t count as such an issue . . .

    • I suppose we should also note that in this case the Assyrian was absolutely right–the Persians & Medes would conquer everybody. Whether they would have done so absent a pre-emptive attack is an open question (for the Cyropaedia, at any rate–I don’t know if we have any historical evidence that Cyrus acted defensively).

    • It’s possible he’s thinking of Nicias in Syracuse, who failed to retreat in time because of what the manteis said; he is criticized for this (implicitly) in Plato Laches 199a: the general is to lead the mantis, not the mantis the general. Concern about phony divination is of course premised on belief in the value & reality of divination.

    • Do Cambyses’ goals here for the kalokagathos and even for the leader coincide with Cyrus’ speech to the Homotimoi about virtue being worthless if it leads to no gain?

    • That is, is Cambyses articulating the old ways (which Cyrus said in the last chapter were foolish) or Cyrus’ new attitude? I think Cambyses’ views are a bit more conventional. The kalokagathos does have to secure what he needs for himself and his family, in addition to being recognizably kalokagathos. And the leader needs to provide for others in abundance, while seeing to it that they are as they should be. While there’s no need for the kalokagathos to gain more than what he already has, ἔκπλεω suggests that the leader must provide bountiful goods.

    • Is Cyrus’ trust in Cambyses reasonable, or a sign of immaturity?

    • Cyrus’ inattentiveness to matters of supply reminds one a bit of Glaucon (Plato’s brother) at Memorabilia 3.6. Glaucon was laughed from the rostrum in the Athenian Assembly and then shown up by Socrates in conversation for his ignorance of Athenian military preparedness.

      Alternatively, we could see Cyrus’ lack of knowledge and trust in Cambyses more as a means for Xenophon to introduce these topics in a naturalistic way than as an insight into Cyrus’ level of knowledge at this point.

      Heretofore in their conversation, Cyrus and Cambyses were  repeating previous conversations–there were no new lessons.

    • Here, on the other hand (I’m comparing section 9 with my note), Cyrus is a very apt student, who at once sees the advantage of providing his men with supplies himself–thus well applying the teaching Cambyses gave him in more general terms. He also recalls the argument he made to his own troops earlier about failing to get any advantage out of one’s resources (// leaving the field idle; 1.5.8ff). *If* we are to read this as psychologically naturalistic, Cyrus initially trusted Cambyses to provide enough supplies, but then immediately grasped the advantage to providing additional supplies himself.

    • Note here how Xenophon varies the conversational structure: here Cyrus retells a previous occasion where Cambyses showed him the shortcoming of another teacher. Add this to (a) the two discussing previous lessons together and (b) Cambyses providing new lessons.

      The substance of the conversation here is very close to Memorabilia 3.1, where Socrates shows a companion how limited his lessons in tactics from Dionysodorus were.

    • Re the ease in identifying healthy locales, cf. Ischomachus’ teaching on how easy it is to identify good farmland ( Oeconomicus 16). Xenophontic characters often say that ἐπιμελεία is more vital than fancy learning.

    • It looks like the argument here is that followers will willingly obey a leader in any area where they recognize his superiority to them. Presumably they also need good reason to believe he has their best interest at heart, as Xenophon goes on to say just a bit later. Examples of experts like doctors and ship captains make the definition quite reasonable, but Cyrus will lay claim to a more universal sway–leadership that is all-encompassing. There the analogy with the expert gets strained, at least from a modern liberal perspective: do we recognize that there are leaders who are better able to look after us, all things considered, than we are able to look after ourselves? One wonders how we would differ from natural slaves (via Aristotle’s definition) were this the case.

      To be clear, I’m not at all sure that this is a thought Xenophon wants us to have–i.e., that we are to see willing obedience as somehow sinister. The problem comes when the willing obedience we would all (presumably) want to give a general, say, becomes the willing obedience no free Greek (to employ ancient terminology) would want to give any sole ruler. Xenophon’s insistence that ruling is the same on any scale–oneself, household, city–might get us into trouble here, especially when coupled with the lack of any clear demarcation between military and political leadership in a work like Cyropaedia.

    • Sophists could be one target, but Socrates and the Spartans are also possibilities. Socrates was quite willing to share with a fairly young companion that it was just that it is just for a general to deceive his enemies–and even his own troops, when doing so will boost their morale and lead them to victory ( Memorabilia 4.2). So too Plato’s Socrates in Plato Republic 1. Much here depends on the age of the ‘student’; it may be that Xenophon thought Socrates shared these lessons too openly with those who were rather young.

      And of course Spartan boys were encouraged to live off the land–and friendly land at that, so via plundering friends. The use of the term ‘rhetra’ is probably a hint that Sparta is at least part of what is on Xenophon’s mind (so Christopher Tuplin, though I don’t have the exact reference handy).

    • ὅπως τὰ τῶν πολεμίων ἄν τις μάλιστα αἰσθάνοιτο, ἢ ὅπως τὰ σὰ οἱ πολέμιοι ἥκιστα εἰδεῖεν certainly counts as intelligence gathering and ‘counterintelligence’, but the rest is a list of situations and tasks and how to deal with them–not how to know they are coming, know how the enemy is utilizing them, etc. It looks like it’s more tactics (in the etymological sense) than anything else . . .

    • Sorry to be quarrelsome, but what’s the evidence for Xenophon preferring ‘real intelligence’ to divination? This looks like an anachronistic rationalization to me; in particular, the trust in ‘intelligence’ seems somewhat unfounded–intelligence gathering has not been a major theme of Cambyses’ remarks (at least in my reading). Socrates gives pretty much the same advice regarding divination in Memorabilia 1.1, and he didn’t have a superstitious army to buttress. On Xenophon’s attitudes see R. Parker 2004:152 in “One Man’s Piety”, in Lane-Fox’s The Long March (Yale, 2004); Parker looks for a middle way between modern doubt and ancient credulity but concludes that “he portrays the gods’ advice as having a decisive influence on the decisions he made, and hopes to be believe” (152). It will however be interesting to see of Cyrus makes similar usage of divination; the test cases are when the gods do not approve of a course of action people want to undertake. We have that in Anabasis but not, I think, in Cyropaedia.

    • Cambyses does certainly give piety a very important role, particularly in making the fundamental decision of how aggressive & ambitious to be in pursuit of power. I’m frankly not sure, however, how much his cautionary words here resonate with 8.8, because there the Persian problem isn’t with being overly aggressive (rather the opposite, perhaps–being complacent and soft). Cambyses’ warnings would seem to apply to the Cyrus of Herodotus, who went a river too far and ended up with his head in a sack of blood. As one with a weakness for ‘dark’ readings of the Cyropaedia, I’m tempted to see Cambyses’ remarks as casting doubt on Cyrus’ whole imperial exercise. But it is certainly possible to read them as simply making the case for the importance of divination. Cambyses’ lesson about divination is very close to that Socrates gives in Memorabilia 1.1.

      Perhaps one important question to ask would be whether Cyrus consults the gods about these sorts of large issues. I.e., not whether he should attack now rather than later, but whether he should wage war at all, build an empire, etc.

    • We should at least consider the possibility that Cyrus is tailoring his words to his goal, persuading the commoners to take up heavy arms. In such a context it would prudent to play up the commoners’ potential.

    • Nadon thinks this speaker is Chrysantas, comparing Cyropaedia 8.4.11. Is he correct? Xenophon of course has a pattern of anonymously introducing figures who are named later. In this case however there is no clear reference back to this passage providing the name, unless I’ve forgotten it. Is it perhaps fitting that the Peers not be individualized yet?

    • Note that Cyrus has just told the Peers that they need to whet the souls of the commoners–i.e., that the commoners need some training in something akin to boldness.

      Note as well the apparent inconsistency in Cyrus telling Cambyses that battles fought through missiles are simply a matter of numbers. When speaking to the commoners, he stresses the skill required to shoot the bow.

    • Hmm–I don’t see that much in common. The commoners more closely resemble Spartans than Athenians. They aren’t fighting for anything–in this immediate context–but fighting lest they show themselves utterly unworthy. A greater role in the Persian koinon could follow upon their being armed as the Peers, but hasn’t been directly raised by this point, has it? And there’s not talk of isegoria. As the Peer pointed out just above, it is important that commoners are given these arms by Cyrus, their general and the son of the king: we are in a hierarchical society with Cyrus on top, not an emergent democracy.

      The focus on one thing reminds me a bit of the famous ‘division of labor’ passage in Cyropaedia 8.2.5-6.

    • Is the comparison to centaurs loaded with mythological baggage? Yes, I (Johnson 2007:177-207) argue (shameless plug), in TAPA 135 (2007) 177-207, “Persians as Centaurs in Xenophon’s Cyropaedia“.

    • Does anyone else find it odd that (a) Cyrus offer Pantheia burial goods from himself, and we’re then told that its Gobryas and Gadatas who are at hand with the goods?  Perhaps they are merely carrying things from Cyrus.  Or that (b) Cyrus says that Abradatas’ tomb will be worthy of “us” (Cyrus).  Though he does add that the sacrifices will befit a good man (presumably Abradatas).

    • What does Cyrus expect Pantheia to say in response to this question? My best guess is that he hopes she’ll end up with him–but if he does he’s in for a big surprise, isn’t he?

    • How does Pantheia’s disillusionment here reflect on Cyrus’ leadership?

    • Thanks for your remarkably fast & full reply–you must indeed be a full-time gardener. You are of course right that the proof is in the pudding; Cyrus’ interaction with Cyaxares is an excellent test case. I agree with you that Cyrus’ response is remarkably restrained–and I heard the oral version of Gabriel Danzig’s piece, so suspect that he may agree with me that Cyrus is manipulative but know that he thinks that the manipulation is in a good (enough) cause.I suppose in some part my general blanket post here is meant as a lazy replacement for close reading, which I don’t fully have the time to do on the Cyropaedia in the next ten days, and also because I found myself (not alone) making rather general comments in the commentary in lieu of close readings. One of the funny features of this project is the time limit, which I am certain makes all sorts of sense, given the vast editorial task of shaping whatever you get into something usable this fall, but also makes life difficult for the rest of us. It’s one thing to launch into generalities about the Cyropaedia off the top of one’s head; it’s another to find time to present a close reading when one isn’t vacationing in paradise, with only Cyrus to occupy one’s thoughts. Very briefly re Cyaxares.  Cyrus treats him, I agree,, better than he deserves to be treated–Cyaxares’ complaints aren’t well founded, and he loses power because Cyrus wields power better than he does. But it is also true that Cyrus plays him like a pipe; little of what he says to him, I think, is literally true–or at least most of what he says is true in only complex and interesting (not dull!) senses. I suspect (though I have reviewed neither Xenophon nor Danzig’s paper) that Danzig and I (and perhaps you) agree thus far. The decision about whether or not this treatment is admirable or justifiable is rather complex. This sort of manipulation may be justifiable and indeed necessary when dealing with an incompetent nominal superior whose amour-propre threatens the survival of his kingdom (and thus your own, allied to his).  On the other hand, Cyaxares’ remarks, unjustified as they may be, do reveal just how Cyrus has outmaneuvered (a more neutral term than “manipulated”) him, and thus may help us analyze other cases where Cyrus’ maneuvers may not be as justified. I look forward to seeing your book, and thanks for the Rasmussen reference.  I certainly agree that it is essential to keep lines of communication open on such things. One thing I think Gabriel Danzig and I share (I know him a bit from a couple of Xenophontic conferences) is an interest in crossing the ironic/non-ironic divide among readers of Xenophon, a line which so often breaks down along the Straussian/anything other than Straussian camps, with the concomitant & so often incendiary political overtones. 

    • Your questions are good ones. I think your question about the alternative here is a particularly good way of defending Cyrus, as I can’t name a better alternative for dealing with Cyaxares, and agree with you that there are plenty of obviously less pleasant alternatives. Outmaneuvering and even manipulation seem rather justifiable motives when dealing with inferior superiors. But can the same be said of Cyrus’ treatment of Abradatas and Pantheia, say?Cyrus’ motives, more generally speaking, are a bit of a mystery to me. His philanthropia is noted on numerous occasions, but it isn’t always clear to me just who Cyrus is trying to benefit–especially as time goes on. He begins having to help the Persians and Medes fight off an attack, which is clearly justified  (there’s obviously no reason to think the Assyrians would be better rulers), but the benefits of his empire in the longer run aren’t nearly as clear to me. My guess is that Xenophon is indeed fond of the early Persia he sketches at the beginning of the work–but the egalitarian values of that society are undermined by Cyrus and his meritocarcy, and of course there’s 8.8 to worry about in the longer term. Neither is Cyrus, though, some megalomaniac would-be god-king. He’s not interested in honor for the sake of honor, I suspect we agree–he rather seems to think that honor and privilege are tools he can use in the same way he uses other resources.If the Cyropaedia is a work showing not only how to found an empire but why would shouldn’t found an empire–a very debatable point, I grant you, and one where contemporary distaste for imperialism is bound to (mis)shape our interpretations–it is a sort of a fortiori proof: if imperialism is bad even under as great a leader as Cyrus, then it must really be bad.

    • My guess is that Cyrus understands Araspas’ character very well indeed, that he knows that Araspas will fall for Pantheia before Araspas does, and sends him off knowing that he will then be able to come to the rescue as Pantheia’s protector.  But demonstrating this (or even showing it plausible) had better be done ad loc, as I’ll try if I have time. 

    • This is a great question. Consider also Cyropaedia 5.4.46-50, where Cyrus says that a leader should learn the names of those he gives orders to, for the sake of efficiency, and to honor them. I believe that C. Nadon, in Xenophon’s Prince, ties this passage to the Xenophontic habit you note here, but I don’t have Nadon handy so can’t give the full reference. Cyropaedia 2.1.13 may provide an example of Chrysantas being introduced anonymously–at least that’s what Nadon suggests (again, sorry, no page reference).  I don’t have a record of his analysis, but I have wondered whether  the anonymity of the peer there (whether he is to be identified as Chrysantas or not) may suit his status as a representative of that supposedly homogenous group. Finally (one other half-baked thought), there are a number of anonymous interlocutors in the MemorabiliaL 3.2, Memorabilia 3.3, Memorabilia 3.13, Memorabilia 3.14. The last two chapters include many short chreiai, with many nameless interlocutors. In these Mem. passages the interlocutors are characterized–very rapidly–as “one just elected general” and the like. They don’t yet deserve a name, perhaps, rather as Pantheia is just “the most beautiful woman in Asia” until her story unfolds further: these  Socratic interlocutors never get more of a story. The anonymity there is something like that in folktales, perhaps.

    • This rather fine observation raises what is for me one of the $64,000 questions of the Cyropaedia: what we are to make of its final chapter. If the Cyropaedia often asks us to read backwards in this way, it would be harder to regard the final chapter as an afterthought. There are of course better ways of arguing that Cyropaedia 8.8 does not undermine the praise of Cyrus throughout the work–say that the failure of subsequent Persian leaders in fact shows how superlative a leader Cyrus was. 

    • Alternatively (or in addition) “the Assyrian” is unnamed because he’s not worthy of a name, which would do him a certain honor (cf. Cyropaedia 5.4.46-50).

  • dguthDina Guth (12 comments; 1251 words; 1.01% of total commentary)

    • This is an interesting question – I wonder whether there is more going on here than Cyrus’ display of his extraordinary tact, even at this young age (it seems important, however, that this is what Xenophon chooses to highlight in his first narrative about his hero). Beauty and power often go hand in hand; Xenophon ties beauty to power elsewhere as well: so in the Hiero, Simonides argues that tyranny makes a man more handsome: αὐτὸ γὰρ τὸ τετιμῆσθαι μάλιστα συνεπικοσμεῖ, ὥστε τὰ μὲν δυσχερῆ ἀφανίζειν, τὰ δὲ καλὰ λαμπρότερα ἀναφαίνειν ( Hieron 8.4-6).  I would note also Aeschines’ report that one of the Athenian ambassadors to Philip in 348 praised Philip’s appearance (τῆς ἰδέας αὐτοῦ) before the Athenians, despite the fact that Philip even at that point in his career must have looked more like an old pin-cushion than a handsome fellow ( Aeschines 2.47).  Does Cyrus, even as a child, comprehend this connection between beauty and power?  Of course, Xenophon had already told us that Cyrus himself, according to the old stories, was exceptionally handsome ( Cyropaedia 1.2.1).  

    • Why does Mandane evince such concern that Cyrus’ Persian morality remain intact?  She is, after all, a Mede herself and, as Cyrus himself stresses here, Astyages is her own father (Cyrus calls the Median king σὸς πατήρ twice in this paragraph).  Are her comments critical of Astyages’ kingship, or are they merely meant to point out the differences between the two styles of kingship and warn Cyrus away from a mindset that will do him no favors among his own people?  What is Mandane’s role in Cyrus’ education?    

    • How is this episode about Artabazus’ love for Cyrus connected to the surrounding text? 

    • The episode picks up on the themes of love and shame, and feeling shame before a loved one, with which Cyropaedia 1.4.26 ended.  So Cyropaedia 1.4.26 describes Cyrus’ fear that he will feel shame before his Medan friends if they do not get to keep the gifts which he gave them; here, the Medan man has felt shame (ᾐσχυνόμην) before his beloved and it is up to Cyrus to assuage this feeling.  Is there a broader connection between love and shame to be made in the Cyropaedia?   

    • If I may be Socratic for a moment, is Cyrus really resistant to luxury?  He’s certainly quite happy to don his soft cloak and parade about – when in Media!  It seems to me that Cyrus’ brilliance lies rather in his ability to Median among the Medes and Persian among the Persians – he knows boundaries, and he doesn’t cross them.    Herodotus Histories 4.76-90, on the other hand, is full of stories of people who come to bad ends because they try to mix cultures (perhaps most prominently Anacharsis and Scyles.  To tell the truth, I’ve always been slightly disappointed in Herodotus’ Cyrus because his Median-Persian origins never seem to come under discussion or to affect him.  Herodotus’ Cyrus is just Persian, despite Mandane, and that seems to be that.  Xenophon’s Cyrus, on the other hand, more than makes up for it! I would suggest that Cyrus is able to handle Median luxury because he is partially Median, whereas the other Persians are new to it – it’s not “in their blood”, so to speak. 

    • Yes, I may have overstated my case a bit – I haven’t entirely squared in my mind how Cyrus’ adoption of some Medan customs works with his rejection of others.  Why is wearing a fancy cloak, for example, OK while eating luxuriously is not? Thanks for the reference to Plutarch’s Alcibiades!  I’ll have to have a look at that.  I did have the additional thought that changing one’s customs according to one’s environment was probably something that Xenophon himself would have engaged in – an Athenian with a great familiarity with Sparta who also spent a lot of time in Persia must have been something of a cultural chameleon himself. 

    • This may not be entirely relevant, but on a quick reread of Herodotus I was struck by the fact that hare-hunting and trickery in relation to Cyrus comes up there as well: Harpagus uses a hare to send Cyrus a message at Herodotus Histories 1.123, and even dresses up his messengers as hunters!

    • This seems to be the first mention of a desire, on the part of Cyrus, to rule over Asia.  But where did this desire come from, and why is it first introduced here, in a message to be delivered to the Persians back home?This chapter seems to mark a turn in the dynamic between Cyaxares and Cyrus (precipitated by Cyaxares’ violent jealousy at Cyropaedia 4.5.9) and, perhaps in consequence, in Cyrus’ psychology and goals for the expedition. 

    • What is the army’s decision-making process?  Are there any parallels in other Greek literature for such deliberation?  How closely does it resemble the way in which Persian military decisions were actually taken?

    • The debate resembles Athenian deliberative rhetoric, despite the fact that it begins with Cyaxares’ ostentatious display of his own superiority.  Cyaxares himself ends up undermining his own authority as he addresses the allies in language reminiscent of ekklesiastic debate: he calls them ἄνδρες, and then remarks that it is his greater age that gives him the right to make the first speech: compare for example Demosthenes’ apology for his apparent youth at Demosthenes 4.1, or the ordering by age of the ambassadors’ speeches at Aeschines 2.22.  Cyaxares is reversing the trope in a way that would have perhaps read to a contemporary audience as self-aggrandizing (I can’t think of any place where a speaker actually stresses his own age, only apologies for youth – though I may be missing something).    The order by age allows Cyrus to speak last (as the youngest in the group?)

    • I also find it interesting that the first few speeches are devoted to the basic question at hand – whether to disband the army or not – and only the last speech deals with the actual nuts and bolts of how staying in enemy land will work.  Granted, Xenophon leaves this last speech for Cyrus, but it still would seem to mirror the way actual deliberative debate would function: a basic proposal would be opened to the floor, and only once a basic yes/no decision was taken would a serious proposal for the actual mechanics of a military expedition, for example, be raised.  

    • This is such an interesting idea!  Your post is making me want to go and read old military journals.  I had to think about this a bit, but two parallel novels came up for me: first, Hermann Hesse The Glass Bead Game – it has the same escapist narrative feel with a focus on the education and life of a protagonist that seems almost “too good to be true”, also contains extended dialogues of a similar philosophical bent, and like Cyrus’ Near East, the futuristic world of The Glass Bead Game is only vaguely sketched out, so that the philosophy is in the forefront and actual day-to-day life is in the background.  Given Hesse’s interest in all things eastern and Indian, is there a parallel to be made there with Xenophon’s influences from the east?   It also reminds me of Samuel Richardson Sir Charles Grandison – not least because both are often considered “dull” and their heroes “too excellent to be interesting”!    

  • Dustin Gish (1 comment; 13 words; 0.01% of total commentary)

  • Gabriel Danzig (4 comments; 574 words; 0.46% of total commentary)

    • It seems to me that lineage is absolutely crucial for Xenophon’s theory of leadership, which is why he differs from many modern leadership guidebooks which abstract from the particulars of the individual and offer methods that can be adopted by anyone at all. Xenophon seems to recognize that social position is an essential condition for leadership. I am reminded of the story that president Bush II used his mother’s Christmas card list to launch his first fundraising campaign. Not everyone can do that, and not everyone is born into royalty. This would be part of Xenophon’s realism.

    • Perhaps this is the place to ask Why does Cyrus have his education interrupted? Perhaps it is merely a side-effect of Xenophon’s desire to portray the scenes of young CYrus in Media. But the effect is tat CYrus gets some education in Persia and some in Media. This is emphasized in the debate with Mandane, which suggests quite strongly that we are to view Cyrus as a product not only of a mixed lineage but also of a mixed education. I imagine that one point is simply to suggest the advantages of exposure to more than one politeia, especially for a future imperial power. But more interesting to me is: What elements of Persia and what of Media are adopted by Cyrus and what roles do they play in the  ”regime” he constructs? Is there a doubleness of some sort in that regime?

    • This is a very good question. Norman may be right that the source material plays a role, but even so, this is a very appropriate place to begin if Xenophon’s interest is primarily political rather than ethical. The move to Media provides Cyrus with the first opportunity to display his political instincts. It illustrates his first “conquest”.  Although he starts from a privileged position as the grandson of the king, he nevertheless has to prove himself more than he would at home. Moreover, he is invited not simply because he is a grandson but because his reputation has gone before him. 

    • I would like to add a related case, namely Cyrus’ father. Although his name is given two or three times in the preceeding narrative, it seems ot me remarkable that it does not appear once in his only major appearance, namely the conversation with Cyrus in chapter six. Some translators add it, and many writers refer to him as Cambysis in this scene, but Xenophon does not. It is understandable that Cyrus refers to him as father throughout, but why doesn’t Xenophon find a way to refer to Cambysis? Perhaps we can call this anonymous dialogue? My inclination is that such a naming would draw atention away from the content and into a biographical direction: this is not advice that is special to Cambysis, it is simply good advice and it happens to be given by Cyrus’ father. Perhaps in other cases the use of name would distract from the contents being described? On the other hand, there is a degree of personalization in the conversation, so I am open to other hypotheses.A second related case is that of the unnamed sophist in Armenia.One may also consider in this context unnamed characters in Plato. I don’t have a full list, but I am thinking of the unnamed audience of Apollodoros in Plato Symposium who is dubbed “friend” in the manuscripts, but is actually unnamed in the dialogue.

  • Georgia Kampouraki (2 comments; 36 words; 0.03% of total commentary)

  • Georgia LoSchiavo (1 comment; 24 words; 0.02% of total commentary)

  • Jane Grogan (2 comments; 501 words; 0.4% of total commentary)

    • Comment on A Renaissance Cyrus on July 5th, 2013

      Yes, indeed, Barker seems to have translated Appian Histories, which might indeed add further to your comment about Holland. (He also translated a racy Italian novella, and published a book of the inscriptions on tombs etc that he had copied out from his Italian travels – very vogueish, apparently, and something I’d love to know more about, if anyone has any suggestions?

      But for the early moderns, ‘history’ was the usual term for ‘story’, so although humanists developed fully-fledged historiographical theory, they read their history for much more than simply an account of what happened. To learn usable models and guidelines from what happened in philosophical and political ways is, arguably, of much greater concern to them. As for Cicero’s comment on Xenophon, it was very well-known indeed, particularly as Sidney Defence of Poesy translated it (composed 1580s), as you note, that Xenophon has succeeded in producing not a history (as, interestingly, he thinks Justin Epitome of Pompus Trogus’s work has done), but ‘“effigiem iusti imperii”, the portrait of a just empire’.

      I like this idea of considering the translations within the wider purview of histories; it situates Xenophon more broadly within its moment, especially the increasing availability of and interest in historiography in the later sixteenth century.

    • Comment on A Renaissance Cyrus on July 5th, 2013

      Great question. I forgot to specify here that the 1552[?] edition which this reader was using contains only Books 1-6; in 1567 a new edition appeared with all eight Books and epilogue, now titled The VIII. Bookes of Xenophon … only then admitting to the odd cut-off point of the previous text. But yes, what’s wonderful (and relatively unusual) about this annotator is that he (almost certainly a he) reads and comments all the way through to the end. And when he gets to the end of Book 6, he adds further comments, almost in bullet-points, summarizing what happens next! That includes details from Herodotus – and Tomyris is the first to be mentioned. So yes, this reader seems to have the whole thing, as well as a strong sense of other writings on Cyrus, ancient and early modern. But I agree that many readers may not have made it beyond Book 1, especially as it fulfilled the expectations of the title and, apparently, much of the teachings of the text.

      Early modern readers seem not to have been bothered as much at all about the change of tone in the final chapter/epilogue (what should I be calling it?); in fact, it fits very neatly with the well-established ‘fall of princes’ arc inherited and modified from late medieval culture and prevalent in various different genres at the time. Does it moralize, if you like, the preceding material, then? I would think so, but not to the same degree or in the same way that we would expect, given the familiarity of the story arc and genre implications, as it were.

      Thanks for the reference to contemporary views of the final chapter.

  • Jennifer Finn (2 comments; 415 words; 0.33% of total commentary)

    • Yes, this is certainly true. Now we have to decide whether or not we view it as important simply that this is a literary motif, or if it is worth our time to try to distinguish what was ACTUALLY characteristic of Alexander’s behavior with relation to Cyrus. For instance, is Alexander’s treatment of Sisygambis in Diodorus 17.37.5, Curtius 3.12.17 and Arrian 2.12.31. Arrian’s way to evoke Cyropaedia 7.3.8-16 or did Alexander act this way towards her BECAUSE of the way Cyrus treated Pantheia in the Xenophon passage? Is this important or are we just mincing words? The idea of folk tradition leads me to think about Semiramis, the mythical founder of Babylon. I won’t venture to guess who she actually was, but she exhibits qualities in the Greek authors that make her almost “manly” (a good source for this is “Semiramis in History and Legend,” in (ed. E. Gruen 2005:11-22) Cultural Borrowings and Ethnic Appropriations in Antiquity, Franz Steiner Verlag (2005), 11-22) though I would also suggest caution when reading this article. But the ideas are interesting, though one might be led to wonder what we can believe, after all, when distinguishing between authorial interpretation and actual fact. I like to think, given the similarities between Cyrus’ stated objective in the Cylinder (a “historical”? document) and those in the Cyropaedia that Xenophon may have been dealing with a more factual Cyrus than we typically allow. And it is my preference, given Alexander’s extensive education in Persian culture (wither prior to his arrival via Aristotle or afterwards due to local exposure) to believe that he did many things the way he did because he wanted to act like Cyrus. We should remember that we have copies of the Bisitun inscription from places all over the empire (e.g. Elephantine), so texts like the Cyrus Cylinder may very well have made their way into Alexander’s hands.

    • Honestly, I see a lot of Alexander and Hephaistion here. Alexander’s reaction to his death was (some would say) overblown, and he even erected a monument to Hephaistion (a lion, a key symbol of Achaemenid power) at Hamadan, deep in the Persian Empire, much like Cyrus does for Pantheia here. I already spoke about the ways in which Alexander’s behavior towards Sisygambis is much like Cyrus’ is towards Pantheia, so even in this very story there is a great deal of literary mixing that makes it very rich and interesting indeed.

  • Jesse Weiner (113 comments; 15159 words; 12.22% of total commentary)

    • See also Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics Book 6 (1134b).

    • Xenophon writes that Cyrus inspired both fear and a desire to please him, and the tensions between these two ideas are underscored by the use of a μὲν… δὲ… construction. What possible resonances of this paragraph might we read in Machiavelli The Prince (esp. Chap. XVII)?

    • What are the major sections of Cyropaedia 8.8?

    • Section outline and overview:

      Cyropaedia 8.8.1 Restatement of Cyrus’ great achievements and accomplishments as a leader.

      Cyropaedia 8.8.2-7 Xenophon claims that after Cyrus’ death everything in Persia turned for the worse. Xenophon espouses a new project to illustrate these changes and offers initial exempla showing the evaporation of Persian justice and trustworthiness.

      Cyropaedia 8.8.8-19 The old Persian education has been corrupted. The Persians have lost their training in self-mastery over their bodies. Instead they have become effeminate, lazy, and gluttonous. This change has resulted in the decline of military training.

      Cyropaedia 8.8.20-26 Xenophon illustrates Persian decline in military affairs.

      Cyropaedia 8.8.27 Concluding statement that Xenophon has accomplished his purpose: to show that his contemporary Persians are in every way worse than those in Cyrus’ day.

    • How does the epilogue ( Cyropaedia 8.8) differ in tone from the rest of Cyropaedia?

    • Does the turn Xenophon takes in Cyropaedia 8.8 cast doubts upon the authenticity of the epilogue?

    • Can the epilogue be reconciled with the main body of Cyropaedia?

    • The epilogue seemingly does an about-face from the rest of the Cyropaedia. It moves from celebrating Cyrus as an ideal leader and Persia as a great empire to anti-Persian propaganda. Hirsch 1985:94 calls the epilogue’s tone “sarcastic, abusive and sometimes even vulgar” (see also Gray 2011:255). And if Persian power and education dissolve so quickly after Cyrus’ death, the epilogue at least begs the question of whether Cyrus was truly a great leader, or in some way the harbinger of Persian political and moral decay. Furthermore, Cyropaedia 8.8 mocks Xenophon’s contemporary Persians as weak and effeminate, and so adopts an Orientalizing posture not present (or at least far less explicit) in the main body of Cyropaedia. On Orientalism in Cyropaedia 8.8, see my comments on Cyropaedia 8.8.15.

      Cyropaedia 8.8 is an example of a “palinode,” in that the section appears to retract or reverse the views and sentiments expressed earlier in the work (Tuplin 2004:326; Flower 2012:291). The palinode, which originated as a poetic device, dates back at least to Steisichorus (7th century B.C.), whose Palinode retracted the poet’s earlier aspersions cast on Helen as the cause of the Trojan War. On the genre of the palinode and several later examples in Horace, see Cairns 1978. Noreen Humble 2004 reads Respublica Lacedaemoniorum 14 as a palinode, which, like Cyropaedia 8.8, juxtaposes the past and the present. On the similarities between the palinodes of Cyropaedia and Respublica Lacedaemoniorum, see also Tuplin 1994.

      Because of its perceived shift in tone from the rest of Cyropaedia, Cyropaedia 8.8 has prompted at least two major interrelated questions in its modern scholarly reception: 1) Is the chapter authentic, or a spurious later addition? 2) Is the chapter coherent with, or inimical to, Xenophon’s treatment of Cyrus and depictions of Persia throughout the main body of Cyropaedia?

    • Over the past several centuries, numerous scholars have doubted the authenticity of Cyropaedia 8.8. Sage 1995 traces these doubts about Cyropaedia 8.8’s authenticity to Valckenaer 1766. The view that Cyropaedia 8.8 must be spurious was especially prominent in nineteenth century scholarship. See, for example, Holden 1890:196-97 and Goodwin 1879:165-66. In more contemporary scholarship, Steven W. Hirsch 1985 similarly casts aspersions on the authenticity of Cyropaedia 8.8, especially because its anti-Persian sentiment appears inconsistent with the rest of Cyropaedia.

      Against Hirsch’s view, Eichler 1880 argues “for Xenophon’s authorship of 8.8 on linguistic and stylistic grounds” (see Sage 1995:161n3). More recent defenders of the authenticity of Cyropaedia 8.8 include Field 2012, Johnson 2005, Müller-Goldingen 1995, Sage 1995, Due 1989, Tatum 1989, and Delebecque 1957. Christesen 2006:56 accepts that, despite the controversy surrounding its authenticity, Cyropaedia 8.8 “is now generally taken to be an integral part of the work.”

    • Those who doubt the authenticity of Cyropaedia 8.8 very consistently point to the epilogue’s inconsistency with the rest of Cyropaedia. For instance, Hirsch 1985:93 points to the fact that:

      “Flagrant contradictions between the epilogue and the main body of the text are to be found. It is hard to believe that these are mere oversights, the more so since no such striking internal contradictions surface within the body of the work… The contradictions are there, they are glaring, and they are unparalleled elsewhere in the work. They cannot be glossed over.”

      Belief that the epilogue is not Xenophon’s own original conclusion to Cyropaedia uniformly goes hand in hand with the opinion that the apparent change in tone and the inconsistencies of 8.8 (often involving ἔτι καὶ νῦν constructions) are irreconcilable with Cyropaedia’s main body of text. Similarly, critics of the epilogue’s authenticity argue that Cyropaedia 8.7 provides a natural conclusion to Cyropaedia and that the tone of the epilogue is atypical of Xenophon’s writing in other works (Hirsch 1985:94).

      Those who defend the authenticity of Cyropaedia 8.8 are divided over whether the epilogue is consistent with the rest of Cyropaedia’s portrayal of Cyrus and construction of Persia. Delebecque 1957:405, for example, reads Cyropaedia 8.8 as disharmonious with the rest of Cyropaedia. Others who defend the Cyropaedia’s positive view of Cyrus, yet accept Cyropaedia 8.8 as authentic include Due 1989:16-22; Müeller-Goldingen 1995:262-71; Tatum 1989:215-39. Sage 1995:161 invokes the authority of the manuscript tradition in her defense of the epilogue’s authenticity. Sage 1995:162 argues that Cyropaedia 8.8 “is appropriate both rhetorically and thematically, and enriches, rather than undercuts” the main body of the Cyropaedia. In this interpretation, Xenophon’s conclusion confirms Cyropaedia’s introductory statements about the difficulty of ruling men, while reaffirming the exceptional greatness of Cyrus by contrast with his successors. See also Tuplin 2004:326: “Cyrus is a necessarily flawed hero, but still a hero, and the quasi-mystic quality to his end (whatever it owes to Iranian story-telling) reflects this, just as the palinode both assures us that praise of a Persian is not to be taken wholly outside the context of fourth-century Greek reactions to the empire and underlines that the fourth-century empire is a squalid remnant of a grand, if intrinsically flawed, experiment.”

      Others, however, argue that the epilogue is in keeping with what comes before it in Cyropaedia. Johnson 2005:180-81 reads the whole of Cyropaedia as unfavorable towards Cyrus and takes Cyropaedia 8.8 as consistent with Xenophon’s larger program: “The decline in the Persian character begins not after Cyrus’ death, or even with his organization of his empire, but with Cyrus’ initial transformation of the Persians into an army of conquest, a transformation that corrupts the pristine Persia of Cyrus’ youth.” Johnson argues that “Cyrus’ transformed Persians are inherently unstable.” In this view, the epilogue invites us to reread Cyropaedia more critically. Johnson 2005:204-05 argues that Xenophon’s ancient audience “would have been less surprised than we by the epilogue.” Johnson situates Cyropaedia in a Socratic tradition, which challenged readers to think through issues by themselves: “Xenophon would… have his readers recognize the perilous attractions of empire, for both rulers and subjects, by falling prey to those attractions themselves.” Laura Field 2012:724-25‘s reading is similar: “the bleak finale casts a shadow back over the rest of the text… and acts as a deliberate invitation to consider the book and its protagonist anew…. Xenophon’s work is at bottom so seriously critical of Cyrus’ rule that the ending of the book must be considered a wholly fitting one.”

      Gera 1993:300 is unconvinced by those who doubt the authenticity of the epilogue, and she observes that “while many modern readers would perhaps prefer another ending to the Cyropaedia, none of the ancients ever objected to the epilogue. Nevertheless, Gera does concede that the epilogue features numerous inconsistencies with the main body of Cyropaedia. These discrepancies revolve around practices which Cyropaedia 8.8 claims have been discontinued, but which Xenophon has earlier claimed continue into his present day (ἔτι καὶ νῦν). Gera 1993:299n77 advises us to compare Cyropaedia 8.8.8 vs. Cyropaedia 1.2.16 (on exercise); Cyropaedia 8.8.12 vs. Cyropaedia 8.1.34-36 (on hunting); Cyropaedia 8.8.13, Cyropaedia 19 vs. Cyropaedia 4.3.23 (on horsemanship); Cyropaedia 8.8.9 vs. Cyropaedia 1.2.11 (on the number of daily meals); Cyropaedia 8.8.10, Cyropaedia 12 vs. Cyropaedia 5.2.17 (on temperance). Whereas Hirsch 1985 finds it unlikely that these inconsistencies are mere oversights, Gera is willing to presume “a combination of carelessness and inconsistency on Xenophon’s part.”

      Gray 2011:75 looks beyond Cyropaedia to connect the tone of Cyropaedia 8.8 with the epilogue of Xenophon Respublica Lacedaemoniorum, since both contrast “the good character they [Spartans and Persians] showed while still under the good influence of Lycurgus’ laws and Cyrus’ rulership respectively with the perverse character they revealed once freed of those good influences.” Gray 2011:255-56 attributes much of the epilogue’s inconsistency with its rhetorical (rather than historical) purpose (see also Gray 2011:259, quoted in a comment on Cyropaedia 8.8.11). I say rhetorical rather than historical, since, as I suggest throughout my comments, many of the Epilogue’s slanders do not appear to represent Persian reality and would likely never have been understood to do so.

      Erich Gruen 2011:64-65 makes a particularly creative attempt to integrate Cyropaedia 8.8 with the main body of Cyropaedia. Gruen argues that Xenophon lauded Cyrus and the Persians at a cultural moment with leanings towards jingoism and Orientalism. As I note in my comments on Cyropaedia 8.8.15, Gruen suggests that Xenophon parodies Greek stereotypes of Persia. In so doing, “the historian stole a march on potential critics. He discredited the clichés by exaggerating them with parody and reducing them to absurdity.”

      As Gray 2011: 256n14 notes, the approach of James O’Hara 2006 to inconsistency in ancient poetry may well apply here. It is more productive to interpret rather than remove (for instance by striking them from the text is inauthentic) or explain away inconsistency (for instance Gera’s assumption of sloppiness on the part of the author; Gera 1993:299-300). O’Hara 2006:3 posits a willingness on the part of ancient authors to make use of inconsistency. O’Hara 2006:2 argues of Virgil’s Aeneid that contradictions might serve to deceive readers, or at least offer conflicting paths of interpretation (a suggestion evocative of Johnson’s dark, Socratic reading of Cyropaedia). In the case of Xenophon, the demands of rhetoric and the element of surprise may account for dissonance between much of Cyropaedia 8.8 and the Cyropaedia’s main body of text. Tatum 1989:224 suggests that, “for Xenophon, the gap between the political and historical world he lived in and the romantically successful but fictional world of the Cyropaedia finally outweighed his authorial desire to preserve the integrity of the text he had created.”

      This is not to say, however, that the inconsistences and contradictions of 8.8 can be easily dismissed, and Gera 1993:299 is too quick to brush these contradictions aside on the grounds that they concern “unimportant” matters. That said, I do not believe the mere existence of inconsistencies between Cyropaedia’s epilogue and main body warrants dismissing Cyropaedia 8.8 as inauthentic. The Epilogue may be a later addition and of spurious authorship, but this is by no means the only possible explanation for the contradictions of Cyropaedia 8.8.

      In a sense, how to approach the inconsistencies of Cyropaedia 8.8 may hinge on whether one brings an author-centered or reader-centered hermeneutic to bear on the text. For Hirsch 1985 and 19th century philologists who earlier questioned the authenticity of Cyropaedia 8.8, “Who wrote the epilogue and why?” are essential questions. However, a reader-centered approach will note that the manuscript tradition suggests that audiences were reading Cyropaedia 8.8 as the conclusion to Cyropaedia from an early date and that the ancients seem to have accepted it as part of the text. In this view, the authorship (or not) of Xenophon becomes secondary to the role that the epilogue plays in the text as Cyropaedia’s readers have received it for more than two millennia.

    • How does this passage reach back to the introduction to form a ring composition for Cyropaedia?

    • Xenophon suggests that the vastness of Cyrus’ empire makes Cyrus’ ability to govern and the devotion he inspired in his subjects all the more impressive. Xenophon first lays out this programmatic statement at Cyropaedia 1.1.3-5. Thus, whether or not we read the epilogue as authentic, the author of 8.8 takes great structural care to integrate Cyropaedia 8.8 with the whole of Cyropaedia, returning to the introductory claims with the conclusion.

      However, there are other instances of ring composition which close off topics before 8.8. For instance, Xenophon’s shepherd metaphor of Cyropaedia 1.1.2 resurfaces at Cyropaedia 8.2.14. Likewise, at Cyropaedia 8.1.24-25 Xenophon remarks that the Persians imitated Cyrus and so became more pious. Without the epilogue, this section could be read to close off Cyropaedia 1.2.8, which argues that imitation played an essential role in Persian education. Thus, those who doubt the authenticity of Cyropaedia 8.8 can point to Cyropaedia 8.1-7 as bearing structural markers of a conclusion.

    • What does it mean that Cyrus’ relationship with his subjects is likened to that between a father and his children?

    • Xenophon here revives a metaphor he has used throughout Cyropaedia, likening Cyrus to a father (cf. Cyropaedia 8.1.1). The imagery suggests that Cyrus commands and inspires respect and obedience, while seeing to the education, interests, and well being of his “children.” Xenophon here responds to and goes even further than Herodotus in his paternal imagery. Roger Brock 2004:249 observes, “the same image [of Cyrus as a father] is said to have been applied to Cyrus by his newly conquered subjects, the principal point being that of benefaction. In applying the image not only to Cyrus’ Persian subjects, but also to those whom he has conquered, Xenophon is going one better than the celebrated passage in Herodotus ( Herodotus Histories 3.89.3), for whom Cyrus is a father only to the Persians (and in contrast to his successors, whom they hold in less high regard).”

      Of course, Xenophon’s analogy is a common one. Sophocles Oedipus Tyrannus 1, for instance, opens with Oedipus addressing his suppliant subjects benevolently with ὦ τέκνα. As Brock 2004:249 notes, Xenophon applies the image of a father to Greek leaders, too, for instance Agesilaus ( Xenophon Agesilaus 1.38). Plato Laws 680e, Plato Laws 690a also draws direct comparisons between a father’s rule and a kingship. Aristotle Politics 1251a criticizes those who consider being the head of a household analogous to ruling a state.

      We might contrast Xenophon’s parental metaphor with his likening of Cyrus to a shepherd. Recall that at Cyropaedia 1.1.2, Xenophon compares the relationship between rulers and their subjects to that between herdsmen and their livestock. While this relationship may, too, be one of care and bonding, it also denotes inequality and suggests that the subjects are not fully developed humans. Aristotle separates the stewardship of children from that of animals on the grounds that children have underdeveloped capacity for reason, while animals lack the capacity for higher types of reason and even for happiness (see, for instance, Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics 1178b8). As Newell 1983:892 notes, Cyrus is again likened to a perfect herdsman at Cyropaedia 8.2.14. For those inclined towards darker readings of Cyropaedia, this passage may belittle Cyrus’ subjects as docile dependents of their ruler. Whidden 2008:45: “… Cyrus made little effort to educate the vast majority of his subjects beyond conditioning them to always follow and obey his sovereign will…” Newell 1983:892 thus distinguishes between Cyrus as a “real man” and the masses of “human beings,” variously demeaned as livestock and children. “The major aim of the Education of Cyrus is to experiment with the possibility that one “real man”—epitomized by Cyrus—could maximize his honor by ruling “human beings” in such a way as to satisfy the universal, simple, and recurrent needs of the ‘animal’ part of human psychology.” On animals as metaphors for humans and Xenophon’s animal hierarchies, see especially L’Allier 2004.

    • To whom does παῖδες refer?

    • παῖδες presents a double reading, referring both to Cyrus’ actual sons (introduced very late at Cyropaedia 8.7.5, with Cyrus already on his deathbed) and to the figurative παῖδας of Cyropaedia 8.8.1. Thus, Xenophon presents a post-Cyrus Persia characterized both by political strife within the ruling family and by more general discord among the populace. See Sage 1995:167-68.

    • What do we make of the word ἐστασίαζον and what connections might we draw with other Greek literature?

    • ἐστασίαζον is evocative of Thucydidean stasis. As Darbo-Peschanski 2007:33 observes of Xenophon Hellenica, Xenophon positions himself as a continuer of Thucydides in the Hellenica. Rood 2007:155, citing Tuplin 1993:39, connects Xenophon’s Hellenica with Thucydides, since each historian exhibits a “thematic preoccupation” with confusion in the Greek world and the inability of wars to solve Greece’s internal problems (see also Rood 2004 for its subtle analysis of Xenophon’s relationship to Thucydides). Xenophon’s invocation of Persian stasis may well signal similar preoccupations in Cyropaedia, especially since many read Cyropaedia to comment on Sparta and Athens. Tigerstedt 1965:178, for example, reads Xenophon as a Laconophile who bases Persian institutions upon Spartan models. For a more nuanced overview of the relationship between Cyropaedia and Sparta, see Tuplin 1994. On Athenian fear of stasis, see Wolpert 2002:79.

      Perhaps more germane to Xenophon’s concerns in Cyropaedia, Plato Laws 628b-c names the avoidance of stasis as a chief aim of the state. As John Wallach 2001:361 comments on Plato’s Laws, “military virtues exercised in an open political context seem to foment stasis. Although they would help their possessor conquer any foe, they may also encourage him to fight with other citizens and himself ( Plato Laws 626b-d).” Plato revives his discussion of stasis in Book 3 of the Laws ( Plato Laws 678e, Plato Laws 679d, Plato Laws 682d, Plato Laws 690d). After discussing Persian decline and civil discord among Cyrus’ sons ( Plato Laws 695b), the Athenian stranger reminds us at Plato Laws 697c-e that the purpose of the Persian exemplum was to illustrate the disastrous consequences of internal discord for all states. On Plato’s Laws and Cyropaedia, see especially Dorion 2002 and Danzig 2003, which argues that Plato read Cyropaedia but freely departs from his Xenophontic source material. On Cyropaedia’s links to other Socratic authors, such as Antisthenes, see especially Gera 1993.

    • How credible is Xenophon’s suggestion that revolt was immediate and that Persia’s decline therefore began very quickly after the death of Cyrus?

    • Xenophon appears to refer to a coup, which coincided with the death of Cyrus’ successor, Cambyses II, in 522 B.C. Both Herodotus and Persian sources allege that an impostor, Gaumata, impersonated Cyrus’ younger son, Bardiya (Smerdis in Herodotus Histories). (See Herodotus Histories 3.66-68 and the Behistun Inscription, both of which claim that Cambyses had Smerdis killed). The Behistun Inscription, presumably authored by Darius, asserts that Darius consolidated power only after putting down multiple rebellions. Herodotus Histories 3.89-97 goes on to show that Darius refashioned the empire on a much firmer organizational and fiscal basis.

      However, Xenophon willfully omits historical details from his narrative, for example the successes of Darius and Xerxes. The suggestion that Achaemenid Persia immediately became an unstable state in decline upon the death of Cyrus therefore seems manifestly untrue and invites the reader to view Xenophon’s portrayal of old Persia in Cyropaedia 8.8 with new skepticism and reevaluate his purpose. This disregard for (or manipulation of) history affects how we understand the genre of Cyropaedia and reminds us not to expect an accurate representation of recent Persian history from Xenophon. As Philip Stadter 2010:374, whose interest lies in Xenophon’s use of fictional narrative, argues, “Xenophon does not suffer from nostalgia: he does not think that once the world was better, but has now deteriorated. Nor would his own experience of the duplicity of Artaxerxes and Tissaphernes permit him any illusions about oriental monarchy, which might lead him to propose a historical Cyrus as a model for Greek governance. Such an interpretation would read into the Cyropaideia a historicism that is not there.”

    • Xenophon says he will begin illustrating Persian decline by “teaching about divine things” (διδάσκων ἐκ τῶν θείων), then discusses not explicit worship but rather the keeping of oaths. What does this say about the importance of oaths for Xenophon and how does this fit into broader Greek literary and religious traditions?

    • To what event does Xenophon refer when he writes of betrayal and beheading, and how might Xenophon work his own experience into the narrative?

    • How can Cyropaedia 8.8.4 help to date the composition of the work?

    • Christesen 2006:56 notes that Xenophon here refers to “the reprehensible behaviour of Mithridates and Rheomithres during the satraps’ revolt that began in 362.” This reference therefore provides a terminus post quem for dating the Cyropaedia, since Xenophon must have written this after 362 BC (provided, of course, that we accept his authorship of Cyropaedia 8.8). See also Gera 1993:23 and Anderson 1974:152n1.

    • How, if at all, do these negative examples show how Xenophon views monarchic rule? Has Cyrus’ positive exemplum been perverted? Is Cyrus himself responsible, at least indirectly, for these heinous acts?

    • If one reads the main body of Cyropaedia as a celebration of Cyrus as a model of leadership, then one can draw binary contrasts between Cyrus and later bad kings. However, some argue that the epilogue shows the natural results of Cyrus’ absolute rule and therefore calls the institution of kingship and Cyrus’ methods into question. Carlier 2010:363: “Cyrus wanted his subjects to be more attached to him than to each other. Mithridates, in delivering his father to Artaxerxes II and Rheomitres in leaving his wife and his children hostage to serve the king, just pushed devotion to the king to its final consequences, to the point of forgetting all familial ties. Xenophon severely condemns such ‘impieties’; it is probable that the disapproval of such acts extends also to the principles that inspired them, namely the very sources of Cyrus’ imperial power.”

      Against this view, see Gray 2011:250-51: “by associating decline with the abandonment of those [Cyrus’] laws and practices, Xenophon is proving their worth and the worth of Cyrus, for it was he who created them and while the Persians were true to them, they enjoyed success.” Gray’s argument holds for the later portion of Cyropaedia 8.8, which depicts the undoing of Cyrus’ cavalry reforms. However, the middle portion of Cyropaedia 8.8 displays the perversion of the Persian educational system of Cyropaedia 1.2, which was not instituted by Cyrus.

      Plato Laws 3.694c-695e blames Persian decline on the failure of its educational system and Plato places the responsibility squarely upon Cyrus. At Plato Laws 3.694c, it is surmised that Cyrus himself was without a proper education (μαντεύομαι δὴ νῦν περί γε Κύρου… παιδείας δὲ ὀρθῆς οὐχ ἧφθαι τὸ παράπαν). At Plato Laws 3.695a-b, Plato faults the fact that Cyrus’ sons were incapable of effective leadership because they were educated by women and eunuchs for the decline of Persia after Cyrus’ death on. See especially Dorion 2002. Strauss 1975:17 connects the importance Plato places upon education in Laws to Xenophon’s Cyropaedia.

    • Why does Xenophon emphasize the role of the elite leaders and how does education fit into this program? And what does this passage say about the importance of education to the wellbeing of society?

    • Xenophon writes that elite leaders (οἱ προστάται) establish character and conduct for the rest of society. This sentiment is echoed at Cyropaedia 8.1.24, where Xenophon writes that the Persians imitated Cyrus in religious piety. At Cyropaedia 1.2.15, Xenophon specifies that, while no citizen is barred from receiving public education, only boys whose families can afford to do without their labor are educated in justice. Xenophon’s ring composition responds to Book One and suggests trickle-down morality, using the Persian elites after Cyrus as a negative exemplum. Farber 1979:502 notes how essential it is to Xenophon that the Persian system of education outlined in Cyropaedia 1.2 is for the peers, since they will teach the general populace by example.

      Xenophon considers the proper education of the nobility essential to state building and leadership. It is from childhood education that the ruling class learns to lead. This lesson plays an important role in the afterlife of Cyropaedia. As Grogan 2007:65 observes (quoting Jardine 1997:72), Erasmus’ mirror for princes “praise[s] the Persian belief reported by Xenophon that ‘the chief hope for the state is founded in the proper training of its children.’”

    • The Persian system of education helped to produce Cyrus, but it also appears to end with Cyrus. Is the system of Cyropaedia 1.2 an impossible utopia?

    • Many read Cyropaedia as laying out a system of moral education (possibly pro-Spartan in its sympathies) that Xenophon finds admirable. Xenophon laments this system’s perversion and decline. Even Johnson 2005:181‘s cynical reading of Xenophon’s Cyrus takes as a premise that Xenophon admires the system of education laid out on Cyropaedia 1.2.

      At the very least, the epilogue raises the question of whether such an educational system for the common good is sustainable and can survive despotism. Focusing on the Persian education of Cyropaedia 1.2, Whidden 2007:540 reads Cyropaedia as “a work of irony” and argues that “its author was very skeptical and critical of empire.” Gera 1993:298: “The despotism he [Cyrus] inaugurates is what is left to the following generations of Persians–along with the conquered empire–and it is a poor legacy. The epilogue only serves to confirm this point, if in an extreme and outspoken way.” Whether or not we view the educational system of Cyropaedia 1.2 as a utopia, Tuplin 1994 cautions against reading it as a Laconist one.

    • How does this section relate to the earlier discussion of education and punishment, at Cyropaedia 1.2.7?

    • At Cyropaedia 1.2.7 Xenophon claims the Persians punish even children who make unjust accusations. From its outset, learning justice and its courtroom performance was a primary priority of Xenophon’s Persian educational system. Now that the educational system has been perverted, the prevalence of unjust and false accusations among the very ruling class that once received that education is a marker of decline and contributes to broader social collapse. The bulk of Cyropaedia 8.8 consists of such examples of Persian moral decline, illustrated through reference to Cyropaedia 1.2.

      Compare Cyropaedia 8.8.6 vs. Cyropaedia 1.2.7 (on justice); Cyropaedia 8.8.8-9 vs. Cyropaedia 1.2.16 (on spitting, blowing the nose, and sweat); Cyropaedia 8.8.9 vs. Cyropaedia 1.2.11 (on meal frequency); Cyropaedia 8.8.10 vs. Cyropaedia 1.2.11 (on drinking and marching); Cyropaedia 8.8.12 vs. Cyropaedia 1.2.9-11 (on hunting); Cyropaedia 8.8.13 vs. Cyropaedia 1.2.3, Cyropaedia 6-7 (on children being educated at court and practicing justice); Cyropaedia 8.8.16 vs. Cyropaedia 1.2.8, Cyropaedia 1.2.11 (on simplicity of diet); Cyropaedia 8.8.17 vs. Cyropaedia 1.2.10 (on enduring heat and cold); Cyropaedia 8.8.23 vs. Cyropaedia 1.2.13 (on military equipment).

    • How does this rather hyperbolic portrait of Persian passivity and military ineptitude anticipate Cyropaedia 8.8.20-26?

    • Once again, Xenophon must here refer to Persia well after the events of Xenophon Anabasis, since Xenophon and his army were hardly permitted to roam about Persia as they pleased without fear or expectation of battle. However, Xenophon paints a picture of complete moral collapse, which leads to catastrophic military consequences. Whereas the idealized Persian education of Cyropaedia 1.2 led to military success, the unmaking of that education in Cyropaedia 8.8 leads to almost comical military inefficacy.

      Thus, the swift transition in Cyropaedia 8.8.6-7 from social injustice and disengagement to military decline serves as a microcosm for the remainder of the chapter. Cyropaedia 8.8.8-19 further elucidates moral decline and the perversion of education. This leads to Cyropaedia 8.8.20-26, which focuses on resulting military decline. In particular, Cyropaedia 8.8.21 echoes this claim that enemies are free to range about Persian territory.

      Persian reality, naturally, hardly conforms to the author of the epilogue’s lampoon and it is doubtful that Xenophon’s fourth-century audience would have taken such a disparaging view of Persian power. If the Cyropaedia was, in fact, completed after 362, it is possible that the Satraps’ Revolts and rebellions in Egypt and Phoenicia could have been taken as signs of Persian weakness. However, Artaxerxes Ochus (r. 358-338 BC) put down these rebellions and was a formidable ruler. Whether we read 8.8 as authentic Xenophon or a spurious addition to Cyropaedia, this caricature of Persian weakness rings hollow and could hardly have been taken seriously by its fourth century-audience.

    • Here and throughout Cyropaedia 8.8, Xenophon attributes Persian decline to the abandonment of old customs. What connections can we draw with Xenophon’s Respublica Lacedaemoniorum?

    • Xenophon Respublica Lacedaemoniorum 2 also celebrates a legal code based upon communal education, only to attribute Spartan decline to turning away from the laws of a great leader (Lycurgus; Xenophon Respublica Lacedaemoniorum 14). On this connection see, albeit briefly, Waterfield 2006:191. Much like Cyropaedia 8.8, the attribution of Respublica Lacedaemoniorum to Xenophon has occasionally been called into question. See, for instance, Chrimes 1948. Hirsch 1985 questions the authenticity of the palinode. Lipka 2002:5 treats the Respublica Lacedaemoniorum as authentic and offers a good survey of the debate. See also Gray 2007:25-26.

    • What earlier passage of Cyropaedia does Cyropaedia 8.8.8 recall, why does Xenophon focus on moist bodily humors, and what might they have to do with constructions of gender?

    • This passage reflects back upon Cyropaedia 1.2.16, which closed the overview of the Persian system of education with the statement that even in Xenophon’s present (ἔτι καὶ νῦν) it remains shameful (αἰσχρὸν) for the Persians to spit and blow their noses. Also, at Cyropaedia 8.1.42, Cyrus takes care that the Persians will not spit or blow their noses in public. Herodotus Histories 1.138 provides an analogue, observing that Persians do not spit in rivers. Herodotus attributes this practice to religious reverence. See also Hesiod Works and Days 729-32 on Greek superstition concerning urination and expelling moisture. Thus, a primary motive for avoiding spitting, nose blowing, and urinating in public was likely religious.

      As in Cyropaedia 1.2.16, Xenophon here fixates on bodily moisture and explains that the Persians of old endeavored to work off bodily moisture in order to harden their bodies. This suggests a purpose beyond religious reverence. As becomes evident in Cyropaedia 8.8.9, whereas the Persians in Cyrus’ time did not spit or blow their noses but worked off their moisture ( Cyropaedia 1.2.16), the Persians in Xenophon’s present still refrain from spitting and blowing the nose, but they no longer work off the moisture. The theme’s revival suggests that it is of some importance to the author of the palinode.

      I suggest that this represents the first of several instances in Cyropaedia 8.8 in which Xenophon seeks to effeminize the Persians. Greek medical writers often associate dryness with masculinity and wetness with femininity (see also the Pythagorean table of opposites, which Aristotle Metaphysics 986a-b enumerates). Thus, Xenophon portrays the old Persians at Cyropaedia 1.2.16 as very manly, since they work off their moisture. In contrast, he here emasculates the later Persians by suggesting that their bodies retain lots of moisture ( Cyropaedia 8.8.9). On moisture, effeminacy, sexuality, and self-control in Greek medical texts, see, for instance, King 1998:18 and Carson 1990:137-43. Herodotus closes his history at 9.122 with Cyrus issuing a warning that the Persians would become effeminate if they settled in more fertile (i.e., moister) lands.

      Sarah Pomeroy 1984:103 shows that in the Oeconomicus, “Xenophon adopted the Persian King, whom he greatly admired, as a model for the wife.” In this instance, much different in tone than Cyropaedia 8.8, Pomeroy argues that the association between the Persian king and Ischomachus’ wife is not meant to criticize the Persians but rather “shows as much enlightenment about the potential of women as can reasonably be expected in the literature of classical Athens.” On the Persian king as an ideal for both husbands and wives in the Oeconomicus, see also Pomeroy 1994:237-55.

    • Can Cyropaedia 8.8.9 be reconciled with Cyropaedia 1.2.16, which claims that “even now (ἔτι καὶ νῦν), evidence remains of the Persians moderate diet and working off of moisture”?

    • Two readings appear possible. The first is that Xenophon suggests at Cyropaedia 1.2.16 that the actual moderate diet and working off of moisture survives into his present. This reading would clearly set the epilogue at odds with the main body of text, and Hirsch 1985:92-93 cites this passage’s inconsistency with Cyropaedia 1.2.16 as evidence against the authenticity of Cyropaedia 8.8. However, if we read the survival of the avoidance of spitting and nose-blowing, however perverted, as the vestiges of bygone customs (moderate diet and working off moisture through sweat), then the passage need not be irreconcilable with Cyropaedia 1.2.16.

    • How does the culture of gluttony Xenophon describes revisit the boys’ diet in Cyropaedia 1.2.8 and the ephebes’ self-mastery in Cyropaedia 1.2.11, as well as Cyrus’ estimation of the Persians in Cyropaedia 7.5?

    • In what becomes a formulaic pattern in Cyropaedia 8.8, Xenophon claims elements of the Persian system of education survive in a perverted form. Here, the custom of eating only once a day survives from Cyropaedia 1.2.11, but now the one meal has become a decadent feast that lasts all day and leaves little room for any other activities. In contrast, Xenophon’s discussion of diet at Cyropaedia 1.2.8 is used explicitly to illustrate “self-mastery over food and drink” (ἐγκράτειαν γαστρὸς καὶ ποτοῦ). The Persian youth of old trained with only bread, some greens, and water for sustenance. Similarly ephebes on the hunt in Cyropaedia 1.2.11 keep the same modest diet (slightly larger to account for increased caloric needs), augmented with a little meat when the hunt is successful. Xenophon emphasizes that this diet keeps the Persians in prime physical condition for war and psychologically prepares male citizens to endure hardship.

      Because of this, Cyrus determines at Cyropaedia 7.5.67 that the Persians who cherished this life of self-restraint were most worthy to lead with him. Moreover, at Cyropaedia 7.5.74-75, Cyrus foreshadows the palinode’s account of Persian decline, declaring that if the Persians renounce their Spartan lifestyle for leisure and pleasure, they will become worthless and come to be deprived of the empire they have built. As I mention in my comments on Cyropaedia 8.8.3, this is reminiscent of Cyrus’ words at the close of Herodotus Histories 9.122. Showing oneself worthy to rule means, for Cyrus, responding to physical necessity in the best possible manner ( Cyropaedia 7.5.78). As in Cyropaedia 1.2.11, Cyrus claims eating and drinking are and should be most pleasurable when actually hungry and thirsty.

      Thus, Xenophon consistently associates gluttony (among other behaviors detailed in Cyropaedia 8.8) with a soft life, which, as Carol Atack mentions in her comment on Cyropaedia 7.5.75, “carries with it the risk of defeat and subjugation.” See Gorman and Gorman 2014. That risk, which Cyrus presciently foresees in Cyropaedia 7.5, comes to fruition in Cyropaedia 8.8.9 and throughout Cyropaedia 8.8. As Sarah Pomeroy 1994:59 observes in her commentary to Xenophon’s Oeconomicus, Greek texts often portray gluttony as a “a vice to which females were prone,” and “control over the appetite was worth mentioning.” The charge of gluttony may thus carry with it the charge of effeminacy, a theme which runs throughout Cyropaedia 8.8. On Median luxury as a threat to Persia’s masculine education, see also the discussion of Cyropaedia 1.3.3 on this site.

    • Is Xenophon’s condemnation of binge drinking in symposia consistent with his other works, for instance Xenophon Symposium? Might this celebration of old Persian sobriety and condemnation of new Persian drunkenness reflect upon Athens and/or Sparta?

    • Xenophon advocates restraint at symposia, not only here in Cyropaedia 8.8.10 but also in his other works. For instance, καὶ σώματα καὶ γνώμας σφάλλειν is remarkably similar to Xenophon’s language to describe Spartan restraint at shared meals in Respublica Lacedaemoniorum 5.4 (σφάλλουσι μὲν σώματα, σφάλλουσι δὲ γνώμας). Thus, old Persian sobriety may well be understood as a foil for laudable Spartan behavior.

      This praise of Spartan sobriety may be set in contrast to the pervasive drinking culture at Athenian symposia, as depicted in many Attic vase paintings and in Plato Symposium. Plato’s Symposium, for instance, casts many of its characters as still hungover from the night before, yet still committed to an evening of drinking ( Plato Symposium 176A-B) and features a very drunk Alcibiades arriving from another party ( Plato Symposium 212C-213A, Socrates is distinguished because he drinks heavily, yet is impervious to the effects of wine). In Xenophon’s Symposium, Socrates is the voice of restraint: when other guests call for a rowdy night of drinking, Socrates convinces the other guests that more moderate consumption would leave them more physically and mentally capable while allowing them to enjoy the symposium more ( Xenophon Symposium 2.24-27). Socrates’ language (καὶ τὰ σώματα καὶ αἱ γνῶμαι σφαλοῦνται, Xenophon Symposium 2.26) similarly recalls Cyropaedia 8.8.10 and Respublica Lacedaemoniorum 5.4.

      In contrast, Xenophon lampoons his contemporary Persians as so drunk they must be carried out of the party. Gray 2011:258 notes that “this is the almost comic kind of abuse we expect in such a rhetorical set-piece; the denunciation of Menon in his obituary at Xenophon Anabasis 2.6 is similar.” While there are connections to be drawn between Cyropaedia 8.8 and Xenophon Anabasis 2.6, Xenophon’s excoriation of Menon seems somewhat less comic in tone than the lampooning of Persian debauchery found here.

    • How does Xenophon characterize ideal behavior at a symposium? Even if he does not advocate drunkenness, what role do Xenophon (and his Cyrus) afford to frivolity and humor?

    • While Xenophon may use the Persians to reinforce the virtues of relative sobriety, this is not at all to say that he does not encourage frivolity and humor. For instance, at several points in Cyropaedia 2.2 (e.g., Cyropaedia 2.2.5; Cyropaedia 2.2.10; Cyropaedia 2.2.11), Cyrus either laughs or inspires laughs from the guests he entertains. At Cyropaedia 2.2.12, Cyrus explicitly defends those who use well-intentioned humor as urbane and charming (ἀστεῖοι ἂν καὶ εὐχάριτες). Likewise, at Cyropaedia 8.4.21-23, Cyrus jests and laughs. Social laughter and frivolity seems essential to Cyrus’ leadership. Further connecting laughter and frivolity with wisdom and the ability to lead and inspire, Huss 1999:396 observes that the descriptions of Cyrus’ laughter and lighthearted behavior in Cyropaedia 2.2 and Cyropaedia 8.4 evoke Xenophon’s portrayal of Socrates in Xenophon Symposium.

    • Why does Xenophon consistently present new Persian decadence not as the extinction of old Persian culture but rather as the corrupted survival of old Persian culture?

    • Perhaps there is something especially tragic in a culture that lacks the tools to understand, appreciate, and employ its own customs and heritage. In Cyropaedia 8.8 the corrupted survival of old Persian culture allows for the reader to recognize the Persians of Cyropaedia’s main body and to view decline, rather than transition into a culture entirely unrecognizable from the main text. Carlier 2010:363 writes of Cyropaedia 8.8.9-11, “The letter remained, but the spirit was lost. The traditions were not abandoned, they were perverted.” And “absolute monarchy makes it impossible to maintain traditional παιδεία” and “the abandonment of παιδεία brings about the decadence of empire” (Carlier 2010:365).

      Michael Flower 2012:182 reads a warning to the Greeks in Persian corruption: “Cyrus, after conquering the whole of Asia with an army that oddly resembles Greek hoplites and Greek cavalry in its equipment and tactics, thinks that the Persians can maintain their old discipline and valor while appropriating the lifestyle and luxuries of the Medea and Babylonians. If one sees in the Cyropaedia (as I think one should) strong hints, which are confirmed in the epilogue ( Cyropaedia 8.8), that the maintenance of traditional discipline is inherently impossible under such circumstances, then any would-be Greek conquerors of the Persian Empire would also find Eastern luxury to be corrosive of their traditional lifestyle, ethos, and values.”

      Gray 2011:259: “Xenophon seems to have his cake and eat it too in his praise of Cyrus in Cyropaedia. In the main text he regularly notes how such-and-such a custom continued ‘into the present time’ of writing, and these seem to mark their original excellence. In the epilogue he again marks their original excellence by equating the perversion of their practice with decline. To have them abandon the customs altogether would mean that they placed no value on them and would contradict contemporary Persian realities. Far better that the custom endures because of its excellence, but contemporary Persians are unable to live with its implications. To say that they simply abandoned the custom of one meal a day is too simple. To say that they made one meal last all day is rhetoric of the required kind.”

    • Is it possible to reconcile the claim that, since Artaxerxes became a drunk, the king does not hunt nor take others hunting with the emphasis on royal hunting at Cyropaedia 8.1.34-36?

    • Frequent hunts led by the king are an essential element of the ephebes’ education and military training at Cyropaedia 1.2.9-11. Xenophon revives this important topic at Cyropaedia 8.1.34-36, writing that Cyrus took troops hunting for military exercise just as Persian kings before him did, and that “even today the king and his associates continue doing these things” (καὶ νῦν δ᾽ ἔτι βασιλεὺς καὶ οἱ ἄλλοι οἱ περὶ βασιλέα ταῦτα ποιοῦντες διατελοῦσιν).

      Gray 2011:259 focuses on the word ὁμοίως in Cyropaedia 8.8.12. “The earlier passage [ Cyropaedia 8.1.36] indicates that the custom continues of the king leading his nobles out to hunt for the purpose of exercising them in warfare, but the epilogue says that Artaxerxes and his nobles are so under the influence of drink that they no longer go out to hunt ‘in the same way’…. The original purpose of the hunt was for training and they still do hunt, but not in a way that constitutes military exercise.” The dissonance between Cyropaedia 8.1.36 and Cyropaedia 8.8.12 does appear more difficult to reconcile than the possible inconsistency observed in the comment on Cyropaedia 8.8.9. Hirsch 1985:93 cites this passage’s inconsistency with Cyropaedia 8.1.34-36 as evidence against the authenticity of Cyropaedia 8.8.

    • Xenophon claims the Persians no longer practice horsemanship. What does this imply about their cavalry? What evidence and events does Xenophon ignore when he claims the Persians no longer practice horsemanship?

    • If Xenophon does invent Cyrus’ military reforms (Christesen 2006:50), he also appears to invent the undoing of these reforms. Herodotus, for instance, claims that the Persians chose the site for the Battle of Marathon because it allowed them to press their cavalry advantage ( Herodotus Histories 6.102) and suggests that Persians thought the Athenians insane for fighting without the aid of cavalry ( Herodotus Histories 6.112). While their authority as sources may be called into question, Nepos Miltiades 5.4 and the Suda choris hippeis also place Persian cavalry at Marathon. All this is to suggest that the Persians maintained a formidable culture of military horsemanship into the 5th century BC. See also Gaebel 2002:69-71.

      Several decades after Cyropaedia’s composition Alexander fought against large numbers of Persian cavalry, for instance at Issus (333 BC) and Gaugamela (331 BC). Moreover, Xenophon himself lauds the Younger Cyrus’ horsemanship at Xenophon Anabasis 1.9. Xenophon may not attempt to feign historical accuracy, but his account of Cyrus’ cavalry reforms and their later disappearance does have a nice rhetorical symmetry (ex nihilo ad nihil).

    • How does the corruption of the legal system undo both the education of the boys described at Cyropaedia 1.2.6-7 and Cyrus’ judicial system described at Cyropaedia 8.2.27-28?

    • Whereas the children used to hear (ἀκούοντες) cases being judged justly (δίκας δικαίως δικαζομένας, note the wordplay for rhetorical flourish), they now see (ὁρῶσι) that bribes have come to dominate courtroom culture (νικῶντας ὁπότεροι ἂν πλέον διδῶσιν). Once again, the educational system of Cyropaedia has been perverted. Also, Xenophon again emphasizes the importance of role models for education in a just and moral society. The verbs of perception (ἀκούοντες, ὁρῶσι) emphasize that children learn by watching and listening to their superiors, which is a prominent theme in Cyropaedia 1.2.8 and throughout the text.

      But it is not only the educational system that has collapsed in this new culture of injustice and corruption; Cyropaedia 8.8.13 also corrupts and unmakes the legal system Cyrus established at Cyropaedia 8.2.27-28. At Cyropaedia 8.2.27, Xenophon specifies that the system was meant to ensure that the victor in a lawsuit was victorious because of justice, not because of favors or bribes. Field 2012:735 therefore reads ὁρῶσι νικῶντας ὁπότεροι ἂν πλέον διδῶσιν as a rebuke of Cyrus, arguing that “Cyrus’ establishment of a system of legal judgments ( Cyropaedia 8.2.27-28)” did not foster justice and instead “fueled envy and hatred (and probably corruption and bribery too).”

    • The study of botany is absent from Xenophon’s survey of Persian education in Cyropaedia 1.2. What do we make of this deviation from the rhetorical pattern of Cyropaedia 8.8?

    • Botany appears nowhere in the Persian education of Cyropaedia 1.2, and so its presence in Cyropaedia 8.8.14 does appear to break the structural pattern of Cyropaedia 8.8, which has otherwise been in consistent dialogue with Cyropaedia 1.2. However, the deviation allows Xenophon to indulge in cultural stereotypes of Persians as poisoners, and to show yet one more way in which the just and forthright Persians of old have become masters of deceit.

    • Does Xenophon refer to actual events and/or pervasive stereotypes when he charges that the Persians of his present have become master poisoners?

    • The claim here seems somewhat odd, since poisoning does not feature prominently in Xenophon Anabasis and the assassinations by poisoning Diodorus Siculus Bibliotheca Historia 16 alleges Bagoas to have committed at the Persian court are too late for Xenophon to reference in Cyropaedia. However, the allegations of poison are hardly an invention of Xenophon’s. At Cyropaedia 1.3.9, Xenophon does assert that in Cyrus’ day and before, the Medes used cupbearers to check wine for poison. Thus, Xenophon may here illustrate that Persian culture has been corrupted by the Medes.

      Llewellyn-Jones and Robson 2010:210n12 suggest that the poison charge of Cyropaedia 8.8.14 may refer to Parysatis’ murder of Stateira c. 400, detailed by Ctesias F27 ( Photius Biblioteca 44a20-b19). Ctesias F45m ( Aelian De Natura Animalium 4.41) also sensationalizes the Persians as poisoners. Also, Pliny the Elder Naturalis Historia 30.1 locates the origins of magic with beneficent medicine. Pliny the Elder Naturalis Historia 30.1 30.2 makes a Persian connection, claiming that medicine and magic originated with Zoroaster. As Maria Brosius 1998:105-22 shows, Greek authors poorly understood the role played by Persian wives within the family and frequently sensationalized the female royalty of Persia as vengeful and bloodthirsty.

    • How does Xenophon characterize the Persians in this chapter? How might this characterization fit both Xenophon’s earlier comments on Persian decline in Cyropaedia 8.8 and other writing about Persians?

    • Xenophon here effeminizes the Persians as more “delicate” (θρυπτικώτεροι) than in Cyrus’ day, preserving Median “softness” (μαλακίαν). This furthers Xenophon’s agenda in Cyropaedia 8.8.8-9, which also criticized the Persians as soft and effeminate by virtue of their retaining moisture.

      Newell 1983:904 understands Xenophon to suggest that Persia’s new “softness” is a natural result of Cyrus’ use of “fear as a substitute for the rule of law,” which would inspire more manly desire for political participation: “In sum Xenophon regards the possibility of a regime that systematically would curtail the longing for freedom in exchange for private security and well-being as necessarily distorting – castrating or effeminating – human psychology.”

      As Briant 2001:196 notes, “these are exactly the same themes developed by Xenophon in Chapter IX of the Agesilaus, where he strongly contrasts the frugal life-style of Agesilaus and ‘the boastfulness of the Persian’ ( Xenophon Agesilaus 9.1).” That said, Xenophon Agesilaus 9.1 is specifically a eulogy of Agesilaus, not a contrast of political systems or an attack on all Persians.

      More generally, Xenophon’s characterization of Persian decline provides evidence in support of Edward Said Orientalism 1978, which argues that, since Aeschylus’ Persians, Western writing has tended to depict the East as irrational, weak, and effeminate. Following Said, Edith Hall 1989:99 defines Orientalism as “the discourse by which the European imagination has dominated Asia ever since [Aeschylus’ Persians] by conceptualizing its inhabitants as defeated, luxurious, emotional, cruel, and always as dangerous.” Hall 1989:101 argues that in fifth-century Athens, “free” became “synonymous with ‘Hellenic,’ ‘servile’ with ‘Barbarian.’” In this view, Greek identity and self-perception developed in binary opposition to a barbarian, often Eastern (Phrygian, Persian), Other.

      In Herodotus Histories 8.68, for instance, Artemisia cautions Xerxes that the Greeks “are, at sea, as much better than yours as men are to women.” As Munson 1988:93 summarizes, “the Barbarians are, in Herodotus and other Greek authors, female-like in a much broader sense: their culture appears on the whole characterized by many different features which the Greeks recognized as female—softness, but also deviousness, ferocity, and excess.” Wenghofer 2014:534 concludes of Herodotus, “the characterization of barbarian men as a species of moichoi, and as cuckolded husbands with no control of their oikos, so implicit in Herodotus’ account of barbarian sexual mores, would no doubt have further solidified the image of unmanly barbarians in the minds of a Greek audience.”

      Despite this tendency to effeminize the Persians, Greek attitudes towards the Persians were hardly monolithic, even when confined to single texts or authors. Herodotus shows respect for the Persians, for instance in his account of the Battle of Plataea ( Herodotus Histories 9.62-63). In Xenophon Anabasis, Xenophon greatly admires Cyrus the Youngers and portrays Tissaphernes as dangerous. In his thoughtful consideration of Cyropaedia’s palinode and its relationship to Orientalism, Erich Gruen 2011:64 proposes that Xenophon’s about face in Cyropaedia 8.8 does not mean to ridicule the Persians, but rather to “caricature contemporary stereotypes” about the Persians, whom Xenophon himself admired. Edith Hall 1989:216 cites Hippias’ views on universal law in Xenophon Memorabilia as evidence that Xenophon is—at least in places—less Hellenocentric than some of his contemporaries.

    • What role do clothes play in Persian softness?

    • Xenophon connects Median dress with luxury (τῇ δὲ Μήδων στολῇ καὶ ἁβρότητι), juxtaposing the corrupting Median ἁβρότης with Persian ἐγκράτεια in a μὲν… δὲ statement. Xenophon seems to place responsibility for this particular form of Persian luxury and decline on the shoulders of Cyrus, since at Cyropaedia 8.1.40-41 and Cyropaedia 8.3.1-4 Xenophon suggests that Cyrus initiated the adoption of Median dress. See also the discussion of Cyropaedia 1.3.3 in this site’s commentary.

      As Sarah Pomeroy 1994:252 observes of Cyropaedia 8.1.41, “Cyrus encouraged the wearing of cosmetics and platform shoes to hide bodily defects.” In the Oeconomicus, however, Ischomachus criticizes his wife for employing such means of deception.” For Pomeroy 1994:253, the effeminacy of Persian costume does not preclude the younger Cyrus from earning the respect of the Spartans for his accomplishments.

      For Azoulay 2004:149-150, Cyrus uses ornate dress as a political techne, helping him to rule once he has won an empire. Thus, we need not read an “outright rejection of luxurious dress.” Cyrus shows that ceremonial pomp serves a purpose, but only when it is combined with discipline and effort. The Persian decline of the palinode is marked by the imbalance resulting from the preservation of luxurious dress without the maintenance of old Persian rigor Azoulay 2004:167.

    • Are Xenophon’s allegations of decadence in Persian dress consistent with other statements in Cyropaedia?

    • At Cyropaedia 1.3.2, the young Cyrus is first exposed to ornate Median dress when he meets Astyages. He is impressed, marvels at Astyages’ beauty, and puts on a Median robe himself ( Cyropaedia 1.3.4). Later, at Cyropaedia 8.1.40-41, Cyrus also chooses to wear Median robes, persuades his associates to do the same, and allows men to wear makeup. Cyrus thus seems at least partially responsible for initiating the effeminizing process among the Persians detailed in Cyropaedia 8.8. Whidden 2008:42: “Having illustrated several ways in which Cyrus caused his subjects to become effeminate, Xenophon sums up the cumulative and lasting effects of Cyrus’s increased emphasis on the feminine within his imperial household, noting that after Cyrus died the Persians continued to become even more effeminate than they had been under Cyrus ( Cyropaedia 8.8.15).” This, too, is Plato’s point in the Laws. Plato blames Persian decline on Cyrus, because he entrusted education to women and eunuchs (see my comments on Cyropaedia 8.8.4).

      However, as Gray 2011:259 well notes, there is a dissonance with Cyropaedia 1.3.2, “which says that the Persians ‘in their homeland’ continue to have plainer clothing and food than the Medes.” Of course, Xenophon’s Cyrus himself adopts Median dress at Cyropaedia 8.1.40-41 and persuades his court to follow suit. See also Charles 2012:261-62n18.

    • What repetitions and patterns appear in Xenophon’s syntax and style in Cyropaedia 8.8? Are they rhetorically effective? Do these repetitions seem indicative of Xenophon’s style, or might they fuel doubts over the authenticity of Cyropaedia 8.8?

    • Notice ἀλλὰ μὴν καὶ. This is the fifth consecutive paragraph beginning with some variation of ἀλλὰ καὶ (ἀλλὰ μὴν καὶ, ἀλλὰ μὴν καὶ, ἀλλά τοι καὶ, ἀλλὰ καὶ, ἀλλὰ μὴν καὶ). Goodwin 1879:165-66 complains that “this mechanical style is perfectly in keeping with the painful dulness [sic] of the ὡς δ᾽ ἀληθῆ λέγω, ἄρξομαι διδάσκων” of Cyropaedia 8.8.2, and that “the writer of the Epilogue, from section 8 of it to the end of 26, balances his sentences between a πρόσθεν μὲν and a νῦν γε μὴν or their equivalents.” Goodwin dismisses the style of Cyropaedia 8.8 as “far removed from the ἀσφέλεια [smooth simplicity] of Xenophon.” Against this view, Gautier 1911:130n1 is adamant that linguistic reasons should remove any doubts over the authenticity of Cyropaedia 8.8. Gautier’s position is more recently taken up by Gera 1993:300n78, who argues that “the only unusual linguistic feature of the epilogue is the frequent use of the particle μὴν.”

    • How effective is Xenophon’s use of carpets placed beneath beds as an exemplum of delicacy (θρύψις)? Like several of the exempla above, is this anecdote a nearly comedic piece of rhetorical declamation?

    • The charge here seems hyperbolic, even by the standards of the epilogue. Nevertheless, the passage does serve Xenophon’s agenda of effeminizing the Persians in their delicacy and luxury. While I by no means suggest any direct filiations, we might observe a cultural analogue in Hans Christian Andersen “The Princess and the Pea.” In Andersen’s fairy tale, sensitivity in sleep is established as a marker of royalty, femininity, and delicacy after the heroine spends a sleepless night atop twenty mattresses and twenty featherbeds, with a single pea beneath. Regardless, Gray 2011:258‘s comment, quoted above, that “this is the almost comic kind of abuse we expect in such a rhetorical set-piece” certainly applies to Cyropaedia 8.8.16. We might draw a connection with Aeschylus Agamemnon 783-974, which associates carpets on the floor with despotism.

    • Even if Xenophon does not explicitly signal the Persians of old and their education, how does this description of bodily sensitivity to temperature recall and respond to Cyropaedia 1.2?

    • Xenophon continues to expound on Persian delicacy, again in direct response to the Persian educational system of Cyropaedia 1.2 (Note the return to ἀλλὰ μὴν καὶ). At Cyropaedia 1.2.10, Xenophon suggests that the hunt is excellent training for war, since it accustoms the ephebes to endure both heat and cold (καὶ γὰρ πρῲ ἀνίστασθαι ἐθίζει καὶ ψύχη καὶ θάλπη ἀνέχεσθαι). Now the Persians do not suffer any extremes in temperature, which, read against Cyropaedia 1.2.10, renders them unfit for war. This Orientalizing view is consistent with the Hippocratic Airs, Waters, Places (see especially Hippocratic Airs, Waters, Places section 16), which combines environmental determinism with political and cultural stereotypes. Airs, Waters, Places argues that men in Asia are less courageous and warlike than their European counterparts, both because Asians live in comfort without suffering extremes in temperature and because they live in servility under monarchic rule.

    • Does Xenophon’s claim that the Persians now create human shade, whereas rocks and trees used to suffice, criticize more than their delicacy?

    • Does Xenophon simply use ἐκπώματα as metonymy for material wealth, or does he place special significance upon this particular object and the specific social relationships around it?

    • Elsewhere in Cyropaedia, Xenophon uses ἐκπώματα to discuss ethics and wealth. For instance, at Cyropaedia 8.4.14, Gobryas discusses the prospect of choosing a suitor for his daughter from among Cyrus’ aides. Gobryas asserts that in order to judge a man’s character, it is important to see how a man handles success as well as misfortune, since good fortune inspires arrogance (ὕβρις) in most men. In the following section ( Cyropaedia 8.8.15), Hystapas responds in praise, saying that if Gobryas “should have many such things to say, he should find me his daughter’s suitor much sooner than if he should display to me many ἐκπώματα.” Later in the banquet ( Cyropaedia 8.8.24), Cyrus gives Artabazus a golden goblet (ἔκπωμα) as a gift. Artabazus complains ( Cyropaedia 8.8.27) that the ἔκπωμα is not of the same gold as a gift Cyrus had given Chrystantas, and says he will refuse to die and wait decades if necessary for Cyrus to give a gift of equal value. See also Cyropaedia 5.2.20, in which Gobryas proclaims to Cyrus that the Persians are of greater worth than his own people on ethical grounds, even though they, the Assyrians, have more wealth (ἐκπώματα) than the Persians. Thus, ἐκπώματα are not only symbols of wealth and material success but also of the arrogance, greed, competition, and jealousy they inspire. On ἐκπώματα as symbols of wealth, see also Cyropaedia 5.5.39 and Cyropaedia 8.3.33-35.

    • How does this section respond to Cyropaedia 4.3.15-23?

    • At Cyropaedia 4.3.15-23, the Persian Peers vote to become like centaurs by making it shameful to go anywhere on foot (See Johnson 2005). Cyropaedia 8.8.19 therefore perverts the Peers’ lone legislative act. Nadon 2001:107, Nadon 1996:366n12 argues that here at Cyropaedia 8.8.19, “the Peers’ first (and last) act of legislation, enacted at the suggestion of Cyrus, serves to render them unfit to live again in Persia,” because “Persia is a poor and mountainous country where it is difficult to ride and raise horses ( Cyropaedia 1.3.3).”

      The passage may represent yet another small point of inconsistency in the epilogue, since Cyropaedia 4.3.23 specifies that this practice of going everywhere on horseback continues into the present day (ἔτι καὶ νῦν). In this case, the basic practice does remain unchanged; it is only the motive that has ceased to continue, since luxury, not dignity, has become the primary motive.

    • What is at stake in this alleged shift from a landowner-based cavalry to a cavalry that incorporates non-landowners from service professions and how might this reflect Xenophon’s politics as they pertain to Greece?

    • Xenophon suggests that recruiting a cavalry from men who work in service professions creates an effeminate and inefficacious military. On the surface, Xenophon suggests that such men, who have not received the Persian military education, do not have the training necessary to become an elite military force. Class-based concerns may also lie beneath the surface of Xenophon’s rhetoric. Xenophon seems to bemoan the possibility that status and power of the Peers are threatened. As Newell 1983:896 writes of Cyropaedia 1.2.15, “access to the lifelong curriculum in public service is in fact restricted from the outset to those families who can afford to enroll their children in it…. The citizen class is in fact a caste…”

    • Why does Xenophon decry financial gain as a primary motivation for military service?

    • The vilification of military service for financial gain seems either to ignore Xenophon’s own experience with Greek mercenaries or to suggest that even mercenaries should be guided in their service by more than remuneration. Xenophon may here tap into Greek aristocratic disdain for wage labor, evident in both Plato and Aristotle. See, for instance, Balme 1984.

      Likewise, Xenophon may here comment on contemporary shifts in Greek military culture, which, traditionally, had relied on an unpaid citizen militia. During Xenophon’s own lifetime, Athens paid rowers in the fleet and garrison guards, while Phocis utilized mercenaries in the Sacred War. Demosthenes provides a possible analogue, since in Demosthenes Philippic 1 the orator calls upon the Athenians to cease their reliance on mercenaries. In light of this close association between Greek citizenship and military service, Xenophon’s criticism of the Persian elite’s reluctance to fight on their own behalf may also be directed at contemporary Greeks in the 4th century.

    • Is there a tension between Cyrus’ endorsement of cosmetics ( Cyropaedia 8.1.41) and Xenophon’s disparaging remarks here about the making of men who apply makeup (τοὺς κοσμητάς) into knights?

    • Why would the movement of friends be restricted within Persia?

    • The notion that enemies are free to roam Persian territory restates Xenophon’s claim at Cyropaedia 8.8.7. However, although Xenophon has repeatedly emphasized that a sedentary lifestyle has become customary within contemporary Persia, he does not explicitly explain why Persians and their allies have difficulty with domestic travel. Perhaps it for fear of betrayal ( Cyropaedia 8.8.2-3) and property seizure ( Cyropaedia 8.8.6). However, it seems more likely that Xenophon means that friends’ progress will be interrupted by social niceties and perpetual feasting, whereas those without obligations of philia will be more free to move around.

    • Which previous sections of Cyropaedia does Xenophon invoke? Can we accept Xenophon’s overview of Cyrus’ military reforms as grounded in historical fact?

    • Xenophon invokes Cyrus’ reform of the Persian infantry detailed at Cyropaedia 2.1.9-10. On these reforms and their possible relation to the Spartan military, see Nadon 2001:100-08 and Christesen 2006. Nick Sekunda 1992:46-47 notes that, at Cyropaedia 6.3.21-26, Xenophon attributes “an imaginative Persian order of battle” to Cyrus, but that it is uncertain whether “this formation is a pure invention of Xenophon’s, or whether it reflects contemporary Persian practice.” Charles 2012:265-66 takes this passage Cyropaedia 8.8.21-22 as evidence to contradict “Herodotus’ apparent assertions at Herodotus Histories 9.62.3 and Herodotus Histories 9.63.2 that all Achaemenid infantry fought unarmoured, or at least without the sort of equipment associated with hoplites.” Sekunda 1992:22 notes that Achaemenid sculptures show that Persian cavalry wore heavy armor.

    • Does Xenophon ascribe the poor state of Persian infantry to failures in leadership? Failures in military education? Failures in moral education?

    • Contemporary Persians have the military equipment they need, but are no longer willing to use them in hand to hand combat (εἰς χεῖρας δὲ ἰέναι οὐδ᾽ οὗτοι ἐθέλουσιν). Note that Xenophon recalls the list of equipment detailed at Cyropaedia 1.2.9 (οἱ πεζοὶ ἔχουσι μὲν γέρρα καὶ κοπίδας καὶ σαγάρεις). The perversion of surviving old Persian customs through softness, effeminacy, and laziness continues with military affairs. Xenophon hyperbolically suggests that the Persian army no longer uses its own weapons. While Xenophon seems to impugn the soldiers themselves for being unwilling, we must remember that the children no longer learn these skills through hunting in a military education directed by the ruler ( Cyropaedia 8.8.13). Thus, while the infantry soldiers may be unwilling to fight, Xenophon also suggests that they have not been given the opportunity to learn how to fight.

    • Can we draw any connections between Xenophon’s caricature of Persian military affairs and certain contemporary characterizations of modern affairs in the Near East?

    • Is Xenophon’s attribution of scythed chariots to Cyrus historically accurate?

    • Xenophon here recalls Cyrus’ implementation of scythed chariots at Cyropaedia 6.127-30. Arrian Tactica 19.4 corroborates Xenophon’s attribution of the origin of scythed chariots to Cyrus.

      However, Nefiodkin 2004 argues that Xenophon transposes Persian battle customs of his own time onto the conquests and innovations of Cyrus. According to Nefiodkin, scythed chariots likely did not appear until the 5th century BC, sometime after the battles of Marathon and Plataea.

      Xenophon does appear to represent the function of these chariots accurately (τοὺς εἰς τὰ ὅπλα ἐμβαλοῦντας). Nefiodkin 2004:372: “The scythed chariots were invented just to break a close and numerous battle-array of heavy-armed infantrymen. Against such infantrymen cavalry charges were unsuccessful.”

    • How is Xenophon reworking Cyrus into his narrative in the closing sections of Cyropaedia 8.8? What rhetorical and/or structural purpose does this return to Cyrus serve?

    • While the then/now dichotomy has structured the majority of Cyropaedia 8.8, note that this section marks that third straight section that explicitly names Cyrus and his reforms, whereas Cyrus is named only once ( Cyropaedia 8.8.15) from Cyropaedia 8.8.4 to Cyropaedia 8.8.21. As the Cyropaedia concludes, the author of the palinode more tightly binds the decline of Persia to his main subject of Cyrus. Depending on how positively or negatively one reads the whole of the Cyropaedia, Xenophon either draws binary contrast between Cyrus’ accomplishments and Persian decline (thereby celebrating Cyrus) or binds Cyrus to this decline (assigning some degree of culpability to him).

    • How, if at all, are the dynamics of Persian education at play in the methods Xenophon claims Cyrus used to command dangerous chariot charges? Does Cyrus’ own psychological makeup described at Cyropaedia 1.2.1 inform Cyrus’ leadership methods detailed here at Cyropaedia 8.8.24?

    • At Cyropaedia 1.2.12, Xenophon describes how important competition for prizes and recognition was to the education of Persian ephebes. Likewise, the first description of Cyrus’ psychological profile tells us that he was ‘most loving of honor, so that he endured every labor and faced every danger for the sake of winning praise” (φιλοτιμότατος, ὥστε πάντα μὲν πόνον ἀνατλῆναι, πάντα δὲ κίνδυνον ὑπομεῖναι τοῦ ἐπαινεῖσθαι ἕνεκα, Cyropaedia 1.2.1). This fierce competitiveness is on display here in Cyropaedia 8.8.24, since Cyrus uses the spirit of competition, prizes as rewards, and the opportunity to win praise as key elements of his leadership methods on the battlefield. Of course, not all of Cyrus’ motivators are positive; at Cyropaedia 6.3.27 Cyrus orders his officers to punish soft men and to execute any who turn around in battle.

    • What does the juxtaposition of Cyrus’ methods of inspiring his troops with the claim that contemporary Persian commanders do not know their own troops (οὐδὲ γιγνώσκοντες) attempt to teach about leadership? Does this lesson apply even outside of a military context?

    • Xenophon suggests that leaders must not be too distant from those under their command and it is important to know one’s subordinates. A personal relationship can inspire effort and action more effectively than a command structure alone. And positive reinforcement, reward, and recognition remain powerful motivators. This idea that proximity is necessary for mimesis, and through it the transmission of virtue from ruler to ruled, is one of the important problems considered throughout the Cyropaedia, and the main problem for Cyrus when he assumes Median style kingship and secludes himself from his subjects.

      The legacy of Xenophon’s observation can be seen everywhere from managerial strategies in the workplace to electoral politics. On the power of reward and recognition for building loyalty and yielding results as a leader, see Reichheld 2000 (or most any article or manual on leadership).

    • If this is too fanciful for belief and borders on satire, what is the rhetorical power of Cyropaedia 8.8.25?

    • Xenophon’s concluding picture of Persian military ineptitude descends into farce, with the image of charging chariots left empty both by their drivers’ incompetence and cowardice. Farcical and embellished though Cyropaedia 8.8.25 may be, Cyropaedia 8.8 is a crescendo building to this point and Cyropaedia 8.8.25 represents the apex of the argument. Declining morals and public involvement, the perversion of education and customs, effeminate delicacy, and the admission of members of the service classes to the cavalry have finally brought the Persian army to the point of collapse. Moreover, that the apogee of ineptitude involves chariots and horses, rather than the cavalry, serves to eradicate the military reforms initiated by Cyrus: Persians cannot keep their mounts long enough to engage in battle.

    • In his account of Persian decline, especially in military affairs, Xenophon makes no mention of the Persian Wars. Why?

    • Tuplin 2013:72-73: “no one would accept that immediately post-Cyrean Persia was a place of morally and physically enfeebled military impotence. Mainland Greeks did quell the forces of Darius and Xerxes, but no one wanted to call those forces negligible. Everyone knew the apogee of Persian power came after Cyrus and Xenophon felt bound to acknowledge this, albeit indirectly and without mentioning Darius or Xerxes. Part of Cyrus’ success as a leader was creating an empire and that is worth little if the empire did not persist. The ‘up-to-the-present-day’ annotations mark this persistence.”

    • To what does Xenophon refer when he claims the Persians no longer enter into any war without Greeks and how does this signal his own experience?

    • Whidden 2008:43: “By the end of the Cyropaedia the once manly and brave Persians of Cyrus’s boyhood have been replaced by the womanly denizens of Cyrus’s imperial household who are afraid to fight and who must therefore pay mercenaries to do their fighting for them.”

      As Trundle 2004:6 notes (citing Tuplin 1992:67-70), “the Persians had used the Greeks in a variety of roles, such as garrison troops and bodyguards, in the fifth century.” While they may not necessarily have been mercenaries, Trundle 2004:5 suggests that “there is some evidence that Greeks found service in the Near East with the Assyrian and Babylonian monarchs of the seventh century BC.” Xenophon Anabasis, of course, details Xenophon’s firsthand experience serving with Greek mercenaries fighting in internal Persian affairs. Persian employment of Greek mercenaries increased in the fourth century, especially during the Great Satraps Revolt of the 360s, which would have been contemporaneous with Cyropaedia’s composition. Trundle 2004:7: “The collapse of Persian imperial unity led to the prolific employment of Greeks either to uphold the authority of the Great King or to defend a part of his empire from him.” Likewise, Persians and Athenians allied against Sparta at Cnidus in 394 BC.

    • When Xenophon claims he has accomplished his task (ἐγὼ μὲν δὴ οἶμαι ἅπερ ὑπεθέμην ἀπειργάσθαι μοι) does he refer only to Cyropaedia 8.8 or to the whole of Cyropaedia?

    • Xenophon’s conclusion is short and abrupt. On the surface, the conclusion seems explicitly to refer to the mission of Cyropaedia 8.8, since showing that Xenophon’s Persian contemporaries are worse than those in Cyrus’ day responds directly to Cyropaedia 8.8.2. The main body of Cyropaedia, after all, has its own mission statement: to show what made Cyrus such a great leader of men ( Cyropaedia 1.1.6). That the conclusion resolves only the thesis of 8.8 may well lend credence to those who read the epilogue as a later addition.

      However, some who accept Cyropaedia 8.8 as authentic (or at least treat it as an integral part of the work), argue that the whole of Cyropaedia is critical of Cyrus and the project of empire and that the epilogue therefore must color our reading of the main body of Cyropaedia (for instance Newell 1983). In this reading, Cyropaedia 8.8.27 does respond to the implicit agenda running throughout the work and therefore serves as a perfectly apt conclusion. For instance, Whidden 2007:566: “Cyrus’ imperial enterprise, which at first seems so noble and beautiful, is for Xenophon in the end quite ugly and morally repugnant.”

    • In addition to the positive lessons of leadership running throughout the whole of Cyropaedia, why might the founders of the United States have been interested in Cyropaedia 8.8?

    • Do debates surrounding Cyropaedia’s epilogue and Xenophon’s overall program recall other movements in classical scholarship?

    • Gray 2011:246-90 frames her chapter “Readings of Cyropaedia” as a rebuttal of darker readings of Cyropaedia. Gray 2011:247: “Scholars once recognized that the epilogue confirmed the surface praise of Cyrus, but this has given way to the impression that the epilogue produces a dissonance that qualifies or contradicts the apparent praise of Cyrus in the preface and the main body of the text.” Gray notes that these darker, ironic readings of Cyrus depend on the epilogue and she traces them back to Leo Strauss (see Dorion 2001). Though she herself reads Cyropaedia as positive in its portrayal of Cyrus, Gray notes a trend in modern scholarship, which reads Cyropaedia as critical of Cyrus despite Xenophon’s surface praise throughout the text, wide fourth-century Greek praise of Cyrus (see Gray 2011:262n24), and the overall history of Cyropaedia’s reception.

      While it is by no means the only analogue, this debate in modern Cyropaedia scholarship evokes trends in Virgilian criticism. Like Cyropaedia, Virgil Aeneid gives surface praise to great heroes (Aeneas and Augustus) who perform great deeds and build an empire. As Kallendorf 1999:391 summarizes, “the traditional approach” to the Aeneid “is basically optimistic: Aeneas serves as the ideal hero of ancient Rome, the Aeneid celebrates the achievements of Augustus and his age, and the poem endures as a monument to the values of order and civilization.” However, some recent scholars have offered darker readings of the Aeneid, arguing that the text gives veiled criticism to Aeneas, Augustus, and the promise of empire. Collectively, these more pessimistic readings of the Aeneid are often referred to as the “Harvard school” of Virgilian criticism. Kallendorf 1999:391: “The new approach… is profoundly pessimistic, for it finds that the Aeneid speaks in two voices… those of personal loss as well as public achievement. That is, the poem’s successes are accompanied by failure—of Aeneas, of the Augustan order, and of human nature in general and its ability to attain its ideals.” With the substitution of proper names, Kallendorf’s overview of the Harvard school and its relation to previous Virgilian scholarship might easily describe recent readings of Cyropaedia.

    • While this passage may well be hyperbolic in its rhetoric, Xenophon appears both to draw upon and manipulate Persian realia. A sculptural relief at Persepolis portrays a seated Xerxes with attendants holding parasols over the king to protect against the sun. As Margaret Root 1979:285-88 and M. C. Miller 1992:93-94 have shown, parasol-bearers (likely eunuchs) were an important part of Achaemenid imperial iconography. However, Root dates this imagery to the time of Cyrus, which throws into doubt Xenophon’s attribution of parasol-bearers as a maker post-Cyrus Persian decline (Miller doubts the attribution of the epilogue to Xenophon).

      Miller 1992:105 argues that, in Athens, the parasol originated as a status symbol for the elite leisure class and functioned as a marker of citizenship. In the classical period, the parasol became “the feminine implement par excellance,” which highlighted and differentiated the social relationship between mistress and slave.

      We might also read some serious criticism of the Persians and their empire. The comfort of the elite depends upon the domination of others. A delicate, effeminized ruling class uses other humans as technological tools. If we read the Cyropaedia as a critique of imperialism, Cyropaedia 8.8.17 may well suggest that a dehumanized populace is a dark part of Cyrus’ legacy. This reading highlights a great irony of Athenian democracy, that male citizenry of Athens owned slaves and depended upon the labor of a majority population (slaves and women) excluded from the polity. See especially Chanter 2011:vii.

    • As Oost 1977:233n19 observes, Xenophon’s Cyrus encourages the habit of wearing makeup at Cyropaedia 8.1.41, but here “Xenophon also regards using such devices on the part of men as evidence of the decline of the Persians (effeminacy) in his own day.” Allison Glazebrook 2009:236-37 argues that Greek culture associated makeup around the eyes (such as Cyrus’ adopts) with prostitutes and disreputable women. Glazebrook goes on to argue that, in Xenophon Oeconomicus (and in Xenophon Memorabilia 2.1), Xenophon connects cosmetic adornment with laziness and deception. By eschewing makeup, Ischomachus’ wife becomes associated with sophrosune and can be a boon to, rather than a drain on, her household. In Cyropaedia’s palinode, cosmetics are indicative of decline and effeminacy. On makeup as a tool of deception in the Oeconomicus, see also Azoulay 2004:161. If to wear makeup is to project indolence, these are not the men a state should advance to positions of military leadership. Makeup continues to be a tool to effeminize the Persians in popular culture, for instance in the 2006 film, 300.”

      Also, note the rhetorical variation. After numerous repetitive and formulaic introductions, Xenophon begins Cyropaedia 8.8.20 with a rhetorical question, the only question in Cyropaedia 8.8.

    • Problematic racist Orientalizing discourses continue into the present day. Military failures in the Near East are still on occasion cast as failures in character. See, for instance, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s recent suggestion that Iraqi forces lack the will to fight.

    • In her blog post on this site, Caroline Winterer 2013 explains why the U.S. founders turned to the Cyropaedia for lessons on leadership, even though they were themselves revolting against sole rule. Thomas Jefferson and others active in early American politics were interested in the connections between ethics and empire. In addition to positive leadership skills represented in the person of Cyrus, Cyropaedia’s epilogue offers moral and ethical explanations for the decline of a great empire. The founders sought to establish a new kind of empire and this necessarily meant avoiding the mistakes of historical empires. This approach to nation building is on display, for instance, in Joel Barlow Columbiad (1807), a classically inspired epic poem about the early United States (Barlow was Jefferson’s friend and co-translator of Volney’s Ruins). Cyropaedia 8.8 fits neatly into late eighteenth-century intellectual conversations about imperialism.

      Jefferson was himself a translator of Volney The Ruins or Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires (1791), which sought to explain the decline and fall of great ancient empires through ethical failures. Cyropaedia’s epilogue offers a similar program and may have been a source for Volney. The legacy of Cyropaedia 8.8 may well be felt in Volney Ruins Chapter 12, which describes Volney’s contemporary Turks in Orientalizing terms very similar to Xenophon’s account of Persian decline:

      “You were sober and hardy; your enemies timid and enervated; you were expert in battle, your enemies unskillful; your leaders were experienced, your soldiers warlike and disciplined. Booty excited ardor, bravery was rewarded, cowardice and insubordination punished, and all the springs of the human heart were in action. Thus you vanquished a hundred nations, and a mass of conquered kingdoms compounded an immense empire.

      But other customs have succeeded; and in the reverses attending them, the laws of nature have still exerted their force. After devouring your enemies, your cupidity, still insatiable, has reacted on itself, and, concentrated on your own bowels, has consumed you.

      Having become rich, you have quarreled for partition and enjoyment, and disorder hath arisen in every class of society.”

      Volney goes on to explain how “the Sultan, intoxicated with grandeur” has developed innumerable vices and, “meeting no obstacle to his appetites, he has become a depraved being.” Volney outlines the new ignorance of a ruling class that rejects traditional education and appetite for luxury, including the rejection of “the frugal table, plain clothing” and the perverse reliance on fine tapestries and vases.

    • Oaths played a fundamental role in Greek religion and are treated as sacrosanct throughout Greek literature. As Jan N. Bremmer 1994:12, Bremmer 1994:40, Bremmer 1994:75 notes, Greek heroes were charged with the protection of oaths, sacrifices were made at the swearing of oaths, and Greek men and women swore oaths by patron gods and goddesses, for instance Zeus Horkios and Demeter. In Euripides Medea 160-161, Medea invokes Themis and Artemis as protectors of oaths, and Zeus Horkios is repeatedly called upon as the divine patron of oaths (for instance Euripides Medea 169-70, Euripides Medea 207-08, Euripides Medea 516, Euripides Medea 1352), suggesting that Jason’s violation of their wedding vows is a religious transgression. Thus, Xenophon taps into deep religious and literary traditions when he treats oaths as foremost among “divine things.” The importance of oaths to Xenophon and his intended audience is evident from its structural position in the argument. It is no accident that in Xenophon’s account of Persian moral decline, the sacred breaking of oaths occupies the primary position as Exhibit A. In contrast to oath breaking as emblematic of Persian decline, Xenophon Hellenica 2.4.43 closes with the swearing (and keeping) of oaths to mark the restoration of Athenian democracy.

      To the Persians, oaths were perhaps even more sacred than to the Greeks. The Lie is the essence of evil in Darius’ epigraphic regime. Darius’ tomb inscription at Behistun repeatedly vilifies liars and makes proclamations of Darius’ honesty. An inscription of Darius’ at Persepolis reads: “Saith Darius the king: May Ahuramazda bear me aid, with the gods of the royal house; and may Ahuramazda protect this country from a (hostile army), from famine, from the Lie! Upon this country may there not come an army, nor famine, nor the Lie” ( DPd, trans. Kent 1950:136). Herodotus Histories 1.136 reports that Persian boys learned to tell the truth as a central part of their education. Whereas the Greeks admired figures like Odysseus and Themistocles for their skill in cleverly lying to enemies, truth-telling was sacred in Persian religion and culture. Knowing this, Xenophon places telling the truth at the center of Persian religious matters. Also, in Cyropaedia 8.8.3, Xenophon essentially concedes that the Greek commanders of the Anabasis fell into Tissaphernes’ trap because of the Persians reputation for oath-keeping.

      Finally, this section represents one of Cyropaedia 8.8’s inconsistencies, since Xenophon reports at Cyropaedia 8.1.24 that what Cyrus established concerning the gods continues even to this day in the Persian court (here Xenophon is discussing religious worship and custom, rather than oaths).

    • Gray 2011:246-47 reminds us that “Xenophon is referring to the execution of Clearchus and Proxenus and the others as described in Xenophon Anabasis 2.5.” As Sage 1995:172 observes, Xenophon here specifically references his own experience in Cyrus the Younger’s expedition against Artaxerxes.

      Tuplin 2013:72
      uses this event to date the Persian moral decline for which Xenophon argues: “When one reads at the start of the palinode that the Greeks in the Younger Cyrus’ mercenary army in 401 would never have been fatally deceived by Tissaphernes’ perjury [see Xenophon Anabasis 2.5] had it not been for the reputation of Persians for keeping their word, one realises that the degenerate Persia of the palinode is a post-401 phenomenon.” Thus, this passage seems to contradict the εὐθὺς of Cyropaedia 8.8.2; while some degree of stasis may have been immediate upon Cyrus’ death, the social fabric of Persia takes more than a century to crumble in its entirety. Cyrus’ diatribe against hard and soft lands at the conclusion of Herodotus Histories 9.122 offers a parallel notion of Persian decline.

  • Joseph Wilson (16 comments; 1237 words; 1% of total commentary)

    • Perhaps it would be better not to think in terms of the failure of types of government, but rather failure of the polis system itself – after all, the revived democracy of the Athenians restored a credible semblance of empire in a comparatively short time – but in the end, they were still a polis, with all the logistical as well as political liabilities that entails.  I think Isocrates concerns himself very much with precisely such limitations.

    • The possibility of reading  thauma with a sense of irony here is intriguing, especially in reference to Cyropaedia 1.1.6.  I have wondered if this work is really as laudatory as it is usually believed, and would be glad for any direction in this area that anyone could give me. 

    • A brief comment on the success/failure of the Achaemenids – the direct experience of the Athenians, and of Xenophon himself, is that they were at their best noble but unsuccessful imperialists, at worst (the Peace of Antalcidas and the attempt to bribe their way to a favorable outcome of the Peloponnesian War) meddlesome and ignoble.  See my other post raising the prospect that this work is not as laudatory as one may think.

    • I think that the view that X. is pro-Cyrus and early Persia is predicated on his supposedly pro-Spartan sympathies, but that the argument becomes circular when those who argue that X is unusually pro-Spartan cite the Cyropaedia.  I am not at all certain that I am right, but it might prove fruitful to examine.

    • The principle difficulty with determining Plato’s view on anything is his use of mythology/poetry to illustrate his points.  In the end, we are never certain if he is offering practical advice or commenting on his poetic predecessors – as I argued in a couple of papers I gave on the myth of Er, he is ever backtracking to his war on poetry – only in Plato Laws does he finally approach something like a practical approach to a realizable state.

    • Totally aside, I taught The Education of Henry Adams to students at Ablay Khan University in Kazakhstan while I was doing a Fulbright there – I never really saw it in terms of the Cyropaedia. for the simple reason that Cyrus grows in his acceptance of responsibilities, while Henry Adams seems to delight in a sort of seventies-cliche ironic detachment – his education is almost to no purpose, save his own private one – for the record, my students wondered, if all Americans thought and acted as Henry Adams did, how Americans ever accomplished anything.

    • Sorry, I hadn’t seen your post before this – certainly,it is difficult, given the pure mass of work in Plato and the time over which the works were composed, to detect a perfectly consistent viewpoint on virtually anything – I agree that his attacks on poetry are on substance,  rather than form, and in the end he can tolerate Homer better than he can the tragedians.  I am merely stating that Plato Republic cannot stand up as a manual to the extent that Plato Laws can, given the preoccupation P. seems to feel with the challenges raised by his poetic predecessors.  Plato Statesman presents an entirely different challenge, as you well point out.

    • The division of labor between military and civil officials looks astonishingly Roman – can any of the Near Eastern experts tell me if this is found in earlier empires (Hittite, Assyrian, or Babylonian, particularly)/

    • The problem is that both read like morality plays – and in the absence of firm evidence, in the end you are left with probabilities – H’s account has always seemed the more plausible, but as you point out, the truth is probably somewhere else.  As to  Fornara and Woodman,, I know both sources – you can find it all better in many places in Syme, with the added advantage of better writing and a sense of humor.

    • It seems to me likely to be authentically Xenophon’s, as it seems to conform with his personal experience of the Persians in the retreat of the Ten Thousand, as well as his experience as an Athenian with Persian attempts at bribery and bullying from 420 or so to the Peace of Antalcidas, and the general Greek experience of almost uniform success in combat against the Persians for over 100 years.  In fact, one might argue from a Greek perspective that Xenophon would have been forced to write this palinode in order to explain the difference between the Cyrus the Great he imagines and the Persians the Greeks actually knew. 

    • I cannot decide which is more generous – “draw” or “fought” in reference to Artaxerxes 1 – he spent most of his time funding proxies, as I recall.  Darius II waited for the Syracusans to do the hard work of beating the Athenians, then went to work on the Ionians, and I seriously doubt that X. had any good opinion of Artaxerxes II, for obvious reasons.

    • You both seem only to articulate my point, that it was Persian money and strategy, rather than valor, that allowed them to do as well as they did – and the Spartan withdrawal from Asia Minor had as much to do with Sparta betraying the Greek cause as Persian victory – and an oft-overlooked aspect of the battle at Salamis in Cyprus is that the Athenians, in fact, did win.  Only the misadventure of Egypt is a secure “loss” and tells more of the overreach of the Athenians than of Persian capabilities.  As for the “cakewalk” of the retreat, Persian treachery and the geography of empire had more to do with that than any martial capacity of the Persians.

    • Much of your argument seems to depend on accepting the authenticity of the Peace of Kallias – do you?

    • I think that it does – it makes what may be merely strategic exhaustion into a diplomatic victory that evanesces upon inspection.  As for the rest, from Thermopylae to Knidos, the Persians won no significant battles outside of finishing off a stranded Greek army in Egypt – and at Thermopylae, they enjoyed an almost ridiculous numerical advantage, while at Knidos, they won the battle with an Athenian admiral. (I omit Cunaxa as a special case, since the Greeks were clearly not defeated, but Artaxerxes did win the battle.  Like it or not, I doubt that any Greek hoplite thought of his Persian counterpart as much of a threat, and that deterioration of martial vigor required explanation from X.  As to strategic or diplomatic advantages, the Persians did have the advantage that they could play “divide and annoy” with the Greeks, which points to the inferiority of the polis system and X.’s  possible dissatisfaction with it that I pointed out in an earlier post.  But even the King’s Peace didn’t achieve a great deal for the Persians.

    • I cannot agree that the Persians didn’t look weak, except in retrospect – there were certainly those who overrated their strength, of course.  I doubt that Xenophon would have been one of them, but in the end, that is also an unanswerable question.

  • Lee E. PattersonLee E. Patterson (8 comments; 613 words; 0.49% of total commentary)

    • Steven, for what it’s worth, Simo Parpola 2003:350 also argues that Xenophon modeled his hero on Cyrus the Younger, as suggested by a biographical sketch of the latter at  Anabasis 1.9.2-28, which “reads like an abbreviated Cyropaedia.”  For Parpola, making Cyrus the Younger a source for much of the material in the Cyropaedia accounts for the accuracy of many of the details about Persian government and so on.  Parpola does not, however, cite your book (Hirsch 1985).

    • For what it’s worth, I wrote a fair amount about this in my book (Patterson 2010, Kinship Myth).  I don’t have page numbers at hand, but it was in the chapter on Herodotus Histories 7.150, about Xerxes’ overtures to Argos.  The link is attested in Herodotus, Hellanicus, and of course Aeschylus’ PersiansHecataeus may have dealt with it as well (if not invented it), but no surviving fragments attest to that.

    • How do we solve the problem of the presence of “Indians” so far west of their homeland throughout the Cyropaedia?

    • Not only are recurring references to “Indians” problematic, but so is the geography Xenophon applies to them.  At Cyropaedia 1.1.4 and Cyropaedia 1.5.2, he seems to situate “India” in or near eastern Anatolia or northwestern Iran.  Moreover, the “Chaldaeans,” not from southern Mesopotamia but a group northwest of Armenia (as I explained in a different comment), traveled to India often and served as mercenaries for the Indian king ( Cyropaedia 3.2.25, 27).  According to Simo Parpola 2003:342, Assyrian records suggest that India is in fact Andia, “a country SE of Lake Urmia (on the border of Urartu/Armenia).”  Xenophon’s own passage through Armenia was well to the west, so he may not have known about the Andians and inherited a tradition that spoke of “Indians.” 

    • These “Chaldaeans” are not the same as the ones from southern Mesopotamia.  Strabo 12.3.18-19 identifies a people called Χαλδαῖοι, whom he situates toward Trapezus.  These would therefore be northwestern neighbors of the Armenians in Achaemenid times.  There is a brief discussion of this in Hewsen 1983:135-36.  (I’ll amend the reference page accordingly.)

    • Sorry about that, Sean!  REArm is the standard abbreviation for Revue des Études Arméniennes.

    • Is there any historical basis for Tigranes?

    • As I’ve discussed elsewhere in this commentary, there are bits of information here and there that support the proposition that the Cyropaedia can be used (if with caution) as a historical source.  Tigranes may be an example, though the evidence is somewhat uncertain.  There is a reference to a Tigranes in the Armenian historian Moses of Chorene 1.24 (dated by Robert Thomson to the eighth century CE, though others insist on the fifth century CE) who helped Cyrus overcome “the dominion of the Medes” (1.24, trans. Thomson).  However, Moses has added details to this figure that clearly belong to Tigranes the Great (c.95-c.55 BCE), who extended Armenia’s territory deep into Syria.  I can’t say where Moses got this specific information, but he is known to have based his vast history on many sources, Armenian, Byzantine, biblical, and even (though at second-hand) classical Greek.  So it’s possible that the ultimate source (probably several steps removed) of part of 1.24 is Xenophon himself (or rather Xenophon’s source).  (There may be more on this in Toumanoff 69n71 Studies in Christian Caucasian History, but Harvard’s copy is checked out, and I only have a few days left in my time here.) 

  • Lisa Hau (2 comments; 228 words; 0.18% of total commentary)

    • I am interested in the combination of seriousness and humour apparently advocated in this chapter. To what extent is this scene similar to Xenophon’s Symposium in that respect? It seems to me that the exchanges in the Symposium are sillier and at times more aggressive, so is Xenophon perhaps partly ridiculing (some of) the actors of the Symposium (as as been suggested by others, e.g. Higgins 1977:15-20, Xenophon the Athenian: 15-20; Tuplin 1993:177-178, The Failings of Empire: 177-178; and Hobden 2005:93-111, ‘Reading Xenophon’s Symposium’, Ramus 34: 93–111) , who are historical characters, while presenting his essentially fictional characters of the Cyropaedia as making up an ideal, utopian dinner party? Certainly the tone seems light-heartedly and good-naturedly joking throughout, and Cyrus makes sure that it all ends up being edifying as well, which presumably is Xenophon’s ideal combination at a symposium or other dinner party. 

    • Well, it is hard to know what Spartan communal messes were like, but the scenes here are certainly reminiscent of Xenophon Symposium, which is a fictionalised version of an Athenian symposium. It seems sensible to me that Xenophon modelled Cyrus’ dinners on the most civilised kind of socialised dining he knew, which was probably the Athenian version.

  • Megan Miller (1 comment; 90 words; 0.07% of total commentary)

  • mtamiolakiMelina Tamiolaki (12 comments; 965 words; 0.78% of total commentary)

    • Comment on Bibliography on June 24th, 2012

      Here, you could add the commentary of the Memorabilia by Dorion, which is now completed.

    • Comment on Bibliography on June 24th, 2012

      Concerning French (or French-speaking) bibliography, there is an issue of the journal Cahiers des études anciennes (2008) devoted to Xenophon. And the 2009 issue of the Etudes Platoniciennes, devoted to the image of Socrates, also contains studies on Xenophon. There is also the issue 2009 of the journal Polis, which is again devoted to Xenophon.

    • What are the connotations of the terms demokratia, oligarchia, monarchia, tyrannia in the Cyropaedia and in Xenophon in general? Xenophon seems to qualify the tradition about constitutional debates by blurring the distinction between the tyrant and the monarch. In traditional constitutional thought (Herodotus, Plato, Aristotle), tyranny is usually considered the degeneration of basileia/monarchia. Moreover, in the fifth-century B.C., tyranny is loaded with clearly negative overtones (see, for example, Raaflaub 2003:169-190, “Stick and Glue: The Function of Tyranny in Fifth-Century Athenian Democracy”, in K. Morgan, Popular Tyranny. Sovereignty and its Discontents in Ancient Greece, Austin/Texas). In the introduction of the Cyropaedia, however, Xenophon seems to imply that there might be also successful tyrants (οἱ μὲν… οἱ δὲ θαυμάζονται). This statement creates a link with the reflection of the Hiero, but also raises some questions concerning Cyrus: might he be at times more a tyrant than a king?

    • On this topic, see now Gray 2011 who emphasizes the mutual profit of ruling and ruled through leadership. See also, from a different perspective, focusing on the ambiguities of voluntary submission, Tamiolaki 2010:283-369, Liberté et esclavage chez les historiens grecs classiques, Paris, PUPS. Relevant here is also the concept of eunoia (more prominent in the Oeconomicus). See Romilly 1958:92-101, JHS 78.

    • The issue of thauma is indeed complex. There is a French dissertation devoted to this topic, but studies mainly the Homeric epics: C. Hunzinger 1997, Thauma: l’étonnement et l’émerveillement dans l’épopée grecque archaïque, Thèse, Paris IV-Sorbonne.

    • I find the question “why Xenophon thought about monarchy as the best form of government” very intriguing. Note also that in the first paragraph, Xenophon talks only about failures, when he mentions democracies and oligarchies, whereas for “those who tried to exercise tyranny”, he establishes a distinction between those who succeed and those who fail. This is peculiar, given that there was no great experience of monarchy (at least of the Persian type) in Greece, whereas there was an example of successful regime, democracy, in the sense that it was more stable than other regimes. Oligarchy, on the other hand, had indeed failed. So, would it be possible that Xenophon was in a sense encouraging Greeks to experiment on sth which was not tested before? And how far had he gone with this idea? Had he seriously considered its feasibility or was it more utopian thinking?

    • I cannot agree more: Cyropaedia should be studied in the context of the historiographical tradition, mainly Herodotus Histories, but also Thucydides Histories (see an interesting article by J. Lendon 2006:82-98, JHS 126; I think connections with Thucydides should be further explored). Moreover, concerning the Herodotean Constitutional Debate, as you mention elsewhere, the arguments used by Darius in favour of monrarchy are not compelling (I tried to show this in detail in an article published in Tamiolaki 2009:268-277, in the volume Antiphilesis, Stuttgart). But Xenophon seems to build upon the same argument in the proem of the Cyropaedia: he does not argue theoretically in favour of monarchy, he deduces its primacy from the “historical” reality, that is the success of Cyrus. Darius had done roughly the same thing in Herodotus. Might Xenophon elaborate the Herodotean Constituational Debate?

    • Undertaking all toils is the mark of the leader. It seems that Xenophon’s peculiarity lies in the fact that he distinguishes between the supreme toils, undertaken only by leaders and inferior ones, undertaken by the idiotai (cf. Cyropaedia 1.6.8, Cyropaedia 1.6.21, Cyropaedia 1.6.25). Toils thus are inscribed in a set of hierarchical relations that can be observed throughout the Cyropaedia.

    • The phrase ἔτι καὶ νῦν and its variants (ἔτι καὶ ἐς ἐμέ) is also often used by Herodotus Histories. Does Xenophon build upon this historiographical tradition?

    • To what extent Xenophon’s description of the Persian educational system match Herodotus’ description of Persian nomoi (usages) attested in the first book of his Histories? Is there direct influence? Or would we rather speak about standard notions, views circulating in Greece, about the Persian education system?

    • Dear David, I read the Cyropaedia along the same lines with you. I also find that there is a certain ambiguity in some (if not all) of Cyrus’ virtues (this was also the topic of my paper in the Xenophon conference, in 2009, if you remember). Another example of manipulation is, I think, Cyrus’ dialogue with his mother Mandane. But I also think that one could perhpas distinguish “different degrees of ambiguity or darkness” (some passages seem more markedly dark than others), and this explains, of course, the various interpretative possibilities that open up for the Cyropaedia and that render it less dull.

  • Melissa Funke (2 comments; 70 words; 0.06% of total commentary)

  • Melissa Huang (11 comments; 1193 words; 0.96% of total commentary)

    • My question is more related to the development of Greek civilization. I’d like to know more about the evolution of army and governance– which comes first, can you have one without the other, (because enforcement of law is dependent and is depended on by creation of laws)? Does Xenophon consider a successful monarch one who has a good military background? Do the people overthrow governments by violence, and does this relate to the idea of citizen-soldiers? I guess I’m asking about the social context and history in which Xenophon’s ideas of governance developed.

    • Would you consider making a “translation diary” a part of the website? I think it could have interesting implications for understanding how a particular student thinks (and struggles) through a translation. It could be made semi-private, or shared with certain people, and might offer an insight into what particular stumbling blocks are most common or what points on grammar should be addressed in the comments (if a student doesn’t know what a construction is, he/she might have trouble articulating, or even considering it, a question). This feature could also introduce discussion about how close a translator should keep to the original Greek, and how far one can reasonably stray. If we made one translation communal, we could keep polishing it and using it as a basis for further discussion on the specifics of word choice and what impacts such choices can have (both in Greek and in translation) on the overall meaning. Do you have any plans on expanding the site to include a communal translation, or are there practical concerns that aren’t occurring to me?

    • Thank you! Yes, I’ve been reading many of the comments on each chapter, and it is very helpful in placing the text in its proper historical/social context. I certainly find it an excellent space for discussion and expanding my worldview, and in that sense it is more than satisfactory, but the translation could add a whole new dimension. Thank you for fielding so many questions! This is an amazing project.

    • I wonder if the herdsmen are good leaders only because the herds are good followers? It’s true that Cyrus is the exception, but such successful individuals come so rarely that they might be the exceptions that prove the rule. It might also be worth investigating whether or not the success of a herdsman is due to the fact that he is an “other”– and thus unifies the herds when they realize their relative similarities (theoretically anyway– who knows how much sheep and oxen perceive). Do humans overthrow each other because our similarities inspire jealousy– “If Cyrus can be king, why can’t I?”

    • I think it’s interesting that Xenophon says that Cyrus changed his mind about the relative difficulty of ruling men. When he says “ἤν τις ἐπισταμένως ἐπισταμένως τοῦτο πράττῃ,” does he believe that Cyrus is introducing a new form of governance that can be sustained in the future? If it’s all down to skill, then Cyrus could potentially teach others this skill, and eventually the world could be united. However, two thousand five hundred years later, with very little unification in sight, we might wonder if men like Cyrus can pass on their knowledge of successful ruling. My question is, did Xenophon think that Cyrus’ rule could put an end to tribal warfare?

    • 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.

    • Did the transfer from childhood (learning about justice and societal interaction) to adolescence involve any sort of test, or was it simply based on age? Did each cohort graduate at the same time, and do we know if anyone was held back for further instruction?

    • It seems to me that a publicly funded hunt signifies the importance of the act in Persian society, as much as any group activity is for any society. How the collective operates in a hunt, as a simulation of war, is (apparently) central to Persian culture. Cyropaedia 1.2.12 also describes other group contests as well–  a side note: I find it intriguing that Xenophon doesn’t mention anything like Athenian theater, music, or poetry (as far as we have read, anyway). Is this an indication that Xenophon didn’t know about any such traditions, that they weren’t well-known, or that he simply didn’t find them relevant to his argument?

      Anyway, I think it is vital to have a sense of community in any nation to ensure cohesion– a feeling of shared history tends to help this. If each segment of an armed population (in particular restless young men) gets a chance to gain personal and national glory, revolution is less likely to occur. I think there have been studies on the phenomenon of young men becoming disenchanted when they are unemployed and unengaged in great numbers and taking to rebellion on a large scale. At any rate, with 12 (or however many there actually were) distinct tribes, who likely identified themselves as distinct, a collaborative effort was probably critical to maintaining unity.

    • Has anyone done any work on the amount of “cosmetics” and focus on appearances and the connection to marked and unmarked genders? Do we know if the Persian language in this period assigned male as marked? Typically, the marked gender (in most modern societies, female) is the one that puts more effort into appearance and cosmetics. Does the linguistic theory hold here?

    • 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.

    • 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.

  • Mostafa YounesieMostafa Younesie (3 comments; 158 words; 0.13% of total commentary)

    • It seems that there are distinctions between Latin and Greek namings about the whole title of Book. Besides, it would better to have an outline of the microhistory of this term in Xenophon and its counterpart too in order to appraoch the meaning (s) of it.

    • As a very complex and key word ἔννοιά (in Plato and Aristotle too), it seems that in Xenophon it can refer to the concrete and un-concrete realities that have come into his mind and he conceived them through reason and then can write about them. Thus they have passed through the judgement of reason and thereby can make his first proposition in the first paragraph of his book.

    • According to the spirit and texture of this paragraph, the approach of Professor Sandridge who consider this three words in a meaningful interconnected set seems justifiable. It means that tyrants are very clever (in distinction of wise) and lucky (in distiction of the cause-effect rules).

  • mtamiolakimtamiolaki (1 comment; 26 words; 0.02% of total commentary)

  • Nancy Sultan (7 comments; 379 words; 0.31% of total commentary)

    • Did Orwell had read the Cyropaedia?
      I think it is appropriate here in 1.2  to quote the opening of George Orwell Animal Farm, when the boar, old Major, incites the gathering of farm animals to rise up against the oppressive farmer:
      “This single farm of ours would support a dozen horses, twenty cows, hundreds of sheep–and all of them living in a comfort and a dignity that are now almost beyond our imagining. Why then do we continue in this miserable condition? Because nearly the whole of the produce of our labour is stolen from us by human beings. There, comrades, is the answer to all our problems. It is summed up in a single word–Man. Man is the only real enemy we have. Remove Man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished for ever.” #reception

    • The leading expert on the Greek way of war is ancient historian Victor Hansen. Read anything by him, especially his recent books, and you can see how a neo-conservatist uses Greek history to assess US foreign policy, especially when it comes to Israel.

    • Xenophon is praising Cyrus for his apparent ability to overcome language barriers, ethnic barriers, and distance barriers. Which modern American president was nicknamed “The Great Communicator” and praised for his ability to “steer” foreign nations toward American democratic ideals? Do you see any points of comparison between Cyrus as described here and this famous American leader?

    • This is for students of Greek mythology: Why is it important that Cyrus’ lineage be traced back to the hero Perseus? Who is Perseus? What relationship between the Persians and Greeks is established through this link?

    • And a follow-up: If Cyrus receives a Persian education (rather than a Greek education), what might he have learned about the hero Perseus?

    • ὄψον -explain translation as “relish” compared to τὸ κάρδαμον? How is what they hunt turned into “relish?”  What part of an animal would constitute ὄψον? Any chefs out there?

    • 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.

  • Norman SandridgeNorman Sandridge (591 comments; 41212 words; 33.21% of total commentary)

    • Congratulations, David, on selecting a most interesting topic and best wishes for sticking to this “marathon” plan. I have a few initial questions/suggestions and will look forward to engaging with you a the granular level down the road.
      First, is it possible that Xenophon has actually stripped many “levels of control” from the other Cyrus narratives? In many instances I can think of ( Herodotus Histories, the Cyrus Cylinder, the Old Testament) Cyrus is the instrument of some divinity, whose will is sometimes made manifest by dreams and oracles. As you note, there is not much of this in Xenophon’s Cyrus. And his path does not seem to be guided very much by family lineage (i.e., inherited traits, as in the case of Xenophon’s Agesilaus), though his lineage seems to have some effect on his followers ( Cyropaedia 4.1.24, Cyropaedia 7.2.24). Nor does Xenophon’s Cyrus suffer under the weight of a father’s legacy (as is the case of Xerxes in Herodotus’ Histories). Moreover, Xenophon’s Cyrus does not even seem to have that much of a plan for establishing an empire (I’m imagining that a carefully thought out and long-held plan might count as “control level”); he just seems to go wherever there are opportunities to win honor and help his friends and he winds up the king of a vast empire (for some counterexamples to my claim about not planning for/wanting an empire, cf. Cyropaedia 1.4.5, Cyropaedia 4.5.14, Cyropaedia 7.5.76). So, I’m wondering if Xenophon has removed a lot of these possible levels of control (I count at least four: lineage, legacy, divine agency, elaborate planning) because he imagines his work is a story wrapped around an exhortation to good leadership, which may be accomplished, as he says, “with knowledge” ( Cyropaedia 1.1.3). What I mean is you might not want the familiar levels of control if you’re trying to invite your audience to be like Cyrus. Would it make sense to look for other levels of control like paideia or Cyrus’ own phusis?
      Finally, why are levels of control necessary for a narrative? Do they make it more interesting, more intelligible/memorable? Is it possible that one of the reasons people have found the Cyropaedia “dull” is that it doesn’t have a very strong “level of control” that is inscribing itself on the reader’s mind?

    • Comment on A Renaissance Cyrus on July 5th, 2013

      Did Barker translate any other Greek or Latin literature? Does the fact that Holland translated several historians suggest that he believed the Cyropaedia to be historical rather than the fiction of a philosopher or novelist? Were they unaware of Cicero’s pronouncement that Xenophon had composed not history but a “model of just command” ( Cicero Letter to Quintus 1.23, Cyrus ille a Xenophonte non ad historiae fidem scriptus, sed ad effigiem iusti imperii; cuius summa gravitas ab illo philosopho cum singulari comitate coniungitur). I find it interesting to see what company Xenophon’s Cyrus when authors mention him, e.g., Alexander and Caesar in Montaigne (Essay Seven) or Aeneas in Philip Sidney (Defense of Poesy), who was aware of Cicero’s understanding of the work (17).

    • Comment on A Renaissance Cyrus on July 5th, 2013

      This may seem like an odd question, but I am curious as to whether the owner of this book seems to have finished reading the Cyropaedia or to have paid as much attention to the conclusion as to the beginning (my impression is that a lot of readers would have focused only on the first book and have seen the subsequent books as repetitive; or they might not have had enough time in school to read all of them). For example, did he seem to realize that Xenophon’s Cyrus meets quite a different (and happier) ending than Herodotus’? Does he have anything to say about this? Similarly, does he (and others at the time) seem to have accepted the final chapter ( Cyropaedia 8.8) as legitimately Xenophon’s, and, if so, does it reflect poorly on Cyrus? For contemporary views on the legitimacy of the final chapter, see Steven Hirsch’s (and others) discussion here.

    • Comment on A Renaissance Cyrus on July 5th, 2013

      These are all very fascinating questions. It might be helpful to know more about what the notion of obedience entailed in the Renaissance. Did the term cover any act of following a leader (even out of personal gain) or only acts of following done out of intimidation or misdirection? What were the ideal conditions under which a follower was expected to carry out the will of the leader–and how far short was Xenophon’s Cyrus seen to be? I think one of the persistent questions that modern readers have had about Xenophon’s Cyrus is the extent to which fear of punishment is implicit in decisions to follow him (for some discussion see the comments on Cyropaedia 1.1.5). One could argue that Xenophon sees a lot of different motives as to why people follow (or obey) his Cyrus (cf. Cyropaedia 4.2.10).

    • Comment on A Renaissance Cyrus on July 5th, 2013

      On the question of Cyrus’ alleged imperial ambition in contemporary scholarship cf. Sandridge 2012:7 and Sandridge 2012:7n13. Compared to the portraits of Ctesias and Herodotus, Xenophon’s Cyrus seems to arrive at an empire much more accidentally (or defensively), and with greater attention to the well being of all (not merely himself or the Persians). This activity might still be construed as imperial (and thus worthy of criticism), but it seems to be of a different kind than other ancient examples.

    • Comment on A Renaissance Cyrus on July 5th, 2013

      Using the index and the frequency of references in the margins, is there a way to tell (roughly) which books/chapters of the Cyropaedia were of greatest interest to this reader? Was it mostly Book One or were all of the books of equal importance? Similarly (and this is probably much harder to tell), were there some passages of the Cyropaedia that were more frequently read and recommended in the Renaissance than others? Given that the book is long (too long for some), I wonder how many people read it in its entirety.

    • For Xenophon what is more important for good leadership, nature (cf. πεφυκότι) or knowledge/education (cf. ἐπισταμένως)?

    • See Cyropaedia 1.1.6. Note that Xenophon makes very little reference to Cyrus’ lineage other than to say that it is royal (Cyrus is not the lowborn figure he is in Ctesias.)

    • When you say ‘this’ are you asking a question about the role of fear in Cyrus’ leadership? If so, this is a most interesting one.  Ordinarily we associate fear with the tyrant’s leadership.  Xenophon, however, gives some indication that fear can be a good thing if not a necessary one.  He has Tigranes explain how the fear that Cyrus has instilled in the Armenian king has taught him self-restraint (sophrosune).  Aglaitadas, in his critique of comic laughter, also says that crying (presumably associated with fear) can teach young boys self-restraint.  When Cyrus becomes king of Babylon (which is described as most hostile), Xenophon says that he adopted a style of procession that would both delight his well-wishers but also intimidate any potential enemies. 

      If we are being charitable to Cyrus’ behavior here, it would seem that Xenophon is taking a realist’s approach that no matter how benevolent the leader, some of the followers will be incorrigible and overcome only by force, which may sometimes translate into friendship as in the case of the Armenian king.  In a similar vein, Xenophon gives a lengthy list of all the reasons that the Medes follow Cyrus in his pursuit of the Assyrians (rather than hang back with Cyaxares), some of which are less noble than others (e.g., some just did it to get rich).

    • Herodotus Histories says the Scythians, although being quite numerous, were unable come to any kind of unified organization (I think he says or implies the same thing about the Thracians), which is of course a suspenseful foil to the Greeks (will they, who are habitually at war with one another, be able to mount a unified resistance against the Persians, or just Medize piece by piece?

      When we think about Xenophon’s attitude toward empire, we should keep in mind his attention to all the large nations who seemingly failed at this (admirable?) endeavor.

    • This is a very interesting question. I wonder how much the second term is Xenophon’s way of saying that he is on some level “filling in the gaps” of what he knows. Perhaps there is a parallel between this statement and Thucydides’ statement on speeches, that he is giving us what was likely to have been said.  There may be a whole theory of empire/leadership behind Xenophon’s explanation of Cyrus’ success that may be causing him to speculate regularly (rather than strictly fabricate or fictionalize). 

    • To what extent is Xenophon’s story of Cyrus a “coming of age story” (Bildungsroman)?

    • How much does Cyrus evolve as a character as a result of his various forms of education?

    • ἤν τις ἐπισταμένως τοῦτο πράττῃ: What was Xenophon’s purpose in writing the Cyropaedia if not to answer the theoretical question of how to maintain the willing obedience of followers?

    • According to this passage, Xenophon would seem to be offering knowledge of proper leadership to his audience.  Hertlein vii cites several ancient authors (e.g., Cicero, Dionysius of Halicarnassus) who see Xenophon’s Cyrus as a model for emulation.

    • ἡγήσατο: Why does Xenophon seem to find this a noteworthy and perhaps admirable accomplishment? What is the history of Greek attempts to subdue other nations and establish an empire outside of Greece itself?

    • Plutarch Life of Alcibiades says that Alcibiades not only had designs on Sicily but Carthage and Libya. Isocrates Panegyricus, of course, famously advocates conquest of the Persians in order to bring about unity at home. Carlier 1978 (in Gray 2010) argues that Xenophon offered up the example of Cyrus as a template for how the Greeks might conquer a decadent Persia, ultimately with undesirable consequences.

    • Is Xenophon’s emphasis more on the willingness than the sheer size of Cyrus’ following? cf. ἑκόντων…ἑκόντων

    • Does Xenophon show an interest in the ability to subdue/unite groups of people in his other works?

    • τὸ ἀνθρώπων ἄρχειν … ἐθελήσαντας πείθεσθαι:  Are these actions identical, viewed from complimentary perspectives? Or are the types of “ruling” that don’t involve willing obedience or types of willing obedience that don’t involve ruling?

    • ἤθελον αὐτῷ ὑπακούειν: Is this synonymous with Κύρῳ … ἐθελήσαντας πείθεσθαι?

    • ἐθελήσαντας πείθεσθαι: What does Cyrus do to win willing obedience/friendship from his followers?

    • γενεὰν: How interested is Xenophon in Cyrus’ lineage? What are the variant accounts?

    • Another way of asking this question is “How important is lineage for leadership according to Xenophon?”

    • Why is the work called the Cyropaedia (Kuroupaideia) and how do we know?

    • Cicero notes that the Cyropaedia is very popular in his day and refers to it as Cyri Vita et Disciplina ( Cicero Brutus 29.112). Cicero Letter to Quintus 1.1.23 calls the work The Cyrus.  Bizos v cites Aulus Gellius 14.3 for the first use of title in Greek, Kurou paedeia.  The most straightforward way of understanding the title is that it is a reference to the education (paedia) that Cyrus receives in the Persian educational system (agôgê) and also perhaps at his grandfather’s court in Media and in dialogue with his father, Cambyses, all of which occur only in the first of eight books. To name a work after the events in the first book is not unprecedented for Xenophon, however.  The Anabasis refers strictly to the attempted “going up” of Cyrus the Younger to claim the Persian throne in Book One (Mather and Hewitt on Anabasis 1.1). Tatum 1989:90–91 argues that Plato Laws 694c–695b reference to Cyrus’ education is proof that the work was titled Kyrou paideia by Xenophon; and, agreeing with Higgins, he argues that Cyrus’ paideia is the focus of the entire work. Another way of saying this is that Xenophon seems minimally interested in Cyrus’ lineage (something he might have focused on if it were his intention to praise Cyrus, as he does with Agesilaus) or Cyrus’ destiny, but focuses rather on his nature and his education. It is also conceivable, though unlikely, that the title refers (1) to the education that Cyrus’ career can give any reader interested in leadership (cf. ἐκ τούτου δὴ ἠναγκαζόμεθα μετανοεῖν μὴ οὔτε τῶν ἀδυνάτων οὔτε τῶν χαλεπῶν ἔργων ᾖ τὸ ἀνθρώπων ἄρχειν, ἤν τις ἐπισταμένως τοῦτο πράττῃ, Cyropaedia 1.1.3) or (2) to the education that Cyrus gives to his followers in Book Eight as he sets up his palace in Babylon.  At any rate some form of education continues after Book One.

    • What is the occasion for Xenophon’s reflection that all forms of government are eventually overturned?

    • Xenophon may be reflecting on the past two hundred years of political life in Athens (Bizos on Cyropaedia 1.1.1). The city had witnessed the tyranny of Peisistratus and his son Hippias (561–514 BCE), the democratic reforms of Cleisthenes (508), and the radical democracy of Pericles (461–429), followed by the short-lived oligarchies of 400 and 5,000 (411). In 404 the Spartans imposed a tyranny of thirty members that was overthrown in 403 by democrats led by the general Theramenes. On the volatility of political life in Greece in the period covered in Xenophon’s Hellenica (411–362), see Dillery 1995:3–4. From a more theoretical vantage Xenophon may also be thinking of the treatment of governments devolving from the kallipolis in Plato Republic 546a–569c, i.e., from timocracy (an aristocracy of honor-lovers) to oligarchy to democracy to tyranny. Though neither author ever mentions the other (except once, Memorabilia 3.6.1), the correspondence between Plato and Xenophon is in many ways obvious. Both wrote Apologies of Socrates, both wrote Symposia, both wrote dialogues featuring Socrates (in Xenophon’s case, the four books of the Memorabilia), and both wrote about constitutions and the best forms of leadership, in Plato’s case in the Laws, Republic, and Statesman, and in Xenophon’s case in the Education of Cyrus, the Constitution of the Lacedaemonians, and the encomium to the Spartan king Agesilaus. In the ancient world both Diogenes Laertius 3.24 and Aulus Gellius 14.3 mention a tradition of a rivalry between Xenophon and Plato. Gellius says that some thought the Education of Cyrus was Xenophon’s response to Plato’s Republic and that the Laws was Plato’s response to the Education of Cyrus (see Danzig 2003 on this tradition). Tatum 1989:91 sees the Cyropaedia also as a response to the Iliad and Herodotus’ Histories. From a literary or historiographical vantage Xenophon may also be thinking of the rise and fall of individual city-states that Herodotus Histories 1.5.4 describes. Similarly Cyrus’ father Cambyses treats the fall of city-states at the conclusion of Book One ( Cyropaedia 1.6.45). He gives several reasons why a city-state might bring about its collapse: (1) unwisely making war on another state, (2) elevating leaders and cities to a lofty place, (3) treating potential friends as slaves, (4) desiring to be lord over everything, and (5) being greedy. These instances all illustrate for Cambyses the limitation of human wisdom and the need to rely on the gods, who reward the pious. Both the Histories and the Education of Cyrus share an interest in the first king of the Persian Empire, and there is precedence for Xenophon to pick up from another famous work of literature. It is commonly assumed that Xenophon takes up the narrative thread of Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War in his Hellenica (cf. Gray 1991 and Dillery 1995:9–11). At the beginning of the Constitution of the Lacedaemonians he may also be reflecting on Thucydides’ observation that Sparta, though sparsely populated, was the most powerful and famous city in Greece ( Thucydides Histories 1.10). Perhaps in the Education of Cyrus he is also taking up the themes of unstable cities and Cyrus’ life from Herodotus. Throughout the work we find other correspondences to the narrative of Herodotus, most notably in Xenophon’s treatment of Cyrus and Croesus in Book Seven. In some instances it would seem that Xenophon is adopting Herodotus’ content and theme, but in others he seems to be drawing a sharp contrast. See, for example, Xenophon’s Cyrus at Cyropaedia 1.4, in the company of his Medan contemporaries, in contrast to Herodotus’ Cyrus in the same community ( Herodotus Histories 1.114). Even if we are to read a philosophical and literary influence into the introduction, as seems likely, the fact that Xenophon begins his reflection with the decline of democracy, which, he says, some find less desirable than any other constitution, suggests that he is trying to connect broadly with his Athenian audience and its legacy of democracy, for better and worse (see additional comments to this subsection).

    • What is the history of classifying governments according to democracy, monarchy, oligarchy, and tyranny?

    • Hertlein on Cyropaedia 1.1.1 cites Aeschines Against Timarchus 4–5:

      “It is acknowledged, namely, that there are in the world three forms of government, autocracy, oligarchy, and democracy: autocracies and oligarchies are administered according to the tempers of their lords, but democratic states according to established laws. And be assured, fellow citizens, that in a democracy it is the laws that guard the person of the citizen and the constitution of the state, whereas the despot and the oligarch find their protection in suspicion and in armed guards. Men, therefore, who administer an oligarchy, or any government based on inequality, must be on their guard against those who attempt revolution by the law of force; but you, who have a government based upon equality and law, must guard against those whose words violate the laws or whose lives have defied them; for then only will you be strong, when you cherish the laws, and when the revolutionary attempts of lawless men shall have ceased” (translation, Charles Darwin Adams).

      The Constitutional Debate in Herodotus Histories 3.80-84 discusses the relative strengths and weaknesses of democracy, oligarchy, and monarchy (on which, see Pelling 2002:123-58).  Isocrates Nicocles (or To the Cyprians) gives a multi-faceted defense of monarchy and criticizes democracy and oligarchy. Protagroas by contrast (in Plato Protagoras) defends democracy on the grounds that Zeus has instilled aidôs (a sense of shame, a conscience) and dike (a sense of right and wrong) in all humans. Angelos Chaniotis 2010 discusses the success of democracy as well as attitudes toward democracy (and illusions of democracy) in ancient Greece, especially the Hellenistic world. Xenophon seems somewhat anti-democratic here, with his observation that some prefer any other form of government to democracy. Moreover Cyrus is clearly a monarchical leader, who at times even works outside the laws. Many of the forms of leadership that Xenophon treats, including the general, the captain, the father, and the estate manager, are monarchical. Nevertheless there are features to Cyrus’ character and leadership that could be described as democratic (with Cyrus as a dêmotikos): Cyrus is educated publicly, he encourages open discussion, he seeks to build consensus, and he shows concern for the injured and needy. This is of course a far cry from saying that everyone under Cyrus has “equal rights”.

    • Why does Xenophon introduce his narrative with a reflection, rather than a direct statement?

    • Xenophon seems to be attempting to elicit wonder (thauma) in his audience and thereby draw them into the investigation of Cyrus’ character as a leader. The repetition of quantitative adjectives, “so many” and “many”, contribute to this effect. Herodotus, too, grounds his investigation (historia) on the fact that the deeds of Greeks and barbarians are wonderful ( Herodotus Histories 1.1.1). This technique is practiced today by familiar, folksy commentators such as Andy Rooney and Frank DeFord. As in the Constitution of the Lacedaemonians 1.1, Xenophon ironically undercuts his reflections at Cyropaedia 1.1.3, saying in effect, “I thought humans could not govern other humans…until I thought of Cyrus.”

    • What did Xenophon’s audience know of Cyrus at this point? What were the sources for Xenophon’s knowledge of Cyrus? For how long had he known about him?

    • Many ancient authors, prior to and contemporary with Xenophon, wrote about the Persians: Herodotus, Ctesias, Heracleides of Cyme, Antisthenes, Isocrates, Plato (on the tradition of Persica, see Llewellyn-Jones 2010:45-55). However we answer the question of Xenophon’s audience’s familiarity with Cyrus has strong implications for how we read the rest of the Cyropaedia. On the one hand, if we assume a strong familiarity, we may read the Cyropaedia as a “knowing” dialogue with the other sources and imagine such things as Xenophon critiquing and rewriting the Cyrus tradition according to what he believes to be the more accurate account (See Gera 1993). On the other hand, if we assume this familiarity we will have to account for things like the apparent pedantic tone that Xenophon takes in explaining very rudimentary things about Persian culture and education (already spelled out in Herodotus); or the striking divergence of Xenophon’s account of how Cyrus comes to be king of the Medes peacefully from all other accounts (including evidence from material culture) that have Cyrus taking Media through warfare; or the seeming invention of the character of Cyaxares, Cyrus’ Medan uncle and heir to the Medan throne.

    • Where else is the problem of ruling different ἔθνη treated in ancient Greece? Is it seen primarily as a Persian practice?

    • To what extent do we see Xenophon (or others) addressing the ways in which Cyrus interacted with other cultures, e.g. by using their language or adopting/respecting their culture? The Cyrus Cylinder is of course a great example of this but it is not clear how consistent the portrait of Cyrus there is with Xenophon’s.

    • In his reference to human nature, and the human (in)ability to lead others, to what extent is Xenophon aligning himself with the Xenophontic Socrates, who favors the study of human nature over the nature of the universe (cf. Memorabilia 1.1).

    • Cyrus himself orders Tigranes to forgive his father for executing his tutor out of envy because it was a “human” mistake (cf. ἀνθρώπινά μοι δοκεῖς ἁμαρτεῖν, Cyropaedia 3.1.40). Cyrus is respectful of the humanity of others and aware of his own human weaknesses. Humanity is the basis for forgiving the rashness of the Cadusian prince (cf. ἀνθρώπινον τὸ γεγενημένον• τὸ γὰρ ἁμαρτάνειν ἀνθρώπους ὄντας οὐδὲν οἴομαι θαυμαστόν ( Cyropaedia 5.4.19). Cyrus emphasizes a shared humanity with Croesus (cf. ἄνθρωποί γέ ἐσμεν ἀμφότεροι, Cyropaedia 7.2.10). Cyrus acknowledges his own human potential for greed ( Cyropaedia 8.2.20). Cyrus is aware of his vulnerability to overconfidence and excessive happiness (cf. φόβος δέ μοι συμπαρομαρτῶν μή τι ἐν τῷ ἐπιόντι χρόνῳ ἢ ἴδοιμι ἢ ἀκούσαιμι ἢ πάθοιμι χαλεπόν, οὐκ εἴα τελέως με μέγα φρονεῖν οὐδ’ εὐφραίνεσθαι ἐκπεπταμένως, Cyropaedia 8.7.7).

    • Is the thauma felt here for tyrants (cf. θαυμάζονται) a feeling of wonder or does it also have connotations of, e.g., respect, moral approval, admiration, or a desire to emulate the tyrant?

    • Doty on Cyropaedia 1.1.1 translates θαυμάζονται as “are admired,” as does Ambler on Cyropaedia 1.1.1Bizos on Cyropaedia 1.1.1 has “sont admirés.” Miller on Cyropaedia 1.1.1 translates it as “are objects of wonder.” Nadon 2001:176 assumes that θαυμάζονται connotes admiration and uses this assumption to support an argument (also ascribed to Machiavelli) that the Cyropaedia “covertly instructs its more astute readers…in how to pursue their ambitions even, or especially, at the expense of republican government.” The interpretation of θαυμάζονται seems tied to our understanding of σοφοί and εὐτυχεῖς. Our best source for Xenophon’s views on tyranny is the Hieron, a dialogue between the tyrant of Syracuse and the poet Simonides. Simonides seems to suppose that Hieron has knowledge or wisdom (cf. Hieron 1.1.5) concerning the joys and sorrows of the tyrant, as opposed to those of a private citizen. He does not show interest in Hieron’s wisdom in maintaining power. Hieron 5.1, however, provides one way of understanding the adjective sophos in a tumultuous political atmosphere. Hieron says that a tyrant fears the sophoi in his community because they might contrive to plot against him (cf. μηχανήσωνται). It is instead the dikaioi whom the tyrant fears will seem more desirable leaders to the masses. Thus sophos in this context seems to mean “good at contrivances or plots.” In the case of tyrants, Xenophon may have had in mind the contrivances of those like the Athenian tyrant Peisistratus, who came to power on three separate occasions ( Herodotus Histories 1.59–64). On one of these occasions Peisistratus was escorted into the city by a tall woman disguised as the goddess Athena; Herodotus Histories 1.60 expresses amazement at the foolishness of the Athenian people for falling for this trick. Peisistratus is several times described with a verb of contriving (cf. μηχανῶνται, Histories 1.59.19, Histories 1.60.10, Histories 1.60.15 and his final attack on the fleeing Athenians is described as the “cleverest plan” (cf. βουλὴν…σοφωτάτην, Histories 1.63.8). εὐτυχεῖς: Xenophon seems concerned to make the point that it’s hard for human beings to rule others under any system of government (cf. Cyropaedia 1.1.3). The placement of tyrants at the end of a list of toppled governments seems to make the point in the extreme. Given the difficulty that tyrants face, if a tyrant succeeds at ruling at all, the implication seems to be that he was very “lucky”, as Hertlein on Cyropaedia 1.1.1 renders it—not “happy” or “prosperous,” as eutuchês may sometimes be translated. Since it does not seem logical to admire someone for being lucky, there seems little about the tyrant’s attempts to stay in power that is admirable or worthy of emulation so much as wondrous. I would translate this passage as, “Those attempting to rule as tyrants…are regarded as having been both wondrously clever and lucky men.”

    • To what extent there a “Socratic” humor in this somewhat jarring metaphor of herdsmen as “leaders” and thus animals as citizens who might rebel (cf. συστᾶσαν), especially given that the metaphor is usually reversed, as in the Iliad, with the leader as “shepherd”?

    • Bizos on Cyropaedia 1.1.2 points out that Isocrates To Nicocles 12 discourages the Cyprian king from believing that only animals can be tamed and increase their worth. On the contrary, human beings can improve themselves, he says, by education (paideusis) and diligence (epimeleia). Norlin on Antidosis 209-214 notes a similar sentiment. There Isocrates makes the implicit a fortiori argument that if animals can be trained be, e.g., to be more gentle and intelligent, then humans ought similarly to be educable through diligence and training. With the analogy of animals, Xenophon seems to be casting Isocrates’ problem of educating humans as a problem of for governments (and leaders) to lead them.

    • βουλομένων: To what extent is the good will of the followers fundamental to successful leadership according to Xenophon (and others)?

    • We might imagine that the objective prosperity of the followers would be more fundamental to successful leadership, but Xenophon seems to believe that everyone will figure out what is or is not in their benefit eventually that the will is central (cf. his extensive attention to “willing obedience”). Plato Republic characterizes the sophrosune of the polis as the condition in which the rulers and the ruled are in agreement about their respective roles.

      It is interesting to note that Xenophon seems to assume that the will of the followers is the basis for a city’s stability and prosperity (since he explains the collapse, at least the internal collapse, of a city-state as due to the desire of one part refusing to be governed by another part), whereas we might imagine that a country today could be maintained for a long time without the will of the people (e.g., North Korea).  At the end of Book One, Xenophon explains how cities and leaders may ruin themselves with misguided invasions of other countries.

    • Note that the objections to all four forms of government tend to revolve around the character of the rulers, more so than some intrinsic form of rule. Another way of saying this may be that all forms could work if the leaders had the right character (sic Cyrus).

    • Why does Xenophon assert that it is so hard for a master to employ obedient slaves when he has written a treatise (the Oeconomicus) devoted to success in this practice?

    • πολλοὺς…τοὺς δεσπότας: What is the history in Greek thought of treating the household as a type of government (and vice versa)?

    • See Xenophon Oeconomicus and Aristotle Politics.

    • μὴ οὔτε τῶν ἀδυνάτων οὔτε τῶν χαλεπῶν ἔργων ᾖ τὸ ἀνθρώπων ἄρχειν: To what extent is Xenophon challenging the claim made by the interlocutors (including Socrates) in the Republic that establishing the kallipolis may be impossible?

    • Of 24 instances of the form ἐδοκοῦμεν/δοκοῦμεν, it is only here in Chapter One of Book One that we see it coupled with a verb of learning or perceiving (cf. ἐδοκοῦμεν καταμεμαθηκέναι, Cyropaedia 1.1.1, ἐδοκοῦμεν ὁρᾶν, Cyropaedia 1.1.2).  In both instances, that of domestic life and animal husbandry, respectively, the formulations seem to be nothing more than variations for introducing indirect discourse, i.e., ways of saying, “I have observed that…”  There is likely a note of modesty (especially in the use of the plural for the singular; see Smyth 704) and also an emphasis on the process of (philosophical) reflection, as Gera notes.  Hendiadys is probably the right idea, too: “whatever we have observed through a process of inquiry about him, we will endeavor to relate.” This at least seems logically necessary since Xenophon cannot have directly perceived anything about the long-deceased Cyrus.

    • Good question, and it touches on something I have long thought about Xenophon (or “seem to have observed”) and that is he is not like Plato in the sense that he does not usually look for a single motive or a single cause to explain something, leadership being a perfect example.  At Cyropaedia 4.2.9–10 Xenophon gives a lengthy list of reasons why the Medes followed Cyrus in further pursuit of the Assyrians, some of the motives being nobler than others (e.g., gratitude vs. personal profit).  The point is that Xenophon seems to be a realist (not an idealist) in seeing multiple motives.  In the case of Cyrus’ leadership, yes, he is a “stick and carrot” kind of guy when it comes to his philotimia (one of his three superlative traits), but he also shows signs of being a “doctor” with his philanthropia (specifically his therapeia toward Astyages at Cyropaedia 1.4.2 and his philomatheia at Cyropaedia 1.4.3. It would be inaccurate, I think, to call him very wise at this young of an age, however; he does much that is impulsive and reckless.  Am I addressing your question? I argue in my book that even though these are Cyrus’ three basic motives, it would be hard to say which one is more dominant (or more important).

    • Interesting. If this were somehow the context for Xenophon’s reflection here (see the similar question about context in the previous paragraph), how might we account for Xenophon becoming familiar with it?  What is he reading or what has he been exposed to to suggest this analogy?  If there is a true Persian source, it might make the final “reflection” in Cyropaedia 1.1.3 seem less spontaneous.

    • At Cyropaedia 1.4.1 Cyrus wins over the fathers of his Medan contemporaries by showing favor for their sons and acting as an ambassador to Astyages. At Cyropaedia 1.4.2 Cyrus wins over his grandfather Astyages by attending to him in his illness. At Cyropaedia 1.4.4. Cyrus wins the affection of his Medan contemporaries for challenging them in contests that he knew he would not win (e.g., horseback riding). At Cyropaedia 1.4.5 Cyrus wins the friendship of the wine-pourer Sacas by enlisting his help in determining the right time to visit Astyages. At Cyropaedia 1.4.27 Cyrus is loved by a Mede (Artabazus) because of his beauty.  Artabazus later agrees to follow Cyrus against the Medes and help him enlist others ( Cyropaedia 4.1.22–24, Cyropaedia 5.1.24). At Cyropaedia 3.1.42-43 Cyrus wins the loyalty of Tigranes and his wife for sparing his father. At Cyropaedia 3.2.22 Cyrus wins the loyalty of the Armenians and Chaldaeans by arranging a treaty between the two of them of intermarriage and mutual land-sharing. At Cyropaedia 4.2.10 Xenophon gives a long list of reasons why the Medes agreed to follow Cyrus in his pursuit of the Assyrians: (1) they had been friends with him as a boy, (2) they like his character from their time with him on the hunt, (3) they were grateful to him for freeing them from danger in the recent battle with the Assyrians, (4) they expected him to be successful and great, (5) they felt gratitude toward him for the favors he had done for them in their youth, (6) they wanted to pay him back for the favors he had secured from his grandfather, (7) and they saw the opportunity to profit from the expedition. It is not clear to me whether the fear that Xenophon inspires in others (cf. Cyropaedia 1.1.5) counts as a type of “willing obedience”; or if it is something that translates in to willing obedience (as in the case of the Armenian king, Cyropaedia 3.1.23–25); or if it is an altogether different motive for following a leader.

    • Is the language used here to describe Cyrus’ success as a leader reflected in actual Persian inscriptions?

    • Cf. his progress in understanding of justice at Cyropaedia 1.4.16-17.

    • Cf. Cyrus’ new shyness at Cyropaedia 1.4.12.

    • It may also be of significance that Ctesias F*8d3 says Cyrus was from a family of goatherds on his mother’s side.

    • See Carlier 1978 (in Gray 2010) for the argument that Xenophon may have been hoping to encourage and train a Greek leader to conquer Persia. Ultimately Carlier believes that Xenophon believed such imperial conquest was not worth the effort: “At the end of his life, Xenophon remains fascinated by the idea of an Asiatic conquest; but, after deep reflection he seems particularly sensitive to the political consequences of conquest: the establishment of an absolute monarchy, whose disagreeable aspects are not hidden–and especially to the fragility of a territorial empire. The Cyropaedia seems to be the work of a clear-eyed traditionalist, a man worried about the disruptions that the conquest of Asia would create for the Greeks.”

    • For a comparison between the leader as herdsman metaphor in Plato and Xenophon see Carlier 1978:329n4 (in Gray 2010).

    • See Carlier 1978:333n16 (in Gray 2010) for the history of this debate.  Carlier notes that several commentators have thought that Xenophon prefers monarchy.

    • Hirsch 1985:64–65 provides several examples to show that Xenophon may have been reflecting on recent revolts, coups, and secessions within the Persian empire itself.

    • What do you make of Xenophon’s statement in Cyropaedia 1.1.3 (above) that it is easy to rule humans “if someone does it knowledgeably” (ἤν τις ἐπισταμένως τοῦτο πράττῃ)? This suggests to me that for Xenophon knowledge is the basis of (i.e., the necessary and sufficient condition for) excellent leadership.

    • You might want to turn this discussion into a blog post where you ask the question, ‘how important is lineage for Cyrus’ leadership?’ and give some initial hypotheses. The group could collect and discuss passages that help to answer it as well. It occurs to me that we could also bring in other ancient works on leadership that emphasize lineage to a greater or lesser extent.

    • Hirsch 1985:79-80 studies this passage in light of Cyropaedia 8.6.20-22, where Xenophon mentions Cyrus’ conquest of Egypt using the passive legetai, “it is said.”  Hirsch argues that Xenophon means to distinguish between historical fact and mere report or legend of Cyrus’ conquest (perhaps because Xenophon was aware of the discrepancy in Herodotus). legetai can certainly be used to disavow a personal belief in something, just as dokei/dokeo (“it seems”/”I seem”) can be used to distinguish reality from mere appearance (though see Gray 2011:100-105). Yet legetai appears throughout the Cyropaedia in places, such as conversations, where one would not expect a major debate about historicity (cf. Cyropaedia If anything, a story-teller might use legetai not to distinguish fact from report but to say, in effect, “I’m not making this stuff up; people actually say this!”My sense is that if Xenophon meant to keep up more than a veneer of historical investigation in the Cyr. (cf. ἐσκεψάμεθα, ἐπυθόμεθα at Cyropaedia 1.1.6 and ὁμολογεῖται at Cyropaedia 1.2.1), he would have had to qualify just about everything he said with legetai or some such verb, and he probably would have done it for Egypt here especially at the outset of the work rather than near the very end. I am puzzled by the general question of whether Xenophon wanted or expected his readers to know very much in detail about Cyrus (and thus very much about Herodotus). Obviously there had been a lot of writing on Cyrus before Xenophon (most recently perhaps the two works by another pupil of Socrates, Antisthenes), but the pose of history and ethnography throughout Book One (esp. chapters 1-3) seem to me more like an introduction to these topics than revisiting contented historical ground. For comparison note how Xenophon’s contemporary Isocrates (who is of course not a historian) casually claims that Cyrus impiously murdered Astyages ( Isocrates Evagoras 39). Either Isocrates borrowed this from some unknown source or he made it up; in either case he does not seem concerned that anyone is going to call him out on it. Isocrates To Phillip 132 similarly claims that Cyrus was cast out into the street by his mother, also unattested anywhere else (to my knowledge).

    • There are lots of great lines of inquiry to pursue hear, and I certainly want to hear more about your China-Mediterranean connections! Here’s one hypothesis I’ve been working on for why the Greeks and the “best” Greek thinkers liked monarchy so much.  Many of the metaphorical areas they drew from to describe government are in fact monarchical, e.g., the leader as shepherd, the leader as general/pilot, the leader as father, even the leader as physician insofar as the physician possesses special knowledge of how to heal a person, hence the “body” politic. The arguments that Isocrates puts in the mouth of Nicocles in the the speech to the Cyprians are not the best but perhaps they are the most intuitive: the gods, e.g., have a monarchy and humans should try to emulate the gods as best they can. (I often ask my students why Christians done ever refer to their savior as “President” or “Prime Minister” Jesus.) As George Lakoff has argued at length, metaphors govern the way we process the world, so to that extent the Greeks did have “direct experience” of monarchy.


    • Good point. It’s also there in the first line of the Hieron and the Constitution of the Lacedaemonians.

    • I realize that I was not clear in my original post. I actually think that thauma here means something more neutral like “wonder” or “amazement” than “admiration.” It is possible that Xenophon is saying that the foolish masses might want to be tyrants themselves and thus used a passive verb. But I think the passive verb is more designed to keep the focus on the different types of government in the subject of each sentence. He switches to an active verb and puts estate manages in the accusative in the following sentence because of a different form of indirect discourse. Thus I think his point about thauma is rather that tyrannies (like, say, Ponzi schemes) are so hard to maintain even for short periods of time that you need a lot of cleverness and luck to have any success, more so than the virtue of wisdom. Hence you are not someone to be emulated.

    • I like the point of contrast with Thrasymachus in the Republic. Xenophon may more forcefully be making the point that the reason leaders can lead other humans is that humans the metaphor of the leader as herdsman breaks down at a certain point because humans don’t like to surrender their “fruits” willingly. It takes a certain kind of leader to care for his/her followers (or, on a more cynical reading, manipulate them) so that they will be willing to share. At Cyropaedia 8.6.23 Xenophon explains that Cyrus had reached a relationship with the many nations he ruled whereby they would give him all the excess produce from their lands and he would fulfill their needs in return. They were all of the belief that to benefit Cyrus was to benefit themselves.

    • That is a very interesting path to consider and part of a larger question I have been wondering about for a while: how was Xenophon’s Theory of Leadership (if we may call it that) developed or constructed? I’ll state what I think are some obvious answers here and then problematize them a bit. Maybe someone will take them up on a blog post at some point (technically, I am no longer just tackling the question of why Xenophon wrote the Cyropaedia!). On the one hand, Xenophon had some measure of firsthand access to some important leaders, e.g., Agesilaus and Cyrus the Younger, and I would include Socrates as well. He certainly also had access to information, true or otherwise, about Cyrus the Great. Moreover, Xenophon had plenty of experience as a leader himself.  So, the questions from here abound: Was his Theory of Leadership an inductive generalization from all of these experiences? Did one particular leader (i.e., Cyrus the Younger) tend to condition the way he processed all other leaders? To this latter question Socrates is most often offered up as the historical “model” that infused Xenophon’s understanding of other leaders.  For example, in the Cyropaedia, scholars often argue that Cyrus, Cambyses, the tutor of Tigranes, and even Xenophon himself are “Socratic”; but why can’t it be the other way around? Maybe Xenophon’s understanding of Cyrus the Great influenced his presentation of Socrates.  Finally, on the question of the construction of Xenophon’s Theory of Leadership, did Xenophon perhaps work out a theory (unpublished) in more of a dialectic manner as Plato Republic does (which is not to say that Plato did not work from any actual leaders) and then impose his conclusions about good leadership on all the putatively good leaders he wrote about?

    • This is one of the biggest and most interesting questions of the work (and one certainly tied to many of the other important questions). Gray 2011 is probably the best summary o