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Xenophon

XENOPHON, Greek historian and philosophical essayist, the son of Gryllus, was born at Athens about 430 B.C. 1 He belonged to an equestrian family of the deme of Erchia. It may be inferred from passages in the Hellenica that he fought at Arginusae (406), and that he was present at the return of Alcibiades (408), the trial of the Generals and the overthrow of the Thirty. Early in life he came under the influence of Socrates, but an active life had more attraction for him. In 401, being invited by his friend Proxenus to join the expedition of the younger Cyrus against his brother, Artaxerxes II. of Persia, he at once accepted the offer. It held out the prospect of riches and honour, while he was little likely to find favour in democratic Athens, where the knights were regarded with suspicion as having supported the Thirty. At the suggestion of Socrates, Xenophon went to Delphi to consult the oracle; but his mind was already made up, and he at once proceeded to Sardis, the place of rendezvous. Of the expedition itself he has given a full and detailed account in his Anabasis, or the " Up-Country March." After the battle of Cunaxa (401), in which Cyrus lost his life, the officers in command of the Greeks were treacherously murdered by the Persian satrap Tissaphernes, with whom they were negotiating an armistice with a view to a safe return. The army was now in the heart of an unknown country, more than a thousand miles from home and in the presence of a troublesome enemy. It was decided to march northwards up the Tigris valley and make for the shores of the Euxine, on which there were several Greek colonies. Xenophon became the leading spirit of the army ; he was elected an officer, and he it was who mainly directed the retreat. Part of the way lay through the wilds of Kurdistan, where they had to encounter the harassing guerrilla attacks of savage mountain tribes, and part through the highlands of Armenia and Georgia. After a five months' march they reached Trapezus [Trebizond] on the Euxine (February 400), where a tendency to demoralization began to show itself, and even Xenophon almost lost his control over the soldiery. At Cotyora he aspired to found a new colony; but the idea, not being unanimously accepted, was abandoned, and ultimately Xenophon with his Greeks arrived at Chrysopolis [Scutari] on the Bosporus, opposite Byzantium. After a brief period of service under a Thracian chief, Seuthes, they were finally incorporated in a Lacedaemonian army which 1 As the description of the Ionian campaign of Thrasyllus in 410 (Hellenica, i. 2) is clearly derived from Xenophon's own reminiscences, he must have taken part in this campaign, and cannot therefore have been less than twenty years of age at the time.

had crossed over into Asia to wage war against the Persian satraps Tissaphernes and Pharnabazus. Xenophon, who accompanied them, captured a wealthy Persian nobleman, with his family, near Pergamum, and the ransom paid for his recovery secured Xenophon a competency for life.

On his return to Greece Xenophon served under Agesilaus, king of Sparta, at that time the chief power in the Greek world. With his native Athens and its general policy and institutions he was not in sympathy. At Coroneia (394) he fought with the Spartans against the Athenians and Thebans, for which his fellow-citizens decreed his banishment. The Spartans provided a home for him at Scillus in Elis, about two miles from Olympia; there he settled down to indulge his tastes for sport and literature. After Sparta's crushing defeat at Leuctra (371), Xenophon was driven from his home by the people of Elis. Meantime Sparta and Athens had become allies, and the Athenians repealed the decree which had condemned him to exile. There is, however, no evidence that he ever returned to his native city. According to Diogenes Laertius, he made his home at Corinth. The year of his death is not known; ail that can be said is that it was later than 355, the date of his work on the Revenues of Athens.

The Anabasis (composed at Scillus between 379 and 371) is a work of singular interest, and is brightly and pleasantly written. Xenophon, like Caesar, tells the story in the third person, and there is a straightforward manliness about the style, with a distinct flavour of a cheerful lightheartedness, which at once enlists our sympathies. His description of places and of relative distances is very minute and painstaking. The researches of modern travellers attest his general accuracy. It is expressly stated by Plutarch and Diogenes Laertius that the Anabasis was the work of Xenophon, and the evidence from style is conclusive. The allusion (Hellenica, iii. i, 2) to IThemistogenes of Syracuse as the author shows that Xenophon published it under an assumed name.

The Cyropaedia, a political and philosophical romance, which describes the boyhood and training of Cyrus, hardly answers to its name, being for the most part an account of the beginnings of the Persian empire and of the victorious career of Cyrus its founder. The Cyropaedia contains in fact the author's own ideas of training and education, as derived conjointly from the teachings of Socrates and his favourite Spartan institutions. It was said to have been written in opposition to the Republic of Plato. A distinct moral purpose, to which literal truth is sacrificed, runs through the work. For instance, Cyrus is represented as dying peacefully in his bed, whereas, according to Herodotus, he fell in a campaign against the Massagetae.

The Hellenica written at Corinth, after 362, is the only contemporary account of the period covered by it (411-362) that has come down to us. It consists of two distinct parts; books i. and ii., which are intended to form a continuation of the work of Thucydides, and bring the history down to the fall of the Thirty, and books iii.-vii., the Hellenica proper, which deal with the period from ^01 to 362, and give the history of the Spartan and Theban hegemonies, down to the death of Epaminondas. There is, however, no ground for the view that these two parts were written and published as separate works. There is probably no justification for the charge of deliberate falsification. It must be admitted, however, that he had strong political prejudices, and that these prejudices have influenced his narrative. He was a partisan of the reactionary movement which triumphed after the fall of Athens; Sparta is his ideal, and Agesilaus his hero. At the same time, he was a believer in a divine overruling providence. He is compelled, therefore, to see in the fall of Sparta the punishment inflicted by heaven on the treacherous policy which had prompted the seizure of the Cadmea and the raid of Sphodrias. Hardly less serious defects than his political bias are his omissions, his want of the sense of proportion and his failure to grasp the meaning of historical criticism. The most that can be said in his favour is that as a witness he is at once honest and wellinformed. For this period of Greek history he is, at any rate, an indispensable witness.

The Memorabilia, or " Recollections of Socrates," in four books, was written to defend Socrates against the charges of impiety and corrupting the youth, repeated after his death by the sophist Polycrates. The work is not a literary masterpiece; it lacks coherence and unity, and the picture it gives of Socrates fails to do him justice. Still, as far as it goes, it no doubt faithfully describes the philosopher's manner of life and style of conversation. It was the moral and practical side of Socrates's teaching which most interested Xenophon; into his abstruse metaphysical speculations he seems to have made no attempt to enter : for these indeed he had neither taste nor genius. Moving within a limited range of ideas, he doubtless gives us " considerably less than the real Socrates, while Plato gives us something more." It is probable that the work in its present form is an abridgment.

Xenophon has left several minor works, some of which are very interesting and give an insight into the home life of the Greeks.

The Oeconomics (to some extent a continuation ef the Memorabilia, and sometimes regarded as the fifth book of the same) deals with the management of the house and of the farm, and presents a pleasant and amusing picture of the Greek wife and of her home duties. There are some good practical remarks on matrimony and on the respective duties of husband and wife. The treatise, which is in the form of a dialogue between Socrates and a certain Ischomachus, was translated into Latin by Cicero.

Intheessayson horsemanship (Hippike) and hunting (Cynegeticus), Xenophon deals with matters of which he had a thorough practical knowledge. In the first he gives rules how to choose a horse, and then tells how it is to be groomed and ridden and generally managed. The Cynegeticus deals chiefly with the hare, though the author speaks also of boar-hunting and describes the hounds, tells how they are to be bred and trained, and gives specimens of suitable names for them. On all this he writes with the zest of an enthusiastic sportsman, and he observes that those nations whose upper classes have a taste for field-sports will be most likely to be successful in war. Both treatises may still be read with interest by the modern reader.

The Hipparchicus explains the duties of a cavalry officer; it is not, according to our ideas, a very scientific treatise, showing that the art of war was but very imperfectly developed and that the military operations of the Greeks were on a somewhat petty scale. He dwells at some length on the moral qualities which go to the making of a good cavalry officer, and hints very plainly that there must be strict attention to religious duties.

The Agesilaus is a eulogy of the Spartan king, who had two special merits in Xenophon's eyes: he was a rigid disciplinarian, and he was particularly attentive to all religious observances. We have a summary of his virtues rather than a good and striking picture of the man himself.

The Hiero works out the line of thought indicated in the story of the Sword of Damocles. It is a protest against the notion that the " tyrant "_ is a man to be envied, as having more abundant means of happiness than a private person. This is one of the most pleasing of his minor works; it is cast into the form of a dialogue between Hiero, tyrant of Syracuse, and the lyric poet Simonides.

The Symposium, or " Banquet," to some extent the complement of the Memorabilia, is a brilliant little dialogue in which Socrates is the prominent figure. He is represented as " improving the occasion," which is that of a lively Athenian supper-party, at which there is much drinking, with flute-playing, and a dancing-girl from Syracuse, who amuses the guests with the feats of a professional conjuror. Socrates's table-talk runs through a variety of topics, and winds up with a philosophical disquisition on the superiority of true heavenly love to its earthly or sensual counterfeit, and with an earnest exhortation to one of the party, who had just won a victory in the public games, to lead a noble life and do his duty to his country.

There are also two short essays, attributed to him, on the political constitution of Sparta and Athens, written with a decided bias in favour of the former, which he praises without attempting to criticize. Sparta seems to have presented to Xenophon the best conceivable mixture of monarchy and aristocracy. The second is certainly not by Xenophon, but was probably written by a member of the oligarchical party shortly after the beginning of the Pelpponnesian War.

In the essay on the Revenues of Athens (written in 355) he offers suggestions for making Athens less dependent on tribute received from its allies. Above all, he would have Athens use its influence for the maintenance of peace in the Greek world and for the settlement of questions by diplomacy, the temple at Delphi being for this purpose an independent centre and supplying a divine sanction.

The Apology, Socrates's defence before his judges, is rather a feeble production, and in the general opinion of modern critics is not a genuine work of Xenophon, but belongs to a much later period.

Xenophon was a man of great personal beauty and considerable intellectual gifts; but he was of too practical a nature to take an interest in abstruse philosophical speculation. His dislike of the democracy of Athens induced such lack of patriotism that he even fought on the side of Sparta against his own country. In religious matters he was narrow minded, a believer in the efficacy of sacrifice and in the prophetic art. His plain and simple style, which at times becomes wearisome, was greatly admired and procured him many imitators.

The editions of Xenophon's works, both complete and of separate portions, are very numerous, especially of the Anabasis; only a selection can be given here. Editio princeps (1516, incomplete); J. G. Schneider (1790-1849); G. Sauppe (1865-66); L. Dindorf (1875); E. C. Marchant (1900- , in the Clarendon Press Scriptorum Classicorum Bibliotheca). ANABASIS: R. Kiihner (1852); J. F. Macmichael (1883); F. Vollbrecht (1887); A. Pretor (r888); C. W. Kriiger and W. Pokel (1888) ; W. W. Goodwin and J. W. White (i.-iv., 1894). CYROPAEDIA: G. M. Gorham (1870); L. Breitenbach (1875); A. Goodwin (vi.-viii., 1880); F. Hertlcin and W. Nitsche (1886); H. A. Holden (1887-90). HELLENICA: L. Breitenbach (1874-84); R. Buchsenschutz (1880-91); J. I. Manatt (i_iv 1888); L. D. Dowdall (i., ii., 1890). MEMORABILIA: P Frost (1867); A. R. Clucr (1880); R. Kuhner (1882); L. Breitenbach (1889); J Marshall (1890). OECONOMICUS: H. A. Ho den (Gr.,895); C Graux and A. Jacob (1886). HIERO: H A. Holden AGESILAUS: R. VV. Taylor (1880); O. Guthlmg (1888). RESP LACEDAEM.: G. Pierleoni (1905). RESP. ATHENIENSIUM: A KirchU (1874): E. Belot (1880); H. Muller and Strubmg (1880). CYNEGETICUS: G. Pierleon. (1902). HIPHKB: Tommasini (1902). REDITUS ATHEN.: A. Zurborg (1876). bCR \ I N- RA L. Dindorf (1888). There is a good English translation of the complete works by H. G. Dakyns (1890-94 . and of the Art of Horsemanship by M. H. Morgan (U.S.A., 1890). Of general works bearing on the subject may be mentioned: G. bauppe, SXS Xenophonteus (Gr.,869); A. cVoiset, X, son earache etson talent (1873); Roquette, De Xenophontis Vita (1884); I. Ha mann, Anilecta Xenophontea (1887) and Analecla Xenophontea JVwa (1889); C. Joi-1. Der echte und der Xenophonteische Socrates 1892) ; Lange, X., sein Leben, seine Geistesart und seine Werke IQOO See also GREECE: Ancient History, "Authorities, and works quoted; J. B. Bury, Ancient Greek Historians (1909); M \ires History of Greek Literature and Grant s monograph m BiacR- wood's Ancient Classics for English Readers may be read with advantage. Bibliographies in Engelmann-Preuss, BtUiotheca Scriptorum Classicorum (i., 1880) and in C. Bursian's Jahresbericht (c., 1900) by E. Richter. (E. M. W.; J. H. * XERXES (the Greek form of the Pers. Khshayarsha; Old Testament Ahasverus, Akhashveroshi.e. Ahasuerus (q.v.) with wrong vocalization and substitution of y for v, instead of Akhshavarsh; in Aramaic inscriptions and papyri from Egypt the name is written Khshai'arsh), the name of two Persian kings of the Achaemenid dynasty.

i. XERXES I., son of Darius I. and Atossa, the daughter Cyrus the Great, and therefore appointed successor to his father in preference to his eldest half-brothers, who were born before Darius had become king (Herod, vii. 2 f.). After his accession in October 485 B.C. he suppressed the revolt in Egypt which had broken out in 486, appointed his brother Achaemenes as satrap and " brought Egypt under a much heavier yoke than it had been before " (Herod, vii. 7) His predecessors, especially Darius, had not been successful in their attempts to conciliate the ancient civilizations. This probably was the reason why Xerxes in 484 abolished the " kingdom of Babel " and took away the golden statue of Bel (Marduk, Merodach), the hands of which the legitimate king of Babel had to seize on the first day of each year, and killed the priest who tried to hinder him. 1 Therefore Xerxes does not bear the title of " King of Babel ' in the Babylonian documents dated from his reign, but " King of Persia and Media," or simply " King of countries " (i.e. of the world). This proceeding led to two rebellions, probably in 484 and 479; in the Babylonian documents occur the names of two ephemeral kings, Shamash-irba and Tarziya, who belong to this time. One of these rebellions was suppressed by Megabyzus, son of Zopyrus, the satrap whom the Babylonians had slain. 2 Darius had left to his son the task of punishing the Greeks for their interference in the Ionian rebellion and the victory of Marathon. From 483 Xerxes prepared his expedition with great care: a channel was dug through the isthmus of the peninsula of Mount Athos; provisions were stored in the stations on the road through Thrace; two bridges were thrown across the Hellespont. Xerxes concluded an alliance with Carthage, and thus deprived Greece of the support of the powerful monarchs of Syracuse and Agrigentum. Many smaller Greek states, moreover, took the side of the Persians (" Medized "), especially Thessaly, Thebes and Argos. A large fleet and a numerous army were gathered. In the spring of 480 Xerxes set out from Sardis. At first Xerxes was victorious everywhere. The Greek fleet was beaten at Artemisium, Thermopylae stormed, Athens conquered, the Greeks driven back to their last line of defence at the Isthmus of Corinth and in the Bay of Salamis. But Xerxes was induced by the astute message of Themistocles (against the advice of Artemisia of Halicarnassus) to attack the Greek fleet under unfavourable 1 Herod, i. 183, by Ctesias changed into a plundering of the tomb of Belitanas or Belus: cf. Aelian, Var. Hist. 13. 3: Anstobulus ap. Arrian vii. 17, 2, and Strabo xvi. p. 7? r .

1 Ctesias, Pers. 22 ; his legendary .listory is transferred by Herodotus, iii. 150 ff., to the former rebellion against Darius.

conditions, instead of sending a part of his ships to the Peloponnesus and awaiting the dissolution t>f the Greek armament. 1 The battle of Salamis (28th of September 480) decided the war (see SALAMIS). Having lost his communication by sea with Asia, Xerxes was forced to retire to Sardis; the army which he left in Greece under Mardonius was in 479 beaten at Plataea (q.v.). The defeat of the Persians at Mycale roused the Greek cities of Asia.

Of the later years of Xerxes little is known. He sent out Sataspes to attempt the circumnavigation of Africa (Herod, iv. 143), but the victory of the Greeks threw the empire into a state of languid torpor, from which it could not rise again. The king himself became involved in intrigues of the harem (cf. Herod, ix. 108 ff. compare the late Jewish novel of Esther, in which a remembrance of the true character of the king is retained) and was much dependent upon courtiers and eunuchs. He left inscriptions at Persepolis, where he added a new palace to that of Darius, at Van in Armenia, and on Mount Elvend near Ecbatana; in these texts he merely copies the words of his father. In 465 he was murdered by his vizier Artabanus (q.v.), who raised Artaxerxes I. to the throne.

2. Xerxes II., son and successor of Artaxerxes I., was assassinated in 424 after a reign of forty-five days by his brother Secydianus or Sogdianus, who in his turn was murdered by Darius II. (q.v.).

See Ctesias, Pers. 44; Diod. xii., 64, 71, and the chronographers; neither of the two ephemeral kings is mentioned in the canon of Ptolemy nor in the dates of Babylonian contracts of this time.

The name XERXES was also borne by a king of Armenia, killed about 212 B.C. by Antiochus the Great (Polyb. viii. 25; Johannes Antiochenus, p. 53; his name occurs on copper coins); and by a son of Mithradates the Great of Pontus (Appian, Mithr. 108, II7 ). (En. M.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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