The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.



son of Gryllus, and a native of the demus Ercheia. The time of his birth is not known, but it is ap­proximated to by the fact mentioned in the Life of Xenophon by Diogenes Laertius, and in Strabo (p. 403, ed. Cas.) that Xenophon fell from his horse in the flight after the battle of Delium, and was taken up by Socrates, the philosopher, on his shoulders and carried a distance of several stadia. The battle of Delium was fought b. c. 424 between the Athenians and Boeotians (Thucyd. iv. 96), and Xenophon therefore could not well have been born after b. c. 444. The time of his death also is not mentioned by any ancient writer. Lucian says (Macrob. 21) that he attained to above the age of ninety, and Xenophon himself in his Hellenica (vi. 4. § 35) mentions the assassination of Alexander of Pherae which happened in b. c. 357, according to Diodorus (xvi. 14). Between b.c. 424 and b.c. 357, there is a period of sixty-seven years, and thus we have evidence of Xenophon being alive nearly seventy years after Socrates saved his life at Delium. There has been much discussion on the age of Xenophon at the time when he joined the expedition of the younger Cyrus, b.c. 401. Those who would make him a young man between twenty and thirty must reject the evidence as to the battle of Delium. Plutarch has a story that Socrates saved the life of Alcibiades at Potidaea, and that Alcibiades protected Socrates in the retreat after the defeat at Delium (Alcib. 7). The passage in the Anabasis (ii. 1. § 12) in which Xe­nophon is called veaviffKos is not decisive, for in this passage of the Anabasis the best MSS. read " Theopompus" instead of " Xenophon ;" and, besides this, the term veaviffKos is not used in such a way as to limit it to a young man. Xenophon seemed to Seuthes (Anab. vii. 2. § 8) old enough to have a marriageable daughter. This question is discussed at some length by C. W. Kriiger (De Xenopliontis Vita Quaestiones, Halle, 1822). The most probable conclusion seems to be that Xenophon was not under forty at the time when he joined the army of Cyrus. The mode in which Xenophon introduces himself in the Anabasis (iii. 1) would almost lead to the conclusion that his name ought not to occur in the first two books. (Comp. Clinton, Fast. Hell. b.c. 401.)

Xenophon is said to have been a pupil of Socrates at an early age, which is consistent with the in­timacy which might have arisen from Socrates saving his life. Philostratus states that he also received instruction from Prodicus of Ceos, during the time that he was a prisoner in Boeotia, but nothing is known of this captivity of Xenophon from any other authority. Photius (Biblioth. cclx.) says that Xenophon was also a pupil of Isocrates, which may be true, though Isocrates was younger than Xenophon, being born in b. c. 436. A story reported by Athenaeus (x. p. 427) of something that Xenophon said at the table of Dionysius the tyrant, may probably refer to the elder Dionj^sius who lived till b. c. 367; and if the statement is true, Xenophon must have visited Syracuse. Letronne (Biog. Univ. art. Xenophon), endeavours to show that Xenophon wrote the Symposium and the Hiero before b. c. 401 ; but his conclusion can hardly be -said to be even a strong probability. Xenophon was the editor of the History of Thucydides, but no time can be fixed for this ; nor can we assent to Letronne's conclusion that he published the work before b. c.


401. Xenophon may have been at Athens in b. c,

402. and Thucydides may have been dead then ; but these two facts prove nothing as to the time when the work of Thucydides was published. [thucydides.]

Xenophon in the Anabasis (iii. 1) mentions the circumstances under which he joined the army of Cyrus the younger, who was preparing his expedi­tion against his brother, Artaxerxes Mnemon, the king of Persia. Proxenus, a friend of Xenophon, was already with Cyrus, and he invited Xenophon to come to Sardis, and promised to introduce him to the Persian prince. Xenophon consulted his master Socrates, who advised him to consult the oracle of Delphi, for it was rather a hazardous matter for him to enter the service of Cyrus, who was considered to be the friend of the Lacedae­monians and the enemy of Athens. Xenophon went to Delphi, but he did not ask the god whether he should go or not: he probably had made up his mind. He merely asked to what gods he should sa­crifice in order that he might be successful in his intended enterprise. Socrates was not satisfied with his pupil's mode of consulting the oracle, but as he had got an answer, he told him to go ; and Xenophon went to Sardis, which Cyrus was just about to leave. The real object of the expedition was disguised from the Greeks in the army of Cyrus, or at least they affected not to know what it was. But Clearchus knew ; and the rest might suspect. Cyrus gave out that he was going to attack the Pisidians, but the direction of his march must have very soon shown that he was going elsewhere. He led his forces through Asia Minor, and over the mountains of Taurus to Tarsus in Cilicia. From thence he passed into Syria, crossed the Euphrates, and met the huge army of the Persians in the plain of Cunaxa, about forty miles from Babylon. In the affray that ensued, for it was not a battle, Cyrus lost his life, his barbarian troops were dispersed, and the Greeks were left alone on the wide plains between the Tigris and the Euphrates. It was after the treacherous mas­sacre of Clearchus and other of the Greek commanders by the Persian satrap Tissaphernes, that Xenophon came forward. He had held no command in the army of Cyrus, nor had he in fact served as a soldier. In the commencement of the third book of the Anabasis he states how he was called to take a part in conducting the hazardous retreat. Instead of attempting to return by the road by which they advanced, where they would have found no supplies, at least till they reached the Mediterranean, the Greek leaders conducted their men along the Tigris and over the high table lands of Armenia to Trapezus, now Trebizond, a Greek, colony on the south-east coast of the Black Sea. From Trapezus the troops were conducted to Chrysopolis, which is opposite to Byzantium. The Greeks were in great distress, and some of them under Xenophon entered the service of Seuthes, king of Thrace, who wanted their aid, and promised to pay for it. The Greeks performed what they agreed to do, but Seuthes was unwilling to pay, and it was with great difficulty that Xenophon got from him part of what he had promised. The description which Xenophon gives (Anab. vi. 3, &c.) of the manners of the Thracians is very curious and amusing. As the Lacedaemonians under Thimbron were now at war with Tissaphernos and Pharnalazus, Xenophon and his troops were

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of