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XENOPHON AND THE ATHENIAN DEMOCRACY
This book seeks to understand Xenophon as an elite Athenian writing largely for an elite Athenian audience in the ﬁrst half of the fourth century BC. It argues that Xenophon calls on men of his own class to set aside their assumptions of superiority based on birth or wealth and to reinvent themselves as individuals who can provide eﬀective leadership to the democratic city and serve it as good citizens. Xenophon challenges, criticizes, and sometimes satirizes the Athenian elite, and seeks to instruct them concerning the values, knowledge, and practical skills they will need to succeed as civic leaders. Xenophon is thus best understood not as an aristocratic dinosaur who is out of place in a democratic setting, as some have assumed, but as a thoughtful and pragmatic reformist who seeks to ensure that meritorious members of the elite step forward to lead within the democracy. . is a professor in the Department of Classical Studies at Indiana University. He is the author of The Limits of Altruism in Democratic Athens (Cambridge, ), The Bad Citizen in Classical Athens (Cambridge, ), and The Litigious Athenian ().
XENOPHON AND THE ATHENIAN DEMOCRACY The Education of an Elite Citizenry
MATTHEW R. CHRIST Indiana University
University Printing House, Cambridge , United Kingdom One Liberty Plaza, th Floor, New York, , USA Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne, , Australia –, rd Floor, Plot , Splendor Forum, Jasola District Centre, New Delhi – , India Anson Road, #–/, Singapore Cambridge University Press is part of the University of Cambridge. It furthers the University’s mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit of education, learning, and research at the highest international levels of excellence. www.cambridge.org Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/ : ./ © Matthew R. Christ This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data : Christ, Matthew Robert, author. : Xenophon and the Athenian democracy : the education of an elite citizenry / Matthew R. Christ. : Cambridge, United Kingdom ; New York, NY : Cambridge University Press, . | Includes bibliographical references and index. : (print) | (ebook) | (hardback) | (paperback) | (epub) : : Xenophon. | Elite (Social sciences)–Greece–Athens. | Democracy–Greece–Athens. | Leadership–Greece–Athens. | Athens (Greece)–Politics and government. | Athens (Greece)–History. : . (print) | . (ebook) | ./– LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/ LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/ ---- Hardback Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.
To Maggie, Miranda, and Helen Christ
Acknowledgments Introduction: Xenophon the Athenian
Athens in Crisis in the Hellenica
The Arginusae Aﬀair The Thirty The Elite as Leaders of the Democracy
Politics and the Gentleman in the Memorabilia
Critias, Alcibiades, and the Problem of Elite Political Behavior The Importance of Political Engagement Toward a New Elite: Making Good Leaders Politics and Philia among Gentlemen
Work, Money, and the Gentleman in the Oeconomicus
Elite Neglect of Oikonomia Ischomachus, the Perfect Gentleman Farming as an Occupation for a Gentleman Work, Management, and Entrepreneurship The Oikos and the City
The Education of Callias in the Symposium (Re)educating Callias Callias, Wealth, and the Democratic City Callias as Aristocrat, Lover, and Politician
Xenophon as Expert, Advisor, and Reformer in the Hipparchicus and Poroi
Hipparchicus: How to Succeed as a Democratic Military Leader Poroi: How to Succeed as a Democratic Rhētōr
Contents Xenophon the Democratic Orator: The Politics of Mass and Elite in the Anabasis The Anabasis as an Athenian Story The Anabasis and Democratic Athens Xenophon the Democratic Rhētōr
Conclusions: Elite Readers, Elite Citizens
Bibliography Index of Ancient Citations General Index
As I wrote this book, I beneﬁted greatly from the feedback of audiences at University of Michigan, Ohio State University, University of Toronto, Rutgers University, Wilfred Laurier University, and Indiana University. I am particularly grateful to Ben Akrigg, Greg Anderson, Ryan Balot, Judy Fletcher, Sara Forsdyke, Adriaan Lanni, Kurt Raaﬂaub, Eric Robinson, Bernd Steinbock, Rob Tordoﬀ, Bob Wallace, and Victoria Wohl for their suggestions and comments along the way. I also want to express gratitude to my family and friends for their kind support, and to Michael Sharp at Cambridge University Press and the anonymous readers of my manuscript, whose suggestions and criticisms were extremely helpful. The College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University generously provided me with support for materials and other research costs. Translations in the text are adapted from those found in Bowen ; Brownson , ; Dillery ; Henderson ; Krentz , ; Marchant and Bowersock ; Pomeroy ; Smith ; Strassler, Marincola, and Thomas ; Tredennick and Waterﬁeld ; and Waterﬁeld and Cartledge . Greek texts are from the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (University of California, Irvine). Ancient passages that are cited on speciﬁc points are given exempli gratia rather than as comprehensive listings of all testimonia, unless otherwise indicated. Abbreviated references to ancient authors and works are based primarily on those used in H. G. Liddell and R. Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, th edition, revised by H. S. Jones and R. McKenzie (Oxford, ). References to modern scholarship are listed in the Bibliography at the end of this book. Abbreviations of periodicals in the Bibliography follow the system of L’Année philologique.
Introduction Xenophon the Athenian
This book seeks to understand Xenophon as an elite Athenian writing largely for an elite Athenian audience in the ﬁrst half of the fourth century BC. Xenophon was an exceptional member of the Athenian elite in many respects: as a Socratic, mercenary general, and longtime exile from his city. Nonetheless, his diverse and extensive corpus deeply reﬂects his elite Athenian identity and addresses matters of great importance to his Athenian readers. Central among these is the question of the proper political role of members of the elite within the Athenian democracy especially in the aftermath of the brutal oligarchy of / that many members of the city’s elite had supported. Close consideration of Xenophon’s treatment of this can help us to understand better not only his personal perspective but also the challenges, both practical and ideological, faced by his contemporary elite Athenian audience. The Xenophon who emerges in the course of this study is a social and political innovator, who calls on men of his own class to set aside their assumptions of superiority based on birth or wealth and to reinvent themselves as individuals who can provide eﬀective leadership to the democratic city and serve it as good citizens. Xenophon has too often been viewed as a traditional aristocrat who rejects democratic rule and promotes an aristocratic worldview that is at odds with it. This vision of Xenophon, however, is not borne out by a careful reading of his writings. Xenophon, in fact, calls on his contemporary elite audience to adapt and contribute to the democratic city, and insists that this will beneﬁt both them and the city. Far from encouraging complacency among Athenians of his class, Xenophon – and the Socrates he depicts in several of his works – challenges, criticizes, and sometimes satirizes the Athenian elite and their attitudes, and seeks to instruct them concerning the values, knowledge, and practical skills they will need to succeed as civic leaders. Xenophon is best understood not as an aristocratic dinosaur who is out of place in a democratic setting but as a thoughtful and pragmatic reformist who seeks
to ensure that meritorious members of the elite step forward to lead within the democracy. Although Xenophon’s communications with his elite Athenian readers are necessarily one-sided from our modern vantage point – we have only his words and do not know how members of the Athenian elite responded to these – there is good reason to believe that his writings addressed matters of considerable interest to this audience. This is evident not only when Xenophon treats elite pastimes, such as hunting and horsemanship, or estate management, but also when he expounds on the role of the elite in political life. Elite Athenians were disproportionately active in leadership roles in the democratic city, and how they carried these out mattered immensely to them and the city. While one would be hard-pressed to write a history of Athens’ elite exclusively on the basis of Xenophon’s writings, these can enrich our understanding of the constraints on, and opportunities for, the elite under the democracy. In exploring Xenophon’s relationship with his elite Athenian audience, this book aims to oﬀer a fresh perspective on his eclectic writings. Scholars have productively investigated many aspects of Xenophon’s corpus, including his forays into philosophical, literary, and historical discourse; his striking generic innovation; his portrayal of Socrates and the relation of this to Plato’s depiction of him; and his delineation of the principles of good leadership in diverse settings. Although these inquiries have illuminated important features of Xenophon’s writings, they tend not to engage with a signiﬁcant facet of it, namely, that Xenophon is an Athenian writer addressing to a large extent an elite Athenian reading audience and that this context has important implications for our understanding of his perspective and purposes, and the reception of these by his contemporaries. While no one would dispute Xenophon’s Athenian origins and many would probably acknowledge that his audience was largely Athenian, relatively few scholars have sought to make sense of his writings in this
For a good overview of what “elite” means in an Athenian context and the attributes associated with the city’s elite, see Ober : –. In economic terms, elite Athenians could be described as those individuals who carried out liturgies for the city and paid the irregularly imposed war tax (eisphora), that is, the wealthiest percent or so of adult male citizens: see Christ : –. Several useful collections of essays illustrate how scholars have diversely explored Xenophon’s writings in recent years: Tuplin ; Hobden and Tuplin ; Flower a; Danzig, Johnson, and Morrison . Gray collects some inﬂuential essays from to . On Xenophon’s view of ideal leadership, see Gray : –, b; Flower , b: ; Buxton ; Ferrario : –; Marincola : –. Most scholars now take Xenophon seriously as a writer and thinker, and would reject the assessment of Anderson (: ; cf. Kelly : ) that “one cannot claim for Xenophon any profound moral or political insights.”
context. This study seeks to ﬁll this gap and to oﬀer a framework for understanding the signiﬁcant portion of Xenophon’s corpus that bears substantially on Athens and Athenian concerns. To read Xenophon within his cultural context, it is important ﬁrst to appreciate his Athenian roots and aﬃnities and the likelihood that he wrote largely for an Athenian audience. Although the details of Xenophon’s biography are sketchy, he was born around in Athens to a wealthy family; as a young man he studied with Socrates; and he likely served in the Athenian cavalry and as a member of it may well have supported the oligarchic regime of the Thirty in /. His aﬃliation with the Thirty may have inﬂuenced his decision, after their expulsion, to join Cyrus and the large band of Greek mercenaries under him in for what turned out to be a two-year march into the heart of the Persian Empire and back out again. Xenophon subsequently served as a mercenary in Asia Minor under a series of Spartan commanders, including eventually Agesilaus, with whom he returned to the Greek mainland and apparently fought in the Battle of Coronea in against an allied force that included Athenians. This last action may be what led the Athenians to exile him, if they had not done so earlier due to his support of Cyrus or of Spartan military ventures in Asia Minor. As an exile Xenophon lived at Scillus near Olympia under the protection of the Spartans until their defeat at Leuctra in and then at Corinth. Although Xenophon’s exile is said to have been rescinded at some point, he may not have taken up residence in Athens again; his two sons, however, fought on the Athenian side at the Battle of Mantinea in , where one of them, Gryllus, died as cavalryman. Xenophon was still writing after the Social War of – (Vect. .; cf. .), but we do not know how much longer he lived after this. Even though he was an exile for much of his adult life – and perhaps especially because of this – Xenophon’s Athenian experience and identity shapes his literary corpus. This is most conspicuous in his Socratic works, which are all set in Athens (Apology, Memorabilia, Oeconomicus, and Symposium); his Hellenica, whose ﬁrst two books focus on Athens; and his
On Xenophon’s life and career, see Flower : –, with earlier bibliography and the ancient testimonia, including most importantly Diogenes Laertius .–, which cites many earlier authors; cf. Lee . Gray (: n. ) challenges the common assumption that Xenophon served in the cavalry under the Thirty. For the debate concerning the details of Xenophon’s exile, see Tuplin ; Green ; and Badian : –. Dillery (: –, –) rightly notes that the evidence is slippery. For a survey of explicit mentions of Athens in Xenophon’s works, see Tuplin : –. In my view, Tuplin underestimates the impact of Xenophon’s Athenian experience and identity on his writings.
treatises Hipparchicus (On the Cavalry Commander) and Poroi (Ways and Means), both of which oﬀer practical advice to the Athenians. Arguably, however, even when Athens is not explicitly at the center of his writing, Xenophon’s interests as an elite Athenian determine the topics he takes up and how he treats them. For example, his Constitution of the Lacedaemonians reﬂects a long-standing fascination among elite Athenians with Sparta as an alternative to Athens. And Xenophon’s enduring interest in aristocrats in various guises across space and time – Cyrus the Great in Cyropaedia, and the title characters in Hiero and Agesilaus – can be read as, among other things, a projection and exploration of elite Athenian identity. There are numerous indications, moreover, that Xenophon views himself as an active participant in Athens’ literary culture. For example, it seems that he wrote his Apology and Symposium in direct response to those of Plato and as part of his rivalry with him over Socrates’ legacy, to which his other Socratic works also attest (cf. D. L. ., .–). Furthermore, in his Peri Hippikēs (On Horsemanship), Xenophon explicitly acknowledges that an Athenian, Simon, has written expertly on the subject, but nonetheless oﬀers his own treatise as a useful complement to this (.; cf. .). On a much larger scale, his Hellenica manifestly seeks to continue Thucydides’ Histories by picking up the history of the Peloponnesian War where Thucydides left oﬀ and giving an account of Greek history down to . And when Xenophon launches an attack on contemporary sophists in his treatise
Xenophon may also have written Peri Hippikēs (On Horsemanship) especially with an Athenian audience in mind since he speaks of it (.) as a sort of sequel to Hipparchicus, which is explicitly addressed to Athenians, and as a complement to the writings of the Athenian Simon (.). Delebecque (: –) argues that On Horsemanship is not addressed to an Athenian audience, but the evidence that he cites for this is not compelling. Although Xenophon idealizes early Sparta in this treatise (pace Humble ), he criticizes contemporary Sparta for its moral decline (Lac. Pol. ); on the complexity of Xenophon’s view of Sparta, see Tuplin : . On philolaconism among Athens’ elite, see Carter : –. For Xenophon’s manifest interest in Sparta as an alternative to Athens, see Mem. ..–; Tuplin (: ) too quickly rejects the possibility that Xenophon comes at Sparta in the Constitution of the Lacedaemonians “from an Athenian angle.” That Xenophon views himself as participating speciﬁcally in a literary culture is reﬂected in the fact that he frequently refers to the written nature of his work: see Mem. ..; An. .., ..; Eq. ., ., ., ., ., .; Eq. Mag. ., ., .; Lac. Pol. .; Cyn. .. Pomeroy (: ) underestimates Xenophon’s engagement with Athenian literary culture in allowing only that “he probably read some current Athenian literature.” Although some scholars argue that Xenophon’s Symposium came ﬁrst (see Thesleﬀ and Danzig ), most believe this is not the case (see Huss : –). The rivalry between Xenophon and Plato may also manifest itself elsewhere, for example, Aulus Gellius (..) claims that Xenophon began to write his Cyropaedia after the ﬁrst two books of Plato’s Republic came out (cf. D. L. .); in any event, Plato may well be responding dismissively to the Cyropaedia at Laws c, as D. L. . and Ath. .e–a posit (see Danzig b and Flower : ). On Xenophon’s rivalry with Plato as a Socratic, see Waterﬁeld , with earlier bibliography.
Cynegeticus (On Hunting) and distinguishes his own approach and values from theirs (.–), he is likely alluding to sophists in contemporary Athens; this polemic both sets Xenophon apart from one group of participants in Athenian literary culture (he speciﬁcally criticizes their “writings”: .–) and puts him in the company of “the philosophers” with whom he contrasts the sophists (., ; cf. Vect. .) – this group would presumably include Plato and Isocrates, who also lambaste sophists in their works (cf. .). The tradition that Isocrates wrote an encomium of Xenophon’s son Gryllus after his death at Mantinea (Hermippus fr. Wehrli apud D. L. .), if based in fact, may reﬂect recognition of Xenophon’s membership in Athens’ literary community as much as any personal connection between him and Isocrates. Although Xenophon, as a longtime exile from his city, could not participate directly in the life of the city, his literary works allowed him to do so from a distance. The substantial orientation of Xenophon’s corpus toward Athenian topics and concerns and his self-conscious participation in Athenian literary culture suggest that Xenophon was writing especially with an Athenian audience in mind. This is not to say that literate Greeks elsewhere could not have read and enjoyed Xenophon; they presumably did. But Athens, given its size, prosperity, and thriving literary culture, probably had the largest reading audience in the Greek world at this time, and the Athenian orientation of many of Xenophon’s works made them especially appropriate for this audience. This readership would have consisted primarily of elite Athenians, who had suﬃcient wealth and leisure to attain a high level of literacy through their education, could aﬀord to purchase books, and
Gray () makes a strong case that Cynegeticus is an authentic Xenophontic work, pace Classen : . Xenophon is not uniformly hostile to sophists in his writings: see Dorion : –. As Dillery (: –; cf. L’Allier ) observes, Xenophon at times deploys sophistic language in his critique of sophists in Cynegeticus. Cf. Tuplin : –. Pace Thomas (: –), who argues that Xenophon’s polemic targets Plato. On Xenophon, Plato, and Isocrates, see Tuplin : –. Xenophon not only links himself to philosophers in this diatribe, but also associates himself with Thucydides when he speaks of the utility and importance of his work for future generations (.; cf. Thuc. ..). Cf. Flower : . Although Azoulay (a: ) views this encomium as evidence of cordial relations between Isocrates and Xenophon, who were fellow demesmen, Xenophon’s literary stature may have been the impetus for it. According to Diogenes Laertius (.), “Aristotle says that there were innumerable authors of eulogies and epitaphs for Gryllus, who wrote in part at least to gratify his father” (fr. Rose); Pausanias (.., .., ..) reports that there was a painting of Gryllus wounding Epaminondas in the Stoa of Zeus Eleutherios in Athens. Flower (: ; cf. Due : ; Pomeroy : ) is more cautious on the question of Xenophon’s audience: “This surely included his fellow Athenians as well as Greeks from other cities.”
may have congregated with men of their class in social settings for reading aloud from them. The fourth century witnessed a surge in the production and presumably also in the reading of prose works in Athens, including philosophical, oratorical, and historical texts. Although elite Athenian readers no doubt diﬀered in their tastes, Xenophon’s corpus may have held particularly wide appeal among them since it was diverse and accessible and it focused on activities – including hunting, horsemanship, estate management, and political and military leadership – that were of broad interest to upper-class Athenians and central to their personal and collective identities. Two further features of Xenophon’s writings may have broadened their appeal among elite Athenians: their moderate perspective on the Athenian democracy, with which the city’s elite seem to have made their peace for the most part by the early fourth century, and their extensive attention to how elite Athenians can succeed within a democratic polity. Although many scholars have viewed Xenophon as a conservative aristocrat and oligarch who opposed the Athenian democracy, recent scholarship has challenged this assessment, arguing that while Xenophon is sometimes critical of the democracy, he is restrained in his criticism. Particularly telling is his depiction of Athens in the opening books of his Hellenica: although Xenophon’s portrayal of the Athenian people (dēmos) in the Arginusae aﬀair is critical (..–), his depiction of the oligarchic junta of the Thirty is scathing (.–), and his admiration of the Amnesty of , which the dēmos passed at the conclusion of the Athenian civil war (..), suggests that in his view the democracy proved itself to be
On the nexus of wealth and literacy in Athens, see Harris : –; on reading as a marker of elite status and culture in classical antiquity, see Johnson : –. On the expense of books in Athens, see Harris : –. On “reading circles” in Athens, see Kelly ; Johnson : –; Thomas : ; on the communal character of reading in Greece and Rome, see Johnson and . On the growth of book culture in fourth-century Athens, see Harris : –; Knox : –; Morgan : –; Kurke ; Thomas : , ; Pinto . Xenophon himself provides a glimpse of a ﬂourishing book culture in Athens in his satirical portrayal of Euthydemos as book collector (see Mem. .., with Pinto : ) and perhaps of the inter-polis book trade in his description of “many books” washed up from a shipwreck on the Black Sea coast (An. ..). Waterﬁeld (: –) proposes that Xenophon, in his Socratic corpus, is engaged in popularizing philosophy. On the potentially wide appeal of Xenophon and Isocrates in the “moral education” of the elite, see Pownall . See Luccioni : –; Anderson : ; Waterﬁeld and Cartledge : ix; Hunt : –; Pownall : , : –; Brock : –; Tamiolaki : –; cf. Bevilacqua : , . Kroeker (: –) provides a useful survey of scholarship on Xenophon’s political perspective. See Waterﬁeld : –; Kroeker ; Gray a; Tuplin : –; cf. Seager : , –; Badian : –; McCloskey .
superior to the oligarchy of the Thirty. In keeping with Xenophon’s own moderate perspective on the democracy is his admiring portrayal of Socrates, who objects to the democratic use of sortition (Mem. ..–) and has some unkind words about the average men who participate in the Athenian Assembly (..), but is nonetheless, “one of the people and a friend of mankind” (dēmotikos kai philanthropos, ..). On balance, it seems right to view Xenophon as an “immanent” or “internal” critic of the democracy, who seeks to improve rather than overthrow it, and not as a “rejectionist” or “external” critic of it. For Xenophon – and arguably for most members of his elite Athenian reading audience – the pressing question is not how the elite can alter the city’s democratic constitution, but rather how they can succeed under it, and Xenophon addresses this at great length and in a variety of ways in his writings. The city’s elite played a signiﬁcant role in providing leadership, especially as orators (rhētores) and generals, under the democracy; this was vital for the success of the democracy and an important way for elite Athenians to win honor and prestige, and the social and political advantages that attended these. Xenophon, as we shall see, oﬀers his elite Athenian readers an education in the values, knowledge, and skills that they will need to lead the democracy eﬀectively. A striking feature of Xenophon’s communications with his elite Athenian readership is his rejection of the arrogant assumption that men of the upper class deserve to lead within the city because of their wealth or high birth. Xenophon insists that the city’s elite are not automatically qualiﬁed to lead but must seek out an education that will make them worthy of leading – a traditional aristocratic education does not suﬃce for this.
See Gray : –, a: –, and Kroeker : –. Chapter examines in detail Xenophon’s treatment of these episodes. On the sortition passage, see Gray a: –; on the Assembly passage, see ibid. – and Kroeker : –. Gray (a: –, –; cf. Kroeker : –) makes a strong case against earlier scholars, including Luccioni : – and Vlastos : –, that Xenophon portrays Socrates as “democratic in the broadest sense” (), and posits that “Xenophon’s own attitudes to democracy are even more democratic than those of his Socrates” (). For the categorization of political criticism in these terms, see Walzer , . Ober (: –) productively applies Walzer’s terminology to the analysis of Athenian critics of popular rule, but does not treat Xenophon in his study. Kroeker (: –), building on Ober, draws on this terminology in his assessment of Xenophon’s political stance, arguing (; cf. –) that although Xenophon “tended strongly towards an internal/immanent critique, his Lac. exhibits a decidedly external/rejectionist stance”; Gray (a: –), however, makes a good case that this work need not be viewed as rejectionist. On the substantial role of the elite in the city’s political life, see Ober : –, and passim, and Hansen : –. On education as an elite marker and source of elite pride, see Ober : –, –.
In so doing, they must actively transform themselves and revise their understanding of what it means to be a gentleman (kalos kagathos). Rather than reinforce elite notions of superiority, privilege, and entitlement, Xenophon exposes their absurdity. If Xenophon is in some sense an “immanent” critic of the Athenian democracy, he is more conspicuously an “immanent” critic of men of his own class, as he takes the city’s elite to task for their failure to fulﬁll the roles they should within the city, and oﬀers often pointed advice on how they can lead responsibly. While this entails deﬂating elite egos, Xenophon suggests that those who embrace this vision can take control of themselves and their circumstances and achieve prominence in the city. Empowerment of this sort, however, demands ﬁrst humility and self-knowledge, and a willingness to learn from those who have a superior understanding of good leadership and its underpinnings, like Xenophon and his Socrates. Although scholars have tended not to explore in detail Xenophon’s relationship with his elite Athenian audience and the nature of his communications with them, there are some notable exceptions. Steven Johnstone (), for example, proposes that Xenophon formulates for his elite readers a vision of “aristocratic style” to which only they have access through the elite lifestyle and culture that he sets forth as a model for them. In my view, although Johnstone is right to posit that Xenophon engages with the problem of elite identity, he is mistaken in his assessment of Xenophon’s perspective and intent. Xenophon is not concerned so much with “aristocratic style” – even broadly conceived – as with educating his readers in the values, knowledge, and skills they need to lead the democracy responsibly; and he is not a defender of class interests who seeks merely to defend and preserve elite prerogatives and power, but a critic of elite arrogance who insists that members of the elite must substantially transform themselves to be worthy of leading democratic Athens.
Cf. Ferrario : : “his generally pro-aristocratic perspective tends often to manifest itself in a call to class-appropriate political and social responsibility.” This reading of Xenophon as an author who accepts the legitimacy of the Athenian democracy and seeks to communicate openly and directly to a broad elite audience how they can succeed within it diverges radically from that of Leo Strauss, who envisions Xenophon as an opponent of the democracy who conveys his views cryptically to an elite philosophical few. In general, elite writers in Athens were free to communicate as they saw ﬁt with their reading audiences under the democracy and had no need to conceal their real intent from their readers (see Ober : –, –); and Xenophon’s program for reforming the city’s elite is hardly veiled from his reader, as he develops it in detail and openly across much of his corpus. For criticism of Strauss’ approach to Xenophon, see Dorion : –, –; cf. Gray b: –; Rood ; Flower b: –. Johnson (: –, –) oﬀers a more positive appraisal of the Straussian approach. For further discussion of Johnstone’s position, see Chapter .
In advancing this perspective on Xenophon’s “message” for his elite Athenian audience, I build on Ryan Balot’s () perceptive analysis of this. Balot rejects Johnstone’s vision of Xenophon as “elaborating a certain model of aristocratic ‘style’: a style of life to which only the wealthy have access,” and argues that “Xenophon’s rehabilitation of aristocratic worth proceeds primarily on the basis of claims about aristocratic civic value and moral character” (). In my view, Balot is right to point to Xenophon’s deep concern with moral excellence among the elite and to emphasize that “Xenophon is concerned to educate the upper classes to become responsible and eﬀective leaders” (). I do not believe, however, that Xenophon’s project entails a “rehabilitation of aristocratic worth” and a “reinvention of the aristocratic political ideal” (). Although Xenophon is conscious of class diﬀerence and addresses his elite peers in terms that are meaningful to them, in my view he is not promoting speciﬁcally aristocratic worth or an aristocratic political ideal that would diﬀerentiate members of the elite from other citizens. Rather, he urges members of the elite to embrace basic values that are not class speciﬁc and to apply these in serving the democratic city responsibly. He seeks more to integrate the elite within the city than to diﬀerentiate them from their fellow citizens on the basis of shared values or political ideology. In Xenophon’s view, while elite Athenians enjoy many advantages – not least access to education (cf. Cyr. ..) – and this means members of the elite are more likely than average citizens to play leadership roles in the city, they are bound to other citizens by common interests and goals as members of a civic community. Although Xenophon in my view stops well short of expressing, as Ron Kroeker () suggests, “a solidarity with the foundational ideology of the democratic regime,” he oﬀers pragmatic advice to the city’s elite concerning how they can improve their own situation, along with that of their fellow citizens, by providing eﬀective leadership within the democracy.
Balot (: –) speaks of the need for “rehabilitation” and “reinvention” in the context of the calamitous rule of the Thirty that undercut elite claims to innate virtue and political superiority. It is important to note, however, that while Xenophon is deeply concerned with the moral excellence of the elite, as Balot posits, he is equally concerned that elite citizens acquire the knowledge and practical skills that they need to lead well, and this sets him apart from other elite writers. Kroeker (: [abstract]; cf. –) posits: “his works seem to express a sympathy for the democracy that extends beyond a patriotic desire for the betterment of his native city regardless of constitution to a solidarity with the foundational ideology of the democratic regime.” Seager (: ; cf. –) rightly observes that Xenophon “makes greater allowance for the claims of the individual, his reputation, family, and friends, than is customary in democratic discourse.”
In the analysis that follows, I focus on the works of Xenophon that best illuminate his Athenian interests and his engagement with his elite Athenian audience. Although this means that most of the chapters are devoted to works that have a manifest link to Athens, a chapter on the Anabasis proposes that it is shaped much more by Athenian concerns and interests than has been recognized and that it brings together many features of Xenophon’s explicitly Athenian reﬂections. Although each chapter of this study treats a diﬀerent Xenophontic work (and in the case of one chapter, two works), the sequence of chapters is determined by my argument rather than the order in which the works may have been written. Some Xenophontic works or parts of these can be fairly securely dated, but we are not in a position to assert with conﬁdence the sequence of each work within Xenophon’s literary production. This is unfortunate since it would be interesting to track the evolution of Xenophon’s thinking and its relation to what we know, or think we know, of his career and experiences. Nonetheless, while we cannot discern how Xenophon’s thought developed over time, we can still identify persistent concerns and the diﬀerent ways in which Xenophon addresses these across his corpus. Indeed, a primary objective of this study is to demonstrate that Xenophon advances a fairly coherent and consistent vision of how elite Athenians should live their lives within the democracy and provide leadership to it across a range of generically diverse works that were presumably composed at diﬀerent times. My approach, which could be described as holistic and synthetic, is to seek out continuities across works that on the face of it are sometimes quite diﬀerent from one another so as to illuminate Xenophon’s educational agenda and political perspective. To be sure, Xenophon is not always entirely consistent, but I believe that we can better understand Xenophon’s thinking and objectives by identifying and analyzing the signiﬁcant threads that connect his works to one another. In my view, Xenophon’s Athenian works have too often been viewed in isolation from one another, and this has been an obstacle to understanding each of them individually and the larger corpus of which they are a part. Xenophon’s profound interest in the proper role of the elite within the Athenian democracy is perhaps not surprising for a thoughtful man of his
For a pithy summary of “a few secure points” in dating Xenophontic works, see Lee : –. Cf. Flower b: : “It might be better, therefore, to lay aside the question of chronology, and concentrate on the construction of meaning across the corpus.”
class who came to maturity during the latter part of the Peloponnesian War when tensions ran high between the elite and the dēmos, and oligarchic regimes, supported by members of the elite, seized power in (the Four Hundred) and / (the Thirty). Although we know very little about Xenophon’s personal experience during this period, the ﬁrst two books of the Hellenica recount the tumultuous history of Athens from to and provide a window on Xenophon’s perspective on the democracy and the role of the elite within it. Chapter examines Xenophon’s portrayal of the Athenian elite in the opening books of the Hellenica. It suggests that his presentation of the Arginusae episode (), in which the Athenian dēmos executed six of its generals without trial, focuses not so much on the behavior of the dēmos as on the essential role of elite Athenians in advising the dēmos. This chapter then considers how Xenophon, despite his attraction to oligarchy as an alternative to democracy, presents a dark picture of the regime of the Thirty and its rapid descent into violence and lawlessness, and hails the restoration of the democracy as a return to normalcy and harmony in the city. This episode is key to understanding Xenophon’s political perspective: the manifest failure of the city’s elite to oﬀer a reasonable alternative to democracy means that for Xenophon the central political question for elite Athenians of his time is not how to overthrow the city’s democratic constitution but how to provide the democracy with the leadership it needs to succeed. Indeed, Xenophon’s portrayal of several elite Athenian leaders in the opening books of the Hellenica provides some important indications of what Xenophon regards as capable and responsible elite leadership of the dēmos. Xenophon explores elite leadership of the democracy extensively in his Socratic writings, which are the focus of the next three chapters. Chapter argues that Xenophon’s interest in the political role of the elite is especially conspicuous in the Memorabilia, where he portrays Socrates interacting critically with members of the Athenian elite and seeking to motivate and guide them to become worthy of the leadership roles that fall to them under the democracy. Although Xenophon frames the Memorabilia as a defense of Socrates from the charges that led to his execution in , within this framework he considers in detail how elite Athenians can thoroughly prepare for, and eﬀectively carry out, essential public roles, especially that of orator and of military commander. Xenophon’s Socrates, in his conversations with elite Athenians, exposes how absurd it is for them to believe that they deserve to lead the city merely on the basis of their wealth or lineage, and urges them to seek out through education the values, knowledge, and skills that they need to lead well. In so doing, he
challenges his elite interlocutors to alter their understanding of what it means to be a gentleman (kalos kagathos) and to reconcile this with being good citizens who contribute to the success of the democratic city especially by providing good leadership. If Xenophon’s Socrates works to enlighten his elite interlocutors of the late ﬁfth century concerning their essential role in leading the democracy, Xenophon plays an analogous role with his fourth-century elite reading audience, as he brings before them in his Memorabilia and other Socratic works Socrates’ wisdom concerning the proper role of the elite within the city. Xenophon’s project to educate elite Athenians so they can be good citizens and leaders within the democracy takes a diﬀerent tack in another of his Socratic works, the Oeconomicus, which is the focus of Chapter . This work examines how elite Athenians should manage their individual households and estates (oikoi), and makes the case that they should set aside aristocratic disdain for work and money-making, and actively seek to become successful estate managers and entrepreneurs. This will beneﬁt them personally in a variety of ways: the work they undertake will make them physically stronger and healthier, build character, and give them the resources they need to support an elite lifestyle. At the same time, however, this will make them better citizens of the democracy, who will more eﬀectively serve the city as hoplites and cavalrymen and perform a range of other civic roles: the wealth that they accrue will allow them to carry out liturgies for the city, and the managerial skills they develop will make them better leaders of the city. Indeed, Xenophon portrays the oikos as a microcosm of the city in which members of the elite can hone the skills that they will need to lead the city eﬀectively. Socrates ﬁgures prominently in the Oeconomicus, as in the Memorabilia, as a critic of destructive elite values and behaviors and a proponent of reconceptualizing what it means to be a “gentleman” in light of the good citizenship needed from the elite; his account of his conversation with Ischomachus, a successful farmer who has arranged his life and estate so as to make himself healthy, wealthy, and ready to serve his city, oﬀers elite Athenians a model for transforming themselves into “gentlemen” in the true sense of the word. Xenophon’s preoccupation with the place of elite citizens in the democratic city is further conﬁrmed in the Symposium, where he presents his Socrates tirelessly pursuing his political project of transforming members of the elite into good citizens and leaders of the city even at an elite dinner party. Chapter argues that notwithstanding the Symposium’s debt to its more famous Platonic predecessor, Xenophon exploits the symposiastic setting to serve his own purposes and interests, as Socrates, assisted by
Antisthenes, seeks to educate Callias, a super-rich Athenian, concerning proper elite values and behavior in the democracy. Callias’ naive assumptions concerning his wealth and its capacities are challenged and laid bare, and ultimately Socrates instructs him on how he can live up to the high expectations of a man of wealth and high birth by seeking political knowledge, pursuing leadership positions within the city, and fostering the same ambitions in the boy Autolycus, whom he loves, within the context of a mutually supportive friendship (philia). As such, the Symposium constitutes a case study in the education of a conspicuous member of the Athenian elite concerning the political role to which he should aspire within the city. Although Xenophon portrays Callias as a challenging student to educate, he shows his Socrates doing his best to recruit a prominent elite Athenian to serve the democratic city. If Xenophon employs Socrates’ conversations with elite Athenians as a vehicle for communicating with his reading audience concerning their responsibilities within the democracy, he adopts a more direct approach to this in his Hipparchicus and his Poroi, where he addresses his readers in his own voice as an expert who can help them succeed in speciﬁc leadership roles. Chapter considers ﬁrst Xenophon’s advice in Hipparchicus concerning how a cavalry commander can best carry out this important elected oﬃce for the democratic city. Although this work advises on everything from the care of horses’ hooves to the planning of parade formations, it also sketches out strategies by which a cavalry commander can overcome the social and political challenges that he faces, and in so doing illustrates how an elite leader can maneuver and succeed in a democratic setting. Xenophon’s ideal cavalry commander is an astute political actor who carefully and self-consciously manages his relations with individuals, the Council, and the public at large; and while he seeks to carry out his duties in keeping with existing democratic institutions and rules, he also works to modify these when this will beneﬁt the city. This chapter then turns to the Poroi, a “pamphlet” written soon after Athens’ disastrous Social War (–) in which Xenophon seeks to persuade his elite Athenian readers, as actual or potential leaders within the city, to work to implement far-ranging reforms that will improve the city’s ﬁnances and its situation at home and abroad. The proposed reforms, which Xenophon sets out in detail, seek to provide all Athenian citizens with a daily payment of three obols and thus eliminate the need for Athenians to seek proﬁt abroad through aggression. Wealthy Athenians play a central role in these reforms: instead of spending their fortunes on supporting the city’s military ventures abroad as payers of the war tax
(eisphora), they will contribute capital to foster entrepreneurial enterprises that will create revenues for the city and proﬁt for themselves. As Xenophon presents his program of reforms, he provides his elite readers with the arguments on which they can draw to win its passage in the Athenian Assembly. In modeling for them how they, as democratic rhētores, can improve the city’s situation dramatically, Xenophon shows himself to be knowledgeable about not only the city’s ﬁnances but also how to deploy rhetoric to achieve change within the democracy. Xenophon’s deep interest in the role of elite Athenians in the democratic city is evident not only in his manifestly Athenian works where this is an explicit concern but also elsewhere in his corpus, most notably in his Anabasis, on which Chapter focuses. Although this work tells the story of how the Ten Thousand, a band of Greek mercenaries, marched with Cyrus into the heart of the Persian Empire in and found their way back out of it two years later after overcoming many challenges, Xenophon’s account is profoundly aﬀected by his Athenian experience and his strong interest in elite political behavior within the Athenian democracy. The Anabasis broadly evokes the political situation in Athens and the complex interactions of mass and elite there as Xenophon depicts the importance of, and challenges for, elite leadership in the quasi-democratic setting of the Cyrean army. In setting forth how a versatile elite Athenian – Xenophon himself – succeeds as a leader of the Cyreans, it conﬁrms in action the principles that Xenophon lays down elsewhere for eﬀective elite leadership within the Athenian democracy. The Anabasis, however, also elaborates on a key facet of elite leadership of the masses that Xenophon only touches on more brieﬂy in his Athenian works, namely, the critical role of persuasion and rhetoric. Signiﬁcantly, it portrays Xenophon not just as a talented general but as a capable democratic orator who wins over the Cyrean masses in deliberative and forensic contexts that recall their Athenian analogs. Xenophon thus provides his elite Athenian readers with a model of successful leadership that they can emulate within the democratic city. A concluding chapter considers the implications of this study for understanding both Xenophon and his elite Athenian audience. It proposes that while Xenophon’s message to his readers is fairly straightforward – elite Athenians have a special role to play as leaders of the democracy, and must therefore seek through education to develop the values, knowledge, and skills that will make them worthy to lead the city – it was highly relevant in the aftermath of the disastrous reign of the Thirty, and Xenophon’s advancement of this in diverse ways across his corpus was original and
signiﬁcant. Xenophon oﬀers this advice not because he has great conﬁdence in democratic institutions, but rather because he is committed to Athens’ stability and prosperity and believes that his elite peers can advance the common good along with their own interests. Xenophon’s direct and strong appeal to his readers’ interests, in fact, may tell us something not only about his rhetorical strategies as author but also about the psychology and outlook of elite Athenians, who can be seen elsewhere in our sources to be highly attuned to their personal and ﬁnancial interests even as they carry out civic roles within the democratic city.
Athens in Crisis in the Hellenica
A natural starting point for inquiring into Xenophon’s perspective on the Athenian democracy and the place of the elite within it is his account of Athens’ tumultuous history in the last decade of the ﬁfth century in the opening books of the Hellenica. Xenophon portrays Athens undergoing a series of crises in the late years of the Peloponnesian War, including the execution of six of its generals without trial after their naval victory at Arginusae (), the violent rule of the oligarchic Thirty (/), and the civil war that ensued and led to the restoration of the democracy (). In depicting these events, Xenophon provides important clues concerning his view of the proper role of the elite within Athens. His account suggests that while he is critical of aspects of democratic rule, the violence and destruction wrought by the Thirty convinces him that the city’s elite should stop seeking to overthrow the democracy and devote their energies instead to providing responsible leadership within the democratic city. Xenophon’s account of Athens in crisis occupies a privileged position in his Hellenica, ﬁlling much of the ﬁrst two of its seven books that recount the history of the Greek world at war from to . It appears that Xenophon, as an Athenian, viewed these events as momentous, and his Athenian reading audience no doubt also did. Xenophon may also have had a personal stake in how Athenians viewed this period if he served as a member of the cavalry under the Thirty. In any event, Xenophon’s account of Athenian history in the last decade of the ﬁfth century allows us to assess his perspective on democracy and its alternatives in Athens and to begin to understand why he devotes so much attention in his other writings to the essential role of the elite within the democracy. This chapter considers ﬁrst how Xenophon presents a critical, but not devastating, view of the Athenian people (dēmos) in the Arginusae episode, and argues that his account focuses as much on the problem of elite
On the possibility that Xenophon served in the cavalry under the Thirty, see the Introduction.
The Arginusae Aﬀair
leadership within the democracy as it does on the shortcomings of the Athenian dēmos. Next, it turns to Xenophon’s depiction of the brutal regime of the Thirty and argues that while Xenophon is sympathetic toward those who sought to establish a moderate oligarchy in Athens, he is acutely aware that this enterprise went badly awry in the hands of the Thirty and accepts, therefore, that Athens will remain a democracy. Finally, it proposes that Xenophon’s largely positive portrayal of several elite Athenian leaders in the opening books of the Hellenica suggests how the elite, working within democratic structures, can provide competent and responsible leadership to the democratic city.
The Arginusae Aﬀair Xenophon’s basic account of the Arginusae aﬀair of is fairly straightforward (..–..). When the Athenians learned that their general Conon and his ﬂeet were blockaded at Mytilene, they swiftly mounted an extraordinary rescue expedition of ships that proceeded to win a major victory over a large Peloponnesian ﬂeet oﬀ the Arginusae islands opposite Mytilene. The Athenian generals then delegated to the trierarchs Theramenes and Thrasybulus, along with others, to sail with forty-seven ships to rescue the survivors of the twenty-ﬁve Athenian ships lost in the battle while they themselves proceeded to attack the ships that were blockading Conon and his forces at Mytilene. A storm developed, however, and made it impossible for the rescuers to carry out their charge. The Athenians deposed the eight generals present at Arginusae, six of whom returned to Athens where they faced an angry public. The dēmos, spurred on especially by Theramenes and the demagogue Callixeinus, condemned the generals without trial and ordered that they be executed, notwithstanding the passionate appeal of Euryptolemus to try the generals individually in accordance with the city’s laws. When the dēmos later regretted its decision, it indicted and detained Callixeinus and four others who were deemed culpable for what had transpired, but these men all escaped due to civic turmoil; when Callixeinus later returned to Athens, “he was hated by everybody and died of starvation” (..).
Many scholars believe on the basis of stylistic considerations that Xenophon wrote Books –.., which includes his account of Arginusae, at an earlier date than the other books of the Hellenica. For a survey of this scholarship and a challenge to it, see Gray . Whereas Xenophon speaks of the rescue of survivors, Diodorus Siculus (..) refers to the retrieval of corpses. It is possible the rescuers were meant to aid the survivors and to retrieve corpses as well.
Athens in Crisis in the Hellenica
Xenophon’s general perspective on the episode is clear. Early in his account, he states in his own voice that the storm prevented the rescue of the survivors (..), and thus reveals that in his view the eﬀorts that ensued to punish the generals were unfair. Xenophon later has Euryptolemus, whom, as we shall see, he portrays as a model statesman, assert emphatically in the course of his speech that rescue was impossible and it would be unjust therefore to punish the generals (..–) and impious as well (.., ). In presenting the situation in these terms, Euryptolemus appears to conﬁrm Xenophon’s own judgment. Although most scholars agree that Xenophon portrays this as a dark episode for the Athenian democracy, they diverge in assessing how dark his presentation is and what it conveys about his view of the democracy and its viability as a political enterprise. In my view, while Xenophon is critical of the role of the dēmos in this episode, he stops short of blaming the democracy per se and suggests that responsible elite leadership may be able to rein in the excesses of the dēmos even if this was not the case on this occasion. Let us ﬁrst consider closely how Xenophon portrays the dēmos and its role in the Arginusae aﬀair. The picture is not a ﬂattering one. The Athenian people are clearly angry at the generals for failing to rescue the survivors of Arginusae, and lash out at those who stand in the way of their wish to punish the generals without a trial in accordance with the proposal brought forward by Callixeinus: Euryptolemus the son of Peisianax and some others served a summons against Callixeinus, alleging that he had made an illegal proposal. Although some members of the dēmos praised this, the majority cried out that it was a terrible thing if someone would not allow the dēmos to do whatever it
Pownall (: ) suggests that “Xenophon’s inclusion of the element of impiety only in Euryptolemus’ speech and not in the narrative portion of the episode indicates that perhaps he feels that this allegation is somewhat more tenuous than that of illegality.” Euryptolemus’ concerns over impiety, however, are fully consistent with Xenophon’s emphasis in his writings on piety as an important value (see Mem. ..–, ..–, ..–; Oec. .–; Smp. .–; An. ..). Thus, for example, Pownall (: ) suggests that Xenophon slants his narrative to make the dēmos appear in the worst light, whereas Kroeker (: ) posits that “[t]he narrative . . . seems to contain elements of both blame and exoneration” of the dēmos. Most historians, based on the accounts of the Arginusae aﬀair in Xenophon and Diodorus Siculus, have taken this episode as one of the darkest moments for democratic Athens; Gish (: n. ) collects some of these modern assessments. On the tense relations between generals and the dēmos during the Peloponnesian War, see Hamel : –; cf. Asmonti . Hunt (: ) speculates that Theramenes may have capitalized on a public backlash against the generals for their role in giving slaves citizenship en masse to help man the ﬂeet that fought at Arginusae (cf. ..).
The Arginusae Aﬀair
wished. When Lyciscus then said that these men also should be judged by the same vote as the generals, unless they withdrew their summons, the mob (ho ochlos) broke out again with shouts, and they were compelled to withdraw this. When some of the Prytanes refused to put the proposal to a vote on the grounds that it was contrary to the law, Callixeinus again mounted the platform and brought the same accusations against them; and the crowd cried out to summon to court those who had refused. The Prytanes, stricken with fear, agreed to put the proposal to a vote – all of them except Socrates the son of Sophroniscus, who said that in no case would he act except in accordance with the law. (..–)
Acting as a mob, the dēmos intimidates those who oppose it, and although it vacillates and nearly spares the generals, it is misled and deceived by some of those addressing it and ultimately votes for condemnation. Dustin Gish argues that Xenophon’s account of the dēmos’ behavior is not dark, as most scholars believe, but rather shows a spirited public acting legitimately in defense of popular sovereignty. He posits that the dēmos is reasonably exercising its authority within the city to act against oligarchic threats to democratic rule and that Xenophon’s portrayal of the dēmos is neutral rather than critical. This is not persuasive. Xenophon makes no mention of the dēmos’ concern over oligarchic plots that may explain or justify its actions, and his characterization of the dēmos is unmistakably critical: it acts as a mob (ochlos), shouts out repeatedly in anger, and threatens and intimidates those who oppose its will. So too in the Anabasis, Xenophon sometimes depicts the Cyrean army in its camp as a potentially dangerous mob that can turn on its leaders, including Xenophon himself. Indeed, there is some overlap between Xenophon’s
Gish : , , –, –. Oligarchic threats: Gish : –, –. Neutral portrayal of the dēmos: ibid. –. Although ochlos can be used neutrally of a crowd (Gish : n. ), it appears to be used pejoratively here; Xenophon ﬁrst refers to the people in the Assembly as the dēmos (..), but then speaks of them as an ochlos (..) as they become more agitated (cf. Krentz : and Pownall : ). While it is true that Athenians regularly cry out and interrupt speakers in the Assembly and popular courts (Gish : –), Xenophon calls attention to the agitation of the Athenians by referring three times in rapid succession to their shouting (..–). Although Xenophon “never uses the word ‘anger’ to describe the character of the dēmos at any time in the whole aﬀair” (Gish : ), he portrays it behaving angrily here and explicitly refers to this in the Memorabilia, when he describes how Socrates, who was serving as one of the Prytanes on this occasion, resisted the angry dēmos (..). The readiness of the dēmos to punish those challenging the legality of Callixeinus’ decree compels (ēnagkasthēsan) them to withdraw their challenge (..), and its demand that the resistant Prytanes face trial evokes fear (phobēthentes) from them and leads all of them but Socrates to yield (..–). See Chapter .
Athens in Crisis in the Hellenica
characterization of the dēmos in the Arginusae episode and the equation of democracy with mob rule that is found in other elite writers. The important question here is not whether this account is critical of the dēmos – it surely is – but what the nature of the criticism is and what the implications of this are for understanding Xenophon’s view of the democracy. This episode illustrates how, under certain conditions, the dēmos may succumb to its emotions and act as a mob, asserting the primacy of its collective will, intimidating opponents, and acting irresponsibly and unjustly. Notably, Xenophon does not assert that this sort of extreme behavior on the part of the dēmos is typical. In fact, what troubles Xenophon is the dēmos’ striking deviation from its regular conduct of public business in accordance with its laws. His Euryptolemus thus reminds the public of the range of laws available under which they could try the generals individually (..–), and invokes as a paradigm of Athenian lawfulness and restraint the case of Aristarchus, who had participated in the oligarchy of the Four Hundred in : You would do a terrible thing if after you granted to Aristarchus, who tried to destroy the democracy and then betrayed Oinoe to your enemies the Thebans, a day to defend himself in whatever manner he wished, and did everything else in his trial in accordance with the law, if, I say, you now deprive these generals, who have done everything according to your wishes and defeated the enemy, of these same legal privileges. Do no such thing, men of Athens, and guard the laws, which are your own and above all else have made you great, and do not try to do anything without them. (..–)
Euryptolemus seeks to bring the dēmos back to what he represents as its characteristic respect for the laws as the foundation of the democracy, which it maintained even when responding to an oligarchic revolutionary and traitor like Aristarchus. In keeping with this picture of traditional democratic regard for lawfulness is Xenophon’s depiction of how the rules and protocols of the Assembly, Council, and popular courts are, up to a point, meticulously observed in the matter of the generals. First, the Assembly deposes the generals (..), as is its prerogative (cf. [Arist.] Ath. Pol. .). After six of the generals return to Athens, Archedemus, a leader of the dēmos, prosecutes one of them, Erasinides, before a popular court on the charge that “he had in his possession money from the Hellespont that belonged to the
See [X.] Ath. Pol. .; Hdt. ..–; Thuc. ..; cf. Pl. Gorg. a. For a good analysis of the rules and protocols involved at each point, see Ostwald : –.
The Arginusae Aﬀair
dēmos; he accused him, further, of misconduct as general,” and the court imprisoned him (..). After this lawful proceeding, the remaining generals speak before the Council about what transpired at Arginusae, and the Council, on the motion of Timocrates, determines that they should be imprisoned and turned over to the Assembly (..). At the ensuing Assembly meeting, Theramenes argues that the generals should “render an account” (..), presumably before a law court, and the generals speak brieﬂy in their own defense, “for in conformity with the law no opportunity was given them to make a speech” (..). The Assembly decides to postpone its deliberation to another meeting since it is getting too dark to take a vote by show of hands and calls on the Council to “draft and bring in a proposal regarding the manner in which the men should be tried” (..). Only at this point is an orderly and lawful democratic process compromised as Theramenes and his supporters bribe Callixeinus to accuse the generals in the Council and bring forward a proposal, which the Council approves, that the Assembly should vote immediately on the collective guilt of the generals, and if they are found guilty, have them executed and their property conﬁscated (..–). And then in the Assembly, the angry dēmos interferes with normal democratic process when it prevents Euryptolemus from indicting Callixeinus for making an illegal proposal and coerces the Prytanes, despite their resistance, to proceed with debate concerning Callixeinus’ proposal. Even at this point, however, democratic procedure is not wholly abandoned. Debate over the proposal proceeds in accordance with democratic principles, and Euryptolemus is allowed to speak at length in defense of the generals and to oﬀer his own proposal that the generals be tried individually under the severe terms of the Decree of Cannonus. Xenophon reports: “The vote being now taken as between these two proposals, they decided at ﬁrst in favor of the resolution of Euryptolemus; but when Menecles interposed an objection under oath and a second vote was taken, they decided in favor of that of the Council” (..). Only then did they condemn the generals, and put to death the six who were present. All of this suggests that Xenophon is not
For this interpretation of logon huposchein, see Ostwald : –. I follow Ostwald’s interpretation (: ; cf. Krentz : ) of the quoted phrase from ... As Ostwald observes, because the generals are not on trial before the Assembly, they are not allowed to present long speeches in their defense. Although Callixeinus’ proposal may violate no speciﬁc law (see MacDowell : –), it disregards normal legal protocols in Athens, whereby those charged with crimes are tried individually: see Carawan : –; cf. Ostwald : –. On this decree and its possible antecedents in Athens, see Lavelle .
Athens in Crisis in the Hellenica
seeking to portray a total breakdown of law and legal process in democratic Athens, but highlighting a glaring deviation from lawfulness in a polity that normally operates in accordance with this. It is also important to note that there is nothing inevitable about the dēmos’ decision to deviate from its own laws and condemn the generals en masse without trial. At several points in the episode, Xenophon makes it clear that the outcome was not predetermined. Thus, for example, when the generals defend themselves before the Assembly and insist that the violence of the storm prevented the rescue of the survivors and oﬀer witnesses to this, “Saying such things, they were starting to persuade the dēmos, and many of the citizens rose and wanted to be sureties for them” (..). And when Euryptolemus attempts to charge Callixeinus with proposing an illegal decree, he is supported by “some members of the dēmos,” though they are in the minority (..). Later, when the people vote between Callixeinus’ proposal and that of Euryptolemus, they decide initially in favor of Euryptolemus’ proposal that is in keeping with the laws, and only after an objection under oath by Menecles forces a second vote do they decide in favor of Callixeinus’ proposal that the generals be condemned as a group (..–). Consistent with this picture of the uncertainty of the outcome is the fact that the dēmos, after condemning and executing the generals, soon regrets its decision and brings charges against Callixeinus and others (..). Although Xenophon’s depiction of the dēmos vacillating recalls the charge of elite critics of the democracy that the dēmos is ﬁckle in its decision-making, Xenophon seems more concerned with the fact that the dēmos reached a bad decision than that it wavered. In fact, its vacillation in the direction of being persuaded to act lawfully is surely a good thing, and suggests that even in its anger the dēmos may be swayed by rational argument. To appreciate Xenophon’s perspective on this episode, we must not limit our attention to his depiction of the dēmos, but consider also his portrayal of powerful and inﬂuential individuals and their impact on the outcome. Indeed, notwithstanding the important part that the dēmos plays in the condemnation of the generals, Xenophon’s account focuses largely on those in a position to lead – or mislead – the Athenian people, and their
Cf. Kroeker : : “The overall impression is that the demos had within itself the ability – admittedly not fully exercised in this case – to make wise and just decisions.” On the ﬁckleness of the Athenian dēmos in this episode and in Thucydides’ Histories, see Pownall : –, with n. , and Rood a: –.
The Arginusae Aﬀair
role in guiding the dēmos in its deliberations. His picture of leadership in the democracy, as of the dēmos itself, is not altogether dark and pessimistic. Xenophon oﬀers a mixed picture of the city’s advisors in the Arginusae aﬀair. On the one hand, there are those who mislead, manipulate, and deceive the dēmos. Theramenes emerges as an unscrupulous accuser of the generals who will stop at nothing to deﬂect blame from himself and his fellow trierarchs, a manipulator of public opinion, and party to the bribing of Callixeinus to initiate his illegal proposal (.., ..; cf. ..–). Callixeinus is culpable for drafting this proposal (..–), forcing its consideration by the Assembly (..–), and in general deceiving the people – as the dēmos eventually realizes after the execution of the generals (..). In opposition to these individuals who work to induce the dēmos to execute the generals without trial is Euryptolemus, an elite Athenian with close connections to two of the generals on trial – his relative the younger Pericles and his friend Diomedon (..) – who valiantly strives to persuade the dēmos to allow each general to stand trial individually. The fact that Xenophon devotes almost half of his account of the Arginusae aﬀair to his sympathetic presentation of Euryptolemus must color our interpretation of the episode and its signiﬁcance for Xenophon. Euryptolemus provides not only a positive foil to his rivals who mislead the Athenian people but also a paradigm for how to lead and advise the dēmos responsibly. Indeed, Euryptolemus emerges as a model leader in the course of this episode. He is knowledgeable concerning legal procedures and laws and uses his knowledge to attempt to block Callixeinus’ illegal decree, and then to propose two diﬀerent ways that the dēmos might try the generals individually in keeping with current laws (..–). He is also a capable speaker, whose rhetoric wins over the Athenian dēmos in its initial vote on whether to follow Callixeinus’ proposal or his own. And, above all, he embraces the right values and principles. Thus, he places the city’s
As Andrewes () argues, there are signiﬁcant problems with Xenophon’s dark portrayal of Theramenes in the episode, including the fact that the generals seem to have leveled charges ﬁrst against Theramenes and others and thereby provoked countercharges (see ..; cf. D. S. ..–). Although Xenophon’s Euryptolemus speaks of Thrasybulus as an accomplice to Theramenes (..), Xenophon makes Theramenes the driving force behind the condemnation of the generals and focuses blame on him. On the privileging of Euryptolemus’ role, see Pownall : and Rood a: , who observes that “the speech of Euryptolemus is the longest in the whole of the Hellenica.” Cf. Lang : , who speaks of Euryptolemus “as the Demos’s true voice of reason,” and Kroeker : : “Xenophon . . . is calling the demos back to its own best instincts through the voice of Euryptolemus.” Due (: ; cf. Krentz : –) characterizes Euryptolemus’ speech as manipulative, but Xenophon does not portray it as such (cf. Pownall : , with n. ).
Athens in Crisis in the Hellenica
interests above his own personal ones, notwithstanding the fact that Pericles is his kinsman (“for it would be shameful for me to think more of him than of the entire state,” ..) and is an advocate of humane and lawful behavior. Consistent with this is the way Euryptolemus seeks to persuade the dēmos to rein in its desires and exercise these within a legal framework. Whereas Xenophon states that a majority of those at the Assembly “cried out that it was a terrible thing if someone would not allow the dēmos to do whatever it wished” (..), Euryptolemus insists that the dēmos should act with restraint and hold individual trials in accordance with the law and then impose “whatever punishment you may wish” (..). Although this entails foregoing “the right to put to death and set free anyone you wish,” this will prevent the people from coming to the painful realization too late that they have executed innocent men (..–). And, as if in reply to the dēmos’ cry that it would be terrible (deinon) if the people were prevented from doing whatever they wished (..), Euryptolemus observes that it would be terrible (deina), after granting a trial to the oligarch and traitor Aristarchus, to deny individual trials to the generals (..–). That Euryptolemus ultimately fails to persuade the dēmos in this episode is signiﬁcant – not least for the fate of the generals – but this does not undermine Xenophon’s positive portrayal of him as a leader opposing the will of the dēmos in defense of what is right and lawful. His admirable behavior mirrors that of Socrates within the episode, who in his role as one of the Prytanes courageously refuses to bring Callixeinus’ illegal proposal forward for debate; although Socrates’ resistance proves futile in the end since the other Prytanes succumb to public pressure to put it to a vote, it is nonetheless principled and noble. Euryptolemus, in fact, comes tantalizingly close to winning over the dēmos and saving the generals. Xenophon’s point in portraying Euryptolemus’ speech at length is, therefore, not to highlight its absolute futility but to show how his good leadership almost swayed the dēmos and prevented it from an act of gross injustice. Xenophon suggests that it may be diﬃcult to lead and restrain the dēmos in some situations, but it is far from impossible.
Gray () rightly observes that “Xenophon oﬀers the speech as a memorial to the good qualities of Euryptolemus” (), but overestimates the importance of philanthropia in it (–). Rood (a: – n. ) notes that ancient critics of individual democratic freedom characterize this as doing whatever one wishes (Pl. Resp. b and Arist. Pol. a–). According to Mem. .. and .., Socrates was not simply one of the Prytanes, but the epistatēs who presided for the day; this may well be the case (see Krentz : ).
The Arginusae Aﬀair
Xenophon’s presentation of the Arginusae episode thus oﬀers a fairly nuanced and balanced picture of the Athenian democracy in what was surely one of its darker moments. Although the episode shows how the dēmos deviated from lawfulness in condemning the generals without trial, Xenophon suggests that this was neither typical nor inevitable. And although the dēmos was misled by unscrupulous speakers on this occasion, Euryptolemus’ wise advice suggests that the dēmos is not without good advisors. In the end, Xenophon’s narrative is not a blanket indictment of democracy, but rather an illustration of how its success depends on good leaders to guide the dēmos. Although the idea that the dēmos is so very reliant on its leaders for guidance and restraint may not reﬂect well on the capacities of the dēmos and has elitist overtones, Xenophon does not characterize democratic institutions as inherently ﬂawed and doomed to operate dysfunctionally. Xenophon’s limited criticism of democratic decision-making in this episode stands in contrast to Thucydides’ more pessimistic portrayal of democratic deliberation in his Mytilenean Debate (.–). Thucydides, like Xenophon, presents the dēmos deliberating and vacillating in a critical situation, as it considers how to punish the Mytileneans for rebelling against Athenian rule. Although the dēmos eventually chooses to spare the majority of Mytileneans, a course that Thucydides clearly approves, the historian casts doubt on the eﬃcacy of democratic debate and deliberation in his presentation of the episode. The competing speakers, Cleon and Diodotus, both call attention to the problematic nature of public debate and the role of rhetoric within it, and raise questions about the eﬃcacy of the dēmos making good decisions on the basis of this (., .–). And Diodotus persuades the dēmos to spare most of the Mytileneans, not by appealing to principles of fairness or humanity but by making the case that this will best serve Athenian interests in the long term and that the dēmos should base its decision solely on expedience (.–). Xenophon, by contrast, presents the Arginusae episode as a troubling deviation from otherwise lawful behavior by the dēmos, and not as a general critique of the eﬃcacy of democratic
Even Athenian democrats, however, acknowledge the dēmos’ need for expert advisors (see Ober : –); cf. Mem. ..–, where Xenophon’s Socrates emphasizes the dēmos’ need for these. Scholars have been too quick to treat Xenophon’s Arginusae episode and Thucydides’ Mytilenean Debate as equally critical of the democracy. Thus, Due (: ; cf. Rood a: ) states: “it appears to be a picture almost as pessimistic and repugnant as the one given by Thucydides in the Mytilene-debate.” Pownall (: n. ) challenges Due’s assessment. See Ober : –.
Athens in Crisis in the Hellenica
deliberation. His presentation of Euryptolemus suggests that the dēmos has good and principled advisors who can recommend the right course of action for the right reasons. The fact that Euryptolemus nearly persuades the Athenians to act lawfully on this occasion suggests that although the dēmos made a bad decision, this was not because democratic institutions are incapable of operating properly. To appreciate the limited nature of Xenophon’s criticism of the democracy in the Arginusae episode, we have only to look to his highly critical depiction of the regime of the Thirty that follows soon after in his narrative. This throws into relief his fairly mild presentation of the democracy in its darkest hour, while also conﬁrming Xenophon’s ambivalence toward democracy and his attraction to alternatives to it.
The Thirty Despite Xenophon’s critical portrayal of the dēmos and the leaders who misled it in the Arginusae episode, he does not question explicitly the viability of democratic rule in Athens. We should not infer from this, however, that Xenophon embraces democracy without qualiﬁcation or rejects completely alternatives to it in Athens. Indeed, aspects of Xenophon’s presentation of the regime of the Thirty, which was established after Athens’ loss of the Peloponnesian War, suggest otherwise. Although Xenophon depicts the downward spiral of the Thirty into violence and lawlessness as shocking and reprehensible and contrasts the excesses of the Thirty with the moderation and restraint of the restored democracy, his narrative suggests that the moderate oligarchy that some supporters of the Thirty had hoped to establish was a plausible and appealing alternative to the city’s democratic constitution. This episode reveals Xenophon’s ambivalence concerning democratic rule, while also explaining why, notwithstanding this, he accepts democracy as the city’s given constitution after the disastrous rule of the Thirty. Xenophon makes it abundantly clear that the regime of the Thirty under the corrupt and ruthless leadership of Critias was a poor alternative to democratic rule. He portrays the Thirty as abusers of power from the very start. “It was voted by the people to choose thirty men to write down the ancestral laws, according to which they would govern” (..), but the Thirty never carried out this charge. Instead, “they appointed a Council and the other magistrates as they saw ﬁt” (..), and proceeded to arrest those who had abused the legal process (“sykophants”) under the democracy and put them on trial before the newly established Council, which
was happy to ﬁnd them guilty (..). After installing a Lacedaemonian garrison in the city to back them up, the Thirty set about arresting “those whomever they thought would least endure being pushed aside and those who, if they attempted any opposition, would get supporters in the greatest numbers” (..–). As opposition grew to the Thirty due to their unjust executions of an increasing number of men, they sought support by drawing up a list of “three thousand men, who would share, they said, in governing the city” (..), and conﬁscated the arms of the other Athenians (..). This enabled them “to do whatever they wished” and “they began to put many men to death out of personal enmity or because of their wealth” (..). In the face of continuing opposition to their actions from Theramenes, who was himself one of the Thirty, Critias brought charges against him before the Council, arguing that he was a traitor to the regime and should be put to death; when the Council appeared to be receptive to Theramenes’ defense, Critias struck him from the citizenship roll on his own authority and had his henchmen drag him oﬀ to be executed. Xenophon’s strongly critical presentation of the regime of the Thirty contrasts sharply with his more restrained portrayal of the democracy in the Arginusae episode. While he shows the dēmos acting outside its own laws in the Arginusae episode, he characterizes this as atypical behavior for it and the harm done is limited to the six generals who are executed. By contrast, Xenophon depicts the regime of the Thirty as lawless from the start, and emphasizes how many men they killed. If the dēmos in the Arginusae episode insists on doing whatever it wishes in the matter of the generals (..), the Thirty are consumed by their desire to do whatever they wish in all matters and do everything they can to make this possible (.., .., ..). And while the dēmos in the Arginusae episode lashes out impulsively at the generals, the Thirty set out self-consciously and methodically to kill men who pose a threat to their political dominance (..), their personal enemies (..), and those whose property they greedily seek (.., ..).
Xenophon objects to the Thirty usurping power, but not to their purge of sykophants; on his sympathy with this initial purge, see below in the text. If there are hints in Xenophon’s portrayal of the dēmos in the Arginusae episode that it is behaving tyrannically (thus Rood a: ), this tyrannical behavior pales in comparison to that of the Thirty. The passages cited in the text all use forms of boulomai in speaking of “wishing.” On the portrayal of the Thirty’s greed in Xenophon and other sources, see Balot : –. Although Xenophon indicates at several points that the Athenians acted with brutality toward other states during the Peloponnesian War (..–, ..–; cf. ..–), he attributes this to Athenians in general rather than the dēmos in particular.
Athens in Crisis in the Hellenica
In case his readers miss the stark contrast between the behavior of the Thirty and that of the dēmos, Xenophon highlights this for them both through the words he attributes to others and in his own voice. After the democrats defeat the forces of the Thirty at Mounichia, the herald Cleocritus calls out to the supporters of the Thirty (..–), and juxtaposes the harmony that Athenians enjoyed under the democracy with the civil war precipitated by the unjust actions of the Thirty, who “for the sake of their personal gain have killed in eight months more Athenians, almost, than all the Peloponnesians in ten years of war” (..). After the two sides agree on terms for reconciliation, Thrasybulus addresses the Assembly and rebukes the “men of the city,” who had supported the Thirty, for their arrogance in thinking they ought to rule over the dēmos: whereas the dēmos had never sought to take money unjustly from wealthy citizens, the Thirty and their supporters behaved shamefully in their pursuit of personal gain (..). As Xenophon concludes his account of this episode, he speaks of the reconciliation of the warring factions: “Both parties then swore oaths that in very truth they would not remember past wrongdoings, and even to this day they live together as fellow-citizens and the dēmos abides by its oaths” (..). Xenophon thus suggests in his own voice that the restored democracy returns the city to the state of harmony that his Cleocritus attributes to it before the regime of the Thirty when the dēmos ruled, and credits the dēmos for its role in this. In honoring its oaths to uphold the Amnesty, the dēmos not only acts with a piety lacking among the Thirty, but also shows restraint in refraining from acts of vengeance against those who had supported the Thirty. This restraint contrasts with the Thirty’s vindictive pursuit of their enemies (..) and provides further conﬁrmation that the dēmos’ lack of restraint in the Arginusae episode in its rush to condemn the generals represents a deviation from its normal behavior. Although Xenophon condemns the regime of the Thirty and contrasts it with the far better rule of the dēmos both before and after the oligarchic junta, his account suggests that he is drawn to the idea that Athens might
On the considerable exaggeration here, see Krentz : . Xenophon places a high priority on civic harmony and stability elsewhere as well: see Lac. Pol. .–; Cyr. ..–; Ferrario : –. On Xenophon’s eﬀorts to cast the dēmos’ behavior in the most favorable light by concluding his account of the Thirty with the Amnesty, see Krentz : . Although Xenophon speaks cynically soon after this (..) of the Athenians sending members of the cavalry who had served under the Thirty to Asia, “considering it a gain for the dēmos if they should go abroad and die,” he does not characterize this as a violation of the Amnesty.
be better served by a moderate oligarchy than democracy. Indeed, Xenophon hints that certain features of democratic rule might understandably prompt some individuals to seek to replace it with a moderate oligarchy and that he regrets the Thirty had ruined the possible realization of this by acting more like tyrants than oligarchs. In suggesting that the regime of the Thirty was a lost opportunity to improve the city’s governance, Xenophon oﬀers a potential defense to those who had supported the Thirty in the hopes of establishing a moderate oligarchic regime. If Xenophon himself was one of the “men of the city” who supported the Thirty, his account also provides a defense for his own personal decision to support their regime. In any event, this dimension of Xenophon’s account deserves attention, as it illuminates his ambivalence toward democratic rule. One indication of Xenophon’s sympathy with those seeking a regime change in Athens is his favorable portrayal of the Thirty’s initial purge: Then, as a ﬁrst step, they arrested and brought to trial for their lives those persons who, as all knew, had made their living during the democracy by acting as sykophants and had been troublesome to the gentlemen (tois kalois kagathois); and the Council gladly found these people guilty, and the rest of the citizens – at least all who were conscious that they were not of the same sort themselves – were not at all displeased. (..)
Elite Athenians frequently complain that they are victimized by sykophants, that is, individuals who legally harass wealthy men in pursuit of proﬁt, and that the democracy’s popular courts encourage this abuse. Xenophon’s approval of the purge of sykophants reveals his critical perspective on litigation and the law courts under the democracy. Xenophon’s Theramenes, who seeks as a member of the Thirty to establish a moderate oligarchy, likewise characterizes this initial purge as welcome (..; cf. ..). Where the Thirty went wrong in Xenophon’s view was in extending their purges beyond sykophants to innocent men – his horror at this is evident in his chilling narrative of the ever-widening circles of those condemned and executed by the Thirty, and his Theramenes provides a commentator within the text on the injustice and political imprudence of this as the Thirty become increasingly isolated (..–).
On the class nuances of the term “sykophant,” see Christ : –. Xenophon’s claim that the Thirty’s measures against such men were universally approved is suspect: see Christ : – and : –. The democracy relied on volunteer prosecutors to bring lawsuits on behalf of the public, and the dēmos might view an aristocrat’s sykophant as a patriotic public watchdog (cf. Christ : ).
Athens in Crisis in the Hellenica
Further evidence that Xenophon is sympathetic to the dissolution of the democracy is his favorable portrayal of Theramenes and the moderate oligarchy that he envisions. Xenophon’s Theramenes presses the Thirty, as opposition builds against them, to share power with more individuals, “saying that unless they brought in additional suitable men to share in the government, it would be impossible for the oligarchy to survive” (..). When the Thirty enroll only , citizens, Theramenes rebukes them for limiting citizenship to such a small number and excluding good men from sharing power with them (..). And when Theramenes in his defense speech replies to Critias’ attack that he is a political chameleon who shifted back and forth in his support of oligarchy and democracy in and is now doing the same thing, Xenophon casts him sympathetically as a moderate who rejects both democratic and oligarchic excess: Critias, I am forever at war with those who do not think there could be a good democracy until the slaves and those who, due to poverty, would sell the state for a drachma should share in the government, and on the other hand I am forever an enemy to those who do not think that a good oligarchy could be established until they should bring the state under the tyranny of a few men. But to direct the government in company with those who have the means to be of service with horses or with shields – I regarded this as the best policy before and I do not change my position now. (..)
Xenophon’s Theramenes agrees with critics of the Athenian democracy that persons of low status and wealth should be excluded from the citizen body, and argues in favor of establishing a moderate oligarchy in which only those who perform military service for the state as hoplites or cavalrymen enjoy citizenship. Xenophon’s positive portrayal of Theramenes suggests that he identiﬁes with him and his vision of the sort of constitution the city should have. It is striking that Xenophon, who presents Theramenes as one of the villains in the Arginusae episode, depicts him favorably as a voice of moderation and reason as a member of the Thirty and even allows him a heroic and noble death (..). Although some have sought to explain this shift in terms of the diﬀerent phases of composition of the Hellenica, there is a more straightforward explanation. Xenophon believed that Theramenes, notwithstanding his earlier shameful behavior, had acted
When Theramenes refers to slaves sharing in the government, he may be alluding to the freeing of slaves who fought at Arginusae (see above, note ). I follow the text of Krentz here. See, e.g., Andrewes : –.
The Elite as Leaders of the Democracy
honorably and admirably as a dissenting member of the Thirty, and saw in him an opportunity to portray and defend the good intentions of those who had sought regime change to improve the city’s governance and had envisioned a moderate and inclusive oligarchy ruling the city. Viewed in this light, Theramenes not only emerges as a principled opponent of the Thirty but also provides a glimpse of the sort of regime and leadership that decent “men of the city” had hoped to achieve. Although one may condemn the naivete of men like Theramenes – and perhaps Xenophon himself, if he was one of the “men of the city” – who supported regime change and did not anticipate the brutality of the Thirty and the civil strife that would ensue from this, Xenophon suggests through his portrayal of Theramenes that good men could and did support regime change in Athens at this time and not without cause in light of democratic defects. Consistent with this implicit defense of moderate supporters of the Thirty is the way Xenophon focuses blame on Critias for the regime’s excesses. His Critias deeply resents the fact that the dēmos exiled him (..), believes that “democracy is a diﬃcult constitution for men of his class” (..), and readily and repeatedly justiﬁes violence as inevitable in the course of regime change (.., , ). Rather than view the regime of the Thirty as an oligarchy, he speaks of it bluntly as a tyranny that must keep close watch over its rule of the city (..). Had the villainous Critias not exerted control over the Thirty, Xenophon suggests, the regime might have been more moderate and successful and proved itself to be superior to the democracy.
The Elite as Leaders of the Democracy If Xenophon suggests that men like Theramenes who sought to establish a moderate oligarchy had good intentions and places much of the blame on Critias for the excesses of the Thirty, he seems to accept that the utter failure of this attempt to replace democratic rule with oligarchy means that the city’s constitution will remain democratic for the future. That this is not a dire outcome in his view is evident when he praises the dēmos for honoring the terms of the Amnesty and bringing harmony back to the city after civil strife (..). And yet a signiﬁcant question remains: If the city’s constitution is not to be altered to privilege elite Athenians, what role
According to Theramenes, however, this did not stop Critias from seeking to establish a democracy in Thessaly and to arm the serfs against their masters (..). On the harshness of Xenophon’s portrayal of Critias in the Hellenica, cf. Danzig : –.
Athens in Crisis in the Hellenica
should they play within the democracy? While some members of the elite, like Plato, chose to withdraw from political life under the restored democracy, Xenophon, as we shall see in the course of this book, makes a strong case that the elite should engage actively and responsibly in the political life of the democratic city by serving as leaders. Although Xenophon develops this position more explicitly and at greater length in his other writings, in the opening books of the Hellenica he oﬀers signiﬁcant glimpses of what he regards as good elite leadership of the Athenian democracy through his portrayal of three elite actors: Euryptolemus, Theramenes, and Thrasybulus. Xenophon’s Euryptolemus may be taken as one model for how a member of the elite can responsibly advise and lead the dēmos as an orator (rhētōr) addressing it in the Assembly. As we have seen, although Euryptolemus does not ultimately persuade the dēmos to act lawfully in judging the generals, he shows himself to be an able and principled statesman. He courageously opposes the desires of the majority and eloquently advocates a lawful and moderate course of action, drawing on his knowledge of the city’s laws and legal precedents. While the outcome of the Arginusae episode suggests that even a capable and wise advisor cannot win over the dēmos in all circumstances, the episode highlights the dēmos’ need for such persons to guide and restrain it if the democracy is to succeed. When Xenophon portrays Theramenes’ role in the peace negotiations at the end of the Peloponnesian War, he provides an intriguing look at how a member of the elite can serve the city in the role of ambassador and pursue its best interests – even when the dēmos does not recognize what these are. Notwithstanding Xenophon’s negative depiction of Theramenes in the Arginusae episode, he presents him as a capable ambassador who shrewdly brings about the peace that the city desperately needs, but resists. According to Xenophon, after Athens’ devastating defeat at Aigospotamoi (), the city is under siege and short of food, but the Athenians are reluctant to come to terms with the Lacedaemonians since they fear they will suﬀer the same sorts of abuse that they had inﬂicted on weaker states during the course of the war (..–, ..–). When the Lacedaemonians reject an Athenian embassy that seeks to make peace without tearing down the city’s walls (..–), the Athenians are at an impasse since they refuse to consider destroying their walls:
The Seventh Letter, which is attributed to Plato, sets forth Plato’s reasons for abandoning his plans to be politically active within the democracy (b–b); on this letter and its disputed authorship, see Ober : –.
The Elite as Leaders of the Democracy
When the ambassadors came home and reported this to the city, despondency fell on all; for they believed that they would be enslaved, and that while they were sending another set of ambassadors, many would die of the famine. Nevertheless, no one wanted to make any proposal involving the destruction of the walls; for when Archestratus said in the Council that it was best to make peace with the Lacedaemonians on the terms they oﬀered – and the terms were that they should tear down a portion ten stadia long of each of the two Long Walls – he was imprisoned, and a decree was passed forbidding anyone to make such a proposal. (..–)
Faced with the impossibility of making a proposal concerning the destruction of the walls, Theramenes shrewdly works around this constraint in pursuit of peace. According to Xenophon (..–), Theramenes persuades the Assembly to send him to Lysander to ﬁnd out more about the intent of the Lacedaemonians concerning the walls, and then he lingers with Lysander for more than three months so that on his return the Athenians will agree to come to any terms proposed due to the worsening of the famine. When Theramenes returns to Athens, he falsely claims that Lysander had detained him and is chosen to lead an embassy of ten Athenians to negotiate terms with the Lacedaemonians; when he brings back these terms, which require the destruction of the Long Walls and the Piraeus walls along with the surrender of most of the city’s ﬂeet, he urges the Assembly to accept these terms – and in so doing courageously deﬁes the prohibition on making such proposals – and persuades it to vote in favor of peace on these terms. Although Theramenes comes under vehement attack in other contemporary sources for his role in making this peace, Xenophon presents him as a pragmatic statesman who works around the Assembly in the best interests of the city. Notably, Xenophon describes how Theramenes is devious in his speech and actions, but he does not condemn this given the exigencies involved; Theramenes seeks to achieve a peace for the city that will bring starvation to an end and allow the city to continue to exist, if with diminished power. Although it may appear that Theramenes is as guilty of deception of the dēmos as Callixeinus is in the Arginusae episode,
The fact that the Lacedaemonians in the end insist that the Athenians tear down the Long Walls and the Piraeus walls suggests that the dēmos was mistaken to reject their earlier terms that “a portion ten stadia long of each of the two Long Walls” be destroyed and to punish Archestratus for arguing in favor of accepting these (..). For hostile characterizations of Theramenes’ role in making peace, see Lys. .– and .–; P. Mich. appears to portray his role in a neutral or positive manner. On the conﬂicting sources, see Krentz : –.
Athens in Crisis in the Hellenica
Xenophon does not present his behavior in these terms. His narrative suggests that Theramenes’ legitimate ends justify the devious means he uses to pursue them – his waiting for the worsening of the famine and his misrepresentation of why he stayed away for three months. Here and elsewhere Xenophon suggests that in extreme circumstances a leader may need to deceive those whom he leads to advance their best interests. Xenophon’s Thrasybulus, as the leader of the dēmos in exile under the Thirty (cf. ..) and chief facilitator of its restoration to power, illustrates how a member of the elite can serve the city through eﬀective leadership on and oﬀ the battleﬁeld. As leader of the demotic forces in the civil war, he not only makes intelligent strategic choices including the seizure of Phyle (..–) and the occupation of the hill of Mounichia in the Piraeus (..–) but also inspires his troops through his eloquence to ﬁght bravely. Thrasybulus assures his troops before the Battle of Mounichia that the gods are on their side due to the impious acts of the Thirty, the terrain is to their advantage, and victory will beneﬁt not only those who survive the battle but also those who die and win glory for their sacriﬁce; he concludes by calling on his troops to unite and “take vengeance on these men for the outrages we have suﬀered” (..–). Thrasybulus’ troops, spurred on by his inspiring words, proceed to win a great victory in which Critias is slain (..). Soon after the restoration of the democracy, Thrasybulus deploys his eloquence once again but this time before the Assembly to exhort the “men of the city” to embrace moderation while rebuking them for having supported a corrupt and depraved regime (..–). Whether on the battleﬁeld or in the Assembly, he gives voice to the Athenians’ highest values in support of the democracy and its preservation.
Xenophon does not speak of Theramenes as acting deceptively; contrast the hostile assertion of Lys. . that he destroyed the city’s walls “by deceiving the citizens.” Xenophon’s positive portrayal of Theramenes in this episode and as a moderate voice seeking to restrain the Thirty balances his earlier dark portrayal of Theramenes in the Arginusae episode. I do not believe that Xenophon is critical of Theramenes throughout all these episodes and only portrays him positively in the narration of his death at .., as Harding posits (: ; cf. Rood a: n. ). Buck (: ; cf. ) is mistaken in my view to assert that Xenophon, like Lysias, portrays Theramenes “as an untrustworthy and treacherous crook at the best and as a doublecrossing traitor at the worst.” Andrewes (: –) believes that .., like ., shows hostility to Theramenes (cf. Krentz : ), but “the whole tendency of . is in his favour, with explicit praise at ...” Balot (: n. ) sees a similar evolution in Xenophon’s portrayal of Theramenes. Xenophon’s Socrates observes that a general may need to lie to his own troops for their own good (Mem. ..). Cf. how Xenophon, as general, circumvents the assembly of Cyrean troops for the greater good (An. ..). On the importance of rhetoric for an eﬀective leader in Xenophon, see Marincola : .
The Elite as Leaders of the Democracy
Although Xenophon’s Euryptolemus, Theramenes, and Thrasybulus play diverse leadership roles within the democracy, each adeptly navigates democratic institutions in his pursuit of what is best for the city. Euryptolemus shows himself to be a principled and capable rhētōr in the Assembly; Thrasybulus ably leads the demotic forces as general in the civil war, deploying his eloquence and canniness to achieve victory, and then eﬀectively addresses the Assembly as rhētōr; and Theramenes, in his role as ambassador, knows when to work through democratic institutions to achieve his ends and when to work around them. While Xenophon does not pause in his presentation of these leaders to reﬂect on what attributes make them ﬁt to carry out their civic or martial roles, his depiction of them suggests that they possess not only the practical knowledge and skills to lead eﬀectively but also the values essential for this. Euryptolemus and Thrasybulus embrace moderation, piety, and lawfulness; Theramenes recognizes that there are circumstances in which it is just to act deceptively in the pursuit of the greater good. In his Memorabilia, as we shall see, Xenophon reﬂects explicitly on the attributes a democratic leader needs and how he may attain these through education. In focusing on Euryptolemus, Theramenes, and Thrasybulus to the extent he does in his portrayal of Athens in crisis, Xenophon suggests that elite Athenians play a disproportionate role in the city’s political life and that the city depends on their leadership to prosper. Although this no doubt reﬂects in part Xenophon’s assumptions as a member of the elite about the importance of his own class, he does not suggest that these members of the elite have a legitimate claim to lead simply because they come from wealthy families or have distinguished bloodlines. Rather, it is their values, knowledge, and skills that make them worthy leaders. Although Xenophon does not explicitly address the relationship between class and leadership in his Hellenica, his portrayal of the regime of the Thirty argues against conﬂating elite social status with moral or political superiority. Thus, for example, when the Thirty bid Theramenes to seize a metic so he can be executed and his property conﬁscated, he protests: But it is not honorable, as it seems to me, for people who claim to be the best men (beltistous) to commit acts of greater injustice than the sykophants used to do. For they allowed those from whom they got money to live; but shall we, in order to get money, put to death men who have done nothing unjust? Are not such acts altogether more unjust than what the sykophants did? (..)
Cf. Balot : –.
Athens in Crisis in the Hellenica
The paradox that the Thirty, who view themselves as the city’s “best men” and as “gentlemen” (kaloi kagathoi: .., , ), are behaving worse than the city’s villainous sykophants is striking and suggests that high social status is no guarantor of good values or good governance (cf. ..). Similarly, Thrasybulus rebukes the supporters of the Thirty for their arrogance in thinking they were better than their fellow citizens and therefore should rule over them when he addresses the Assembly after the restoration of the democracy: Men of the city, I advise you to “know yourselves.” And you would best learn to know yourselves, if you should consider on what basis you were so proud as to attempt to rule over us. Are you more just? But the dēmos, though poorer than you, never did you any wrong for the sake of money; while you, though richer than any of them, have done many disgraceful things for the sake of personal gain. But since you can lay no claim to justice, consider then whether it is courage that you have a right to pride yourselves on. And what better test could there be of this than the way we fought one another? Well then, would you say that you are superior in intelligence, you who having a wall, arms, money, and the Peloponnesians as allies, have been worsted by men who had none of these things? (..–)
In exhorting the “men of the city” to know themselves, Thrasybulus urges them to embrace the fundamental moral virtue of moderation (sōphrosunē), which they have failed to do in their support of the Thirty, and to accept their place within the democracy henceforth. Xenophon’s criticism of the Thirty and their supporters makes it clear that the city’s elite have no claim to lead the city on the basis of class superiority. In his Socratic works, as we shall see, Xenophon makes the case that elite Athenians must seek to transform themselves to become morally and politically competent so as to lead the democratic city responsibly and eﬀectively. The city relies on them for leadership, and they need to make themselves capable of providing this. To do so, they will need to set aside the notion that they are superior to their fellow citizens and instead seek to become “gentlemen” in a new sense, as individuals of outstanding virtue and merit who have the attributes needed to lead the city successfully.
Xenophon associates sykophants with “scoundrels” (hoi ponēroi) in ..–; Athenians regularly speak of sykophants in these terms (see Christ : ). On sōphrosunē as a cardinal Xenophontic virtue, see Dorion and Bandini : ccvii n. .
Politics and the Gentleman in the Memorabilia
Xenophon’s Socratic works – Apology, Memorabilia, Oeconomicus, and Symposium – have long interested scholars as potential sources of information concerning the historical Socrates and as a complement to, and possible corrective of, Plato’s portrait of him. In recent years, however, scholars have come to appreciate that these works may tell us more about Xenophon and his political, social, and ethical views than about the historic Socrates. Building on this scholarship, this chapter examines the longest of these works, the Memorabilia, and argues that although Xenophon frames this as a defense of Socrates from the charges that led to his execution in , he also reﬂects extensively and critically on the place of the elite as leaders within the democracy and oﬀers instruction to his elite Athenian readers on how to adapt to, and succeed in, political life in democratic Athens. Reading the Memorabilia in this way illuminates Xenophon’s relationship with both his readers and the Athenian democracy. The Memorabilia consists largely of a series of conversations between Socrates and a range of elite Athenians during the late years of the ﬁfth century. Although these conversations are presented as recollections of Socrates and his teachings, the issues that they raise and the lessons that they provide concerning political leadership are relevant not only to Socrates’ elite interlocutors but also to Xenophon’s elite Athenian readers in the opening decades of the fourth century. Indeed, the conspicuous
For a review of earlier scholarship, see Dorion and Bandini : vii–cxviii. On the “Socratic question” in Xenophon, see Waterﬁeld and Dorion , ; for a summary of the many diﬀerences between Xenophon’s portrait of Socrates and that of Plato, see Dorion : –. Although Xenophon states that Socrates shared his wisdom generously with his fellow citizens at no cost (..), the Memorabilia focuses on his conversations with elite Athenians. On the debate over dating the Memorabilia, see Dorion and Bandini : ccxl–cclii. Although ..– appears to have been written after the Battle of Leuctra in (ibid. ccxlviii–ix), some parts of the Memorabilia may have been composed earlier (cf. Gray : n. ).
Politics and the Gentleman in the Memorabilia
role of the elite in establishing the regime of the Thirty and in ﬁghting against democratic forces in the ensuing civil war (/) made the question of the proper political role of the elite in the city all the more pressing for an early fourth-century audience. Xenophon and his Socrates – the viewpoints of the two are diﬃcult, if not impossible, to disentangle – oﬀer a bold new vision of what it means to be simultaneously a “gentleman” (kalos kagathos) and a good citizen within the democracy. This entails challenging elite assumptions that wealth or birth makes a man worthy of leading the city, and arguing that only through the right kind of education and the values, knowledge, and skills gained through this can one legitimately seek to lead others. No other elite Athenian writer so directly challenges his peers’ assumptions concerning their superiority within the city or so explicitly promotes the pursuit of an education that will provide not only a moral foundation for leading but also the knowledge and practical skills essential for this. Xenophon’s presentation of this perspective is provocative and often barbed, as he satirizes Socrates’ elite interlocutors whose political ambitions outrun their abilities and training. Indeed, Xenophon appears to seek to shake his elite readers from their complacency and inspire them to make themselves worthy of leading the city. This chapter ﬁrst examines how Xenophon broaches the question of the proper role of elite Athenians under the democracy in the opening book of the Memorabilia through his critique of Socrates’ former students, Critias and Alcibiades, and portrays Socrates as a challenger of destructive elite attitudes and behaviors. It then considers how Xenophon proceeds through his depiction of Socrates’ conversations with select representatives of the elite to set forth a model of political behavior for elite Athenians that emphasizes their duty to step forward and engage in politics if they are qualiﬁed to do so; delineates the values, knowledge, and skills that they should seek out so as to be worthy to lead; and sketches out how they can deploy their friendship with like-minded men to succeed in a democratic political environment. Finally, this chapter proposes that Xenophon, in oﬀering written advice to the Athenian elite concerning their political place in the democracy, plays a role analogous to that of Socrates, whom he
On the entanglement of Xenophon and his Socrates, see Dorion and Bandini : lxx–lxxxix; Dorion : ; Gera : –; cf. Gray a: . On the “[v]arious ‘orders’ of knowledge” that Xenophon views as necessary for successful leadership, see Gray : . Cf. Mem. .., where Xenophon describes Socrates’ eﬀorts to “shake up” (kinein) the self-satisﬁed Euthydemus.
Critias, Alcibiades, and Elite Political Behavior
depicts serving the democracy by exhorting his elite interlocutors in oneon-one conversation to become worthy leaders of the city.
Critias, Alcibiades, and the Problem of Elite Political Behavior The Memorabilia opens with a defense of Socrates against the charges brought against him in that he was guilty of impiety and corrupting the city’s youth. In addressing the latter charge, Xenophon confronts headon the problem that two of Socrates’ students, Critias and Alcibiades, had gone on to do great harm to the city. Although Xenophon’s discussion of Critias and Alcibiades seeks ﬁrst and foremost to show that Socrates was not responsible for his students’ crimes, it also highlights the potential of prominent members of the elite to do egregious damage to the city. In so doing, it introduces what will emerge as a salient concern of the Memorabilia: how to ensure that Athens’ elite help the city rather than harm it in exercising leadership. Xenophon reports that one of Socrates’ prosecutors called attention to his association with Critias and Alcibiades: His prosecutor said that Critias and Alcibiades were both companions of Socrates and had done the city the greatest harms. For Critias was the most greedy, violent, and murderous of those in the oligarchy; Alcibiades, for his part, was the most dissolute, hubristic, and violent of all men in the democracy. (..)
Xenophon indicates that he will not defend any wrong these men did to the city (..), but proceeds to dispute Socrates’ responsibility for their crimes. According to Xenophon, extreme political ambition led Critias and Alcibiades to become companions of Socrates: “These two men were by nature (phusei) the most ambitious (philotimotatō) of all Athenians, and they wished to get everything under their control and to become the most famous of all men” (..). They sought out Socrates not because they admired his frugal lifestyle and self-control (enkrateia) but because they knew that “he could do as he liked in argument with anyone who
On the apologetic nature of the Memorabilia, see Gray : –, –, a: –; cf. Dorion and Bandini : ccxxxviii–ccxl. Dillery (: –) rightly disputes the claim of Tamiolaki (: –) that Xenophon’s portrayal of Critias and Alcibiades is not as negative as is commonly thought. I follow the text of Dorion and Bandini . On the centrality of enkrateia in Xenophon’s portrayal of Socrates and his ethics, see Dorion : , .
Politics and the Gentleman in the Memorabilia
conversed with him” and “by associating with him they would become extremely competent in speech and action” (..–), which would enable them to achieve their political goals (..). Xenophon insists that although Critias and Alcibiades were moderate while they remained with Socrates, who not only regularly conversed with his companions about virtue, but also set a positive example of virtuous behavior for them (..–; cf. , , ..), they became immoderate when they left his company. Critias took up with men in Thessaly who preferred lawlessness to justice, and Alcibiades, aided by his beauty and prestige, easily achieved leadership of the people (dēmos) and began to “neglect himself” (..). Although Xenophon portrays Critias and Alcibiades as ﬂawed individuals who are responsible for their own bad behavior, he links their excesses to attributes that they share with other members of the city’s elite. Thus, for example, when Xenophon speaks of their extreme ambition (.., quoted above), he ﬂags a trait that he identiﬁes especially closely in the Memorabilia with the city’s elite citizens, for whom high station and high expectations go hand in hand. And as Xenophon sums up what led Critias and Alcibiades astray, he asks: Since this is what happened to them, and since they were exalted by their birth (epi genei), elated by their wealth (epi ploutoi), puﬀed up with their power, and spoiled by many people, is it any wonder that when they were corrupted for all these reasons and long separated from Socrates, they became arrogant? (..)
Although Xenophon does not suggest that high birth or wealth necessarily corrupts members of the elite, he clearly views this as a real possibility (cf. Pl. Alc. a–c) and, given the access of the elite to political power and their ambition to obtain this, a potential threat to the city. Critias and Alcibiades, as striking illustrations of elite ambition gone awry, prove to be paradigmatic for Xenophon’s critical portrayal of the city’s elite in the Memorabilia. Through Socrates’ conversations with, and interrogations of, elite Athenians, Xenophon exposes the misplaced conﬁdence of the elite in their ability to lead based simply on wealth or birth
On Xenophon’s careful distancing of Socrates from Critias and Alcibiades, see Dorion and Bandini : –. According to Xenophon, Socrates does not recklessly arm his students with the tools that will make them successful politicians; he inculcates moderation so that they will deploy the skills they acquire responsibly (cf. Dorion and Bandini : ccvi–ccix, –). Although Xenophon depicts Athenians in general as men of exceptional ambition (Mem. .., ..), he represents elite Athenians as among the most ambitious Athenians.
Critias, Alcibiades, and Elite Political Behavior
and shows how elite ambition for political power, if not accompanied by virtue, knowledge, and practical skills, is dangerous for the city. He insists that while the city relies on its elite citizens to step forward to lead, they must seek out education to develop the moral character and gain the knowledge and skills that they will need to lead responsibly and eﬀectively. Indeed, in the course of the Memorabilia, Socrates emerges as the ideal facilitator of this as he instructs his elite interlocutors on how they can transform themselves into worthy leaders. Socrates’ important role in educating the elite as leaders is already evident in the opening book of the Memorabilia. Xenophon makes this explicit when he describes an exchange in which the sophist Antiphon asks Socrates how he can make politicians of others when he himself avoids politics: “‘Antiphon,’ he replied, ‘should I play a more important part in politics by engaging in them alone or by taking pains to turn out as many competent politicians as possible?’” (..). Signiﬁcantly, Xenophon’s Socrates not only improves the political capacities of those who associate with him but also actively seeks to produce as many capable politicians as he can. The remainder of the Memorabilia corroborates this by presenting Socrates’ conversations with numerous members of the city’s elite, some of whom he even tracks down so as to educate them in what is required of a civic leader. A key element of Socrates’ education of elite leaders, as we shall see, is to call into question harmful elite attitudes and behaviors. Thus, for example, Socrates embraces a simple and frugal lifestyle and contrasts this with the excesses of a luxurious and extravagant elite lifestyle (..–; cf. .., .., Oec. .–). Furthermore, Socrates openly criticizes the common elite practice of pederasty when he rebukes Critias, who seeks to have sex with his boy-love (eromenos) Euthydemus, that it is “unbecoming to a gentleman (andri kalōi kagathōi)” to beg for a boy’s favors and to seek what is shameful (..–), and when he warns Critobulus, who had kissed Alcibiades’ attractive son, that this is risky as it may lead to “spending large
As McNamara (: ) observes, “Socrates’ response suggests that providing political education, while not the same as oﬃcial participation in the aﬀairs of the city, is nevertheless a form of political engagement.” In encouraging his associates to be politically active, Xenophon’s Socrates diverges from Plato’s Socrates, who views politics as dangerous for a just man (Pl. Ap. e–a); cf. Kroeker : . Dorion (: ) notes that Socrates’ assertion that he teaches political competence evokes the claim of some sophists to impart this. Although some scholars have argued that .. is an interpolation, there is no good reason to doubt that Xenophon wrote it (cf. Dorion and Bandini : –). Xenophon’s Socrates, unlike Plato’s Socrates, presents himself openly as an educator: see X. Ap. –; Dorion : .
Politics and the Gentleman in the Memorabilia
sums on harmful pleasures” and “having no leisure to give to anything ﬁt for a gentleman (kalou kagathou)” (..). When Socrates speaks of elite pederasty as conduct unbeﬁtting a gentleman (kalos kagathos), he pointedly challenges conventional aristocratic understandings of what it means to be a gentleman. Athenian aristocrats in the late ﬁfth century spoke of themselves as kaloi kagathoi, literally, the “beautiful and the good,” primarily on the basis of their wealth and high birth. Socrates critiques this claim by gauging a man’s gentlemanliness (kalokagathia) instead on the basis of his moral character and his ability to beneﬁt his family, friends, and city. Essential to this understanding of kalokagathia is that it is not an innate trait of the upper class, but something that men must actively seek out through education (cf. ..). Socrates himself stands ready to help educate his elite interlocutors so that they may become “gentlemen” in the Socratic sense (.., .., .., ..; cf. .., ..). Consistent with this critique of traditional elite notions of kalokagathia, Xenophon presents Socrates himself as a “gentleman” in the true sense of the word. By practicing what he taught, he provided a model for his students to emulate: “I know that Socrates showed his companions that he was a gentleman himself, and talked most nobly of excellence (aretē) and other things of concern to men” (..). Socrates’ gentlemanly behavior entails displaying piety, frugality, moderation, and self-control, including
Xenophon appears to be more open to pederasty that involves sex than does his Socrates: see Hindley , , and Lane Fox b: –, but cf. Danzig : –. For kaloi kagathoi as a self-designation of Athenian aristocrats from the last decades of the ﬁfth century on, see Donlan and : –. Although it is possible that aristocrats invented this phrase as Donlan proposes, they may have been appropriating a preexisting phrase of positive valuation – it ﬁrst appears in Herodotus (..), who applies it to the sons of Tellus the Athenian in a moral sense rather than a social one. In any event, Athenian democrats seized on the same phrase to speak of good and patriotic citizens (Dem. .); although the evidence for this is clearest from the mid-fourth century on (see de Ste. Croix : –), democrats likely contested its narrow application to aristocrats earlier (cf. Donlan : ) and applied it more broadly to good citizens (see Lys. ., which dates to , with Ober : ). On this phrase and its usage in Athens, see de Ste. Croix : –; Dover : –; Ober : –, –; Roscalla ; Waterﬁeld : –. On Bourriot’s problematic treatment () of it, see Cairns and Davies . De Ste. Croix (: ) asserts that the abstract noun kalokagathia is ﬁrst attested in Xenophon, but it appears earlier in Ar. fr. .– K.-A. ( BC). De Ste. Croix (ibid. ; cf. ) believes that the moral sense of kalos kagathos emerged later than its social-political sense “from Xenophon onwards – it is often thought to be largely a product of the Socratic circle.” In my view, when Xenophon’s Socrates redeﬁnes kalokagathia as a moral and civic virtue rather than an innate trait of the city’s elite, he transforms the term so substantially that Xenophon does not “risk that his hero will be seen as non-democratic” (Tuplin : ). Cf. Waterﬁeld : .
The Importance of Political Engagement
over his appetites for food and sex (.; cf. .). In teaching his associates “all the good he can,” in fact, Socrates fulﬁlls the duty not only of a gentleman but also of a good citizen (..; cf. ..). Xenophon’s laudatory portrayal of Socrates as a critic of the city’s birth and wealth elite and as an advocate and exemplar of a new model of what it means to be a true gentleman makes it clear that he is in sympathy with Socrates’ critique of the elite and his eﬀorts to reform it. In the remainder of the Memorabilia, Xenophon expands on the critique of the elite that he sets forth in Book by bringing before his reader a series of conversations in which Socrates engages with elite Athenians, many of whom are eager to exercise leadership in the city as politicians or military leaders but are illprepared to do so. Although Socrates’ elite interlocutors are sometimes named, often they are not, and this adds to the impression that Xenophon is critiquing typical elite misconceptions about what makes a man worthy to lead. Indeed, there is a strong element of caricature and social satire in Xenophon’s presentation of Socrates’ conversations with select members of the elite, as he pointedly exposes the arrogance and incompetence of men of his own class whose political ambitions exceed their abilities. Although these juxtaposed conversations do not develop a linear argument, as they accumulate and reinforce one another they oﬀer a fairly consistent picture of the defects of elite aspirants to political power and what they need to do to make themselves worthy of leading the city.
The Importance of Political Engagement A fundamental question for elite Athenians was how actively to engage in the city’s political life and, in particular, whether to step forward as orators (rhētores) to advise the Assembly or to seek election to military oﬃce so as to serve as general or cavalry commander (cf. ..–). Some level of participation in the life of the city was nearly unavoidable for the elite since they were required to carry out public services, known as liturgies, and pay
On whether Xenophon’s Socrates is a teacher of virtue, see Morrison : –. Tuplin (: –, ) observes that Xenophon’s portrayal of ﬁfth-century Athens and its elite in his Socratic works has a strange and ﬁctive quality to it. In my view this reﬂects in large part Xenophon’s desire to represent the Athenian past in such a way as to instruct his contemporary elite audience. For a defense of the Memorabilia’s unity and coherence despite its episodic structure, see Dorion and Bandini : clxxxiii–ccxl; cf. Gray : –, –; Johnson : –. In the ﬁfth century, the same elite Athenians often served as both rhētores and generals; in the fourth century, the trend was toward specialization in one sphere or the other (see Hansen : –).
Politics and the Gentleman in the Memorabilia
the irregularly imposed war tax (eisphora), but it was very much up to them as individuals to determine whether to pursue positions of leadership. A central concern of the Memorabilia is to take up the question of the proper political role of the elite within the city, and to make the case for active and responsible involvement in political life. Although Xenophon allows for diﬀerent levels of political participation by members of the elite in light of their diverse temperaments and abilities, he emphasizes that those who are qualiﬁed to lead the city have a duty to step forward. At the opening of Book of the Memorabilia, Xenophon presents a conversation between Socrates and Aristippus of Cyrene that makes it clear that there is no way to escape a political life completely and that, for those who have a choice, it is preferable to lead rather than to be led. This conversation opens with Socrates asking Aristippus, who was known to be dissolute, how one should educate two youths so that one of them would be ﬁt to rule and the other would not seek to rule (..). Although Aristippus readily agrees with Socrates that self-control (enkrateia) is essential for someone seeking to rule others, he indicates that he himself has no interest in being a ruler: “Considering that it is a serious task to provide for one’s own needs, it seems to me to be quite crazy not to be content with this, but to pile on top of it the task of supplying the needs of the rest of one’s fellow citizens as well” (..). Aristippus asserts that a head of state is essentially a slave to the community because it expects him to fulﬁll its wishes and refrain from pursuing his own (..–), and indicates that he has no interest in the manifold troubles that ruling entails, but rather “rank myself with those who want their lives to be as easy and pleasant as possible” (..). In the discussion that ensues, Socrates insists that Aristippus cannot expect to live a pleasant life and much less the hedonistic existence that he envisions, if he forgoes seeking to rule others. When Socrates asks Aristippus, “Shall we then consider whether the rulers or the ruled live the more pleasant life?” (..), Aristippus acknowledges that ruling is preferable to slavery (..), but he envisions “a middle path” whereby he
On these obligations and elite eﬀorts to evade them, see Christ : –. On the historical Aristippus and the Cyrenaics, see Lampe . Socrates does not reject pleasure per se, but rather argues that enkrateia, which enables one to rule others, is the best way to maximize pleasure in the long term (cf. Cyr. ..): see Dorion and Bandini a: , . The sharp distinction that Socrates draws between rulers and the ruled here is at odds with Xenophon’s portrayal of this relationship elsewhere as complementary, with men taking turns in the two roles: see Dorion and Bandini a: –. As Gray (a: n. ) observes, however, Socrates appears to invoke this distinction to prod Aristippus to make himself ﬁt to rule.
The Importance of Political Engagement
can be free and happy (..), namely, by moving from community to community and living as a foreigner (xenos). Socrates asserts, however, that there is no such option since the stronger will inevitably dominate the weaker (..–) and that Aristippus, as a foreigner, will be especially vulnerable to injury (..) wherever he goes; in fact, he may ﬁnd himself enslaved and beaten by his master for pursuing his own pleasures (..–). When Aristippus asserts that a ruler and a slave both suﬀer, and the only diﬀerence is that the former does so willingly and the latter by compulsion (..), Socrates argues that a ruler can at least choose when he suﬀers and endures toil, and that his labors lead ultimately to rewards, including the ability to manage his own household, help his friends, and serve his fatherland (..–). This is not only the more beneﬁcial path but also the more virtuous one, as Socrates makes clear in his account of Prodicus’ tale of Heracles’ choice between virtue and vice; a virtuous life, though it entails toil, leads to greater happiness than a life of vice that shuns labor for short-term gratiﬁcation (..–). Although Aristippus is not an Athenian, the fantasy of a life free from trouble and removed from political aﬀairs appealed to some elite Athenians during the classical period. Socrates emphatically rejects the naive notion that a man can stand completely aloof from political life by simply moving from city to city, and insists that within one’s own polis it is both expedient and virtuous to shoulder the burdens of leadership. A striking feature of Socrates’ presentation of the advantages of ruling over being ruled is that he posits that leaders not only enjoy considerable beneﬁts from their position of power but also avoid the risks inherent in being dominated by others (cf. ..). Indeed, to drive home this latter point, Socrates invokes the position of some sophists that man lives in a state of nature in which subservience and dominance are bleak alternatives and the weaker naturally succumb to the stronger. If Socrates wields here an extreme doctrine, it is important to remember that he is seeking to persuade an individual who embraces an extreme perspective and who needs to be shaken out of his delusion that he can live an apolitical life.
For the ongoing debate over the Prodicean origin of this tale, see Sansone , with earlier bibliography. On the appeal of political disengagement (apragmosunē) to some elite Athenians, see Carter : –. Cf. Dorion and Bandini a: –. Cf. Johnson (: , –), who argues that Socrates’ invocation of this position must be understood within the context of his elenchus of Aristippus, and rightly notes that this does not jibe with Xenophon’s Socrates’ vision of political life elsewhere.
Politics and the Gentleman in the Memorabilia
Socrates’ extensive discussion of political engagement with Aristippus serves as a prelude to his treatment of this in a speciﬁcally Athenian context in his exchange with Charmides, son of Glaucon. When Socrates sees that Charmides, who is “far more capable than the politicians of the day,” holds back from addressing the Athenian people in the Assembly (..), he prods him to put himself forward. Socrates asserts that it is Charmides’ duty as citizen to step forward to direct the aﬀairs of the city (.., ) since he is capable of doing so (..). Just as it would be cowardly for a great athlete to refuse to compete in the great games where he could win honor for himself and glory for his city, it would be cowardly for a man who could direct the state’s aﬀairs and thereby help his city and win honor through this to hold back from competition in the political sphere (..–, ). Socrates’ conﬁdence in Charmides’ ability to advise the Assembly is based on his observation that Charmides already oﬀers good advice in private conversation to the city’s political leaders (..). He chastises Charmides for being conﬁdent in speaking before such formidable men in private while hesitating to address average citizens – mere fullers, cobblers, builders, smiths, farmers, merchants, and dealers in the Agora – in the Assembly who know nothing about political matters (..–); since he does not fear the ridicule of the former, he should not fear the laughter of the latter (..–). Socrates concludes with an exhortation to Charmides: “Do not neglect the aﬀairs of the city, if you can improve them in any way. If they go well, not only your fellow citizens, but your friends and you yourself at least as much as they will proﬁt” (..). Although scholars have often cited this episode as evidence of Socrates’ antidemocratic views due to his unﬂattering characterization of average Athenians in the Assembly, Xenophon’s Socrates is far more concerned here with arguing that capable members of the elite must step forward as leaders within the democracy than with critiquing the dēmos or democratic institutions. Socrates’ main point is that Athenians diﬀer from one another in their ability to provide political leadership and that those who are capable therefore have an obligation to do so. As Socrates seeks to persuade Charmides that he should not be afraid to address the Assembly, he contrasts his private audience of politically active men who are most
On Socrates’ encouragement of elite engagement in the democracy, see Gray a: . Xenophon and his Socrates embrace the pursuit of glory, honor, and praise: see Dorion and Bandini a: –. For the analogy between elite citizens and star athletes, see also Mem. ... See, e.g., Luccioni : – and Vlastos : –.
The Importance of Political Engagement
knowledgeable/wise (phronimōtatoi) and strongest (ischurotatoi) with the public audience he will have in the Assembly of men who are the opposites of this, least knowledgeable/wise (aphronestatoi) and least strong (asthenestatoi) (..). The point of this sharp contrast is clariﬁed in what follows, when Socrates challenges Charmides’ irrational fear of addressing the Assembly: “What diﬀerence do you think there is between what you are doing and someone who can beat trained athletes but is afraid of amateurs (tous idiotas)?” (..). As an expert in political aﬀairs, Charmides has no reason to fear the average men who dominate the Assembly. Notably, in contrasting the expertise of political leaders with the amateurism of the general mass of men, Socrates does not assert that this is a consequence of innate diﬀerences between them; in fact, the analogy he draws with the athletic sphere suggests that training is what separates political leaders from average men. The basic distinction that he draws between expert orators and their amateur audiences of private persons, moreover, is one that the Athenian public accepted. If politicians addressing the Athenian dēmos are careful to avoid framing the contrast as bluntly as Socrates does here, they invoke the same distinction and oﬀer advice as individuals particularly qualiﬁed to do so. Read in this light, Socrates is amplifying a distinction that Athenians at large recognized, and using this to inspire a member of the elite to step forward to serve the democracy as he should. In seeking to persuade Charmides to play an active role in the political life of the city, Socrates indicates, as in his conversation with Aristippus (..), that this is warranted not only on the grounds of patriotic duty but also because this is beneﬁcial to those who step forward to lead. Socrates asserts that such men will win honor (timasthai: ..) through their service and be in a position to help their friends and themselves (..; cf. ..). For Xenophon and his Socrates, there is no inherent conﬂict between a man advancing the city’s interests and his own simultaneously. An interesting question arises in connection with Socrates’ exhortation to Charmides that he should play a more active political role in the
Socrates’ equation of knowledge and strength facilitates his comparison of the most knowledgeable men with trained athletes and the least knowledgeable men as amateur athletes. See Ober : –; cf. Gray a: . Cf. Gray a: and Tuplin : –. Dorion and Bandini (a: –) overlook the presence of this distinction in Athenian public discourse. Elsewhere, Xenophon’s Socrates views the dēmos and its deliberative capacities more positively: see esp. Ap. , with Gray a: . Xenophon frequently speaks of the desirability of a man beneﬁting himself, his family and friends, and his city: see Dorion and Bandini : ccxvi–ccxvii; cf. b: n. ; Seager : . For Athenians in general, the pursuit of self-interest was not necessarily incompatible with good citizenship: see Christ : –; cf. : –.
Politics and the Gentleman in the Memorabilia
city: How should we view this in light of the fact that Charmides went on to support the Thirty in as “one of the Ten who ruled in the Piraeus” and died in battle ﬁghting on their behalf at Mounichia (HG ..)? Arguably, since Socrates urged Charmides to become politically active, he might be viewed as culpable for Charmides’ subsequent political activities under the Thirty. Interestingly, while Xenophon defends Socrates at length from the charge at his trial that he bore responsibility for the oﬀenses of Critias and Alcibiades against the city, he makes no attempt to defend him from the potential charge that his associate Charmides went on to serve the Thirty. Perhaps the best explanation for Xenophon’s silence is that he did not view Charmides’ later political behavior as conspicuously bad; Xenophon’s portrayal of the regime of the Thirty in the Hellenica suggests that many decent men initially supported the Thirty, but came to regret this. If anyone were to cast this against Socrates, however, Xenophon’s portrayal of Socrates in this episode provides an implicit defense of his behavior: far from encouraging Charmides to overthrow the democracy, he urges him to step forward as a speaker before the democratic Assembly and to win honor by serving the city. If Socrates’ conversation with Charmides highlights the responsibility of qualiﬁed members of the elite to advise and lead the dēmos, his conversation with Glaucon – Charmides’ nephew and Plato’s brother – that immediately precedes it cautions that only those who are truly capable of leading should step forward as leaders. These closely paired conversations sketch out opposite extremes, with Charmides reluctant to engage in political life despite his aptitude for it, and Glaucon eager to play a leading role in the city despite his manifest inexperience and incompetence. As background to this conversation, Xenophon describes how Glaucon, who was not yet twenty years old, was trying to become a rhētōr since he desired to lead the city, and although he kept getting dragged down from the speaker’s platform in the Assembly and incurring ridicule from the public, none of his friends or relatives could deter him. In the face of this
This has troubled many scholars: see Dorion and Bandini a: –. Cf. Dorion and Bandini a: –. See Chapter . Cf. McNamara : : “Charmides’ failure is not Socrates’ failure. Socrates pointed the way towards a just and beneﬁcial political participation and Charmides ignored his advice.” For Glaucon’s family tree, see Nails : . On the conspicuous pairing of these two conversations, see Dorion and Bandini a: , , –. In the late ﬁfth century, Athenian men over the age of eighteen could apparently attend meetings of the Assembly (cf. Hansen : –, ); it was presumably uncommon, however, for someone as young as Glaucon to seek to address the Assembly.
The Importance of Political Engagement
embarrassing situation, Socrates steps forward for the sake of his friendship with Plato and Charmides, and successfully intercedes (..), by demonstrating to Glaucon his utter ignorance of what a political leader should know. The conversation opens with Socrates running into Glaucon and ostensibly commending him for his decision to lead the city since this will bring him honor and fame and beneﬁt Glaucon, his friends, family, and city (..). Xenophon reports, “When Glaucon heard this, he felt proud and gladly lingered” (..). Having snared his prey, Socrates proceeds to interrogate him on how precisely he will set out to help the city since he seeks to be honored by it (..). When this question stumps Glaucon (“he was silent, as if considering for the ﬁrst time how to begin” his public service) (..), Socrates helpfully provides him with the opportunity to demonstrate what he knows about Athens’ public ﬁnances, military resources, and other matters that will enable him to advise the city successfully (.–). In each case, Glaucon is forced to concede that he does not actually know anything, and at one point he even acknowledges that he is simply conjecturing about what would be expedient for the city (..). When Glaucon expresses exasperation that he must be knowledgeable even about the grain supply to advise the city (“That is an enormous task that you are suggesting, if one is obliged to look after that sort of thing!”) (..), Socrates advises him to learn how to manage a single household before seeking to manage an entire city, and proposes that he could do so for his uncle, whose estate needs tending to. When Glaucon indicates that he would be glad to do so but cannot persuade his uncle to allow this, Socrates asks incredulously, “You cannot persuade your uncle, and yet you suppose you will be able to make all the Athenians, including your uncle, follow your advice?” (..). Socrates concludes with a warning of how dangerous it is to seek glory as an advisor to the public if one does not have the extensive knowledge needed to succeed (..–). Although Glaucon is the immediate target of Socrates’ criticism and ridicule, there is a strong element of social satire as Socrates pillories a
On Xenophon’s frequent equation of the skills needed to manage a household (oikos) and to govern a city, see Dorion and Bandini a: –. The uncle in question may well be Charmides, notwithstanding the doubts of Dorion and Bandini (a: ). Dorion and Bandini (a: –) observe that Xenophon’s Socrates, who emphasizes that aspiring politicians must acquire technical knowledge, diverges from Plato’s Socrates, who focuses exclusively on the importance of their acquiring moral knowledge. Nonetheless, Xenophon’s Socrates still views moral knowledge as essential for a politician, as is especially evident in his conversation with Euthydemus (Mem. .); cf. ibid. .
Politics and the Gentleman in the Memorabilia
member of the elite whose ambitions and conﬁdence are out of sync with his abilities and training. Glaucon, like other members of the elite in the Memorabilia, as we shall see, has a great desire for glory and fame (.., ), and his ambition for these sends him precipitously into the political sphere without suﬃcient preparation or knowledge. He arrogantly assumes that all that is required of him to lead the state is that he wishes this to be so – thus, Socrates ironically inquires at the start of the conversation, “Have you made up your mind to be our head of state?” (..). When Socrates warns Glaucon that he is overreaching when he attempts to speak and act in connection with matters that he does not understand, he tellingly speaks of Glaucon’s risk of “falling” (sphaleron: ), a hazard to which arrogant aristocrats on the tragic stage are also vulnerable. Glaucon thus serves as a monitory example to elite Athenians that future leaders must undergo training and become knowledgeable, and it is perilous to seek to lead without this preparation. Clearly, not all members of the elite are worthy of leading the city, and, in fact, as Xenophon’s Socrates states explicitly later in the Memorabilia, while many men seek to lead, only some succeed (..–). If, according to Xenophon, only some members of the elite are truly capable of leading the city, what political role does he envision for other elite Athenians? He suggests that it is possible for such men to serve the city in less conspicuous ways, to judge from the contrast he draws between Critias and Alcibiades, who sought out Socrates simply to advance their political careers (..), and his other companions, including Crito, who kept company with him not that they might give speeches in the Assembly or in court, but that they might become gentlemen (kaloi kagathoi), and be able to deal eﬀectively with house and household, relatives and friends, and city and citizens. (..)
That men may be useful to the city and their fellow citizens without serving in conspicuous political roles suggests that even a lower level of political engagement is honorable and can serve the common good. Although Xenophon does not elaborate here on precisely what this lower, yet beneﬁcial, level of political engagement might entail, his
Cf. E. Hipp. , Supp. . There is no need to see this passage, as Dorion and Bandini (: ) do, as diﬃcult to reconcile with .., where Socrates speaks of producing as many competent politicians as possible. Socrates encourages companions like Charmides (.) who have the potential to be successful in politics to step forward and lead, but he recognizes that this path is not appropriate for all his associates (cf. Tuplin : ).
Toward a New Elite: Making Good Leaders
portrayal of Ischomachus in the Oeconomicus provides one example of how a member of the elite might do his civic duty without stepping into the political limelight. Ischomachus conscientiously manages his own estate in such a way that he can not only provide for himself and his household but also perform liturgies for the city (.; cf. ., ., Mem. ..) and spend generously to adorn it (.). He also practices oratory at home so that, if needed, he can defend himself in court, bring a volunteer prosecution against a general, or step forward to address and advise the city in the Assembly (.–). So, too, he practices horsemanship in case he is needed in the cavalry (., ). Although Ischomachus is autonomous and self-suﬃcient in running his well-managed estate, this does not mean that he has sought to withdraw or escape from political life. In fact, because the skills involved in managing a household are very similar to those required to manage the city, as Socrates suggests to Glaucon in the Memorabilia (..–), a good household manager like Ischomachus is developing skills that will serve the city should he ever assume a position of leadership within it.
Toward a New Elite: Making Good Leaders If qualiﬁed members of the elite have a responsibility to lead the democratic city, precisely which qualiﬁcations do they need and how can they obtain these? Xenophon makes it clear that hopeful politicians must not only be eﬀective speakers but also have the proper moral compass and detailed knowledge of the city’s aﬀairs if they are to beneﬁt rather than harm the city. His treatment of Critias and Alcibiades illustrates how dangerous it is for the city to be led by unprincipled men; and his depiction of Glaucon shows how absurd it is for a man without practical knowledge of the city’s aﬀairs to put himself forward as an advisor to the city. Consistent with this is the way that Xenophon’s Socrates urges his elite interlocutors to set aside the naive notion that they are worthy to rule simply because of their wealth or high birth, and to seek out an education in moral virtue and practical knowledge and skills that will enable them to lead the city responsibly and well. Xenophon’s most explicit and extended discussion of Socrates’ rejection of high birth and wealth as qualiﬁcations in themselves for leading
Although Ischomachus focuses on forensic oratory in his exercises at home, he also seems to practice for presenting speeches in a deliberative setting (Oec. .). On Ischomachus, see further in Chapter .
Politics and the Gentleman in the Memorabilia
the city and his advocacy instead of education for prospective leaders comes at the opening of Book . Socrates, he declares, was in love not with those whose beauty was physical but rather with those naturally disposed toward learning: These good natures (tas agathas phuseis) he recognized by their quickness to learn anything to which they applied themselves, ability to remember what they learned, and desire for every kind of instruction through which it is possible to manage well a household and city and in general to deal eﬀectively with men and the aﬀairs of men. For he believed that such men, if educated, would not only themselves prosper and manage their own households well, but also be able to make their fellow-citizens and cities prosper. (..)
Xenophon proceeds to describe how Socrates responded to individuals who were hostile to learning and ignorant of how essential it is to good leadership because of their excessive pride in their lineage or wealth. Xenophon ﬁrst addresses the case of men who “suppose themselves to be good by nature (phusei agathous)” – a common assumption among the self-designated gentlemen (kaloi kagathoi) of the Athenian upper class – and relates how Socrates sought to teach them that “the natures that seem to be best (aristai)” especially stand in need of education (..). Socrates, he reports, invoked the analogy of naturally gifted (euphuestatoi) horses or hounds, who develop into impressive and highly useful creatures with the right training, but become the opposite of this if untrained, and asserts that naturally gifted humans, who are “strong in spirit and capable of achieving whatever they attempt,” can accomplish the greatest deeds if they are educated, but without education their pride and impetuousness make them prone to do the greatest harms (..). Although Socrates accepts that “good breeding” may give some men exceptional potential to achieve greatness, he rejects the notion that such men are automatically good in a moral sense and insists that only if they seek out education can they hope to do great good rather than harm. A truly “good nature” is one that seeks out education (..; cf. .., ..), and an impressive lineage does not guarantee a man such a nature. Xenophon speaks of the second group of men who seek to lead without the beneﬁt of education as “those who pride themselves on their wealth” and think this will suﬃce “for achieving whatever they wish and for
That high birth does not necessarily translate into good character is evident in the case of Callias (Smp. .–). As Balot (: n. ) observes, Xenophon “comes down heavily on the side of ‘nurture’ as opposed to ‘nature’ in the creation of human character.”
Toward a New Elite: Making Good Leaders
winning honor from men” (..). He reports that Socrates rebuked such men, telling them that only “fools” and “simpletons” would think that they can determine what is expedient without education and that other men will hold them in high regard on the basis of their wealth if they are clearly not “good at anything” (..). Although these criticisms of the arrogance of the high born and wealthy – overlapping groups despite Xenophon’s separate treatment of them – recall Xenophon’s scathing evaluation of Critias and Alcibiades as men “exalted by their birth” and “elated by their wealth” (..), they also apply to many of the elite interlocutors who appear in conversation with Socrates throughout the Memorabilia. Indeed, after oﬀering this assessment of the elite attributes that can lead men to devalue education, Xenophon immediately turns to the case of Euthydemus, a young elite Athenian who arrogantly supposes that the large library he has accumulated with his wealth automatically makes him wise and obviates his need to be educated by others. Socrates’ encounters with Euthydemus, as described by Xenophon, constitute a compelling case study of the vanity of the elite and the need for future leaders to be truly educated. When Xenophon introduces Socrates’ conversations with Euthydemus, he highlights his elite status: I will now relate how Socrates dealt with those who thought they had received the best education and prided themselves on their wisdom (epi sophiai). He learned that Euthydemus, the handsome (ton kalon), had collected many writings of celebrated poets and wise men, and therefore supposed himself to stand out from his peers in wisdom, and had high hopes of surpassing all men in ability to speak and act. (..)
In identifying Euthydemus as handsome (kalos), Xenophon reminds the reader of his appearance earlier in the Memorabilia as Critias’ eromenos and as the object of Critias’ base lust (..–). His association with Critias in a pederastic relationship points to his elite status, as does the fact that he is wealthy enough to amass a large personal library. And like other elite Athenians in the Memorabilia, Euthydemus has a driving
Although Dorion and Bandini (b: –) may be right that the Memorabilia has no examples of interlocutors who completely eschew education because they believe their high birth or riches makes this unnecessary (..–), it is full of members of the elite whose lineage or wealth makes them overconﬁdent about their ability to lead the city and who therefore stand in need of Socratic intervention and education. On Euthydemus’ identity, see Dorion and Bandini b: –. On the high cost of books in Athens, see Harris : –.
Politics and the Gentleman in the Memorabilia
ambition to lead and believes that he is ready to do so even though he has not sought out a real education. Euthydemus assumes that just because he has accumulated the trappings of knowledge in his extensive library this makes him wise and he therefore has no need of education. His confusion of surface with substance is perhaps natural for a man of his class, and not least for one whose own physical beauty has marked him out as kalos in the eyes of his admirers. Socrates, who values inner virtue over external beauty in his associates (.., ..–), proves to be just what Euthydemus needs, as he challenges Euthydemus’ false assumptions about how much he knows and his ability to lead without being properly taught. Because Euthydemus is a challenging subject, Socrates approaches him on three diﬀerent occasions at the saddler’s shop where he spends time as he seeks to break down Euthydemus’ defenses and to engage and enlighten him. On the ﬁrst occasion (..), Socrates and some of his companions go to the saddler’s shop, and one of the latter asks in Euthydemus’ presence whether Themistocles stood out as the right man to lead Athens because he spent time in the company of some wise man or due to his natural ability (phusei). Socrates, seeking “to shake up” (kinein) Euthydemus, responds emphatically that it would be absurd to think that when competent teachers are needed to make men excel in the minor crafts, the ability to lead a city comes to men automatically (apo tautomatou). This brief episode, in which Euthydemus says nothing, is the prelude to two longer episodes (..–, ..–) in which Socrates elaborates on how essential it is for someone seeking to lead the city as rhētōr or general to be educated. In Socrates’ second encounter with him, once again Euthydemus does not speak, but this time Socrates directly challenges his assumption that he
When Xenophon speaks of Euthydemus’ ambition to surpass others “in ability to speak and act,” he is referring to his political ambitions as is clear from ..; cf. ..–; Dorion and Bandini : ccvi–ccvii. Socrates’ critique of Euthydemus is based on the fact that he merely collects and accumulates books (.., .., ..) – no mention is made of his reading them – and has given no thought to their content; his books are just another manifestation of his wealth. Xenophon’s Socrates is not hostile to books per se, as is evident from his declaration that they are treasure-houses (thēsaurous) of wisdom that can “enrich their possessors with excellence” (..). Dorion and Bandini (b: –) are too quick to equate Xenophon’s Socrates with Plato’s Socrates, who is adamantly opposed to reliance on the written word (Phdr. b–b). Xenophon does not portray Socrates’ education of Euthydemus as a seduction, pace Danzig : –. Thucydides (..), by contrast, emphasizes Themistocles’ natural talent (cf. Tamiolaki : –).
Toward a New Elite: Making Good Leaders
can competently lead without the beneﬁt of studying with a knowledgeable teacher. In a brilliant bit of satire, Socrates envisions how Euthydemus, in his current state of ignorance, might open an address to the Assembly: Men of Athens, I have never yet learned anything from anyone, nor, when I have heard that certain persons are capable in speech and action, have I sought to meet them, nor have I been at pains to ﬁnd a teacher from among those who understand these matters. On the contrary, I have consistently avoided not only learning anything from anybody, but even giving the impression of doing so. Nevertheless, I shall oﬀer you whatever advice comes to me of its own accord (apo tautomatou). (..)
In case Euthydemus misses his point, Socrates proceeds to observe that it would be just as ridiculous for someone seeking the oﬃce of public physician to address the public and boast of his careful avoidance of instruction from any physician (..). While this evokes laughter from those present, Euthydemus remains silent but is now attentive as Socrates goes on to reiterate that just as men learning other crafts need the guidance of teachers to become proﬁcient at what they do, so too do those who wish to become capable speakers and statesmen; men are wrong to assume they can do these things “on their own” (automatoi) since these activities require more rather than less training than other crafts (..; cf. ..) – “for many more are interested in them, but far fewer succeed” (..). Finally, when Socrates senses that Euthydemus is more receptive to what he is saying, he goes by himself to the saddler’s shop and engages him in an extensive conversation (..–) that exposes the gap between his political ambitions and his current capabilities. Socrates ﬁrst asks Euthydemus about his large collection of books, which Euthydemus indicates he continues to expand “until I shall acquire as much as I am able” (..), and Socrates congratulates him on accumulating treasure-houses (thēsaurous) of wisdom rather than gold and silver since “the thoughts of the wise enrich their possessors with excellence (aretēi)” (..). Although Euthydemus takes this as praise from Socrates that he is on his way to wisdom (..), Socrates proceeds to demonstrate through his interrogation that while Euthydemus believes his large library gives him wisdom and will make him good at the “kingly craft” of leading (..–; cf. ..),
For attestations of this oﬃce in Athens, see Dorion and Bandini b: n. . Socrates’ “praise” has a sharp edge to it: since Euthydemus merely accumulates books, as a wealthy man might, they do not enrich him with excellence. On ruling others as a “kingly craft” (basilikē technē) in Xenophon, see Dorion and Bandini a: –.
Politics and the Gentleman in the Memorabilia
he has given little real thought to what good leadership entails. In discussing what constitutes justice, for example, Euthydemus fails to understand the subtleties of this for a general, who may reasonably deceive the city’s enemies and plunder their goods (..), and on occasion may even need to deceive his own soldiers (..); he is thereby compelled to acknowledge that his ignorance makes him slavish (..; cf. ..) and that he has not received the sort of education appropriate to one seeking to become a gentleman (..). Euthydemus, moreover, shows himself to be ignorant of what a leader should know concerning the importance of self-knowledge (..–), which things are good and evil (..–), and the true nature of the dēmos within a democracy (..–). By the end of this conversation, Euthydemus is battered and dejected, but comes to be one of Socrates’ regular companions, and Socrates, having shaken Euthydemus out of his self-satisﬁed and ignorant state through his barrage of questions, henceforth “avoided confounding him, and began to explain very plainly and clearly what he thought it was necessary for Euthydemus to know and what practices were best for him to follow” (..). Although some of Socrates’ interlocutors, like Glaucon, seem to have little hope of becoming “gentlemen” in the Socratic sense and thereby worthy of ruling, Euthydemus emerges as a more hopeful case. Notwithstanding his association with the brutish Critias and an arrogance that so often accompanies wealth, Euthydemus proves to be educable and able to beneﬁt from Socrates’ intervention (cf. ., ., .). This episode, at least, oﬀers a fairly optimistic view of the capacity of the elite, if willing, to become educated and worthy to hold the oﬃces for which they are ambitious. In his conversations with Euthydemus, Socrates envisions his interlocutor, as an ambitious member of the elite, seeking to serve as rhētōr (..–) or general (..–). Much of Book of the Memorabilia consists of Socrates’ conversations with elite Athenians concerning these positions of leadership, and what they require of those who hold them. As we have seen, Xenophon, through the contrasting examples of Glaucon (.) and Charmides (.), sketches out what qualiﬁes a man to advise the Athenian
Moore () argues that Socrates in his conversation with Euthydemus does not limit selfknowledge to knowledge of one’s powers and capacities but includes knowledge of justice and goodness. On Xenophon’s portrayal of the stages of Socrates’ education of Euthydemus, see Morrison : –; on Socratic elenchus here and elsewhere in the Memorabilia, see Dorion and Bandini : cxviii–clxxxii; cf. Dorion : .
Toward a New Elite: Making Good Leaders
Assembly as rhētōr. The ﬁve conversations that precede these (.–) focus on the attributes that Xenophon believes a member of the elite should have in order to exercise leadership in the military sphere, as they portray Socrates as an educator and often challenger of men who aspire to, or already hold, positions of military leadership. At the opening of Book , Xenophon states, “I will now describe how Socrates helped those who were eager to win distinction by making them apply themselves (epimeleis) to the object of their ambitions” (..) and then proceeds to present ﬁve conversations about military leadership. Four of these concern the generalship (., ., ., .), and one focuses on the related oﬃce of hipparch, that is, leader of the cavalry (.). Whereas the ﬁrst three interlocutors are unnamed, the last two are identiﬁed, Nicomachides and the younger Pericles. Let us consider brieﬂy the ﬁrst three conversations, and then focus on the last two, which oﬀer an especially critical view of elite seekers of military oﬃce. The ﬁrst conversation is with an anonymous young man, a companion of Socrates, who seeks to be a general. Socrates, aware of his ambitions, had encouraged him to seek out the sophist Dionysodorus, who was oﬀering to teach men how to be generals (..), on the grounds that it would be irresponsible for someone seeking the generalship not to learn about it since the state’s fate can hinge on a general’s success or failure (). When the young man returns from Dionysodorus, however, Socrates interrogates him concerning what he learned, and is scandalized that Dionysodorus taught him only about tactics () and even this not well, as it turns out (–). Socrates insists there is much more to generalship than just tactics: For a general must be able to get together the resources for making war and provide supplies for his soldiers; he must be inventive, active and attentive, persevering and shrewd, both friendly and harsh, both straightforward and subtle, a good protector and a good thief, lavish and rapacious, generous and grasping, cautious and aggressive, and a man must have a great many other qualities, natural and acquired (kai phusei kai epistēmēi), if he is to be a good general. (..)
Generalship, according to Socrates, thus requires a combination of practical knowledge and personal traits and skills. Notwithstanding Socrates’
On the meaning of epimeleis here and the importance of epimeleia in Mem. .– and elsewhere in Xenophon, see Dorion and Bandini a: –. Xenophon represents Socrates’ education of the elite positively and optimistically in .. and throughout the conversations of .–; I do not believe he is seeking to demonstrate “the limitations of Socratic teaching, and also highlight the diﬃculty of imposing these ideas in a democratic context” (Tamiolaki : ). Cf. Cyr. ..–.
Politics and the Gentleman in the Memorabilia
apparently superior knowledge of the subject, he sends his young interlocutor back to Dionysodorus to ask him more about generalship () and presumably to expose his shortcomings as instructor. Although one may doubt that the young man will receive satisfactory answers given the limitations of Dionysodorus’ prior instruction, Socrates makes it clear that it is incumbent on him, as an aspirant to the generalship, to seek actively from all possible sources the knowledge that he will need to be a successful general. The second conversation (.) is a one-sided one in which Socrates expounds on the responsibilities of generalship to a man who has been chosen as general. Although his interlocutor’s responses are not recorded, we may infer from Socrates’ discourse on the subject that he feels his interlocutor, though already elected as general, can still beneﬁt from instruction concerning it. Taking as his starting point Homer’s designation of Agamemnon as “shepherd of the people” (Il. .), Socrates emphasizes that a good general is concerned for the welfare and prosperity of those who chose him, which entails ensuring that his men are safe and have provisions and that they prevail over their enemies and thus achieve prosperity (..). Xenophon observes that in this way, Socrates “stripped away all other virtues, and left just the ability to make his followers prosper” (..). Thus, although the generalship brings honor to its holder and men seek it on this basis (..), Socrates insists that it carries with it a responsibility above all to serve the common good. In the third conversation (.), Socrates speaks with a young man who has been elected as hipparch – Athenians elected two hipparchs each year to lead the cavalry, and these oﬃcials played a role analogous to that of the generals over the hoplites ([Arist.] Ath. Pol. .). Notwithstanding his selection for this important oﬃce, the young man appears not to know much about how to carry out the responsibilities of his oﬃce. Although
The rhetorical ﬂourish with which Socrates sets out his knowledge of generalship in .. suggests that he not only knows more about this than the sophist Dionysodorus but can convey this in an elegant manner that a sophist might envy. On Socrates’ evident knowledge of generalship, see Dorion and Bandini a: –. On the problem of why Socrates sent his interlocutor to Dionysodorus in the ﬁrst place and then sends him back again to the sophist despite his manifest shortcomings, see Dorion and Bandini a: –, –. On this formulation of what is most important in a general, see Dorion and Bandini a: –; cf. Jones and Sharma : –. On the numerous parallels between Socrates’ advice to this hipparch and Xenophon’s advice to hipparchs in his Hipparchicus, see Dorion and Bandini a: –. In both . and ., Xenophon’s Socrates focuses on the personal deﬁciencies of elected oﬃcials rather than on the dēmos’ mistake in electing them; in ., Socrates defends the rationality of the people’s election of Antisthenes to his indignant rival, Nicomachides (cf. Gray a: ).
Toward a New Elite: Making Good Leaders
he agrees with Socrates that someone should seek a cavalry command because he seeks to improve the cavalry and “hand it on better” when he leaves oﬃce, and to beneﬁt the city by leading the cavalry in battle (..), the young man turns out not to have considered how to improve the horses (..–) or the cavalrymen (..–), or how to win the cavalry’s conﬁdence and obedience (..–). Socrates emphasizes especially how important it is for a cavalry commander to win his men’s willing obedience and to inspire them to pursue honor keenly. Men will be willing to obey their commander if he can make it clear that he knows best what needs to be done (..) and can show them that “it will be more honorable and safer” to obey him than not to (..), and the key to achieving this is for the commander to be a capable speaker since “the best teachers rely most on the spoken word and those with the deepest knowledge of the greatest subjects are the best talkers” (..). Through his words, moreover, a commander can encourage those under him to pursue honor (..; cf. ..), which Athenians are predisposed to do given their love of honor (philotimia) and competitive zeal to surpass others (..–). Thus, Xenophon suggests, it is not only rhētores who rely on the power of speech to carry out their duties, but military leaders as well. Socrates’ interlocutor seems attentive and eager to follow his advice (..), and we are left with the impression that Socrates has once again served the city by helping to ensure it has competent leaders (cf. ..). A diﬀerent scenario emerges in the fourth conversation, in which Socrates’ interlocutor, Nicomachides, has failed to be elected general and gripes about how one of the men chosen instead of him lacks qualiﬁcations: “Socrates, the men of Athens being the sort of people they are, have not elected me, although I have been worn out in service as a regular conscript, as a leader of a company, and as a commander of a regiment, and have received all these wounds from the enemy” – as he spoke, he drew back his clothes and exhibited the scars – “but they have chosen Antisthenes, who has never served as hoplite and has done nothing remarkable in the cavalry, and knows nothing except how to pile up money.” (..)
Xenophon emphasizes throughout his writings that it is important for a leader to win the willing obedience of those under him: see Gray b: – and Dorion and Bandini a: –. On the indispensable role of logos in motivating human beings, see also Mem. ..–, ..–; Oec. .–; Eq. Mag. .–, .–, ., .; Cyr. ..–, ..–. In his Anabasis, Xenophon portrays himself as a general who uses speech eﬀectively, as Dorion and Bandini (a: –) note. On Xenophon’s portrayal of himself as a masterful democratic rhētōr in the Anabasis, see Chapter .
Politics and the Gentleman in the Memorabilia
Nicomachides’ disdain for men who merely “pile up money,” whom he goes on to equate disparagingly with “merchants” (..), suggests that he, like most of Socrates’ interlocutors in the Memorabilia, is a traditionally minded member of the elite. Socrates proceeds to challenge Nicomachides’ arrogant stance that prior service as an oﬃcer and battle scars automatically qualify him for the generalship by demonstrating that Antisthenes brings managerial skills to his oﬃce that will serve him and his troops well. Socrates makes the case that Antisthenes, who is clearly a wealthy man, has extensive managerial experience as chorēgos, that is, as a producer of choral productions for the city, and as a supervisor of his own estate (oikonomos), which will serve him well as general. As chorēgos, Antisthenes is eager for victory (..), and his choruses have always been victorious; this success stems not from Antisthenes’ knowledge of music or how to train a chorus, but rather his ability to identify and hire men who are competent in these areas. Although Nicomachides protests that managing a chorus and an army are very diﬀerent things and a general surely cannot ﬁnd others to devise tactics and to do the ﬁghting for him, Socrates posits that if a general can search out and select the best men in military aﬀairs, he will likely be victorious; and Antisthenes, moreover, will probably also spend his own money more lavishly to ensure victory in war for the city than he does to win choral competitions for his tribe. Socrates generalizes: “I mean that whatever a man is in charge of, if he knows what is needed and is able to provide it, he will be a good supervisor (prostatēs) of it, whether he is in charge of a chorus, an estate, a city, or an army” (..). When Nicomachides goes on to object to the analogy that Socrates draws between a good manager of an estate and a good general (..), Socrates highlights similarities between these positions and what leads to success within them. In each role one must make subordinates willing and obedient, put the right man in the right place, punish the bad and reward the good, win goodwill from subordinates, attract allies and helpers, guard what one possesses, work diligently and hard, and prevail over enemies (..–). Furthermore, a good estate manager knows that “nothing proﬁts or pays like a victory in the ﬁeld, and nothing is so utterly unproﬁtable and entails such heavy loss as a defeat” and will therefore
On the disdain of traditional members of the elite for money-making, see Chapter . On whether Xenophon’s Antisthenes is anachronistically based on a known liturgist of this name who was active in the fourth century, see Davies : –. On Xenophon’s invocation of this principle here and elsewhere, see Dorion and Bandini a: , –, and Gray b: –.
Toward a New Elite: Making Good Leaders
act prudently and take the steps needed to defeat the enemy (..). Socrates concludes that there is little diﬀerence between managing private matters and public aﬀairs: “Don’t look down on estate managers (oikonomikōn andrōn), Nicomachides. For the management of private concerns (tōn idiōn) diﬀers only in degree from that of public aﬀairs (tōn koinōn)” (..). Although Socrates may seem to his modern readers to press too far the analogy between the good chorēgos and the good general and that between the good oikonomos and the good general, it is important to appreciate the context in which he does so. Because Nicomachides takes a very narrow and limited view of what qualiﬁes a man for the generalship, Socrates in adversarial mode oﬀers an alternative vision of what matters most in choosing a good general, namely, managerial aptitude and experience. The vehemence with which he advances this model reﬂects the fact that Nicomachides is disdainful of the managerial skills of a chorēgos and oikonomos and fails to appreciate that leading men well entails skills that can be honed in diﬀerent spheres. Notably, Socrates does not assert that military experience is irrelevant to the generalship; rather, he suggests that experience as hoplite and even as oﬃcer does not necessarily make one a good candidate for the generalship. Antisthenes, in fact, has experience as a cavalryman – though Nicomachides denigrates this as unremarkable (..) – and most importantly has the managerial skills that are critical for a general to be successful. Socrates’ ﬁfth conversation concerning military leadership is the longest of his exchanges on this topic, and most revealing for his critique of elite aspirants to the generalship. In this conversation, Socrates speaks with Pericles, “the son of the great Pericles,” just after he has been elected general (..; cf. ..). Although the time frame is vague, Xenophon may well be placing this conversation at the start of Pericles’ generalship in , which culminated in his execution by the Athenians as one of the generals at Arginusae charged with failing to rescue the shipwrecked Athenian sailors after the battle. Although Xenophon in his Hellenica
Dorion and Bandini (a: ) note that Antisthenes and Ischomachus in the Oeconomicus resemble one another as excellent administrators whose skills in managing an estate qualify them to manage a city as well. In Mem. ., ., and ..–, in fact, Socrates emphasizes the importance of generals having expertise speciﬁcally in the military sphere: see Dorion and Bandini a: –, –. Dorion and Bandini (a: ) are mistaken to say that Antisthenes has no military experience. Many Athenian generals had served earlier in the cavalry: see Spence : –. Although the younger Pericles may have served as general in and , his only ﬁrmly attested generalship was in : see Develin : , , .
Politics and the Gentleman in the Memorabilia
oﬀers a sympathetic portrayal of the generals at Arginusae and is critical of the dēmos’ punishment of them, his presentation of the younger Pericles in the Memorabilia is not a ﬂattering one. Indeed, he emerges in his conversation with Socrates as ill-suited to, and unprepared for, the generalship, and thereby provides vivid evidence, as the son of Athens’ famous general and statesman, that ability to serve as general is not inherited and that the generalship should not be viewed as the birthright of any elite Athenian. Although Socrates initially states optimistically, “I am hopeful, Pericles, that, now you have become general, our city will be better and more famous in warfare and conquer its enemies” (..), the ensuing conversation suggests that conﬁdence in Pericles’ prospects as general is not warranted. The scion of the great Pericles emerges as a petulant and pessimistic critic of the city, who is all too ready to blame others for the city’s problems and fails to see his own faults and those of men like him who embark on the generalship without knowing the ﬁrst thing about how to be a successful general. Pericles’ limits are evident from the start when he replies to Socrates’ statement of conﬁdence in his ability to improve the city’s situation through his generalship: “I would wish that it might be as you say, Socrates, but how these changes are to come about I have no idea” (..). It turns out that Pericles not only has given little thought to how to turn around the city’s current fortunes but also is profoundly pessimistic about this even being possible, as he paints a bleak picture of the city’s situation at home and abroad. Pericles asserts that the city’s aﬀairs are in disarray, with conﬂict and dissension rampant in the Assembly and law courts and citizens disdainful of those in authority (..–); and the Boeotians, buoyed by victories over the Athenians, threaten to invade Attica even without Spartan assistance (..) while indiscipline plagues the city’s military forces, with hoplites and cavalrymen unwilling to obey their commanders (..; cf. ..). In Pericles’ view, the city has fallen greatly from its past glory (.., , , ), and things could get even worse: “I am always dreading that some unbearable evil may befall the city” (..). Pericles’ despair at Athens’ current
On the Arginusae aﬀair, see Chapter . I do not see any irony, as Tamiolaki (; cf. Pangle : –) does, in Xenophon’s reference to the “great Pericles”; the father’s greatness stands in sharp contrast to the son’s ineptitude. Although Pericles may be anticipating the city’s defeat in the Peloponnesian War (Breitenbach : col. .–), he may be prescient instead concerning the imminent civil war among Athenians in / – note his reference in .. to “great enmity and mutual hatred among citizens.”
Toward a New Elite: Making Good Leaders
situation and prospects and his helplessness in addressing the city’s problems stand in contrast to his famous father’s optimism about the city even in hard times and his ability to oﬀer advice and lead in time of crisis, as portrayed by Thucydides (.–). One has the strong sense here with the younger Pericles that the apple has fallen far from the tree (cf. ..). Socrates, by contrast, comes across as an optimist and proud patriot in his exchange with Pericles. Although he agrees that the Athenians have fallen from their previous exalted position and that they have become less disciplined, he believes the situation is remediable (..–, ). Socrates is conﬁdent that Athenians surpass all others in their love of honor (philotimia) (..) and that they just need to be reminded of their unparalleled tradition of excellence from mythical times to the Persian Wars and called on to imitate their ancestors (..). Socrates’ appeal to the superiority of the Athenian character and the legacy of excellence of Athenians over time broadly recalls the Thucydidean Pericles’ funeral oration (.–), and this is surely no accident. The younger Pericles, who lacks his father’s conﬁdence in Athenians to prevail over others, needs to be reminded of the manifold merits and potential of the people he has been called on to lead as general. On the key issue of Athenian indiscipline Socrates also diverges from the younger Pericles, who portrays this as prevalent in all spheres of Athenian life and who holds up Sparta as a model of proper discipline and respect for authority (..). Socrates points to numerous areas where Athenians show good discipline and obedience – in their ﬂeets, athletic contests, and choral competitions (..) – and invokes the Council of the Areopagus as a paragon of good discipline (..), and on this basis argues that one must not despair of Athenian discipline. As to Pericles’ lament that the
McNamara (: ; cf. –) believes that the three conversations in .– map the decline in the quality of Athenian politics and leadership, but decline ﬁgures only in .. On the importance of discipline (eutaxia) in Xenophon, see Dorion and Bandini a: . Dorion and Bandini (a: –) argue that Socrates, in emphasizing the need of Athenians to strive for excellence (aretē), is urging them to cultivate not moral virtue but rather military virtue, that is, bravery, but this is not a distinction that Athenians would make. On courage as a democratic virtue, see Balot . On the evocation of the epitaphic tradition here, see Gray a: , with n. , and Dorion and Bandini a: –. Cf. Gray a: . As Gray (a: , cf. ) observes, there is overlap between the younger Pericles’ admiring view of Sparta, which Socrates seems to share (..), and that set forth in the Lac.Pol. (esp. .); cf. Dorion and Bandini a: –. Socrates’ praise of the discipline of average Athenians in the ﬂeet stands in contrast to his denigration of average Athenians in the Assembly at ..– (cf. Kroeker : ; Gray a: –).
Politics and the Gentleman in the Memorabilia
city’s hoplites and cavalry are the most insubordinate of all (..), and this in the military sphere where good discipline and obedience to authority are most critical (..), Socrates places the blame for this squarely on the city’s generals rather than on those under them: “This may be due to the fact that the least knowledgeable men lead them” (..). Whereas no one would attempt to exercise authority over harpists, choristers, dancers, and athletes if he were not knowledgeable about these things and he could explain where he had learned about them, “Most of our generals are improvisors (autoschediazousin)” (..). Just as Socrates elsewhere insists that the city’s political leaders, rhētores, should treat their avocation as a craft that requires active study and training (..), here he suggests that the city’s generals should also treat their pursuit as a serious craft to be actively learned through education. Socrates thus deftly turns the tables on the younger Pericles, who as newly elected general can only see what is wrong with the city and its troops and does not realize that he and others like him may be culpable for seeking the generalship without having any knowledge about it. Socrates charitably allows that Pericles may be exceptional: Certainly, however, I do not believe that you are one of this sort. I suppose you can say when you began to learn to be a general just as easily as when you began to learn wrestling. I expect too that besides keeping a large stock of stratagems that you have inherited from your father, you have amassed a great many from every source from which you could learn anything useful for a generalship. I think too that you take much trouble that you may not unconsciously lack any knowledge useful for a generalship; and if you ﬁnd that you do not know something of this sort, you seek out those who have this knowledge, sparing neither gifts nor favors, in order that you may learn what you do not know from them and may have qualiﬁed persons as your helpers. (..–)
In the guise of explaining how Pericles – unlike most generals – has surely exerted himself to become knowledgeable about the generalship, Socrates exposes his interlocutor as a typical know-nothing general who has not sought out what a general should know. Similarly, when Socrates proposes that Pericles has inherited knowledge of the generalship from his father and safeguarded this, he calls attention to the fact that Pericles, in fact, has received no such inheritance and that knowledge of how to succeed as general is not something that automatically passes down through the generations, as some elite Athenian might suppose.
In light of these barbs, I would hesitate to describe Socrates as benevolent toward the younger Pericles (Dorion and Bandini a: ).
Politics and Philia among Gentlemen
To his credit, the younger Pericles understands that he is, in fact, being criticized by Socrates for not having made the eﬀort to learn what a general should, and readily agrees that Socrates is correct (..). Socrates proceeds to begin to remedy this deﬁcit by talking to Pericles about how best to protect the frontier between Athens and Boeotia (..–) and exhorting him to put this into practice since this will bring honor to him and good to the state (..). If the conversation ends on a happy note with Pericles starting to learn about the generalship, it is disconcerting that he is already in oﬃce and about to take command of Athenian troops, and Xenophon’s audience would know that Pericles’ career as general did not end well. Xenophon’s Socrates at least has done his best in this encounter to steer another member of the elite in the right direction, in pursuit of the knowledge he will need to lead men.
Politics and Philia among Gentlemen If, according to Xenophon, it is incumbent on elite Athenians to lead the democratic city and to acquire the competence to do so eﬀectively, he makes it clear that they cannot expect to lead successfully without the collaboration and support of other members of the city’s elite. To succeed, he suggests, they will need to acquire the right sort of men as friends since such individuals will help them achieve their political goals and they in turn will beneﬁt their friends as well as themselves and the city in the exercise of political power. In encouraging the elite to make the most of friendship (philia) in the political sphere, Xenophon not only invokes a real feature of politics within the democratic city, where networks of elite friends played a signiﬁcant role, but also seeks to control and direct elite philia so that it will lead to harmony for the city rather than conﬂict and civil strife. Xenophon explores elite philia in a series of conversations in Book of the Memorabilia, in which his Socrates speaks of the great value and utility of friends. According to Socrates, philia is a precious “possession,” which men tend to undervalue:
On the anachronism of ..–, which seems to allude to Athens’ situation after the Battle of Leuctra in , see Dorion and Bandini : ccxlviii–ccxlix and a: , –. See Rhodes : –; Mitchell and Rhodes : –; cf. Hansen : –, . On Xenophon’s Socrates’ unabashedly utilitarian view of philia, see Dorion and Bandini a: –. Xenophon represents Socrates himself as a useful supporter of his friends in private and public life (ibid. –).
Politics and the Gentleman in the Memorabilia He said that he observed most men knew the quantity of their other possessions, however numerous they were, but as for their friends, few as they were, they not only did not know how many they had, but when they tried to furnish an inventory in answer to inquiry, they revised their opinion of those whom they had previously reckoned as friends, which showed how much they thought about friends. Yet, if we compare a good friend with any other possession, it must be obvious that the friend is far superior. What horse or what yoke of oxen is as useful as the good friend? What slave is so loyal and steadfast? What other possession is so thoroughly useful? The good friend sets himself to supply all his friend’s deﬁciencies, whether in his private concerns (tōn idiōn) or his public aﬀairs (tōn koinōn). (..–)
Socrates elaborates on the mutual beneﬁts of friendship in political life in a conversation with Critobulus (.). Socrates advises Critobulus to seek out gentlemen (kaloi kagathoi) as friends (..; cf. ..) – not “gentlemen” in the socially exclusive sense that aristocrats might invoke, but in the Socratic sense, that is, men of outstanding moral excellence. Critobulus, according to Socrates, should avoid certain types of men – those who lack control over their appetites, are spendthrifts, care only for their own selﬁsh proﬁt, or are factious and likely to provide enemies to their friends (..–) – and seek out their opposites and in particular men who treat their current friends well (..–). But to be successful in his hunt for virtuous friends, Critobulus must ﬁrst strive to become a good man himself so as to make himself a desirable friend (.., ; cf. ..–). Although it comes as no surprise that Socrates, who encourages his elite interlocutors to become true gentlemen, would urge them to choose similar men as their friends, his conversation with Critobulus takes an intriguing turn when Socrates argues that such men, if they cooperate with one another, can obtain and exercise political power in the city. Socrates takes up the political implications of philia among gentlemen in response to Critobulus’ concern that it may be diﬃcult for gentlemen to be friends
In light of the familiar role of elite philia in politics in Athens, I do not believe, as Tamiolaki (: ; cf. ) proposes, that Xenophon here “introduces a new concept of individual friendship, which relies on political premises.” Although Socrates emphasizes here the importance of virtue in a friend, it becomes clear that he also views competence, in whatever sphere a man is active, as critical as well: see .., with Gigon : – and Dorion and Bandini a: . Critobulus does not meet Socrates’ standards for self-control (enkrateia): he indulges his appetites and spends freely to sustain his elite lifestyle: see Oec. .–; Mem. ..; Dorion and Bandini a: –; cf. . Socrates is willing to help him in his hunt for friends (..) in the role of “matchmaker” (..), and this extends to working to make him a friend of the city at large if he gains political competence (..; cf. .., with Dorion and Bandini a: ; Smp. ., .).
Politics and Philia among Gentlemen
with one another since such men are apt to compete and quarrel with each other (..–), and strive through factions (stasiazousi) “with one another for leadership in states” (..). Socrates acknowledges this as a real problem (..) but insists, “Nevertheless through all these barriers friendship slips, and unites gentlemen (tous kalous te kagathous)” (..). Such men, he argues, will moderate their appetites, refrain from harming one another, and share their possessions, “giving their own goods into the possession of their friends, and regarding their friend’s property as their own” (..–). Most importantly, they will share political power among themselves without strife: Surely, then, it is likely that gentlemen (tous kalous kagathous) will share public privileges too not only without harm to one another, but also to their common beneﬁt? For those who desire to attain political distinction and to rule in order that they may have license to embezzle, to treat others with violence, and to live in luxury, are likely to be unjust, wicked, and incapable of cooperating with others. But if a man wishes for political distinction to protect himself from injustice and to be able to help his friends in a just cause, and by holding oﬃce he tries to do some good to his fatherland, why should he not be able to cooperate with others like himself? Will he be less capable of helping his friends, if he is allied with gentlemen? Will he be less able to beneﬁt his city, if he has other gentlemen as his collaborators? Even in athletic contests it is clear that if the strongest were allowed to join forces against the weaker, they would win all the events and they would carry oﬀ all the prizes. This is not permitted in athletics, but in politics, where the gentlemen are the strongest, nobody prevents anyone from combining with anyone he likes to beneﬁt the city; surely, then, it is proﬁtable for a man to prepare himself for public life by acquiring the best men (tous beltistous) as friends, and to employ them as partners and collaborators in his activities, rather than treat them as rivals. (..–)
In this remarkable passage, Socrates sketches out how the city’s elite can exercise political power within the city not by overthrowing the democracy but by cooperating and collaborating with one another in pursuit of their mutual interests and those of the city. This model for elite political behavior provides an alternative to, and criticism of, the destructive behavior of Critias and the Thirty that led to civil strife (stasis) in Athens in /. In the eyes of Xenophon, Critias and his elite cronies, driven by an excess of ambition (philotimia) and unconstrained by decency and moderation, engaged in rapacious behavior toward both their elite peers and the Athenian dēmos and did immense
On this commonplace, see Dorion and Bandini a: –.
Cf. Balot : –.
Politics and the Gentleman in the Memorabilia
harm to the city. Xenophon’s Socrates, who is represented here and elsewhere as an opponent of stasis and promoter of civic harmony (.., ..), rejects the sort of perversion of elite philia evident in the regime of the Thirty and argues that the philia of virtuous gentlemen in the political sphere will bring stability and good leadership to the city. Although it may seem odd that Xenophon, writing after the disastrous reign of the Thirty, has his Socrates envision elite philia serving the city rather than harming it, this reﬂects his assumption that elite Athenians will inevitably compete for political power within the democracy, and an optimism – notwithstanding the episode of the Thirty – that elite philia can be harnessed for the common good. If Xenophon’s Socrates pragmatically accepts the social and political reality that elite citizens will compete with one another to lead the city and seeks to ensure that this will beneﬁt rather than harm the city, he is also pragmatic in his assessment of what motivates elite citizens to seek political power. Here and elsewhere, Socrates acknowledges that elite Athenians will beneﬁt not only the city in exercising leadership but also themselves and their friends. He does not view this as problematic since the city and its elite leaders will beneﬁt simultaneously from the exercise of the friendship of gentlemen in the political sphere. Socrates is also not troubled by the fact that elite men, by leaguing together, have an advantage over other competitors for political power: he posits that it is only natural for gentlemen to exploit their competitive advantage in the pursuit of political power by pooling their talents and resources, and this leads to beneﬁts for the city and not just themselves. Although Xenophon is more concerned with sketching out the importance of elite philia in politics than detailing precisely how elite friends
On Xenophon’s scathing depiction of the Thirty in his Hellenica, see Chapter . When Xenophon has Socrates exhort Critobulus to shun as friends men who are greedy and factious (stasiōdēs) (..–; cf. ..), he is probably thinking of men like Critias and his cronies. Xenophon is very careful not to portray Socrates as a promoter of oligarchic revolution (pace Bevilacqua : , ); I do not see “a certain insouciance about the way in which Socrates is presented” in Mem. ..– (Tuplin : ). Xenophon is vague about the time frame of the conversation between Critobulus and Socrates. If he envisions it as antedating the establishment of the Thirty, then he shows his Socrates working in advance of this to discourage the deployment of elite philia against the city; if he pictures it as taking place after the fall of the Thirty, then Socrates is providing a corrective view of the proper place of elite philia in the democratic city. See above, note . Although Socrates’ frank advice on how elite Athenians can deploy their philia with one another to exert inﬂuence within the democracy is at odds with democratic ideology, elite collaboration in democratic politics was likely commonplace (see above, note ) and this kind of strategic thinking quite familiar to Xenophon’s elite Athenian readers (see Conclusions).
Politics and Philia among Gentlemen
support one another in political life, we perhaps get a hint of this in Socrates’ conversation with Charmides. Socrates, as noted earlier, urges Charmides to put himself forward as a speaker before the Athenian Assembly because in private conversation he oﬀers good advice to “those who manage the city’s aﬀairs” (..) and is comfortable in speaking before “the ﬁrst men in the city” (..). While Xenophon does not provide details concerning the individuals involved and the settings of these conversations, one can imagine Charmides, a member of the elite, consulting privately with elite friends who are active in the public sphere, and thereby supporting them and ultimately the city through his prudent counsel. If Xenophon does not elaborate further on how elite friends can use their philia to achieve their political ends, he illustrates how the exploitation of philia might be advantageous in civic life even for men who are not politically ambitious in his account of Socrates’ conversation with Crito. When Crito ﬁnds himself being harassed by sykophants, who threaten to prosecute him on false charges unless he pays them oﬀ, and laments that “life in Athens is diﬃcult for a man who wants to mind his own business” (..), Socrates advises him to befriend someone who can serve as his “watchdog” and fend oﬀ these attacks on his behalf (..). The two of them proceed to seek out Archedemus, “an excellent speaker and man of aﬀairs,” who is poor but honest, and Crito forms a friendship with him, giving him farm produce and inviting him to his sacriﬁces (..); Archedemus, in gratitude, legally harasses Crito’s harassers, forcing them to drop their suits and even pay compensation to Crito (..–), and goes on to do the same for Crito’s friends as a favor to Crito (..–). Xenophon concludes his story: “Henceforth, Archedemus was one of Crito’s friends and held in honor by Crito’s other friends” (..). This story attests not only to Socrates’ ingenuity but also to the eﬃcacy of deploying the philia of gentlemen for mutual beneﬁt in civic life. Interestingly, Archedemus, whom scholars reasonably assume to be the historic democratic politician of this name, is labeled a poor man and thus is not part of the city’s wealth elite like Crito. He is, however, a good man and a good friend, and on this basis qualiﬁes as a gentleman in the Socratic sense, who can help other gentlemen in navigating the legal perils
On Crito’s lack of ambition to lead the city, see Mem. ... On the plausibility of this identiﬁcation and the liberties that Xenophon may be taking in his representation of the poverty of Archedemus, see Christ : –; cf. Dorion and Bandini a: –. I do not ﬁnd Hooper’s objections (: –) to this identiﬁcation compelling.
Politics and the Gentleman in the Memorabilia
they face. The lesson would appear to be that a gentleman like Crito, who is himself averse to the “troubles” of litigation to which members of the elite are prone under the democracy, can live comfortably within the democracy by befriending a good man like himself who can help him defend his interests. In the Memorabilia, Xenophon presents his reader with the topsy-turvy world of late ﬁfth-century Athens in which the city needs elite leadership to prosper, but unqualiﬁed members of the elite put themselves forward to lead and qualiﬁed ones, like Charmides, stand on the sidelines. Xenophon’s Socrates, faced with this situation, intervenes forcefully and energetically to educate the city’s elite, so as to produce as many competent politicians as he can (..). In portraying Socrates in these terms, Xenophon refutes the claim of Socrates’ prosecutors that he harmed the city by showing that, in fact, he was its benefactor, and thereby sets the record straight. In my view, however, the Memorabilia has further ambitions, as Xenophon seeks through it to instruct his contemporary audience of elite Athenian readers in the ﬁrst decades of the fourth century concerning their important political role within the democracy. Notwithstanding the destructive behavior of the Thirty and their elite supporters in the closing years of the ﬁfth century, the city continued in the fourth century to rely on elite citizens to provide leadership as rhētores and generals, and it remained essential that they actively seek to become qualiﬁed to play these roles and not assume that wealth or high birth automatically makes them worthy to lead. In this context, Xenophon’s Memorabilia carries on the Socratic mission of improving the city’s elite leadership by bringing Socrates’ conversations with, and criticism of, his elite interlocutors before a contemporary audience that likewise can beneﬁt from instruction. Whereas Xenophon’s Socrates seeks to produce as many competent politicians as possible through his one-on-one conversations with members of the city’s elite, Xenophon’s Memorabilia arguably seeks to do the same but on a larger scale as a literary work circulated among a broad elite
Xenophon has his Archedemus speak of Crito and his friends interchangeably as good men (chrēstoi) and gentlemen (kaloi kagathoi) (..), and as narrator of this story Xenophon speaks of Archedemus as a truly good man (philochrēstos) (..), which suggests that he too merits the label kalos kagathos. On the important role of the elite in the city’s political life throughout the history of the Athenian democracy, see Ober : – and Hansen : –. On Xenophon and Isocrates as educators of their reading audiences, see Gray : .
Politics and Philia among Gentlemen
reading audience in Athens. The increasing production and circulation of prose works among the reading elite in the fourth century opened up the possibility of inﬂuencing a wide audience through the written word. Xenophon, exploiting this relatively new medium, was able to play a political role in his native city of Athens even from exile. In so doing, he showed himself to embrace the principal of political engagement that Socrates had urged on his elite interlocutors and to be committed, like his Socrates, to helping the city by improving its elite leadership. The next two chapters delve further into Xenophon’s Socratic works and consider how the Oeconomicus and Symposium complement the Memorabilia in examining the role of the elite within the Athenian democracy and providing guidance on how members of the elite can transform themselves into true gentlemen who can lead the city successfully. Although the Oeconomicus and Symposium are less conspicuously political in their purview than the Memorabilia, both works participate in Xenophon’s larger enterprise of advancing a vision of how elite citizens can prepare themselves to contribute to the democratic city.
Cf. Higgins : .
Work, Money, and the Gentleman in the Oeconomicus
If Xenophon’s Memorabilia challenges elite attitudes and behaviors especially in the political sphere, his Oeconomicus does so within the realm of the household (oikos). Calling into question elite neglect of work and money-making, Xenophon seeks to make his elite Athenian readers understand the importance of pursuing proﬁt actively through the careful management of their estates and, in particular, the practice of farming. This is critical for members of the elite, he suggests, because it will enable them not only to maintain the lifestyle and status that they enjoy but also to serve the city both ﬁnancially and personally. Thus, their successful household management (oikonomia) is essential not only for them as individuals but for the city at large. The Oeconomicus sets forth its challenge to negative elite attitudes toward work and money-making in large part through its portrayal of Ischomachus, a prosperous farmer who has arranged his life and estate in such a way as to make himself healthy, wealthy, and ready to serve his city. Xenophon makes it clear that Ischomachus’ thoughtful and methodical approach is exceptional and oﬀers him up as a model for elite Athenians who are ready to take control of their circumstances. Whereas the Memorabilia advances its criticism of elite behavior by adducing largely negative examples through its parade of elite misﬁts, the Oeconomicus does so by focusing on Ischomachus as a positive model for the city’s elite to emulate and contrasting his approach with that of mostly unnamed individuals whose defects keep them from being successful household managers. In advancing this interpretation, I diverge from Steven Johnstone’s inﬂuential reading () of the Oeconomicus as a discourse that seeks
Oikos embraces the members of a family and their house and other property including slaves; it is convenient to translate it as “estate” when reference is to a wealthy household (see Pomeroy : , –). The date of composition of the Oeconomicus is not known, though Xenophon may have written it or at least started writing it during his time at his estate at Scillus from the late s to (ibid. –).
Elite Neglect of Oikonomia
“to secure and legitimate the position of elites within the polis” () by advancing a vision of aristocratic toil (ponos) as superior to the compulsory work of common men (). I will argue that Xenophon, far from seeking to elevate the status of elite labor so as to diﬀerentiate it from common work, oﬀers his elite readers a down-to-earth critique of aristocratic neglect of work and money-making and challenges them to embrace hard work and pursue proﬁt as able managers and entrepreneurs. In so doing, Xenophon is seeking not to defend the collective claim of elite citizens to superiority, but rather to urge individual members of the elite to adapt their attitudes and behavior so as to ensure their personal prosperity and serve the city at large. Those who succeed in this – and Xenophon’s critique of current practices suggests that this is not within the reach of all members of the elite – will show themselves to be real gentlemen, and not gentlemen merely on the basis of wealth or high birth. This chapter ﬁrst considers how Xenophon frames the Oeconomicus as a treatise devoted to how men should actively seek to manage their households proﬁtably, and how this represents a critique of elite neglect of oikonomia. Next, it turns to Xenophon’s introduction of Ischomachus as a new kind of gentleman who appreciates that he must play an active role in making his estate proﬁtable, and examines how this entails embracing work in diverse forms, especially as manager and entrepreneur. Finally, it explores how Xenophon’s well-run oikos is intimately linked to the success of the democratic city at large.
Elite Neglect of Oikonomia To understand Xenophon’s advice and admonishments to elite Athenians concerning work and the pursuit of proﬁt in the Oeconomicus, it is important to appreciate that the attitudes and behaviors that he endorses were not universally embraced by elite Athenians. Most elite Athenians in the classical period were probably born into wealthy families, and many of these men were more interested in spending money to maintain an elite lifestyle than in strategizing about how to make more money to preserve or augment their wealth. Such men failed to appreciate that work and the
On the scholarly debate concerning the nature of the ancient economy and the economic behavior of individuals, see Morris and Morris, Saller, and Scheidel : –. Elite proﬂigacy and excessive consumption are prominent in public discourse (see Davidson : –; cf. Dover : –; Ober : –; Kurke : –); while this discourse may exaggerate elite foibles, it is likely based on commonly observed behaviors among the elite (cf. Davies : –).
Work, Money, and the Gentleman in the Oeconomicus
pursuit of proﬁt could help ensure that they and their heirs would continue to enjoy the leisure that was essential for elite pursuits from hunting to politics. This was, however, short-sighted and risky since family fortunes could be depleted over time by many things, including not only excessive spending on an elite lifestyle but also the city’s considerable ﬁnancial demands on wealthy citizens in the form of liturgies and the war tax (eisphora). As John Davies (: –) has observed, few families seem to have remained in the “liturgical class” for more than a couple of generations. Indeed, many of Xenophon’s elite Athenian readers may have found themselves under especially signiﬁcant ﬁnancial pressures in the economic hard times of the early fourth century that followed Athens’ defeat in the Peloponnesian War. It is against this backdrop that Xenophon critiques elite neglect of prudent estate management and exhorts his audience to behave more strategically. To be sure, not all members of the Athenian elite needed encouragement to pursue their ﬁnancial interests aggressively and methodically. Some elite citizens actively sought out proﬁt through traditional means like farming or entrepreneurial enterprises, for example, investment in shipping loans, which were facilitated by the growth of banks during the classical period, mining, and manufacturing, and such men knew ﬁrsthand the beneﬁts of self-conscious and strategic behavior of
On wealthy Athenians who performed liturgies and paid the war tax as a “leisure class,” see Davies : – and Ober : –. For caveats concerning the importance of leisure to the identity of the elite, however, see Anastasiadis . On the city’s signiﬁcant ﬁnancial expectations of the wealthy and the evasive tactics many of them adopted, see Christ : –. On the diverse factors contributing to the instability of liturgical fortunes, see Davies : –. Although fourth-century Athens may have enjoyed a high level of prosperity (see Ober : ), individual families, including those of the wealthy, were always vulnerable to shifting fortunes. On economic hardship in this period, see Strauss : –; Cohen : –; and Christ : –. Pomeroy (: ) rightly takes Finley (: ) to task for asserting that in Xenophon “there is not one sentence that expresses an economic principle or oﬀers any economic analysis, nothing on eﬃciency of production [or] ‘rational’ choice.” Figueira (: ) also rejects Finley’s dismissal of economic thought in Xenophon, pointing to “Xenophon’s observations of purposive, opportunizing behaviour and his advice revealing an appreciation of the operation of economic factors”; cf. Karayiannis . Increasing agricultural production was a logical way for wealthy Athenians to raise cash to meet their signiﬁcant ﬁnancial obligations to the city (see Osborne : –, –; cf. Pomeroy : –). Wealthy Athenians were active in leasing both public and private land to increase their agricultural income (see Osborne : –, –). On the growth of banks and their role in facilitating investment in maritime loans by the wealthy, see Cohen . On the dominant role of wealthy Athenians in the silver mines, see Shipton : . On elite ownership of workshops, which employed large numbers of slaves, see Davies : –.
Elite Neglect of Oikonomia
this sort. Nonetheless, to judge from Xenophon’s didactic and often critical stance in the Oeconomicus in promoting the active pursuit of proﬁt, he assumes that for many members of his elite Athenian reading audience what he is advancing runs counter to their current attitudes and behaviors, and we have no reason to believe that he was mistaken in this assessment. In the opening chapters of the Oeconomicus (–), Xenophon presents a conversation between Socrates and Critobulus that introduces the topic of the work as oikonomia, that is, “household management,” and deﬁnes this as “the name of a branch of knowledge . . . by which men can increase their estates” (.) and criticizes members of the elite for neglecting this. Several explanations for elite neglect of oikonomia emerge in the course of this conversation. Critobulus poses a question to Socrates that broaches the possibility that in some instances neglect of oikonomia may be due not merely to ignorance but to an unwillingness to work: What about the fact that we sometimes come across people who have the knowledge and means for increasing their estates if they work (ergazomenoi), yet we ﬁnd that they are unwilling to do so, and consequently we see that their knowledge is without proﬁt for them? (.)
That Critobulus is thinking especially of his elite peers becomes explicit as he elaborates that this aversion to work can even be found among “people regarded as men of the highest lineage (eupatridōn), of whom I observe that some are skilled in the arts of war, some in the arts of peace” (.), that is, among potential or actual generals and politicians. Socrates attributes this sort of behavior to moral defects, asserting that such men have allowed themselves to be ruled by their vices (.), including idleness (argia), softness (malakia), and negligence (ameleia) (.), and are drawn to false
On the “economic rationalism” of some elite Athenians, see Thompson and Christesen : , cf. . This made it possible for some Athenians to break into the ranks of the wealth elite – probably an increasingly common phenomenon from the mid-ﬁfth century on (see Connor : – and Davies : –). In my view, it would be a mistake to assume, on the basis of evidence that some elite Athenians in this period actively and strategically sought out proﬁt through economic activities, that this was ubiquitous. On the importance of “increasing” (expressed by auxō and related forms) one’s estate, see also ., ., ., ., ., ., ., ., .; cf. ., ., ., .; Pomeroy : ; Figueira : . Pomeroy (: ) misses the critical nature of the Oeconomicus in declaring “the Oeconomicus does not read like a work of criticism.” The Eupatrids referenced here were an elite among the Athenian elite who could hold certain priesthoods; Callias, Alcibiades, and Andocides were all Eupatrids who were known for degeneracy (see Pomeroy : –).
Work, Money, and the Gentleman in the Oeconomicus
pleasures such as “gambling and consorting with unproﬁtable companions” that “hinder them from all proﬁtable work by their inﬂuence over them” (.). Critobulus proceeds to identify another reason why men may neglect oikonomia, positing that in some cases the problem may not be that they are averse to work but rather that they “have an eager desire to work and to devise ways to produce an income” and yet they consume their estates by their expenditures (.). Socrates once more provides a moral explanation, blaming this sort of behavior on the fact that such men are ruled by their desires: Yes, they too are slaves, and hard indeed are their masters: some are in bondage to gluttony, some to lechery, some to drunkenness, and some to foolish and costly ambitions (philotimiōn). And so hard is the rule of these passions over any men whom they get into their power, that so long as they see these men are in their prime and capable of work, they force them to take whatever they have earned by working and to spend it on their own desires; but no sooner do they ﬁnd that they are unable to work because of age, than they abandon them to an old age of misery, and try to enslave others in turn. (.)
While any man may succumb to such desires, the wealthy in particular seem to be the target of Socrates’ pointed observations since they have the resources to indulge in an excess of food, drink, and sex and to pursue “foolish and costly ambitions.” Although Critobulus collaborates with Socrates in this critique of dysfunctional behavior on the part of the elite in managing their estates, he soon ﬁnds himself the target of criticism from Socrates for his failure to pay attention to the details of oikonomia. Critobulus, like other members of his class, is subject to great demands on his resources, but it turns out he has paid little attention to the diﬀerent facets of estate management, and Socrates portrays this negligence as a threat to his well-being. Critobulus’ neglect of oikonomia stems in large part from his failure to appreciate that although he is rich, there are huge demands on his fortune. His naivete concerning these demands becomes clear as he asks Socrates whether it is important for him to increase his estate (.) since he is already quite wealthy and possesses more than a hundred times the wealth of Socrates (.). Socrates replies that, whereas his own modest fortune is
On the reputation of the elite for overindulgence, see above, note ; on their marked philotimia, see Chapter . On the “slavishness” of men ruled by their vices (.–, .), see Baragwanath : –.
Elite Neglect of Oikonomia
suﬃcient to satisfy his needs, “I do not think you would have enough to keep up the style of life you have embraced and your reputation, even if your fortune were three times what it is” (.). Socrates proceeds to detail the expenses that a wealthy man in Athens regularly incurs in connection with sacriﬁces, entertaining foreign guests, dinners for fellow citizens (.), and the high costs of state-imposed liturgies and the war tax (.). And notwithstanding Critobulus’ claim that the pursuit of his desires does not drain his fortune as it does that of some men (.), Socrates points out that “[y]ou are indiﬀerent to devising ways to make money, and yet go courting boys as though it were within your means” (.). In light of all these expenses, Socrates expresses concern that Critobulus may be reduced to abject poverty and ﬁnd his wealthy friends, whom he helps generously, unwilling to assist him (.). When Critobulus seeks Socrates’ guidance to escape this fate (.), Socrates insists that he himself is not knowledgeable concerning oikonomia (.), but oﬀers to guide Critobulus to men who are skilled in this (.) so that he may become “a formidable moneymaker (chrēmatistēn)” (.). Socrates’ suggestion that Critobulus needs to become an expert “money-maker” is provocative and designed to rouse him from his complacency since traditional aristocrats like Critobulus would not normally consider this a desirable goal given their disdain for those who focus exclusively on money-making. Before Socrates follows through on his oﬀer to lead Critobulus to those who have expertise in oikonomia, however, he rebukes Critobulus at length for his neglect of oikonomia up to this point. This excursus bears close scrutiny as it entails a devastating critique of Critobulus – and other members of the elite who may resemble him – for their foolish passivity in matters that demand intelligent engagement. As Socrates outlines the diﬀerent aspects of oikonomia that he intends to show Critobulus (.–),
For paidikois de pragmasi as referring to the pursuit of boys, see Pomeroy : . In the Memorabilia, Socrates urges Critobulus to seek out as friends true gentlemen who will fully reciprocate his support of them: see .., ..–; cf. Dorion and Bandini a: . In light of Socrates’ emphasis on the importance of money-making here and elsewhere in the Oeconomicus, it is odd to claim, as Danzig (a: ) does, that Socrates is seeking to convince Critobulus “that he needs to seek wisdom rather than property.” While there is a strong ethical dimension to Socrates’ presentation of oikonomia in its various facets, his endorsement of the pursuit of proﬁt is genuine. As Dorion (: ; cf. –) observes, Xenophon’s Socrates, unlike Plato’s Socrates, “attaches much importance to economics and to the conditions of material prosperity.” For the negative associations of chrēmatistēs for traditional aristocrats, see Pl. Resp. b–c, a–b; Gorg. a–c. Cf. X. Mem. ., where Nicomachides expresses disdain for the wealthy Antisthenes who “understands nothing but gathering money.” Xenophon endorses the pursuit of farming in particular as a legitimate and noble “money-making enterprise” (chrēmatisis) (Oec. ., .).
Work, Money, and the Gentleman in the Oeconomicus
including how to manage slaves, farm, keep horses, and treat a wife, he rebukes him for failing to pay attention to such matters in the past. He points out that whereas Critobulus always presses Socrates to accompany him to the theater to join him as spectator whenever a comedy is being presented, he has never yet invited Socrates to join him as spectator of the work (ergon) of managing an estate (.). Socrates indicates that he will rectify this by bringing before Critobulus’ eyes the spectacle of how to manage an estate, but he insists that Critobulus will have to be a more engaged and active observer than when he attends a dramatic performance. His past failure to observe closely details of estate management is evident from the fact that although he has watched how men keep horses, he has learned nothing from this: : And suppose I show you that some have reached the point where they lack the basic necessities because they keep horses, while others have become wealthy from keeping horses and, moreover, delight in their proﬁt? : Well, I see them too and know instances of both, yet I am not one of those who make a proﬁt for all that. : Yes, because you watch them just as you watch the actors in tragedy or comedy, not, I suppose, to become a playwright, but for the pleasure of seeing or hearing something. And perhaps there is no harm in that, because you do not want to write plays; but since you are forced to deal with horses, do you not think you are stupid if you do not look into how not to be an amateur (idiotēs) in this business, the more so as these very horses are both good to use and proﬁtable to sell? (.–)
Socrates’ scathing critique of amateurism in the sphere of oikonomia recalls his satirical treatment in the Memorabilia of hopeful politicians who neglect to acquire the skills and expertise needed to lead the city. In both instances, laziness, passivity, and self-satisfaction prevent members of the elite from learning how to carry out important tasks that they should seek to perform well. Socrates carries through on his promise to lead Critobulus to those who are adept at oikonomia when he recounts in detail a conversation he purportedly once had with Ischomachus on how best to manage an
Cf. Socrates’ comment to Ischomachus that he would much rather hear about how he instructed his wife concerning oikonomia “than an account of the noblest athletic competition or horse race” (.). Socrates’ imagery emphasizes the visual nature of his illumination of Critobulus: Socrates will show him how to manage an estate (., ., ., cf. .) and Critobulus will watch what is brought before him (., .; cf. .). On Xenophon’s play with spectacle and spectatorship in his Symposium and elsewhere, see Baragwanath : –. See Chapter .
Ischomachus, the Perfect Gentleman
estate (–). In representing this conversation, Socrates, in keeping with the analogy that he draws between the theater and the real-life show of how to manage an estate, depicts a dramatic performance of sorts, with Ischomachus as the main protagonist. If Socrates presents this as a spectacle worthy of Critobulus’ engaged attention, Xenophon presumably means for his reading audience likewise to view it attentively and to learn from it. Socrates’ critique of unnamed members of the elite for their neglect of oikonomia and of Critobulus for his own shortcomings in this sphere suggests that knowledge of this is in short supply and that many can beneﬁt from observing closely the scene that is about to be brought on stage.
Ischomachus, the Perfect Gentleman Xenophon presents Ischomachus as a model elite Athenian: he not only understands that wealth is essential for a man who seeks to provide amply for his family and friends and to enjoy power and inﬂuence within the city but also acts self-consciously and systematically to preserve and increase his fortune by pursuing proﬁt through hard work and intelligent management of his estate – indeed, he is one of the city’s wealthiest citizens (.). Ischomachus’ appreciation of the connection between his wealth and his status in the city comes across clearly in Socrates’ report of an exchange he had with him: : Ischomachus, do you really want to be rich and to have lots of possessions when you will also have lots of problems taking care of them? : The answer to your questions is yes, I do indeed. For I think it is a pleasure to honor the gods in grand fashion, Socrates, and to help friends if they need anything, and see to it that the city lacks no adornment that my means can supply. : The principles that you have mentioned are ﬁne ones, Ischomachus, at least for a very inﬂuential man, no doubt about it.
Pomeroy (: ) argues cogently against earlier scholars that the Oeconomicus is a uniﬁed work, with the ﬁrst part “devoted to the theory and the second part to the practice of oikonomia.” On the reader of Xenophon as “spectator,” see Baragwanath : , . Although Xenophon’s Ischomachus may well be based on the wealthy Athenian of this name who is mentioned in a number of ancient sources (see Davies : –), Xenophon crafts him, as he does Socrates, to serve his own purposes. For a prudent survey of the ancient testimonia concerning the historic Ischomachus including the slanders of Andocides (.–) concerning his wife and daughter, see Pomeroy : – and Hobden : –. If the historic Ischomachus eventually lost most of his wealth during the Decelean war (Davies : –), this does not stop Xenophon from idealizing his approach to oikonomia.
Work, Money, and the Gentleman in the Oeconomicus For there are many men who cannot live without seeking help from others, and many who are content if they can provide enough for their own needs. Surely those who are able not only to maintain their own estate, but also to accumulate a surplus so that they can adorn the city and relieve their friends may well be thought aﬄuent and powerful men. (.–)
Although Ischomachus may be exceptionally clearheaded for a man of his class about how integral his wealth is to his status and ability to achieve his ambitious goals, where he truly diverges from his elite peers, as we shall see, is in his systematic pursuit of proﬁt through hard work and intelligent management of his estate. That Ischomachus is an atypical member of his class is evident not only from Xenophon’s pointed juxtaposition of him with the elite Athenians who fall short in oikonomia whom he presents in the opening chapters of the Oeconomicus but also in his depiction of him as a new kind of gentleman (kalos kagathos). As we have seen in the Memorabilia, Xenophon’s Socrates challenges conventional elite understandings of what it means to be a kalos kagathos, rejecting the assumption that high birth or wealth automatically produces a gentleman and insisting that one must strive to achieve this status by seeking out an education in the values, knowledge, and skills that will qualify one to exercise political leadership within the city. Xenophon’s portrayal of Ischomachus in the Oeconomicus complements this reconceptualization of what makes a man a gentleman, by showing how an exemplary member of the elite cultivates attitudes and behaviors that make him a successful manager of his household and potentially of the city itself. Xenophon introduces Ischomachus from the start as a gentleman in a substantial sense: : Well then, Critobulus, what if I give you a complete account of how I once met a man who in my opinion really was one of those who is justly called a kalos kagathos? : I would greatly like to hear it, Socrates, for I long to deserve that name myself. (.)
Socrates’ description of Ischomachus as someone who truly merits the name of gentleman (cf. .) suggests that this is not true of all putative gentlemen, and Critobulus picks up on this when he declares that he himself would like to be worthy of the name “gentleman.” In case Xenophon’s reader has missed the importance of this distinction, his Socrates goes on to analyze the components of kalos kagathos, which
Ischomachus, the Perfect Gentleman
literally means “beautiful and good,” as he relates how eager he had been to ﬁnd someone worthy of this title: My soul very much desired to meet one of those who are called by that digniﬁed title kalos kagathos, which implies “beautiful” as well as “good,” in order to consider what they did (ergazomenoi) to deserve it. And, ﬁrst, because the epithet “beautiful” is added to “good,” I went up to every beautiful-looking man I noticed, and tried to discover whether I could anywhere see goodness in combination with beauty. But it was not that way at all: I thought I discovered that some who were beautiful to look at were thoroughly depraved in their souls. So I decided to let good looks go and to seek out someone known as a kalos kagathos. And since I heard the name applied to Ischomachus by all men, women, citizens, and foreigners, I decided to try to meet him. (.–)
Socrates’ quest for someone meriting the name kalos kagathos leads him to reject external beauty as an attribute of a real gentleman (cf. Mem. ..) and to focus instead on a man’s moral qualities and behavior. This leads him to seek out Ischomachus, to whom all people applied the name “gentleman,” as someone who might qualify as gentleman by this standard. On Socrates’ ﬁrst meeting with Ischomachus, the question of what makes a man a true gentleman looms large. When Socrates tells Ischomachus that he very much wants to learn how he came to be called a gentleman (.), Ischomachus acknowledges the subjectivity of this title: Smiling at my question, “How did you come to be called a gentleman?,” and apparently pleased, Ischomachus answered, “Well, I don’t know whether people call me that when they talk to you about me. Certainly, when they challenge me to an exchange of property (eis antidosin) in order to escape an obligation to maintain a warship or train a chorus, nobody goes looking for the gentleman but they summon me simply by the name Ischomachus together with that of my father. (.–)
If Ischomachus’ legal opponents are disinclined to label him a gentleman (cf. .), Socrates soon comes to believe that he fully merits this title. He fully approves of how Ischomachus, as gentleman, delegates to his wife the running of operations within the home and instructs her on how best to carry out her duties as manager of it (.–). When Socrates then asks
Pomeroy (: ) suggests that Ischomachus, in his use of kalos kagathos here, “eschews the moral or abstract connotations of the expression and answers in terms of his wealth alone. Thus he is characterized at the outset as a realist with a particular interest in material goods.” Ischomachus, in fact, is highlighting that the term is subjective and its application depends on the perspective of the observer (cf. .–; cf. .).
Work, Money, and the Gentleman in the Oeconomicus
Ischomachus to relate to him his own daily activities (erga) as a gentleman and Ischomachus invites Socrates to correct him if he ﬁnds any defects in his conduct (.–), Socrates replies, “As far as that goes, who am I to rightly remodel a perfect kalos kagathos?” (.). Although Xenophon’s Socrates often bestows praise ironically on his interlocutors – and Straussians have claimed that this is the case here – his high evaluation of Ischomachus seems genuine. Indeed, throughout his entire conversation with Ischomachus, Socrates expresses approval of, and admiration for, the way Ischomachus lives his life as a gentleman. If Ischomachus qualiﬁes as a gentleman on the basis of his laudable behavior rather than lineage or wealth, it follows logically that a man does not have to be a member of the traditional aristocracy to lay claim to this title. Indeed, Socrates suggests that, even though he is himself a poor man (penēs) (.), he may become a good (agathos) one by imitating Ischomachus’ example (.). Even more disconcerting for a traditionally minded aristocrat would be Ischomachus’ statement that he honors the honest slaves who work for him “as if they were kaloi kagathoi” (.), a further pointed reminder that behavior and not social status is what merits the approbatory title of gentleman. What it is that makes Ischomachus a perfect gentleman in the Socratic sense emerges in the course of Socrates’ report of his extended conversation with him. Ischomachus has, unlike many of his elite peers, mastered the art of oikonomia in the sphere of agriculture, which entails pursuing farming thoughtfully and energetically as an occupation (ergasia), embracing work (ergon) in its diverse forms, and inspiring others to do the same. As we shall see, his status as a true gentleman is intimately linked with his “work ethic”
Pace Danzig (a: n. ): “At ﬁrst he refers to Ischomachus as one who truly deserves to be called a kalos kagathos (.). But this is only his initial judgment, and it must be modiﬁed in light of the conversation as a whole.” As Dorion (: –) observes, while some scholars, following the lead of Strauss (see, e.g., : ), have argued that Socrates’ praise of Ischomachus is ironic and that Socrates’ way of life and Ischomachus’ are irreconcilable (Pangle ; Stevens ; Too ; Danzig a; Kronenberg : –, –; Nee ), there is “no doctrinal disharmony between Ischomachus and Socrates.” On the compatibility of their views, see Natali ; Dorion ; Hobden : –. This suggests that Socrates may himself become a kalos kagathos since “goodness” is the deﬁning characteristic of the gentleman as he posits at .–. In the Memorabilia (..), Xenophon explicitly labels Socrates a kalos kagathos in the true sense. On this remarkable formulation, see Pomeroy : , , and Baragwanath : . On Xenophon’s integration of slaves into the oikos as partners with its free members, see Pomeroy : – and Baragwanath : –; as the latter observes, the contrast with Athenian practice is striking (–).
Farming as an Occupation for a Gentleman
and his capacity to elicit zealous labor from those whom he supervises and leads in his role as estate manager.
Farming as an Occupation for a Gentleman Ischomachus proves himself to be a true gentleman in large part through his virtuosity in pursuing farming as an occupation. Just before introducing Ischomachus, Socrates sums up the virtues and beneﬁts of farming: We came to the conclusion that for a kalos kagathos the best occupation (ergasia) and the best branch of knowledge is farming, from which people obtain what is necessary to them. For this occupation seemed to be the easiest to learn and the most pleasant to practice, to make men’s bodies most beautiful and strong, and to aﬀord their minds the most spare time for attending to their friends and cities. (.–)
When Critobulus asks Socrates to elaborate on what enables a man to succeed in running a proﬁtable farm, Socrates replies that he will recount his conversation with a man whom he regards as a true gentleman (.), who turns out to be Ischomachus (.). The idea that a real gentleman should, like Ischomachus, have an occupation, an ergasia, constitutes a challenge to aristocrats who occupied themselves more with leisure activities than work. As Xenophon’s Socrates explains, however, if a gentleman wants to ensure that he has leisure, he must have an occupation that will make this possible, and farming is an ideal one since it is pleasant to pursue, exercises the body, and, if pursued systematically, creates wealth and the leisure that attends this. It is important to appreciate that when Socrates endorses farming as a suitable occupation for a gentleman, he does not suggest that this is a pursuit whose beneﬁts are limited to, or even primarily available to, the aristocracy. On the contrary, in his earlier excursus on the attractions of farming Socrates speaks of it as the occupation of choice for all free men. He asserts that free men should shun the banausic crafts (technai) that are practiced indoors since these spoil the body, sap the soul, “and leave a man no spare time to attend to his friends and city” (.–), and pursue instead
Although the Oeconomicus sets out to inquire into oikonomia in the broadest sense – how a man should best manage all his possessions so as to augment his wealth (., .), it evolves into a case study of oikonomia in the sphere of agriculture as exempliﬁed by Ischomachus. Consistent with this is how Socrates, as he inquires into what makes someone a gentleman, assumes that men must earn this name by “working at/ accomplishing” (ergazomenoi) something (.; cf. .). Socrates also speaks of farming as an art (technē) at .; cf. .–, ..
Work, Money, and the Gentleman in the Oeconomicus
farming, which makes men strong and courageous, and produces good citizens who are willing and able to support the state in defending the land they cultivate (.–, ., .–). Wealthy men, therefore, along with less well-oﬀ men should embrace it: “I’m telling you this,” Socrates said, “because not even the wealthiest can do without farming. For the pursuit of it seems to be simultaneously a pleasant experience, a means of increasing one’s estate, and exercise for the body so that it may be capable of all those things that are suitable for a free man.” (.; cf. .)
Socrates’ assertion that “not even the wealthiest can do without farming” suggests that rich men may mistakenly assume they can do without it and thereby forsake its manifold beneﬁts. There is something egalitarian about Socrates’ presentation of farming as an ideal occupation for all free men, which members of the wealth elite would be mistaken to shun. Indeed, Socrates does not distinguish between the status of average men who farm and their wealthier fellow citizens, but rather speaks of farming as an inherently noble vocation (.) and convinces Critobulus to concur with this (.). Ischomachus likewise speaks of farming as “the noblest (gennaiotatē) art” (.; cf. .) and posits, moreover, that farming makes its followers “most noble (gennaiotatous) in disposition” (.). In applying the language of nobility to farming and its diverse practitioners, Socrates and his interlocutors suggest that nobility lies not in high birth but in the active practice of the laudable vocation of farming, which improves the physical and moral vigor of all those who are involved in it. Consistent with this leveling of the free practitioners of farming with one another is Xenophon’s insistence that farming is “easy to learn” and therefore is accessible to all men. Socrates emphasizes this in his initial discussion with Critobulus concerning farming (.; cf. .), and in the conversation he relates between himself and Ischomachus he reports that Ischomachus emphasized how easy it is to learn how to farm (., .; cf. .) and that he found this to be entirely convincing (.). Xenophon, in fact, goes to great lengths to demonstrate through Socrates’ conversation with Ischomachus that farming is easy to master by having
On Socrates’ rejection of banausic work, see Pomeroy : –. Socrates expresses a less admiring view of average men who are farmers in Mem. ..–; on the inconsistency, see Dorion and Bandini a: . As Pomeroy (: ) observes, Xenophon provides a much more optimistic vision of farming and rural life than Hesiod’s Works and Days.
Work, Management, and Entrepreneurship
Ischomachus demonstrate repeatedly that one can learn it simply by observing a farmer in action and that there is nothing secret about it (.–; cf. .). To be sure, Xenophon’s depiction of farming and the lifestyle that it allows in the Oeconomicus is directed at an elite audience, and in keeping with this he brings forth as his paradigm the wealthy Ischomachus and his extensive estate, replete with horses and hunting dogs (.–). But Xenophon focuses not on the status of the practitioner of farming, but rather on the practice itself and the ennobling activities this entails, which are open to all free men. Thus, although Xenophon’s elite readers may practice this noble ergasia on a larger scale than average citizens do, he emphasizes that it is a readily accessible occupation for all men and bears the same fundamental beneﬁts to all its practitioners. Xenophon is similarly unelitist, as we shall see, in his representation of the work and the work ethic required in successful farming.
Work, Management, and Entrepreneurship If Ischomachus’ recognition that farming is an ideal occupation for a gentleman distinguishes him from many of his elite peers, so too does his embrace of a strong work ethic in pursuing it. Xenophon’s presentation of the work and work ethic involved in successful farming must be read against the backdrop of Socrates’ earlier critique of the moral defects that prevent some elite Athenians from seeking out ways to augment their estates, namely, idleness, negligence, and softness (.–). Xenophon’s idealized vision of the noble occupation of farming rejects these moral shortcomings and insists on an earnest, attentive, and manly commitment to work in its diverse forms. Thus, his Ischomachus lauds the farmer’s life in moral terms as he asserts that “the land is the surest tester of bad and lazy men” (.), and himself emerges as the exemplar of the work ethic that Xenophon would have his elite readers emulate.
Ischomachus criticizes men of limited experience who envision farming as more complex than it really is (.) – a possible “barb at the writers of technical manuals” on agriculture (Pomeroy : ). Socrates’ earlier criticism of Critobulus for failing to observe closely the details of estate management, including farming (.–), suggests that as simple as it is to learn how to farm, passive members of the elite like Critobulus are inattentive and fail to understand how best to pursue it. Pace Johnstone (: ), Xenophon does not represent an ideal lifestyle that may appear to be open to all but in fact is accessible only to an educated elite. On the condemnation of idleness in Greek literature, see Pomeroy : . Cf. Davies : : “It is hard not to detect a strong hint of a Protestant ethic.”
Work, Money, and the Gentleman in the Oeconomicus
This work ethic, as we shall see, can be applied in physical labor, the management of workers, and even in entrepreneurial eﬀorts. The Virtues of Hard Work Central to Xenophon’s portrayal of farming as an ideal occupation is that it entails physical toil. Thus, in extolling the beneﬁts of farming, his Socrates asserts: And although farming supplies good things in abundance, it does not allow them to be won with softness (meta malakias), but it accustoms men to endure winter’s cold and summer’s heat. It gives increased strength through exercise (gumnazousa) to those who labor with their own hands, and makes manly those who farm by supervising others by rousing them early and forcing them to move about briskly – for on a farm, no less than in the city, the most important operations always have their ﬁxed times. (.)
Although Socrates regards the physical toil of farming as beneﬁcial to all its practitioners, his presentation of it here bears a pointed message for members of the elite. When Socrates speaks of how farming strengthens men who work with their hands by putting them through exercises (gumnazousa), he suggests that this humble but demanding activity can produce strong bodies just as well as athletic exercises in the gymnasium, a favorite haunt of elite Athenians. And when he observes that it also makes manly those who supervise the work of others because of the rigorous activity this entails, he points to another way for members of the elite, whom he envisions acting especially in a managerial role on their estates, as we shall see, to partake of the beneﬁts of physical toil. Socrates strikingly adduces Cyrus, the rebel brother of the Persian king, as a paradigm of the virtues of hands-on labor for those of high station. Having asserted that the king of the Persians regards farming and the art of war as the two noblest and most essential pursuits (.), Socrates relates how the Spartan Lysander visited Cyrus in his park (paradeisos) at Sardis and was amazed at what he saw: “Cyrus, I really do admire all this beauty, but I am far more impressed with the man who measured out and arranged everything in order.” Cyrus was delighted to hear this and replied, “Well, Lysander, I myself measured and
Cf. how Ischomachus (.) encourages his wife to get good exercise (gumnasion) through her conduct of her chores within the home and thus to “exercise herself” (gumnazomenēn) for health and beauty. On the traditional role of the gymnasium and athleticism in an elite lifestyle, see Pritchard : –.
Work, Management, and Entrepreneurship
arranged everything, and I even did some of the planting myself.” “What did you say, Cyrus?” exclaimed Lysander, looking at him, and seeing the beauty of his robes and smelling his perfume, and seeing the splendor of the necklaces and bangles and other ornaments that he was wearing; “Did you really plant part of this with your own hands?” “Does that surprise you, Lysander?” asked Cyrus. “I swear to you by Mithras that I never yet have dined when in sound health, without ﬁrst working up a sweat by practicing some task (ergōn) of war or agriculture, or exerting myself in some sort of competition (philotimoumenos).” (.–)
Notwithstanding the trappings of wealth that adorn his body, Cyrus works arduously with his own hands in cultivating his gardens so as to produce a sweat. His equation of this work with that involved in war and the energetic pursuit of honor (philotimia) in other spheres, moreover, pointedly elevates this as a legitimate locus of eﬀort that is on a par with other traditional aristocratic pursuits. One may infer from this that if a member of the Persian royal family embraces sweat-inducing agricultural labor – albeit in his private gardens – a fortiori an elite Athenian should do the same. Xenophon’s Ischomachus for his part welcomes the physical toil entailed in supervising the workers on his farm and, cognizant of the beneﬁts of physical exertion, supplements this with exercises that ensure he will work up a sweat. In giving an account of his daily regimen that produces health and physical strength (., .–, .), Ischomachus describes how he walks rather than rides to his farm, charging a slave with leading his horse there (.); engages actively in supervising his workers (.; cf. .); mounts his horse and goes through a series of exercises similar to those needed in warfare; and then hands his horse oﬀ to his slave to lead home, while he alternates between walking and running on his return trip (.). After all this, he has apparently worked up a sweat and, therefore on arriving home, cleans himself with a strigil – just as an elite Athenian might after exercising in the gymnasium (.). This regimen, he asserts, has multiple beneﬁts, as it enables him to work oﬀ (ekponounti) what he eats, ensures his health and strength, trains him for war, “and by due diligence and resistance to going soft, he is more likely to increase his estate” (.–; cf. ., .–). Both Cyrus and Ischomachus embrace physical work as an intrinsically valuable activity and beneﬁt from this just as their less wealthy counterparts do. If it seems contrived to equate the physical labor of Cyrus in his
In Hipparchicus .–, Xenophon advises that a hipparch should encourage the cavalrymen under him to hone their riding skills by practicing on their own.
Work, Money, and the Gentleman in the Oeconomicus
royal gardens or of Ischomachus as energetic estate manager with that of common men, this equation attests to the eﬀorts that Xenophon is making to show how elite Athenians can and should partake of the same ennobling physical activity as average, hard-working farmers. It is important to recognize that Xenophon is providing a framework for understanding the work of elite actors that is based on, and justiﬁed in terms of, physical labor and the hard work it entails rather than envisioning their work as something distinct from the work of average men and superior to it. Steven Johnstone (: ) has argued in favor of the latter interpretation: Xenophon sought to deﬁne the aristocrat by his toils. Far from being opposed to toil, leisure (as Loraux observed) made toil possible. Toil was the stylized, even ostentatious, version of aristocratic leisure, aesthetically and morally superior to the compulsory work of the ordinary person. The labor of the aristocrat was kalos, noble, beautiful, and it won for him virtue. These virtuous practices were concerned not just with the formation of the self (as Foucault has suggested), but essentially with the self as a member of a superior class.
Although this is an intriguing hypothesis, it is not borne out by Xenophon’s treatment of work in the Oeconomicus. First, Xenophon does not distinguish between the toil (ponos) of the aristocrat and the work (ergon) of common men, as Johnstone (: –) maintains. In fact, in the Oeconomicus, Xenophon sometimes uses ponos and ergon and their cognates interchangeably, and where they bear diﬀerent nuances the distinction can be explained as one of intensity, with ergon denoting “work” and ponos “hard work.” Xenophon, moreover, applies both terms across class and status boundaries, speaking of the ponos of rowers in the ﬂeet and slaves, and the ergon of large landowners.
Danzig (a: ) misses the importance of this work ethic for Xenophon in speaking of “the dirty, grubby work he [Ischomachus] is involved with each and every day.” Johnstone’s references are to the original publication by Loraux (: ; see Loraux in my bibliography) and M. Foucault, The History of Sexuality, vol. : The Use of Pleasure, trans. R. Hurley (New York, ). The title of his article posits a stark antithesis, “Virtuous Toil, Vicious Work.” For their use as virtual synonyms, see, e.g., .–, where Ischomachus lauds his father’s philoponia and philergia; cf. Dem. .. For ponos in the sense of “hard work,” see ., ., ., ., ., ., ., , ; cf. .. This usage is very much in keeping with the deﬁnition of ponos as “work, esp. hard work, toil” in H. G. Liddell and R. Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, th ed., revised by H. S. Jones and R. McKenzie (Oxford, ). Ponos is used of lower-class rowers at ., and of slaves at . and . (cf. .), pace Loraux (: ), who claims that “the register of ponos contains scant mention of the slave”; cf. .,
Work, Management, and Entrepreneurship
On one occasion in the Oeconomicus, Xenophon applies ponos to hunting (.), a favorite elite leisure activity (cf. Cyn. .), but he does not suggest that this is an alternative to, or better than, the work and toil of farming, which build character, strength, and wealth for all free men (cf. .). Second, Johnstone’s notion that aristocratic leisure makes toil possible is at odds with Xenophon’s pragmatic view of farming as an occupation for all free men that entails hard work but, if practiced well, creates leisure. His Socrates rejects the banausic crafts that are pursued indoors on numerous grounds, including that they “leave a man no spare time to attend to his friends and city” (.). By contrast, among the many appeals of farming is that it is an occupation that seems “to aﬀord men’s minds the most spare time for attending to their friends and cities” (.). It is thus the best occupation (ergasia) not only for a gentleman, but for any free man (., ., .–). In portraying work as virtuous and beneﬁcial for all free men regardless of status, Xenophon draws on a long tradition that envisions work, especially in farming, in positive terms. Thus, for example, Hesiod lauds both the moral quality of hard work (“the immortal gods have set sweat in front of excellence [aretēs],” Erg. –; “Work is not a disgrace, but not working is a disgrace, ) and its practical beneﬁts (“It is from working that men have many sheep and are wealthy,” ). That Xenophon is acutely conscious of, and embraces, this Hesiodic vision of work is evident in the Memorabilia, where he speaks with approval of Socrates’ invocation
where Socrates speaks of those who do not understand farming as living in poverty though they toil much (polla ponountas). Johnstone (: – n. ) strains to reconcile such uses with his thesis. Ergon is applied not just sometimes to the work of members of the elite (ibid., citing ., ., .) but frequently (see also .–, .–, ., ., ., ., .–, ., ., ., ., ., ., ..) On Xenophon’s use of exergazomai in connection with the entrepreneurial eﬀorts of the wealthy, see below, note . Although Xenophon refers to the “toil” of the hunt in his Cynegeticus and portrays this as producing virtue in its elite practitioners (., .; cf. Johnstone : –), his Oeconomicus makes it clear that the toil of farming can produce virtue in all free men. Cf. Arist. EN b–: “we work (ascholoumetha) in order to have leisure (scholazōmen).” Anastasiadis () disputes Johnstone’s assumption that for the Athenian elite leisure “was the paramount ideal which characterized a class-determined distinctive lifestyle” ( n. ; cf. n. , –). He argues persuasively that the idealization of scholē (“spare time” or “leisure”) in classical Greece does not entail disdain for work (), and challenges it as a rigid class marker: “the current and general sense of the term scholē among the classical Greeks does not allow us to conceive of two separate, impenetrable social worlds, composed of upper and lower social strata respectively, of which only the former enjoys leisure and only the latter is engaged in work” (). On positive portrayals of work, and especially farming, in Greek literature, see Balme : –, ; cf. Anastasiadis : –, .
Work, Money, and the Gentleman in the Oeconomicus
of Hesiod’s Works and Days , and explains that Socrates endorsed only good work, not bad work as his accusers falsely claimed (..–). Xenophon’s positive vision of work is likely also inﬂuenced by democratic Athenian attitudes toward work. Not surprisingly in a democratic society in which most men work to support themselves, Athenians take a positive view of “honest work,” especially as carried out by farmers. This does not mean that Athenians viewed all forms of work as equally respectable, and even popular audiences were ready to look down on certain menial occupations and commercial enterprises. In such circumstances, however, there is no suggestion that Athenians are hostile to work per se or to a work ethic. In fact, a wealthy Athenian addressing a popular jury might speak proudly of how he proﬁted from the silver mines “by toiling (ponōn) and working (ergazomenos) with my own body” (Dem. .) and seek favor from it on the basis of his love of work (philergia) and goodwill toward the dēmos (.). The idea that work is inherently virtuous for men of all classes is also vividly conveyed in a vignette in the Memorabilia, in which Socrates advises his friend Aristarchus on how to support his household in the diﬃcult circumstances in which they ﬁnd themselves as residents of the city during the civil strife of /. Aristarchus, who in better times enjoyed ﬁnancial security, explains to Socrates that he now ﬁnds himself in dire straits: Ah yes, Socrates, I am in great diﬃculty. Since the civil war broke out many people have ﬂed to the Piraeus, and a crowd of my womenfolk, being left behind, have come to me – sisters, nieces and cousins – so that there are fourteen free persons in the house. We get nothing from our land because our opponents have seized it, and nothing from our house properties now that there are so few residents in the city. Portable property ﬁnds no buyers, and it is quite impossible to borrow money anywhere: I really think you would sooner ﬁnd money by looking for it in the street than get it by borrowing. It is hard, Socrates, to stand by and watch one’s family die but impossible to support so many in times like these. (..)
Socrates advises Aristarchus to put his female relatives to work manufacturing clothing within their home (..–), which they already know how to
On this passage, see Gray a: . For the positive portrayal of honest work in Athenian sources, see Aeschin. .; Ant. ..; cf. Thuc. ..; Dover : ; Balme : ; Ober : , , –; Anastasiadis : –, . On the respectability of working the land, see Dover : . In light of the positive view of work in earlier Greek sources, it is odd that Loraux (: ) speaks of “the Athenian revaluing of work” and the “profound originality” of this. For a nuanced analysis of the sources and their complexities, see Ober : –.
Work, Management, and Entrepreneurship
do (..), and thus to support the household (..). When Aristarchus protests that this type of work is normally carried out by slaves (..), Socrates pointedly asks him if free persons should “do nothing but eat and sleep” and whether “idleness and negligence” promote health and strength and help people acquire and keep things of practical use while “working and attentiveness are useless things” (..). In the case of Aristarchus’ womenfolk, Socrates insists that there is nothing shameful in their engaging in work that they know how to do and that is honorable and suitable for women (..), and Aristarchus seizes on, and successfully executes, what Socrates proposes (..–). Socrates’ general endorsement here of the moral and practical value of industry and hard work for free persons – and this notably in a sphere outside of farming – provides an important lesson to Xenophon’s elite reader. As Vivienne Gray (a: ) observes of this depiction of the honorable nature of work, “The poor already work for their living, so the exhortation is appropriately addressed to the leisured rich.” Management as Work Xenophon’s treatment of the Aristarchus episode suggests that the circumstances of free men may determine the form of work in which they engage and that it is honorable even for the free women of an elite household to labor for its beneﬁt. Interestingly, this vignette also provides justiﬁcation for the work carried out by those who oversee the work of others. After Aristarchus has successfully put his household’s women to work manufacturing clothing, he happily reports this to Socrates but notes that they complain that he alone eats without working (..). Socrates oﬀers him a defense of his role: “Then why not tell them the story of the dog?” asked Socrates. “They say that when animals could talk, a sheep said to her master: ‘It is strange that you give us sheep nothing but what we get from the land, though we supply
Sex workers in brothels may also have been active in making clothes when not otherwise occupied: see Davidson : –. In good entrepreneurial manner, Aristarchus intelligently seeks out loans so he can invest in this new enterprise (..; cf. ..). Figueira (: ) observes: “[T]hat Socrates’ advice is implemented by Aristarchus successfully speaks volumes about opportunistic entrepreneurship in an elite individual under stress.” As Socrates prods Aristarchus to embark on this course of action, he invokes as models numerous entrepreneurs who have used their ingenuity to make money through the production of barley, bread, or clothing (..–). Xenophon is clearly not opposed to members of the elite being involved in commerce and industry, pace Luccioni : .
Work, Money, and the Gentleman in the Oeconomicus you with wool and lambs and cheese, and yet you share your own food with your dog, who supplies you with none of these things.’ The dog heard this and said: ‘Of course he does. For I am the one who keeps you safe so that you are not stolen by people or carried oﬀ by wolves. Why, but for my protection you couldn’t even graze for fear of being killed.’ And so, they say, the sheep admitted the dog’s claim to preference (protimasthai). So tell these women that you are their guard (phulax) in place of a dog and their overseer (epimelētēs), and it is due to you that they live and work in safety and comfort, with none to harm them.” (..–)
This fable suggests that an individual who facilitates the work of others whether by protecting or overseeing them performs a valuable task and should be held in honor rather than rebuked. Although Aristarchus works as supervisor of manufacturing within his own home due to the constraints of his circumstances, more commonly members of the elite would ﬁnd themselves working as the supervisors of others on their own estates, and it is this role that Xenophon explores at great length in the Oeconomicus, especially through his portrayal of Ischomachus as an adept estate manager. The management of a household, Xenophon suggests, entails real work and requires an engaged and active supervisor. It is clear from the opening of the Oeconomicus that management of a household is an important and legitimate form of work. The household manager (oikonomos) is someone with a valuable set of skills that he can apply on his own behalf (.) or as a hired agent who can earn money by managing another man’s estate (.–); thus, like a carpenter, he can either work for himself or for others (.). The Memorabilia considers in more detail the possibility of working as an agent in this manner, as Socrates advises Eutherus, who has lost his wealth due to the Peloponnesian War, to work as a manager of an estate for another man (..–). When Eutherus expresses concern that this might make him a slave, Socrates reassures him that “those who control their cities and take charge of public aﬀairs are thought more respectable, not more slavish on that
The fable depicts the dog more as a protector (phulax) than an overseer (epimelētēs), but its introduction of the latter word facilitates the application of the lesson to Aristarchus’ position as supervisor of others. On Xenophon’s presentation of this fable, see Dorion and Bandini a: . As Pomeroy (: ) observes, “Ischomachus and his upper-class contemporaries employ experienced labourers and foremen.. . . They must know how to supervise these specialists.” Figueira (: ) proposes that Xenophon can be viewed as “the earliest extant management consultant.” While Eutherus is currently supporting himself through physical labor, Socrates points out that this will be diﬃcult for him to do when he gets old, and therefore encourages him to manage an estate for a wealthier man; cf. Poroi ..
Work, Management, and Entrepreneurship
account” (..). Acting in a managerial capacity, even for another man, is honorable and important work. The work of household management is, as Xenophon depicts it through his portrayal of Ischomachus, demanding and complex. It entails ﬁrst of all a division of labor between husband and wife, with the former in charge of the outdoor work and the latter in charge of the indoor work, as suits their diﬀerent natures as male and female (.). Because Ischomachus is older than his wife and more knowledgeable concerning household management, he instructs his wife on her tasks as “queen bee” within the hive (.–). Notwithstanding the unmistakable dominance of the male in this relationship, Ischomachus emphasizes to his wife that they are partners in the household enterprise and mutually dependent (.–). This is true not only because each is responsible for important work carried out in their respective spheres, but also because of the interconnectedness of these. A wife, for example, not only supervises the slaves who work indoors but dispatches those slaves who work outside (.); and the husband turns over to his wife the proceeds from the work carried on outdoors and relies on her to manage the household expenditures responsibly (.–). A key element of successful household management is that both husband and wife not only work as supervisors of those under them but also identify and train individuals who can act as their agents in supervising others. Although Xenophon clearly envisions the possibility that these managerial agents may be free men (.–), Ischomachus assumes that they will be slaves who are part of the household and who will be supervising other slaves within the hierarchy of the household (.). The husband, for his part, needs to identify and train an overseer (epitropos) to help manage the outdoor work (.–), the wife a housekeeper (tamias) to assist in managing the indoor work (.–). For the husband and wife to select and train these supervisors, they themselves need to have an active knowledge of what is required to manage others; and it is critical
That management is somehow not work is alien to Xenophon’s conception of it: see Anastasiadis : n. . On this imagery and its use elsewhere in Greek literature, see Pomeroy : –. For the idea that a husband is his wife’s teacher, see Hes., Erg. –, with Too : –; cf. X. Smp. .. On the unusual (for Athens) level of responsibility of Ischomachus’ wife for managing the household’s ﬁnances, see Pomeroy : –. On Xenophon’s deviation from contemporary stereotypes of women and their proper roles, see ibid. –. From a modern perspective, there is undoubtedly a sexist dimension to Ischomachus’ eﬀorts to make his wife more like a man (Oec. .; cf. Murnaghan ), but the fact that Xenophon believes this is truly possible suggests that he is more enlightened concerning the capacities of women than most of his contemporaries.
Work, Money, and the Gentleman in the Oeconomicus
that they identify persons of good character who can learn and put into practice the principles of good management. At the heart of eﬀective management for Xenophon is the ability to lead and to govern others, and it is this that husband and wife must themselves master and inculcate in those who will serve as managers under them. The master of the house is in a position analogous to that of a king overseeing his subjects, and his vigilant supervision of those under him is what ensures good results: “it is especially the master’s eye that does the ﬁne and worthy (kala kagatha) work” (.; cf. .–, Mem. ..). It is not, however, possible for the master of the house to supervise all his workers directly, and it is therefore incumbent on him to impart to his subordinate overseer similar skills in governing others: “Anyone who can make men ﬁt to govern others can also teach them to be masters of others; and if he can make them ﬁt to be masters, he can make them ﬁt to be kings” (.; cf. .). Ischomachus strikingly asserts that an able master can share the knowledge of governing with his slave manager and thereby transform him into someone ﬁt to be a master and king, like himself, and goes on to declare that able slave managers thus created deserve to be treated like free men and honored like gentlemen (.). Although there is no mistaking the hierarchical nature of Ischomachus’ arrangements for making his estate as productive as possible, Xenophon represents the successful operation of the estate as dependent on the mutual collaboration and cooperation of all its workers from the highest level of management down to the humblest laborer. Just as the collaboration of husband and wife in the work they carry out in their respective spheres is essential for the success of the household, so too is the collaboration of the entire household of workers. All are partners in working to make the estate prosperous, and all beneﬁt directly from this as part of a system that fairly rewards those who contribute to the success of the household enterprise (.–, .). Indeed, as we shall see, for Xenophon the household, as a community (koinōnia) of collaborating
On Xenophon’s preoccupation with good leadership throughout his corpus, see Gray b: –, –, with earlier scholarship. Cf. Vilatte : –, who observes that the members of the household of a kalos kagathos mirror him and his virtue. This statement is startling in light of contemporary assumptions concerning the natural inferiority of slaves (see Baragwanath : ). In Xenophon’s view, although learning the art of leadership and management requires education (cf. .), one need not have an elite education to master these (pace Johnstone : ); as Pomeroy (: ; cf. ) observes, “in the Oeconomicus all members of the household ranging from the wife and the children-to-be to the slaves, the housekeeper, and the farm foreman are subject to education.”
Work, Management, and Entrepreneurship
individuals (.), is a state on a small scale that embraces the same principles that make for a successful polis. Entrepreneurship as Work If Xenophon extends conventional understandings of work to the managerial roles played by the oikonomos and his agents, he also represents the entrepreneurial activity of an oikonomos as a legitimate and desirable form of work. This attests to Xenophon’s conviction that it is critical for members of the elite to strive to augment their estates through any honorable means, even by adopting strategies that they may associate with entrepreneurs of lower social status than themselves. Although much of the Oeconomicus is devoted to relating how Ischomachus adopts prudent managerial strategies that will increase his estate’s return, near its end Ischomachus pays homage to his father, who instructed him not only on how to make a farm proﬁtable but also on how to strategically purchase new properties so as to maximize his proﬁt from his agricultural acumen: For those who are capable of paying attention to it and who farm energetically, farming provides a most eﬀective way of making money (chrēmatisin). My father proved this by his own practice and taught me this. For he never allowed me to buy a piece of land that was well worked (exeirgasmenon) but encouraged me to buy any that was uncultivated and unplanted owing to the owner’s neglect or incapacity. Well worked land, he would say, costs a lot and cannot be improved; and he believed that where there is no room for improvement there is not much pleasure to be got from the land, whereas he regarded every possession or living creature that was constantly improving as particularly delightful. And there is nothing that is capable of showing greater improvement than land that becomes fully productive after being uncultivated. I assure you, Socrates, that we have already increased the original price of numerous plots of land many times over. There is so much money in this idea, Socrates, and it is so easy to learn, that no sooner have you heard it from me than you know as much as I do and can go home and teach it to someone else, if you like. (.–)
In case the entrepreneurial dimension of this strategy is not clear, Ischomachus goes on to explain how his father, having improved a property,
On entrepreneurship in Xenophon, see Karayiannis . On Xenophon’s use of the verb exergazomai here and elsewhere in connection with the entrepreneurial exploitation of landed property, see Figueira : .
Work, Money, and the Gentleman in the Oeconomicus
would sell it at a good price, and then immediately purchase another piece of land that was out of cultivation, so as to work it and improve it (.). If this entrepreneurial strategy seems fairly obvious to a modern capitalist, it might well seem novel and even radical to some members of Xenophon’s elite reading audience. Indeed, just as Xenophon seeks to shake up his elite readers by calling their attention to the importance of actively seeking proﬁt through their practice of farming and maximizing their return by adopting eﬀective managerial practices, so too he challenges them to think creatively concerning how they can augment their estates through the purchase, improvement, and resale of properties. The latter, in fact, seems to be a logical extension of the former activities: If a member of the elite should seek out proﬁt through intelligent farming practices and good management of his estate, it seems natural for him to maximize his return by acquiring unproductive properties and then selling them for a proﬁt after improvement. In this case Ischomachus’ depiction of his father’s entrepreneurial sharpness serves as a culminating illustration of how a member of the elite can proﬁt from work in its diverse forms. Although Xenophon presents the entrepreneurism of Ischomachus’ father as innovative, he suggests that this is reconcilable with traditional understandings of work. Ischomachus speaks of his father as possessing a love of farming (philogeorgia) (.), a love of hard work (philoponia) (.), and a love of labor (philergia) (.), which drive him to seek out properties to improve (.). And just as Xenophon’s Socrates characterizes farming itself as an activity that is both pleasurable and proﬁtable, so too Ischomachus presents his father’s entrepreneurial activities in connection with farming as providing both pleasure and proﬁt (., .). That engagement in entrepreneurial activity of this sort might be problematic for some members of the elite is suggested by Socrates’ playful equation of Ischomachus’ father’s work with that of distinctly un-elite traders: : You mean, Ischomachus, that your father naturally loved farming as intensely as merchants (emporoi) love grain. So deep is their love of grain that on receiving reports that it is abundant anywhere, merchants
Pomeroy (: , with n. ; cf. Christesen : ) reasonably doubts that land speculation of this sort was rare (pace Finley : n. ), but Xenophon assumes, in describing this strategy in detail and presenting it as novel, that it will not be entirely familiar to his readership. In each case, Xenophon endorses the intelligent pursuit of proﬁt; his use of the ﬁgure that men should contrive (mēchanasthai) to make money (., .) encapsulates the strategic dimension of this. On the low status of traders, many of whom were metics, in Athens, see Ober : .
The Oikos and the City
will voyage in quest of it: they will cross the Aegean, the Euxine, the Sicilian sea, and when they have got as much as possible, they carry it over the sea and actually stow it in the very ship in which they themselves sail. And when they need money, they do not unload the grain just anywhere, but they carry it to the place where they hear that grain is most valued and the people prize it most highly, and deliver it to them there. Yes, your father’s love of farming seems to be something like that. : You’re joking, Socrates, but I believe that men who sell houses as soon as they have built them and then build others are lovers of building to just the same degree. : Yes, by Zeus, and I swear that I believe you, Ischomachus, that all men naturally love whatever they think will bring them proﬁt. (.–)
Whereas Ischomachus treats the equation of his father’s entrepreneurial behavior with that of grain traders as a joke, Socrates suggests that these ostensibly distinct enterprises overlap signiﬁcantly since each is a manifestation of the natural pursuit of proﬁt by men (cf. Arist. EN a). While Socrates stops short of encouraging members of the elite to become grain merchants, his advocacy of the entrepreneurial pursuit of wealth through agriculture is in keeping with his position throughout the Oeconomicus that the elite should actively and self-consciously seek to augment their households.
The Oikos and the City Although the Oeconomicus focuses on how members of the elite can best manage their individual estates, it does not envision them carrying this out in isolation from the city at large. On the contrary, because Xenophon views the oikos and the polis as intimately intertwined, his Oeconomicus is ultimately as much about political life as private life. Let us consider some of the ways that the ideal administration of an oikos is linked with civic life and the success of the democratic city. While some modern readers of the Oeconomicus have found in it an idealized vision of an aristocrat’s self-suﬃcient life that is far removed from
If a traditional Athenian gentleman “was supposed to disdain overtly commercial activities and not engage in professions that had money-making as their sole goal” (Pomeroy : ), this did not stop some members of the elite from seeking to proﬁt through trade. On elite involvement in the grain trade, see Moreno : –, –. Pace Danzig (a: ), Socrates is not critical of Ischomachus’ father for his pursuit of proﬁt. The Oeconomicus is not in my view a work that reﬂects “[d]isgust with politics” and a turning “away from the public sphere” (Pomeroy : ).
Work, Money, and the Gentleman in the Oeconomicus
the cares and turmoils of civic life, this is not what Xenophon seeks to convey to his contemporary elite reader. As we have seen, the ultimate goal of eﬀective oikonomia for a member of the elite, Xenophon suggests, is to create wealth that can sustain not only himself and his family but the city at large (., .; cf. ., ., Mem. ..), and provide him with the leisure necessary to participate in civic life (.). Xenophon’s Ischomachus, moreover, plans his daily activities in such a way as to make himself better able to contribute to the city: for example, equestrian practice prepares him to be a good cavalryman (., ), and mock trials prepare him to be an able litigant who can protect his own interests and advance those of the city in court (.–, ). Thus, an ideal oikonomos is simultaneously a good citizen who works hard to acquire the resources and skills that will enable him to support and serve the city. Xenophon further emphasizes the interconnectedness of individual household and city by characterizing the oikos as a microcosm of the polis that, when properly administered, partly replicates its institutions and principles of good governance. Husband and wife each act as leader (hēgemōn) (.) of those beneath them, and just as a well-run state places a premium on orderliness, so too does Ischomachus in the domestic sphere: he exhorts his wife to serve as guardian of the oikos’ laws to keep it running in an orderly manner and to inspect the household’s equipment “to determine whether each item is in good condition, just as the Council scrutinizes the cavalry and the horses” (.–). And Ischomachus himself draws directly on the city’s laws to make those working under him upright (.–). Interestingly, Ischomachus’ successful household mirrors the Athenian democracy not only in its institutions and principles of good governance but also in some respects in its political ideology. As we have seen, Ischomachus fosters a collaborative community in which all work hard for the common good and enjoy the beneﬁts of this. He and his wife exert themselves to carry out their respective tasks with care and intelligence knowing that they are partners in a joint enterprise who will share in its successes. They also work to ensure that those under them show an equal
Rood () surveys this modern reception of the Oeconomicus. Although Xenophon sees substantial parallels between oikos and polis, he is not in my view seeking to eliminate the diﬀerence between them as Murnaghan (: –) posits. For the Athenian practice, see [Arist.] Ath. Pol. .–; on Xenophon’s evocation of it here, see Pomeroy : –. Ischomachus draws not only on the Athenian laws of Draco and Solon (.–) but on laws of the Persian kings (.–).
The Oikos and the City
commitment to executing the tasks that fall to them and understand that they too are partners in the household and will beneﬁt directly by contributing to its prosperity. This evokes a central tenet of Athenian democratic ideology, namely, that if citizens contribute to, and sacriﬁce for, the city, they will individually and collectively reap the beneﬁts of the city’s successes. Indeed, just as the democratic city promises rewards to the citizens who toil (ponein) and undergo risks (kindunein) for it on the battleﬁeld, Ischomachus holds out rewards to members of his household who work hard on its behalf. Xenophon is so eager to make this equation between meritorious work on behalf of the household and that on behalf of the city that he speaks of good slaves as toiling (ponein) and running risks (kindunein) for the household (.–, .–), although “running risks” better suits the martial activity of the city’s soldiers (.–, .) than the work of a household’s slaves. Because oikos and polis closely resemble each other as communities and the same principles of good governance and ideologies of shared sacriﬁce and reward make each successful (cf. .), one might naturally infer that the oikos can serve as an incubator of leadership and management abilities that can be applied on the level of the polis. In the Memorabilia, in fact, Xenophon makes explicit that managing an oikos can prepare a man for the more ambitious task of managing a city, when his Socrates pointedly suggests to the overly ambitious Glaucon that he should learn how to manage a single household before seeking to manage an entire city (..; cf. Mem. ..). Thus, for Xenophon the oikos, as a polis in miniature, provides a natural training ground for developing the values, skills, and understanding needed to lead a city. Xenophon’s Oeconomicus opens with a critique of elite neglect of oikonomia, and proceeds to present Ischomachus as a model of how members of the elite should pursue proﬁt methodically in managing their estates. In so doing, it calls on its elite readers not only to apply themselves to the important activity of oikonomia but also to reconceptualize what it means to be a gentleman. Challenging the assumption that a man of high birth or wealth is automatically a gentleman, Xenophon insists that a true gentleman is distinguished by his laudable activities, including the work he
See Christ : –. See, e.g., Lys. .; Ziolkowski : ; Loraux : –. According to Xenophon, oikonomia is also important to the administration of a state: see Cyr. ..–, with Pomeroy : . For a challenge to the idea that oikos and polis diﬀer from one another only in scale, see Arist. Pol. a–.
Work, Money, and the Gentleman in the Oeconomicus
carries out in his daily life in running his estate; a man merits this title not because he lives a life of leisure, but because he pursues his occupation (ergasia) as manager of an estate successfully. Although the work (ergon) that he undertakes as oikonomos is primarily managerial, it is demanding and challenging and is, like the physical labor of those whom he manages, intrinsically valuable and carries both moral and practical beneﬁts. Indeed, his energetic work as manager and leader of his oikos mirrors the role played by successful political leaders within a polis and prepares him to step into this role, as beﬁts a man of status within the city, should the opportunity present itself. This revisionist view of how elite Athenians should conceptualize their relation to work challenges class assumptions of innate superiority, as it demands virtuous eﬀort and action in the form of real work from those who would like to be called gentlemen. Two features of Xenophon’s presentation of this challenge may make it more palatable to skeptics among his elite readers. First, although Xenophon exhorts elite Athenians to embrace work and seek proﬁt, he does not endorse the pursuit of proﬁt for its own sake – a sensitive point for traditional aristocrats – but rather because this will allow members of the elite to carry out roles that will preserve and enhance their status. The wealth that they accrue will enable them to assist their friends and to serve the city through the liturgies and other benefactions they carry out, and also ensure that they have the leisure needed to participate actively in civic life. Thus, the pursuit of proﬁt by the elite, Xenophon insists, is consistent with their long-standing pursuit of honor and status (philotimia) within the community, and indeed the former facilitates the latter. Second, the fact that Xenophon focuses on agriculture as the sphere in which the elite can devote themselves to the pursuit of proﬁt makes his message less alienating for traditionally minded members of the elite. Xenophon is not exhorting his readers to abandon the sphere with which they are most familiar and comfortable, but rather to work more methodically toward reaping proﬁt within it. Whereas Xenophon endorses entrepreneurial behavior on the part of the elite outside of agriculture in his Memorabilia, in the Oeconomicus he simply urges the elite to embrace a proﬁt-seeking mentality in managing their estates. When Xenophon holds up as a model the entrepreneurial behavior of Ischomachus’ father, who
Cf. Christesen (: ; cf. ), who observes that it was possible for Athenians to pursue “income maximization” while remaining “sensitive to societal norms.” See above, note .
The Oikos and the City
not only farms successfully but also buys underperforming farms and sells them for a proﬁt after improving them, he may make some of his readers uncomfortable, but the fact that this entrepreneurial activity involves land and farming may make it seem less radical. Xenophon thus oﬀers his elite Athenian readers a new vision of elite identity in promoting the idea that gentlemen should work hard and actively seek proﬁt through their estate management, while remaining sensitive to their deeply held values and traditional modes of behavior. His presentation of Ischomachus as a model shows them how to live their daily lives energetically and productively so as to beneﬁt themselves, their friends, and their city. Indeed, by emulating Ischomachus, Xenophon’s elite readers can live well and prosper not just within the oikos but in the democratic city at large.
The Education of Callias in the Symposium
Although Xenophon’s Symposium has long been overshadowed by Plato’s masterpiece of the same name, it provides further valuable evidence of Xenophon’s communications with his elite Athenian readers concerning their proper role in the democratic city. At ﬁrst glance, Xenophon’s Symposium may appear to be concerned primarily with elite social relations in the private setting of a dinner party, but on closer examination it shows a deep interest in the role of the Athenian elite in the political life of the city. Just as the Oeconomicus’ purview extends beyond the seemingly private world of the household to the role of the elite in the democratic city, so too the Symposium ultimately looks outward to the place of elite citizens in civic life. Notwithstanding the Symposium’s often humorous portrayal of aristocrats at play, it shares with both the Memorabilia and Oeconomicus a serious commitment to explore and clarify how elite individuals can be good citizens and leaders under the democracy. While the Socrates of Xenophon’s Memorabilia seeks to educate a wide range of elite Athenians so they can better serve the democratic city, the Symposium’s Socrates focuses his educational eﬀorts on an individual, Callias, the host of the dinner party, who is a man of great wealth, high birth, and little understanding. Through the course of the Symposium, Socrates and his surrogates challenge Callias’ assumptions about wealth and the power it gives its possessor, and eventually Socrates turns the discussion to how Callias can improve himself so as to succeed in the political life of the city and thereby merit the respect and friendship (philia) of Autolycus, the boy of whom he is enamored. Once we appreciate the centrality of Callias’ education to the Symposium, we can better understand the curious dynamics of this work and its place in Xenophon’s larger project to transform his elite Athenian readers into real gentlemen and good citizens under the democracy. After a brief survey of how scholars have sought to make sense of Xenophon’s Symposium, this chapter sets forth the grounds for viewing it
The Education of Callias in the Symposium
as centered largely on the education of Callias. It then turns to consider in detail Xenophon’s portrayal of Callias’ Socratic education concerning ﬁrst the limits of wealth and then the political role to which he should aspire within the city. Finally, it considers how this case study in the education of a member of the elite relates to Xenophon’s portrayal of Socrates’ eﬀorts especially in the Memorabilia to transform the city’s elite into good citizens who can lead the democratic city. In the Symposium, Xenophon paints a colorful and lively scene of a gathering of elite Athenians in that he purports to have attended (.). At its opening, he sets out the circumstances of the symposium: when Callias was returning from the horse races at the greater Panathenaic games with Autolycus, whom he was courting and who had been the victor in the boy’s pancratium at the games; Autolycus’ father, Lycon; and Niceratus, he caught sight of Socrates, Critobulus, Hermogenes, Antisthenes, and Charmides and invited them to attend a symposium in honor of Autolycus and his father at his home in the Piraeus. When the group assembles, they are joined by a jester, Philip, who shows up uninvited, and are entertained by a company of slaves, two girls and a boy, who under the supervision of their owner – an unnamed Syracusan – dance, perform acrobatics, and eventually act out the amorous story of Dionysus and Ariadne. All of this, however, is the backdrop to the conversations among the symposiasts that Xenophon relates. They ﬁrst discuss what each man takes most pride in – Callias leads oﬀ by asserting his pride in his wealth – and then the subject of erotic desire (erōs). The latter discussion, however, soon segues into a Socratic lecture directed to Callias concerning the proper behavior of lover (erastēs) and beloved (eromenos) in a pederastic relationship, as Socrates warns him not to seek physical pleasure from Autolycus and urges him to make himself worthy of the boy’s philia by becoming an expert in political aﬀairs and a leader within the city. Scholars have been especially interested in the relation of this work to Plato’s Symposium. Most agree that Plato’s work is earlier and that Xenophon is responding to it, for example, when his Socrates adamantly takes issue with the idea that the most valiant army would be one consisting of
On the likely ﬁctive nature of Xenophon’s claim of attendance (not least because he would have been only a young boy at this date), see Huss : n. . For the minority view that Xenophon’s Symposium antedates Plato’s work, see Thesleﬀ and Danzig .
The Education of Callias in the Symposium
lovers and their beloveds (.–; cf. Pl. Smp. e–a). Although this helps contextualize Xenophon’s Symposium and attests to his rivalry with Plato, only part of Xenophon’s work directly engages with its Platonic predecessor. If we seek to understand Xenophon’s Symposium more fully, we must assess it in its own terms and against the broader backdrop of Xenophon’s other Socratic writings. Xenophon provides some guidance concerning the intent of the Symposium at its opening, when he declares: “In my view it is worthwhile to relate not only the serious activities of gentlemen (kaloi kagathoi), but also what they do in their lighter moments” (.). In keeping with this, through the course of the work Xenophon shows Socrates and his fellow symposiasts at play as they joke, banter, and enjoy the entertainment provided for them. While this facet of the Symposium sets it apart from Xenophon’s other Socratic writings, it turns out that Socrates and his companions even in their “lighter moments” address serious topics in a way that invites comparison with Xenophon’s other Socratic works. Scholars have observed that the Symposium, like Xenophon’s Memorabilia, Oeconomicus, and Apology, oﬀers an apologia for Socrates, whom the city condemned to death in on the charge of corrupting the young and impiety. It does so, like these other works, by advancing a carefully constructed and idealized picture of Socrates, his values and ideas, and his promotion of these in his conversations with others; this makes it clear that Socrates sought to improve those around him, including the young, and was in no way impious. The Symposium’s apologetic dimension becomes explicit at one point when the Syracusan invokes the Aristophanic caricature of Socrates as a head-in-the clouds intellectual, and Socrates gently deﬂects the insult (.–; cf. Ar. Nu. –, ). With the exception of this awkward interlude, however, Xenophon’s portrayal of Socrates and his interactions with his fellow symposiasts oﬀers implicit refutation of Socrates’ critics by showing him as a man of high values and principles who seeks to improve those around him through his conversations with them.
Xenophon mistakenly attributes this argument to Plato’s Pausanias instead of his Phaedrus. Huss (: –) collects a long list of parallels between the two works, but only some of these clearly attest to direct inﬂuence of Plato on Xenophon. On the interplay of light and serious elements in Xenophon’s Symposium, see Huss : –. On apologetic features of the Symposium, see Huss : –. I am not persuaded by Danzig (: –, , ) that the charge against Socrates of corrupting the youth was based in part on the suspicion that he had sexual relations with the young men who associated with him and that a part of the apologetic program of the Symposium is to defend Socrates from this.
If the Symposium shares with Xenophon’s other Socratic works an apologetic agenda, however, it also overlaps with the Memorabilia and Oeconomicus, in portraying Socrates as an educator of his elite interlocutors in their proper role in the democratic city. Although Xenophon portrays Callias’ symposium as an intimate social gathering of elite individuals, the city and civic life are very present throughout the Symposium (., .–, ., ., .–, .–, ., ., .) and strikingly so in Socrates’ culminating speech in which he exhorts Callias to commit himself to an active political life (.–). This political dimension of Xenophon’s portrayal of Socrates in the Symposium and its close relation to Xenophon’s presentation of the Socratic enterprise elsewhere have not been fully appreciated.
(Re)educating Callias That the Symposium portrays the education of Callias is not immediately evident. The Symposium presents a somewhat chaotic mélange of entertainment, banter, and conversation, and its episodic structure reinforces the impression that it is an eclectic composition. Xenophon’s portrayal of Callias’ education over the course of the Symposium, however, provides a signiﬁcant strand that helps connect and make sense of its diﬀerent components. The issue of Callias’ education crops up conspicuously at the opening of the Symposium, when Callias invites Socrates and his companions to his dinner party: “This is an opportune meeting, for I am about to entertain Autolycus and his father; and I think that my arrangements would shine much brighter if my dining room were graced with the presence of men like you, whose souls have been puriﬁed, than it would with generals and cavalry commanders and oﬃce seekers.” “You are always mocking us,” replied Socrates, “feeling superior because you have paid a lot of money to Protagoras, Gorgias, Prodicus, and many others for knowledge (epi sophiai), while you view us as some kind of amateurs in philosophy.” “It is true,” said Callias, “that so far I have been concealing from you my ability to say plenty of smart things (sopha); but now, if you will join me, I will show you that I am a person worth taking very seriously.” (.–)
See Danzig : – and : –. Gray (: ) notes that Socrates, in his culminating speech in the Symposium, is involved in educating Callias, but does not see a strong connection between Socrates’ speech and the earlier speeches. On education (paideia) as central to the institution of the symposium, see Wohl : , with earlier scholarship ( n. ); cf. Hobden : .
The Education of Callias in the Symposium
Socrates challenges the sincerity of Callias’ ﬂattering characterization of him and his companions on the grounds that Callias regards himself as superior to them because he has paid a great deal of money to sophists (cf. Pl. Ap. a) and thereby attained wisdom. This snipe at Callias paves the way for the exposure of his poor education in the course of the Symposium. That Callias’ education will be subject to close scrutiny becomes clear when Socrates later returns to Callias’ promise to exhibit the knowledge he has acquired and prove himself to be a man who should be taken seriously: “For my part,” Socrates said, “I would most like to take Callias up on his promise; he said, you remember, that if we had dinner with him, he would give us an exhibition of his knowledge (sophian).” “Yes,” replied Callias; “and I will do so, if the rest of you also contribute any knowledge that each has that is ﬁne.” “Well,” answered Socrates, “no one objects to telling what he considers the most valuable knowledge in his possession.” (.)
In inviting Callias to exhibit his knowledge, Socrates initiates the ﬁrst major topic of conversation among the symposiasts, namely, in what each of them takes the greatest pride. As we shall see, in the discussion that ensues, Callias’ pride in his wealth emerges as unfounded, and this contradicts his claim to have received an education that has made him wise. Socrates’ disdain for Callias’ sophistic education arises explicitly later in an exchange he has with Antisthenes. When Antisthenes objects to Socrates’ characterization of him as a panderer, Socrates replies: “I know,” he said, “that you acted the part of panderer between Callias here and the wise Prodicus when you saw that Callias lusted (erōnta) for philosophy and that Prodicus needed money. I also know that you did the same for Hippias the Elean, from whom Callias got his memory system; and ever since then Callias has become more lustful (erōtikōteros) than ever, because he never forgets any beauty he sees.” (.)
Although Socrates’ characterization of Antisthenes as a panderer is playful, his representation of Callias’ sophistic education is barbed. Callias’ “match” with Prodicus is dubiously grounded in the happy coincidence of Prodicus’ need for money and Callias’ lust for philosophy, which evokes the relationship of a sex worker and paying customer (cf. Mem. ..);
On the shift in .– from each symposiast being called on to speak of his most valuable knowledge to each being asked to share what he takes the greatest pride in, see Gray : –; Bowen : ; Hobden : , ; and Gilhuly : –. Xenophon’s Socrates adamantly rejects the mercantile relationship between sophists and their students (Mem. .., .., ..–, ..–; Ap. ; Dorion : ); Xenophon does the same in his own voice at Cyn. .–; cf. An. ..–. Although Socrates invokes Prodicus with approval in Mem. ..–, his representation of his relationship with Callias at Smp. . is
and while Callias gets something potentially useful in the pursuit of knowledge from Hippias, namely, a memory system, this only heightens his lust since it means he remembers whatever beautiful object he encounters. The Symposium’s exposure of the defects of Callias’ sophistic education goes hand in hand with Socrates’ emergence as the sort of teacher Callias should seek out and heed. Socrates colorfully portrays himself in his role as educator of his companions as a procurer, justifying this with the quip, “If a person could render people attractive to the entire city, would he not be hands-down an ideal procurer?” (.). That Socrates, in improving his companions and transforming them into men who can lead the city, is a procurer of sorts, is conﬁrmed by Callias himself after Socrates has instructed him on the sort of person he should strive to be (cf. .): “So you mean to play the procurer, do you, Socrates, bringing me to the attention of the city, so that I can enter politics and always be pleasing to it?” (.). This sketch of the centrality of Callias’ education to the Symposium suggests that Xenophon, within the framework of describing an elite dinner party, presents Socrates in a similar role to the one we see him playing so often in the Memorabilia, namely, as challenger and corrector of elite arrogance and ignorance, and an advocate for the elite embracing political life and leadership within the democracy. In keeping with the congenial and playful setting of the Symposium, Socrates is for the most part a gentle instructor of Callias; as we have seen in the Memorabilia, Socrates can be direct and even brutal in interrogating elite individuals and exposing their vanities and ignorance. Nonetheless, the Symposium’s Socrates pursues an educational agenda that is very similar to the one attributed to him in the Memorabilia.
critical; Prodicus may be “wise” (as Dorion  emphasizes), but he is involved in a dubious relationship with his student. Although Socrates goes on to playfully describe how Antisthenes roused a desire in him to meet with notable visitors to Athens (.), his characterization of Callias as a man consumed by his desires is not entirely playful, as becomes evident later when Socrates lectures Callias on the proper restraint a lover should show toward the boy whom he is courting. On Socrates as a matchmaker between potential leaders and the city, cf. Mem. .. and ; Dorion and Bandini a: –, . Huss (: –) proposes that Xenophon evokes a past golden age in his portrayal of the interactions and conversations in the Symposium, but this overlooks the tensions and frictions involved in the education of Callias. In my view, the Symposium is not more open-ended and deliberative than Xenophon’s other Socratic works, as Hobden posits (: –, : –, –).
The Education of Callias in the Symposium
In a key passage in the Memorabilia, Xenophon observes that Socrates encouraged his interlocutors to seek excellence (aretē) through education so as “to be not only prosperous themselves and successful in the management of their households, but also capable of conferring prosperity on other people and states alike” (..), and that he admonished them that wealth and high birth on their own are not suﬃcient to achieve these ends (..–). Xenophon’s Symposium provides a case study in how Callias, as a man of both wealth and high birth, overestimates the power of the former and fails to live up to the high expectations that the latter carries with it. Let us consider in detail how Callias’ assumptions about wealth are undercut in the ﬁrst part of the Symposium, and then how Socrates proceeds to educate Callias concerning the political role he should pursue in the democratic city as a man of high birth.
Callias, Wealth, and the Democratic City Socrates makes Callias’ conﬁdence in the power of his wealth an issue when he observes that Callias believes he is superior to others because he has paid a great deal of money to sophists for knowledge (.; cf. .), and then steers the conversation toward scrutiny of this belief (.–). Although Socrates is clearly skeptical of Callias’ belief that his wealth can buy him knowledge, he leaves it to his fellow symposiasts – and Antisthenes in particular – in the conversation that follows to challenge Callias’ false assumptions about wealth’s capacities and desirability. Since Xenophon’s Socrates is not normally reticent when it comes to exposing the shortcomings of his elite interlocutors and, in fact, later in the Symposium assumes a more active role in educating Callias, his restraint here requires some explanation. This may reﬂect Xenophon’s desire to portray Socrates in his lighter moments as ready to hold back on direct confrontation with a wrong-headed interlocutor and to allow his fellow symposiasts an opportunity to challenge Callias. In any event, although Xenophon assigns Socrates a fairly modest role in the conversation concerning wealth that ensues, his Antisthenes ﬁlls the void and plays an identiﬁably Socratic role in interrogating and confuting Callias and in advancing a recognizably Socratic perspective on wealth.
Cf. Dorion and Bandini b: . Here and elsewhere in the Symposium, Socrates is “the self-appointed director of the symposion” (Hobden : ; cf. ). On Xenophon’s presentation of sympotic protocols and practices, see Hobden : – and : –.
Callias, Wealth, and the Democratic City
As the symposiasts, with Socrates’ guidance, turn to discuss what each “considers the most valuable knowledge in his possession” (.), Callias makes a remarkable and enigmatic claim: “I will now tell you what I take greatest pride in. It is that I believe I have the ability to make people better” (.). Although Antisthenes immediately seeks clariﬁcation of this claim and ascertains that Callias believes he makes people better by teaching them justice (dikaiosunē), the basis of Callias’ claim is only revealed later when he elaborates on it: “While I listen to you as you wonder what justice is, I am all the time actually making men more just.” “Excellent man. How so?” asked Socrates. “By giving them money, by Zeus.” Then Antisthenes got up and started to interrogate him in best cross-examining fashion. “Where do you think men keep their justice, Callias, in their souls or in their wallets?” “In their souls,” he replied. “So you make their souls more just by putting money into their wallets?” “I surely do.” “How?” “Because they know that they have the wherewithal to buy what they need, they have no wish to risk committing crimes.” “And do they repay you,” he asked, “what they get?” “No, by Zeus!” he replied. “Well, do they give thanks instead of money?” “No indeed, not that either,” he said. “On the contrary, some of them dislike me even more than before they got the money.” “Remarkable,” said Antisthenes, staring at him as though he had him cornered, “if you can make them just toward others but not toward yourself.” “What is so remarkable about that?” asked Callias. “Do you not see plenty of carpenters and architects too, who build houses for many people but can’t do it for themselves, so instead live in rented places? Come now, you sophist, see how it feels to be refuted!” “By Zeus,” said Socrates, “let him. For even the soothsayers, you know, are said to prophesy the future for others while being unable to foresee what’s headed their way.” Here the discussion of that point ended. (.–)
This exchange, though brief, provides a devastating view of Callias’ naivete and ignorance concerning the power of his wealth. Although Callias’ boast that he makes people better by teaching them justice raises high expectations and sets him up as a potential rival to Socrates, whom Xenophon presents as improving his companions by teaching them moral virtues (cf. Mem. ..–), it turns out to be utterly groundless. When Socrates encourages Callias to explain how it is that he makes men more just with the words “Excellent man. How so?,” we may expect him, as he does elsewhere, to cross-examine his interlocutor
Hobden (: –, –; cf. Gray ) observes that this initiates competitive set-piece displays of wisdom by the symposiasts.
The Education of Callias in the Symposium
and expose his ignorance, but instead Antisthenes eagerly steps forward to take up the interrogation. Antisthenes quickly exposes the absurdity of Callias’ claim that he makes men more just by giving them money when he gets him to acknowledge that those to whom he gives money do not treat him justly. Callias’ attempt to refute Antisthenes by comparing his situation to that of carpenters and architects who build houses for others but themselves live in rented places verges on the nonsensical. Although Socrates may seem to side with Callias when he interjects his own analogy concerning soothsayers, one has the strong sense that Socrates has mercifully interceded to prevent the further humiliation of the symposium’s host by Antisthenes rather than that he embraces Callias’ naive view of the power of wealth to make men just. If Antisthenes serves as a Socratic surrogate in exposing the thinness of Callias’ claim to improve other men with his wealth, his aggressive interrogation of Callias threatens to disrupt the party’s congeniality, and Socrates himself steps in to prevent the situation from getting out of hand. While Xenophon concludes this episode, “Here the discussion of that point ended (.),” his examination of wealth has only just begun. Wealth – and the lack thereof – are central to the speeches of Charmides and Antisthenes that follow. When Charmides initially asserts that what he takes pride in is his poverty (.), Socrates quips, “A charming thing, to be sure! It seldom inspires envy, seldom causes ﬁghts; it is safeguarded without guards, and grows stronger by neglect” (.). When Charmides later expounds on the basis of his pride, however, it turns out that he embraces poverty largely because this relieves him of the abuses he claims to have suﬀered as a wealthy man under the democracy: But Callias now remarked, “It is your turn, Charmides, to tell us why poverty makes you feel proud.” “Very well,” he said. “Everyone agrees about this: conﬁdence is preferable to fear, freedom to slavery, getting attention to giving it, the trust of one’s country to its distrust. Now, as
On the exposure of Callias’ ignorance, see Gray : and Hobden : . As Danzig (: – n. ) notes, Callias’ claim to improve men with his money goes beyond the claim of Plato’s Cephalus that his wealth allows him to behave justly (R. a–b). As Bowen (: ) observes, “Kallias was getting irritated by Antisthenes, and Sokrates intervenes to lower the temperature”; cf. Gera : . Hobden (: ) proposes that Socrates’ juxtaposition of his analogy with that of Callias is not an endorsement but an act of “capping” in which one symposiast seeks to outdo another. Danzig (: ) believes that “Callias wins his point.” On Xenophon’s portrayal of Antisthenes as overly aggressive, see Bowen : and Gera : –. Gera (; cf. Danzig : ) observes that Antisthenes is a more rigid and rude version of the Symposium’s Socrates. Cf. Danzig : .
Callias, Wealth, and the Democratic City
for my situation in our city, when I was rich, ﬁrst of all I feared someone tunneling into my house and not only taking my money, but also doing me harm; and second, I paid court to legal blackmailers (sykophants), knowing that I was more liable to suﬀer injury from them than inﬂict it. Then too, I was forever being ordered by the city to undertake some expenditure, and I could never leave town. Whereas now, since I am stripped of my property over the border, get no income from my holdings in Attica, and my household goods have been sold, I stretch out and sleep well, I have gained the trust of the city, I get no more threats – I threaten others now – and I have the free man’s choice of leaving town or staying home. Rich men now actually rise from their seats in deference to me, and get out of my way in the street. Now I am like a despot; then I was clearly a slave. Then I paid tribute to the people (dēmōi); now I live on the money that the city pays to me. What’s more, when I was rich, people used to vilify me for consorting with Socrates, but now that I am poor no one cares about that at all any more. And when my property was large, I was continually losing some of it either to the city or to bad luck, but now I lose nothing because I have nothing, but I am always expecting to get something.” “So do you also pray,” asked Callias, “never to be rich, and if you have a good dream do you sacriﬁce to the averters of disaster?” “Not at all,” he replied; “I do not go as far as that; I accept the outcome like a daredevil if I am hoping to get something from somewhere.” (.–)
Why does Xenophon include this politically tinged “praise” of poverty in his Symposium? An obstacle to making sense of Charmides’ speech is the assumption of some scholars that Xenophon endorses Charmides’ jaundiced perspective on the position of wealthy men under the democracy. Signiﬁcantly, neither Xenophon as narrator nor his Socrates expresses approval of Charmides’ point of view. In fact, Socrates’ exhortation to Callias later in the Symposium to seek oﬃce under the democracy is at odds with Charmides’ complaint that the rich are merely slaves of the dēmos and helpless in the political sphere. Socrates’ exhortation to Charmides himself in the Memorabilia to step forward to advise the dēmos (.) also takes for granted that the city’s elite are not powerless within the democracy. And while Xenophon’s Socrates does not take a position in the
Tamiolaki (: –, , –) is in my view wrong to take Charmides’ complaints about how the ﬁnancial obligations of the rich make them slaves of the state (.–) and Callias’ echo of this (.) as evidence of Xenophon’s own oligarchic inclinations. Tuplin (: –) rightly observes that “elite complaints about the democratic environment were natural in the ﬁctive historical environment of Socratic literature, but Xenophon’s Socrates does not endorse them.” Cf. also Socrates’ refutation of Aristippus, who characterizes leadership of a state as a form of slavery (Mem. .).
The Education of Callias in the Symposium
Symposium on the city’s ﬁnancial demands on wealthy Athenians, in the Oeconomicus he views these (.) as cause not for griping but rather for prudent estate management that will enable wealthy men to meet their civic obligations (.–; cf. .–, Mem. ..). A closer look at this episode suggests that Xenophon is presenting Charmides’ complaints humorously and is gently satirizing them. Wealthy Athenians regularly complained publicly about sykophants, the popular courts, and their ﬁnancial obligations to the city. Xenophon’s Charmides, speaking in private among his peers, ampliﬁes these complaints and hyperbolically speaks of the rich as slaves to the dēmos, and claims that now that he is poor he enjoys lording it over the wealthy – apparently as a juror with power over them and their fortunes. While Charmides seems to be sincere in advancing these complaints, there is something overdrawn and even comic about his stark presentation of class relations; indeed, this recalls Aristophanes’ caricature of the oppression of the rich by poor jurors in Wasps (–). That Charmides is exaggerating the trials and tribulations of wealthy Athenians under the democracy becomes clear after he concludes his speech. When Callias asks him, in light of the manifest beneﬁts of poverty in Athens, whether he prays that he will never be rich again, Charmides replies that this is not the case and that, notwithstanding the dangers, he hopes to “get something from somewhere.” This acknowledgment undercuts the hyperbolic claims that he has just made about the miserable situation of wealthy Athenians, and we are left to conclude that despite the “burdens” of being rich under the democracy, Charmides – and presumably elite Athenians in general – would much prefer wealth to poverty. If we are meant to take Charmides’ complaints about the burden of wealth and his embrace of poverty with a grain of salt, his speech legitimately calls into question Callias’ naive assumption that wealth is an
Xenophon may sympathize with Charmides’ complaints about sykophants under the democracy (see HG ..), but his Socrates suggests to Crito (Mem. .) that members of the elite need not be victims of sykophants if they act strategically (cf. Tuplin : ). On elite complaints concerning sykophancy and the popular courts, see Christ : –; on their complaints concerning ﬁnancial obligations, see Christ : –. There are also hints that he may envision himself alternatively or in addition in the role of sykophant: see Christ : . Although Xenophon is vague concerning the source of Charmides’ alleged ﬁnancial hardship in , when the Symposium is set, he may be thinking anachronistically of Charmides’ loss of his property in when it was conﬁscated by the city after he was convicted of profaning the Mysteries: see Wallace : – and Nails : –. Cf. Tuplin : .
Callias, Wealth, and the Democratic City
unqualiﬁed good, and paves the way for more serious reﬂection on this by Antisthenes, who speaks immediately after him. Antisthenes oﬀers a sustained argument in favor of preferring poverty to wealth as he elaborates on his earlier enigmatic claim (.) that he prides himself on his wealth, though he acknowledges that he has no money or property: “Come now, Antisthenes,” said Socrates, “take your turn and tell us how it is that with such slender means you base your pride on wealth.” “Because, gentlemen, I think that men’s wealth and poverty are to be found not in their estates but in their souls. For I see many private citizens who have plenty of money but consider themselves so poor that they undertake any toil and any risk that might make them more money; and I know of brothers with equal shares in their inheritance where one of them has enough and more than enough to meet expenses, while the other is always short of everything. I know of certain despots, too, who have so great an appetite for money that they commit much more dreadful crimes than the most destitute: for because of want presumably some steal, others break in, others follow the slave trade, but there are some despots who destroy whole families, carry out mass killings, and often enslave even whole cities for the sake of money. (.–)
In contrast to men who seek endlessly to acquire money to sate their unrestrained appetites, Antisthenes embraces a frugal lifestyle in which his simple needs are amply met and he has leisure to converse with Socrates; and just as Socrates shares the wealth of his soul with Antisthenes, Antisthenes does so with anyone who wants this (.–). In explaining why he takes pride in his “wealth,” Antisthenes endorses a frugal lifestyle that Xenophon associates closely elsewhere with Socrates. Thus, for example, in the Memorabilia, Xenophon declares that Socrates “was so frugal that it is hardly possible to imagine a man doing so little work as not to earn enough to satisfy the needs of Socrates” (..), and in the Oeconomicus, Xenophon’s Socrates suggests that despite his modest means he is better oﬀ than the wealthy Critobulus since his property is enough to satisfy his modest wants, whereas Critobulus’ lavish lifestyle demands a much larger fortune than he has (.). That Antisthenes’ vision of true wealth is indebted to Socrates becomes evident near the end of his speech, when he credits Socrates with enriching him: “Socrates here, from whom I acquired this wealth, never supplied me by number or weight but kept on handing me however much I could manage to carry”
Although Socrates presents his own modest lifestyle as ideal in the Oeconomicus, he accepts that this is not realistic for members of the elite, who need to seek wealth to sustain their status and prominence in the city (.–); cf. Dorion and Bandini a: –.
The Education of Callias in the Symposium
(.); it is this wealth, of the soul rather than of material possessions, that Antisthenes in turn shares freely with others. As Antisthenes pays homage to Socrates, however, he simultaneously criticizes Callias. This is explicit when he points out that despite his modest resources, he can “put on enough clothing that I am no colder outside than my super-rich friend Callias here” (.), and when he takes a jab at Callias’ purchase of expensive Thasian wine for his symposium (.). Antisthenes challenges not only Callias’ extravagant lifestyle but also his conﬁdence in the power of his money. When Antisthenes speaks of despots who are so eager to get more money that they commit much worse crimes than the very poorest men (.; cf. Mem. ..), he disputes Callias’ earlier naive claim that he makes men more just by giving them money so they have no need to commit crime (.). The ﬁnal words of his speech also seem to be aimed critically at Callias: “Like me, Socrates is not impressed by those who count the most gold but spends his time with those congenial to him” (.). As one of the city’s wealthiest citizens, Callias can certainly be said to be one of those who “count the most gold” (cf. .); and he pays exorbitant fees to sophists for worthless “knowledge” (.; cf. .) when he could associate for free with Socrates and gain real knowledge. If Antisthenes is seeking to educate Callias, he proves to be an obtuse student, as is evident from his immediate response to Antisthenes’ speech: “‘So help me Hera,’ commented Callias, ‘among my reasons for congratulating you on your wealth is that the city does not order you around and treat you like a slave, another is that people don’t get angry if you don’t make them a loan’” (.). Callias completely misses the relevance of Antisthenes’ criticisms to him, and rather than reply to these, he simply echoes Charmides’ hyperbolic assertion that the democratic city enslaves its wealthy citizens (.; cf. .). One gathers that Callias will not be embracing an austere lifestyle like Socrates’ anytime soon.
Callias as Aristocrat, Lover, and Politician In his eﬀorts to educate Callias, Antisthenes acts as a Socratic surrogate, ﬁrst in his devastating interrogation of Callias concerning his claim to improve men with his money, and then in his pointed presentation of
For Callias’ reputation for great wealth in the late s, see Lys. ., with Davies : . Pace Gray : : “Callias is capable of irony but he sees that there is much to envy in the wisdom of his guests and little to envy in his wealth.”
Callias as Aristocrat, Lover, and Politician
Socratic frugality as an alternative to Callias’ lavish lifestyle, and of Socratic wealth of the soul as preferable to Callias’ material wealth. In light of Antisthenes’ failure to make any visible progress in educating Callias, however, it is only natural that Socrates himself eventually steps forward to instruct Callias. The impetus for Socrates’ intervention in Callias’ instruction is his relationship with Autolycus. Callias’ erotic attraction to Autolycus is prominent from the start of the work (.) and is what inspires him to hold a symposium in honor of Autolycus and his father after Autolycus’ victory in the pancratium (.). Although Callias is the erastēs of Autolycus, the other symposiasts are also awestruck by his beauty (.–), and erotic attraction crops up conspicuously in their conversation. Critobulus, for example, asserts that he takes pride in his beauty since this inspires his admirers to act virtuously (.), and he and the other symposiasts speak of their erotic attractions (.–, –, –; cf. .–). In light of all this, it comes as no surprise perhaps that Socrates ultimately turns the conversation to the topic of erōs, and in particular to Callias’ relationship with Autolycus (.–). What is surprising in this erotically charged and playful environment, however, is Socrates’ extended and serious (cf. ., .) instruction of Callias concerning the constraints that should govern the relationship between a lover and his beloved, and in particular his exhortation that this relationship should ultimately beneﬁt the city. Socrates, as we shall see, insists that an erastēs should be in love with the soul of his eromenos and not with his body; rather than pursue transient physical gratiﬁcation, which debases both lover and beloved, he should nurture an enduring friendship (philia) with his beloved that is based on their joint pursuit of excellence (aretē) and will beneﬁt not only the two of them but the entire city. What starts as instruction concerning how a member of the elite should pursue his personal relationship with his beloved thus becomes a lesson in how both lover and beloved can best prepare themselves to achieve prominence in the city and to serve it as leaders.
On Xenophon’s presentation of the spectacle of Autolycus’ beauty, see Wohl : –; Gilhuly : –; and Baragwanath : –. That erōs comes to the fore is also not surprising given its prominence in Plato’s Symposium, to which Xenophon is likely responding in his Symposium. On erōs as a common sympotic theme, see Wohl : . Plato’s Socrates, by contrast, views the relationship of erastēs and eromenos as a stepping-stone to pursuing knowledge of Beauty itself (Smp. a–a).
The Education of Callias in the Symposium
Although nothing in the Symposium fully prepares Xenophon’s reader for its culmination in this Socratic lecture to Callias, Socrates’ interest in elite philia and its role in inculcating virtue in the young crops up early in the work. When Lycon asks where someone can attain gentlemanliness (kalokagathia), Socrates quotes the poet Theognis (– West): “Good men will teach you good things, but if you mix with base men, you will lose even the sense you now have” (.). And after Lycon calls this to the attention of his son, Socrates observes that Autolycus is already aware of this, and apparently (there is a lacuna in the text) goes on to draw a comparison: just as Autolycus, with his father’s assistance, has sought out the company of those who could best help him to win the pancratium, so too when it comes to learning about excellence, will he, with Lycon’s help, seek out “the man who seems to him most proﬁcient in that way of life and will associate with him” (.). Although this could be construed as advice to seek out a teacher like Socrates rather than the sophists with whom Callias consorts (.), Socrates’ quotation from Theognis suggests that he is thinking more broadly here about how young men may learn to become good by associating with good men and shunning the company of bad men. When Socrates later discourses on the proper relationship between lover and beloved, which he insists should take the form of philia and be founded on the shared pursuit of aretē, he elaborates on his earlier observation that social relations are critical for producing virtue (.–). When Socrates turns the conversation to the subject of erōs, he justiﬁes this on the grounds that he and his fellow symposiasts are all followers of the god Eros, (.), but soon focuses in on the erotic relationship of Callias and Autolycus: But as for you, Callias, all the city knows you are in love with Autolycus and so, I think, do a great many men from abroad. That is because you are both sons of famous fathers and are yourselves in the public eye. So I have always admired your nature (phusin), but all the more so now, when I see you are in love with someone who does not revel in luxury (habrotēti) or grow sissiﬁed in softness but shows the world physical strength and stamina, virile courage and self-control (sōphrosunēn). Desire for such traits gives an insight into the lover’s character (phuseōs). (.–)
This relationship is of particular interest, Socrates suggests, because it is one of which the public at large is well aware since Callias and Autolycus come from distinguished fathers and are themselves prominent.
On this as the likely gist of what is missing in the text, see Bowen : – and Huss : –.
Callias as Aristocrat, Lover, and Politician
Although Callias’ wealth has been the marker of his elite status up to this point in the Symposium, Socrates brings to the fore here another attribute that sets some elite Athenians apart from average citizens, namely, birth into a well-known family, and examines its implications in Callias’ case. On the one hand, Socrates acknowledges that descent from a distinguished father is something distinctive and positive in itself when he speaks initially of his admiration for Callias’ innate nature (phusis). On the other hand, he indicates that a good lineage does not necessarily make a man virtuous when he looks to the qualities of the beloved Callias pursues for evidence of his moral nature and character (phusis). Socrates returns to this distinction later when he lauds Callias’ aristocratic lineage as an Eupatrid, but observes that he and the city at large love men “who add to a nature (phusei) already good a zealous desire for excellence (aretēs)” (.–, quoted in full below). Whether Callias, as a man of high birth, currently fulﬁlls the potential of his innate nature is doubtful to judge from not only Xenophon’s portrayal of his arrogance concerning his wealth earlier in the Symposium but also Socrates’ praise of Callias for his pursuit of a boy like Autolycus who possesses so many moral virtues. Although Socrates asserts that this reﬂects well on Callias’ own nature, Callias, unlike Autolycus, seems to revel in luxury (habrotēti) (.–; cf. .–, ) and is hardly a paragon of moderation (sōphrosunē) in his misplaced pride in his wealth (.–). That there is more to Socrates’ praise of Callias than meets the eye becomes explicit when he proceeds to distinguish between two kinds of love, one for bodies, the other for “souls, philia, and ﬁne deeds” (.; cf. Pl. Smp. c–a), and to commend Callias for his embrace of the latter sort of love: I infer this from the gentlemanliness (kalokagathiai) of your beloved and because I see that you include his father in your meetings with him. For the lover who is a gentleman (kalos kagathos) does not conceal any of this from his beloved’s father.” “By Hera,” said Hermogenes, “I admire you in many ways, Socrates, but now more than ever, because in ﬂattering Callias you are in fact teaching him the sort of person he should be.” “True,” he replied; “and to add to his pleasure, I wish to bear witness to him that love of the soul is far superior to love of the body.” (.–)
Socrates is using phusis in two diﬀerent senses in this passage, to refer ﬁrst to a man’s inborn nature and then his moral nature or character, which is acquired and requires education (cf. Mem. ..–). On the negative perceptions of aristocratic habrosunē under the Athenian democracy, see Kurke : –.
The Education of Callias in the Symposium
Hermogenes recognizes that Socrates, while appearing to praise Callias, is in fact engaged in educating him, and seeking to ensure that he will remain chaste in his courtship of his beloved, and Socrates, once Hermogenes has exposed his real intentions, conﬁrms this. Although Socrates proposes that Callias’ inclusion of Autolycus’ father in their meetings is evidence that he loves the boy’s soul rather than his body, Socrates is not entirely conﬁdent that this is the case. Callias’ immoderation concerning his wealth, his exaltation of material goods over those of the soul, and his self-indulgent pursuit of pleasure in his luxurious lifestyle may all contribute to Socrates’ uneasiness concerning his intentions regarding Autolycus. He sets out, therefore, to instruct Callias in detail concerning the sort of relationship a lover should seek with his beloved. In educating Callias, Socrates contrasts the baseness of love for the body with the nobility of love for the soul. As Socrates presents it, a man who cares only for a boy’s body will seek to seduce him in any way he can and in so doing corrupt his soul (.; cf. Mem. ..–); the relationship is one-sided and exploitative since the lover takes pleasure in sex with his beloved while the boy feels no pleasure (.–); and the relationship is a transient one that fails as soon as the boy’s beauty fades with age. In sharp contrast to this, a man who is in love with a boy’s soul will not seek to corrupt and debase him for momentary pleasure, but rather will cultivate a philia that is grounded in a shared pursuit of excellence, that is reciprocal rather than exploitative, and that will endure long after the boy’s beauty is gone (.–, –, –; cf. Mem. ..). Socrates memorably sums up the distinction through a comparison: For it seems to me that the man who pays attention only to looks is like a man renting a farm: his concern is not to increase its value but to gain from it the biggest harvest he can. By contrast, the man whose goal is philia is more like the owner of a farm: he draws whatever he can from every source to enhance his beloved’s value. (.)
Hermogenes, as Callias’ half-brother (see Nails : –), may be especially attuned to his foibles. As far as Xenophon and his Socrates are concerned, the relationship of Autolycus and Callias is chaste at least thus far. Xenophon, earlier in the Symposium, speaks of Callias as “inspired by a moderate (sōphronos) Eros” (.), and his Socrates, in instructing Callias, takes for granted that he has not yet succumbed to his lust for the boy. Not long after the literary date of the Symposium (), the comic writer Eupolis portrays Callias in his Kolakes () as having squandered his estate “in licentiousness” (T iii, with frs. – K.-A.) and refers to Autolycus in his Autolycus () as Eutrēsios, “Well-penetrated” (fr. K.-A.) (see Wohl : ). These comic claims need not be true, but attest to the public scrutiny of the sexual behavior of the rich and famous (cf. Smp. .). On the divergent views of Xenophon and his Socrates concerning pederastic sex, see Hindley , , and Lane Fox b: –, but cf. Danzig : –.
Callias as Aristocrat, Lover, and Politician
Whereas the lover of the body is exploitative and looks only to his own short-term pleasure, the lover of the soul, who seeks friendship with his beloved, invests in a long-term relationship that will beneﬁt not only him but his beloved. Interestingly, Socrates’ instruction of Callias does not end with the admonition to seek enduring philia with his beloved rather than a base physical relationship, but proceeds to oﬀer advice on how this philia can provide the basis for success in public life for both lover and beloved. Socrates suggests that the mutual pursuit of excellence through philia should manifest itself not only in the personal behavior of lover and beloved (.–) but also in their pursuit of leadership roles within the city as is natural for members of the elite who are prominent and ambitious (.–). And just as Callias should take the lead in teaching his beloved how to speak and act (.) and in modeling for him how to be virtuous (.), so too should he facilitate Autolycus’ future public career by himself pursuing one and gaining knowledge he can share with Autolycus concerning this (.–). Socrates shifts his instruction of Callias from the personal to the political by pointing to the likelihood that Autolycus will one day seek glory through success not just in athletics but in public life, and suggesting that Callias would do well to make himself a worthy partner in this: In your case, Callias, I think the gods deserve your thanks for inspiring you with love for Autolycus. It is obvious that he is ambitious for honor (philotimos), inasmuch as he endures many toils and pains so as to be proclaimed victor in the pancratium. Now if he were to believe that he is going not merely to shed luster on himself and his father but also to acquire through his manly excellence (di’ andragathian) the ability to serve his friends and to exalt his country by setting up trophies of victory over its enemies, and thus to draw the admiring glances of all and be famous among both Greeks and barbarians, do you not suppose that he would esteem and honor highly anyone he considered the best partner in furthering all this? (.–)
Although scholars have rightly noted that the ﬁnal scene of the Symposium (.–) in which the symposiasts are aroused by the slaves’ performance of a drama depicting the erotic relations of Dionysus and Ariadne presents a less idealized vision of erōs than the one Socrates presents, in my view this does not necessarily cast doubt on “the truth of Socrates’ philosophy” (Wohl : ; cf. Higgins : ; Baragwanath : –). Socrates oﬀers a vision of erōs as it should be between erastēs and eromenos; he acknowledges that erōs is a powerful attractive force (.–, .–). Wohl (: ) aptly describes this as “a civic-minded erōs”; cf. Higgins : and Gilhuly : .
The Education of Callias in the Symposium
Although Socrates stops short of asserting that Autolycus will abandon his philia with Callias if he does not prove a useful partner in his future civic life, he exposes Callias’ vulnerability if he does not emerge as the best partner in this since Autolycus’ “esteem and honor” will go to whomever he deems best at helping him achieve public prominence. Having alerted Callias to the high stakes involved in his becoming a worthy partner to Autolycus in his future public career, Socrates advises Callias on what he must do to prepare himself to play this role: So if you want to be in his good graces, you must try to ﬁnd out what sort of knowledge it was that enabled Themistocles to liberate Greece; you must try to ﬁnd out what kind of knowledge it was that got Pericles recognized as his country’s best counselor; you must reﬂect, further, how it was that Solon by deep thought established in his city the best laws; you must search out what kind of practices they are that give the Spartans the reputation of being preeminent commanders; for you are their proxenos, and their foremost citizens are always being entertained at your house. You may regard it as certain, therefore, that our city would be quick to entrust itself to your hands, if you so desire. You have all the advantages: you are of noble birth (eupatridēs), of Erechtheus’ line, a priest serving the gods who under the leadership of Iacchus took the ﬁeld against the barbarian; and in today’s festival you outshine your predecessors in the splendor of your priestly oﬃce, and you possess a physique more impressive to the eye than any other in the city and at the same time able to withstand eﬀort and hardship. If what I say strikes you as too earnest for a drinking party, even so, do not be surprised: during practically all my life I have shared the city’s love for men who add to a nature already good a zealous desire for excellence (aretēs). (.–)
Notably, although Socrates begins this excursus to instruct Callias on how he can remain pleasing to Autolycus as he matures and pursues his political ambitions, he soon focuses instead on Callias and the leadership role in the city that a man of his upbringing should seek (.). While Socrates is relatively gentle in his instruction of Callias, there is an edge to his exhortation to Callias to exert himself to gain knowledge of political aﬀairs and seek a position of political prominence within the city. Socrates’ detailed directions to Callias concerning where he should seek political knowledge highlight how ignorant he is currently of all facets of political leadership. He has not given thought to how one might lead successfully as a general, like Themistocles; how one might advise the people eﬀectively, like Pericles; or how one might frame the best laws for the city, like Solon. In fact, although Callias serves as proxenos for the Spartans and regularly entertains their most prominent citizens, he has not
Callias as Aristocrat, Lover, and Politician
bothered to inquire into what makes Spartans successful military leaders. When Socrates observes, “You may regard it as certain, therefore, that our city would be quick to entrust itself to your hands, if you so desire” (.), it is clear that, up to this point, Callias has had no such desire and has not sought the political knowledge that would enable him to be a leader in the city. Socrates proceeds to make it clear that Callias has fallen short of the expectations of a man of his standing. Although he enjoys many advantages that would pave the way for him to serve as a civic leader – a distinguished bloodline, a conspicuous priestship, and an impressive physique – he has not made the most of these. If Socrates, as he states, shares the city’s love for men who are noble not just in birth but in character, he can only be disappointed in Callias for his failure, as a man of noble background, to pursue excellence ambitiously. Socrates’ closing exchange with Callias reinforces the sense that Socrates believes that he has failed to live up to his personal and political potential. On the one hand, Callias rightly recognizes that Socrates is urging him to enter politics. Invoking Socrates’ earlier description of himself as a procurer because he seeks to render his interlocutors pleasing to the city (.), Callias playfully asks him whether he is acting as procurer in encouraging him to enter politics and “always be pleasing” to the city (.). Socrates’ reply is, by contrast, sober and monitory: “Yes, by Zeus,” he said, “if they see that you’re cultivating excellence (aretēs) not for show but for real. False reputation is soon exposed when tested, whereas true manly excellence (andragathia), unless a god spikes it, confers an ever more brilliant glory when put to the test of actual deeds.” (.)
In the course of the Symposium, Callias has provided no evidence that he is truly committed to seeking excellence; as a student of the sophists, he has learned nothing of real substance, and as a wealthy man, he values material goods and the pleasure they bring over the wealth of the soul that Socrates possesses and willingly shares with those around him (.). Since Callias’ political prospects in Athens are, according to Socrates, contingent on his cultivating excellence “not for show but for real” (cf. Mem. ., ..; Cyr. ..), one may doubt that he will fulﬁll the potential of a man of his status to become a leader of the city.
Note how Socrates has exploited Callias’ desire to remain pleasing (areskein) to Autolycus (.), to make him seek to be pleasing (arestos) to the city (.). On this principle of good leadership, see Buxton : . Callias appears to have had only a modest political career for a man of his standing: he served as general in / (HG ..–) and as ambassador to Sparta in / and perhaps two earlier
The Education of Callias in the Symposium
Consistent with this critical portrayal of Callias is what follows immediately on the conclusion of Socrates’ conversation with Callias. Autolycus’ father, Lycon, turns to Socrates and says, “So help me Hera, Socrates, you seem to me a gentleman (kalos kagathos)” (.). Signiﬁcantly, he bestows this praise not on Autolycus’ lover, Callias, but on Socrates, who has taken it on himself to show Callias how he can become a gentleman in the true Socratic sense, and in so doing shows himself to be a true gentleman. This label is justiﬁably withheld from Callias, who enjoys the superﬁcial attributes of a gentleman, as traditionally conceived, but fails to meet the Socratic standard of what deﬁnes a true gentleman, namely, that one be a virtuous man who beneﬁts his friends and the city at large. Although Callias posits near the beginning of the Symposium that he would rather entertain Socrates and his companions than “generals, cavalry commanders, and oﬃce seekers” (.), it turns out, as we have seen, that Socrates endeavors to educate Callias precisely concerning the importance of such leadership roles and exhorts him to prepare himself to assume them. In doing so, Socrates plays a role that is very similar to the one Xenophon attributes to him in the Memorabilia, namely, as an educator of the city’s elite in their responsibility to lead the city and to do this ethically, knowledgeably, and skillfully. In the Memorabilia, Xenophon’s Socrates suggests that he plays a more important part in the political life of the city by working “to turn out as many competent politicians as possible” than by engaging in politics directly himself (..), and Xenophon corroborates Socrates’
occasions (..–) (see Develin : , , , ). In introducing Callias’ speech at Sparta in /, Xenophon scathingly characterizes Callias as “a man who delighted in being praised no less by himself than by others” (..); this undercuts Callias’ claims in his speech concerning his political experience and importance at .. (see Tuplin : –, contra Gray : n. ) and is consistent with Xenophon’s depiction of Callias’ arrogance in the Symposium. In putting praise of Socrates in the mouth of Lycon, who later served as one of his prosecutors (see Huss : n. ), Xenophon advances his apologia for Socrates as a man of high values who was innocent of the charges brought against him (cf. Wohl : ). We need not take this as evidence, as Huss (: –) does, that Xenophon had come to forgive Lycon for his role in Socrates’ conviction and execution by the time he wrote the Symposium. Pace Danzig (: ), who posits that Callias is not portrayed as less than a kalos kagathos. Callias falls well short of Socrates’ standard for kalokagathia, and his claim to be a teacher of kalokagathia (.) is shown to be laughable (.–). Niceratus emerges brieﬂy as a potential rival to Socrates as an educator of men in political leadership when he asserts that because of his knowledge of Homer he can instruct his associates concerning “the art of the estate manager, the political leader, or the general” (.), but his ensuing discourse on onions as a relish to drinking, which draws on Homer, falls far short of justifying this claim (.–) (cf. Hobden : –).
Callias as Aristocrat, Lover, and Politician
commitment to this by portraying in detail his eﬀorts to transform his various elite interlocutors into men who are worthy of leading the city. Xenophon does not claim that Socrates was completely successful in this educational enterprise – some of his elite interlocutors, like Glaucon, seem hopelessly obtuse, and others, like Critias and Alcibiades, deviate from Socrates’ teachings once they stop associating with him (.., –) – but extols him as an indefatigable servant of the city in his pursuit of this mission. The Symposium likewise portrays Socrates as committed to educating the elite for political life, but shows him pursuing this enterprise even in the midst of the joking, banter, and entertainment of an elite symposium. Callias, however, is a challenging subject for Socratic education and transformation. Whereas Socrates’ elite interlocutors in the Memorabilia are, for the most part, men who ambitiously seek to lead the city but are ill-prepared to do so, Callias appears to lack the basic ambition that a man of his status should have and has done nothing substantial to prepare himself to become a man of prominence and political inﬂuence in the city. Socrates, who is always prepared to adapt his approach to the particular circumstances of his interlocutors (cf. Mem. ..), shrewdly exploits Callias’ love for Autolycus to prod him to seek to make himself ﬁt to lead the city. Although one may wonder whether Socrates could possibly succeed in transforming Callias into a civic leader, Xenophon’s point, as in the Memorabilia, appears to be that Socrates served the city by fully exerting himself, no matter what the venue or who the interlocutor, to produce as many competent politicians as possible from the ranks of the elite. An important facet of Socrates’ educational program in the Symposium, as in the Memorabilia, is to call into question conventional elite assumptions concerning what constitutes gentlemanliness (kalokagathia) and to insist on deﬁning this in moral and political terms rather than social ones. A true gentleman, according to Socrates, seeks through education to acquire the values, knowledge, and skills that will enable him to beneﬁt his friends and his city. Although wealth and high birth present elite Athenians with exceptional opportunities to achieve prominence and political inﬂuence in the city, they do not automatically make them true gentlemen who can lead the city well; in fact, these elite attributes can make men arrogant and hinder their pursuit of an education that will make
On the Symposium’s exploration of kalokagathia and other topics that are prominent in the Memorabilia and Oeconomicus, see Hobden : and n. .
The Education of Callias in the Symposium
them good leaders for the city. In the Memorabilia, Xenophon portrays Socrates as a sharp critic of elite Athenians who eschew education because their wealth and high birth give them an exaggerated view of their own merits (..–). Socrates admonishes such men that “only a simpleton can think that by his wealth alone without knowledge he will be reputed good at something or will enjoy a good reputation without being reputed good at anything in particular” (..) and insists that “the natures that seem to be best (aristoi)” especially stand in need of education (..) to ensure that they become the sort of men who will do great good rather than great evil (..). The Symposium’s Callias comes under ﬁre on both counts: he is grossly misled by his assumption that his wealth can buy him a good education and even enable him to improve other men, and, as Socrates implies, he fails to “add to a nature already good a zealous desire for excellence” (.). In both works, Socrates, who teaches elite Athenians that wealth and high birth do not make them true gentlemen, emerges himself as a gentleman in the true sense of the word, who seeks to help his city by educating its future leaders in what gentlemanliness, properly understood, entails. Although Xenophon’s Socrates seeks to persuade his interlocutors as individuals to seek out an education that will make them worthy to lead the democratic city, in the Symposium, as in the Memorabilia, he envisions philia among members of the elite as essential to their success in political life. In the Memorabilia, Socrates discourses at length on how elite Athenians should seek out as friends real gentlemen, that is, men of virtue and knowledge, who will collaborate with and support them in achieving their political goals within the city (..–); he advises Critobulus that the best way to do this is ﬁrst to strive to become a truly good man (.., ..) and then to seek out gentlemen like himself as friends (..). In the Symposium, Socrates oﬀers similar advice, but adapts this to Callias’ immediate circumstances: rather than seek to gratify his sexual desires through Autolycus, Callias should cultivate a philia with him that is based on their mutual pursuit of excellence and that will naturally culminate in their joint pursuit, as men of status, of political inﬂuence in the city, with Callias as the elder of the two leading the way by gaining political knowledge and experience and sharing what he learns with Autolycus. In each case, Socrates conceptualizes elite philia as something that should beneﬁt not only the individuals joined by it but the city at large. Juxtaposing the Symposium with the Memorabilia in this way helps to clarify its political dimensions and in particular its interest in the civic roles that elite citizens should play within the democratic city and how they
Callias as Aristocrat, Lover, and Politician
should prepare themselves to assume these. If Xenophon wrote his Symposium under the inﬂuence of, and in rivalry with, Plato’s Symposium, his work diverges substantially from its predecessor in its strong interest in politics. Although civic life crops up in the exchanges among Plato’s symposiasts (a–, e–c), the centerpiece of his symposium is Socrates’ exposition of philosophical theory (e–c). By contrast, Xenophon’s Symposium culminates in Socrates making a case for elite engagement in the political life of the city and for the deployment of elite philia in service of this. That Xenophon portrays Socrates as an educator of the city’s elite concerning their political place in the democratic city in the Symposium, as elsewhere, attests to his vision of Socrates as a pragmatic and patriotic individual who sought to make the elite useful to the city and his desire for future generations to remember Socrates as such a person rather than as an enemy of the city as his prosecutors had represented him in his impiety trial. Xenophon, however, manifestly approves not only of Socrates but of his message for the city’s elite, and himself promulgates this to his own contemporary elite reading audience. In so doing, Xenophon emerges as Socrates’ heir in seeking to educate the city’s elite and transform them into real gentlemen and good citizens in the democracy. Xenophon’s role as educator of elite Athenians is even more conspicuous, as we shall see, in his Hipparchicus and Poroi.
Xenophon as Expert, Advisor, and Reformer in the Hipparchicus and Poroi
If Xenophon in his Socratic works brings Socrates’ conversations before his elite Athenian readers to encourage them to strive to become capable leaders of the democracy, he takes a more direct approach to this in his Hipparchicus (On the Cavalry Commander) and his Poroi (Ways and Means), addressing them in his own voice and advising them on how they can succeed in speciﬁc leadership roles in Athens. In Hipparchicus, Xenophon sketches out how a cavalry commander (hipparch) can best carry out his service to the city, and in his Poroi, he sets forth for his elite readers, as actual or potential advisors of the Athenian people (dēmos), far-ranging reforms to pursue so as to transform the city’s ﬁnancial situation. Xenophon emerges in these two works as a promoter, like his Socrates, of engaged, capable, and responsible leadership on the part of the city’s elite, and simultaneously as an expert who is able to provide detailed advice to the Athenian elite on how to excel in particular spheres of civic leadership. In both Hipparchicus and Poroi, Xenophon suggests that while elite leaders must work within existing democratic institutions to achieve their ends, they should strive to improve these where needed. In the Hipparchicus, Xenophon’s model cavalry commander is careful to carry out his duties in accordance with current rules and regulations, but this does not stop him from seeking to modify these to improve the city’s cavalry. In the Poroi, Xenophon provides his elite readers with a program of reforms to pursue through the Assembly so as to dramatically increase the city’s ﬁnancial resources and improve the situation for Athenians within their city and in their relations with other Greek states. Although these reforms will modify the democracy’s existing arrangements, including the role of the wealthy as
The Poroi can be securely dated to / (see Bloch ) and is commonly assumed to be Xenophon’s latest work; the Hipparchicus is more diﬃcult to date, but may have been written in the s (Dillery : ) or perhaps in the early s (Delebecque : –). On Xenophon’s emulation of Socrates as political advisor in these works, see Gray : .
Hipparchicus: How to Succeed as a Democratic Military Leader civic benefactors, Xenophon suggests that they are warranted by the beneﬁts they will bring to all citizens. In each work, Xenophon suggests that good citizenship on the part of the elite entails not simply embracing democratic institutions but working to make them better. This chapter considers ﬁrst Xenophon’s advice in the Hipparchicus concerning how a cavalry commander can best carry out his duties, with particular attention to the strategies that he recommends a hipparch employ to deal with the social and political challenges that he faces as an elite leader in a democratic setting. It then examines Xenophon’s advice in the Poroi to his elite readers, as current or potential advisors of the Athenian people, concerning how to improve the city’s ﬁnances, and argues that Xenophon not only furnishes his readers with an agenda to pursue but also models for them how a democratic orator (rhētōr) could make a compelling case to persuade the Athenian Assembly to approve this.
Hipparchicus: How to Succeed as a Democratic Military Leader Although scholars have often culled Xenophon’s Hipparchicus for information concerning the Athenian cavalry and its working, they have devoted relatively little attention to it in its own right or in relation to Xenophon’s broader corpus. This may be due to its specialized nature and the fact that, as Christopher Tuplin (: ) observes, its “[t]reatment of topics is inexhaustive, unsystematic and inclined to repetition.” If the Hipparchicus lacks polish, however, it deserves close attention as an intriguing case study in elite leadership within the Athenian democracy that explores with some subtlety and nuance the social and political challenges facing a hipparch in Athens and oﬀers possible solutions to these. To understand the place of the Hipparchicus within Xenophon’s corpus, it is important to appreciate ﬁrst its close connection with some of his other works. Most obviously, it forms a pair with On Horsemanship (Peri Hippikēs), which outlines how to purchase, care for, and train horses for use in the city’s cavalry. At the end of On Horsemanship, Xenophon
See Bugh ; Spence ; Worley ; Pritchard . Although scholars discussing Xenophon’s interest in ideal leadership across his corpus cite the Hipparchicus (see Gray b: – and Buxton : –), they have not sought out in detail its Athenian implications. On this pair of works, see Althoﬀ and Blaineau . Xenophon’s writings on the cavalry reﬂect his own extensive personal experience as a cavalryman (Eq. .; cf. Eq. Mag. .); he likely served in the Athenian cavalry as a young man and perhaps was a cavalryman under the Thirty: see the Introduction.
Xenophon in the Hipparchicus and Poroi
alludes to his Hipparchicus as an earlier work, and distinguishes between the two technical treatises by characterizing Hipparchicus as a work intended for the cavalry commander, and On Horsemanship as one for the common cavalryman (idiotēs) (.). Nonetheless, there is overlap between the two works; for example, both emphasize the importance of the appearance of the cavalry and the impact this has on those who view it (Eq. ; Eq. Mag. ). The Hipparchicus also overlaps with the Memorabilia, which, as we have seen, devotes a chapter to the question of how a hipparch may best carry out his role as leader (.). Socrates, in his conversation with a young man who has been elected to the oﬃce of hipparch, exposes how little his interlocutor knows about how to carry out this oﬃce so as to improve the horses and their riders and oﬀers him some tips on how to train the cavalrymen, win their willing obedience, and inspire them to pursue honor zealously. The Hipparchicus embraces the general principles that Socrates sets forth brieﬂy in the Memorabilia concerning the oﬃce of hipparch but looks more closely at the political and social milieu in which a hipparch operates and elaborates on how he can succeed in this context. If Xenophon’s Hipparchicus ﬂeshes out some of the principles advanced in the Memorabilia, it does so in a distinctive generic format as a manual or handbook that seeks to instruct its reader on a particular area of expertise. Like Xenophon’s On Horsemanship and On Hunting (Cynegeticus), the Hipparchicus presents itself as a “how-to guide” for readers who seek to improve their ability to succeed in a particular area of activity. Whereas the Memorabilia educates its readers in large part by bringing before them a series of conversations between Socrates and his elite interlocutors, the Hipparchicus takes the form of a sort of direct conversation between Xenophon and his elite readers – albeit a one-sided one – in which Xenophon speaks in the ﬁrst-person singular and addresses his readers in
For idiotēs in this specialized sense, see Eq. Mag. .; cf. An. .. and Oec. ., where it is used of private soldiers as opposed to their generals. Xenophon thus is not addressing private persons or amateurs in general in On Horsemanship, as Tuplin (: ; cf. Delebecque : ) suggests, but rather individuals who will serve as common cavalrymen (., ., ., ., ., and .). On the parallels between Mem. . and the Hipparchicus, see Dorion and Bandini a: – and Blaineau : . Gray (: ) observes that in his Hipparchicus, “[Xenophon] plays the role of Socrates, who is also found in Memorabilia advising those recently elected to cavalry command (.)”; cf. Dorion and Bandini a: . I see Xenophon’s advice as acutely attuned to the political and social milieu in which an Athenian hipparch operates, and not as “‘aspirational,’ even utopian” (Dillery : –). On the Hipparchicus as manual or handbook, see Dillery : –.
Hipparchicus: How to Succeed as a Democratic Military Leader the second-person singular. Consistent with this, although Xenophon references the written nature of his work (., ., ., .), he also characterizes his communication with his reader in terms equally appropriate to oral discourse. Although the Hipparchicus seeks to instruct its readers and advise them on how to succeed as hipparchs, Xenophon acknowledges that his treatise has certain limitations. For example, he observes that his treatment of the subject is necessarily abbreviated and that he provides notes (hupomnēmata) to his readers rather than an exhaustive analysis (.). And at one point, he allows that it can be diﬃcult to get men to take to heart advice that they know to be good (.; cf. Oec. .–). Most importantly, however, he insists that there are certain things that lie beyond human control, so a hipparch should always seek the goodwill and guidance of the gods. The treatise begins by emphasizing the importance of the goodwill of the gods (.) and ends, after oﬀering extensive advice, with the exhortation that the reader should ultimately seek out the advice of the gods (.–; cf. Vect. .–). Notwithstanding these caveats and pious deference to the gods, Xenophon exudes conﬁdence as he oﬀers his elite readers detailed advice concerning not only the basic duties of a hipparch but also the strategies that he should adopt to carry these out most successfully. Xenophon’s ideal hipparch is a self-conscious political actor who behaves with subtlety and sometimes subterfuge in his relations with the diﬀerent parties with whom he must engage, from individuals to the Athenian Council and the public at large. His intelligent execution of his duties entails, moreover, not only working within the current democratic rules and regulations that govern the cavalry but also striving to modify these where they can be improved. In discussing the role of the hipparch, Xenophon takes for granted that his elite Athenian reader is already familiar with the democratic institutions governing the cavalry. Athenians elected two hipparchs at large to lead the cavalry and one oﬃcer known as a phylarch from each of the ten tribes to lead the tribal regiments of the cavalry; each hipparch was in charge of ﬁve tribal regiments and their respective phylarchs ([Arist.] Ath. Pol. .–).
Cf. Dorion and Bandini a: . Tuplin (: ) suggests that this use of persons in the Hipparchicus creates a certain distance between Xenophon and his reader; by contrast, Xenophon often uses the ﬁrst-person plural in the Poroi (–). Note Xenophon’s use of legō and phēmi, for example, at ., ., ., ., ., .–, ., and .. On this framing of the work, see Flower : , , and Dillery : –.
Xenophon in the Hipparchicus and Poroi
Some , wealthy Athenians were conscripted to serve in the cavalry, but the city provided them with a loan (katastasis) for the purchase of horses and a stipend for feeding them, and reimbursed them for the assessed value of a horse lost or injured in battle. The Council was in charge of overseeing the cavalry, and carried out reviews (dokimasiai) of its members and their mounts ([Arist.] Ath. Pol. .–). Although Xenophon alludes to some of these practices in the Hipparchicus (., .–, ., .), his focus is on how a hipparch who has already been elected to oﬃce can most eﬀectively carry out his duties. Xenophon’s ideal hipparch seeks to lead successfully so as to serve and beneﬁt the city and, in so doing, to beneﬁt simultaneously himself and his friends. At the opening of the Hipparchicus, Xenophon speaks of these overlapping objectives: The ﬁrst duty is to sacriﬁce to the gods and ask them to grant you the thoughts, words and deeds likely to render your command most pleasing to the gods and to bring yourself, your friends, and your city the fullest measure of aﬀection and glory and advantage. (.)
If a hipparch is in a prominent position to help the city and at the same time himself and his friends, those with whom he collaborates – both common cavalrymen and phylarchs – likewise seek both to serve the city and to win personal glory (., .–). As Xenophon surveys the diverse tasks that a hipparch must carry out in recruiting and training the cavalry and leading it on campaign, he emphasizes throughout how the hipparch’s relationships with a range of parties will determine his success as a cavalry commander and oﬀers advice therefore on how to nurture, control, and sometimes manipulate these relationships. Let us consider how Xenophon recommends that a hipparch manage his relationships with recruits for the cavalry, with cavalrymen of diﬀerent ranks, and with the Council and the public at large. A noteworthy feature of Xenophon’s advice is his sensitivity to the fact that the hipparch, who is himself a member of the city’s elite, must deal eﬀectively with other members of the elite who make up the cavalry (cf. Eq. .). This is especially evident in Xenophon’s discussion of how a hipparch should actively recruit those who are suﬃciently wealthy and physically able to serve so as to keep the numbers of the cavalry at the level required by law since otherwise “the number will constantly dwindle, for
See Bugh : –, –; Spence : ; Worley : –; Pritchard . For the compatibility of public service and the pursuit of self-interest in Xenophon, see Chapter , note .
Hipparchicus: How to Succeed as a Democratic Military Leader some men are bound to retire through old age and others to drop oﬀ for various reasons” (.). The challenge for the hipparch is how to recruit successfully in the face of resistance from individuals who may be concerned about the expense of cavalry service and its demands on their time, and the manifest risks of active duty; as Xenophon observes, some men are so averse to service in the cavalry that they are willing to pay not to serve (.). As a solution to this problem, Xenophon proposes that the hipparch act strategically to induce men to serve: As for the cavalrymen, you must obviously raise them as required by the law, from those who are most qualiﬁed by wealth and bodily strength, either by taking them to court or by persuading them. The men who should be brought to court, I think, are those who otherwise might be suspected of having bribed you not to take them to court. For men who are less able to serve will at once have a ground for escaping, if you fail to compel ﬁrst the most highly qualiﬁed to serve. I think, too, that by dwelling on the brilliance of horsemanship, you might make some of the young men desire to serve in the cavalry, and that you might overcome the opposition of their guardians by pointing out that they will be compelled on account of their wealth to maintain a horse in the cavalry by someone else, if not by you; whereas, if their boys join up during your command, you will put an end to their extravagance and madness in buying horses, and ensure that they soon become expert horsemen. And you must try to suit your actions to your words. (.–)
In the two recruiting situations envisioned here, the hipparch makes good use of both compulsion and persuasion. In the ﬁrst scenario that he considers, Xenophon proposes that as a general rule it is expedient for the hipparch to approach those who are most wealthy and capable of serving and, if they cannot be persuaded to join the cavalry, to bring them to court to compel them to serve. This
As Bugh (: –) observes, it does not appear that the system of elected enrollers (katalogeis) described in [Arist.] Ath. Pol. . was in place when Xenophon wrote this. On the grounds for exemption from cavalry service, see ibid. , –. Xenophon seems to be referring in . to attempts to bribe the hipparchs as they recruit cavalrymen (cf. .; Delebecque : ). Although .– may indicate that Athens was experiencing diﬃculties in recruiting a suﬃcient number of cavalrymen at the time that Xenophon wrote Hipparchicus (thus Bugh : and Spence : –), evasion of cavalry service was probably common in all periods to judge from the better attested phenomenon of evasion of hoplite service (see Christ : –). It is not clear to what legal action a hipparch would have recourse in this context. An individual who evaded hoplite service could be charged with astrateia for failure to go on a campaign, but this was only after the campaign was concluded (see Christ : –); Xenophon seems to envision a legal procedure by which a hipparch could compel an individual to join the cavalry in advance of any campaign.
Xenophon in the Hipparchicus and Poroi
has two advantages: this dispels any suspicion that the hipparch has been bribed to pass over such a person – which could expose the hipparch himself to prosecution – and makes it easier to persuade less wealthy or physically able men to serve since they cannot object that more qualiﬁed recruits have been passed over. Notably, Xenophon’s hipparch is not only adept at using the democratic courts to force men of his class to serve but also shrewdly knows how to exploit the spectacle of a public trial of a very wealthy recruit to induce less wealthy men to acquiesce and serve in the cavalry without requiring similar compulsion; elsewhere too, as we shall see, Xenophon’s hipparch gains his ends by staging compelling spectacles. The second scenario that Xenophon envisions involves recruiting young men through appeals that are adapted to persuade both them and their guardians. To win over the young men, the hipparch should seek to rouse them up to serve by emphasizing the “brilliance” of cavalry service. And to overcome the resistance of their guardians, the hipparch should remind them that the young men can be compelled to serve if necessary and that the household will beneﬁt from the enrollment of the young man in the cavalry since it will be spared his extravagant expenditures on horses and he will gain skills as a rider. As a member of the elite himself, the hipparch is familiar with how expensive it is to keep horses and knows that young men may consume substantial family assets on this, and can use this knowledge to persuade his wealthy peers to allow their sons and wards to join the cavalry. Although Xenophon is clearly attuned to the experience and psychology of elite Athenians in oﬀering this advice on how to recruit members of the elite for the cavalry, his recommendation of a mixture of persuasion and compulsion in recruitment is consistent with Athenian democratic practice in connection with the conscription of hoplites. The city charged its generals with recruiting hoplites, and expected them to ﬁll the ranks through a combination of persuasion and compulsion. This balance was in keeping with the high premium the democracy placed on persuading
Wealthy Athenians were highly attuned to each other’s level of wealth and ability to carry out public service, as is evident from their use of the antidosis procedure to transfer their obligations to carry out liturgies to individuals whom they believed were wealthier than themselves (see Christ and : –, –). Xenophon’s hipparch is also ready to wield the democratic Council against the cavalrymen serving under him so as to ensure that they serve well (., discussed below in the text). On spectacle in Xenophon, see Baragwanath : –. On horse-keeping as an expensive pastime, see Spence : –, with ancient citations.
Hipparchicus: How to Succeed as a Democratic Military Leader rather than forcing its citizens to embrace service to the city and with the practical need of being able to compel reluctant hoplites if necessary. Xenophon appears to embrace this democratic model in his advice on how conscription should be carried out for members of the cavalry: only when persuasion fails should the hipparch have recourse to compulsion. To lead the cavalry eﬀectively, the hipparch must also carefully cultivate and control his relationship with his subordinates, both oﬃcers and average cavalrymen. Although he holds a position of authority over the phylarchs under his command (.–) and, in keeping with this, should stand out from them in public displays by the cavalry (.), his success depends on their collaboration and assistance as coworkers (sunergoi) (.; cf. .). The hipparch, therefore, should do his best to induce them to share his eagerness for the success of the cavalry (.) and to pursue honor by leading their regiments well (.). Persuasion is central to winning their full support, for example, in arming those under them: the hipparch must seek to persuade the phylarchs that “from the point of view of the state the brilliance of the regiment is a far more glorious ornament to them than the brightness of their own accoutrements only” (.). Nonetheless, compulsion plays a role in the relation of hipparch to his phylarchs (.), just as it does in the relation of phylarch to the cavalrymen under him (.). Xenophon is more expansive in treating how the hipparch can best foster his relationship with the cavalrymen at large. Many of the same basic principles that ought to guide the hipparch in his relationship with his phylarchs should inform his relationship with the cavalrymen at large. Thus, for example, the hipparch should regard the cavalrymen, like the phylarchs, as his “coworkers” (.) and treat them accordingly (cf. .); and, as with the phylarchs, persuasion is an important tool in winning their willing obedience (., .; cf. X. Mem. ..–). In speaking of the hipparch’s relationship with the cavalrymen, however, Xenophon also stresses how important it is for the hipparch to project an image as leader that will win the respect, loyalty, and willing obedience of his subordinates:
See Christ : –, –. Xenophon is surprisingly silent concerning a hipparch’s relationship with his fellow hipparch and the need for collaboration and cooperation between the two hipparchs to lead the cavalry successfully (cf. Tuplin : ). On the importance of leaders treating those under them as sunergoi, see also Oec. .–; An. ..–; Cyr. ... On the prominence of philotimia in the Hipparchicus, see Keim .
Xenophon in the Hipparchicus and Poroi However, no craftsman can mold anything such as he wishes unless the stuﬀ in which he proposes to work lies ready to obey his will. No more can you make anything of men, unless, with the god’s help, they are ready to regard their leader with friendly feelings and to think him more knowledgeable than themselves in conducting operations against the enemy. Now the men will feel goodwill toward their leader when he is considerate toward them, and manifestly takes care that they have food, and that they are safe in retreat and well protected when at rest. When they are on garrison he must show that he is concerned about fodder for the horses, tents, water, ﬁrewood, and all other supplies, and that he thinks ahead and keeps his eyes open for the sake of his men. And when the leader obtains good things, it is advantageous for him to share these with his men. To put it brieﬂy, a leader is least likely to incur the contempt of his men if he shows himself more capable than they of doing whatever he requires of them. He must therefore practice every detail of horsemanship – mounting and the rest – so that they can see their leader on horseback is able to clear a ditch, pass over a wall, leap down from a bank, and throw a javelin competently. All these things improve his chances of avoiding their contempt. If they recognize that he is also a master of tactics and able to deploy them so that they can get the better of the enemy; and if besides, they are certain that he will never lead them against an enemy recklessly or without the gods’ approval or in deﬁance of the sacriﬁces, all this helps to make the men more ready to obey their leader. (.–)
Xenophon suggests that if the hipparch is a craftsman seeking to mold the cavalrymen to obey his will (.), to achieve this he must self-consciously mold himself and project an image of his concern for his subordinates and of his own competence as cavalryman and hipparch. Once again Xenophon emphasizes that the hipparch must control appearances so as to achieve his objectives (cf. .–). A successful hipparch, according to Xenophon, must carefully manage his relationship not only with his subordinates in the cavalry but also with the city’s Council, which oversees the cavalry. Thus, for example, Xenophon shrewdly advises: “You should in my view have suitable speakers (rhētores) in the Council, so that their speeches may instill fear in the cavalrymen – they will do better under the inﬂuence of fear – and may also appease the Council, in case it shows anger at an inopportune time” (.). Strikingly, Xenophon proposes that a hipparch should be sure to have skilled speakers in the Council whose speeches will not only help induce
Cf. Buxton : : “Ironically, therefore, in order to make his men pliable material for his own goals, the commander must convince them that he is the one who is working hardest and smartest for their interests.”
Hipparchicus: How to Succeed as a Democratic Military Leader the cavalrymen under him to behave properly but also prevent the Council from acting out of anger toward the cavalry or its leadership. The fact that Xenophon’s hipparch is to use an agent in the Council to evoke fear among the cavalry suggests that his need to control the cavalry justiﬁes a degree of manipulation of them. Xenophon’s advice that the hipparch can use these same agents to appease the Council when this is needed reﬂects an awareness that the hipparch plays a political role and must be adept at achieving his ends through the city’s governing institutions. If the hipparch can sway the Council through the speeches of his agent, he can also shape its perceptions of the cavalry and those of the public at large through his careful design and presentation of the processions and review exercises in which the cavalry participates: “He must make the processions (pompai) during the festivals worth seeing; further, he must conduct all the other obligatory displays before the people with as much splendor as possible, that is to say, the reviews in the Academy, in the Lyceum, at Phalerum, and in the Hippodrome” (.). Xenophon sets out (.–) how the hipparch can please “gods and men alike” (., ) in a religious procession, by having the cavalry ﬁrst make a circuit of the Agora that pays homage to the gods at their shrines and statues, and then display their martial skills – by galloping at top speed to the Eleusinium with spears straight forward so that these “look fearsome, stand out distinctly and at the same time convey the impression of numbers,” and then returning at a slow pace to where they started (.). He proceeds to delineate how in formal reviews before the public and the Council in the Lyceum, Hippodrome, and Academy, the hipparch should conspicuously display the cavalry’s skill and splendor. Thus, for example, Xenophon describes how the hipparch should arrange a sham ﬁght (anthippasia) in the Hippodrome that involves the entire cavalry divided into two groups: Imagine the spectacle: how formidable they will look when they charge toward each other; how imposing when, after sweeping across the Hippodrome, they stand facing one another again; how splendid, when the trumpet sounds and they charge once more at a quicker pace! (.)
In the Anabasis, Xenophon portrays himself as general shrewdly using an agent to win over the soldiers in assembly (.., ..). Kavoulaki () discusses the important role of processions within the Athenian democracy; she rightly emphasizes their signiﬁcance as “viewing occasions” and “spectacles” (). Although many scholars assume that Xenophon is describing current practices (Bugh : ; Spence : ; Worley : –), he characterizes as innovative his recommendations for cavalry processions (.) and reviews (.); Dillery (: ) suggests that the innovation lies in “their imitation of real combat.”
Xenophon in the Hipparchicus and Poroi
Although the hipparch in these various cavalry reviews seeks to impress all the spectators (cf. .), he is conscious that the “eyes of the Council” (.) in particular will be on the exercises since it oversees and inspects the cavalry. As planner and executor of these cavalry reviews, Xenophon’s hipparch emerges as a showman of sorts who seeks to entertain the public at large and the Council, while simultaneously meeting the review standards of the latter. To succeed, he must know how to manipulate appearances and create illusions, showing oﬀ the cavalry’s brilliance by simulating battleﬁeld charges and ﬁghting within the safe conﬁnes of the city. For the review in the Hippodrome, Xenophon proposes a heightening of dramatic eﬀect: the cavalry should enter and “drive out the people standing there” (.), thereby making some members of the public unwitting players in these war games. Elsewhere, Xenophon depicts leaders in other constitutional settings making eﬀective use of spectacle to impress and manipulate audiences; Xenophon’s Cyrus the Great, for example, is a master of using spectacle to convey his power and authority to his subjects (Cyr. ..–). Spectacle, Xenophon suggests, also has its place within a democratic society as an instrument through which a hipparch can sway the public and achieve his ends as a leader. Just as the cavalry’s exercises at home prepare it for the battleﬁeld, so too the hipparch’s mastery of showmanship and spectacle at home serves him on campaign, where the manipulation of appearances, taken a step beyond its use at home, is critical to winning victory over enemy forces. As Xenophon observes, “there is really nothing more proﬁtable in war than deception” (.), and “on thinking over the successes gained in war you will ﬁnd that most of them, and these the greatest, have been won with the aid of deception” (.). Although deception in war can take many forms, it entails fundamentally tricking the enemy through the creation of illusions. Thus, for example, it may prove expedient for a cavalry
These mass exercises are part of the formal dokimasiai of the cavalry for which the Council is responsible: see Kroll : – and Bugh : –; cf. Rhodes : –. Cf. An. ..–. On Cyr. ..– and Cyrus’ use of a ceremonial military procession to legitimize his rule, see Dillery : –. Xenophon’s Agesilaus also makes eﬀective use of spectacle: see HG ..– = Ages. .–, with ibid. –. Cf. Due : and Azoulay b: . Cf. Socrates’ endorsement of a general’s use of trickery in war (Mem. ..–). On the moral distinction that Xenophon draws between deceiving enemies and friends, see Cyr. ..–, with Hesk : –.
Hipparchicus: How to Succeed as a Democratic Military Leader commander to make his force look larger or smaller than it actually is so as to gain an advantage over the enemy (., .–). The hipparch’s experience in shaping the public’s perceptions of the size and grandeur of the cavalry force at home (., .–) thus turns out to bear directly on his success in leading it against hostile forces. This survey suggests that Xenophon envisions his hipparch as an astute political actor who works within democratic rules and parameters to improve the cavalry. The hipparch carries out his duties from recruitment to the conduct of cavalry reviews before the Council in a way that shows he is mindful of what the city expects and its laws require. Xenophon, however, makes it clear that the hipparch has considerable discretion, working within these parameters, to implement intelligent and canny practices that will make the cavalry better than it might otherwise be. He encourages the hipparch to be an innovator, who seeks to improve current practices, and asserts that in earlier times this is precisely what the city’s hipparchs did (.). Interestingly, Xenophon suggests that an ideal hipparch will seek to improve the cavalry not only by exercising his discretion thoughtfully within the framework of current regulations but also by working to reform these. That the hipparch should not simply accept current arrangements as ﬁxed is evident, for example, when Xenophon suggests that the Council should raise the standard for the horses inspected through examinations known as dokimasiai: As for the existing cavalrymen, I think that the Council should give notice that in future double the amount of riding exercise will be required, and that any horse unable to keep up will be rejected. This would force the men to feed their horses better and take more care of them. I think it would be good also if notice were given that vicious horses will be rejected. For this threat would encourage the men to break in such horses more thoroughly and to be more careful in buying them. Again, it would be well to give notice that horses found kicking at exercise will be rejected. For it is impossible even to keep such animals in line; in a charge against an enemy they are bound to lag behind, and consequently because of the bad behavior of his horse, the man himself becomes useless. (.–)
While Xenophon in his role as expert advisor proposes these as desirable reforms to inspection standards, the potential hipparch whom his treatise addresses stands in a position to implement these, either by addressing the Council in his own person or through one of the spokesmen that Xenophon recommends a hipparch should have in the Council (.).
Xenophon in the Hipparchicus and Poroi
So too, when Xenophon advances a more ambitious reform of the cavalry that will alter its composition, his model hipparch is the presumed agent who will be in a position to work for its passage through the Assembly: I am convinced that the full complement of a thousand cavalry would be raised much more quickly and easily for the citizens, if they established a force of two hundred foreign mercenary cavalry. For I think that the presence of these men would improve the discipline of the whole force and promote rivalry between the Athenians and non-Athenians in the display of manly virtue. I know that the fame of the Lacedaemonian cavalry dates from when they introduced foreign cavalry; and in the other states everywhere I notice that the foreign units enjoy a high reputation since need helps to produce great eagerness in them. To defray the cost of their horses, I believe that money would be forthcoming from those who strongly object to serve in the cavalry – since even men actually enrolled are willing to pay in order to get out of the service – from rich men who are physically unﬁt, and also, I think, from orphans who possess large estates. I believe also that some of the resident aliens would be proud to be enrolled in the cavalry. For I notice that whenever the citizens give them a share in any other honorable duty, some willingly do the part assigned to them and take pride in this. (.–)
Although Xenophon is vague concerning how the hipparch should bring about this reform, his recommendation that “they,” that is, the Athenian people, establish a foreign cavalry force suggests that the hipparch will need to win the assent of the dēmos in Assembly since they could implement this reform by a decree. Because of his intimate familiarity with the challenges of recruiting (.–), the hipparch would be a natural and persuasive advocate of such a reform. Since both of these recommendations for reform appear in a treatise oﬀering advice to potential hipparchs, it is reasonable to infer that Xenophon means for his ideal hipparch to pursue these measures – and
On the issues with the text here, see Delebecque : . Cf. how Agesilaus on his campaign in Asia Minor requires wealthy men from allied Greek cities either to serve in his cavalry themselves or to provide a substitute with a horse and arms to serve in his place – and they eagerly pursue the latter option (Ages. .–; HG ..). Xenophon seems to envision the hipparch persuading the physically unﬁt and orphans, who were exempt from cavalry service (Bugh : –), to contribute money voluntarily toward the cavalry. When Xenophon proposes cavalry reform in the Poroi (.), he goes on to state explicitly that this and other measures could be implemented by decrees of the Assembly (.). Xenophon also pictures the hipparch “teaching” the city about the importance of attaching infantry to a cavalry force (.; cf. .–), presumably by addressing the Athenian Assembly.
Hipparchicus: How to Succeed as a Democratic Military Leader presumably others as well – as an extension of his responsibility to make the city’s cavalry as strong as possible. At the same time, however, Xenophon does not lay out precisely how a hipparch should go about achieving these reforms, and appears more interested in outlining the sorts of reforms that a conscientious hipparch should pursue. Likewise, in his Poroi, as we shall see, Xenophon is much more interested in the reform agenda that he urges his readers, as potential civic leaders, to pursue than in laying out exactly how to work through democratic institutions to win the approval of the Athenian people so as to put it into action. In both cases, he assumes that his elite readers are familiar with the democratic channels through which reforms must go in order to be implemented, and therefore focuses on the substance of the reforms themselves. If the Hipparchicus, as I have argued, oﬀers Xenophon’s elite reader a case study in how to succeed as a leader within the Athenian democracy, it also sets forth a vision of the obligation of the Athenian elite more generally to adapt their lifestyle and subordinate it to the service of the city. Although some members of the Athenian elite may be happy to pursue horsemanship as an end in itself as a part of an elite lifestyle, Xenophon makes it clear that wealthy Athenians have a responsibility to deploy their horsemanship, ﬁrst and foremost, in supporting the city’s cavalry (.). Similarly, Xenophon’s On Horsemanship prioritizes the training of horses for service in the cavalry over all other equestrian activities, and portrays horsemanship not as something to be practiced just for pleasure and as a marker of elite status but because it serves the city. Consistent with this privileging of equestrian activity in service of the state over the pursuit of it simply as an aristocratic pastime is Xenophon’s insistence that the hipparch encourage his cavalrymen to improve their equestrian skills for war by practicing these on their own time: To ensure that the men have a ﬁrm seat, whatever the nature of the ground, it is perhaps too much trouble to have them out frequently when there is no war going on; but you should call the men together, and advise them to practice turning oﬀ the roads and galloping over all sorts of ground when they are riding to the country or any other place. For this does nearly as much good as taking them out, and it is less tedious. It is useful to remind them also that the state endures an expenditure of nearly forty talents a year
So too in Xenophon’s treatise On Hunting (Cynegeticus), the ultimate justiﬁcation for the pursuit of hunting is not that it is integral to an aristocratic lifestyle but that it produces the sort of men who can serve the city and lead it well (–; cf. Eq. .).
Xenophon in the Hipparchicus and Poroi on the cavalry so that it may not have to look about for cavalry in the event of war, but may have it ready for immediate use. Bearing this in mind, the men are likely to take more pains with their horsemanship, so that when war breaks out they may not have to ﬁght untrained for the state, for glory, and for life. (.–)
Xenophon pointedly observes that the city spends a great deal of money supporting the cavalry, and it is therefore incumbent on cavalrymen to work hard, even on their own, so as to be prepared to serve the city; in so doing, they will meet the city’s expectation that its expenditures advance the common good, and simultaneously they will beneﬁt personally since zealous practice will help them win glory and ensure their own survival in battle. In Xenophon’s Oeconomicus, Ischomachus embraces a similar vision of the proper place of horsemanship in the lives of the elite: in the course of his daily activities running his estate, he makes sure to practice the skills of horsemanship that will make him an eﬀective cavalryman for the city (.–). So important is the cultivation of horsemanship in service of the state that Xenophon instructs his hipparch to remind his cavalrymen that this must take precedence over other aristocratic pursuits like exercise in the gymnasium in preparation for athletic competition: In case anyone feels that his troubles will be endless if his duty requires him to practise horsemanship in this way, let him reﬂect that men in training for athletic contests face troubles far more numerous and exacting than the most zealous practitioners of horsemanship. For most athletic exercises are carried out with toil and sweat, but nearly all equestrian exercises are pleasant work. No action of man bears a closer resemblance to ﬂying, and that is something people long to be able to do. And it is far more glorious to win a victory in war than in a boxing match. Although in either case the state gains in glory from the victory, in the case of a military victory the gods generally also crown states with prosperity. For my part, therefore, I do not know why anything should be practiced more than the art of war. (.–)
Not only is equestrian exercise more pleasant than athletic exercise in the gymnasium, but it also serves a more important end since victory in war is not only glorious but essential to the well-being of the city. In the ongoing discussion among Greek writers of the place of athleticism within the city, Xenophon comes down on the side of those who ﬁnd other pursuits more
Xenophon’s ﬁgure of forty talents appears to be based on what the city paid out each year as the sitos allowance for feeding cavalry horses (see Bugh : –).
Poroi: How to Succeed as a Democratic Rhētōr
critical to the success of a state, and counsels his elite readers to act accordingly. Although the Hipparchicus focuses on a single sphere of elite leadership in the city and oﬀers advice speciﬁc to this, it also provides a possible template for successful and dynamic elite leadership in a democratic setting. Success, it suggests, entails managing adeptly and cannily relationships with a range of actors, individual and group, and navigating thoughtfully social and political challenges. An eﬀective democratic leader works creatively within the parameters of existing democratic laws and institutions to achieve his ends, but also considers how he or his agents can modify and improve existing arrangements. Xenophon’s Poroi, though concerned with a diﬀerent form of civic leadership, likewise calls for engaged and conscientious service to the city and for thoughtful eﬀorts to make the democracy function more eﬀectively and successfully.
Poroi: How to Succeed as a Democratic Rhētōr Xenophon’s Poroi (/), a “pamphlet” that was written in the aftermath of, and in reaction to, Athens’ disastrous Social War (–), seeks to obviate the need for Athenians to reap proﬁt through aggression abroad by proposing reforms that will provide all Athenian citizens with a daily payment of a three-obol maintenance (trophē) from the city. Although scholars have discussed many aspects of Xenophon’s ambitious, if sometimes implausible, program of reforms, they have not fully appreciated how this aims to transform not only the city but the role of the elite and their wealth within it. Xenophon suggests that if the city enjoys peace with its neighbors, elite Athenians can deploy their wealth to promote the city’s ﬁnancial well-being at home rather than its military ventures abroad, and thereby beneﬁt themselves and the city. Once we appreciate this facet of the Poroi, we can better understand this work and its relation to Xenophon’s eﬀorts elsewhere to reshape the elite and their relation with the city. It is useful to begin by placing the Poroi in the context of Xenophon’s other writings and those of his contemporaries. Most conspicuously, the
For criticism by Greek writers of the place of athleticism within the polis, see Golden : –, –; cf. Pritchard : –. Farrell (: –) makes a strong case against Dillery () that Xenophon does not repudiate Athenian imperialism per se in the Poroi, only the uglier manifestations of this; cf. Dorion and Bandini a: –. On the Poroi as a “pamphlet,” see Dillery : –. The following monetary equivalences will help the general reader make sense of this section: obols = drachma; drachmae = mina; minae = talent.
Xenophon in the Hipparchicus and Poroi
Poroi bears a close relation to Xenophon’s Oeconomicus. In setting forth a program by which Athens can increase its revenues and reap the manifold beneﬁts of this, the Poroi takes the principles of active proﬁt-seeking and entrepreneurship that Xenophon endorses for individual households (oikoi) in the Oeconomicus and applies them on the level of the polis. This should come as no great surprise since Xenophon envisions the oikos as a miniature polis (Oec. .), and the polis as an aggregation of a multitude of households (Mem. ..); what produces successful results in one sphere should, in Xenophon’s view, do the same in the other one. Xenophon’s Poroi, however, diverges substantially from the Oeconomicus in advancing a program that is meant to transform the city and improve the life of its citizens dramatically. There is, in fact, a utopian dimension to Xenophon’s vision of an Athens at peace and ﬂourishing culturally as well as economically (., .), which may be inspired in part by the contemporary discussion of how an ideal society and state should be constructed. Signiﬁcantly, however, Xenophon remains largely grounded in the real world in his Poroi as he proposes speciﬁc measures that the city of Athens could, if it chose, seek to carry out. Indeed, the Poroi resembles to some extent a deliberative speech presented before the Athenian Assembly, with Xenophon, as orator (rhētōr), advising the city on a course of action that it should pursue. Aristotle observes in his Rhetoric (b) that “the most important subjects about which all men deliberate and deliberative orators expound, are ﬁve in number: ways and means (poroi), war and peace, the defense of the country, imports and exports, legislation.” Xenophon’s Poroi focuses on the ﬁrst of these and devotes some attention as well to the other four. In oﬀering advice on these topics, moreover, Xenophon displays the sort of knowledge and expertise that Socrates encourages Glaucon to obtain before addressing the Assembly as rhētōr (Mem. ..–). Thus, Vivienne
Although the date of the Oeconomicus is uncertain, it presumably antedates the late Poroi. Both works emphasize the importance of “increasing” income, the Oeconomicus for the oikos (see Chapter , note ), the Poroi for the city (., ., .); on the overlap, see Dillery : and Lewis : . This discussion takes place across diﬀerent genres, including Aristophanes’ Ecclesiazousae and Plutus, Plato’s Republic, Isocrates’ Areopagiticus, and Xenophon’s own Cyropaedia. Oliver (: –) argues that the Poroi is very much a part of contemporary Athenian discourse concerning the economy. Thus Schorn : , with n. , which collects the earlier scholarship; cf. Tuplin : . Cf. Demosthenes : On the Symmories (/), a deliberative speech delivered before the Assembly that proposes ﬁnancial reforms in connection with Athens’ navy.
Poroi: How to Succeed as a Democratic Rhētōr
Gray (a: ; cf. ) suggests that “In Poroi, Xenophon adopts the role that Socrates assigned to those who ‘do politics’ in the democracy.” Notwithstanding these evocations of deliberative discourse, the Poroi does not pretend to be a speech before the Athenian Assembly. Like other Xenophontic works, the Poroi addresses an elite Athenian reading audience and advises on matters of signiﬁcance to it and the city at large. In particular, it seeks to persuade elite Athenians to embrace reforms of the city’s ﬁnances in which they have a signiﬁcant vested interest and to work for the implementation of these as members of a class on whom the city especially depends for political leadership. The opening of the Poroi explicitly takes up the issue of good leadership in suggesting that the city’s leaders need to rethink Athens’ reliance on aggression abroad to provide for the needs of the Athenian masses: For my part I have always held that polities (tas politeias) reﬂect the character of their leaders. Some of the leading men at Athens, however, have stated that they recognize justice as clearly as other men, but because of the poverty of the masses (tou plethous) they are forced to be somewhat unjust in the treatment of the allied cities. This set me thinking whether by any means the citizens might sustain themselves from their own resources, which would be the most just way. I felt that, were this so, they would be relieved of their poverty, and also of the suspicion with which they are regarded by other Greeks. (.)
Xenophon appears to be addressing here his elite readers, who stand in a unique position as actual or potential leaders of the Athenian dēmos to set the city on the right course by proposing decrees in the Assembly to implement the reforms that he goes on to propose (cf. .), and he therefore attempts to win them over to his point of view. In this case, Xenophon is not so much assuming the role of democratic rhētōr in the Poroi as much as he is advising those who may serve in this capacity and providing them with not only a program of reforms to pursue in the Assembly but also the arguments that may help win its passage. In advising his elite Athenian readership, Xenophon conﬁdently and enthusiastically sets forth a program that seeks to raise revenues to provide support and sustenance for every citizen without aggression abroad. He recommends measures, for example, to draw more metics to Athens since
Contrast the ﬁction that Isocrates maintains throughout his Areopagiticus that he is addressing the Athenian Assembly; on his “pseudo-symbouleutic rhetoric,” see Ober : with n. . Gray (: ) suggests that in the Poroi Xenophon emulates the Memorabilia’s Socrates who advises “those who wish to improve the resources of the Athenians (.).”
Xenophon in the Hipparchicus and Poroi
this will increase the state’s revenues from the tax on metics (metoikion) (.–) and to make Athens more attractive to foreign traders (emporoi) and shipowners since this will enrich the state through the taxes and rents they will pay (.–; cf. .). Xenophon proposes, moreover, that the city should impose a one-time tax on its wealthy citizens to create a capital fund (.–) that will be used to invest in enterprises that will generate a substantial return for the city including lodging houses for shipowners and visitors (.–), ships that can be leased out to traders (.), and, most importantly (and least plausibly), a huge pool of slaves – eventually there will be three for every citizen – who will bring the city large revenues when they are leased out to entrepreneurs who work the city’s silver mines (.–). Although Xenophon’s program to improve the city’s ﬁnances is bold and innovative, it is socially and politically conservative. Thus, for example, when Xenophon proposes modifying the city’s arrangements for metics, he aims to improve the ﬁnancial situation of the city and its citizens rather than to alter fundamentally the status of metics in relation to citizens. So too, when he proposes that the city purchase a large pool of slaves, his intent is to expand the exploitation of this sub-citizen class for the proﬁt of citizens rather than to modify their status within the city. Xenophon, moreover, does not seek to alter the fundamental socioeconomic divide between rich and poor Athenians by providing every citizen with a daily payment of three obols; while this will be a signiﬁcant sum for poorer citizens, it does not close the gap in wealth between them and the city’s elite. If Xenophon’s reform program maintains existing social distinctions and divisions, it also leaves intact the city’s current political structures and works within these to achieve its goals. Xenophon’s proposed three-obol trophē does not, as some have thought, essentially replace the pay (misthos) that Athenians received, for example, for serving as jurors in the popular
Xenophon’s scheme to create a huge pool of slaves to exploit the mines would take decades to realize: see Gauthier : ; cf. Figueira : – n. . On the conservative nature of Xenophon’s arrangements for metics, see Whitehead : – and Schorn : –; pace Jansen : –. Although Xenophon observes that if slaves are well treated they can be used to defend the city in war (., with Hunt : –), he takes for granted that they are possessions of the city who will be branded as public slaves (.). As Kroeker observes (: ), Xenophon does not challenge “the democratic assumption that the poverty of the masses is a problem that needs a solution.” Gauthier (: , , , : n. ) and Schu¨trumpf (: –) emphasize how advantageous the reforms of the Poroi are to the wealthy.
Poroi: How to Succeed as a Democratic Rhētōr
courts or attending the Assembly and thus reduce the incentive for poorer Athenians to serve in these capacities and participate in democratic institutions. He presents this trophē as an independent supplement that all Athenians will receive regardless of whether they serve on juries and attend the Assembly; those serving in these capacities can presumably receive pay for their participation in these democratic institutions and still collect the trophē as well. Xenophon likewise works within democratic parameters in modifying but not eliminating the ﬁnancial role that wealthy Athenians play in supporting the city. The Athenian democracy required wealthy citizens to support the city by subsidizing and carrying out expensive liturgies, including the trierarchy and chorēgia; the former entailed taking on the costs of one of the city’s triremes for a year and supervising its crew, the latter paying for and training a chorus to compete in one of the city’s festivals. In addition, the city required wealthier citizens to pay the eisphora, a tax that was levied as needed to support Athens’ military campaigns. Although wealthy Athenians sometimes embraced these obligations out of patriotism and in pursuit of the honor and more concrete advantages that service to the city might yield, they also regularly complained that they were burdensome and sought to evade them. In his Poroi, Xenophon embraces the basic democratic principle that elite Athenians should deploy their wealth in service of the city, but proposes adapting the form of the eisphora in the peacetime Athens that he envisions: the wealthy will pay a one-time eisphora so the city can create a fund to make investments and produce revenues that will help make it possible to pay a trophē to each citizen. Xenophon argues that the Athenian elite will pay willingly into the capital fund that he seeks to establish since this will beneﬁt them personally in a way that their payment of the wartime eisphora does not: Nevertheless, I venture to hope that the citizens would contribute (eispherein) eagerly toward such objects, when I recall the large sums contributed by
Pace Schu¨trumpf : – and Azoulay c: –. For the trophē as a supplement, see Andreades : n. ; cf. Schu¨trumpf : –; Tuplin : . Gauthier (: –; cf. : –) proposes that at least initially the trophē may make possible payment of the misthos for those serving on juries and attending Assembly meetings, but Xenophon treats it throughout the Poroi as a direct payment from the city to all Athenians that is not contingent on performing any public service. It is important to recognize that the trophē is small enough at three obols that it does not eliminate the incentive for average Athenians to seek out wages through public service or to engage in other forms of work to make money (cf. .). On Athens’ system of liturgies and the eisphora and resistance from the elite to this, see Christ : –.
Xenophon in the Hipparchicus and Poroi the citizenry when Lysistratus was in command and troops were sent to aid the Arcadians, and again in the time of Hegesileos. I am also aware that large expenditure is frequently incurred to send warships abroad, though no one can tell whether the expedition will succeed or fail, and the only thing certain is that the contributors will never see their money back in whole or even in part. But no investment can yield them so ﬁne a return as the money that they advance (protelesōsin) to form the capital fund (aphormēn). For every contributor of ten minae, receiving three obols a day, gets nearly twenty per cent – as much as the return on ﬁnancing a merchant ship’s voyage; and every contributor of ﬁve minae gets more than a third of his capital back. But most of the Athenians will get over a hundred per cent back in a year, for those who advance one mina will draw an income of nearly two minae, provided by the city, which is to all appearances the most secure and enduring of human institutions. (.–)
Whereas payers of the current wartime eisphora get no personal return whatsoever from their contributions – a fact that likely did not escape the notice of the elite payers of this tax (cf. Thuc. ..) – Xenophon promises that those who pay his peacetime eisphora will receive a handsome and risk-free “return” on their “investment.” How exactly does Xenophon view this as an attractive arrangement for elite citizens, which they will willingly embrace? Although Xenophon portrays his peacetime eisphora as an investment that will yield substantial returns, it remains a tax on the wealthy rather than a loan whose principal will be returned to them. Like the wartime eisphora, the proposed peacetime eisphora will be mandatory and the level of payment required of wealthy citizens will be determined by how wealthy they are. Where his peacetime eisphora diverges from the city’s wartime eisphora is that each payer of it, like every other citizen, will receive the trophē of three obols a day that the common capital fund will eventually produce. This will not only reduce the eﬀective cost of the tax but also lead to a net gain over time even for those paying at the ten-minae level, who will recoup what they have paid in about ﬁve years. To be sure, a wealthy Athenian might object to the fact that poorer Athenians get oﬀ scot-free under Xenophon’s arrangements since they receive the three obols per day without having to contribute to the capital fund. But less well-oﬀ Athenians do not
Gauthier (: –) argues persuasively that Xenophon is proposing a mandatory tax and not a voluntary donation (epidosis) or a loan to the city. On the variable levels at which wealthy men paid the wartime eisphora in Athens after /, see Christ : – and . When Xenophon speaks of most Athenians paying one mina in eisphora and getting nearly twice this back from the trophē in a single year (.), he may seem to be suggesting that all Athenians will pay at least a mina in eisphora, but it is hard to see how poorer Athenians could come up with such a
Poroi: How to Succeed as a Democratic Rhētōr
contribute to the wartime eisphora either, and Xenophon’s peacetime eisphora will not only prove less onerous to its elite payers but even produce a net gain for them over time. A further appeal of the peacetime eisphora to elite Athenians is that Xenophon envisions levying it only once to raise the capital needed to start up his proposed projects. After these are underway, they will produce suﬃcient revenues to allow their expansion over time without further outlays from the city’s wealthiest citizens. Thus, for example, Xenophon envisions purchasing , slaves from the capital fund, leasing them out for work in the silver mines, and using part of the substantial revenue derived from them each year to purchase more slaves until the pool reaches its desired size (.–). Once the wealthy pay the one-time peacetime eisphora, therefore, they will be free of future levies of this sort. Xenophon is so eager to win his elite audience over to his proposal, moreover, that he suggests there could be some delay in the levying of the peacetime eisphora so as to allow its payers to rebuild their fortunes, which have been depleted by the recent impositions of the wartime eisphora (.). There are signiﬁcant additional inducements for the wealthy to accept this peacetime eisphora. If Xenophon’s program of reforms helps keep Athens at peace with its neighbors, as he insists it will, this will signiﬁcantly reduce their wartime expenditures for the city (.), not only their payment of the eisphora but also their outlays as trierarchs since the city should need a smaller navy in time of peace and therefore fewer wealthy men to help cover its costs. Wealthy citizens, moreover, stand to gain substantially from the city’s creation of a pool of slaves that will be let out to individuals working the silver mines since wealthy Athenians were especially active in this sphere. A more subtle inducement for some of Xenophon’s elite Athenian readers to embrace his program of reforms is that he proposes the Athenian
sum (cf. Waterﬁeld and Cartledge : – n. ), and his elite readers would presumably be aware of this. Xenophon likely means, therefore, that most Athenians who pay the eisphora will pay at the one-mina level and not that all Athenians will pay at this level; if Xenophon envisioned all Athenians paying a peacetime eisphora, this would constitute a signiﬁcant departure from the wartime eisphora, which was paid only by wealthier Athenians, and call for some explanation and justiﬁcation. During this hiatus, Xenophon envisions the state investing its increased revenues from his other reforms in his scheme for the mines (.). Instead of spending large sums on trierarchies, wealthy Athenians under Xenophon’s new arrangements could lease ships from the city’s new ﬂeet of public merchant vessels (.) and proﬁt from this; on the substantial involvement of wealthy Athenians in leasing public and private property, see Osborne : –, –. On the activity of wealthy Athenians in the silver mines, see Shipton : .
Xenophon in the Hipparchicus and Poroi
democracy, while maintaining its basic institutions, behave in an entrepreneurial manner with which they would be familiar and comfortable. Indeed, Xenophon invokes the entrepreneurial success of wealthy Athenians who have leased out slaves in the silver mines as a model for the city to emulate: To make myself clearer on the subject of the maintenance (trophēs), I will now explain how the mines may be worked with the greatest advantage to the state. Not that I expect to surprise you by what I am going to say, as if I had solved a diﬃcult problem. For some things that I will mention are still to be seen by anyone at the present day, and as for conditions in the past, we have all heard that they were similar. But what may be surprising is that the city, being aware that many private individuals are making money from its mines, does not imitate (mimeisthai) them. Those of us who have paid attention to these things have surely known for a long time by report that Nicias, son of Niceratus, once owned a thousand men in the mines, and let them out to Sosias the Thracian, on condition that Sosias pay him an obol a day per man net, with any losses in the workforce to be made up by Sosias. Hipponicus, again, had six hundred slaves let out on the same terms, which brought in a mina a day net. Philemonides had three hundred, and received half a mina. There were others too, each capable of realizing his own level of proﬁt. But why dwell on the past? Even today there are many men in the mines let out in this way. If my proposals were adopted, the only innovation would be that just as private individuals have built up a permanent source of income by becoming slave owners, so the state would acquire public slaves, until there were three for every citizen. (.–)
Xenophon insists that there is nothing surprising or radical in what he proposes and that the city need merely imitate wealthy Athenians who have proﬁted handsomely from letting out slaves for use in the silver mines. Xenophon proposes not only that the city emulate individuals who have proﬁted from leasing out slaves to those working the mines, but also that the city’s ten tribes follow the example of entrepreneurs who collaborate in the working of the mines. Xenophon suggests that the Athenian tribes, like private individuals, might share risks in the exploration and exploitation of the silver mines: I think that I can oﬀer some advice (sumbouleusai) that will make the opening of new cuttings a perfectly safe undertaking. The Athenians, of course, are divided into ten tribes. Now if the city were to oﬀer each tribe
Xenophon posits that there is a precedent for the city acting strategically in this way since it already proﬁts from leasing out state property to individuals (.–; cf. .).
Poroi: How to Succeed as a Democratic Rhētōr
an equal number of slaves, and the tribes were to pool their luck when new cuttings were made, the result would be that if one tribe found silver, this would be proﬁtable to all; and if two, three, four, or half the tribes found silver, the proﬁts from these works would obviously be even greater. Nothing that has happened in the past makes it probable that all would fail to ﬁnd silver. Of course, private individuals can also combine in this way and pool their luck in order to diminish the risk. (.–)
Xenophon thus extends the role of the tribes, which played an integral social and political part in the Athenian democracy, to economic activities that will beneﬁt the city and its citizens. Xenophon is conscious that some of his elite readers may have concerns about the city becoming so involved in entrepreneurial activities since this might impinge on the proﬁtable activities in which they participate, and seeks to reassure them that they need have no fears in this regard. Thus, immediately after proposing that the tribes should become directly involved in the exploitation of the silver mines, Xenophon declares: Do not fear, however, that a public operation formed on this plan will harm the interests of private persons, or private persons harm the public enterprise. No, just as every contingent that joins an alliance strengthens and is strengthened by all the others, so the more persons operating in the mines, the more of value they will discover and extract. (.)
One may infer from Xenophon’s remarkable conﬁdence in the unlimited capacity of the silver mines (.) that wealthy men could also continue to let out slaves proﬁtably for working the mines, as they have in the past (.–), even when the city has established a huge pool of slaves for this same purpose. If Xenophon goes out of his way to make his reforms appeal to his elite audience, who will need to advocate for their passage, by pointing to the beneﬁts that they will reap and reassuring them that any current mining enterprises in which they may be involved will not suﬀer, his proposals seek to beneﬁt all Athenians, not just elite citizens. All citizens will beneﬁt from the city’s new peaceful relations with other Greek states and will enjoy receiving a daily trophē of three obols from the city. As Xenophon concludes the Poroi, he provides a pithy summary of the universal beneﬁts of his program of reforms:
On the role of the tribes within the democracy, see Hansen : –.
Xenophon in the Hipparchicus and Poroi Well now, surely, if none of these proposals is impossible or even diﬃcult to put into practice; if by doing so we shall be regarded with more aﬀection by the Greeks, shall live in greater security, and gain a more glorious reputation; if the dēmos will enjoy an ample maintenance (trophēs) and the rich will be set free from the expenses of war; if with a large surplus in hand we will celebrate our festivals with even more splendor than at present, will restore the temples, and repair the walls and docks, and will give back to priests, members of the Council, magistrates, and cavalrymen what is theirs by tradition (ta patria); how is it not right to proceed with this program as quickly as possible, so that already in our time we may come to see our city secure and prosperous? (.)
In keeping with his claims throughout the Poroi, Xenophon asserts that his reforms will improve the city’s relations with other Greeks and beneﬁt both poor and rich within the city. In addition, he points here to further beneﬁts that will accrue when the city’s ﬁnancial situation improves dramatically: it will have the resources to renovate its temples, walls, and docks and to “give back to priests, members of the Council, magistrates, and cavalrymen what is theirs by tradition (ta patria).” This last claim is a somewhat puzzling one, and how we read it has important implications for understanding what Xenophon hopes to achieve through his reforms. Although it is possible to construe Xenophon’s assertion that his program will restore ta patria to the named groups of persons as an indication that it is ultimately a reactionary one that seeks to undermine the democracy, this interpretation is not justiﬁed. To be sure, critics of the Athenian democracy sometimes justify their conservative political agendas by presenting them as a return to a putative ancestral constitution (patrios politeia) in which members of the elite dominated. But there is no evidence elsewhere in the Poroi that Xenophon is advancing a reactionary program – his program respects democratic institutions and is designed to be instituted through them and to support them – and the Poroi begins and ends by emphasizing the beneﬁts the proposed reforms will bring to all Athenians and the city at large. Against this backdrop, when Xenophon speaks of returning ta patria to priests, members of the Council, magistrates, and cavalrymen, he is most likely referring not to bestowing on them political privileges but to restoring ﬁnancial support to them – presumably because this had fallen oﬀ recently during the diﬃcult years of the Social War (cf. .–).
Cf. Gauthier : , .
See Isocrates’ Areopagiticus, with Ober : –.
Poroi: How to Succeed as a Democratic Rhētōr
In the Poroi, Xenophon appears as a reformer who seeks within democratic parameters to improve his native city and, in particular, to guide his elite readers on how they can best serve their city and ensure its success. His message to them is twofold. First, they have a responsibility to provide good leadership that will simultaneously improve the city’s relations with its neighbors and address the legitimate needs of Athenian citizens for a reliable source of subsistence, and they can best fulﬁll this role by working to implement the program of reforms that Xenophon sets forth. Second, they have an obligation as wealthy individuals to support the city ﬁnancially, which includes paying the wartime eisphora; but if they willingly pay on a one-time basis an eisphora to create a capital fund that will greatly improve the city’s ﬁnancial resources over time, the city will enjoy more peaceful relations with other states and wealthy citizens will be called on much less frequently to support the city’s military ventures. Thus, Xenophon makes it clear that if the city’s elite provide good leadership along the lines he proposes, the city will prosper and so will its citizens, rich and poor. When Xenophon presents himself as an expert advisor to his elite readers in his Hipparchicus and Poroi, he carries out a role that his Socrates sometimes plays as instructor of the elite in Xenophon’s Socratic works. Although Socrates typically speaks to his elite interlocutors broadly of how important it is that they seek out an education that will make them worthy to lead the democratic city and sketches out for them the diﬀerent facets of such an education, on occasion he advises them in detail on how best to carry out distinct leadership roles (Mem. ., ., .). And when Socrates reaches the limits of his own knowledge, he refers his associates to knowledgeable men who can educate them. Xenophon emerges in his Hipparchicus and Poroi as just such a knowledgeable man who can help produce competent leaders in speciﬁc spheres through his written advice. Although Xenophon does not explicitly vaunt his own expertise in cavalry matters in the Hipparchicus or civic ﬁnance in the Poroi, he establishes his credibility as an instructor in these areas through his conﬁdent display of his knowledge. In each work, he shows that he is intimately familiar with the multiple dimensions of his topic and can provide useful commentary on these. Indeed, his extensive knowledge enables him to instruct not only on how to succeed within existing parameters, but also on how to work to modify these in ways that will
See Mem. .. and .., with Dorion and Bandini b: and : , respectively; cf. : ccvi–ccix and a: –.
Xenophon in the Hipparchicus and Poroi
serve the city. Xenophon conveys an optimism in each work, moreover, that if his readers follow his advice, they will be able to succeed as leaders of the city. Xenophon’s mode of instruction, however, varies in each work. As we have seen, in the Hipparchicus Xenophon directly addresses and instructs his reader on how best to carry out the oﬃce of hipparch, whereas in the Poroi he is somewhat more oblique in his educational approach. He identiﬁes at the start of this work a major problem – the city’s need to support its populace through war with other states – and then proposes in detail ﬁnancial reforms that will enrich the city and eliminate the cause of its aggression abroad. As he sets forth these reforms and the arguments in support of them, he models for his elite readers how a democratic rhētōr might go about winning passage of these reforms in the Athenian Assembly; all that is needed for them to become a reality is for one of his readers to step forward as advocate of them before the Athenian people and thereby provide the leadership needed to win their passage (cf. .). If Xenophon, as author, shows himself in the Poroi to be knowledgeable concerning how to carry out the vital role of democratic rhētōr, in his Anabasis, as we shall see, Xenophon goes so far as to cast himself conspicuously in this role in presenting himself as a leader of a Greek mercenary force. In so doing, he vividly illustrates for his Athenian readers how a member of the elite can lead a mass of men by deftly exercising the power of persuasion.
Xenophon the Democratic Orator The Politics of Mass and Elite in the Anabasis
Xenophon’s deep interest in the role of elite Athenians under the democracy is not limited to his Athenian works that we have surveyed in earlier chapters but manifests itself subtly, but substantially, elsewhere in his corpus, most notably in his Anabasis. This chapter argues that the Anabasis, a work that on the surface has little to do with Athens as it recounts the march of the Ten Thousand with Cyrus into the Persian Empire (–), provides a sort of mirror to Athens as Xenophon depicts the need for, and challenges of, elite leadership in the quasi-democratic setting of the Cyrean army. The Anabasis, in setting forth how an adept member of the Athenian elite – Xenophon himself – succeeds as a leader of the Cyreans, not only conﬁrms in action the principles that Xenophon and his Socrates endorse elsewhere for eﬀective elite leadership within the Athenian democracy but also elaborates on how important it is for an elite leader of the masses to be an able and persuasive speaker. It does so by portraying Xenophon not just as a gifted general, as we might expect in a narrative concerning a military expedition, but as a skilled democratic orator (rhētōr) who wins over the Cyrean masses through his verbal virtuosity. In recent years, scholars have focused increasing attention on Xenophon’s Anabasis, whose long popularity as a school text seems to have contributed to its neglect in scholarly discourse. The Anabasis is emerging in current scholarship as an intriguing work that is generically innovative and narratologically complex as an autobiography of sorts written in the
Xenophon’s Socrates makes it clear in his advice to a cavalry commander that eﬀective speech is essential to military leadership (Mem. ..–; cf. Eq. Mag. ., .), but the Anabasis goes well beyond this in illustrating its central importance to military command in a wide range of contexts (cf. Tuplin : ). Marincola (: ) rightly observes: “The role of rhetoric in Xenophon’s vision of leadership is paramount.” Thus Flower : .
Xenophon the Democratic Orator
third person. Although scholars have investigated many literary and historical facets of the Anabasis, they have not fully appreciated its Athenian resonances and how Xenophon’s depiction of himself as a successful leader of the Cyreans complements his reﬂections elsewhere on elite leadership within the Athenian democracy. In advancing this interpretation, I do not mean to suggest that Xenophon consciously wrote the Anabasis as a coded reﬂection on the Athenian democracy, but rather that the Anabasis explores elite roles in a quasi-democratic setting in a way that reﬂects Xenophon’s strong interest in elite political behavior within the Athenian democracy and that oﬀers his elite Athenian readers an optimistic vision of the eﬃcacy of elite leadership of the masses. This chapter ﬁrst proposes that we should be attuned to the Athenian resonances of the Anabasis not least because it conspicuously makes Xenophon the Athenian its protagonist, and then considers how Xenophon’s success as leader of the Cyreans reﬂects his ability to adapt Athenian-style elite leadership of the masses to his new context. It will argue that Xenophon presents the social and political behavior of the Cyrean force and his own role as a leader of it in terms that evoke democratic Athens. Especially noteworthy is the way that Xenophon portrays himself as a successful democratic orator, who is equally adept at persuading mass audiences in deliberative and forensic contexts. Finally, this chapter turns to the implications of this reading for our assessment of the Anabasis as a historical account and our understanding of Xenophon’s perspective on elite leadership of the masses.
The Anabasis as an Athenian Story The explicitly Athenian orientation of much of Xenophon’s corpus makes it natural for us to seek out the possible Athenian resonances of the Anabasis, and the Anabasis itself encourages this by placing Xenophon the Athenian at the center of its narrative and making him its protagonist. Xenophon’s Athenian origins crop up repeatedly and conspicuously in the
On its generic innovation, see Bradley and Flower : –. On its narratological complexity and, in particular, the entanglement of the narrator and the character Xenophon, see Grethlein ; cf. Bradley ; Ferrario : –; Flower : , –. At several points the third-person narrative is interrupted when the narrator breaks into the text in the ﬁrst person: see .., .., .., .., .., .. (cf. ..); Bradley : –; Grethlein : ; cf. Gray : –. It is controversial as to whether Xenophon hoped to conceal his authorship of the Anabasis as HG .. might suggest; Tuplin (: ) ﬁnds this plausible, but Flower (: –) is skeptical. References to “Xenophon” in this chapter may be to Xenophon as author or as character within the
The Anabasis as an Athenian Story
course of the Anabasis. Most obviously, when the narrator ﬁrst introduces Xenophon, consistent with his regular identiﬁcation of characters by their city of origin on ﬁrst mention, he identiﬁes him as “Xenophon the Athenian” (..) and identiﬁes him by his origins several more times in the opening books (.., .., ..) until Xenophon comes to dominate the text to such an extent that identiﬁcation of him by city is no longer necessary. Although Xenophon and the other seven named Athenians in the Anabasis give Athens but a small numerical presence in the Cyrean ranks, the fact that one of these named Athenians, Xenophon, is mentioned times in the course of the work puts this Athenian ultimately at the heart of the narrative. The narrator goes far beyond this, however, in bringing Athens before his reader. For example, at the pivotal moment when the Cyreans ﬁnd themselves stranded in the center of the Persian Empire after the treacherous capture of their generals and Xenophon is about to step forward to lead the Greeks, the narrator abruptly interrupts the chronological ﬂow of his narrative to transport his reader to Athens so as to explain how Xenophon came to join the expedition (..–). This extensive ﬂashback describes Xenophon’s consultation with “Socrates the Athenian,” who expresses misgivings about his proposed journey on the grounds that his friendship with Cyrus might be “a cause for accusation from the city” since Cyrus had assisted the Lacedaemonians in the war with Athens (..); and it goes on to describe how Xenophon, on Socrates’ advice, leaves Athens to consult Apollo at Delphi concerning the journey; returns home again, where he reports to Socrates the results of his inept consultation; and then sails forth from Athens to join the Cyreans. Later in the
Anabasis; where it is not clear from the context which of these is meant, I will specify “Xenophon the author” or “Xenophon the character.” I follow the reading of most manuscripts of “Theopompus, the Athenian” at .., though some read Xenophon here (cf. Grethlein : n. ). For a list of the sixty-six participants “whose name and nationality are given in the Anabasis,” see Roy (: –), who observes that “four (nationalities) stand out as more numerous than the rest, namely Athenians, Spartans, Arcadians and Achaeans,” but “no Athenian common soldier is mentioned at all” (). Flower (: ) counts mentions of Xenophon, but a search of the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae yields . This passage ﬁgures prominently in the debate concerning the cause of Xenophon’s exile (see Introduction, note ). Even if Xenophon’s service with Cyrus was the cause or a cause of his exile, I agree with Flower (: –) that the Anabasis should not be read simply or primarily as an apologia for his participation in the march of the Ten Thousand under Cyrus. On this ﬂashback, see Bradley : –; Flower : –; and Grethlein : –. At its conclusion, the narrator returns to the present time frame and the plight of the Cyreans, but soon takes us to Athens again as he recounts Xenophon’s dream that his father’s house is struck by lightning (..–).
Xenophon the Democratic Orator
Anabasis, the narrator twice refers explicitly to Xenophon’s eventual exile from Athens. He does so ﬁrst within his excursus on Xenophon’s later life at Scillus near Olympia, which begins “when Xenophon was in exile” (..); and Xenophon’s future separation from Athens crops up again when the narrator observes, in connection with Xenophon’s plans to return home, that “not yet had the vote been put forward in Athens concerning his exile” (..). Although these allusions to Xenophon’s eventual exile from Athens are terse, the narrator gives them prominence by breaking into the narrative’s chronological ﬂow to oﬀer a glimpse of a troubled future. The narrator repeatedly ﬂags the signiﬁcance of Athens for Xenophon in other ways as well. Thus, for example, he speaks at one point of how Xenophon, who as general had been entrusted by the Cyreans with a portion of their booty for dedications, “had a votive oﬀering made out of Apollo’s share of his portion and dedicated it in the treasury of the Athenians at Delphi” (..). Furthermore, as Xenophon weighs whether to accept sole command of the army, the fact that “his name should be greater when it should arrive in his city” (..) is a potential enticement. And just as Ithaca exerts a persistent draw on Homer’s Odysseus, Athens does so on Xenophon, whom the narrator describes repeatedly as on the verge of sailing oﬀ to return home, and Xenophon’s own words conﬁrm this. Consistent with this emphasis on Athens as central to Xenophon’s identity and as a present absence for him throughout his journey is the way Xenophon shows that he is conscious of his Athenian origins in a wide range of circumstances. For example, when he deliberates over what he should do after Tissaphernes’ seizure of the generals and asks himself, “From what state am I expecting the general to come and organize these things?” (..), his homeland’s capacity for producing great leaders
On the textual variants for epeidē d’ epheugen and their possible signiﬁcance in the debate concerning the date of Xenophon’s exile, see Tuplin : – and Green : and n. . On the Scillus excursus, see Bradley : –; Flower : –; Grethlein : ; on its modern reception, see Rood . Cf. .. and .., which may allude to Xenophon’s eventual exile. Although the narrator simply refers to Xenophon’s eﬀorts to “sail away” at .., .., .., and .., Xenophon makes it clear in his own words at .. and .. that he had been seeking to sail “homeward”; the narrator then explicitly refers to Xenophon’s preparations to go “homeward” at .. (see Bradley : ). For reservations concerning Bradley’s thesis (–) that the Anabasis is a nostos narrative, see Flower : –, . On Homeric allusions and resonances in the Anabasis, including explicit references to the Odyssey at .. and .., see Tuplin .
The Anabasis as an Athenian Story
seems to weigh on him. Soon after this when he has been named as a general and addresses the troops, Xenophon gives pride of place to Athens’ defeat of the Persians at Marathon as he seeks to inspire the troops to ﬁght bravely against their Persian foes (..–). Later, when Xenophon is oﬀered the sole command of the troops, he decides that this should go instead to a Spartan since the Spartans defeated Athens in the Peloponnesian War and currently hold hegemony over the Greeks (..–); and in the ﬁnal book Xenophon warns the Cyreans not to defy the Spartans, because their power is immense and their allies include the Athenians whom they defeated (..–). If Xenophon’s Athenian origins and identity are never far from his mind, they also do not escape the notice of those around him. In a playful exchange, Xenophon suggests that the Lacedaemonian Cheirisophus should have the skills to “steal” a position on a nearby mountain since Lacedaemonian boys are trained to steal without being caught (..–; cf. Lac. Pol. .); Cheirisophus turns the barb back against Xenophon, pointing out that Athenians – and particularly their leaders – are adept at stealing from public funds (..). Less playful is the complaint of the Arcadians and Achaeans under Callimachus the Parrhasian and Lycon the Achaean before splitting oﬀ from the Cyrean force that “it was shameful for an Athenian to be in command of Peloponnesians and Lacedaimonians though he contributed no troops to the army” (..). Xenophon’s Athenian identity, however, works in his favor in his initial exchange with Seuthes, the Thracian prince, who said that “he would not distrust anyone who was an Athenian; for he knew, he said, that the Athenians were his kinsmen and he believed they were loyal friends” (..; cf. ..–, ). Although Xenophon’s relationship with Seuthes, which is portrayed at length in the ensuing
Thus Mather and Hewitt : and Lendle : . Cf. Mem. .., where Socrates, in conversation with the younger Pericles, asserts that Athenians are the “most ambitious” (philotimotatoi) of all men. Xenophon does not explicitly name Athens here, but rather speaks of “his fatherland” (..) and then “the city” (.., ..). Xenophon also speaks of Spartan supremacy at .., echoing the narrator’s comments at .., as Grethlein (: ) observes. Earlier in the Anabasis, Cheirisophus also highlights Xenophon’s Athenian origins when he responds to Xenophon’s address to the surviving generals and captains: “Before this, Xenophon, I have known you only to the extent of having heard that you were an Athenian” (..). Although this is an odd claim since Cheirisophus is sole commander of the mercenaries at this point, Flower (: ) makes a good case against emending the text, arguing that this is “yet another narrative strategy by which center stage is given to Xenophon as the major protagonist in this drama.”
Xenophon the Democratic Orator
narrative, proves to be a troubled one, it is signiﬁcant that it is framed as one between an Athenian and his Thracian “kinsman.” In placing Xenophon the Athenian at the center of his narrative and calling attention in a variety of ways to his Athenian origins and identity, Xenophon the author makes the Anabasis an Athenian story in a very literal sense, as a story about an Athenian. Xenophon’s elite Athenian readers would not have missed this and were likely drawn to the Anabasis by the fact that it related the adventures and successes abroad of one of their own. In particular, they may have found appealing its portrayal of Xenophon’s success in leading a Panhellenic force since this conﬁrmed their ideal vision of Athenians as versatile and capable individuals and natural leaders of other Greeks. The Anabasis, however, is also an Athenian story on a more subtle level, in that its Athenian protagonist ﬁnds himself in an environment that calls for adept elite leadership of the mass of Cyrean soldiers, and succeeds as leader in large part by adapting the role of an Athenian democratic orator to win over the soldiers in deliberative and forensic settings reminiscent of those found in Athens. Xenophon’s portrayal of his success in these terms is signiﬁcant for our understanding of the Anabasis and its relationship to Xenophon’s explicitly Athenian works.
The Anabasis and Democratic Athens The sociopolitical dynamics and institutions of the Cyrean army, as viewed through the Athenian eyes of Xenophon the author, evoke democratic Athens in a variety of ways. Whatever the historical realities of the relations and interactions among the Cyreans may be, Xenophon’s depictions of
Non-Athenian readers of the Anabasis would presumably have read it in ways that reﬂected their own distinctive experiences, but we know little about these readers and their perspectives. Cf. Flower : –. Thucydides’ Pericles praises Athenians in his funeral oration because “as it seems to me, each individual among us could in his own person, with the utmost grace and versatility, prove himself self-suﬃcient in the most varied forms of activity” (..) and goes on to link this to the city’s power in the Greek world; Gorgias’ model epitaphios likewise praises the Athenian war dead for their versatility, including their capacity to succeed in both word and deed (fr. .–). For Athenians as natural leaders of the Greeks, see Thuc. .–; Lys. .; Pl. Mx. d; Hyp. .; Ziolkowski : –. Athens is thus much more present in the Anabasis than scholars have allowed; Tuplin (: ), for example, posits: “The peculiar nature of Anabasis means that Athens is both everywhere (through Xenophon the Athenian) and still hardly present.” For a recent historical analysis of the Cyreans as a military force, see Lee .
The Anabasis and Democratic Athens
these bear an Athenian imprint. This likely reﬂects both how Xenophon, as an Athenian, experienced and processed the march of the Cyreans as it took place and how, as an Athenian, he remembered and recalled it many years later when he apparently wrote his Anabasis. In any event, once we recognize these Athenian resonances in the Anabasis, we can better understand Xenophon’s perspective on the march of the Ten Thousand, and more broadly his vision of ideal elite leadership in circumstances in which political authority lies ultimately with the masses. What facilitates Xenophon’s representation of the sociopolitical dynamics and institutions of the Cyrean army in terms that evoke the Athenian democracy is the broad resemblance between a large army on the move and a Greek polis. While Xenophon does not explicitly describe the Cyrean force as a polis, he makes it clear that it is potentially a city-state since it could decide at any time to end its march and colonize new territory – a possibility that crops up explicitly at several points (..–, ..–, .., .., ..–, ..–; cf. Thuc. ..) – or seize and occupy an existing city, as the Cyreans contemplate in the case of Byzantium (cf. ..). Although scholars debate how far Xenophon means to press the analogy between army and state, for our current purposes what is important is that he views them as suﬃciently similar to portray the communal life of the army in terms that in many respects apply equally well to Athenian civic life.
Scholars have tended to assume that because Athenians constitute only a portion of the Cyrean army that we should not view this group in terms of the Athenian polis (see esp. Dalby : –; cf. Dillery : n. ; Hornblower : ; Lee : ); this may be a useful caveat for scholars seeking historical information about the Cyreans, but it overlooks the fact that Xenophon himself views the Cyreans through an Athenian lens. The Anabasis may have been written in the s: see Cawkwell : – (arguing that it was written between and ), with a review of earlier scholarship; cf. Flower : –. There is not suﬃcient evidence to determine whether Xenophon was writing in response to an account by Sophaenetus; Cawkwell (: –, ) believes this may be the case, but Stylianou (: –) rejects this. Although Xenophon may have kept a diary on the march (see Stylianou : –, esp. n. ; contra Cawkwell : –), it may only have contained notes and Xenophon likely relied primarily on his memory – and, arguably, a good bit of imagination – to reconstruct what he presents in the Anabasis. Hornblower () collects numerous examples of military forces engaging in political behavior in classical and Hellenistic Greece and discusses the circumstances that might be especially conducive to this. Nussbaum () goes too far in viewing the Cyrean army as a polis, as noted by Marinoviç : – and Lee : –. Dalby (: ) suggests that the Cyreans resemble a colonizing expedition more than a polis. Dillery (: –; cf. n. ) argues that the Cyreans are most like a polis in Books and , but more like a “heroic community” in Books and ; for criticism of this position, see Tuplin : .
Xenophon the Democratic Orator
In his portrayal of the Cyreans on their march, Xenophon presents a sort of alternate Athens – albeit one composed of Greeks from many diﬀerent places and soldiers at that – in which the Athenian sociopolitical world and the tensions within it are reﬂected, if not precisely replicated. The Cyrean army is, like democratic Athens, unmistakably composed of mass and elite, and this shapes and problematizes their interactions on the march and especially in camp, where they convene in institutional settings that are reminiscent of the Athenian Assembly and popular courts. The challenge for the elite Cyreans, as also for Athens’ elite citizens, is how to work with the masses to survive and prosper in an often dangerous world. Xenophon, through his depiction of the Cyrean generals and their interactions with their troops, explores what constitutes good leadership in this quasi-democratic environment, and ultimately oﬀers himself up as a paradigm of how to navigate the challenges of this, in large part because of his ability – like successful Athenian rhētores – to deploy speech eﬀectively in deliberative and forensic settings. In what follows, we will ﬁrst consider how Xenophon the author depicts mass and elite interactions among the Cyreans and the institutional settings in which these occur in terms that evoke his native Athens, and then focus on how Xenophon the character adapts the role of Athenian rhētōr to lead the Cyreans in large part by the power of persuasion. Mass and Elite in the Anabasis The Cyrean army consists of an elite cadre of named generals and captains and a largely undiﬀerentiated mass of soldiers. Most conspicuous among the ranks of the elite in the opening two books of the Anabasis are the generals Clearchus, Proxenus, and Meno, whose aristocratic bonds of philia and xenia with Cyrus lead them to join his expedition. In the course of Proxenus’ obituary, the narrator highlights the gap between elite
On mass and elite in Athens, see Ober . Cf. Flower : : “This self-portrait moves beyond apology into the realm of scripting a paradigm of the ideal democratic leader (one who must be both answerable to and in control of the common citizens and soldiers).” Tuplin (: ) is less inclined to view Xenophon as a democratic leader in the Anabasis: “perhaps he is simply inviting us to see him as a good leader.” On Xenophon as a model leader in the Anabasis, see Due : –; Rood : ; Gray b: –; Flower : –. On this basic split, see Azoulay a: ; pace Lee (: ), who posits that “there is little evidence that the Cyreans, whether oﬃcers or soldiers, paid much attention to class distinctions or organized themselves in economic categories.” Xenophon makes this explicit in the case of Clearchus (..–) and Proxenus (..; cf. ..). Although he seems reluctant to speak of Meno, whom he detests (..–; cf. Danzig :
The Anabasis and Democratic Athens
and masses when he asserts that “he was able to command gentlemen (kaloi kagathoi)” but not his soldiers (..; cf. ..). Xenophon stands out among the elite in the remaining ﬁve books after he is elected general, and there are numerous indications of his elite status. His aristocratic philia and xenia with Proxenus and then Cyrus prompts him to accompany the Cyreans (..; cf. ..); his association with Socrates (..–) hints at his elite education; the fact that he brings his own horses on the expedition (.., ..; cf. Eq. .) and a resplendent dress uniform (..) points to his wealth; and, if the rigors of a military campaign hinder the pursuit of elite pastimes, the excursus on Scillus indicates that he will one day enjoy an elite lifestyle, including hunting, there (..–). Emblematic of Xenophon’s elite status and his management of it in the presence of his troops is his readiness to step down, if brieﬂy, from his horse to toil alongside the common soldiers (..–, ..) – a dramatic gesture that is meant to show solidarity with his troops but attests simultaneously to the gap that normally separates him from them. If the Cyrean generals – or, more precisely perhaps, a subset of them – stand out among the elite politically and socially, the generals and captains together constitute an elite group that stands apart from the mass of soldiers. Xenophon makes this very point when he ﬁrst addresses the assembled generals and captains: But perhaps it is really right that you should somewhat excel them. For you are generals, you are taxiarchs and captains. When there was peace, you had the advantage of them both in money and in honor; now, therefore, when there is war, you must think it right that you should be superior to the majority (tou plēthous), and that you should plan for them and toil for them if ever this is necessary. (..–)
–), as a friend of Cyrus, he portrays Cyrus treating him as such (..–; cf. ..). In any event, Meno’s aristocratic background is evident from the sexual slanders leveled against him at .. (cf. Pl. Mx. b); Plato speaks explicitly of his aristocratic status (Mx. b). Xenophon also applies many markers of aristocratic status to Cyrus (see esp. ..–). On Cyrus’ exploitation of elite interpersonal ties, see Azoulay a: –. The narrator draws a similar distinction between the Persian nobility (aristoi) and the barbarian troops at ... For kaloi kagathoi used in this social sense of members of the upper class, see Chapter . Clearchus engages in a similar gesture at ..–; on this and other similarities between Xenophon and Clearchus, see Grethlein : and n. . These egalitarian gestures stand in contrast to how Cyrus, in anger at his barbarian troops when they fail to extricate wagons stuck in mud, orders the Persian nobles with him to get down in the mud to do the task (..). On the Homeric resonances of this passage, see below in the text.
Xenophon the Democratic Orator
Their collective superiority to the common soldiers is likewise at the heart of his subsequent appeal to them to seek out replacements for the recently lost generals and captains: “For without leaders nothing noble or good (oute kalon oute agathon) can be accomplished anywhere, to put it broadly and certainly in warfare” (..). If only some members of the Cyrean elite are in a narrow social sense “gentlemen” (kaloi kagathoi), Xenophon suggests here that all the oﬃcers, as leaders, are capable of manifesting the attributes of real gentlemen through noble and good action. The mass of soldiers outside this elite are deﬁned largely by contrast with it and as a collective rather than as named individuals. Although they are typically designated as “the soldiers” (hoi stratiōtai), when Xenophon addresses his fellow elite oﬃcers in the passage quoted earlier he revealingly refers to them as “the majority” (to plēthos) (..–), a term Xenophon uses elsewhere in his corpus to refer to the Athenian people (dēmos). As a group, they lack the superior virtue and fortitude of their leaders and are prone to the sort of mob behavior that elite Athenian writers, including Xenophon, attribute to the Athenian masses. On the march they are susceptible to the rigors that they face (..–, ..–), in camp they scuﬄe with one another (..–) and are ready to use violence against their leaders (.., .., .., .., ..). When the soldiers are convened as a body to make decisions, they are volatile and vocal (.., .., .., .., ..) and vulnerable to bad advice and manipulation by those addressing them (..–). Because of their weaknesses and defects, on the march and in camp they variously need to be cheered up, instructed, guided, prodded, and rebuked by their superiors – especially Xenophon – for their own good and that of the group. Admittedly, there is something timeless and universal about this interclass dynamic for a Greek audience, and elements of this can be traced back to Homer. Indeed, when Xenophon ﬁrst addresses the assembled
Cf. .., where Xenophon speaks of Cleonymus the Laconian and Basias the Arcadian on their deaths at the hands of the enemy as kaloi kagathoi – this seems to be prompted by their bravery under attack (cf. ..) rather than by their social status. In his Socratic works, as we have seen, Xenophon and his Socrates take a broad view of kalokagathia as nobility in behavior that is not limited to the aristocracy. See HG .. (cf. ..); Mem. ..; Vect. .. In his Cyropaedia, Xenophon also speaks of the Persian masses as to plēthos (.., ..) in an apparent projection of his Athenian experience of class structures; on class structure and behavior in the Cyropaedia, see Azoulay a: –. The Xenophontic material is treated below in the text. Azoulay (a: –) speaks of the mass of Cyreans as “ﬁckle” and an “ungrateful, envious mob”; Rood (b: ) as “unruly, unreasonable, and even bestial.”
The Anabasis and Democratic Athens
generals and captains and exhorts them to set a brave example for their soldiers (..–, quoted above), he echoes Sarpedon’s analysis of the privileges and obligations that separate the warrior elite from those ﬁghting under them (Il. .–). And if Xenophon can equate the Cyrean elite with the aristocratic heroes of the Iliad, the narrator suggests that the Cyrean masses, whose foolhardiness threatens their homecoming, resemble Odysseus’ reckless sailors – at one point, he attributes the moral shortcoming of Odysseus’ men, atasthalia, to some of them (..). Notwithstanding these and other Homeric echoes, Xenophon’s portrayal of the sociopolitical dynamics of mass and elite is ﬁrmly grounded in his contemporary world and evokes the Athenian milieu that was so familiar to him. Although the general class dynamics that Xenophon describes were not unique to contemporary Athens, Xenophon links them closely to Athens in his other writings. Notably, when he portrays the turmoil in Athens in the closing years of the Peloponnesian War in his Hellenica, a similar class dynamic appears when the dēmos in Assembly insists on its power to vote on whether to execute the generals from Arginusae without trials: “the majority (to plēthos) shouted out that it was a terrible thing if someone would not allow the dēmos to do whatever it wished” (..), and then “the mob (ho ochlos) broke out again with shouts” (..) in support of the proposition that those seeking to block this vote should be tried along with the generals. Although Euryptolemus speaks at length against this extralegal process and in defense of the generals (..–), the dēmos ﬁnds them all guilty and puts to death the six who are present (..). According to Xenophon, however, the Athenians soon changed their minds and sought legal action against “those who had deceived the dēmos” (..). In this episode, the Athenian dēmos manifests many of the same tendencies that the mass of Cyreans do: they are vocal, volatile, and all too ready to scapegoat their own leaders. Xenophon’s depiction of the Arginusae generals “on trial” before the people, in fact, ﬁnds significant parallels, as we shall see, with a scene that occurs repeatedly in the Anabasis, in which Xenophon as general ﬁnds himself on trial before the mass of troops.
On the Homeric echo, see Tuplin : –. For similar sentiments, see Cyr. .. and Eq. Mag. .. On this and other Homeric vocabulary in the Anabasis, see Tuplin : – and n. . Azoulay (a: ) notes the general similarity of the Cyrean troops and “the carping dēmos in Athens.” On the Arginusae aﬀair, see Chapter .
Xenophon the Democratic Orator Democratic Institutions in the Anabasis
If the class dynamics of the Cyrean force and those in Athens overlap, even more so do the institutional contexts in which these play out. With considerable frequency, the Cyrean troops convene, like the Athenian Assembly, to deliberate about future courses of action and, like the Athenian popular courts, to hold trials. Although the Cyrean “assembly” and “popular court” lack the formal trappings of their Athenian counterparts and are not formally distinct from one another – the same troops participate in both, and what starts as an assembly meeting may turn into a judicial hearing and then back into an assembly meeting (..–) – the assembled Cyreans carry out discrete deliberative and judicial functions at any one time. This functional distinction is strongly reinforced, as we shall see in the next section, by the fact that Xenophon in his frequent speeches before the Cyreans adopts the deliberative or forensic discourse that the occasion demands, just as speakers before the Athenian Assembly and courts do. When the Cyreans convene to deliberate over what course of action is best for them, they resemble the Athenian Assembly in numerous respects. For example, they cry out their approval or disapproval of speakers and pass resolutions in accordance with “what seems best” to them. In so doing, they, like the Athenian dēmos in Assembly, show that the ultimate authority in decision-making lies with them and that they are in charge (kurioi). Xenophon, in fact, exploits the Cyrean troops’ anxiety about
Ferrario (: ) and Tuplin (: ) in my view underestimate the democratic aﬃnities of these institutions. It is important to remember too that while the Athenian Assembly and popular courts are formally distinct, the Assembly can serve in a judicial capacity (see Hansen : –) and the same individuals could attend the Assembly and serve as jurors (see Ober : –). For the Cyreans’ vocal interjections, see .. and .. (anethorubēsan) and .., .., and .. (anekragon); on audience outcries in the Athenian courts and Assembly, see Bers ; Ober : ; Hansen : –; Tacon . For the Cyreans’ passage of resolutions with the formula edoxe tauta (“these things seemed best”) and variations on this, see .., .., .., .., .., .., .., .., .., .., .., .., .., .., .. (cf. ..); the resolutions passed by a subset of the Cyreans at .. (Clearchus’ troops) and .. (Arcadians and Achaeans) are also described in these terms. For this formula in resolutions of the Athenian Assembly, see Hansen : . While it is true that the use of edoxe tauta in connection with the Cyreans’ resolutions does not necessarily mean that they are working within a truly democratic framework (thus Hornblower : ) and on several occasions the same formula is used to refer to the resolutions of the generals (.., .., .., .., ..) or the generals and the captains (..), the basic equation with Athenian democratic practice seems clear; Xenophon, in fact, speaks of the Athenian resolution for annual sacriﬁces after Marathon in these terms at ... On the Athenian dēmos as kurios in the Assembly and elsewhere, see Ober : –.
The Anabasis and Democratic Athens
preserving their authority – as Athenian speakers also do with their mass audiences – when he reminds them that they must guard jealously against those who would act unilaterally and without the endorsement of the majority since otherwise “you collectively will not be kurioi to declare war on whomever you may wish or to conclude it” (..). The Cyrean army in assembly resembles the Athenian Assembly not only in its authority to declare war but also in its ability to pass laws regulating behavior and to specify the legal procedures to be followed in the event of violations. Thus, at one point, the assembly of soldiers legislates to ensure good discipline in the face of recent breaches of this: Then they all stood up and said that the men who initiated this behavior should pay the penalty, and that in the future no one should be again permitted to initiate lawlessness (anomias); but if any did, they were to be put on trial for their lives; and the generals were to bring all oﬀenders to trial, and trials were likewise to be held in the matter of any other oﬀenses that anyone had committed since the time of Cyrus’ death; and they appointed the captains as jurors. (..)
Here and elsewhere (..; cf. ..), the Cyrean assembly shows a level of legislative sophistication on a par with that of the Athenian Assembly, as it goes beyond the passage of simple decrees on policy matters and establishes laws that are meant to bind their community in the future and legal procedures for enforcing these. At one point, moreover, the Cyrean assembly generates a judicial process for the review of generals that bears a close resemblance to democratic Athenian practice. Soon after the Cyrean assembly passes its law against lawlessness, “It was likewise resolved that the generals should stand trial (dikēn huposchein) for their past conduct” (..). This initiation of a judicial review of all the generals recalls the scrutiny (euthunai) of all outgoing oﬃceholders, including generals, before popular courts in Athens, by which the Athenian dēmos held accountable those in positions of
On the exploitation of such concerns in the Assembly and courts, see Ober : – and Hesk : –. The Athenian Assembly had the sole authority to declare war and make peace: see Hansen : –. After / a new law could be proposed in the Athenian Assembly, but its passage ultimately required the approval of a specially convened popular court of nomothetai: see Hansen : –. Athenian laws typically specify an oﬀense and the procedure for bringing suit against the oﬀender: see Todd : –.
Xenophon the Democratic Orator
responsibility in the city. Although Xenophon is vague about the procedural details of the Cyrean measure, it appears that this scrutiny is carried out before the assembled soldiers acting as a popular court – a function, as we shall see, that they carry out on other occasions as well and in a manner that evokes the Athenian courts.
Xenophon the Democratic Rhētōr The connection between the Cyrean assembly and popular court and their Athenian analogs is further strengthened by the fact that Xenophon plays a very Athenian role as rhētōr before the Cyreans in these settings and adapts the rhetoric of the Athenian Assembly and courts to the deliberative and forensic settings in which he ﬁnds himself. Indeed, Xenophon speaks before the Cyreans not only far more than any character within the Anabasis as he presents speech after speech before the army from Book on but also in a recognizably Athenian manner. Especially noteworthy is how Xenophon, like Athenian speakers, carefully crafts his rhetoric to appeal to and win over a mass audience by
On the Athenian euthunai for outgoing generals, see [Arist.] Ath. Pol. .; Hamel : –. The phrase dikēn huposchein, which Xenophon uses here of the judicial review of the Cyrean generals (cf. ..), occurs at Mem. ..– with reference to the review to which heads of state subject themselves (dikēn hupechein); Athenians speak of the rendering of accounts as euthunas huposchein (Lys. .; cf. .). On the evocation of Athenian practice here, see Lendle : . In Athens, incoming oﬃceholders, including generals, are also subject to review by dokimasia (see Hansen : –). Xenophon makes no mention of this in connection with the Cyrean generals, but does speak at .. of the review of new cavalry members and their mounts in these terms (edokimasthēsan), which recalls the Athenian practice of dokimasia of cavalrymen and their horses before the Council ([Arist.] Ath. Pol. .; cf. X. Eq. Mag. .–, .; Oec. .); in the same passage, an Athenian, Polystratus, is named hipparchus of this newly constituted cavalry. Nussbaum (: ) and Anderson (: –) assume that the captains named as jurors for hearing charges of anomia at .. also hear charges against the generals, but this does not seem to be what Xenophon has in mind. The procedures set up at .. are speciﬁc to charges of anomia: the generals, as in cases involving military oﬀenses in Athens (see Christ : –), are in charge of these trials, and the captains serve as jurors. A separate resolution at .. calls for the scrutiny of generals, and Xenophon’s ensuing trial is apparently before the troops at large (see esp. ..; cf. ..), and there is no mention of the captains. On the importance of public speakers in Athens, see Mem. ..–; Ober : – and passim; Hansen : –, –. As Flower (: ) observes, “In books , , and . . . about half of the text consists of speeches, and the vast majority of them are delivered by the character Xenophon”; cf. Rood b: ; Grethlein : , ; Tuplin : –, –. Tuplin (: –) proposes that the abundant and varied direct discourse in the Anabasis, including that attributed to Xenophon, contributes to its “realism,” but there is in my view something distinctly unreal about Xenophon’s domination of direct speech from Book on.
Xenophon the Democratic Rhētōr
showing respect for democratic principles and procedures and commitment to the common good. That Xenophon, as a rhētōr among the Cyreans, is acting in a manner analogous to a democratic orator in Athens is evident when Lacedaemonian envoys seeking to hire the Cyreans ask Seuthes and his crony Heracleides about Xenophon: When the Lacedaimonians asked what sort of a man Xenophon was, Seuthes replied that he was not a bad fellow on the whole, but he was a friend of the soldiers (philostratiōtēs), and on that account things went the worse for him. And they asked: “The man plays the demagogue (dēmagōgei), you mean, with the men?” “Very much so,” said Heracleides. (..; cf. ..)
While the narrator does not endorse the pejorative designation of Xenophon’s activities as demagoguery, his role calls to mind that of Athenian popular politicians, who as “leaders of the people” (dēmagōgoi) address them through speech in the Assembly and popular courts, and who can claim through their good services in these contexts to be philodēmoi – “friends of the people.” Let us ﬁrst consider how Xenophon employs speech successfully in the assembly of the Cyreans and then turn to his masterful legal rhetoric in his trials before the Cyreans. Xenophon’s Deliberative Oratory When Xenophon steps forward to rescue the Cyreans from their straits after the seizure of the generals by Tissaphernes, he does so, ﬁrst and foremost, as a knowledgeable, inspiring, and versatile rhētōr, who knows when and where to speak, what to say, and how to say it well and adapt his message to his audience. Xenophon ﬁrst displays his rhetorical skills, in
On elite accommodations to democratic sensibilities in the Athenian Assembly and courts, see Ober . For the designation of Athenian popular politicians as dēmagōgoi, see HG ..; Connor : –; Ober : –; on their claim to be philodēmoi, see Connor : –; cf. Brock : . Connor (: – n. ) identiﬁes An. .. as “the ﬁrst locus where a word related to demagogos is itself clearly deprecatory.” Xenophon broadly resembles the ﬁgure of the “wise adviser” found in Herodotus and Thucydides (see Rood ), but he carries out his advisory role conspicuously as a rhētōr. Dio Chrysostom (.–) holds up Xenophon’s speeches in the Anabasis as exemplars of rhetorical virtuosity for students of oratory (see Tuplin : – on the reception of Xenophon in antiquity by Dio and others); Grote (: .–, , –) extols Xenophon’s oratorical brilliance in the Anabasis, and credits the Athenian democracy for nurturing such skills among its citizens.
Xenophon the Democratic Orator
fact, just before he puts himself forward, as he engages in an internal dialogue in which he deliberates over what his role should be in the current crisis and through a series of rhetorical questions convinces himself that he must take action (..–). Xenophon’s success in persuading himself to step forward is the precursor to his successful use of rhetoric when he addresses, and advises, in rapid succession three ever-larger circles of listeners – ﬁrst Proxenus’ captains, next all the surviving generals and captains, and ﬁnally the assembled army. In rousing Proxenus’ captains to action, Xenophon speaks with a rhetorical polish, ﬂourish, and conﬁdence that set him apart from earlier speakers in the Anabasis. Consider, for example, his pithy declaration to the captains, that “at times I feared the truce more than I now fear war” (..); his striking assertion that the gods shall be the referees (agōnothetai) of the contest of bravery that the Cyreans are entering (..); and his apparent coinage of a new word when he calls on the captains to take the lead in rousing others to valor and thereby show that they are “more worthy to be generals” (axiostratēgoteroi) than the generals (..). When a rival speaker, Apollonides, dismisses Xenophon’s advice as “talking nonsense” (phluaroiē) (..), Xenophon turns the charge of “talking nonsense” back at him (..) and proposes that he be expelled from their number (..). The captains, goaded on by Agasias, who identiﬁes Apollonides as a barbarian on the basis of his pierced ears (..), assent to this and proceed to gather the surviving oﬃcers so that they too can hear Xenophon’s advice. After these captains have summoned together the hundred or so surviving generals and captains and the eldest of Proxenus’ captains invites Xenophon to address the group (..), Xenophon not only reiterates his call to action but also speaks of the elite status of those before him and what this demands of them in the current circumstances. As noted earlier, he echoes Homer’s Sarpedon in linking the privileges that the leaders enjoy in peacetime with their obligation to excel in time of war and to be superior to “the majority” (to plēthos) (..–), and he emphasizes that success in war or peace depends on good leaders (..); it is incumbent on the oﬃcers, therefore, to show themselves to be brave men on the battleﬁeld and to call on those under them to do the same (..).
On the coinage, see Ferrario : . Such “meta-rhetorical” exchanges are common in the Athenian Assembly: see Ober : – and Hesk : –, –. On Xenophon’s friendship with Agasias, see Flower : –.
Xenophon the Democratic Rhētōr
Xenophon points out, moreover, that this is not only the noble course but the expedient one since it will best ensure the safety and survival of the Cyreans (..). Xenophon’s rousing rhetoric evokes admiration from unlikely quarters as the Spartan Cheirisophus in the same breath acknowledges his Athenian origins and commends him “both for what you speak and do” (..); Xenophon, in fact, has done nothing yet except speak, so the second part of this praise would appear to apply to his initiative in stepping forth as rhētōr. After his success in winning over ﬁrst Proxenus’ captains and then the entire surviving leadership of the Cyreans, Xenophon next addresses the assembled Cyreans, and in so doing shows his adaptability as a rhētōr who is able to persuade not only fellow members of the elite but a mass audience. After Cheirisophus and Cleanor brieﬂy address and rouse up the troops, Xenophon steps forward and addresses them at great length in two speeches separated by a brief interlude (..–, –). Dropping the elitism of his previous speech before the generals and captains, he adopts an Athenian-style democratic rhetoric that is designed to win over a mass audience. Having donned his best war garb (..), Xenophon rises up to advise the troops concerning how best to surmount their current challenges and return safely to their homes (..–). Like Athenian speakers before the Assembly, Xenophon appeals to his audience largely on the basis of what will be most advantageous to them. For example, he points out that if they were brave in ﬁghting on behalf of Cyrus, all the more should they be courageous as they seek to save their own lives (..), and in concluding his speech he points out that victory will not only deliver them from their enemies but also beneﬁt them materially since victors in war preserve their own possessions and gain those of the conquered (..; cf. ..–, ..–). Xenophon, however, not only broadly mirrors his native city’s deliberative oratory in this speech but also draws on the rhetoric of its patriotic funeral orations for the war dead (epitaphioi) and adapts this to his Panhellenic audience of fellow mercenaries. As he rallies the troops to
Cf. Rood b: : “He addresses three diﬀerent groups in turn (Proxenus’ men, the oﬃcers, and the army as a whole), using slightly diﬀerent rhetoric for the diﬀerent audiences.” On the salient role of arguments based on expedience before the Athenian Assembly, see Hunt : – and Christ : –. Ferrario (: ) suggests that this speech “is part battle-exhortation, part funerary oration.” Although this speech draws on the tropes of battle exhortation speeches that are so familiar in Greek historiography, it presents these within a deliberative framework, and, consistent with this, as we
Xenophon the Democratic Orator
act courageously against the Persians, he invokes Athens’ defeat of them at Marathon and the collective Greek victory over them at Salamis and Plataea (..–). While Xenophon betrays his Athenian origins in highlighting Athens’ victory at Marathon and treating it at greater length (..–) than the later shared Greek victories (..), he takes care to attribute all these together to his audience’s ancestors (progonoi) when he introduces and concludes this excursus (.., bis). Indeed, just as the speakers of the Athenian epitaphioi seek to unify their Athenian audiences on the basis of their common ancestry and rouse them to valor by the example of the achievements of these ancestors, Xenophon attributes a common ancestry to his audience of Greek mercenaries and exhorts them to emulate their noble progenitors (..). In Xenophon’s native Athens, the appeal to a common ancestry of nobility among Athenians is unmistakably democratic since all Athenians share in this; his adaptation of this ideal to his fellow Greek mercenaries likewise appeals to, and exploits, the democratic idea that they all share a noble heritage to which they must live up. Consistent with this democratic elevation of the common soldier is Xenophon’s appeal to his audience to rise to the challenge of the current circumstances, in which the enemy expects them to be ruined by lack of leadership and indiscipline: So our present commanders must show themselves far more vigilant than their predecessors, and the men in the ranks must be far more orderly and more obedient to their commanders now than they used to be. We must pass a resolution that if anyone is disobedient, whoever of you may be at hand at the time shall join with the oﬃcer in punishing him. In this way the enemy will ﬁnd themselves mightily deceived; for today they will behold not one but ten thousand Clearchuses, who will not allow anyone to be a bad soldier. (..–)
Although Xenophon does not abandon here his belief in the importance of leaders that he had highlighted in his speech before the generals and captains (..), he oﬀers the mass of soldiers an opportunity to place
shall see below in the text, the assembled soldiers are called on to vote on whether to accept Xenophon’s advice. Tuplin (: ) observes that Xenophon includes only three battle harangues (.., .., ..) in the entire Anabasis. On the treatment of these episodes in the Attic funeral orations, see Loraux : –. On the signiﬁcance of the Persian Wars in the Anabasis, see Rood b: –, –; cf. Grethlein : , . Ziolkowski (: –) collects the references; cf. Loraux : –. See Loraux : – and Lape : –.
Xenophon the Democratic Rhētōr
themselves on the same level as their leaders by joining with them to punish the disobedient. In declaring that the enemy in this case “will behold not one Clearchus but ten thousand,” Xenophon equates the soldiers with their strict deceased general and thus minimizes for the moment the real distinctions between oﬃcers and the soldiers under them. In addressing the Cyrean troops, Xenophon emerges not only as a skilled democratic rhētōr who knows how to appeal eﬀectively to a mass audience but also as an adept popular politician who knows how to advance his agenda by employing democratic mechanisms. Early in his speech, for example, Xenophon both proposes a resolution and himself puts it to a vote. When a man propitiously sneezes right after Xenophon expresses the hope that the gods may look favorably on the Cyreans’ resistance to their opponents, Xenophon proposes that the Cyreans vow to sacriﬁce to Zeus the Savior and the other gods on their safe arrival in friendly territory, and puts this to a vote: “‘Whoever is in favor of this resolution,’ he said, ‘let him raise his hand.’ And they all raised their hands” (..). Later, when Xenophon proposes that the assembled troops vote for a measure to improve discipline (.., quoted above), the Spartan Cheirisophus picks up on Xenophon’s earlier use of democratic process and puts this measure and Xenophon’s other proposals to a popular vote: “‘Whoever is in favor of this resolution, let him raise his hand.’ They all raised their hands” (..). Here and on other occasions (.., ..), Xenophon proves himself so persuasive a speaker and advisor that the troops cannot help but vote unanimously in favor of what he advocates. Xenophon also displays his familiarity with democratic procedure when, in addressing the troops here, he twice invites anyone who wishes to speak to do so – a hallmark of the Athenian Assembly where “anyone who wishes” (ho boulomenos) can speak. In the ﬁrst instance, he explicitly extends this invitation to men of any rank, stating that “if any other plan is thought better than mine, let anyone, even if he is a private soldier (ho idiōtēs), be bold to present it; for our survival is the common concern of all” (..; cf. ..). Later, with the democratic nature of this type of
On Xenophon’s piety in the Anabasis, see Haywood ; on the importance of piety in Xenophon’s theory of leadership across his corpus, see Flower . As Kru¨ger (: –) notes, the Cyreans vote by show of hands, just as the Athenians do in Assembly; on the Athenian practice, see Hansen : –. On Xenophon’s remarkable success in the Anabasis, Cawkwell (: ) observes that “he seems never to make a mistake. Both in counsel and in action, Xenophon was always right.” Cf. Rood : ; Ferrario : . See Hansen : .
Xenophon the Democratic Orator
oﬀer already established, he simply states, “if anyone sees a better plan, let him speak it”; and when no one steps forward, he proceeds to put the matter to a democratic vote – “Whoever is in favor of these measures, let him raise his hand” – and the proposal is carried (..; cf. ). Here and elsewhere, Xenophon democratically invites popular participation in debate but at no cost to pursuing his own agenda. It is surely no accident that Xenophon the Athenian ﬁrst addresses the Cyrean masses at length and in democratic terms, ﬁrst proposes measures to them and puts these to the vote, and ﬁrst calls on average soldiers to speak before the Cyrean assembly if they wish. This transplanted Athenian is intimately familiar with the challenges of mass decision-making and knows how to work within a democratic framework to achieve his ends through persuasive speech and democratic procedures. This does not mean that Xenophon fully embraces democratic principles – his address to his fellow members of the elite in which he appeals to them on the basis of their superior status suggests otherwise (..–) – but rather that he recognizes the power of the Cyrean masses and the general necessity of winning their support to pursue his vision of the common good. That Xenophon does not always feel bound to work within democratic parameters is evident on one conspicuous occasion. When Xenophon speaks to the soldiers and advises them to return to Greece from Trapezus by land rather than by sea, the narrator reports: At this the soldiers cried out, saying that there was no need to go by land. Xenophon, realizing their foolishness (aphrosunēn), did not put anything to a vote, but persuaded the cities [sc. in the region] to repair the roads voluntarily, urging that they would be free of the army sooner if the roads were easy to travel on. (..)
Cf. the similar invitation at Dem. ..: “If anyone has anything better to propose, let him speak and advise.” At ..–, after the narrator indicates that “the opportunity to speak was oﬀered to anyone who wished it (tōi boulomenōi)” in the discussion of a proposal to join up with Seuthes and many speak in support of this, Xenophon – who favors the proposal (cf. ..–.., ..) – says, “If anyone holds a contrary opinion, let him speak; if not I will put this to a vote”; when no one speaks in opposition, Xenophon puts the matter to a vote and it is carried. Cf. .., where Xenophon, who is defending himself before the Cyreans against the charge that he has deceived them, invites skeptics to speak out, but no one steps forward. By contrast, in the opening books Clearchus never addresses the massed Cyreans all together, just his own troops (..–) – and this only when he fails to achieve his ends by force (..) – and then a larger group of his troops, those of Xenias and Pasion, and any others who wish to listen (..–, ); his speeches are brief as beﬁts a Spartan and not conspicuously adapted to a mass audience; and although he invites others to speak at one point (..) and several rise to speak of their own accord, he has rigged the debate by arranging for his agents (..) to advance his agenda through their speeches (.., ..–).
Xenophon the Democratic Rhētōr
Interestingly, while Xenophon does not openly ﬂout the will of the troops, he circumvents their decision-making authority since he views this as necessary and feasible under the circumstances. This episode suggests that if Xenophon normally works through the Cyrean assembly, this is not because he has unwavering respect for the wisdom of the masses but rather because he has adapted pragmatically to the constraints of his political circumstances. Xenophon’s Forensic Oratory If Xenophon the author envisions the army as a popular assembly that requires advice and instruction from an eﬀective rhētōr like Xenophon the character, he also pictures it as a popular court in which Xenophon must draw on his rhetorical skills to defend himself from the slanders and charges for which he seems to be a magnet. While the Anabasis stops short of presenting a mirror image of Athenian legal procedure and adjudication in the three scenes in which Xenophon stands trial before the Cyreans, its forensic stage evokes the Athenian popular courts. Like Athenian generals, who faced prosecution frequently in the popular courts, Xenophon, as general, must defend himself before the mass of Cyreans and on charges that would be very familiar to an Athenian audience: deception of the people, hubris, and bribery. In each case, Xenophon deftly
Cf. Rood b: . Although Xenophon’s decision to circumvent the assembly of troops does not entail outright deception of them, Xenophon’s Socrates allows for the possibility that a general might need to deceive his own troops for their own good (Mem. ..); contrast Cyr. ..–, where Xenophon limits the use of deception to gaining an advantage over enemies (see Hesk : –). I borrow the phrase “forensic stage” from Scafuro . Xenophon’s consciousness of, and interest in, Athenian forensic practice is evident throughout his corpus, for example, in his presentation of the “trial” of the Arginusae generals in the Hellenica (..–), of Socrates’ trial in his Apology, and of Ischomachus’s mock trials in the Oeconomicus (.–). Note also how Xenophon oﬀers advice to cavalry commanders on the strategic use of the Athenian courts in his Cavalry Commander (.–). This strong interest on Xenophon’s part likely lies behind his projection of an Athenian forensic disposition onto the Persians in the Cyropaedia, where he maintains that Persian boys are educated in large part by bringing charges against each other for oﬀenses including theft, robbery, assault, cheating, and slander before the oﬃcers in charge of them, who serve as judges (..–). Cf. Xenophon’s interest in how leaders administer justice in a variety of settings (see Gray b: –). On the frequent prosecution and conviction of generals in Athens, see Hamel : –. Xenophon alludes to this common occurrence in describing how Ischomachus, who practices oratory at home in case he has to appear before an Athenian court, includes in his regimen joining in the prosecution of a general (Oec. .). As Tuplin (: ) observes, Xenophon gives his long apologiai in response to problematic situations rather than in direct reply to speciﬁc critical speeches on the same scale.
Xenophon the Democratic Orator
maneuvers, as Athenian litigants do, by adapting his rhetoric to the exigencies of winning over a mass audience. Although no formal verdict is reported in any of these “trials,” it is clear in each case that Xenophon has succeeded in fending oﬀ the malicious and unfair attacks on him. Xenophon’s ﬁrst trial revolves around the charge that he has deceived the troops by seeking to trick them into sailing to Phasis to found a new city (..). Although Xenophon had already disavowed in an assembly of the troops any interest in pursuing his idea of founding a city and had defended himself against the slander of Silanus that he was seeking to do this without having persuaded the army (..–), the general Neon once again raises this concern among the troops, prompting them to gather angrily in groups and act as though they might resort to violence as on earlier occasions (..–). Realizing that he might be executed without a trial (cf. ..–), Xenophon hastily convenes an assembly to speak in defense of himself (..). Rather than turn his defense into a prosecution of the generals who had recently approached him with the proposal to found a new city (“Xenophon did not prosecute [katēgorei] the generals”) (..), Xenophon seeks to defend himself against what he characterizes as slander (..). In speaking of the charge against him, Xenophon repeatedly refers to it as “deception” of the troops – a charge that recalls that of “deception of the dēmos” in Athens, which Xenophon speaks of in his Hellenica (..). The heart of Xenophon’s defense is a series of arguments based on likelihood, a favorite argument in the Athenian courts; he could not possibly have sought to trick the troops into sailing to Phasis since this would have been foolhardy – one could not deceive the troops into sailing east rather than west, and even if Xenophon were to succeed in such a deception, he would inevitably be found out and punished when the troops found themselves in Phasis rather than in Greece (..–). The absurd charge against him, Xenophon asserts, arises
These defense trials ﬁgure prominently in Xenophon’s broader eﬀorts throughout the Anabasis to justify his behavior during the expedition. Tuplin (: –) aptly observes of the Anabasis’ narration of Xenophon’s life history: “The closest [texts] would be the real or ﬁctive law court apologiai of Andocides On the Mysteries, Isocrates Antidosis or Demosthenes On the Crown.” On Xenophon’s self-justiﬁcation in these speeches, see Rood b: –. Tuplin (: , ) observes that only here is agora used in the Anabasis to mean “assembly,” and examines the possible Homeric resonances of this. Likewise, Athenian litigants regularly protest the slanders leveled against them: see, e.g., Lys. ., , , , –, . Xenophon uses the verb exapataō seven times in his speech (.., , , , , bis; cf. ..). On the Athenian charge of apatē tou dēmou, see Christ and Hesk : –. Lendle (: ) notes the parallel with Athenian practice. On the eikos argument, see Gagarin : –.
Xenophon the Democratic Rhētōr
from the jealousy of those who envy the honor he receives from the soldiers; but this is unfair, as Xenophon would never stand in the way of anyone seeking to serve the best interests of the troops (..). Consistent with this populist stance, Xenophon proceeds democratically to invite anyone present to speak if he ﬁnds the charge against him plausible: “If anyone among you supposes either that he could be deceived himself by such tales, or could deceive another by them, let him speak and instruct” (..). No one steps forward, however, and no formal vote is taken; the trial abruptly ends without a verdict, as Xenophon successfully turns the troops’ attention away from judging him and toward deliberating over what he characterizes as a crisis in discipline in the army (..). Xenophon’s second trial, in which he faces a charge of hubris, has more formal features of a judicial hearing and these point to an Athenian model. After the assembly of the troops passes a resolution that the generals should each undergo a trial (dikēn huposchein) concerning his past conduct – a procedure, as noted above, that recalls the euthunai that all outgoing oﬃcials are subject to in democratic Athens – and the assembled troops condemn and ﬁne three of their generals, “Certain men prosecuted (katēgorēsan) Xenophon, alleging that they were struck by him, and they made their prosecution on the grounds that he was guilty of hubris” (..). The allegation of hubris, on which the ensuing trial focuses (.., ; cf. , ), stems from Xenophon’s ready use of force against recalcitrant and disobedient soldiers, which he defends as justiﬁed under the circumstances. The care with which Xenophon addresses the charge of hubris suggests that for the Cyrean masses, as for a democratic Athenian audience, hubris connotes an arrogant act of violence that is particularly sensitive when perpetrated by a member of the elite against a social inferior. Xenophon begins his defense by cross-examining his ﬁrst accuser with a series of questions to ascertain the speciﬁcs of the charge, in a process that recalls the erōtēsis to which litigants sometimes had recourse in the
Cf. Din. .. For the argument that this trial is held before the assembled troops, see above, note . Grethlein (: –) observes that the narrator had brieﬂy treated these challenging circumstances at .. and that Xenophon’s speech here is an analepsis that “ﬂeshes out the summary of the main narrative”; cf. Ferrario : –. On the nuances of hubris for an Athenian audience, see Ober : –; MacDowell : –; Fisher : –. Although Athenian litigants could bring a public suit for hubris (graphē hubreōs), it may have been more common for them to complain of hubris while bringing a suit under a diﬀerent rubric (see Christ : –). Lendle (: ) compares the hubris charge against Xenophon with its Athenian analog.
Xenophon the Democratic Orator
Athenian courts. Xenophon ﬁrst inquires as to the general situation of the army when he struck his accuser, and when the man replies that this was when the army was in dire straits due to the cold and a huge amount of snow, Xenophon points out that it was improbable that he had the energy to act hubristically at a time when the entire army was beleaguered and exhausted (..). When Xenophon proceeds to ask his accuser why he was struck – “Was it in a ﬁght over a boy? Was it an act of drunken violence” (..–; cf. ..) – he proposes possible contexts for hubris that would be familiar to an Athenian audience from the popular courts. Finally, Xenophon oﬀers his own vivid account of what prompted him to strike his opponent: he had caught his accuser, whom he had ordered to carry a sick soldier, attempting to bury the man while he was still alive (..–). Xenophon’s startling revelation evokes an outcry from his jurors, as it might too in an Athenian court, that he had given the accuser fewer blows than he deserved (..). When Xenophon invites his other accusers to explain why he hit them, no one rises up, and he proceeds to explain that he only struck men whose behavior threatened the common good or their own individual survival (..–). To bolster his argument that he only struck men when this was called for, Xenophon calls on his jurors themselves as witnesses, as Athenian litigants sometimes do: But that I justly struck those men, you rendered judgment yourselves; for you stood by, holding swords, not ballots, and it was within your power to come to their aid if you chose; but, by Zeus, you would neither give these men aid nor would you join with me in striking anyone who was disorderly [cf. ..–]. Consequently, you gave the bad among them license to act with hubris by letting them alone. (..–)
Xenophon not only appeals to his jurors as witnesses but also scolds them for their past errors while holding out the possibility of rectifying these by taking appropriate action in the current case – a rhetorical tack Athenian orators also sometimes take with their mass audiences. Xenophon
On erōtēsis in the Athenian courts, see Carawan . See esp. Lys. . On the conspicuous role of narrative in Athenian forensic oratory, see Johnstone : –. On the routine vocal participation (thorubos) of jurors in Athenian courts, see esp. Bers . Xenophon’s defense of his approach to discipline suggests that he has found the right balance between the harshness of Clearchus (.., ) and the laxness of Proxenus (..–) (see Flower : ; cf. Grethlein : ). For jurors as “witnesses,” see Is. .; Dem. ., .; Ober : –; Christ : . See, e.g., Dem. .–; on this tactic, see Ober : –. Note also that Xenophon pictures his jurors, like Athenian jurors, voting with “ballots” (psēphoi); on the Athenian practice, see Todd : –.
Xenophon the Democratic Rhētōr
concludes, as Athenian defendants often do, by appealing to his listeners to recall his many good deeds and services to them (..–; cf. .., quoted below). The narrator reports that “then people began getting up and recalling past incidents, and all turned out well” (..), bringing this trial scene to an end. Xenophon’s third trial takes place near the end of the Anabasis when he ﬁnds himself facing a charge of bribery. The narrator reports that one of the Arcadians rose to prosecute (katēgorēsōn) Xenophon (..), alleging that “Seuthes has enriched him personally while he deprives us of our wage” and suggesting that Xenophon deserves to be stoned to death as punishment (..–); two speakers in succession rise up to support the Arcadian accuser, as sunēgoroi might in an Athenian court. The precise charge against Xenophon is not clear at ﬁrst. As Xenophon rebuts it, he dismisses the possibility that he took money belonging to the mass of troops (.., ) and that he has thereby wrongly appropriated public funds – a practice that Cheirisophus identiﬁed earlier as routine among Athenian politicians (..; cf. HG ..). Instead, he focuses on what he claims is the more plausible scenario, namely, that Seuthes had paid Xenophon a smaller sum than he owed the troops, so as to avoid paying them a larger amount, a charge that Xenophon speaks of as bribery (edōrodokoun) (..), a familiar Athenian charge against those active in public life, including generals. He rebuts this charge by inviting the Cyreans to demand from Seuthes, who is present, the money he owes them since this would render the alleged bribe fruitless and lead Seuthes to demand his money back from Xenophon. Most of Xenophon’s speech, however, is devoted to defending his character and his behavior toward the troops not only in the immediate past but also since he became one of the generals, as he seeks to demonstrate that he deserves the Cyreans’ gratitude (charis) (.., cf. ) for his many services to them and not the threat of a sentence of death. In adopting this strategy, Xenophon resembles Athenian defendants who place great emphasis on their good character and services to the city and
On appeals for charis in the Athenian courts, see Christ : –, with earlier bibliography. On sunēgoroi in the Athenian courts, see Rubinstein . On the charge of dōrodokia in Athens, see MacDowell ; Harvey ; Strauss ; Taylor a, b. Azoulay (a: ) notes the Athenian parallel. Azoulay (a: ) argues on the basis of .. that Xenophon admits he received hospitality presents from Seuthes, but Flower (: –) persuasively refutes this. On the role of “ingratitude” in Xenophon’s speeches of self-justiﬁcation in the Anabasis, see Rood b: .
Xenophon the Democratic Orator
on this basis seek charis from jurors in the form of a favorable verdict. Indeed, Xenophon concludes his speech by making an impassioned appeal to his mass audience to be mindful of the injustice they will be committing if they do not show charis to their loyal supporter and benefactor: If you do what you are proposing, know that you will have slain a man who has passed many sleepless nights for your sake, who has endured many toils and dangers (ponēsanta kai kinduneusanta) with you, both when it was his duty and when it was not, who has also, by the graciousness of the gods, set up with you many trophies of victory over the barbarians and who, in order to prevent your becoming enemies to anyone among the Greeks, has exerted himself to the very utmost of his power in opposition to you. (..)
Xenophon’s language here recalls appeals for charis in Athenian forensic oratory: he bases his claim, as Athenian litigants often do, on the dangers that he has endured for the group. When Xenophon concludes his speech, Charminus the Lacedaemonian rises to speak in his support (..) as an Athenian sunēgoros might, and then two more speakers address how they might get their wages from Seuthes and his corrupt sidekick Heracleides (..–). As in the earlier two trials, the narrator reports no formal verdict but makes it clear that Xenophon has persuaded the masses of his innocence and won his case. Xenophon’s success as a leader of the Cyreans reﬂects not only his adeptness as a rhētōr who knows what to say and how to say it to the troops in their diﬀerent guises as assembly and popular court but also his political canniness in controlling, as best he can, the circumstances under which he addresses the troops. Thus, as we have seen, Xenophon works behind the scenes to win over Proxenus’ captains (..–, –) and then the hundred or so surviving generals and captains of the Cyreans (..–) before he ventures to address the assembled Cyreans for the ﬁrst time (..–, –). And when Xenophon sees the soldiers meeting in groups and getting angry because of the rumor that he intends to lead them to Phasis rather than Greece, he prudently seizes control of the situation by assembling the troops and addressing them (..–) – a
On the prominent role of character in Athenian defense speeches, see Johnstone : – and Lanni : –. On appeals for charis in Athenian forensic oratory, see above, note . See, e.g., Lys. .. On the role of dangers endured in appeals for charis, see Christ : –. Xenophon’s summary of his contributions to the Cyrean community here not only is appropriate to the immediate context of the trial but serves as a sort of coda to the Anabasis. Cf. Timasion’s advice to the generals not to convene an assembly of troops but to seek to persuade their captains ﬁrst (..).
Xenophon the Democratic Rhētōr
prerogative Xenophon and the other Cyrean generals share with Athenian generals, who can request that the Assembly meet. Xenophon shows similar political shrewdness when, after his bribery defense speech, he delegates to Polycrates the Athenian, a crony (cf. .., .., ..–), the dirty work of urging the troops to seize Heracleides, Seuthes’ henchman, on the grounds that he has stolen money owed to the troops for their eﬀorts (..). Xenophon’s depiction of himself as an adept rhētōr and canny politician in the Anabasis recalls Thucydides’ portrayal of Pericles in his Histories. Thucydides’ Pericles, like the Anabasis’ Xenophon, is distinguished by his ability to both speak and act (..; cf. X. An. ..); controls strategically the circumstances under which Assemblies are convened (.., ..; cf. X. An. ..–); and stands ready to oppose the will of the masses as needed (.–, .–; cf. X. An. .., quoted above). And, notwithstanding his unwavering commitment to the common good, Pericles, like Xenophon, ﬁnds himself under attack by the masses when all does not go well. In his third and ﬁnal speech in the Histories, Pericles defends himself and his leadership after plague and the hardships of war have turned the dēmos against him: And yet I, with whom you are angry, am as competent as any man, I think, both to determine on the right measures and to expound them, and as good a patriot (philopolis) and superior to the inﬂuence of money. For he who determines on a policy, but fails to lay it clearly before others, is in the same case as if he never had a conception of it; and he who has both gifts, but is disloyal to his city, cannot speak with the same unselﬁsh devotion; and if he has loyalty also, but a loyalty that cannot resist money, then for that alone everything will be on sale. (..–)
Xenophon portrays himself in the Anabasis as displaying these ideal leadership qualities to which Pericles lays claim: he is not only knowledgeable but also an eﬀective rhētōr who can express what he knows; he is utterly loyal to the Cyrean troops; and, as his victory in his ﬁnal trial shows, he is above bribery.
See Hansen : . The narrator says of Polycrates that he was “induced” (enetos) by Xenophon to speak; Clearchus also makes strategic use of collaborating speakers (..). On the usefulness of having agents speak in one’s place, see Cyr. .. and Hier. .–; cf. Mem. .. On the general importance of the support of friends in politics, see Mem. .. and ... See Rood b: , –, and : , ; Flower : . Xenophon likewise resembles Pericles when he exhorts the Cyrean troops to remain uniﬁed in the face of adversity for honor and survival (..–), a message Pericles conveys passionately to the disheartened Athenians in his ﬁnal speech before them in the Histories (..–, ..–).
Xenophon the Democratic Orator
If Xenophon is consciously invoking Thucydides’ Pericles as a model for his leadership of the Cyrean masses in the Anabasis – which seems quite possible in light of his intimate familiarity with the work of his predecessor, whose Histories he continues in his own Hellenica – he may also aspire to portray his sway over the Cyrean masses as similar to that of Pericles over the Athenian dēmos. Thucydides asserts with approbation that while Pericles led Athens it was a democracy in name but in fact under the rule of its foremost citizen (..). Xenophon plays a similarly dominant role in the quasi-democratic environment of the Cyrean army, and in so doing provides eﬀective leadership in pursuit of the common good. Although Pericles and Xenophon cannot change the parameters of their political circumstances and face considerable challenges, each succeeds in leading the masses through a combination of rhetorical ability and political shrewdness. Arguably, in fact, Xenophon surpasses Pericles because he successfully leads not fellow citizens but a mass of troops from many diﬀerent city-states and with divergent interests. His ability to succeed in this setting – and in numerous instances even to win unanimous assent from the Cyrean assembly and popular court through his persuasive powers – marks him out as a truly exceptional leader. If Xenophon views his experience with the Cyreans through a distinctly Athenian lens in the Anabasis, this text may tell us as much about how an elite Athenian comprehends and interprets the world around him as it does about the march of the Cyreans through the Persian Empire. Although modern scholars have been attentive to the fact that Xenophon’s personal biases and apologetic agenda may aﬀect what he includes in his account, they have not suﬃciently appreciated how his Athenian perspective may fundamentally shape his narrative, from his presentation of the sociopolitical dynamics and institutions of the Cyrean troops to his portrayal of his own role in leading them. This interpretation of the Anabasis problematizes its use as a historical source, especially for reconstructing how the Cyreans interacted with one another and made decisions together on their march and for assessing Xenophon’s role as leader. One may reasonably suspect, for example, that the Cyreans acted less like the Athenian dēmos in the Assembly and popular courts than the Anabasis suggests and that Xenophon acted less like an Athenian rhētōr in his interactions with them than his account indicates. Although this reading casts doubt on the historicity of elements of Xenophon’s account, it may yield valuable evidence of another kind, namely, concerning Xenophon’s vision of how elite individuals can induce
Xenophon the Democratic Rhētōr
the masses to make good decisions and collaborate in carrying these out. As we have seen, Xenophon explicitly addresses this question as a pressing one for the Athenian democracy in his Athenian works. The Anabasis considerably enriches our understanding of Xenophon’s perspective on the traits and skills that an elite leader must have to succeed in a setting where authority lies ultimately with the masses. It not only shows how Xenophon, as a deft leader, puts the principles of successful elite leadership of the masses into action but also elaborates on the importance of rhetoric and persuasion for this as it shows Xenophon succeeding as leader in large part because he is a masterful orator. Several features of Xenophon’s perspective on elite leadership of the masses in the Anabasis are noteworthy. First and fundamentally, Xenophon emphatically endorses political engagement and leadership on the part of the elite. The Anabasis’ Xenophon provides a model of determined engagement from his dramatic initial decision to step forward and lead after the seizure of the generals through his trials, ﬁgurative and literal, as a general of the Cyreans; his own survival and that of the other Cyreans depends on his willingness to assume the role of leader and to carry through on this despite all challenges. This is consistent with Xenophon’s advocacy elsewhere of political engagement on the part of the elite within the Athenian democracy, for example, when his Socrates prods Charmides to overcome his shyness and put himself forward as rhētōr before the Athenian Assembly (Mem. ..–), and when he presents Ischomachus as a model gentleman who is self-suﬃcient on his well-run estate but prepared to serve the city in various capacities, including as public prosecutor in the courts and speaker in the Assembly (Oec. .–). Elite political engagement is essential, Xenophon suggests, not only on the grounds of expedience – this allows elite individuals to advance their own interests and the common good simultaneously – but also because this is the right and proper course for the elite to take as members of a community; as Xenophon puts it in his speech before the assembled captains and generals, the privileges that they enjoy as members of an elite oblige them to make superior contributions to the community as leaders (An. ..–; cf. Mem. ..). Second, Xenophon not only advocates political engagement in the Anabasis but also oﬀers his readers guidance on how to exercise leadership
Howland (: ; cf. Higgins : –, ; Buzzetti : , –) is too pessimistic in his assessment that “[t]he Anabasis, like the Republic, lets us see the limits of politics.” For criticism of Howland’s Straussian reading of the Anabasis, see Rood : –.
Xenophon the Democratic Orator
in a setting in which the masses hold the ultimate political authority. The Anabasis shows through its portrayal of Xenophon how a skilled leader can navigate popular institutions in which common soldiers deliberate and adjudicate by deploying rhetoric eﬀectively and thereby seek what he believes to be in the community’s best interest; in so doing, it suggests that persuasion is key to eﬀective leadership of the masses not only within a democratic city but also in a military camp where common soldiers must be won over by their leaders. Notably, Xenophon is highly pragmatic in using rhetoric to achieve his ends, adapting it as necessary, as we have seen, to win over elite and popular audiences. Although Xenophon does not comment explicitly on this ﬂexibility, one may infer from his success in persuading diverse audiences to join in the pursuit of the common good that this is a natural and necessary accommodation to the audiences that he addresses and justiﬁed by his need to elicit their willing participation and cooperation in joint ventures. Third, Xenophon presents an optimistic picture of the eﬃcacy of controlling the masses and guiding their decisions, notwithstanding the substantial challenges and risks that this may entail for a leader, and some assurance that it is possible to keep one’s community on track in pursuing the common good while seeking the personal honor that members of the elite naturally pursue (cf. .., ..; Mem. ..). In representing leadership of the masses as a feasible, if challenging, endeavor and one that bears rewards for both elite leader and community, Xenophon oﬀers his elite readers an attractive picture of productive engagement with the community at large and the positive consequences of this. Elsewhere, too, Xenophon suggests that leadership entails toil and hardship but produces beneﬁts for the leader and his community that fully warrant the sacriﬁces that are required (Mem. ..–). Although Xenophon sets forth principles for eﬀective elite leadership of the masses more explicitly elsewhere, his Anabasis vividly shows how Xenophon himself puts these principles into action as leader of the Cyreans. While Xenophon’s positive portrayal of himself no doubt serves multiple purposes including apologetic ones as he casts his participation in a mercenary expedition in a favorable light, it also conﬁrms, and elaborates on, the vision he lays out elsewhere for elite leaders within the Athenian democracy. Xenophon’s elite Athenian audience might well take pleasure
Thucydides, by contrast, seems more pessimistic about leaders keeping the masses under control, to judge from his portrayal of the deﬁciencies of Pericles’ successors (..–); cf. Ober : –.
Xenophon the Democratic Rhētōr
in this account of how one of their own could successfully navigate the politics of mass and elite outside the city, and aspire to do the same by emulating him in carrying out their own political roles within the city. If Xenophon, as an exile from his city for much of his adult life, could not personally put these lessons into practice in Athens, his elite Athenian audience could.
Conclusions Elite Readers, Elite Citizens
This study has argued that Xenophon seeks to educate his elite Athenian readers concerning their critical political role within democratic Athens and that he pursues this project in diverse ways in his writings. Xenophon’s profound interest in this topic may have its origins in the turmoil that he witnessed in Athens in the ﬁnal decade of the ﬁfth century and that he recounts in the opening books of the Hellenica. Xenophon’s presentation of the Arginusae aﬀair () makes it clear that in his view the success of the Athenian democracy depends largely on the quality of its elite leaders, on whose advice and guidance the dēmos relies. Although Xenophon’s narrative of the events of / suggests that he is sympathetic with those who sought to replace democracy with a moderate oligarchy, his negative depiction of the reign of the Thirty, which turned out to be far from moderate, and his favorable portrayal of the restored democracy indicate that he does not regard constitutional change as realistic or even desirable for Athens. In light of this, the question of the political role of the city’s elite takes on a special urgency for Xenophon: If the democratic city cannot prosper without good elite leadership, how can the Athenian elite lead responsibly and eﬀectively? Xenophon addresses this question from a variety of vantage points in his corpus. In his Socratic writings, Xenophon depicts his Socrates working tirelessly to challenge destructive elite attitudes and behaviors and to mold his elite interlocutors into men who can lead the democracy successfully. The Memorabilia casts Socrates as an educator who seeks to produce as many competent politicians as possible from among his elite companions by showing them the often deep gulf between their ambition to lead the city and their preparation to do so. In his conversations with elite Athenians, Socrates pointedly critiques the assumption that wealth or lineage qualiﬁes a man to lead the city and insists on the importance of education in producing men who have the values, knowledge, and skills needed to lead. A true gentleman (kalos kagathos) according to Socrates is
distinguished from others not by wealth or family but by his pursuit of an education that makes him worthy to lead the city. In the Oeconomicus, Xenophon oﬀers a complementary perspective on what makes a real gentleman, by considering how an elite Athenian should manage his estate (oikos) and his daily activities not only to improve his personal circumstances but also to enhance his ability to contribute to the city. Xenophon’s Socrates relates a conversation between himself and Ischomachus, whom he presents as a consummate kalos kagathos. Ischomachus, unlike many of his elite peers, recognizes that the continuous production of wealth is fundamental to maintaining not only his lifestyle but his status in the city including as a civic benefactor, and therefore embraces a work ethic as farmer, estate manager, and entrepreneur that will augment his wealth. In carrying out his daily activities, moreover, Ischomachus prepares himself to serve the city as hoplite, cavalryman, litigant, and even leader since his management of the oikos, as a polis in miniature, allows him to develop skills that can be applied to leading the city. Xenophon’s Symposium shows Socrates pursuing his mission of transforming the city’s elite into worthy leaders even amid the distractions of a dinner party hosted by Callias. Socrates, aided by Antisthenes, exposes the deﬁciencies of Callias’ expensive sophistic training and seeks to educate him concerning his proper political role within the city. While Callias’ great wealth and high birth qualify him by traditional standards to be called a gentleman, he does not merit this name by Socratic standards since he has neglected to prepare himself to lead the city. Socrates urges Callias, who is consumed by his passion for his boy-love Autolycus, to redirect his energies toward learning what made the city’s great leaders of the past successful so that he can become qualiﬁed to seek leadership positions, and to cultivate an enduring friendship (philia) with Autolycus that is based on a mutual and honorable ambition to achieve distinction within the city. Whereas Xenophon in his Socratic works deploys Socrates to set forth the political responsibilities of the Athenian elite, in his Hipparchicus and Poroi he oﬀers expert advice in his own voice directly to his readers concerning how they can succeed in playing speciﬁc leadership roles. In Hipparchicus, Xenophon instructs his readers not only on how to carry out the basic duties of a cavalry commander but also on how to deal with the social and political challenges of this oﬃce. In Poroi, he outlines an ambitious program of ﬁnancial reform for the city and presents arguments in favor of implementing this and, in so doing, models for his elite reader how a public speaker could go about persuading the Athenian Assembly to
embrace changes that would improve the situation of Athenians at home and abroad. Xenophon adopts yet another approach to advising his elite readers on their political role within the democracy in presenting himself as a successful leader of a band of Greek mercenaries in the Anabasis. Although Xenophon’s leadership of the Cyreans is far removed from his native Athens geographically, his success hinges largely on his ability to adapt the role of an Athenian democratic rhētōr to his new surroundings. Xenophon ﬁnds himself in a political situation that recalls that of his native Athens where successful elite leadership demands, above all, the ability to address and win over mass audiences through eﬀective rhetoric. Indeed, Xenophon’s mastery of rhetoric enables him to interact successfully with the Cyrean masses in settings reminiscent of the Athenian Assembly and courts, and ultimately to lead them safely out of the Persian Empire. The Anabasis, viewed in this light, not only memorializes Xenophon’s successes as a general of a mercenary force but also validates, and elaborates on, the principles of eﬀective leadership of the masses that Xenophon sets forth in his explicitly Athenian works. It is easy for Xenophon’s modern reader to miss the signiﬁcance of his educational mission in its historic context. Although Xenophon’s advice to his readers to seek out an education that will give them the values, knowledge, and skills to lead the democracy competently may seem rather obvious, the disastrous reign of the Thirty, which many elite Athenians had supported, made this advice timely and important. The Thirty, as Xenophon portrays them, were not only morally depraved but politically incompetent, and their elite supporters might well beneﬁt from both moral and political instruction concerning their role under the restored democracy. When Xenophon insists that a gentleman is made not by wealth or ancestry but rather by the pursuit of an education that will make him worthy to lead the city, he rebukes the arrogance of elite Athenians who confused economic and social distinction with political merit and exhorts his elite peers to transform themselves into principled and qualiﬁed leaders. If Xenophon’s vision of the proper political role of the elite within the democratic city derives ultimately from Socrates, as his Socratic works suggest, his promulgation of this to the Athenian elite through his diverse writings is his own distinct achievement. Whereas Xenophon’s Socrates seeks to improve the city one individual at a time through his conversations, Xenophon ambitiously endeavors to persuade the presumably numerous members of his elite Athenian reading audience to exert
themselves to become capable leaders of the city. If his message for the elite is relatively straightforward, his presentation of it is creative and varied, as he deploys his Socrates to convey this in his Socratic works, instructs his readers in his own voice on how to carry out speciﬁc leadership roles in his Hipparchicus and Poroi, and oﬀers himself up as a model statesman and rhētōr in the Anabasis. Indeed, Xenophon’s eﬀorts to address his elite Athenian peers and to engage them in leading the democracy competently are distinctive and set him apart from contemporary elite writers in Athens, none of whom takes up this mission as directly and persistently as he does. A close reading of Xenophon’s communications with his elite Athenian readers not only illuminates his eﬀorts to educate them concerning their political role and responsibilities under the restored democracy but also clariﬁes his perspective on the Athenian democracy and the place of the elite within it. Although Xenophon, like many of his elite peers, may have been drawn to support the oligarchic Thirty, he came to accept the city’s democratic constitution and became a strong advocate of the elite working within it to advance the common good. Indeed, Xenophon promotes good citizenship on the part of the Athenian elite in many forms through his writings. He envisions the elite serving the democratic city not only as hoplites, cavalrymen, liturgists, and payers of the war tax but also in key leadership roles as public speakers, hipparchs, and generals. That Xenophon is not an avid democrat, however, is evident from his critical depiction of fundamental democratic institutions. In his portrayal of the Arginusae episode, for example, Xenophon paints an unattractive picture of the dēmos in the Assembly and implicates the Council in the unjust condemnation of the generals (HG ..–, –). Elsewhere, he suggests that a hipparch, if he is to succeed, will need to have agents in the Council who can appease its anger should the need arise (Eq. Mag. .). Xenophon also expresses concern about the city’s legal apparatus and, in particular, the ability of sykophants to victimize the elite through litigation, or the threat of it, before the popular courts (HG ..). Xenophon may be a reformed oligarch, but this does not make him an enthusiastic democrat. Xenophon supports the democratic city not because he admires its institutions but rather because he sees no good alternative to democracy in Athens and is committed to the success and prosperity of his community. The failure of elite opponents of the democracy to alter its constitution permanently in / meant that Athens would remain a democracy for the foreseeable future, and the civil strife that ensued from the excesses
of the Thirty highlighted how large a stake all citizens had in the city’s political stability and harmony. It is in this context that Xenophon exhorts his elite Athenian readers to prepare themselves to provide the leadership that the democratic city sorely needs from them. Notably, Xenophon appeals to Athens’ elite to step forward and lead the democracy responsibly on the basis not only of the common good but of their own interests. Elite Athenians, he posits, have much to gain from seeking positions of leadership within the city and carrying these out successfully: this will win them honor and distinction from their fellow citizens, and they will be in a position to help their friends and family members. Consistent with this is the advice of Xenophon’s Socrates that true gentlemen should collaborate and cooperate with one another to acquire political power within the city so as to be in a position to protect and advance their own interests while simultaneously pursuing the common good (Mem. ..–). Although Socrates imagines gentlemen working together to advance their interests within a democratic framework and is not advocating oligarchic revolution, this vision of the political role of the elite within the democracy does not jibe well with that advanced in democratic ideology, which acknowledged the distinctive role of elite citizens in leading the city but insisted on their subservience to the dēmos and its interests (Ober ). If Xenophon views it as incumbent on elite Athenians to lead the democratic city for the common good and their own beneﬁt as well, however, he insists that they must make themselves worthy of leading. They must set aside their arrogant assumption that as gentlemen on the basis of wealth or birth they are qualiﬁed to lead the city, and seek out an education that will make them true gentlemen who have the values, knowledge, and skills that will enable them to lead eﬀectively. While Xenophon is no doubt elitist in identifying his elite peers as the natural pool from which the city’s leaders will be drawn and in seeing the democracy as absolutely dependent on elite leadership, his emphasis on merit rather than superﬁcial class markers as the basis for political leadership is of great importance. Xenophon’s satirical depiction of members of the elite who think they deserve to lead the city solely on the basis of their class attributes suggests that he is working to overcome entrenched assumptions on the part of his elite readers and to induce them to seek an education that will give them a moral and political foundation for leading well. Xenophon does not pretend that it will be easy for his elite readers to transform themselves in this way, but he holds out the promise that those
who strive to do so will achieve prominence in the city and beneﬁt themselves, their friends, and their community. In promulgating this message through his writings, Xenophon oﬀers his Athenian peers an appealing and compelling framework for understanding their political role under the democracy and emulates his Socrates, who serves the democratic city by seeking to produce as many competent leaders as possible for it. It is natural to wonder whether Xenophon’s communications with his elite peers may provide evidence not only of his educational mission and political vantage point but also of how elite Athenians viewed themselves and their relationship to the city under the fourth-century democracy. Since we have only Xenophon’s writings and not his audience’s responses to these, we can only speculate on how they might resonate with his Athenian peers, but there is reason to believe that Xenophon is attuned to their attitudes, concerns, and aspirations and is responsive to these. If we were to attempt to sketch a proﬁle of elite Athenians on the basis of Xenophon’s exhortations and appeals to his readers, we might do so along the following lines. Xenophon’s elite Athenians are acutely conscious of the attributes that set them apart from average citizens and are grappling with the question of what role, if any, they should play within the democracy. On the one hand, they are drawn to honor and ambitious to acquire this by achieving distinction in public life; on the other hand, they are conscious of the challenges this entails and aware that forgoing political aspirations and focusing on private concerns is a real option. Although they understand that men of their class have exceptional opportunities to lead the democracy and to work for the common good, they are eager to protect and pursue their own personal and ﬁnancial interests and are alert to how their civic roles may impinge on, or advance, these. Xenophon’s elite Athenians are not enemies of the democracy who seek to overthrow it, but they are wary of the vacillations of the dēmos and conscious of their vulnerability to the popular will as expressed through the Assembly, Council, and popular courts. The pressing issue for them is not whether they should fully embrace democracy, but how to ﬂourish within a democratic polity whose institutions are unlikely to change substantially. While Xenophon’s elite Athenians must decide as individuals whether to compete to lead the city as orators, hipparchs, and generals, they can draw on their networks of elite friends in the pursuit of political power and inﬂuence. Philia is important to them not only in personal life but in political life, where like-minded members of the elite can collaborate and cooperate to gain and maintain positions of political prominence. Elite
Athenians enjoy a competitive advantage over average citizens in the political sphere, and it is only natural for them to make the most of this to exercise political inﬂuence within the democracy (cf. Mem. ..–). Although one could argue that Xenophon creates his elite readers in his own image and that his assumptions concerning them tell us more about him than his elite contemporaries, this does not appear to be the case. The glimpses that we get of the Athenian elite in other sources are broadly consistent with what Xenophon takes for granted in addressing his elite readers. In particular, Xenophon’s direct appeals to elite interests seem well tailored to his elite Athenian peers to judge from their attitudes and behaviors as documented elsewhere. That elite Athenians were highly attuned to their self-interests and concerned to protect and pursue these even in civic life is evident, for example, from how wealthy Athenians responded strategically to the city’s requirement that they carry out expensive liturgies. They routinely concealed their wealth to avoid initial assignment to liturgies by the city’s oﬃcials and to discourage other wealthy men from seeking to transfer their obligations to them through the antidosis procedure. While this sort of behavior was at odds with the democratic ideal that citizens should eagerly serve the city with person and property, from the perspective of elite Athenians concealment of wealth was a prudent measure to protect their assets and their families, who relied on these. Although some wealthy Athenians may have taken such steps because of their opposition to, and resentment of, the democracy, most probably did so simply to reduce large expenditures that could diminish their fortunes over time and with this their status and ability to enjoy an elite lifestyle (Christ : –). So too in the legal sphere we ﬁnd elite Athenians strategically pursuing their self-interests. The substantial body of forensic oratory that survives from democratic Athens attests to how readily elite Athenians deployed litigation, and the threat of it, against their elite peers in pursuit of their personal and ﬁnancial interests while often insisting that they were simultaneously defending the democracy’s laws and advancing its interests. Indeed, elite litigants see no inherent contradiction between serving themselves and the city at the same time (Christ : –). When Xenophon communicates with his self-interested elite peers about their political role within the democracy, he thus naturally appeals to them to step forward to lead the democracy not only on patriotic grounds but also because they can protect and advance their own interests in doing so. Xenophon’s open and unabashed communication of this message reﬂects the license he enjoys as an elite Athenian addressing other
members of his class through the medium of writing. In this context, nothing hinders Xenophon from acknowledging elite self-interests and seeking to harness these to induce his readers to step forward to lead the democratic city. Xenophon’s freedom to speak bluntly in his intra-elite communications stands in contrast to the evident constraints on elite speakers addressing mass audiences in forensic and deliberative oratory. As Josiah Ober () demonstrates in his classic study of the social and political dynamics of Attic oratory, elite Athenians were under considerable pressure to assure their mass audiences that they subordinated their private interests to those of the city and deployed their elite attributes – wealth, high birth, and education – to serve the city. Ober (: –) proposes that elite speakers were not merely paying lip service to democratic ideology, but I suspect that many were doing precisely this. For such men, rhetoric was a tool to be deployed to win a suit before a popular law court or the passage of a decree in the Assembly, and deference to the dēmos and its democratic ideology was expedient toward these ends. It was clearly in the interest of elite speakers in these contexts to downplay their pursuit of their selfinterests and submerge their elitism. If Xenophon’s self-interested elite readers are not ultimately distinct from the elite Athenians whom we encounter in Attic oratory, we may posit that while elite Athenians were essential contributors to the democracy as liturgists, politicians, and military leaders, many did not fully embrace democratic principles and ideology. Individually and collectively, elite Athenians remained conscious of what set them apart from average citizens and attuned to their self-interests and how to defend and advance these within the democratic city. This is not to say that elite Athenians after the debacle of the Thirty posed an existential threat to the democracy. On the contrary, to all appearances the fourth-century democracy achieved a high level of political stability and concord. It is important to appreciate, however, that this came about not because elite Athenians eschewed elitist attitudes and the pursuit of their self-interests, but rather because they found common ground with the dēmos in working for shared objectives within and outside the city. In this case, the remarkable achievement of Athenian democracy was that it successfully elicited cooperation among men of diﬀerent classes and often disparate social and political assumptions. Xenophon, in fact, may have fostered this cooperation in his own small way by assuring his elite readers that they could best serve their own interests by working to provide good leadership within the democracy.
These suggestions concerning the attitudes and perspectives of Xenophon’s elite Athenian peers are tentative. A comprehensive history of elite Athenians and their evolving place in the democracy across the classical period remains to be written. When such a history is written, however, this study suggests that Xenophon’s communications with his elite Athenian readers contain important clues concerning how elite Athenians viewed themselves and their place within the fourth-century democracy.
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Index of Ancient Citations
Aristophanes (Ar.) Clouds (Nu.) -: : Wasps (V.) -: Aristotle (Arist.) Nicomachean Ethics (EN) a: Rhetoric (Rh.) b: Ps.-Aristotle ([Arist.]) Constitution of Athens (Ath. Pol.) .-: .: .: .-: Demosthenes (Dem.) .: .: Diogenes Laertius (D. L.) .: .: .-: Hesiod (Hes.) Works and Days (Erg.) -: : : – Homer (Hom.) Iliad (Il.) .: .-: Plato (Pl.) Alcibiades (Alc.) a-c: Apology (Ap.) a:
Symposium (Smp.) a-: e-a: c-a: e-c: e-c: Theognis (Thgn.) - West: Thucydides (Thuc.) ..: ..: .-: .-: ..: .-: ..-: ..-: ..: .-: .: .-: .-: ..: ..: Xenophon (X.) Anabasis (An.) ..: ..-: ..: ..: ..: ..: ..: ..: , ..-: ..-: ..: ..-: ..:
Xenophon (X.) (cont.) ..-: ..: ..: ..: ..: ..-: ..: ..: ..: ..: ..-: ..-: –, , ..-: ..: , , ..: ..: ..: , ..: ..: , ..-: , ..: ..: ..-: ..-: , ..: ..: ..-: , ..-: ..: ..-: , ..: ..: ..: ..-: , ..: ..: ..: ..: ..-: ..: ..-: ..: ..-: ..: , ..: ..: , ..: , ..: ..-: ..-: ..-: ..-: ..: , ..:
Index of Ancient Citations ..-: ..-: – ..: , ..-: ..: ..: ..: ..: , ..: ..: ..-: ..: ..-: ..: ..: , ..: – ..-: ..-: ..: , ..-: ..-: ..: – ..-: ..: ..: ..-: ..: , ..-: ..: ..: ..: ..: ..-: ..: ..-: ..: ..-: ..: ..-: ..: ..-: ..: ..: ..: ..: ..: ..-: ..: ..: ..: ..: ..: ..: ..: ..: –
Index of Ancient Citations ..: , ..-: ..: ..: ..: Cynegeticus (Cyn.) .: .-: .-: .: .: Cyropaedia (Cyr.) ..: ..: ..-: De equitandi ratione = On Horsemanship (Eq.) .: .: , : .: .: De equitum magistro = Hipparchicus (Eq. Mag.) .: – .: .-: .: , –, , .-: .-: , .: .-: , .-: .: .: .: .-: .: .: .: .: .: : .: .: .-: .: , .: .: .: .: , .: .: .: .: .: .-:
.-: .: , .: .: .-: .: .-: .: .: .-: .: .: .-: Historia Graeca = Hellenica (HG) ..-..: ..: ..: ..: , ..: ..: , ..: ..: – ..: ..-: , , ..: , , , ..-: , , ..: ..-: ..: ..-: ..-: ..: , ..-: , ..: .. ..-: ..-: , ..-: ..: ..-: ..: , ..: , , , ..-: ..-: ..-: ..-: ..-: .-: ..: ..: ..: , , , ..: ..-: ..: ..: ,
Index of Ancient Citations
Xenophon (X.) (cont.) ..: ..: ..: ..: , ..: ..: – ..: ..: ..: ..: ..: ..: ..: ..-: ..: ..: ..: ..: ..-: ..-: ..-: ..: , ..-: ..: ..: ..-: ..-: ..: , , Lacedaemonian Constitution (Lac. Pol.) .: Memorabilia (Mem.) ..-: ..: ..: ..: ..: ..-: ..: ..: ..: – ..-: ..: ..-: , , ..: ..: ..: ..-: ..: , ..: ..-: , , ..: ..: , ..-: ..: ,
..: .: ..: ..-: ..: .: ..: ..: , , , ..: ..: , , , .: ..: ..: ..-: ..: ..: ..: – ..-: ..: ..-: ..: , ..-: , ..: ..-: ..: ..-: .: ..-: ..-: ..: , ..: ..-: ..-: ..: ..: ..: ..-: ..-: , , ..: ..: , ..: ..-: ..: ..-: ..: , , , ..: ..: ..: ..-: ..: ..-: ..-: ..: ..: ..:
Index of Ancient Citations ..: ..-: ..-: ..: .: , .-: ..: – ..: ..: ..: ..: ..-: ..: .: – ..: ..: .: –, ..: ..-: ..-: ..: ..-: ..: ..: ..-: ..: ..-: ..: .: ..: , ..: ..: ..: ..: ..-: ..: ..: , .: , .-: ..: – ..: ..: ..-: ..: ..: – ..: – ..: ..-: ..: ..: – ..: ..: ..: , ..: ..-:
..: , ..-: ..: .: ..: – ..: , – ..: ..: ..-: ..: ..: ..: , ..-: ..: ..: ..-: .: , ..: ..-: ..-: ..: – ..: , ..: ..: , ..-: ..: , ..-: ..: –, – ..: ..: , , , ..-: ..: , – ..-: ..: , ..: , .: ..: ..: – ..-: ..-: ..: ..: ..: , ..-: ..: ..: ..-: – ..: ..: ..-: ..: ..-: ..: ..: ..:
Xenophon (X.) (cont.) ..-: ..-: ..-: ..-: ..: ..: ..: .: ..: ..: .: .: Oeconomicus (Oec.) -: .: .: .-: . .: .: .: .-: .: .: .: .: .: – .-: .-: .: .: , .: .: , , , .: .: .: .: .: .: .-: .: .-: .-: .: .: , .-: .: , .-: .: – .: .-: .: .: , .: .-:
Index of Ancient Citations .-: .-: .-: .: , , .: .: .: , .-: -: .: .: .-: .: , .-: .: .: .-: .-: .: .: .-: .-: – .-: .: .-: .: .: .-: .: .: , .-: .-: .-: .: , .: .-: .: .: , .: .-: .: , , , .: .-: .-: , .: .: .-: .: .: .: .: .-: .-: .: , .-:
Index of Ancient Citations .: .: .-: .: .: .: .-: .: , .-: .: .: .: .: .-: .: .: .: .-: Symposium (Smp.) .: – .: , .: , .-: .: , , .-: .-: .: .: .-: .-: .: , .: , .: .: .: .-: , .: .: .: .-: .: .-: .-: .-: .: .-: .-: .: .-: .: .: .-: .-: .: , .: ,
.: .: , .: , , .: , , .: .-: .: .-: .-: .-: .-: .: .-: .: .-: .: .-: .: .: .: .-: , – .: .-: .-: .-: – .-: .: – .-: .: , .: , .: .: De vectigalibus = Poroi (Vect.) .: , .-: .-: .: .-: .-: .-: .: .-: .: .-: .-: .-: .-: .: .: , , .-: .: .: .: .: , .-:
Academy, Agamemnon, Agasias, Agesilaus, Aigospotamoi, Battle of, Alcibiades, –, , –, , Alcibiades, the younger, Amnesty of , the, , , antidosis, , Antiphon, Antisthenes, , , , –, –, Apollo, Apollonides, Archedemus, , – Archestratus, Areopagus, Council of the, aretē, , , , , –, – Arginusae aﬀair, , , –, , –, , , , Ariadne, Aristarchus, , , – Aristippus, – Aristophanes, , Aristotle, Assembly, , , , –, , –, –, , , , –, , , , , –, , –, , –, , , –, –, , , See also dēmos Autolycus, , , , –, Balot, Ryan, Boeotia, , Byzantium, Callias, –, –, Callixeinus, –, cavalry, Athenian, cavalry commanders. See elite Athenians: as cavalry commanders cavalrymen. See elite Athenians: as cavalrymen charis, –
Charmides, –, , –, , –, Charminus, Cheirisophus, , , , Cleanor, Clearchus, , Cleocritus, Cleon, Conon, Corinth, Coronea, Battle of, Council, , , , , , , –, –, , , courts, popular, , –, , , , –, –, –, , –, –, , , See also sykophants Critias, –, –, –, , –, , , , , See also Thirty, the Crito, , – Critobulus, , –, –, –, , , Cyreans, the. See Ten Thousand, the Cyrus the Great, , Cyrus the Younger, , , –, , , –, Delphi, – dēmagōgoi, dēmos, , , –, –, , , –, , , , , –, , , , , –, , –, , , , dikaiosunē, Diodotus, Diomedon, Dionysodorus, – Dionysus, dokimasiai, , eisphora, , , , –, –, See also elite Athenians: as payers of the war tax Eleusinium,
General Index elite Athenians arrogance of, –, , , , , –, , , , , , , attitudes toward work and money-making, – as cavalry commanders, , , –, , , –, , , as cavalrymen, , , , , , , , , –, , , as entrepreneurs, , , –, –, , , , –, as estate managers, , , –, –, –, , as farmers, , –, , as generals, , , –, , –, , , , –, –, , as gentlemen, , , , , , –, , , , –, , –, –, , –, –, –, , as good citizens, , , , –, , , –, –, –, –, , as hoplites, , , , as leaders of the democracy, , , , –, –, , , –, , –, , –, – leisure of, , –, , lifestyle of, , , –, –, , –, –, , –, , as litigants, , See also courts, popular; sykophants as liturgists, , , , , , , , , , , , , – as orators, , , , , , –, –, , , –, , –, , , as payers of the war tax, , , , , –, as phylarchs, –, political ambitions of, –, , , as political friends, , –, –, –, –, , – as readers, –, –, –, See also Xenophon: and his elite Athenian audience as self-interested, , –, –, , , , , –, See also Xenophon: on self-interest as workers, –, , enkrateia, , epitaphioi, – Erasinides, Erechtheus, ergasia, –, , ergon, , –, Eros, erōs, , –
erōtēsis, Eupatridae, , , Euryptolemus, , –, , , Eutherus, euthunai, , Euthydemus, , – Four Hundred, the, , Gish, Dustin, Glaucon, –, , , Gorgias, Gray, Vivienne, , Gryllus, , Hegesileos, Heracleides, , – Heracles, Hermogenes, , – Hesiod, hipparchs. See elite Athenians: as cavalry commanders Hippias, – Hippodrome, – Hipponicus, Homer, , , , hubris, , – Iacchus, Ischomachus, , –, –, –, –, , , Isocrates, Johnstone, Steven, , , kaloi kagathoi, , , , , , –, , , –, –, , –, –, –, , See also elite Athenians: as gentlemen katastasis, koinōnia, Kroeker, Ron, Leuctra, Battle of, Lyceum, Lyciscus, Lycon, , , Lysander, , – Lysistratus, Mantinea, Battle of, , Marathon, Battle of, , Menecles, Meno, metics, , , –
misthos, Mounichia, Battle of, , , Mytilene, Mytlinean Debate, Niceratus, Nicias, Nicomachides, , – Ober, Josiah, Odysseus, , oikonomia, –, –, See also elite Athenians: as estate managers oikos, , –, –, , Oinoe, pederasty, –, , , , –, Peloponnesian War, , , , , , , , , Pericles, , , , – Pericles, the younger, –, , – Persia, , , , , , , , , Persian Wars, Phasis, –, Philemonides, philergia, , philia, , –, –, –, –, –, , , See also elite Athenians: as political friends philotimia, , , , , , , , See also elite Athenians: political ambitions of Phyle, Plataea, Battle of, Plato, , –, , , , , –, Polycrates, ponos, , – Prodicus, , – Protagoras, Proxenus, –, , Prytanes, , rhētores, , , , , , , , –, , , , , , –, –, , –, –, See also elite Athenians: as orators Salamis, Battle of, Sarpedon, , Scillus, , , Seuthes, –, , – Silanus, silver mines, , , – Simon, Social War, , , ,
Socrates, –, –, –, , , –, –, –, –, , , , –, , See also Xenophon: and his Socrates Solon, sophia, , – sophists, , , , , , sōphrosunē, , – sortition, Sosias, Sparta, , –, –, , , , , sunēgoroi, – sykophants, , , , , –, Ten Thousand, the, , –, Themistocles, , Theognis, Theramenes, , –, –, Thirty, the, , , , , , –, –, –, , –, –, , –, , See also Critias Thrasybulus, , , – Thucydides, , , , – Timocrates, Tissaphernes, , Trapezus, trophē, , –, – xenia, – Xenophon as advocate of political engagement, –, , –, , – as advocate of work and money-making, – as cavalryman under the Thirty, , as critic of the Athenian democracy, –, –, –, –, – as critic of the Athenian elite, , , , –, –, –, , –, dates of his works, as educator of elite Athenians, –, –, , , , –, –, –, , , –, , , –, – as exile, , – as expert, , –, – as general, , –, and his elite Athenian audience, –, , –, –, –, , –, –, , , , –, – and his Socrates, , –, –, , , –, –, , , –, , –, , –, , See also Socrates life and career, ,
General Index on mass and elite, , , –, –, as orator, , , –, , –, – as reformer of the Athenian democracy, –
on self-interest, , , , , –, , , , –, See also elite Athenians: as self-interested on slaves, , –, –, , – on women, –, –, –