41 Facts About Xenophon


Xenophon of Athens was a Greek military leader, philosopher, and historian, born in Athens.


Xenophon established precedents for many logistical operations, and was among the first to describe strategic flanking maneuvers and feints in combat.


Xenophon is recognized as one of the greatest writers of antiquity.


Xenophon was born around 430 BC, in the deme Erchia of Athens.


Xenophon's father, Gryllus, was a member of a wealthy equestrian family.


Detailed accounts of events in Hellenica suggest that Xenophon personally witnessed the Return of Alcibiades in 407 BC, the Trial of the Generals in 406 BC, and the overthrow of the Thirty Tyrants in 403 BC.


Personally invited by Proxenus of Beotia, one of the captains in Cyrus's mercenary army, Xenophon sailed to Ephesus to meet Cyrus the Younger and participate in Cyrus's military campaign against Tissaphernes, the Persian satrap of Ionia.


Xenophon describes his life in 401 BC and 400 BC in the memoir Anabasis.


Xenophon writes that he asked Socrates for advice on whether to go with Cyrus, and that Socrates referred him to the divinely inspired Pythia.


When Xenophon returned to Athens and told Socrates of the oracle's advice, Socrates chastised him for asking so disingenuous a question.


Necessity to Xenophon was truly the mother of invention, but the centuries since have devised nothing to surpass the genius of this warrior.


One night, Xenophon formed a body of archers and light cavalry.


However, Xenophon quickly devised a plan: all goats, cows, sheep and donkeys were slaughtered and their bodies stuffed with hay, laid across the river and sewn up and covered with dirt so as not to be slippery.


That Xenophon was able to acquire the means of feeding his force in the heart of a vast empire with a hostile population was astonishing.


Xenophon sent a small force back toward the other ford, causing the anxious Persians to detach a major part of their force parallel.


Xenophon ordered his men to deploy the line extremely thin so as to overlap the enemy, keeping a strong reserve.


The Colchians, seeing they were being outflanked, divided their army to check the Greek deployment, opening a gap in their line through which Xenophon rushed in his reserves, scoring a brilliant Greek victory.


Xenophon's Anabasis ends in 399 BC in the city of Pergamon with the arrival of the Spartan commander Thimbron.


The level of detail with which Xenophon describes Thimbron's campaign in Hellenica suggests first hand knowledge.


Xenophon describes Dercylidas as a significantly more experienced commander than Thimbron.


In 398 BC, Xenophon was likely a part of the Greek force capturing the city of Lampsacus.


Xenophon received an estate in Scillus where he spent the next twenty three years.


Diogenes writes that Xenophon lived in Corinth until his death in 354 BC, at around the age of 74 or 75.


Xenophon wrote the Cyropaedia to outline his political and moral philosophy.


Xenophon did this by endowing a fictional version of the boyhood of Cyrus the Great, founder of the first Persian Empire, with the qualities of what Xenophon considered the ideal ruler.


Xenophon relates that at this time the Medes were the strongest of the kingdoms that opposed the Babylonians.


However, following the lead of Leo Strauss, David Johnson suggests that there is a subtle but strong layer to the book in which Xenophon conveys criticism of not only the Persians but the Spartans and Athenians as well.


In labelling Persians as centaurs through the mouth of Cyrus, Xenophon plays upon the popular post-Persian-war propagandistic paradigm of using mythological imagery to represent the Greco-Persian conflict.


Xenophon believes that the unstable dichotomy of man and horse found in a centaur is indicative of the unstable and unnatural alliance of Persian and Mede formulated by Cyrus.


Xenophon cites the regression of the Persians directly after the death of Cyrus as a result of this instability, a union made possible only through the impeccable character of Cyrus.


Xenophon goes on to describe in detail the main aspects of Laconia, handing to us the most comprehensive extant analysis of the institutions of Sparta.


The author, often called in English the "Old Oligarch" or Pseudo-Xenophon, detests the democracy of Athens and the poorer classes, but he argues that the Periclean institutions are well designed for their deplorable purposes.


Xenophon's works include a selection of Socratic dialogues; these writings are completely preserved.


Xenophon was a student of Socrates, and their personal relationship is evident through a conversation between the two in Xenophon's Anabasis.


Xenophon was away on his Persian campaign during the trial and death of Socrates.


Nevertheless, much of Xenophon's Socratic writing, especially Apology, concerns that very trial and the defence Socrates put forward.


The Socrates that Xenophon portrayed was different from Plato's in multiple respects.


Xenophon asserts that Socrates dealt with his prosecution in an exceedingly arrogant manner, or at least was perceived to have spoken arrogantly.


Xenophon framed Socrates' defense, which both men admit was not prepared at all, not as a failure to effectively argue his side, but as striving for death even in the light of unconvincing charges.


Xenophon uses this interpretation as justification for Socrates' arrogant stance and conventional failure.


Xenophon's days were likely spent in relative leisure here, and he wrote these treatises about the sorts of activities he spent time on.