Xenophon (Ancients in Action)

December 1, 2020
Xenophon (Ancients in Action)

This book offers a concise introduction to Xenophon, theAthenian historian, political thinker, moral philosopher andliterary innovator who was also a pupil of Socrates, a militarygeneral on campaign in Persia, and an exile in residence in thePeloponnese during the late fifth and fourth centuries BC. Aliveduring one of the most turbulent periods in Greek history, Xenophonwrote extensively about the past and present. In doing so he notonly invented several new genres, but also developed pointedpolitical analyses and probing moral critiques.It is the purpose of this book to explore Xenophon's life,writing and ideas, and reception through thematic studies that drawupon the full range of his work. Starting with his approach to thepast and to Socrates, it demonstrates how the depiction of eventsand people from previous times and places are inflected withcontemporary concerns about political instability and thechallenges of leadership, as well as by a 'Socratic' perspective onpolitics and morality. The following in-depth examination ofXenophon's theories concerning political organization and the basesfor a good life highlight the interconnectivity of his ideas abouthow to live together and how to live well. Although Xenophonaddresses conceptual issues, his writings provide a practicalresponse to real-life problems. Finally, an evaluation of hissignificance as an inspiration to later writers in their creativeinterrogations of human affairs brings the investigations to aclose. This book thus illuminates Xenophon's importance within thevibrant intellectual culture of ancient Greece as an activeparticipant in and evaluator of his world, as well as his impactover time.