Xenophon (c. 431 BC – c. 355 BC) was an Athenian author, historian and mercenary, who led the epic retreat of the Ten Thousand from Mesopotamia to the Black Sea coast. He knew Socrates, Cyrus the Younger and Agesilaus II of Sparta, and wrote about all of them.
- It is only for those to employ force who possess strength without judgment; but the well advised will have recourse to other means. Besides, he who pretends to carry his point by force hath need of many associates; but the man who can persuade knows that he is himself sufficient for the purpose; neither can such a one be supposed forward to shed blood; for, who is there would choose to destroy a fellow citizen rather than make a friend of him by mildness and persuasion?
- The most delightful of all music, that of your own praises.
- There is small risk a general will be regarded with contempt by those he leads, if, whatever he may have to preach, he shows himself best able to perform.
- The Cavalry General, ch. 6, trans. Henry Graham Dakyns (The Cavalry General (2004) p. 26).
- As to what happened next, it is possible to maintain that the hand of heaven was involved, and also possible to say that when men are desperate no one can stand up to them.
- That…is the road to the obedience of compulsion. But there is a shorter way to a nobler goal, the obedience of the will. When the interests of mankind are at stake, they will obey with joy the man whom they believe to be wiser than themselves. You may prove this on all sides: you may see how the sick man will beg the doctor to tell him what he ought to do, how a whole ship’s company will listen to the pilot.
- Cyropaedia, Bk. 1, ch. 6; trans. Henry Graham Dakyns (Cyropaedia (2004) p. 29).
- If the campaign is in summer the general must show himself greedy for his share of the sun and the heat, and in winter for the cold and the frost, and in all labours for toil and fatigue. This will help to make him beloved of his followers.
- Cyropaedia, Bk. 1, ch. 6; trans. Henry Graham Dakyns (Cyropaedia (2004) p. 31).
- Every one of you is the leader.
- Quoted in Edith Hamilton The Greek Way ( 1993) p. 134.
Quotations are cited from the 1854 translation of Anabasis by John Selby Watson
- On making prisoners of our generals, they expected that we should perish from want of direction and order. It is incumbent, therefore, on our present commanders to be far more vigilant than our former ones, and on those under command to be far more orderly, and more obedient to their officers, at present than they were before…On the very day that such resolution is passed, they will see before them ten thousand Clearchuses instead of one.
- Bk. 3, ch. 2; pp. 88-89.
- But if any other course, in any one's opinion, be better than this, let him, even though he be a private soldier, boldly give us his sentiments; for the safety, which we all seek, is a general concern.
- Bk. 3, ch. 2; p. 89.
- Yet is it more honourable, and just, and upright, and pleasing, to treasure in the memory good acts than bad.
- Bk. 5, ch. 8; p. 179.
- Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Xenophon
- Graham Oliver's Xenophon Homepage
- Xenophon's Education of Cyrus (Cyropaedia) Web directory
- Xenophon's Socratic Works
- Xenophon's Works at The University of Adelaide
Project Gutenberg e-texts: