Xenophon the Athenian

The Problem of the Individual and the Society of Polis

By William E. Higgins

Subjects: Ancient Greek Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791476529, 183 pages, June 1977
Hardcover : 9780873953696, 183 pages, June 1977

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Table of contents


1. Reading Xenophon
2. Socrates
3. Cyrus
4. Tyranny
5. The Active Life
6. History
7. Xenophon and Athens


This book is a fresh study of the fourth century B.C. Greek adventurer, writer, and student of Socrates, Xenophon. An innovating author of many guises, an important source for the history of his time, a wit and a philosopher, he no longer enjoys the reputation he once did. Suggesting that such a radical de-valuation is more a reflection on nineteenth- and twentieth-century attitudes and scholarship than on the worth of Xenophon, the author in this book attempts to reassert Xenophon's rightful position by offering a close, literary-historical reading of all of Xenophon's writings and by focusing in this process on the alluring reticence and ironic subtlety many have often failed to appreciate before offering what turn out to be their too hasty criticisms. It is hoped that this study will help to bring about the realization that Xenophon, when properly read and read without preconceptions, may yet prove an invaluable guide to the development of Greek thought in general and the world of fourth-century Greece in particular. Xenophon emerges as one of the last great representatives of that civilization which reached its height in Athens, and it is in this context that he is best understood, not, as so often previously, against the Peloponnesian and especially Spartan background where he had friends and where he spent a long exile.