Dialogue in Xenophon's Hellenica

Classical Quarterly 31 (02):321- (1981)
The use of dialogue in Xenophon's Hellenica is a phenomenon that needs explanation. Among previous historians, Herodotus had used it frequently but Thucydides hardly at all. In Xenophon's own time, Ctesias had used it but not the author of the Hellenica Oxyrhynchia nor Ephorus to any great extent, as far as we can tell. Theopompus had plagiarized one of the Hellenica dialogues as well as adding others of his own. Generally, dialogue occurred less frequently in history writing than the set speech. Yet there have been no serious studies of dialogue in the Hellenica, and where opinions are expressed they often vary. Sordi considered that the purpose of dialogue was decorative and agreed with the estimates of ancient critics about the liveliness of the conversations. Breitenbach also thought they had literary merit but suggested that their purpose was moral and didactic. Henry agreed that their purpose was didactic but thought them flat and lifeless and lacking in literary merit. Bruce thought their purpose was to illustrate personality. These differences of opinion should be settled. Moreover, Sordi's view that the content, style and purpose of dialogue is quite different from that of the set speech, and that this reflects a difference of genre within the Hellenica, dialogue being typical of memoir and the set speech of ‘serious’ history, cannot go unchallenged. Herodotus used dialogue in what was clearly not memoir. Further, there has been no serious attempt to place dialogue in the Hellenica in the tradition of dialogue writing in history or to examine its relationship to dramatic dialogue or the philosophical dialogue. This needs to be attempted. Such are the aims of this paper
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DOI 10.1017/S0009838800009629
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