The bulk of Henry's book is devoted to such a critical study. It has led him to a "singular disappointment" and to the conclusion that "we are not yet ready to interpret ancient histories, like the Hellenica". There is a general and a particular cause of the failure of nineteenth and twentieth century study of Greek historical writing. The general cause is insufficient attention to the peculiarity of Greek historiography as distinguished from its modern counterpart: the ancients did not (...) study history "for its own sake," since their approach was "esthetic". A moment's reflection on the historical origin of this meaning of "esthetic" would show the inadequacy of Henry's characterization of classical historiography. For the classical Greek, "history was a form of literature.... History is literature when an artist perceives the genius of an age and reveals it through the facts of history". This seems to be Henry's interpretation of a saying of Quintilian which he renders "History has a certain affinity to poetry". Granting for a moment that the three classical historians perceived the spirit of the ages which they described, was their primary intention to reveal those spirits? A glance at the openings of Herodotus' and Thucydides' works would show the impropriety of this suggestion. This is to say nothing of the fact that the suggestion could not be expressed in their language. However justified Henry's criticism of nineteenth and twentieth century students of classical Greek historiography may be, he shares with them the prejudice that "we know today" the meaning of historiography in general and of classical historiography in particular. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
In re-opening the case of the authorship of the Hellenica of Oxyrhynchus I am afraid I must state at once that you will find that there is not much in it, at least nothing new. The few pages, recently published by Vittorio Bartoletti, from a papyrus book which evidently contained the same work as P. Oxy. 842 have not changed the state of the problem. They confirm the two primary facts known about the author in question: that he is (...) a continuator of Thucydides—a fact which was inferred at once from the very exceptional use of Thucydides' war-year, and which, incidentally, does not allow of the further inference that he intended merely to complement Thucydides, ending his work with the fall of Athens, as it is often assumed that Xenophon originally did; that he was the main source of Ephoros for the period for which Thucydides was no longer available. But, unfortunately, they do not contain a title-page or subscription; and it does not help that in the remains of col. ii the anonymous author seems to quote Thucydides. Quotations of prose writers by name are extremely rare in the fifth and even in the fourth century, but they do occur: Herodotus quotes Hekataios for a special point, and Thucydides quotes Hellanikos for a special period, though it is worth while mentioning that both quotations are polemical. (shrink)
Plutarch, in his Apophthegmata Laconica , records that the Thasians made an offer of divine honours to king Agesilaus, and that Agesilaus ostentatiously refused them. In the past, most scholars who have had occasion to comment on this anecdote have not doubted the veracity either of the report or of the language in which it is expressed. The situation, however, has now reversed itself. The current communis opinio is the contention of Chr. Habicht that the story is an invention of (...) the Hellenistic or early imperial period and was intended to be a criticism of contemporary practices. The purpose of this note is threefold: to demonstrate that the anecdote derives from Theopompus' Hellenica, that it has a basis in historical fact, and that the incident thus narrated had far-reaching social and political consequences. (shrink)
Xenophon's account of Euphron, tyrant at Sicyon from 368 to 366, appears to present him as a typical fourth-century , dependent on mercenaries and concerned solely with his own power. But why did Xenophon choose to recount Euphron's actions and fate at such length, and why does he insist so strongly that he was a tyrant? Xenophon's interest in Euphron is part of his general approach to tyranny in the Hellenica, which depicts a series of individuals and regimes, all (...) described as tyrannies. The model of tyranny with which Xenophon operates is broader and more inclusive than we would expect, contrasting with the narrow, constitutional idea of tyranny defined by Aristotle. Understanding this has two consequences. It allows us to appreciate Euphron in a new light, giving credit to the positive tradition about his support for the Sicyonian democracy and his posthumous heroization; we can see the debate which existed in his own time about his role and position. It also raises the question of why Xenophon recognized tyranny in so many places, and was so keen to emphasize his construction of these regimes. We need to situate him within the evolution of ideas about tyranny, since the concept of tyranny is largely constructed by historians: Herodotus tyranny in the aftermath of the Persian Wars, while Thucydides developed the concept from the individual to the general, as this better fitted his Athenocentric model. Xenophon, in contrast, was reflecting contemporary debates over the interpretation of different types of ruler and regime, and developing his own theory of tyranny. Therefore to see a movement in the fourth century is misplaced: an examination of Euphron reveals the complexities of self-presentation in fourth-century Greek politics. (shrink)
Xenophon's concern with morality in his more philosophical writings is evident. But that concern embraces also his approach to history. In the Hellenica this interest in morality is not to be written off as a matter of marginal comment, but, it may be claimed, is integral to the historian's purpose. He is one for whom the determinants of history are the personalities and actions of great men, and it is natural for him to observe the interaction between personal morality (...) and political and military actions. It is from this standpoint that the present article seeks to illustrate from Xenophon's writings one aspect of his outlook on these matters, – the role of self-control over homoerotic desire in the context of military history. How far we can go behind his text to determine ‘what actually happened’ or use his testimony in developing a wider understanding of erōs in classical Greece at large are matters for further enquiry. (shrink)
Nothing about Xenophon's Hellenica is more outrageous than his treatment of the relations of Persia and the Greeks. It was orthodoxy in the circle of Agesilaus that Theban medizing, barbarismos, had sabotaged the plans for a glorious anabasis and recalled him to the defence of his city . Not until the Thebans woo and win the fickle favour of the King , does anything like detail emerge. In the regrettable interlude, the less said the better. If the third speech (...) of Andocides had not survived, there would have been some tangled theorizing about a note in Didymus , especially as regards ‘the ambassadors who in Sparta consented’, but sober historical judgement would never have transgressed so far from the text of Xenophon as to postulate a Peace Congress in Sparta as well as in Sardis in 392. Likewise, the merest chance of epigraphic survival assures us that the oaths, which the ‘Athenians and the Spartans and the other Greeks’ swore in 387/6, ‘the King swore’ — and so on. If we did not have the reflection of Ephorus in Diodorus, albeit a mirror cracked and blemished, we would be sadly astray in 375 and 371. When, however, the despicable Thebans become the King's favoured power, disgraceful scenes unfold. ‘Pelopidas very much had things his own way with the Persian; he could say that the Thebans alone of the Greeks had fought on the King's side at Plataea, that they had never afterwards campaigned against him, that the Spartans were at war with them because they would not join Agesilaus…etc.’ . A Persian is found at Thebes reading out the contents of a Royal Rescript, after displaying the Royal seal ; at Sparta twenty years before, such details had been left to the imagination. The cause of Xenophon's method in this matter is not for the moment under discussion, but rather the consequence, viz. our uncertainty about what precisely the King's Peace said. There was a document, inscribed on stone pillars and displayed in the national shrines . If ever a copy turns up, what can we expect to find? The measure of our uncertainty was provided by Wilcken, who produced a curious hypothesis which found little sympathy; that he could do so shows the state of the evidence. Some effort of the imagination is needed, and those who gravely disapprove of conjectures of what might have been the case need read no further. At the end one can be sure of very little. Conjectures, however, have been uttered, en passant, elsewhere. What may prove to be a chorus of disdain has begun. A formal confession may be welcome. (shrink)
Xenophon's account of Euphron, tyrant at Sicyon from 368 to 366, appears to present him as a typical fourth-century 'new tyrant', dependent on mercenaries and concerned solely with his own power. But why did Xenophon choose to recount Euphron's actions and fate at such length, and why does he insist so strongly that he was a tyrant? Xenophon's interest in Euphron is part of his general approach to tyranny in the Hellenica, which depicts a series of individuals and regimes, (...) all described as tyrannies. The model of tyranny with which Xenophon operates is broader and more inclusive than we would expect, contrasting with the narrow, constitutional idea of tyranny defined by Aristotle. Understanding this has two consequences. It allows us to appreciate Euphron in a new light, giving credit to the positive tradition about his support for the Sicyonian democracy and his posthumous heroization; we can see the debate which existed in his own time about his role and position. It also raises the question of why Xenophon recognized tyranny in so many places, and was so keen to emphasize his construction of these regimes. We need to situate him within the evolution of ideas about tyranny, since the concept of tyranny is largely constructed by historians: Herodotus 'created' tyranny in the aftermath of the Persian Wars, while Thucydides developed the concept from the individual to the general, as this better fitted his Athenocentric model. Xenophon, in contrast, was reflecting contemporary debates over the interpretation of different types of ruler and regime, and developing his own theory of tyranny. Therefore to see a 'new tyranny' movement in the fourth century is misplaced: an examination of Euphron reveals the complexities of self-presentation in fourth-century Greek politics. (shrink)
At some time during the years 398–395 B.C. the people of Rhodes revolted against Sparta, freed themselves from the oppression of the Spartan empire and admitted to their city the Persian fleet commanded by Conon, the Athenian. This fact was overlooked by Xenophon, but reported by Diodorus and Pausanias who quotes Androtion. It seemed, before the discovery of the Hellenica Oxyrhynchia, that the revolt of Rhodes from Sparta was in some way associated with internal party strife, for Xenophon relates (...) that exiled Rhodian oligarchs appealed to Sparta for help in 391 B.C. Such an interrelation between internal politics and foreign policy had, of course, been a feature of Greek political life since the early years of the Peloponnesian War, as Thucydides was not slow to recognize. The discovery of the Hellenica Oxyrhynchia, which devotes a chapter to a democratic revolution at Rhodes in 395 B.C, provided a good deal of new information on the political situation in that city, notably that, contrary to what we might have expected, the revolt from Sparta and the democratic revolution were not contemporaneous. Let us review briefly the details of these two events as far as our information permits. (shrink)
Xenophon of Athens has long been considered an uncritical admirer of Sparta who hero-worships the Spartan King Agesilaus and eulogises Spartan practices in his Lacedaimoniôn Politeia. By examining his own self-descriptions - especially where he portrays himself as conversing with Socrates and falling short in his appreciation of Socrates' advice - this book finds in Xenophon's overall writing project a Socratic response to his exile and situates his writings about Sparta within this framework. It presents a detailed reading of the (...) Lacedaimoniôn Politeia as a critical and philosophical examination of Spartan socio-cultural practices. Evidence from his own Hellenica, Anabasis and Agesilaus is shown to confirm Xenophon's analysis of the weaknesses in the Spartan system, and that he is not enamoured of Agesilaus. Finally, a comparison with contemporary Athenian responses to Sparta, shows remarkable points of convergence with his fellow Socratic Plato, as well as connections with Isocrates too. (shrink)
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