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Xenophon (zĕnˈəfən), c.430 B.C.–c.355 B.C., Greek historian, b. Athens. He was one of the well-to-do young disciples of Socrates before leaving Athens to join the Greek force (the Ten Thousand) that was in the service of Cyrus the Younger of Persia. These troops served Cyrus at the disastrous battle of Cunaxa (401 B.C.). When Cyrus was killed, the Ten Thousand were forced to flee or surrender to the Persians. They retreated by fighting their way through an unknown and hostile land, harried by Tissaphernes. After the Greek generals had been treacherously killed by the Persians, Xenophon was chosen as one of the leaders of the heroic retreat. He tells the story in the most celebrated of his works, the Anabasis (see tr. by W. H. D. Rouse, 1947). After his return Xenophon, a great admirer of the military, disciplined, and aristocratic life of the Spartans, was in the service of Sparta. He accompanied Agesilaus II on the campaign that ended (394 B.C.) in victory over the Athenians and Thebans at Coronea. The Athenians passed a sentence of banishment on him. Sparta gave him an estate at Scillus in the region of Elis, where he spent years in writing. Among his works other than the Anabasis are the Hellenica, a continuation of the history of Thucydides to 362 B.C.; works on Socrates (Memorabilia, Oeconomicus, a dialogue between Socrates and Critobulus on managing a household and a farm; the Apology, on the death of Socrates; and the Symposium) presenting a prudent and practical picture of Socrates in contrast to Plato's philosophical portrait; a eulogy of Agesilaus; the Hieron, a dialogue on despotism, named after Hiero I of Syracuse; the Cyropaedia, a romantic and didactic account of the education of Cyrus the Great; and essays on hunting, horsemanship, the ideal cavalry officer, and the constitutional practices of Sparta.


See study by J. K. Anderson (1974).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



Born circa 430 B.C. in Athens; died 355 or 354 B.C. in Corinth. Ancient Greek writer and historian, belonged to aristocratic circles and was a member of Socrates’ circle.

Around 403 B.C., after the fall of the oligarchic government of the Thirty Tyrants, Xenophon left Athens and took part in the campaign of Cyrus the Younger against his brother, Artaxerxes II, the king of Persia (401). After the death of Cyrus at the battle of Cunaxa (401), Xenophon was elected strategos and was one of the leaders of the retreat of 10,000 Greek mercenaries across all of Asia Minor to the shores of the Black Sea; this adventure he subsequently described in his Anabasis. Xenophon subsequently served the Thracian king and later the Spartan king. He fought on the side of Sparta in the Corinthian War (395-387 B.C.). In Athens he was sentenced to death in absentia. After receiving an estate in Elis from the Spartans, Xenophon engaged in farming and writing. Around 369 his civil rights in Athens were restored, but he did not return to his native city-state.

Xenophon was one of the most popular and prolific authors of antiquity (almost all of his works have come down to our own times). Xenophon’s chief historical work, a continuation of Thu-cydides’ work, is the Hellenica (in seven books). This provides, from an antidemocratic point of view, a connected exposition of events from 411 through 362. Xenophon idealized Sparta, although he also attempted to maintain his loyalty to Athens. The “Socratic works” (Apologia, Memorabilia, and Symposium), devoted to an exposition of Socrates’ philosophy, are an indispensable source on the social, economic, and political history of Greece. His treatise Oeconomicus sets forth the characteristics of a model household economy and a model citizen. In his Cyropa-edia he depicted the ideal ruler and the ideal state; in the Hieron he gave a program for transforming a tyranny into a “correct form of a state with a strong personal authority.” Xenophon’s work De Vectigalibus (Ways and Means) is an attempt to find a solution to the economic difficulties of Athens; his Agesilaus and his short essay on the constitution of the Lacedaemonians are frank defenses of the Spartan system. Xenophon also left treatises on the duties of a cavalry commander, on horseback riding, and on hunting.

Xenophon wrote simply and interestingly; he created memorable portraits and vivid pictures of everyday life and military operations. His style has long been considered a classic model of Attic speech.


In Russian translation:
Poln. sobr. soch., parts 1–5, 4th ed. Translated by G. A. Ianchevetskii. Moscow, 1887.
Grecheskaia istoriia. With an Introduction by S. Lur’e. Leningrad, 1935. Sokraticheskie soch. Translated with notes by S. I. Sobolevskii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1935.
Anabasis. With an introduction and notes by M. I. Maksimova. Moscow-Leningrad, 1951.
“O dokhodakh.” Translated by E. D. Frolov. In Khrestomatiia po istorii Drevnei Gretsii. Moscow, 1964.


Frolov, E. D. “Zhizn’ i deiatel’nost’ Ksenofonta.” Uch. zap. LGU, 1958, no. 251, issue 28.
Iuccioni, J. Les Idées politiques et sociales de Xénophon. Paris, 1946. Delebecque, E. Essai sur la vie de Xénophon. Paris, 1957.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


431--?355 bc, Greek general and historian; a disciple of Socrates. He accompanied Cyrus the Younger against Artaxerxes II and, after Cyrus' death at Cunaxa (401), he led his army of 10 000 Greek soldiers to the Black Sea, an expedition described in his Anabasis. His other works include Hellenica, a history of Greece, and the Memorabilia, Apology, and Symposium, which contain recollections of Socrates
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in classic literature ?
The parallelisms which occur in the so-called Apology of Xenophon are not worth noticing, because the writing in which they are contained is manifestly spurious.
Plato was not, like Xenophon, a chronicler of facts; he does not appear in any of his writings to have aimed at literal accuracy.
Modern scholarship and relevant sources acknowledge its importance to the phalanx: 'an army in disorder [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]] is a confused mass, an easy prey to enemies [...] and utterly useless [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]]' says Xenophon, (19) choosing a term later on used by Aristotle as he defines as [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] a phalanx whose [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] has been lost.
In the fourth century BCE, the Greek historian and soldier Xenophon wrote "Cyropedia," a text that portrays Cyrus as the ideal ruler.
He was also the managing director at Xenophon Strategies Inc.
The AEC has also approved registration of the Nick Xenophon Group and the Voluntary Euthanasia Party.
The values articulated by Cyrus influenced Europe and the US, conveyed there by Classical Greek writers Herodotus and Xenophon, admirers of Cyrus' leadership.
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has made statements considered critical of Malaysia's government ahead of general elections that must be held before the end of June.
Xenophon would choose his next step by opening a laptop
In addition to Plato, students Xenophon, Euclides, Aeschines, Simon the Cobbler and others wrote about the Master; from Xenophon we have substantial extant texts (e.g., Apology, Memorabilia); and Aristotle's indirect testimony can hardly be set aside.
The Americans include, surprisingly, George Washington and Xenophon appears, even more surprisingly, among the And Others.
And despite the demands of our deployment, despite being mocked by his peers, he went on to read Thucydides in its entirety, Xenophon's Memorabilia and the Anabasis, Arrian's Campaigns of Alexander, and all of Plutarch's Greek lives.