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Xenophon (435-354 B.C.) the pupil and friend of Socrates, was an ancient Greek historian, philosopher, and military commander.

Personal Life

Born at Athens in 435BC as the son of an Athenian of good position he later joined the expedition of Cyrus the Younger against his brother Artaxerxes II. This campaign ended badly when Cyrus the Younger died on the battlefield leaving Xenophon and his troops stranded in hostile territory to fend for themselves as they returned to the Bosphorus; as told in his work March of the Ten Thousand. Xenophon later served in several military adventures, brought himself under the ban of his fellow-citizens in Athens, and retired to Elis where he spent twenty years of in the pursuits of country life and in the prosecution of literature.

Literary Career

Xenophon's exemplary works have become the epitome of "good Greek" in his mastery of the Attic style of the 5th century commanding clear and unpretentious prose; which many others such as Arrian modeled themselves upon[1].

The principal of Xenophon's literary works (which seem to all have survived unto this day) are the “Anabasis,” being an account in seven books of the expedition of Cyrus the Younger and Xenophon's conduct of the retreat; the “Memorabilia,” in four books, being an account of the life and teaching and in defense of his master Socrates; the “Helenica,” in seven books, being an account of 49 years of Grecian history in continuation of Thucydides to the battle of Mantinea; and “Cyropædeia,” in eight books, being an ideal account of the education of Cyrus the Elder. Xenophon wrote pure Greek in a plain, perspicuous, and unaffected style, had an eye to the practical in his estimate of things, and professed a sincere belief in a divine government of the world .[2]

The Cyropædia

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March of the 10,000

the "Anabasis" or "Upland March", which describes the march of the 10,000 Greek mercenaries through Anatolia to get back to Greece. It is read as a basic text in ancient Greek.

The Helenica

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Xenophon was the primary historian of the last days of Greece's freedom. His Memorabilia depicts Socrates as a teacher of virtue who balanced reason and faith in order to attain the truth.[3] He wrote a detailed account Hellenica which picked up where Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War left off.


  1. The Complete Works of Arrian, translated by Robison, E. Iliff, Anabasis of Alexander, Preference, Delphi Classics, 2014
  2. Nuttall Encyclopedia of General Knowledge, article on Xenophon originally published in 1907 written by Reverend James Wood
  3. Xenophon. E. C. Marchant (Translator), O. J. Todd (Translator). Xenophon: Memorabilia. Oeconomicus. Symposium. Apologia. (Loeb Classical Library No. 168)