zenpundit.com » Blog Archive » Catching up on the Xenophon Roundtable VIII, IX, X, XI

Catching up on the Xenophon Roundtable VIII, IX, X, XI

Xenophon’s Vanished Cities by Mitch Townsend

I have been trying to map the physical progress of Xenophon through the Middle East and back to the Greek cities in Anatolia. His starting point is relatively easy to find: the city of Sardis, now called Sart, still exists, although now it is just a village near the ruins. The city was destroyed several times by earthquakes. The next city mentioned, Colossae, was located near what is now Denzli (Turkey). They went on to Celaenae, near the present-day town of Dinar, where they remained for 30 days. While looking at the area in Google Earth, I noticed some landscape features that look like they might be the outlines of ancient buildings under the plowed fields. Have a look for yourself.

Xenophon Roundtable: The Army Reaches Level Ground by Lexington Green

This theme becomes more muted after the army reaches the summit of Mt. Eches, at the end of book 4. From that point, the army descends to level ground, and begins to decay as an army and as a quasi-political community. We see in the beginning of Book V, ch. 1, that the discipline and hardihood that carried the army to the sea begins to break down. The first thing they do is gather together to “deliberate about the rest of their journey”. As always with this army, the soldiers themselves must be consulted and agree to any major course of action. The soldiers resist the necessity of marching and carrying heavy loads. The first person to speak, says “I for my part, men, am by now tired of this packing up, walking, running, bearing heavy arms, marching in order, standing guard, and fighting. I now desire to cease from these labors, since we have the sea, to sail the rest of the way stretched out like Odysseus, and to arrive in Greece.” In other words, everything that makes this group of armed men an army, and makes them individually soldiers, is too onerous to keep on doing. In effect, this is a motion to the meeting to dissolve the army and turn it into a group of tourists. The army, like any democratic community presented with a seemingly easy, costless and pleasant course acclaims this proposal

Xenophon Roundtable: A Few Martial Rhymes by Historyguy99

Mark Twain wrote, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” The Anabasis of Cyrus is filled with events that have reappeared throughout history to form a rhythm that if not repeated, lends example and advice to other commanders faced with similar challenges.

Not much discussed in the forgoing posts, has been Xenophon’s speech to the assembled soldiers before setting out on their march to the sea. Reading the speech, one will note several themes that have a familiar ring to any student of American military history. This account of how Xenophon dressed for the occasion has a twin in the way one American General outfitted himself for battle

Xenophon Roundtable: The Building of a Political Community by Seydlitz89

….We start with the Greek army marching through Asia Minor east, but with no actual idea of their real goal.  It is only after they have advanced a considerable distance that their benefactor, Cyrus of Persia, tells all the Greek generals the true goal of their expedition – the defeat of his brother the King of Persia and his own establishment as new king.  The Greeks do not react positively to this and demand more money to continue.  Xenophon remarks that the mass of the Greeks continue on out of a sense of shame, that is more a sense of inertia and vague material interest drives the army on (III, 1, 10).  Their military professionalism and sense of belonging to “Greece” can be seen as elements of material cohesion, whereas their sense of belonging to specific city states or tribes and their individual loyalties to their specific generals can be seen as moral cohesion.  Both types of cohesion are weakened at specific instances during the advance by the actions of for instance Menon when he convinces his army to advance first across the Euphrates River and thus gain the favour of Cyrus at the expense of the other Greeks (I, 4 15).

The moral and material cohesion of the Greek Army is sufficient to get them to the battle of  Cunaxa and allow them to make a good accounting of themselves, but the battle ends in disaster for the Greeks since Cyrus is killed and his body mutilated by his brother the Great King.  Cyrus’s death removes the political support and purpose that holds the Greek army together and unites it with its Persian allies.  Without Cyrus there is also no source of monetary funds to pay the soldiers who are now without a patron.  Xenophon is also well aware of the new political situation and how the Greek Army poses a threat to the Great King by its very continued existence (II, 4, 3-4).

Read the rest at Chicago Boyz.

One Response to “Catching up on the Xenophon Roundtable VIII, IX, X, XI”

  1. Lexington Green Says:

    It is funny.  When I finished the book the first time, I was concerned that I would not have enough to write about.  As I sat down with it the second time, and started writing, I realized that there was an immense amount in there that I could barely scratch. 

    Given unlimited time, in some fantasy alternate universe, I would make a detailed chronology, note where each of Xenophon’s speeches occurs, and the circumstances and audience of each, and then examine the rhetorical method he uses in each case to get the listeners to do what he wants. 

    That would really be an entire book unto itself.  In the last 2,400 years I am sure someone has done it.  But reading such a book would not be nearly so educational as writing it would be. 

Switch to our mobile site