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The Temptation of Xenophon


This is my latest contribution (and part XII) to the Xenophon Roundtable at Chicago Boyz:

The Temptation of Xenophon

….Xenophon was a relatively young aristocrat who struck out for the East, for greener pastures because any ambitions were likely to be thwarted at home. Athens was a broken empire,just defeated at the hands of Sparta in classical antiquity’s equivalent to WWI. The opportunities for service abroad in the name of Athens were nonexistent. Chances for leadership within the city itself were likewise grim. Xenophon came from a notorious circle in Athens, the followers of Socrates, who were in disfavor with the ruling democrats, being suspected of “factious” inclinations and oligarchical sympathies. Two of their number, Alcibiades and Critias were reckoned as infamous traitors and usurpers. Furthermore, Socrates’ continued lack of participation in the Assembly and the private symposia held by his aristocratic students, appeared to indicate a latent political opposition to Athenian democracy itself.

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