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Being Greek

Henry Day: Up Country with Xenophon, 2 November 2006

The Long March: Xenophon and the Ten Thousand 
by Robin Lane Fox.
Yale, 351 pp., £25, September 2004, 0 300 10403 0
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The Expedition of Cyrus 
by Xenophon, translated by Robin Waterfield.
Oxford, 231 pp., £8.99, September 2005, 0 19 282430 9
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Xenophon’s Retreat: Greece, Persia and the End of the Golden Age 
by Robin Waterfield.
Faber, 248 pp., £17.99, November 2006, 0 571 22383 4
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The Sea! The Sea! The Shout of the Ten Thousand in the Modern Imagination 
by Tim Rood.
Duckworth, 272 pp., £12.99, August 2006, 0 7156 3571 9
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... recounts the progress of his army (which included around 13,000 hired Greek soldiers, among them Xenophon) from his headquarters in Sardis through modern Turkey and the Syrian desert to the plains of Mesopotamia. The first book culminates in Cyrus’ death at the hands of his brother in the battle of Cunaxa. The remaining six follow the ordeals of the ...

Worrying Wives

Helen King: The Invention of Sparta, 7 August 2003

Spartan Women 
by Sarah Pomeroy.
Oxford, 198 pp., £45, July 2002, 0 19 513066 9
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... the earlier and more substantial literary sources, it all depends on whether you favour Aristotle, Xenophon or Plutarch, all non-Spartans. None focuses on women, but all use them in their analyses of the alleged strengths or weaknesses of the Spartan constitution. Which came first: the inadequate constitution that allowed women to own property, or the ...

Crashing the Delphic Party

Tim Whitmarsh: Aesop, 16 June 2011

Aesopic Conversations: Popular Tradition, Cultural Dialogue and the Invention of Greek Prose 
by Leslie Kurke.
Princeton, 495 pp., £20.95, December 2010, 978 0 691 14458 0
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... were Homer and the epic poets; and a little lower down, the historians Herodotus, Thucydides and Xenophon, along with the tragedians Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, and (less congenial to modern taste) those bombastic orators Lysias and Demosthenes. What’s more, as Menippus’ answer to Apollonius shows, judgments of literary quality were always ...

Site of Sin and Suffering

James Romm: Theban Power, 2 July 2020

Thebes: The Forgotten City of Ancient Greece 
by Paul Cartledge.
Picador, 320 pp., £12.99, May, 978 1 5098 7317 3
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... the lyric poet of the mid-fifth century, and his odes deal only marginally with his own region. Xenophon, the Athenian soldier of fortune whose Hellenica follows events in Greece from 410 to 362, might have borne witness to the great age of Thebes, but in fact did more than anyone to make sure the city was ‘forgotten’. A Spartophile who admired ...

Thoughts about Boars and Paul Celan

Lawrence Norfolk: The Ways of the Boar, 6 January 2011

... boar, but his example – Achilles – is not typical. Around the turn of the fifth century BC, Xenophon noted that the boar is designed to attack animals taller than himself. Boars have been known to knock over camels, attack elephants and charge bullock carts and motorised trucks. In the late 1980s, two young boars attacked an F16 fighter plane attempting ...

Odysseus’ Bow

Edward Luttwak: Ancient combat, 17 November 2005

Soldiers and Ghosts: A History of Battle in Classical Antiquity 
by J.E. Lendon.
Yale, 468 pp., £18.95, June 2005, 0 300 10663 7
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... so he can use antique Greek terms that are seriously confusing in places, and calls the commander Xenophon. These are allowable affectations perhaps for some Greekling on the fringes of Roman society, but as it happens Arrian was himself in charge of that operation as governor of the important two-legion province of Cappadocia, and not coincidentally an ...

The Gods of Greece

Jonathan Barnes, 4 July 1985

Greek Religion: Archaic and Classical 
by Walter Burkert, translated by John Raffan.
Blackwell, 493 pp., £29.50, April 1985, 0 631 11241 3
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... and given hereditary Athenian citizenship. Ritual and cult were not confined to public ceremony. Xenophon was a down-to-earth cavalry officer with an intelligent interest in Socratic philosophy. When he was asked to take sole command of the mercenary army in which he was serving, his decision was determined by the sacrifice of two animals and the ...

What, even bedbugs?

Jonathan Barnes: Demiurge at Work, 5 June 2008

Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity 
by David Sedley.
California, 269 pp., £17.95, January 2008, 978 0 520 25364 3
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... is at once a scientific one . . . and a religious one’. It is Socrates – Socrates as Xenophon discovers him – who has a ‘fundamentally religious motivation’, who produces a ‘teleology that is far more overtly and explicitly anthropocentric than anything we have met in his predecessors’, and in whom there is an ‘almost complete absence ...

I want to be a star

Peter Green: Bedazzling Alcibiades, 24 January 2019

Nemesis: Alcibiades and the Fall of Athens 
by David Stuttard.
Harvard, 380 pp., £21.95, April 2018, 978 0 674 66044 1
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... cultivated Socrates was to acquire that sharpness of dialectic essential for public debate. As Xenophon wrote in his Memorabilia, ‘politics had brought them to Socrates, and for politics they left him.’ Nevertheless Alcibiades and Socrates remained friends for at least a decade, as two anecdotes, both military, testify. At the outset of the ...

The Day a God Rode In

Claire Hall: Meetings with their Gods, 20 February 2020

The Realness of Things Past: Ancient Greece and Ontological History 
by Greg Anderson.
Oxford, 336 pp., £55, September 2018, 978 0 19 088664 6
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... texts – including the court speeches of Lysias, Demosthenes and Lycurgus, the histories of Xenophon and Thucydides, and plays and poems by Euripides, Aristophanes and Pindar – in order to re-examine a number of facets of life in democratic Athens, including the daily activities of men and women, buying and selling, participation in legal cases, and a ...

Where a man can be a man

Margaret Anne Doody, 16 December 1993

All the Pretty Horses 
by Cormac McCarthy.
Picador, 302 pp., £5.99, November 1993, 0 330 33169 8
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... ones. In one of the earliest surviving novels of the Roman Imperial period, the Ephesiaka by Xenophon of Ephesus, the hero has a similar dream, in similar circumstances. The hero, Habrokomes, is imprisoned largely because of love-complications (the same applies to McCarthy’s young John Grady Cole). Tortured, immured, separated from his ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Meaney: Ersatz Tyrants, 4 May 2017

... book of the same title. The original On Tyranny is a commentary by Leo Strauss on a dialogue by Xenophon in which a poet named Simonides counsels a tyrant named Hiero on how best to exercise his rule. Strauss’s study was presented along with a critique by Alexandre Kojève, the Russian-French philosopher and proto-EU bureaucrat, who himself once played a ...

Happily ever after

M.F. Burnyeat, 23 July 1992

The End of History and the Last Man 
by Francis Fukuyama.
Hamish Hamilton, 418 pp., £20, March 1992, 0 241 13013 1
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... grise of American conservatism, Leo Strauss. They disagreed about whether a little dialogue that Xenophon wrote in the fourth century BC provides an adequate understanding of modern tyranny. Strauss had said that it did, but he was sufficiently impressed by Kojève’s objections to write a reply in an essay called ‘Restatement on ...

Pacesetter

Adrienne Mayor: Carthage, 24 June 2010

Carthage Must Be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Mediterranean Civilisation 
by Richard Miles.
Allen Lane, 520 pp., £30, March 2010, 978 0 7139 9793 4
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... to Carthage’s destruction, were Flaubert’s chief sources, but he also relied on Herodotus, Xenophon, Cornelius Nepos and Procopius. For geography and fortifications, he turned to Appian and Diodorus of Sicily, and to Aelian for military tactics. He mined Pliny, Theophrastus and others for Carthaginian magical lore and religion. Athenaeus provided the ...

Among the Barbarians

James Romm: The Other, 15 December 2011

Rethinking the Other in Antiquity 
by Erich Gruen.
Princeton, 415 pp., £27.95, January 2011, 978 0 691 14852 6
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... The texts Gruen investigates are, for the most part, the product of those contests: Aeschylus and Xenophon fought the Persians before writing about them, as Julius Caesar did the Gauls, and Tacitus’ contemporaries the Jews and Germans. In contrast to the modern mythic imagination, which tends to depict contests for world domination as Manichean battles ...

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