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By the Dog

M.F. Burnyeat: How Plato Works, 7 August 2003

The Play of Character in Plato's Dialogues 
by Ruby Blondell.
Cambridge, 452 pp., £55, June 2002, 0 521 79300 9
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... as ‘the Old Oligarch’, is the author of a Constitution of the Athenians wrongly attributed to Xenophon. He goes on about how cleverly the Athenian people have set things up to exploit the rich, and dreams of managing the same thing in reverse when his side gains power. Evidently, Greeks were less squeamish than we are about the relation between ...

One Kidnapping Away

Tim Whitmarsh: ‘How to Manage Your Slaves’, 3 December 2015

How to Manage Your Slaves 
by Marcus Sidonius Falx, with Jerry Toner.
Profile, 224 pp., £8.99, May 2015, 978 1 78125 251 2
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... and Romans were fond of ‘how to’ manuals, and household management was a favourite topic from Xenophon onwards. Simon Swain of Warwick University recently reconstructed one such text, Bryson’s Management of the Estate, from Arabic and other sources (it was published too late for Toner to take it into account).* Bryson, who wrote in Greek in the first ...

Life and Work

Philip Horne, 8 May 1986

Falling apart 
by Nicholas Salaman.
Secker, 190 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 0 436 44087 3
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Memoirs of Many in One 
by Alex Xenophon Demirjian Gray, edited by Patrick White.
Cape, 192 pp., £8.95, April 1986, 0 224 02371 3
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Free Agents 
by Max Apple.
Faber, 197 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 571 13852 7
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... of Many in One, is set up as a man’s intricate filtering of a woman’s story of delusion. Alex Xenophon Demirjian Gray is imagined as an old Australianised Greek woman, a friend of Patrick White – the widow, in fact, of his lover. White himself ‘intrudes’ in person into the action as well as editorially into her text, and appears as an old man with a ...

Versailles with Panthers

James Davidson: A tribute to the Persians, 10 July 2003

From Cyrus to Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire 
by Pierre Briant, translated by Peter Daniels.
Eisenbrauns, 1196 pp., $79.50, January 2002, 1 57506 031 0
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Ancient Persia from 550 BC to 650 AD: reissue 
by Josef Wiesehöfer, translated by Azizeh Azodi.
Tauris, 332 pp., £35, April 2001, 1 85043 999 0
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... the feast: ‘And they continued to dance and enjoy themselves until they learned the news.’ Xenophon’s account in his novelistic biography of Cyrus is similar, feast and all, but much more detailed. Before the army invades, Cyrus gives his troops a pep talk. He knows that those invading a city are often terrified that the people will ‘go up onto the ...

Bonkers about Boys

James Davidson: Alexander the Great, 1 November 2001

Alexander the Great in Fact and Fiction 
edited by A.B. Bosworth and E.J. Baynham.
Oxford, 370 pp., £35, September 2000, 0 19 815287 6
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... with the death of Alexander was now finally at an end. Suddenly, everyone was writing like Xenophon again, or Julius Caesar. Consequently, apart from the citations by literary critics and a remarkable late inscription erected by the ruler of Commagene at Nemrut Dagh in Turkey, which makes even Hegesias seem pedestrian, next to nothing of this singular ...

Tall and Tanned and Young and Lovely

James Davidson: The naked body in Ancient Greece, 18 June 1998

Art, Desire and the Body in Ancient Greece 
by Andrew Stewart.
Cambridge, 272 pp., £45, April 1997, 0 521 45064 0
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... sheer force of physical impressiveness, producing shock, panic, terror even, was axiomatic. Xenophon recalls Socrates advising him to take to his heels at the sight of a beautiful man: ‘Don’t you realise that this beast they call “young and handsome” is more terrible than a scorpion?’ If such texts are to be believed the streets of Athens must ...

The First Emperor

Jonathan Spence, 2 December 1993

Records of the Grand Historian: Qin Dynasty 
by Sima Qian, edited and translated by Burton Watson.
Columbia, 221 pp., $50, June 1993, 0 231 08166 9
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... if not exactly into household parlance, at least into the domain of those who enjoy Thucydides, Xenophon or Herodotus. Burton Watson’s Qin Dynasty poses its greatest challenge to the reader in its opening chapter, ‘The Basic Annals of Qin’: the unknown names come thick and fast, and the action is tersely described and often opaque in motivation to ...

Image Problems

Peter Green: Pericles of Athens, 6 November 2014

Pericles of Athens 
by Vincent Azoulay, translated by Janet Lloyd.
Princeton, 291 pp., £24.95, July 2014, 978 0 691 15459 6
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... such as it is, has been in plain view all along: Herodotus, Thucydides, Old Comedy, Protagoras, Xenophon, Plato, Plutarch’s biography and of course the remains (above all on the Acropolis) of the great civic building programme. This suggests that any interpretative changes are due more to the varying assumptions of a succession of observers than to any ...

Apollo’s Ethylene

Peter Green: Delphi, 3 July 2014

Delphi: A History of the Centre of the Ancient World 
by Michael Scott.
Princeton, 422 pp., £19.95, February 2014, 978 0 691 15081 9
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... their opinions (not unlike some oracular pronouncements) in a kind of open-minded ambiguity. As Xenophon has Socrates point out, there was always a percentage of human or natural events that lay beyond the current reach of rational intelligence: plague, drought or the outcome of a war. Such things were seen as falling within the province of the gods, and ...

The Talk of Turkey

Stephen O’Shea: Should Turkey be worried?, 28 November 2002

... Armenia dashed by the new Turkish nationalism. Leaders intent on murderous mischief – Alexander, Xenophon, Xerxes and their successors – had always seemed to pass this way, perhaps contributing to the reputation of Mus among Turks as a backwater best left undisturbed. A famous Ottoman song has sorrowful soldiers trudging up the ‘steep road’ to Mus, and ...

Dying to Make a Point

Shadi Bartsch: Death and the Ancients, 15 November 2007

Death in Ancient Rome 
by Catharine Edwards.
Yale, 287 pp., £25, June 2007, 978 0 300 11208 5
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The Death of Socrates: Hero, Villain, Chatterbox, Saint 
by Emily Wilson.
Profile, 247 pp., £15.99, August 2007, 978 1 86197 762 5
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... in the Phaedo, in which Socrates presents his views on the immortality of the soul. Both Plato and Xenophon suggest that Socrates’ acceptance of death was the logical outcome of his thinking. But even this leaves room for confusion, since Socrates’ famous claim in the Apology is that he will obey ‘the god’ at all times over his fellow citizens, whereas ...

Against Michelangelo

Rosemary Hill: ‘The Pinecone’, 11 October 2012

The Pinecone 
by Jenny Uglow.
Faber, 332 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 0 571 26950 1
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... be able to construe the Greek testament … at sight … read any easy prose Greek author, as Xenophon, Lucian, Herodotus and also Homer … then all the usual common Latin schoolbooks … to read at sight Virgil, Horace, Caesar’s Commentaries … you should be able to write pretty correctly Latin prose – and a Greek play or two should be added. It ...

‘Screw you, I’m going home’

Ian Hacking, 22 June 2000

Conquest of Abundance: A Tale of Abstraction Versus the Richness of Being 
by Paul Feyerabend, edited by Bert Terpstra.
Chicago, 285 pp., £19, February 2000, 0 226 24533 0
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... story has the merit here of being a new move. The subsequent ramble through early philosophy, Xenophon, Parmenides and so on, traverses terrain that in this context is more familiar. Always Feyerabend casts the events as a battle of abstraction against abundance, with abstraction taking the laurels every time. The Greeks are defined by a list of ...

Swish! Swish! Swish!

Patrick Leigh Fermor: The Mani Olive Harvest, 29 July 2021

... or a squabble between two Thracian archers over a plate of beans, and all would be different. Xenophon had the life-giving gift; so did Makriyannis. These old Maniots idling the morning away with me under the hot leaves had it to a supreme degree. The bell round its neck clanked every time the donkey moved to a new patch of stubble, while we were marching ...

Flat-Nose, Stocky and Beautugly

James Davidson: Greek Names, 23 September 2010

A Lexicon of Greek Personal Names. Vol. V.A Coastal Asia Minor: Pontos to Ionia 
edited by T. Corsten.
Oxford, 496 pp., £125, March 2010, 978 0 19 956743 0
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... necessarily make sense when combined. Such ‘irrational names’ – Andrippos (‘Man-horse’), Xenophon (‘Strange[r]-Voice’) – would also have to include the name of Plato’s great-uncle, Kallaischros, a name possessed by a number of distinguished Athenians of the classical period, which sounded exactly like ‘Beautugly’. Doubtless even the most ...

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