Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICE

OF

XENOPHON.

XENOPHON was born at Athens, in the demos, or borough, called Erchia. His father's name was Gryllus.1

4

The year of his birth is nowhere mentioned; but as he was upwards of ninety when he died, and was alive B. C. 357, the year in which the assassination of Alexander of Pheræ, which he mentions,3 took place, Kroger, who has examined the subject with much attention, is inclined to place his birth about B. c. 444. If this date be correct, he was twenty years of age at the time of the battle between the Athenians and Boeotians at Delium, B. C. 424, in which he was present, and would probably have lost his life in the flight of the Athenians, had he not been rescued by Socrates, who, seeing him fall from his horse, took him upon his shoulders, and carried him for several stadia.5

What were the circumstances or rank of his father, we are not informed, but it may be reasonably conjectured, from his intimacy with Proxenus, a man of consideration in Boeotia, and from the position which he held among the Greeks that followed Cyrus, that he was not of mean or poor parentage.

He had at an early age become acquainted with Socrates. Their first meeting is thus described by Laertius. Socrates met him in a narrow passage, and being pleased with the modesty and beauty of his countenance, playfully put out his stick to prevent him from passing, and asked him, at the same time, where people could purchase provisions. Xenophon having given him an answer, he again asked where people might learn virtue and honour. Xenophon hesitating how to reply, Socrates said, "Follow me, then, and be taught." From that time he became firmly attached to Socrates.

3 Hellen. vi. 4. 35.

1 Diog. Laert. ii. 48.

2 Lucian, Macrob. c. 21.
De Xenoph. Vità Quæstt. Critt. Hal. 1822.
Strabo, lib. ix. c. 1. Diog. Laert. ubi sup.
Xen. Anab. iii. 1. 4.

7 ii. 48.

It is said by Philostratus,1 that, he was taken by the Boeotians, and lived for some time as a prisoner among them. If this be true, he must have been captured, as Krüger thinks, when the Boeotians treacherously recovered Oropus from the Athenian garrison left to defend it, B. C. 412. At this period he may have commenced his acquaintance with Proxenus, a man of cultivated mind and of some ambition. Philostratus relates that Xenophon and Proxenus attended the lectures of Prodicus the sophist together. Photius also says that he was a pupil of Isocrates, who, however, if Xenophon was born B. C. 444, was eight years his junior.

It was by the persuasion of Proxenus that Xenophon joined Cyrus in his expedition against Artaxerxes. Proxenus had engaged in the enterprise with the expectation of gaining honour and wealth, and, while the army was staying at Sardes, wrote to Xenophon to say that if he would come thither, he would introduce him to Cyrus. Xenophon showed the letter to Socrates, who advised him to consult the Delphic oracle, as it was a matter not to be hastily decided, since Cyrus was regarded as an enemy to Athens. Xenophon accordingly went to Delphi, but did not ask the god whether he ought to go or not, for he was probably too much inclined to go, but merely inquired to what gods he should sacrifice in order to commence and accomplish in safety the journey which he was contemplating. Apollo replied that he should sacrifice to the gods to whom he ought to sacrifice. Socrates, at his return, blamed him for having consulted the oracle in such a manner, but told him that, as he had received an answer, he had better go. Xenophon in consequence joined Cyrus at Sardes, and accompanied him in his expedition, but, as it appears, without any military or

other rank.1

After Cyrus was killed, however, in the affair at Cunaxa, and the generals were cut off by the perfidy of Tissaphernes, he soon showed himself capable of exercising command. He stood forward to answer Phalinus, who came from the king to demand the arms of the Greeks; he was chosen general by the captains that had served under Proxenus; and he was quickly found able to take charge of the whole army. With what ability and success he conducted the Ten Thousand in their retreat through deserts and Barbarians, a march of many hundred miles, is fully related in the Anabasis.

The kind of connexion that subsisted between Xenophon and Proxenus might lead us to suppose that they were nearly of the same age. But Proxenus was only thirty when he was put to death; and Xenophon, by Krüger's computation, must have been fortythree or forty-four, not much younger than Clearchus, who was put to death at fifty. Yet Xenophon seems to speak of himself in

1.12. Krüger, Quæstt. p. 17.
A ab. iii. 1.

Biblioth. cclx.
4 Anab. iii. 1. 4.

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICE OF XENOPHON.

the Anabasis as young, so young that his offer to take a command required an apology; he is called vɛavioKoç, according to some manuscripts, by Phalinus; he says that himself and Timasion were the two youngest of the generals; 3 he takes, on every occasion, the more active duty, as being more appropriate to the young; and a general impression is certainly left upon the reader that he could not have reached middle age. Hence Mitford concludes that he must have been between twenty-five and thirty at the time of the Anabasis. But if we suppose him to have been only twenty years old at the battle of Delium, he must have been at least forty-three when he joined Cyrus; and Seuthes addresses him as a man apparently old enough to have a marriageable daughter. On the word vɛavioKoç, even if applied to Xenophon, we may observe that much stress cannot be laid; for it was used, as well as vioç, with regard to men even of forty; Xenophon, as Sturz observes, says that Agesilaus became king er véos v, when it appears from Plutarch that he was forty-three; and Phavorinus says that vɛavioroc might be applied to a man of any age from twenty-three to forty-one. Besides, the best manuscripts, in the passage where veavioKoç is used, read "Theopompus" instead of "Xenophon," and the mode in which he introduces himself in the first chapter of the third book, would almost lead to the conclusion, as has been observed, that his name ought not to occur in the first two books.

6

vii

But whatever attempts we make, it is impossible to come to any satisfactory decision with regard to the age at which Xenophon joined Cyrus. Unless we set aside the anecdote of the battle of Delium, we must believe, with Krüger, that he was not under forty; yet from the way in which he speaks of himself, we can hardly help fancying him younger, and surmising that there must be more in favour of the arguments for his youth than we can substantiate.

An argument offered by Schneider, to prove that Xenophon was more than forty at the time of the Anabasis, should not be left unnoticed. The entertainment given by Callias, which was the basis of Xenophon's "Symposium," occurred B. c. 421; and an allusion is made in the "Symposium "s to some familiarities of Critobulus with Cleinias, which, as appears from the "Memorabilia," must have taken place when Xenophon was a young man. If, accordingly, we suppose that Xenophon was somewhat more than forty at the time of the Anabasis, we make him somewhat more than twenty at the time of Callias's entertainment; a computation satisfactory enough; but if we consider him, with Mitford, to have been under thirty at the time of the Anabasis, we unfortunately make him under ten at the time of the entertainment.10

1 Anab. iii. 1. 16.
Vol. v. p. 329, seqq.
Ad Sympos. iv. 25.
10 See the Philological

[ocr errors]

3 iii. 2. 25.

2 Anab. ii. i. 13. 5 Anab. vii. 2. 8.

• Krüger, p. 12. iv. 25; ibique Schneider. 9 i. 3. 10. Museum, vol. i. p. 510.

Mitford says that the anecdote respecting the battle of Delium is overthrown by a passage in Athenæus, and that Xenophon is more than once called véos and vɛavioкog in the Anabasis, but is wrong, as Mr. Clinton observes, in both assertions; for there is nothing in Athenæus subversive of the evidence as to Delium, and the term véos is not applied to Xenophon in the Anabasis. About veaviOKOG we have already settled. Mr. Clinton says that Xenophon was probably about forty-two when he joined Cyrus.

After the Greeks, on their return, had arrived at Trapezus or Trebisond, they were conducted from thence to Chrysopolis, opposite Byzantium, and some of them entered the service of Seuthes, a prince of Thrace, from whom, after performing what they had undertaken for him, they could with difficulty obtain a portion of the pay which he had promised them. Soon after they had settled matters with him, however, they were invited by the Lacedæmonians to join Thibron, a Spartan general, who was maintaining a contest with Tissaphernes and Pharnabazus, and under whose command Xenophon left almost all that survived of the Ten Thousand, B. C. 399. But previously, as his finances were exhausted, he made an expedition, in order to recruit them, into the plain of the Caicus, where he stormed the residence of a Persian, named Asidates, and captured Asidates himself, his women, and all his treasures. Such a foray seems to have been scarcely creditable to Xenophon, but in his account of it he testifies no concern or shame.2 As he had joined the Lacedæmonians, who were at war with Persia, he probably thought himself justified in treating any Persian as an enemy.

During Xenophon's absence from Athens Socrates was put to death, B. C. 399.

Soon after his return from Asia, and when he was intending to go to Athens, he learned that sentence of banishment had been passed against him by his countrymen, for the support which he had given to Cyrus, the friend of the Lacedæmonians, during the Peloponnesian war.3 In consequence, it has been supposed that he remained in Asia, with Thibron and his successor Dercyllidas, and perhaps acted as leader of the Kupio. It is certain that in B. C. 396 he was in Asia with Agesilaus, in his campaign against the Persians, and that, when Agesilaus was recalled to defend his country, he accompanied him to the battle of Coroneia, in which the Thebans and Athenians were defeated by the Spartans, B. C. 394.5 "How he is to be excused for siding with the enemies of his country," says Kühner, "is shown by H. Weilius in Zimmermanni Annal. antiq. discip. 1842, p. 144.'

Fasti Hellenici, B. c. 401. 2 Anab. vii. 8. 23. 3 Anab. vii. 7. 57; Pausan. v. 6. 4; Diog. Laert. ii. 51. Kühner, Prolegom. in Anab. p. v.; Krüger, Quæstt. p. 21. Anab. v. 3. 6; Plut. Agesil. 18.

« VorigeDoorgaan »