Xenophon Summary

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Xenophon captures the Greek world at the end of its oligarchic glory. His work, affectionately referred as “fussy” highlights the essential pieces that brought the decline of the hoplite warfare and an end to its ethos. The definition of autonomia changed following the beginning of the fourth century B.C.E. The role of the citizens no longer encapsulated the wellbeing of the community, but rather their wellbeing through the community. The question of the day became “what can my polis do for me?”. Xenophon’s entire work depicts continuously without respite, but it also describes the war that raged inside each polis. The hoplite culture historically favors times of war, but it had also allowed for times of peace, times to enjoy the victories. …show more content…
The beginning of the polis-culture is due to the foundations that tyrants created. The Greeks could develop a philosophy of warfare, and of community, or rather, could see what they did not want as government. Kitto points out that “the word ‘tyrant’…originally had none of the odious associations which it acquired and has kept, and the Greeks gratefully remembered what they owed to the tyrants. Nevertheless, it was hard for the Greek not to be allowed to manage his own public affairs”. The important thing about the role of tyranny is that by the fourth century in the era that Xenophon is writing, tyranny was happening in more than one polis as imperial power, introduced in the Peloponnesian war, became a desired prize. Citizens now also began to acquire wealth, and seek monetary gains. Most importantly, mercenaries began to make up most of the armies of powerful figures. Xenophon himself is a mercenary. In his Hellenica, he rarely mentions mercenaries and when he does it is with disdain. To be a tyrant, a power need money to fund to rise, for bribery, armies, and personal wealth. The polis culture is not suited to manage imperial power, nor is it suited to a massive expansion on their non-existent economy. They were not able to stop fighting because their pre-conceived notions of tyranny were so deeply ingrained in their ethos as a culture and as a power, and that resulted in the constant internal and external battle for power, and to keep power at

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