Xenophon’s Anabasis

"Xenophon's Anabasis," Interpretation, Vol. 4, No. 3 (Spring 1975).  Reprinted in Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy.


Xenophon’s Anabasis seems today to be regarded universally as his most beautiful book. I do not quarrel with this judgment. I merely wonder what its grounds are. The question is obviously reasonable; in the eighteenth century, quite a few judicious men would have assigned the highest place among Xenophon’s writings to his Memorabilia rather than to his Anabasis. In other words, the fact that we judge the Anabasis to be Xenophon’s most beautiful book does not yet prove that that judgment was shared by Xenophon. Before we can agree or disagree with the ruling opinion, we would have to know what the book meant for Xenophon, we would have to know the place and function of the book within the Corpus Xenophonteum and therewith possibly the full beauty of the Anabasis. Perhaps we have answered our question unwittingly and thoughtlessly, if truthfully, by speaking of Xenophon’s Anabasis, of Xenophon’s ascent.

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