Xenophon was a Greek historian, philosopher, mercenary, and a disciple of Socrates. He is known for recording historical data during 5th and 4th century BC. He documented historical facts of his era. Xenophon’s most popular work has to be Hellenica which covered the continuation of the history of Peloponnecian war. His other works include Anabasis, Cyropaedia and Agesilaus. His work in Anabasis describes the proximity of Xenophon and Socrates. Even though he was born in Athens, he was closely associated with the arch rival city-state of Sparta. Along with his prolific work as a historian, Xenophon had major interest in politics. Even though there is no clear evidence about his opposition to democracy, he preferred aristocracy over it. His work ‘Cyropaedia’ clearly supports pro-oligarchic polity. This documentation also expresses his high regards for the first Persian emperor Cyrus the Great. He believed that it was the virtue and leadership qualities of the man which held the vast Persian Empire together. This was the main reason why he was accused of treason and subjected to exile by the Athenians. We have collected his quotes and thoughts from his books, and observations about politics, society etc. Let us go through these quotes from the great Greek historian.
For drink, there was beer which was very strong when not mingled with water, but was agreeable to those who were used to it. They drank this with a reed, out of the vessel that held the beer, upon which they saw the barley swim.
There is a deep—and usually frustrated—desire in the heart of everyone to act with benevolence rather than selfishness, and one fine instance of generosity can inspire dozens more.
...men unite against none so readily as against those whom they
see attempting to rule over them.
The true test of a leader is whether his followers will adhere to his cause from their own volition, enduring the most arduous hardships without being forced to do so, and remaining steadfast in the moments of greatest peril.
Menon the Thessalian did not either conceal his immoderate desire of riches or his desire of commanding, in order to increase them, or of being esteemed for the same reason. He desired to be well with those in power, that his injustice might escape punishment.
Those men who, in war, seek to preserve their lives at any rate commonly die with shame and ignominy, while those who look upon death as common to all, and unavoidable, and are only solicitous to die with honour, oftener arrive at old age and, while they live, live happier.
A Persian army being then subject to great inconveniences, for their horses are tied and generally shackled to prevent them from running away, and if an alarm happens, a Persian has the housing to fix, his horse to bridle, and his corslet to put on before he can mount.
We are all sensible that the king and Tisaphernes have caused as many of us as they could to be apprehended, and it is plain they design, by the same treacherous means, if they can, to destroy the rest.
If any among you covet riches, let him endeavour to overcome, for the victorious not only preserve their own possessions but acquire those of the enemy.
For myself, I think that those who cultivate wisdom and believe themselves able to instruct their fellow-citizens as to their interests are least likely to become partisans of violence. They are too well aware that to violence attach enmities and dangers, whereas results as good may be obtained by persuasion safely and amicably.
Socrates gave a lifetime to the outpouring of his substance in the shape of the greatest benefits bestowed on all who cared to receive them. In other words, he made those who lived in his society better men and sent them on their way rejoicing.
You see that even the enemy did not dare to declare war against us till they had seized our generals, for they were sensible that, while we had commanders and yielded obedience to them, we were able to conquer them; but, having seized our commanders, they concluded that we should, from a want of command and discipline, be destroyed.
You see, O Greeks! The enemy already acknowledge the country to be ours; for when they made peace with us, they stipulated that we should not burn the country belonging to the king, and now they set fire to it themselves, as if they looked upon it no longer as their own.