Dates: c. 430 - c. 355 B.C.
Birthplace: Near Athens
Occupation: Historian and soldier
Claim to Fame: (1) Wrote an alternative version of the death of Socrates. (2) Source on ancient Persia.
The Life of Xenophon
Xenophon was born in or near Athens during the early years of the Peloponnesian War. He had contact with the woman philosopher Aspasia (mentioned in Xenophon's Economics) and may have been one of the Greek philosopher Socrates' students. He is known as an historian. He is especially noteworthy because he is one of the main sources on Socrates.
Xenophon was born in Athens (from which he was later exiled) in the second half of the 5th century B.C. His date of death is also uncertain but was around 355. His banishment appears to have been revoked before he died, so he either died in Corinth or possibly Athens.
Like Thucydides, Xenophon was exiled and wound up in Sparta where he was given an estate and raised a family. In 371, because of the Spartan defeat at Leuctra, he lost his property and moved to Corinth.
Xenophon, who served under the Persian King Cyrus, wrote about the turn of the fourth century B.C. expedition in his Anabasis and about the upbringing of the Persian king in his Cyropedia.
Xenophon also wrote about Greek topics, including The Hellenica, a history of Greece from 411-362. It is thought to have been a continuation of Thucydides' work to the Battle of Mantinea. Xenophon's Apology, about the trial and death of Socrates, is very different from Plato's account, perhaps because Xenophon wasn't present at the death. On a related topic, Xenophon wrote a Memorabilia justifying Socrates. Xenophon wrote the following:
- The Polity of the Athenians and Lacedaemonians
- Anabasis (on the retreat of the Greeks who had fought for Cyrus)
- Constitution of The Lacedaimonians
- On Hunting
- On The Art of Horsemanship
- On The Cavalry Commander
- Ways and Means