Several recent studies have analysed Xenophon's views of leadership, including his interest in achieving willing obedience and acknowledging mutual claims as essential components of the relationship between commanders and soldiers.Footnote 1 I shall discuss an episode from the Anabasis dealing with individual vs collective claims, the use of violence, the normative role of shame and the legitimacy of power. While the episode is not set in the institutional context of a polis, its protagonists behave in accordance with notions such as the rule of law and the awareness of other normative values followed by all Greeks.
I am referring to the trial of the stratêgoi within the army at the end of Anabasis Book 5, and especially to Xenophon's own defence against a charge for hybris at 5.8. Over the last decade, this famous episode has been included in wider discussions by M.A. FlowerFootnote 2 and E. Buzzetti;Footnote 3 more extensive treatments have been provided by C. Bearzot, E.M. HarrisFootnote 4 and especially D.D. Phillips.Footnote 5 While Phillips's study contains useful insights, on the whole I cannot agree with its arguments, which mainly seek to employ the episode to correct and expand the Aristotelian definition of hybris. Although obviously well aware of it, Phillips does not take into proper consideration that Aristotle provides a selective treatment of hybris, as a form of injustice in the Nicomachean Ethics and mainly (though not exclusively) in a forensic context in the Rhetoric,Footnote 6 in line with its conceptualization as an offence in Athenian law. Phillips's reliance on the Panhellenic tone of the Anabasis adheres to a questionable commonplace,Footnote 7 and his argument that in some cases hybris can be ‘morally positive’ is based on only two passages.Footnote 8 With regard to the first passage, the Against Neaera does not actually provide a positive connotation of hybris simply because—as Phillips claims—Apollodorus states that the law allows it to be committed on women found in relation with a moichos ([Dem.] 59.86): on the contrary, Athenian law was clearly designed to condemn hybris even when committed on socially inferior or marginalized subjects, because the ratio legis was to punish the unacceptable disposition which stands behind an act of hybris regardless of the status of its victims.Footnote 9 The second passage concerns a catalogue of suggested names for dogs, among which is Hybris, from Xenophon's Cynegeticus (7.5); but using it to rehabilitate the notion of hybris rests on the puzzling assumption that human agency can be judged based on standards employed for naming dogs.Footnote 10
I propose a different analysis of Xenophon's trial. Addressing hybris as an analytically pejorative notion, I set the episode against other fourth-century sources and provide parallels within Xenophon's corpus. Through this episode I consider the normative role of shame in the military and the boundaries regulating the use of violence among fellow soldiers.
1. XENOPHON ON TRIAL
Near Cotyora the Ten Thousand held a series of trials aimed at settling outstanding matters that had occurred since Cyrus’ death. Among these, Xenophon's case seems especially serious:Footnote 11 he was charged with committing hybris by some men who declared that they had been beaten by him (An. 5.8.1 κατηγόρησάν τινες φάσκοντες παίεσθαι ὑπ᾽ αὐτοῦ καὶ ὡς ὑβρίζοντος τὴν κατηγορίαν ἐποιοῦντο). The terminology and the accusation reflect what we know of the Athenian graphê hybreôs, and although we cannot assume that the army employed the same procedure we can certainly conclude that Xenophon was formally charged: in other words, even in the context of a mercenary camp, litigation was conducted according to the institutionalized procedures of a polis proper.Footnote 12
Xenophon's defence is made in a series of pressing questions and counterstatements refuting the charges brought by the first man who spoke against him (An. 5.8.2 τὸν πρῶτον λέξαντα). This man appears to be the leader, or at least the most prominent, of the accusers: that Xenophon never names him—although it later becomes clear that he has recognized him: §2—may be a way to downplay the importance and the dignity of an opponent by simply denying his first name, a strategy consistently employed elsewhere in the Anabasis.Footnote 13 Xenophon leads the prosecutor to clarify the circumstances until it becomes clear that his charge is unsubstantiated and that the accuser himself is responsible for shameful acts (2–12). Xenophon proves that the beating was legitimate and emerges as a good leader, offering more general remarks on duty and solidarity (13–20). Finally, he proceeds to shame the audience for allowing unrestricted, abusive behaviour by some soldiers (21–6). The episode, which ends with Xenophon's triumph and a general reconciliation within the army, is not without irony, and one might suspect that a rather inexperienced accuser was easily defeated (if not outright bullied) by Xenophon's superior rhetorical skills. Regardless, as we shall see, it is the values underpinning the speech which make it an important display of wide-ranging social norms.
First, Xenophon asks the accuser to state the circumstances of the beating (An. 5.8.2–3): the reference to deep cold and heavy snowfall points to the crossing of Armenia in Book 4, chaps. 4–5, when Xenophon led by example from the very first stages (4.12; below, §3). Chased by Tiribazus’ army, the Greeks lost men and animals (5.4, 5.11–15) and the extreme conditions (4.8–11, 5.1–4) fostered individualistic attitudes in many of the soldiers (5.5–6). Xenophon took the initiative by distributing food from the baggage train (5.8–9) and resorted to any means and device (5.16 πάσῃ τέχνῃ καὶ μηχανῇ) to spur the men in the rear. In these passages Xenophon never mentions physical violence openly, but we learn that he got angry (5.16 τελευτῶν ἐχαλέπαινεν) and ordered the younger soldiers to force the sick to proceed (5.21).Footnote 14 In any case, it is clear from his account that the army was facing a critical situation and that his efforts to help had been unceasing.
After alluding to the context of the incident, Xenophon presses his accuser to state why he had been beaten. Xenophon sarcastically comments that if the alleged accusation were true he would truly have committed hybris—indeed, he would be even more hybristic than a donkey (An. 5.8.3 εἰ ἐν τοιούτῳ καιρῷ ὕβριζον, ὁμολογῶ καὶ τῶν ὄνων ὑβριστότερος εἶναι), a comparison which alludes to a mixture of violent overexcitement, physical and verbal aggressiveness (cf. Hdt. 4.129.1), general self-indulgence (Pl. Phd. 81e) and proverbial stubbornness attributed to donkeys.Footnote 15 The choice of the donkey metaphor may well be a pun on the accuser's role of mule-driver (below, §2): although clearly distinct in the sources, donkeys and mules shared a number of typical traits in addition to the role of pack animals.Footnote 16 Here Xenophon is ridiculing the charges brought against him, a strategy which he employs also in other episodes (for example An. 5.7.6–10). Through the following series of questions, Xenophon brings his accuser to confirm that the beating was not motivated by a dispute over something, a love-affair, or drunkenness (8.4)—according to Athenian law, but probably also to general understanding, at least the last two were no legal excuse for hybris.Footnote 17
2. SHAMING THE ACCUSER
Next, Xenophon asks the accuser to declare his role in the army: the man was serving neither as a hoplite nor as a peltast but as a mule-driver, assigned to this task by his tent mates (An. 5.8.5 ἡμίονον ἐλαύνειν ταχθεὶς ὑπὸ τῶν συσκήνων). That the man immediately specifies his free status (ἐλεύθερος ὤν) suggests that (also) slaves were assigned to this task in the army (cf. driving a mule cart as a slave job in Pl. Lysis 208b). The man might have been a soldier temporarily assigned to the mules,Footnote 18 but the detail is of little use: Xenophon is here focussing on the man's role at the time of the incident. Handling the pack animals was essential for the survival of the army, and in Armenia Xenophon himself had distributed supplies from the baggage train to help the soldiers (An. 4.5.8–9; §1 above). However, through his question Xenophon now suggests the humble status of the mule-driver within a descending hierarchy of roles,Footnote 19 with the clear aim of discrediting his opponent. A close parallel is provided by Xenophon's dismissal of Apollonides, the only lochagos who had spoken against him in the choice of the new commanders (3.1.26): after demonstrating his incompetence, Xenophon had proposed that the army should cast him out, demote him and assign him to carry the baggage (3.1.30 σκεύη ἀναθέντας ὡς τοιούτῳ χρῆσθαι).Footnote 20
Once the accuser identifies himself as a mule-driver, Xenophon seems to recognize him as one who, at the time of the incident, was carrying a sick man (An. 5.8.6): the opponent confirms this and seeks sympathy from the audience, claiming that Xenophon had compelled him to the task after scattering the baggage of his tent mates (σὺ γὰρ ἠνάγκαζες. τὰ δὲ τῶν ἐμῶν συσκήνων σκεύη διέρριψας), that is, harming and insulting not just him but the whole unit. For a soldier, appealing to his unit to ground claims appears to have been common practice: the plaintiff of Demosthenes’ Against Conon underlined that he had reported unruly comrades to the stratêgos not by himself but together with all his mess-mates (54.4 κοινῇ πάντες οἱ σύσσιτοι προσελθόντες, οὐκ ἐγὼ τῶν ἄλλων ἔξω). Consider also Xenophon's comments on Cyrus the Great's arrangement of his soldiers by tents, as a way of fostering their mutual consideration (Cyr. 2.1.25 τὸ αἰσχύνεσθαι). Xenophon quickly dismisses his opponent's insinuation (An. 5.8.7) and proceeds to use the new information to his own advantage. As the sick man was unable to walk (cf. 4.5.3–5, §1 above), he had been entrusted to the mule-driver who, shortly after, attempted to bury his passenger alive (5.8.8–11). It was at this point that Xenophon hit the mule-driver, whose actions now emerge as cruel and detrimental for the whole army: realizing that the beating was anything but gratuitous, the enraged soldiers in the audience cry out that Xenophon had just not beaten him enough (5.8.12 τοῦτον μὲν ἀνέκραγον ὡς ὀλίγας παίσειεν).
A few comparisons will best illustrate the main points of this scene in Xenophon's defence, here turning into a counterattack as he switches roles and becomes the accuser. On a general level, the mule-driver's attempt to abandon the sick man can be compared to Aristotle's example of shameful conduct (aischynê) as profiting from the weak (Rh. 1383b22–4; see also 1385b24–32 on hybris and pity); to Lycurgus’ accusation of Leocrates, a traitor and a coward who sought safety for himself alone rather than for the whole community (Leoc. 43, 67, 110, 131; cf. Lys. 31.7); and even to Darius’ cynical plan to abandon to the Scythians his mules along with the men unable to fight (Hdt. 4.134.3–136). Xenophon's success in arousing the soldiers’ indignation mirrors the accuser's practice of stirring the judges’ hostility against a defendant, a familiar technique in forensic oratory.Footnote 21 Finally, the scene of the audience applauding the sensible leader who beats the wretched subordinate recalls Odysseus’ maltreatment of Thersites in the Iliad (2.270–7).Footnote 22 Other scholars have found different parallels for Thersites in the Anabasis,Footnote 23 and R.F. Buxton sees a ‘striking contrast’ between Xenophon's leadership and the divide between leaders and soldiers in the Iliad,Footnote 24 whereas I would rather focus on the similarities: Xenophon's methodical humiliation of his opponent, first by pointing out his humble role, then by exposing his shameful act, aims at harming his reputation to the point that his accusation carries no weight, just as Thersites’ words are worthless, regardless of their contents, owing to his poor fame and lineage.Footnote 25 Another, partially similar episode from the Anabasis perhaps best illustrates Xenophon's strategy: at the end of Book 6, Dexippus points to Xenophon as the person responsible for a serious incident involving the army and the Spartan authorities.Footnote 26 Just as with the mule-driver, Xenophon focusses on ruining his opponent's reputation while magnifying his own virtues, portraying Dexippus as a liar (6.6.5–11), traitor and coward (6.6.17 and 6.6.22–4; cf. 5.1.15). The Spartan harmost accepts Dexippus’ ill repute, but also states that, regardless of that, he ought not to have suffered bia instead of a regular trial (6.6.25). Eventually, the situation ends favourably for Xenophon (6.6.34) when, on his initiative, the soldiers beg the harmost to put both Dexippus and the rest of them to the test to see how they compare and to treat each one as he deserves (6.6.33 τὴν ἀξίαν ἑκάστοις νεῖμαι), implying that Dexippus’ claims would become even weaker once his wickedness is fully revealed—much as Thersites’ and the mule-driver's accusations were dropped once their baseness had been exposed.
At this point in his trial in Book 5 Xenophon has clearly won the confrontation, and the other men who had planned to bring a charge against him waive their chance (An. 5.8.12). Xenophon admits having beaten some others for their ataxia (5.8.13), meaning that these men were pursuing their own safety and interests at the expense of the whole army, with a selfishness similar to the mule-driver's. Just before his election to command, Xenophon had discussed the common safety provided by eutaxia vis-à-vis the disaster brought by ataxia (3.1.38).Footnote 27 Xenophon declares that he had also struck and treated violently those who were about to give up the march (5.8.14 καὶ ἔπαισα καὶ ἐβιασάμην πορεύεσθαι; cf. 5.8.17 and §1 above on 4.5.21). From personal experience Xenophon had learned to resist the cold by keeping in motion and ‘behaving in a manly way’ (5.8.15 κινεῖσθαι καὶ ἀνδρίζεσθαι), a subtle appeal to the soldiers’ pride and courage as a source of motivation.Footnote 28 Every act of violence he committed was for the good of the men (5.8.16–18); therefore, it was legitimate, as confirmed by his final, bold challenge: all those who were saved in Armenia are now able to indict Xenophon if they think that they have suffered anything unjust from him (5.8.17)—an implicit submission to the principle of accountability and to the rule of law.
3. CARING FOR THE COMRADES
Xenophon now compares his own role in the army (and the kind of dikê he should respond to) to that of three different figures: parents, teachers (An. 5.8.18 καὶ γονεῖς υἱοῖς καὶ διδάσκαλοι παισί) and physicians (ἰατροί). Xenophon does not establish a hierarchy among these models, contrary to a similar passage in the Apology (20): the topic of the authority of parents might have been tricky, as it had been notoriously involved in the charges against Socrates.Footnote 29 Literary parallels for the good done by a physician through pain are abundant,Footnote 30 and similarly the comparison of a leader to a father is rather common.Footnote 31 Fathers and teachers were prone to use violence to impart discipline (cf. Lac. 2.10, 6.1–2), to the point that both were stereotypically depicted as heavy-handed.Footnote 32 After a fourth comparison (An. 5.8.20: the officers of a ship caught in a storm), Xenophon underlines the legitimacy of his harsh manners: just as the paradigmatic figures he had mentioned are regarded as entitled to inflict pain when necessary, so—he claims—the audience now agrees that he acted justly (5.8.21 δικαίως).
Yet an apparently problematic parallel is found in the Anabasis itself in the figure of Clearchus, the violent Spartan commander and stern disciplinarian. In a clearly pejorative sense, Xenophon states that the men felt for Clearchus the same feelings that paides have for a didaskalos (2.6.12). On the one hand, like Xenophon, Clearchus used to beat the lazy and lead by first-person commitment even to humble tasks, causing aischynê in soldiers unable to match his efforts (3.11).Footnote 33 On the other, there is one fundamental difference: unlike Xenophon's, Clearchus’ attitude was constantly harsh (6.12 ἀεὶ χαλεπὸς ἦν καὶ ὠμός) and, while it proved effective when facing threats, once danger was over the men would hardly tolerate it (6.11–12). Soldiers thus tended to defect and no one followed Clearchus out of friendship and goodwill (6.13 φιλίᾳ μὲν καὶ εὐνοίᾳ). Clearchus lacked the vision of great leaders: contrast Cyrus the Great's plan of earning the same eunoia and philia from his subjects (Cyr. 8.2.22).Footnote 34 This view is not unique to Xenophon: compare, for example, Thucydides’ claim that mercenaries followed Demosthenes out of philia for him and eunoia for the Athenians (7.57.10).Footnote 35
In fact, rather than considering these values and trying to adjust his leadership accordingly, Clearchus relied regularly on intimidation and used to say that soldiers ought to fear their commander more than the enemies (An. 2.6.10 δέοι τὸν στρατιώτην φοβεῖσθαι μᾶλλον τὸν ἄρχοντα ἢ τοὺς πολεμίους). Fear (or awe deriving from fear) for the officers is found as early as Homer (for example Il. 4.428–31 on the Achaeans δειδιότες σημάντορας), and notably in the sayings attributed to Chilon of Sparta, who subtly recommended inspiring aischynê rather than phobos (Demetr. Phal. fr. 114 W.2 / 87 SOD, Chilon 12). Xenophon certainly draws on the Greek conceptualization of fear as a normative tool for the respect of law,Footnote 36 but at the same time he problematizes the topic of ruling through fear: in the Cyropaedia, Cyrus the Great was able both to induce phobos of him and to inspire his subjects to earn his charis (1.1.5);Footnote 37 in the Hiero, the tyrant aims to earn philia from his subjects rather than their fear (7.9 φιλοῦντές τε καὶ μὴ φοβούμενοι). Thus Xenophon's uncompromising Clearchus emerges as a despot: compare Agamemnon in Thucydides, leading οὐ χάριτι τὸ πλέον ἢ φόβῳ (1.9.3), or stereotyped Persian kings such as Xerxes in HerodotusFootnote 38 (for example 7.103–4 on the subjects’ fear of the king vs the Spartans’ fear of the law) and Artaxerxes II in Xenophon (An. 3.1.18 aiming to spread πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις φόβον). Consistently, in Diodorus’ version Clearchus is more explicitly defined a tyrant.Footnote 39
Xenophon's comparison of the soldiers’ feelings towards Clearchus with the feelings of paides for a didaskalos therefore points to fear and resentment of his harshness, characteristic of a man whom Plato might have regarded as prone to educate through degrading (Leg. 7, 793e ἀτίμως), enraging and hybristic punishment which ought to be avoided for free persons (τὸ μὴ μεθ᾽ ὕβρεως κολάζοντας ὀργὴν ἐμποιῆσαι).Footnote 40 Fundamentally different from Clearchus, Xenophon had resorted to violence in an emergency (cf. An. 5.8.8 and 5.8.20), but normally displays no hybris, especially—he underlines—in the present, relatively peaceful circumstances when he could easily yield to it (5.8.19; cf. §1 on 5.8.4). The educational, exemplary value of this declaration emerges if we compare it to a passage from the Cyropaedia according to which subjects are motivated to imitate a leader whom they see practising sôphrosynê when he could rather indulge in hybris (8.1.30 ᾧ μάλιστα ἔξεστιν ὑβρίζειν, τοῦτον σωφρονοῦντα);Footnote 41 the disposition evoked by Xenophon is also reminiscent of Aristotle's statement that war compels men towards justice and sôphrosynê, while peace rather leads them to hybris (Pol. 1334a25–8).Footnote 42
Xenophon's own comparison to teachers and parents in the Anabasis and the values it entails are built on the awareness of his place in society, his worth and the perceived benefits of a stern but ultimately selfless way of imparting discipline when strictly necessary. Both the accuser and the defender have now appealed to a larger ‘honour group’ (respectively the tent-mates and the whole army) as a superior referent and a guarantor of their intentions.Footnote 43 In the conclusion of his speech, Xenophon fosters shame even in his own honour group, once more in the interest of the whole community.
4. SHAMING THE GROUP
The final part of Xenophon's speech reproaches the whole army.Footnote 44 This choice is already significant as the Ten Thousand were—at least originally—divided into contingents, each loyal to its own commander: normally not even Clearchus would order soldiers outside his group, and when he tried to he faced serious threats.Footnote 45 Xenophon reminds the army that none objected when he was beating the lazy, nor did anyone help him either (An. 5.8.21): the soldiers’ inaction had allowed the basest among them to indulge in hybris (5.8.22), in relation to which Xenophon provides one more example of cowardice and greedy selfishness (5.8.23): in this case the man is named explicitly, apparently because he was a boxer of some repute.Footnote 46 Now, urging the soldiers towards sôphrosynê (5.8.24 ἢν σωφρονῆτε, twice: cf. §3 on sôphrosynê preventing hybris), Xenophon shames them for their lack of social control and for their ingratitude towards him (5.8.25–6). As the soldiers accept their responsibilities, the episode ends in a general reconciliation, with an expression reminiscent of the words sealing Xenophon's earlier defence against slander (cf. §1 on 7.34).
Xenophon's reference to the soldiers’ (lack of) collaboration in keeping their peers in check points to an earlier measure (unanimously approved: An. 3.2.33) he had introduced shortly after Clearchus’ death, when extreme danger made the new officers much more vigilant (5.8.30 ἐπιμελεστέρους) and the soldiers much more orderly and obedient (εὐτακτοτέρους καὶ πειθομένους; §2 on eutaxia). It was established that the insubordinates had to be punished jointly by the leaders and the soldiers witnessing the infraction (5.8.31). This form of collective discipline against the kakoi (5.8.32) would turn the whole army into ‘ten thousand Clearchoi’ (5.8.31)—here, in an emergency, a desirable model—but Xenophon's formulation indicates clearly that such procedure was as unusual as necessary.Footnote 47 The measure was applied successfully in circumstances which partially recall the mule-driver incident: during the retreat along the Tigris, some Soteridas had lamented the pains suffered by the infantry and the weight of his shield vs the relative comfort enjoyed by Xenophon, who was riding a horse (3.4.46–7; the scene might remind us—with roles reversed—of the opening scene of Aristophanes’ Frogs); Xenophon immediately swapped places with Soteridas, apparently treating him rudely (An. 3.4.48) but not hitting him: it was, however, the nearby soldiers who started to beat and insult (3.4.49 παίουσι καὶ βάλλουσι καὶ λοιδοροῦσι) Soteridas until they forced him back to his place.
5. VIOLENCE AND DISCIPLINE IN GREEK ARMIES
To situate the aforementioned episodes in the proper cultural and normative context, it is worth addressing the evidence on forms of violence within Greek armies and, to a limited extent, in Greek society. It might be useful, in part, to distinguish between institutionalized violence issuing from an authority, and spontaneous, arbitrary violence generated by private initiative,Footnote 48 although, as we shall see, this purely modern divide is unsuited to explain some of the nuances of the Greek model.
In Athens, violence in public was strictly regulated and sanctioned, although this does not mean that it was uncommon in daily life.Footnote 49 Unrestrained institutional punishment of free men was typically associated with abusive and/or oligarchic regimes, such as the Four Hundred (Thuc. 8.74.3) and the Thirty (Xen. Hell. 2.3.12–15; Dem. 22.52), the latter known for employing whip-bearers ([Arist.] Ath. Pol. 35.1) possibly inherited from the Spartan custom (cf. Xen. Hell. 3.3.11).Footnote 50 Some scholars have argued that violence against free men was a typically Spartan feature, unacceptable to other communities:Footnote 51 however, this assumption seems yet another by-product of the Spartan mirage, for while some of the stereotypes associated with the Spartans underline their violent attitude,Footnote 52 other studies have drawn attention to the abundant attestation, in chronological and spatial terms, of public magistrates carrying implements of corporal punishment, and generally to widespread examples of institutionally controlled violence in Greece.Footnote 53 In Athenian theatres, rhabdouchoi were ready to enforce order (Ar. Pax 734, with schol. 734e Holwerda), just as elsewhere they would hit undisciplined athletes (for example at Olympia: Thuc. 5.50.4; cf. the general remark of Hdt. 8.59 and the comparison of ephors with tyrants and epistatai of the games in Xen. Lac. 8.4); rhabdophoroi with similar tasks are variously attested well into the Roman period (for example IG V.1 1390, lines 41–5; VII 3078); the second-century gymnasiarchical law from Beroia instructs the gymnasiarch to issue corporal punishment to those who do not obey (Epigraphes Katô Makedonias 1, Beroia 1, B, lines 8–10),Footnote 54 a prerogative found in various educational contexts.Footnote 55 The Spartan officers’ custom of beating soldiers with the signature baktêria, just as Clearchus does in the Anabasis (2.3.11),Footnote 56 only appears consistent with these non-Spartan cases rather than exceptional.
This is not to deny that—as many believe—discipline in Greek armies was relatively lax, rarely enforced through top-down coercion and rather based on forms of persuasion:Footnote 57 while violence was possible, its legitimacy was still circumscribed. Athenian stratêgoi held jurisdiction over cowardice (Lys. 14.5) and could authorize executions (threatened in Xen. Hell. 1.1.15; carried out in 1.2.13Footnote 58 and in Lys. 13.65; see also Aen. Tact. 10.19 on mercenary armies), but it seems that their most violent prerogatives had been lost by the late fourth century ([Arist.] Ath. Pol. 61.2).Footnote 59 Significantly, Aristotle in Politics Book 3 regards Agamemnon's threat to put soldiers to death (Il. 2.391) as a power of kings of the past (1285a6–14)—in contrast with the Spartan kings of his own time.
A different corrective rationale seems to emerge in place of, or in addition to, that of violence. In the fourth century, if we believe Polyaenus, Iphicrates punished the soldiers of generals executed for treachery by expelling them from the army, naked or at least stripped of their weapons (3.9.56 γυμνοὺς ἐξήλασε). Certainly in 394 b.c. a soldier hitting a taxiarch was not punished on the spot, but later(?) the stratêgoi resorted to public shaming (and possibly exile) by the herald to expose his poor reputation (Lys. 3.45 δόξας ἀκοσμότατος εἶναι καὶ πονηρότατος). Similarly, in the Against Conon a stratêgos simply issues a stern reproach to a group of soldiers who had behaved outrageously in camp (Dem. 54.5 λοιδορηθέντος), failing to stop them or even to elicit the sense of shame that their victim expected (τοσούτου ἐδέησαν παύσασθαι ἢ αἰσχυνθῆναι). Such emphasis on publicly displaying shameful acts is significant and consistent with the rationale of military laws we are aware of, which dealt mainly with ignominious infractions, that is, various forms of cowardice and desertion (for Athens, see especially Andoc. 1.74 on atimia; for Sparta, Thuc. 5.72.1).Footnote 60 Hence Aristotle, as an example of acts leading to aischynê, caused by kakia and specifically by cowardice (deilia), includes throwing away the shield and fleeing (Rh. 1383b18–19; see also 1368b18 on injustice and cowardice), and discusses ‘political’ courage, produced by aidôs, as second-best after ‘genuine’ courage (Eth. Nic. 1116a29–b2: note the contrast with courage produced by coercion and beating). If these infractions were judged by soldiers, as it seems from Lysias (14.5), another facet of normative shame and peer pressure emerges: yet, despite the frequent accusations of cowardice in courts and the assembly, according to Xenophon actual prosecution was limited and a man proclaimed kakos in war would continue his life unchanged, de facto unpunished, everywhere in Greece except in Sparta (Lac. 9.4; cf. Lyc. 1.129–30). As for the Spartans, they did employ the same shame-based rationale as they valued willingness, aischynê and obedience in war (Brasidas in Thuc. 5.9.9; cf. 1.84.3, and 5.104 for the Melians’ delusional expectations), and Xenophon himself reports that their punishment for ataxia was based on shame (Hell. 3.19: considered a stain, κηλίς).
The passage from Lysias’ Against Simon above (3.45) brings us from institutionalized top-down violence to bottom-up outrage on the part of the soldiers against their officers, an occurrence which seems both relatively frequent and rarely, if ever, seriously punished. The murder of civilians(?) by a hipparch of the Thirty provoked a strong—albeit rather vague—reaction by his own horsemen (Hell. 2.4.46 πολλῶν χαλεπῶς φερόντων). In the Anabasis alone, besides Xenophon's trial we find that a mercenary officer employing unjustified bia could face the death penalty (6.6.7 and 6.6.15: see §2; cf. 5.7.2–5 and 5.7.19–23): Clearchus himself was nearly lynched twice after attempting to impose illegitimate decisions, that is, issuing orders that breached the terms of employment (1.3.1–2) and punishing one of Menon's soldiers (5.11–12); an unnamed Arcadian later tried to have Xenophon stoned to death (7.6.10); finally, no fewer than six hundred soldiers literally forced their way onto Xenophon's expedition (8.11 συνεξέρχονται δὲ αὐτῷ καὶ ἄλλοι βιασάμενοι) simply because they felt they were being left out of a profitable raid. The last episode could be easily explained in terms of mercenary mentality, but again it is worth noting that the same attitude, based on reciprocity, desert and mutual claims, can be found already in Homer.Footnote 61 In all these cases legitimacy emerges as a central issue, to the point that its (real or perceived) absence in an officer's decisions could justify violent reactions from the soldiers. Both institutionally enforced, top-down violence and spontaneous, bottom-up retaliatory violence could be seen as appropriate, forming mutually entwined dynamics underpinned by moral and social norms.
All things considered, the issue is not whether Greek officials had the prerogative of using violence—the evidence clearly shows that they did. However, it also proves that they were invariably held accountable whenever they recurred to it according to the rule of law.Footnote 62 Gratuitous violence, or even the perceived infraction of a contractual relationship on the part of an officer, could result in soldiers legitimately refusing to obey and even retaliating. Xenophon won the debate in An. 5.8 by justifying his use of violence and by proving that he had respected his obligations as an officer. As part of his process he shamed the soldiers who, on the other hand, had failed to exercise control on deviant behaviour: as we draw conclusions, we shall go back to the original setting of Xenophon's incident with the mule-driver to further frame these dynamics.
At the end of the march through the Armenian mountains, the Greeks employed a village chief as a guide, but at some point the Spartan officer Cheirisophus got angry (An. 4.6.2 ἐχαλεπάνθη) and beat him (4.6.3 ἔπαισεν). The chief fled and his maltreatment caused friction between Xenophon and Cheirisophus.Footnote 63 Xenophon does not tell us much more but, importantly, he explains that Cheirisophus lost his temper when the chief failed to lead them to a village, the reason being simply that there was none to be found in the area (4.6.2), a statement which later seems confirmed by the fact that the Greeks had to travel a long way before they eventually found settlements (cf. 4.6.4–5 and 4.6.27). Thus Xenophon reproached his colleague not because of the violence per se (note that the chief had been compelled to serve, since the Greeks held his son hostage: 4.6.1), but rather because it had been prompted only by Cheirisophus’ frustration in contrast with the chief's good faith, and was therefore both wanton and unnecessary.Footnote 64 In Aristotelian terms, we may say that Cheirisophus had struck in order to dishonour the victim or to please himself (Rh. 1374a13–15).Footnote 65 Although the mule-driver never openly states it, his starting assumption must have been that Xenophon had beaten him first and foremost with this same hybristic intention to humiliate: compare the remark of Demosthenes (21.72) that for a free man the awareness of having been hit ἐφ᾽ ὕβρει is much worse than the pain itself.Footnote 66 It is now even more evident why, in his trial, Xenophon takes great care to prove that his actions had been an entirely different matter.
Disciplinary action in Greek armies was a delicate, complex matter even if violence was a relatively familiar occurrence in society. As a general rule, coercion could be both legally and socially contentious: instead, the sense of shame generated by pointing out one's failings and misdeeds vis-à-vis the common good, in front of an audience, was seen as a strong normative force, although not always effective in practice.
The one kind of situation in which violence could be presented as a commander's acceptable on-the-spot decision was that of emergency. Acting in the interest of the army, an officer could force a soldier who was harming the army owing to cowardice, selfishness or other forms of kakia. In the trial that would normally follow, consistently with the overarching rationale a sensible commander would shame the soldier and point out his inadequacies. Ideally, the soldier would feel this shame not as the result of suffering hybristic abuse but rather as the result of realizing (or at least seeing the audience realize) his own failure to respect the shared values which allowed an army to survive: this was common knowledge as early as Agamemnon's exhortation to the men to seek safety through mutual aidôs (Il. 5.530–2 ἀλλήλους τ᾽ αἰδεῖσθε).Footnote 67 The commander, on his part, would have to demonstrate that violence was motivated by his concern for the army, competenceFootnote 68 and a situation of emergency. Consistently, Xenophon explained to the ambassadors from Sinope that the army had acted not out of hybris but out of necessity (An. 5.5.16 οὐχ ὕβρει ἀλλὰ ἀνάγκῃ)Footnote 69 in ravaging lands which had failed to provide a market. It is no coincidence that the incident which led to Xenophon's trial occurred when the army's goal was survival, in Armenia (Book 4), but was only questioned later, in the relatively safe area of Trapezous (Book 5).
In the proper context, violence on the part of an officer would conform to the aforementioned principles, displaying his virtues and eventually meeting the approval of the soldiers. Persuasion remained the preferable means of issuing ‘orders’ to Greek soldiers, but coercion, when legitimized by an emergency, was ultimately based on exactly the same notion: mutual respect, contractual obligations, common interests and the condemnation of shameful, wanton selfishness. Both the legal and the moral norms regulating military conduct were concerned with censuring failure to abide to the values of the community, and thus shame was regarded as a fundamental normative principle: as a final example, consistently extending the matter to the civic sphere—whose distinction from the military now appears limited—consider Demosthenes’ public appeal to shame as the greatest source of normativity (Dem. 4.10 ἐγὼ μὲν γὰρ οἴομαι τοῖς ἐλευθέροις μεγίστην ἀνάγκην τὴν ὑπὲρ τῶν πραγμάτων αἰσχύνην εἶναι). Authority would come not simply from an officer's institutional power but from that of the whole community, and this means that peer pressure and group dynamics operated alongside with, and at times possibly above or in place of, formal hierarchy. The episode of Xenophon's trial in the Anabasis encapsulates all the main elements of this rationale and exemplifies the Greek conceptualization of reputation, discipline and shame in a military context.