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Xenophon and the Athenian Democracy
The Education of an Elite Citizenry


  • Date Published: September 2021
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108797757

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About the Authors
  • This book seeks to understand Xenophon as an elite Athenian writing largely for an elite Athenian audience in the first half of the fourth century BC. It argues that Xenophon calls on men of his own class to set aside their assumptions of superiority based on birth or wealth and to reinvent themselves as individuals who can provide effective leadership to the democratic city and serve it as good citizens. Xenophon challenges, criticizes, and sometimes satirizes the Athenian elite, and seeks to instruct them concerning the values, knowledge, and practical skills they will need to succeed as civic leaders. Xenophon is thus best understood not as an aristocratic dinosaur who is out of place in a democratic setting, as some have assumed, but as a thoughtful and pragmatic reformist who seeks to ensure that meritorious members of the elite step forward to lead within the democracy.

    • Explores the significant continuities in Xenophon's political thinking across his Athenian works
    • Contextualizes Xenophon's writings in the aftermath of the disastrous reign of the oligarchic Thirty (404/ 3 BC), and explores their significance for contemporary elite Athenian readers
    • Translates all Greek into English and uses clear language throughout in order to maximize accessibility
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… Christ's book contains interesting observations which begin to point in a different direction, especially his sensitivity to the differences in form between Socratic dialogues and treatises like Poroi and their implications for Xenophon's 'message' … this just goes to show that careful reading of Christ's book is handsomely repaid.' Luuk Huitink, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2021
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108797757
    • length: 225 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 153 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.343kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction. Xenophon the Athenian
    1. Athens in crisis in the Hellenica
    2. Politics and the gentleman in the Memorabilia
    3. Work, money, and the gentleman in the Oeconomicus
    4. The education of callias in the symposium
    5. Xenophon as expert, advisor, and reformer in the Hipparchicus and Poroi
    6. Xenophon the democratic orator: the politics of mass and elite in the Anabasis
    Conclusions. Elite readers, elite citizens

  • Author

    Matthew R. Christ, Indiana University
    Matthew R. Christ is a Professor in the Department of Classical Studies at Indiana University. He is the author of The Limits of Altruism in Democratic Athens (Cambridge, 2012), The Bad Citizen in Classical Athens (Cambridge, 2006) and The Litigious Athenian (1998).

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