Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Xenophon (431 B.C.--354 B.C.) on The Ideal Leader

Cyros the Younger: A Respected Leader
Xenophon's Anabasis is a military memoir set around 401-399 B.C., written in seven Books (probably scrolls). This is from Book I, part VIII, upon the death of his leader Cyros the Younger (424-401 B.C.), "the most royal and most worthy to be king, as all agree [who have known him]". He was a descendant of Darius the Great.

Eager to Train
Next, he was the greatest lover of horses, and knew best how to manage them; and in war-like accomplishments, in archery and casting the javelin, they judged him the most eager to learn and the most careful to practise.

 . . . if ever he made a truce or bargain or promise he never broke it.  . . . . .
For he said, and he proved by his acts, that he never would abandon  [his soldiers] once he had become their friend, even if they lost numbers and lost luck.

Reciprocity + 1
If anyone did either evil or good to him, he tried to outdo them; and made that quite clear.

Justice, Motivated Armies, and Good Government
In justice and in honesty, if anyone showed himself glad to display these virtues, he took good care to make those richer than those who were greedy for unjust advantage. All his dealings were just, indeed, but he was especially particular to have a real army. Thus the captains and officers from abroad who served him for pay understood that to serve Cyros well was worth more to them than so much a month . . . If he saw one a skilful and just administraor, who managd his district well . . . he added to his trust; so men worked willingly, and got weatly boldly, and never tried to hide from Cyros what they got.

Generosity, with a Personal Style
More gifts were offered to  him, I believe, than to any other man who ever lived, for many reasons; and no one was ever more ready to distribute these among his friends, while he considered their tastes to see what each one wanted most. . . . He used to say, " . .   a man's best finery is when his friends go fine."

In great things it is no wonder he could outdo his generous friends, since he had greater power; but he took care to have the better of them in little attentions and graces, which appears to me more admirable still.

"So, from all I hear, I judge that no one has ever been better loved by Hellenes and Asiatics alike."
Xenophon had followed Cyros into battle. The Anabasis tells how he and "the Ten Thousand" soldiers of Greece were left stranded deep in territory not their own. The next six books tell how they made it home.

I edited the four-page elegy for blog posting and added the italicized headings to break it up.
Trans. W.H.D. Rouse. An Ann Arbor/U Michigan paperback. pp. 27-30.
Reproduction of a Persian horse from Persepolis, Ancient Sculpture Gallery. com


Bob G. said...

One would think that we have a true ROLE MODEL here...

Good post.
(and history lesson)

Ann T. said...

Dear Bob,
Thanks as always!
Ann T.

Mick Mayers said...

Came here from Report on Conditions. I like your style, and this was a nice post. I'm big on enlightened leadership. Check it out at Http://

Ann T. said...

Dear Mick,
I certainly will! I have found more great people through Captain Schmoe. Thanks for stopping by.

Ann T.