Hiero the Tyrant and Other Treatises (Penguin Classics) (26 page)

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CHAPTER 6

1
.
companions wanted
: The
symposium
or private drinking-party was a sophisticated refinement of Greek upper-class life with its own developed code of practices. It was often associated with pederasty (see
chapter 1 note 4
). Sometimes, no doubt, the wine-assisted conversation attained a certain philosophical elevation, but
The Dinner-party
of Xenophon (see Penguin
Conversations of Socrates
, pp. 227–67), like Plato’s more famous
Symposium
, were essentially literary-intellectual exercises.

2
.
sleep… a trap
: Contrast the more relaxed attitude to sleep of ‘Simonides’ (1.6).

3
.
slaves free
: Tyrants had a reputation for freeing slaves – either private slaves belonging to their opponents or communally owned slaves whose personal loyalty to themselves they wished to secure: see e.g.
A History of My Times
7.3.8 (where the Penguin translation should read ‘a man who not only liberated slaves but made them citizens’ – a reference to the unusually democratic tyrant of Sicyon, Euphron).

4
.
by fears
: Cf.
Cyropaedia
3.1.27.

5
.
harvest-time
: Most Greek farmers were more or less self-sufficient peasant agriculturalists most of the year, but extra labour – from one’s neighbours on a reciprocal basis, or from hired free workers or slave gangs – might regularly be needed at any of the three main harvests: wheat and barley in May–June, vintage in July–August, olives in January–February.

CHAPTER 7

1
.
regarded as men and not just as human beings:
For the sentiment cf.
Cyropaedia
1.6.25. The real Simonides was of course a professional acclaimer or praise-singer. Note how the Greeks implicitly – and explicitly – ranked men in the gender sense above women.

CHAPTER 8

1
.
social equality:
The original text is uncertain here – the present translation follows the manuscript that gives the noun
isotimia
in the genitive case, making this the earliest known attestation of a word meaning literally ‘equality of honour or respect’ (
time
). Greek culture generally, but more especially
democratic Greek culture, was broadly egalitarian in spirit, despite obvious socio-economic inequalities, and the gap between a tyrant and his subjects violated that ethos.

CHAPTER 9

1
.
the ruler:
The word translated ‘the ruler’,
archon,
could refer either to a sole ruler such as Hiero, or to an appointed official in a republican city such as the board of ten annual archons chosen by lot at Athens. The following reference to ‘impresarios’ ‘(
choregoi
) could be particularly Athenian, since the choregic system was employed for the tribal competition in dithyramb at the annual Great Dionysia festival (see also note 5); but see next note.

2
.
tribes… regiments … division
: ‘Tribes’ (
phulai
), not to be confused with the social units of some contemporary peoples, were an almost universal feature of Greek civic organization, in both peace and war; but the words Xenophon uses for ‘regiments’ (
morai
) and ‘divisions’ (
lochoi
) would seem to be specifically Spartan. Xenophon seems to be drawing here on his knowledge of both his native Athens and his adopted Sparta.

3
.
farming
: For praise of husbandry in other Xenophontic works, see
The Estate-manager
, chapter 5 and
Memoirs of Socrates
2.1.19, 3.4.7–12, 4.5.10.

4
.
promote it and bring it about
: There may be an implicit self-reference here to the sorts of innovations Xenophon suggests in
Ways and Means
.

5
.
horse-races… choral competitions
: Horse-racing was the sport of kings, or at least the Greek super-rich – see Introduction to
On Horsemanship
; and chapter 11 note 1 below. Most successful athletes seem to have come from well-to-do backgrounds, but instances of states sponsoring poor but talented competitors became increasingly common. Choral competitions, at Athens anyhow, were financed by
choregoi
– besides the tribal competition in dithyramb mentioned in note 1 above, these wealthy impresarios, who were performing a compulsory public service or ‘liturgy’, also financed choruses in tragedy, satyr-drama and comedy.

CHAPTER 10

1
.
are satisfied
: Control is the leitmotiv of
On Horsemanship
, and an important theme in other treatises.

2
.
than these
: Mercenaries, though by no means unknown in the early fifth century, were a distinctive phenomenon of Xenophon’s day – this is one
among several instances of ‘presentism’ in this dialogue, the dramatic date of which is
c
. 470. See Cartledge,
Agesilaos
, chapter 15. Xenophon himself had of course been a mercenary (see main Introduction), but his – or ostensibly Simonides’ – suggestion that they might be used as a kind of police force, in country as well as town (10.4–5), went well beyond the actual practice of contemporary Greece where police forces in our sense were unknown. See W. Nippel,
Public Order in Ancient Rome
(Cambridge University Press, 1995). Perhaps here, as in
The Persian Expedition
, he was attempting to blur somewhat the stigma under which mercenary service undoubtedly laboured – not least because of its association with tyranny.

CHAPTER 11

1
.
any victory… you preside
: For the exploitation of success in chariot-racing the
locus classicus
was Alcibiades in 415: see Introduction to
On Horsemanship
. The super-rich owners (see
Agesilaus
chapter 9 note 5) and breeders did not actually drive the chariot-teams themselves in competition, which is how women chariot and race-horse owners came to be the only women capable of winning an Olympic victory – see
Agesilaus
chapter 9 note 2
.

2
.
public tributes
: Hiero did actually win a chariot victory at Delphi in the Pythian Games (see
chapter 1 note 1
); so too did his brother Polyzalus, a lasting memorial of which is the famous bronze statue, originally part of a group, known as
The Delphi Charioteer
, still to be seen in something like its original splendour in the Delphi Museum.

3
.
their advances
: There may be a conscious echo here of the scenario in Plato’s
Symposium
, where Socrates, although an older man, becomes counter-culturally the object of younger men’s
eros
(passionate desire) and pursuit (most famously and amusingly by Alcibiades), but not of course for his looks (he was notoriously ugly) but rather for the excellence of his moral character and teaching. Something similar is in play at
Memoirs of Socrates
3.11. On pederasty, see also
chapter 1 note 4
.

4
.
your life
: In other words, Hiero could cease to be tyrannical and become instead a legitimate monarch not entirely unreminiscent of Xenophon’s Agesilaus.

AGESILAUS
CHAPTER 1

1
.
descent from Heracles
: A Spartan king was technically ‘the seed of the demigod son ofZeus’, i.e. Heracles (Thucydides,
History
5.16.2); that is, the two Spartan kings, from the two royal houses of the Agiads and the Eurypontids, mythically claimed descent ultimately from Zeus via Heracles and more immediately from Agis and Eurypon, who were themselves allegedly descended from Heracles’ twin great-great-great-grandsons Eurysthenes and Procles. For versions of the royal pedigrees see Herodotus 7.204 (Agiads) and 8.131.2 (Eurypontids), with Cartledge,
Sparta and Lakonia
(Routledge, 1979), Appendix 3. Agesilaus belonged to the ‘junior’ Eurypontid line.

2
.
kingship… continuous existence
: This is a rare instance of Sparta’s mode of government being referred to, encomiastically, as a kingship (
basileia
). Actually, there were two kings, and traditionally the two royal houses were at loggerheads (Herodotus 6.52), although, as in the case of Agesilaus and Agesipolis, some mutual appreciation was possible: see Xenophon,
A History of My Times
5.3.20. Besides, the kings did not rule by themselves, but at most influenced the decisions taken formally by the people in assembly, mediated by the
Gerousia
or Senate, and executed by the board of five Ephors (see
note 33
below).

3
.
their king
: This is a highly elliptical account of a complex and – to us – obscure process, involving accusations of Leotychidas’ alleged bastardy and dynastic machinations by Agesilaus’ one-time pederastic lover Lysander. More, but by no means the whole story, may be found in
A History of My Times
3.3.1– 4; even more, but by no means entirely reliably, in Plutarch’s
Agesilaus
3–4 (in Penguin Plutarch,
Age of Alexander
, pp. 26–8).

4
.
highest office
: For ‘office’ Xenophon uses
geras
, literally ‘honour’, equivalent to the more usual
time
. Herodotus 6.56–60 lists the
gerea
, ‘privileges’, hereditarily accorded to the kings of Sparta. See also
chapter 5 note 1
.

5
.
his deeds
: The verb Xenophon uses for ‘achieved’,
diaprattesthai
(cf. 1.10, 8.2), had the twofold connotation of ‘achieving’ and ‘getting done’ (by others, if need be). In stressing Agesilaus’ deeds, Xenophon is not merely expressing a biographer’s truism but contrasting his deeds both with his words – Spartans were brought up to be so sparing of words that being ‘laconic’ is so named after that national characteristic – and with his image (see 11.7 for this point, attributed to Agesilaus himself).

6
.
2,000 ex-Helots
: ‘Ex-Helots’ translates the Spartan technical term
Neodamodeis
, literally ‘newly made members of the
damos
’, that is Helots who had been
given their freedom. Such manumission could be conferred only by the Spartan assembly, since the Helots were collectively owned slaves, or rather a sort of state-serfs. They were also Greeks, the majority of them living in Messenia rather than Laconia, and on several occasions they revolted en masse: see e.g. Thucydides 1.101 (460s) and chapter 2 note 26 below (370/369).
Neodamodeis
are first heard of in the 420s, and were used exclusively for military purposes, both as phalanx-fighters and on territorial guard duty; they seem to have been one of Sparta’s responses to the dramatic fall in the number of Spartan citizen hoplites. If
A History of My Times
3.3.6 is to be believed, even manumitted Helots were not always reliably loyal.

7
.
the Greeks
: Cf.
A History of My Times
3.4.2; the year is 396. It is an essential part of Xenophon’s encomiastic purpose to represent Agesilaus as a consistent ‘panhellenist’ or even Persian-hater (see 7.7).

8
.
the Persian… to Asia
: ‘The Persian’ here stands for the Persian empire as incarnated in the person of Great King Xerxes who had led the massive invasion of the Greek mainland in 480 described by Herodotus; ‘Asia’ was Greek shorthand for the Persian empire, which at its peak extended from the Aegean to the Punjab (see Cawkwell’s Introduction to the Penguin
Persian Expedition
). Agesilaus in response represented himself none too modestly as a second Agamemnon conducting a second Trojan War (
A History of My Times
3.4.3–4, 3.5.5).

9
.
cost of the war… not the Greeks
: For the success of Agesilaus’ plundering strategy (one of the few militarily successful strategies he employed), see 1.16, 34. Sparta’s attention to military detail was such that there was even an office of the
laphuropolai
or ‘booty-sellers’ (see 1.18).

10
.
to people’s minds
: Allusive reference to Xenophon’s own ideological ‘panhellenism’, on which ‘fashionable and sentimental folly’ see Cawkwell’s Introduction to
A History of My Times
, pp. 39–41.

11
.
his achievements
: Of 396–394, related at greater length in
A History of My Times
.

12
.
to him
: Xenophon had clashed personally with Tissaphernes, satrap or viceroy of much of the westernmost part of the Persian empire, in 401. Technically, Tissaphernes was satrap of Lydia, with his capital at Sardis and personal domain further south in Caria. The Greek cities of Ionia such as Miletus and Ephesus fell under his control. Xenophon was only too pleased to dwell on his sacrilege.

13
.
the bargain
: ‘Three months’ was a realistic figure given the size of the Persian empire and the difficulty of communications: see Cawkwell’s Introduction to
Persian Expedition
.

14
.
friendship… large numbers of people
: Elsewhere (e.g.
A History of My Times
4.1.40), but not in an encomium (e.g. 11.3), Xenophon might allow a hint that Agesilaus’ interpretation of the duties of friendship transgressed the bounds of justice.

15
.
prisoners-of-war… punished
: See 7.6.

16
.
taken off somewhere
: This is one of those relatively rare references in Greek literature to slave dealing, which, although – or because – it was indispensable to a slave-based society, was widely censured as a dirty business.

17
.
Pharnabazus… Phrygia
: Pharnabazus was the other western Asiatic satrap besides Tissaphernes (1.10 and note 12), based in Dascylium in Hellespontine Phrygia. In
A History of My Times
4.1.29–41 Xenophon gives a version of a formal interview between Pharnabazus and Agesilaus, from which Xenophon allows Pharnabazus (in contrast to his treatment of Tissaphernes) to come off by no means badly.

18
.
die in one’s place
: Xenophon’s sarcasm is transparent, as befits a proud (former) cavalryman; compare his disparaging remarks on the Spartan cavalry of 371, where a similar separation between owner and rider was in operation (
A History of My Times
6.4.11).

19
.
effective unit
: Whether he was aware of it or not, Agesilaus was in this following the Persians’ own mode of recruitment.

20
.
the following spring
: Spring 395. 1.25–8 to some extent repeats, or is repeated by (depending on which one thinks was written first),
A History of My Times
3.4.16–19.

21
.
light infantry units
: ‘Light infantry’ translates
peltastai
, named after their
pelte
or light wickerwork shield (for the heavy hoplite shield see chapter 2 note 10 ). These were a Thracian type of warrior in origin, more mobile than hoplite phalangites, and introduced to Greek warfare ever more centrally during the Peloponnesian War; the most spectacular
peltast
success was achieved by mercenary
peltasts
under the command of the Athenian Iphicrates in 390 at Lechaeum near Corinth, where they destroyed most of a Spartan hoplite regiment (
A History of My Times
4.5.7–18).

22
.
target pillar
. For the desirability of offering prizes as a stimulus to competitive excellence, compare
Hiero
9.3–4.

23
.
workshop of war
: The same striking phrase is used at
A History of My Times
3.4.17 (translated as ‘one great armament factory’), and was quoted by Scipio in Polybius 10.20.7.

24
.
Artemis
: The patron deity of Ephesus, to whom was soon to be dedicated a temple that would be ranked among the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. See also
On Hunting
,
chapter 1 note 1
.

25
.
showing reverence… good hopes
: Here, in a nutshell, we find Xenophon’s personal credo.

26
.
right time to join battle, if possible:
Cf.
Cavalry Commander
8.10–11. Great emphasis is placed by Xenophon on hitting the
kairos
, or right time, a practical principle that was to be elevated into a moral virtue by Stoic philosophical theory.

27
.
a sacrifice
: Offering a pre-battle sacrifice was a universal Greek custom, but the Spartans typically practised it with unusual assiduity and respect: one commander delayed an assault on a town for four days because of a succession of unfavourable sacrifices (
A History of My Times
3.1.17).

28
.
enemy’s property
: Xenophon’s account here of the Battle of Sardis, Summer 395, differs slightly from that in
A History of My Times
3.4.20–24, but irreconcilably from that given in Diodorus 14.80, which is clearly derived ultimately from the near-contemporary ‘Oxyrhynchus Historian’ (identity uncertain, perhaps the Athenian Cratippus) chapters 11–12: see Cawkwell’s Appendix to
A History of My Times
, pp. 405–6.

29
.
liberators… of arms
: Liberation propaganda was deeply embedded in official Spartan rhetoric, from the Persian Wars through the Peloponnesian War to the present Asiatic campaign of Agesilaus; the reality of the Spartan empire for those Greeks and non-Greeks supposedly liberated from Athens’ and Persia’s rule was rather different.

30
.
the eye:
Xenophon perpetrates the standard Greek misunderstanding of the Persian social-political ritual of
proskunesis,
the kowtow, as an act of religious worship. Treating a man as a god was conventionally deemed by the Greeks an act of gross
hybris,
yet Lysander of Sparta appears to have received divine worship in his lifetime (d. 395) from his fanatical oligarchic supporters on the island of Samos. Lysander’s, however, is the only possible such case before the lifetime worship of Alexander the Great.

31
.
his booty:
At
A History of My Times
4.3.21 Xenophon reports the figure dedicated as ‘no less than 100 talents’. (A fortune of three to four talents made a contemporary Athenian the equivalent of a millionaire.) Dedications like this made Apollo’s sanctuary at Delphi an unparalleled treasure house – and a too tempting source of loot, as the Phocians were to show in the so-called Third Sacred War (356–346).

32
.
invaded Greece:
See Cawkwell’s properly sobering note to
A History of My Times
4.1.41. This is a classic instance of ‘Panhellenist big talk’.

33
.
Ephors’ office… five of them:
The formal balance of power between the Spartan kings and the Ephorate is summed up in a ritual: ‘there is a monthly exchange of oaths, ephors acting for the city, a king on his own behalf. The king’s oath is to rule according to the city’s established laws, while that of the city is to keep the king’s position unshaken so long as he abides by his oath’ (
Spartan Society,
chapter 14, in Penguin
Plutarch on Sparta,
p. 183). Kings who
alienated the Ephors, or a majority of them, might find themselves tried and even deposed, but Agesilaus was careful always to humour, even flatter them, and thereby acquired unusual influence.

34
.
one another:
Cf. his intervention at Thespiae in 377,
A History of My Times
5.4.55; contrast his divisive intervention at Phleious (see Introduction).

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