Introduction and Background Information for Xenophon’s March Up Country

Xenophon was born in approximately 430 BCE and died approximately 354.  The son of Gryllus and Diodora was born into an aristocratic background and a family which had the means for him to study under Socrates (Xenophon, 2011).

Xenophon attached himself with a circle of privileged young men who identified themselves as followers of Socrates sometime in the 400’s.  According to Xenophon, one day he was walking down the streets of Athens and Socrates blocked his way.  Socrates began to engage in conversation with him concern where he could locate certain goods that were located in Athens.  The final question was, “And where can one get goodness?”  Xenophon looked puzzled, Socrates said, “Follow me, and find out (Waterfield, 2006)”.

This would be the beginning of Socrates’ influence on Xenophon.  He would also come to admire the values of the Spartans such as self-discipline, self-sufficiency and virtue.  These skill sets would serve him well in the following years of his life.

One day it would be Socrates that Xenophon would consult about an invitation which his Bohemian friend Proxenus had extended to him to accompany a group of mercenaries who were about to enter the service of Cyrus, the Persian satrap (govener) of Asia Minor.  Xenophon was told that they needed to “quail the revolt by the Piasidians,” who were an indigenous people who were protesting against Persian rule (Prevas, 2002).

This story begins in book one of Xenophon. He begins with telling the story of the two sons of Dareios and Parysatis.  Dareios becomes ill and expected to die, and he wants his sons to both be present.  The elder son, Artaxerxers, is there, but Cyros had to be sent for from the province where he was governor.  When he arrives he with is in the company of his friend Tissaphernes and 300 men-at-arms (Xenophon, 1964).

When King Dareios dies, his friend Tissaphernes turns against him and informs his brother who is about to become king that Cyros is plotting to against him.  Artaxerxers believes Tissaphernes and orders that Cyros be seized and put to death.  But, their mother begged for his life and sent Cyros back to his providence.  Cyros knows that his mother is behind him because he is her favorite. He also vows never to be under the power of his brother, now the king of Persia, again (Xenophon, 1964). This would be the beginning of the war that Xenophon would eventually write about as The March Up Country.  His accounts of this event would come to be known as the Anabasis which means an expedition or a going or marching up especially in the millitary.

Works Cited

Xenophon. (2006). Retrieved from

Xenophon. (2011). Retrieved from The Columbia Encyclopedia of World Biography 6th ed..:

Prevas, J. (2002). Xenophon’s march: into the lair of the Persian lion. Cambridge: Da Capo Press.

Waterfield, R. (2006). Xenophone’s retreat, Greece, Persia and the end of the golden age. Cambridge: Havard University Press.

Xenophon. (1964). The march up country (1 ed.). (W. H. Rouse, Trans.) Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

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