Xenophon’s World

Published in The World & I, November 1992

Xenophon’s World

Through one of the many narrow streets of ancient Athens a very handsome—but nevertheless modest and unassuming—young man was returning home with produce from the market.

An ugly, bug-eyed man of about sixty coming toward him with the gait of a pelican raised his staff across the path, barring the way. He questioned the young man about where he might obtain various market wares and was given respectful answers, as was appropriate from a younger man. Seemingly satis­fied with the replies, the ugly one then asked where men might obtain honor and virtue. To this question the young man admitted he had no an­swer; the older man said simply, “Then follow me, and learn.”

The date was about 410 B.C., the beautiful young man was Xenophon, and his questioner was Socrates. Xenophon the Athenian, the son of Gryllus, was born c. 428 B.C. into a wealthy and well-con­nected family, but he grew up in turbulent times. Perhaps all times have turbulence, and the fifth-century Athenians had their fair share of it, al­though they had enjoyed a period of relative calm and peace for twenty years before Xenophon was born, under the leadership of Pericles (b. 495 B.C.), who dominated Athenian politics from about 463 until his death in 429 B.C.

THE PERSIAN WARS

Over the preceding centuries, the  Greeks—or the Hel­lenes, as they called them­selves—had grown in num­bers, prospered, expanded, and, over a long period of time, met the boundaries of other peoples. They had settled in Ionia, along the coast of Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and this brought them in contact with the Persian Empire of Cyrus the Great, who ruled from 559 to 529 B.C. Cyrus defeated Croesus of Lydia (546 B.C.),who had subjugated many of the Ioni­an cities, and as a result, according to the historian Herodotus, there occurred the first formal clash between the Persians and the Greeks. Cyrus was a wise and good monarch and was held by some Greeks to be the model of the upright rul­er, but he died in a most bloody manner, fighting the Massagetae, a Scythian tribe. We shall return to him later.

Cyrus was succeeded by his son, Cambyses, who conquered the Egyptians but seems to have gone mad; it is reported that “he killed their god Apis with his own hand,” presumably meaning the mon­arch or priest representing the god. He died in 522 at Ecbatana.

In the absence of an heir, the throne was seized by Darius, who reigned from 521 to 486 B.C. He was the true heir to the policies of Cyrus the Great and spent some years restoring order in his lands and providing an efficient administrative and tax structure. But the Greeks along the Ionian coast were restive under Per­sian rule, and in 499 B.C. the Greek cities formed a league, issued coinage of their own, and revolted against Darius. They were successful, capturing Sardis and spreading the rebellion from Byzantium in the north to Cyprus in the south. They even took Cyprus itself from the seagoing Phoenicians, who were allies of the Per­sians. But disunion and insubordination within the Ionian League allowed the Per­sians to recover; they invaded Thrace and Macedonia, and planned to invade Greece proper.

A Persian army of probably twenty thousand men led by Mardonius, a son-in-law of Darius, invaded Greece but was soundly defeated at the battle of Marathon (490 B.C.), about twenty-five miles from Athens, by ten thousand Athenians, helped only by a contingent of about a thousand men from Plataea. The Greek cities were well aware of the danger Per­sia presented, but unity was difficult to achieve. The Spartans (or Lacedaimonians) were very conservative and reluc­tant to involve themselves, and in addi­tion they were contemplating making war on another city, Argos. The Athe­nians sent their best runner, Pheidippides, to Sparta asking for help; he covered the 150 miles in two days—the original Marathon run—but the Spartans would not move until it was too late.

To be a Marathon man (as was the dramatist Aeschylus) was a distinction greatly prized, comparable to the less than three thousand, the Few, who defeated Hitler in the Battle of Britain, and the conservatives never tired of harking back to the days of Marathon, when men were men and the young were respectful to their elders. But the fact was that the Athenians—Greeks—had defeated the Persians in a pitched battle for the first time. Soon after the Persian defeat at Marathon Darius died, and the Greek cities, their various ways of life assured, joined themselves together under the joint leadership of Athens and Sparta.

Darius was succeeded by his son Xerxes who reigned from 485 to 465. He was as determined as his father to crush Greece and in 480 he sent an enormous expedition—five million men, according to Herodotus (less than a tenth of that number by modern estimates), with one thousand ships—across the Hellespont, which separates Asia from Europe. Xerxes built a rope bridge across the narrow straits from Abydos to Sestos, but a tremendous storm destroyed it. At this the Great King (as the Persian monarch was called by the Greeks) commanded that the Hellespont be lashed three hundred times, and that a pair of fetters be cast into its waters, so that it should know its master. The bridge was then rebuilt with protective moles made out of ships, and army passed into Europe.

The expedition was, in some ways, successful, and several cities sent Xerxes earth and water, the traditional symbols of vassalage. But the Persians were held up by a small rear guard of Spartans, under Leonidas, and some Thespians, at the narrow pass of Thermopylae. The story is that one Spartan, Dieneces, on being told that there were so many barbarians that their arrows would darken the sun, grimly replied, “Excellent, then we shall fight in the shade.”

An ignoble Malian be­trayed the Spartans by revealing the way through the mountains that guarded their flank, and they were surrounded. Three hundred Spartans remained and fought nobly, buying, at the cost of their lives, time for the rest of Greece to pre­pare itself for invasion. They were buried where they fell, and an inscription set up in their honor read:

Go, stranger, and to Lacedaimon tell
That here, obeying her commands, we fell.

All central Greece was lost, and Ath­ens was burned. The Athenians, howev­er, had evacuated their people to the is­lands and retained their fleet, and with it the command of the seas, for they decisive­ly defeated the Persian fleet at the battle of Salamis in 480. The dramatist Aeschy­lus also took part in this battle, commemo­rated in his play The Persians.

The Persians withdrew only to return the following year (479) but were de­feated on land at the battle of Plataea (where Mardonius was killed) and by sea at Mycale. The Greeks counterattacked, pushing the Persians back, and finally making a peace in 449/448 that kept Per­sian warships out of the Aegean Sea. This protected Ionia as well as Greece proper.

The outcome of these Persian Wars, recorded by “the father of history”, Hero­dotus, was that the Greeks were free from the threat of the Great King and could rejoice in their awareness of being free, of being Greek. It was a time of cre­ativity, and the manpower and energy made available at the end of the war were used to good effect—for example, in the rebuilding of Athens under Pericles, including the new Parthenon (designed  by Ictinos and Callicrates, under the master plan of Pheidias, between 447 and 432) to replace the one destroyed by the Persians.

But the happy and prosperous times did not last long, for Greece was again divided internally as old jealousies and ambitions were inflamed, and soon Athens, the great democratic sea-power, was at war with Sparta, the great oligarchic land-power. While Athens and Sparta might possibly have co-existed peaceably for a time if they had been left alone, smaller cities would appeal to one or the other  for help, which would provoke hostilities, helped along by the fear of Persian power and the greed for Persian gold. Athens, first under Themistocles and later under Pericles, actively sought an empire, and it was well understood that this would entail a confrontation with Sparta. And thus began what came to be called the Peloponnesian War, recorded for all time and in all its bitterness by the Athenian historian Thucydides.

THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR

Connected with the main part of Greece by the Isthmus of Corinth is a peninsula named for a mythical ancestor, Pelops. The Peloponnese contained a number of important Dorian cities, principally Sparta, Argos, Messenia, and Corinth. They found themselves threatened by the expansion of Athens, which had at first headed a league of free cities—the Delian League–but then, as the threat of Persia receded, became an enforcer against cities reluctant to pay the tribute that supported the Athenian fleet that guarded them. Subjugated cities appealed to Sparta, and war broke out in 431.

While Sparta and its allies were irre­sistible on land and could invade Athe­nian territory at will, Athens itself was protected by defensive walls (including the Long Walls built by Themistocles con­necting it with its port, the Peiraeus), and it maintained supremacy at sea. Un­der the strategy adopted by Pericles, the Athenian population withdrew into the city, provisions were brought in by sea, and a virtual stalemate ensued. But in 430 a plague broke out in Ath­ens, overcrowded as it was, and in the fol­lowing year a quarter of the population perished, including their leader, Pericles.

The Athenians had had some victories, however, and in 425 Sparta sued for peace, but the Athenian demagogue Cleon persuaded the people to reject it. The Spartans were compelled to fight on, and the tide of battle turned in their fa­vor under a brilliant general, Brasidas. But in 422 both Brasidas and Cleon were killed at Amphipolis. A peace was signed that effectively recognized the state of af­fairs before the war had begun.

The young and star-crossed Athe­nian aristocrat Alcibiades intrigued against Sparta in the cities of the Peloponnese, and his dangerous political ambit­ions again wrecked the peace. He also per­suaded the Athenians to send a huge force to Sicily to subdue the island and its Spartan allies. The democracy was divid­ed and indecisive. While it sent the flow­er of Athenian forces to Sicily, it would not entrust the leadership to Alcibiades alone but linked him with Nicias, a super­stitious, cautious man. As soon as the ar­my—-the political power base of Alcibia­des—left Athens, the dashing and ambi­tious Alcibiades was recalled for political reasons (and fearing for his life, deserted to Sparta). Nicias was indecisive, and the whole force was destroyed in 413. Athens was prostrate. It is strange for us to note that in the midst of this Sicilian carnage, a few Athe­nians were spared because they could re­cite some verses from the latest plays of Euripides, who was much admired in Syr­acuse.

Alcibiades, although a known associ­ate of Socrates, was unaffected by the phi­losopher’s austere morality and contin­ued his treacherous and impious career until he was killed in Ionia. The Spartans renewed the war in Greece, supported by Persian money, and built ships to rival the small number of re­maining Athenian craft. Food supplies to Athens were endangered. After some losses, Athens defeated the Spartan al­lies at the sea battle of Arginusae (406), but politics again vitiated what had been won militarily. A new peace offer was re­jected, but the Athenian fleet was sur­prised and destroyed at Aegospotami in 405. There was nothing for Athens to do but surrender (April 404 B.C.) While the main combatants had been Athens and Sparta, every Greek city had been affected. The internal poli­tics of the cities, including Athens, were af­fected, with the two main rivals support­ing opposing parties. Athens intrigued with the democratic elements, while Spar­ta did the same with the oligarchic fac­tions.

Internal strife was common in many cities, but Athens itself was divid­ed, a division that became more pro­nounced when the victorious Spartans, under Lysander. as part of their condi­tions for ending the war, installed an oli­garchic group, the so-called Thirty Tyrants, as rul­ers in Athens and demolished the Long Walls. But Athens recovered very quickly, and in 403 the democracy was restored with the approval of the Spartan king Pausanias, who had superseded Lysander. Autonomous again, the city success­fully revolted against Sparta and by 393 had rebuilt the Long Walls, so vital to its defense, and had equipped a new fleet. By 376 Athens was again ruler of the seas, while Sparta, at war with Thebes, was finally defeated by the brilliant Theban general Epaminondas at the battle of Leuctra in 371. The Greek cities re­mained divided internally, as faction op­posed faction, and were still divided from each other until Philip of Macedon defeat­ed Athens and its ally Thebes at the bat­tle of Chaeronea in 338, Then a unity be­gan to be imposed, especially under Phi­lip’s son, Alexander the Great, who, begin­ning in 334, reversed the direction of Xer­xes’ ambitions and invaded Asia and the Persian Empire.

THE LIFE AND WORKS OF XENOPHON

It is against this background of victory of free Greeks over slavish Persians and the succeeding devastation of Greece because of the fear and lawlessness that Greek freedom itself made possible, that the life of Xenophon must be understood. Any doubt about the inhumanity that is possible without strong moral leadership can easily be dispelled by reading Thucydides’ account of the revolution in Corcyra in the third book of his history. Of course, in turbulent times strong political leadership was needed to counter anarchy, and stable rule was most desirable; the stability was of great value, but whether it was always moral was (and is) highly debatable.

Xenophon was born probably in 428 B.C. and so he grew up during the Peloponnesian War. It is believed that he fought at the battle of Arginusae (406), the last naval victory of the Athenians, after which the twelve successful generals were tried for having abandoned, because of a storm, sailors from waterlogged and lost ships. Socrates was serving at the trial as one of the six presiding officers of the As­sembly (having been chosen by lot), and he claimed that he did not know how to put the vote, because contrary to law, the generals were being tried as a body in­stead of singly. They were condemned anyway, and the six generals who had not absent­ed themselves were executed. At one stroke the Athenian democracy had de­prived itself of its remaining leadership, on what was essentially a trumped-up charge. It left its mark on Xenophon (see Hellenica 1.7),

Xenophon belonged to a class wealthy enough to provide the horse and equipment necessary to serve in the caval­ry. This suggests that his political sympa­thies were with the oligarchic faction in Athens, and it is undoubtedly true that he became a great admirer of Sparta and the Spartan constitution, although not without reservations later in life. He wrote a book, The Spartan Constitution, around 388, and later wrote an encomi­um of Agesilaus, on the death of that Spar­tan king while returning from Egypt in 360.

He was also a close associate of Socra­tes, and for this and other reasons he in­vites comparison with Plato, who was probably born in the same year as Xe­nophon. Plato refers to, mentions, or dis­cusses the vast majority of significant thinkers, prior to and contemporary with Socrates, with two notable exceptions. One is the materialist Demoeritus, the other is Xenophon, Some ancient writers assumed that this omission was due to : personal animosity, but there is no evidence to support this. In turn, Xenophon refers to Plato only once, and then while explaining Socrates’ interest in Glaucon “for the sake of Plato [his brother] and Charmides [his uncle].”

But Xenophon, like Plato, included in his writings an Apology, a defense of Socrates, and a portrait of Socrates, the Memorabilia, discussing education and the dangers of youth; this was done in its first two books, about 381. The last two books were written later (about 355), and deal with state and household manage­ment. The other work about Socrates (probably written about 366) was the Sym­posium, an imaginary party held around 422.

Xenophon’s association with Socrates (who seems to have been equally critical of democracy and oligarchy) must have caused some difficulties, especially in 399 when Socrates was tried for “corrupting the youth” and “not believing in the gods of the city” and given the hemlock, al­though Xenophon was no longer in Ath­ens.

After the end of the Peloponnesian War and the disbanding of armies, many soldiers found employment as mercenar­ies, even with the Great King. In 401 Xe­nophon was invited by his friend Proxenus to join an expedition of ten thousand Greek soldiers into the Persian Empire under the command of Cyrus, who gov­erned the maritime parts of Asia Minor, that is, Ionia. Xenophon asked Socrates what he should do, but was obviously anx­ious to go; Socrates suggested that he should go to Delphi and ask the oracle. Xe­nophon followed the advice and jour­neyed to Delphi but instead of asking whether he should accept the invitation, he asked only to which gods he should pray and sacrifice in order to make the journey best and most honorable and to re­turn safely.

He reported this to Socrates, who up­braided him for not asking whether he should undertake the journey or not. Since Xenophon had already decided this, Socrates told him to do as the god commanded. And so Xenophon sacrificed and prayed and set sail for Ionia. He then traveled inland to Sardis, where he joined his friend, Proxenus. With Proxenus was Cyrus the Youn­ger (so known to distinguish him from Cyrus the Great), who told Xenophon that they were on a punitive expedition against some rebellious tribes. Xenophon, who was neither a soldier nor yet a gener­al but simply an observer, agreed to ac­company Proxenus. It soon became appar­ent that the purpose of the expedition was to dethrone Cyrus’ older brother, Artaxerxes II, who had become king on the death of Darius (405-404).

The army, made up of the Greeks (un­der Clearchus) and a large number of Asi­atics (perhaps seventy thousand), marched inland toward Babylon. By the time the force reached Thapsacus on the Euphrates it was absolutely clear what Cyrus’ intentions were. He was met at Cunaxa, fifty miles north of Babylon, by Artaxerxes and his army. Although the Greek soldiers were victorious, Cyrus himself was killed, and his army was without leader or purpose. The Greeks decided not to surrender to Artaxerxes, but to march homeward, defending themselves as they went. There were various truces and parleys, to one of which Clearchus, Proxenus, and three other generals were invited. They were suddenly seized and put to death.

This left the Greek mercenaries without leaders, and it is remarkable that the sol­diers, by election, accepted Xenophon, in spite of his youth, as one of their new lead­ers. It seems largely through his skill in warfare and leadership that “the March of the 10,000” was successfully complet­ed. They had marched inland from Sardis to Cunaxa and then retreated from Cunaxa northward to the Euxine (the Black Sea). It was here that the soldiers in the vanguard cried “Thalassa, thalassa” (The sea! the sea!) signifying that they would get home. The ten thousand then trav­eled westward to Pergamum, covering a total distance of about twenty-five hun­dred miles, mostly through hostile territo­ry and over difficult terrain.

Xenophon wrote his own account of this, the Anabasis, meaning the march up-country, inland from the sea, hut in­cluding the katabasis, the march back to the coast. This was composed soon after 386, when Xenophon was living at Scillus, near Olympia, by courtesy of the Spar­tans. This hospitality came about in the following manner.

After their successful return to Ionia in 400 B.C., the ten thousand, under Xe­nophon, fought as mercenaries in Thrace and Asia Minor, mostly against the Per­sians (with whom Sparta was at war) in Ionia. Xenophon served under the Spar­tan general Agesilaus and returned to Greece with him in 396, even fighting with him against Athens at the battle of Coronea in 394. But Xenophon had not be­trayed Athens; Athens had rejected him. For in 399 Xenophon had been banished from Athens, his home, by decree and his property had been confiscated on the char­ge of serving under Cyrus. This was not against any law, but Cyrus was known to have given money to the Spartans during the Peloponnesian War and was there­fore considered an enemy of Athens. More­over, Xenophon was seen to favor oligar­chy and was known to have been an asso­ciate of Socrates, that relentless question­er of all who sought and held power. So Xenophon was exiled, and in 394 the Spar­tans provided him with a home at Scillus; later, in 371, he was forced to move again, this time to Corinth. Eventually, the Athenians rescinded the decree of ex­ile, c. 368, and Xenophon returned to Ath­ens, where he lived until his death c. 354.  Xenophon wrote for much of his life, and on a wide range of subjects, but he was no recluse. He was spirited and ac­tive, and his leadership qualities were genuine, not least because he seems to have been trusted by those he served and by those who served under him. He saw active service for the period from 401 to 394 and wrote about his experience in such works as the Anabasis. He also wrote a history of Greece, the Hellenica, continuingThucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War from 411 down to 362.

Although it has been customary to re­gard Xenophon primarily as an historian, he was looked upon as a philosopher in an­tiquity. His historian predecessors, Hero­dotus and Thucydides, he clearly knew and they must have influenced him, but he imitates neither. Nor yet is he a philos­opher in the manner of Plato or Aristotle. Perhaps he belongs to a genre quite dis­tinct from all these, acting and reflecting upon his actions and attempting to see what principles are most useful in living an active, decent, and honorable life, de­void of that wild ambition that destroyed the Greek world. He wrote, it appears, to influence the practical conduct of affairs, not without principle, but starting from the realities of human life as it is lived.  Perhaps his most characteristic work is The Education of Cyrus (or Kurou Paideia). It is named after Cyrus the Great, but it is impossible that Xenophon did not have Cyrus the Younger in mind as well. It has been called an historical nov­el, and it is clearly not intended to be tak­en as history; contrary to what it reports, for example, the conquest of Egypt was not accomplished by Cyrus but by his son, Cambyses, and Cyrus did not die peacefully surrounded by his family but in a bloody battle with the Massagetae in the wilds of Scythia.

If the work is not historical, then it is written as a possible world, in the subjunc­tive and not the indicative mood. What if a ruler had been educated in the manner described by Xenophon? What if, after his own early, formal education, he had continued to educate himself by educat­ing others as citizens and soldiers of a new kind of Persian empire? The fact that the old, pre-imperial Persia resem­bles in many ways the Sparta that Xe­nophon came to admire should not sur­prise us. It is not, however, a blind, faith­ful, political allegiance that he records, but a genuine appreciation of what disci­pline and courage can do for ruler and ruled alike. As Persia is transformed by Cyrus from a republic to an empire, the austere virtue diminishes.

Plato’s Polity (or Republic) calls for a philosopher-king to rule it, but the irony is that by the time the philosopher has been educated he will no longer be moved by an ambition to rule. Plato, too, writes in the subjunctive, just as Xenophon does, but Xenophon writes about an individual man, Cyrus, concrete if fictive, who finds himself born to rule. He cannot, must not, abdicate that responsibility, nor can he wait until he is “qualified.” Or, to put it in another way, Plato’s Socrates, while ruling himself, talks with rulers and ruled  about ruling; Xenophon’s Cyrus, also while ruling himself, assumes the responsibility for ruling others.

Xenophon the Athenian was known for his beauty, but it was not just a beauty of body, Through all the wars, battles, alliances, and politics, through all the many personal relationships with people from different cities and different cultures, through  all the changing fortunes and circumstances, it is remarkable how Xenophon preserved a beauty of soul that commended itself to almost all who knew him. People trusted him and never had that trust betrayed. He went to Asia to learn, and fortune made him a soldier, and the soldiers made him a general. Exiled from Athens, the Spartans trusted him. And Athens forgave him. He did follow Socrates, and he did learn, for he remained an honest and honorable man to the end of his life.

Political and Cultural Events B.C.E.

499-494                 Ionian Revolt against the Persians.
490                         Persians under Mardonius invade Greece; battle of Marathon  
                                  won by  Athenians under Miltiades,
486                          Xerxes becomes king of Persia (d. 465).
480                          Xerxes invades Greece; battles of Thermopylae, Artemesium, and Salamis.
479                          Battles of Plataea (land) and Mycale (sea).
478                          Athenians form Delian League of cities against Persia.
477-463                Delian League transformed into Athenian empire.
472                          Aeschylus’ The Persians staged.
465                          Artaxerxes becomes king of Persia (d. 424).
462                          Anaxagoras, the philosopher, arrives in Athens.
458                          Aeschylus’ Oresteia staged.
458-6                      Long Walls built connecting Athens and the Peiraeus (Themistocles).
454-3                      Pericles elected strategos (general).
451                           Five-year truce between Athens and Sparta.
c.450                       Myron’s Discobulus, Polyclitus’ Doryphorus.
449/8                      Peace of Callias between Greeks and Persians.
447-432                 The Parthenon, Erectheum, and temple of Athena Nike planned for the
                                   Athenian Acropolis.
445                           Thirty Years’ Peace between Athens and Sparta.
443                           Pericles supreme in Athens.

442/1                      Sophocles’ Antigone.

c.435                     The Propylaea built at Athens.

431                         Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War. Euripides’ Medea,

430                        Plague at Athens. Pericles tried, fined, and reinstated.

429                         Pericles died,

428                         BIRTH OF XENOPHON and Plato (?).

Euripides’ Hippolytus.

427                         Sophocles’ Oedipus the King; Gorgias to Athens.

425                         Aristophanes’ The Acharnians.

424                          Death of Persian king Artaxerxes, accession of Darius II,

Battle of Delium, Socrates distinguishes himself.

Athens banishes historian Thucydides.

422                         Brasidas and Cleon killed outside Amphipolis,

421                          Aristophanes’ The Peace.

Peace of Nicias; twenty-year treaty between Athens  and Sparta,

Before 420             Death of Herodotus at Thurii.

415-413                  The Sicilian expedition of Athens ends in disaster.

413                         Renewal of war,

Spartans fortify Decelea, in Attic territory.

412                         First treaty between Spartans and Persians.

411                         Oligarchic revolution at Athens (the Four Hundred and the Five Thousand).

Aristophanes’ Lysistrata and Thesmophoriazusae.

409/406                  Completion of the Erectheum on the Athenian Acropolis.

408-7                      Cyrus the Younger Persian governor in Asia Minor.

406                         Death of Euripides and Sophocles.

Athenian victory at Arginusae. Sparta peace offer rejected,

Socrates opposes illegal trial of generals.

405/4                     Spartan victory at Aegospotami, Athens besieged, capitulates, has oligarchic revolution (the Thirty                                                                                                                                                                                                Tyrants).

405/4                     Death of Persian king Darius II, and accession of  Artaxerxes II (d. 359/8),

403                         Athenian democracy restored under new Spartan policy,

401                        Sophocles’ posthumous Oedipus at Colonus

Xenophon to Sardis to join Proxenus and Cyrus the Younger. March against

Artaxerxes. Death of Cyrus at battle of Cunaxa.

400?                      Death of Thucydides.

399                         Trial and death of Socrates.

Formal decree of exile against Xenophon.

War continues in Asia between Sparta and Persia.
394                         Battle of Coronea {Thebes and Athens against Sparta).

Xenophon settles at Scillus, near Olympia.
387                         Plato’s first visit to Syracuse.

Sparta withdraws from Asia.
386                         Founding of Plato’s Academy. ?

Plato’s Polity (or Republic),
384                         Plato’s Symposium and Xenophon’s Apology,

370s                        Xenophon’s Education of Cyrus.

371                         Thebans under Epaminondas defeat Spartans at Leuctra.
368                         Xenophon’s banishment rescinded at Athens.

367                         Aristotle (age 17) joins Plato’s Academy.

365                         Xenophon returns to Athens.

364                         Praxiteles’ statue of Aphrodite at Cnidos.

362                         Battle of Mantinea; Sparta and Athens against Thebes.

360                         Death of Agesilaus,
359                         Philip of Macedon becomes king,
358                         Death of king Artaxerxes II; succeeded by Artaxerxes III.
356                         Birth of Philip of Macedon’s son, Alexander.
354                         DEATH OF XENOPHON.
347                        Death of Plato.  Aristotle leaves Athens.
343                        Aristotle tutor to the future Alexander the Great.
336                        Alexander succeeds the murdered Philip.
335                        Aristotle returns to Athens, founds the Lyceum.
334                        Alexander crosses the Hellespont from Europe to Asia.
323                        Death of Alexander.