Published: 2023-04-01
Type of paper:  Book review
Categories:  Philosophy War Entertainment Art Disorder
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1663 words
14 min read

Xenophon was exiled for assisting the enemies of Athenians. As a son of an Athenian wealthy family, Xenophon posits that he was yearning for a thrilling adventure. For that urge and desire, Xenophon joined the expedition of Cyrus against his brother the Persian King, Artaxerxes, along with the Greek mercenaries. The book "Anabasis," Xenophon records the Greeks culture that remains untouched amidst the hardship and struggles during the retreat period in the hostile territory. With an enormous interest in ethnography, Xenophon describes the behavior, origin, cultural, social, and physical development of humans (Xenophon, 2018). For that reason, Xenophon covers various aspects such as the local customs of the hostile and friendly forces such as food and dance.

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Culture in the book "Anabasis" is portrayed in broader perspectives. For instance, the readers are briefed that the culture of the barbarians refrained them to encamp within seven to eight miles from Hellenic camp. The reasoning was based on an in-depth understanding of the night war. In their culture, barbarians believed that the Persian army was not good in a night attack. In most instances, their horses are hobbled and haltered to prevent them from escaping. Persian also believe that if they lose the war, the troopers have to bridle and saddle the horse and put on their own cuirass (Xenophon, 2018). Since all these performances were difficult to handle at night and amidst confusion, Persians were not good fighters at night. Therefore, the Persians was forced to come far away from the Hellenes.

The other aspect of Greek culture is the concept of using animals' skins to make tents while in war. The skins were filled with grass where they stitched and compressed them at the end to prevent the tent from being touched by water. In their tents, Cyrus' soldiers got many provisions such as panic corn, wine made from the date-nut which the common food.

The cultural dispute arose between the soldiers of Clearchus and Menon over the allegation of Clearchus sentencing one of the Menon's soldiers. For fretting and fuming of the Menon's soldiers, it forced Clearchus to visit the passage of a river the same day after inspecting the market. The rage was based on delinquent behaviors Clearchus had observed in Menon's men. Thus, it was against Hellenic culture for a warrior or a soldier to retreat to their home (Xenophon, 2018). For if any of the soldiers go back home before the war ends, such a person would be envied by the society and the people back home.

Cyrus and other Hellenes believed that without a battle, no prize could be won. Regardless of any position, a prize could only be achieved by winning a battle. Even today, the spirit of having the battle to win a prize hold. Also, in contemporary society, soldiers are expected to stay vigilant both in the night and day, the older culture of "having the battle to win a prize still hold." For instance, if soldiers win the battle of any form of the terror attack, the country usually rewards them handsomely. However, the concept does not necessarily apply in war, but also the typical struggles of life. Every person has to work hard for them to earn a living and fend for their families. Today, soldiers do not need to rely on any staple food at war, and they feed on any diet.

Leadership Skills


In my opinion, Xenophon considers Cyrus as the greatest and the best general in human history. To begin with, Cyrus ruled over the Persian Empire, which extended from Asia from India. Xenophon displays Cyrus as a leader who solved political instability during his regime especially among the soldiers ruled by Clearchus and Menon. As a commander of his army, Cyrus displays an-depth knowledge to rule the empire as a whole. One of the challenges he faces as a leader is ruling selfish human beings. By having broader viewpoints that human beings are selfish, Cyrus is motivated to reward rather than punish them. Cyrus tells Clearchus that without a battle, no prize can be won.

Cyrus has gained a lot of knowledge in his early lives from his father and brother. As a young man, Cyrus had grasped more knowledge about justice in Persia. As it is claimed that justice is in the law, Cyrus applies the same concept and applies them to his army. Even before attacking the king, Cyrus had shown the courage to never retaliate in providing provisions. In the book, he seeks Clearchus' idea and opinion but in the end, provides the provision concerning those matters (Xenophon, 2018). For instance, at the Court Martial, Cyrus signs affidavit against the Orantas kinsman by saying, "let him die the death." Cyrus exercises the ability to rule the army fearlessly and demands respect along with demanding for the Persian army to be transformed.

When Cyrus read that Orantas was arrested, he summoned his tent seven noblest Persians along with personal attendants to order the Hellenic generals to carry with them hoplites' body. The idea of having these troops was to take up a position around Cyrus' tent. Based on his order, the generals brought three thousand hoplites. Cyrus advised was that in the past, such conduct had happened, and the man should have died the death.

Leadership requires a sober mind instead of taking vengeance whenever a person commits an injustice. Xenophon by using the character Cyrus, posits a critical query by examining the best way human beings can rule without being opposed or revolted. Xenophon belabors that not even one regime can do that. Looking at Cyrus' leadership, a leader can begin to see and argue that leading others without a revolution is not plausible. In essence, even the most educated people can still question their management and leadership styles. In spite of Cyrus acquiring knowledge to be a successful commander, he unites the soldiers headed by Menon and Clearchus proving that it is possible to manage everybody.

One of the leadership skills exhibited by Cyrus is the ability to keep his soldiers and allies happy. Cyrus prepares them food, drinks, and tents, showering them in luxuries and rewarding them handsomely for expressing virtue to his cause. Ideally, the system where people are rewarded for their virtues motivates his soldiers to stand with him. Such an instance and beliefs are what Cyrus calls justice for his fellow Hellenes (Xenophon, 2018). Through Cyrus, Xenophon can unravel to the readers that successful diplomacy and military strategy can never be procured lest a person embraces the virtues of valor, prudence, compliance, drive, and discipline that Cyrus acquires and expresses through his education and life.


In my opinion, Clearchus was an excellent commander based on his restriction and devotion to warfare and army discipline. However, Clearchus had weakness such as unaffected feelings and sternness faced by his soldiers. In my view, Clearchus' weaknesses are better qualities that anyone can wish to have.

Clearchus gave a functional assessment when he was called to assist in the court-martial. Clearchus advises Cyrus to begin with these words, " I have invited you hither, my friends, that I may take advice with you, and carry whatever, in the sight of God and man, it is right for me to do, as concerning the man before you, Orontas. " Clearchus urges Cyrus to admit to the public that Orantas was a prisoner given to him by his father as a faithful subject. By Orontas acting this own words, he went to war with Cyrus under the order of Cyrus' brother and having hold of Sardis's acropolis.

From the above context, it satisfied that Clearchus is not only a good commander but also a wise leader. All the advice he gives to Cyrus meets the threshold needed to solve the case. Clearchus advises Cyrus to put Orontas out of the way as soon as possible to allow him to save the necessity of watching him as more as he is a concern and also to an important sincere friendship.

The idea of managing people is different from the concept of leadership. Just like Clearchus, a leader should be a person who reminds the people of the reason why they are striving and working (Xenophon, 2018). Clearchus does not want Cyrus to be a manager who acts for self-gain but a person who looks into a broader scope of the comrades who are the soldiers and family-like Cyrus' brother. However, all these factors when solved, amicably transcends to self.

Clearchus' advice to Cyrus derives the urge of a leader to be just and firm by maintaining the order. As manger sometimes displays their toughness on various issues, a leader cannot win the battle without attaining the respect of the group as a whole. Clearchus expresses his knowledge of this issue (Xenophon, 2018). Clearchus argues that he has discovered the limit of Cyrus' power by urging him to save Orontas to put him out to allow him to satisfy the services of people whose friendship is sincere.

Clearchus believe in the spirit of solidarity. In spite of the deliberate views help by other people, Clearchus advocated for friendship with the king. Clearchus posits that people can keep their arms when they yield them together. Further, he argues that when the arm is kept together, they shall fight better than when they are divided.

In the book "Anabasis," Xenophon displays Clearchus as a leader who shows humanity. In essence, Clearchus fears to have an army where people have a different view. Clearchus expresses his sympathy to the ills that can befall them if they proceed in a different direction. Clearchus gives the army a correct direction to embrace. Clearchus is displayed as a leader who is at the right place and right time whenever needed by those in higher ranks and those that he leads. For that reason, Clearchus does not underestimate what divergent view can cause to the camp. Therefore, he does not manage the group but rather exercise his leadership skills.


Xenophon. (2018). Anabasis. BoD - Books on Demand.

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