This book is a literary study of the Cyropaedia, Xenophon's fictional account of Cyrus the Great and the founding of his empire. The Cyropaedia is a complex blend of various literary forms, and this book examines several of its literary genres. General discussions of the works of Xenophon's predecessors and contemporaries, in particular Herodotus, Plato, and Ctesias, are combined with a detailed commentary on select passages. Socrates-his life, ideas, and techniques of argument, is an indirect presence in the work, and the Socratic tenor of several of the dialogues in it is the subject of one chapter. The lovely Panthea, the fairest woman in Asia, is Xenophon's most colourful heroine and her story, along with the dramatic tales of the eunuch Gadatas, bereaved Gobyras, and defeated Croesus, are the focus of another section; special attention is paid to the question of Xenophon's originality in fashioning these tales. The symposia of the Cyropaedia, an intricate blend of Greek and Persian elements, are also investigated at length. The book concludes with an examination of Xenophon's ambivalent attitude towards his hero, Cyrus the Great: the author argues that both Xenophon and his hero are more complex than they might seem.
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