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Xenophon and Sparta

2020 - The Classical Press of Wales

280 p.

  • Xenophon has for long, and understandably, enjoyed a privileged position as a reliable source on Sparta. Commander of a grand military expedition of Sparta's devising, and a dependent of Sparta's influential king Agesilaos, Xenophon knew Sparta from the inside, and - as himself an Athenian in exile - was well placed to comment on Sparta's difference. The simplicity of his Greek style has a perfume of honesty. And yet... Recent research has with increasing force called into doubt Xenophon's motives and truthfulness - especially as regards Sparta. Analysis of his Hellenica reveals much evasion and euphemism about Sparta's failings - complicated by occasional outbursts against the iniquity of Spartan imperialism. His euphemistic Constitution of the Lakedaimonians (itself containing such an outburst), and his near-hagiography of the dead Agesilaos, have variously evoked trust and suspicion in historians. This book, by a distinguished team of specialists in Spartan history, is the first of a short series from CPW,
  • approaching Spartan reality by way of close analysis of our main contemporary Greek sources: their access, their biases, the literary structure and the genre of their works. [Publisher's text].
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