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Agesilaus   By: (431 BC - 350? BC)

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AGESILAUS

By Xenophon

Translation by H. G. Dakyns

Dedicated To Rev. B. Jowett, M.A. Master of Balliol College Regius Professor of Greek in the University of Oxford

Xenophon the Athenian was born 431 B.C. He was a pupil of Socrates. He marched with the Spartans, and was exiled from Athens. Sparta gave him land and property in Scillus, where he lived for many years before having to move once more, to settle in Corinth. He died in 354 B.C.

The Agesilaus summarises the life of his Spartan friend and king, whom he met after the events of the Anabasis.

PREPARER'S NOTE

This was typed from Dakyns' series, "The Works of Xenophon," a four volume set. The complete list of Xenophon's works (though there is doubt about some of these) is:

Work Number of books

The Anabasis 7 The Hellenica 7 The Cyropaedia 8 The Memorabilia 4 The Symposium 1 The Economist 1 On Horsemanship 1 The Sportsman 1 The Cavalry General 1 The Apology 1 On Revenues 1 The Hiero 1 The Agesilaus 1 The Polity of the Athenians and the Lacedaemonians 2

Text in brackets "{}" is my transliteration of Greek text into English using an Oxford English Dictionary alphabet table. The diacritical marks have been lost.

AGESILAUS

An Encomium

The date of Agesilaus's death is uncertain 360 B.C. (Grote, "H. G." ix. 336); 358 B.C. (Curt. iv. 196, Eng. tr.)

I

To write the praises of Agesilaus in language equalling his virtue and renown is, I know, no easy task; yet must it be essayed; since it were but an ill requital of pre eminence, that, on the ground of his perfection, a good man should forfeit the tribute even of imperfect praise.

As touching, therefore, the excellency of his birth, what weightier, what nobler testimony can be adduced than this one fact? To the commemorative list of famous ancestry is added to day the name (1) Agesilaus as holding this or that numerical descent from Heracles, and these ancestors no private persons, but kings sprung from the loins of kings. Nor is it open to the gainsayer to contend that they were kings indeed but of some chance city. Not so, but even as their family holds highest honour in their fatherland, so too is their city the most glorious in Hellas, whereby they hold, not primacy over the second best, but among leaders they have leadership.

(1) Or, "even to day, in the proud bead roll of his ancestry he stands commemorated, in numerical descent from Heracles."

And herein it is open to us to praise both his fatherland and his family. It is notable that never throughout these ages has Lacedaemon, out of envy of the privilege accorded to her kings, tried to dissolve their rule; nor ever yet throughout these ages have her kings strained after greater powers than those which limited their heritage of kingship from the first. Wherefore, while all other forms of government, democracies and oligarchies, tyrannies and monarchies, alike have failed to maintain their continuity unbroken, here, as the sole exception, endures indissolubly their kingship. (2)

(2) See "Cyrop." I. i. 1.

And next in token of an aptitude for kingship seen in Agesilaus, before even he entered upon office, I note these signs. On the death of Agis, king of Lacedaemon, there were rival claimants to the throne. Leotychides claimed the succession as being the son of Agis, and Agesilaus as the son of Archidamus... Continue reading book >>




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