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On Horsemanship   By: (431 BC - 350? BC)

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By Xenophon

Translation by H. G. Dakyns

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.

On Horsemanship advises the reader on how to buy a good horse, and how to raise it to be either a war horse or show horse. Xenophon ends with some words on military equipment for a cavalryman.


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.



Claiming to have attained some proficiency in horsemanship (1) ourselves, as the result of long experience in the field, our wish is to explain, for the benefit of our younger friends, what we conceive to be the most correct method of dealing with horses.

(1) Lit. "Since, through the accident of having for a long time 'ridden' ourselves, we believe we have become proficients in horsemanship, we wish to show to our younger friends how, as we conceive the matter, they will proceed most correctly in dealing with horses." {ippeuein} in the case of Xenophon = serve as a {ippeus}, whether technically as an Athenian "knight" or more particularly in reference to his organisation of a troop of cavalry during "the retreat" ("Anab." III. iii. 8 20), and, as is commonly believed, while serving under Agesilaus ("Hell." III. iv. 14) in Asia, 396, 395 B.C.

There is, it is true, a treatise on horsemanship written by Simon, the same who dedicated the bronze horse near the Eleusinion in Athens (2) with a representation of his exploits engraved in relief on the pedestal. (3) But we shall not on that account expunge from our treatise any conclusions in which we happen to agree with that author; on the contrary we shall hand them on with still greater pleasure to our friends, in the belief that we shall only gain in authority from the fact that so great an expert in horsemanship held similar views to our own; whilst with regard to matters omitted in his treatise, we shall endeavour to supply them.

(2) L. Dind. (in Athens). The Eleusinion. For the position of this sanctuary of Demeter and Kore see Leake, "Top. of Athens," i. p. 296 foll. For Simon see Sauppe, vol. v. Praef. to "de R. E." p. 230; L. Dind. Praef. "Xen. Opusc." p. xx.; Dr. Morris H. Morgan, "The Art of Horsemanship by Xenophon," p. 119 foll. A fragment of the work referred to, {peri eidous kai ekloges ippon}, exists. The MS. is in the library of Emmanual Coll. Cant. It so happens that one of the hipparchs (?) appealed to by Demosthenes in Arist. "Knights," 242.

{andres ippes, paragenesthe nun o kairos, o Simon, o Panaiti, ouk elate pros to dexion keras};

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