Review: Hellenica, Xenophon

Rating: 4 out of 5

Xenophon is, for many, a name that has come at least a few times. For the most, this is because of the ‘Anabasis’ and adventures in Persia. For others, however, the history that is ‘Hellenica’ and forms a continuation on top of Thucydides is the point of reference. I have waded through ‘Anabasis’ a long time ago, but Thucydides relatively recently. As such, this was the perfect continuation from that history.

The style — as it comes across in English after translations through other languages — is good and readable; the topic complex. It’s not so much that war is difficult in itself, but what seems to have happened in the period Xenophon covers here is that the intrigues which used to emanate from Sparta and Athens now have sourced in those places but also tens of smaller cities.

As such, the range of characters we come across is huge and the geography they cover in their activities does not border itself with Hellas proper, but extends well into the Black Sea, Persia, Sicily, and also Southern Mediterranean. Sometimes, this makes for a complex enough story to want to delineate all moves specifically on a map as they happened. Nevertheless, even if the places disappear from memory, certain events stay with the reader.

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