‘He seemed to me to be the perfect example of goodness and happiness’
After the execution of Socrates in 399 BC, a number of his followers wrote dialogues featuring him as the protagonist and, in so doing, transformed the great philosopher into a legendary figure. Xenophon’s portrait is the only one other than Plato’s to survive, and while it offers a very personal interpretation of Socratic thought, it also reveals much about the man and his philosophical views. In ‘Socrates’ Defence’ Xenophon defends his mentor against charges of arrogance made at his trial, while the ‘Memoirs of Socrates’ also starts with an impassioned plea for the rehabilitation of a wronged reputation. Along with ‘The Estate-Manager’, a practical economic treatise, and ‘The Dinner-Party’, a sparkling exploration of love, Xenophon’s dialogues offer fascinating insights into the Socratic world and into the intellectual atmosphere and daily life of ancient Greece.
Xenophon’s complete Socratic works are translated in this volume. In his introduction, Robin Waterfield illuminates the significance of these four books, showing how perfectly they embody the founding principles of Socratic thought.
About The Author
Xenophon was an Athenian country gentleman born about 430 BC. He may have helped to publish Thucydides’ History, and certainly wrote his own Hellenica as a continuation of it. By his own (probably reliable) account he was a fine officer and outstanding leader, but his admiration for Sparta and devotion to Socrates, among other causes, led to his banishment. He was given an estate at Scillus and settled down to enjoy the life of a landed aristocrat, and it was during this period that he began to write histories, biographies, memoirs and specialist treatises. The defeat of Sparta in 371 forced him to move to Corinth where he probably lived for the rest of his life.