Xenophon Books IV & V Study Guide Questions
1. [4.1] Agesilaos the matchmaker<
In 395 B.C., Book IV opens with Agesilaos commanding a foreign expeditionary force in Asia Minor against Persian interests and in Persian territory. Why does Agesilaos feel compelled to arrange a marriage between Otys, king of Paphlagonia, and the daughter of Spithridates? What are his strategic reasons? His personal reasons? How does the Spartan Herippidas both help and hinder Agesilaos’ intentions with this marriage arrangement?
2. [4.2-4.5] Spartans in battle (394-390 B.C.)
Book 4 concerns itself mostly with the land battles raging in Greece between Sparta and an anti-Sparta coalition of Greek city-states. What quotes did you notice as you read about other battles, that showed Xenophon’s bias either one way or another? Does he ever show the Spartans in a less-than-favorable light? If so, how does Xenophon justify a Spartan defeat or setback? Who is Xenophons’ favorite person to write about?
3. [4.6] Agesilaos invades and checks Acarnanian influence? (389 BC)
In order to honor its alliance with Achaea, Sparta sends troops across the Corinthian gulf in order to repel an Acarnanian incursion on Calydos, an Achaean colony. Although the Spartan general Agesilaos sets up a trophy after a hard-fought land battle, he nevertheless withdraws his troops in autumn with little else to claim against the Acarnanians and their imminent threat on the Achaeans. Should the Spartans have done more for the Achaeans? Was Agesilaos as fault in any way? Does what happens in Acarnania really matter to Spartan interests on the macro level? How about earlier in this Book with Sparta’s operations around Corinth? Do you see the Spartans as not strong enough to capture the city of Corinth in Book 4.4-5? What might Xenophon be saying (albeit subtly or even subconsciously) about Spartan power? What could the explanation be for Sparta’s inability to completely subdue Greece? Is mismanagement the issue? Bad luck? Impiety? Lack of favor from the gods? Superior strategy from the other side?
4. [4.7] Piety and Warfare: the Spartan campaign against Argos (388)
Agesipolis leads an invasion of Argos after carefully consulting Zeus and Apollo whether “it would be considered in accord with piety to reject a proclamation of a holy truce when it had been unjustly declared” (4.7.2). Having received positive responses, Agesipolis marshals his troops at Phleious (near the isthmus) and marches southward towards Argos. Xenophon makes an interesting comment on piety and warfare in this section. What oracles were consulted? The campaign begins and ends ritually with specific sacrifices. Why? What portents or omens are described in 4.7? To which deities would each portent/omen be ascribed to in Greek culture? How do we know? Using Agesipolis as his main example of generalship and ritual piety, Xenophon avoids using Agesilaos, why? Why haven’t we heard more about sacrifices before battle in other parts of the Hellenika? [See Appendix J for more information about Ancient Greek Religion.]
5. [4.8] War at sea: Persia and the Greek city-states (394-389 B.C)
Persian interests are fueled by Sparta’s naval setback at Cnidus. With a commingling of so many different interests all fueled by Persian money, Xenophon thus shares this political paradox with us: “…both sides were acting in a way most opposed to their best interests, for the Athenians, who considered the King a friend, were making an alliance with Euagoras, who was fighting against the King, and Teleutias, even though the Spartans were at war with the King, was destroying those who were also sailing the wage war against him” (4.8.24). How are Persian interests understood in this political context? How does Xenophon comment on the way that Persia plays one Greek city-state off another? How effective is Persia’s policy vis-à-vis Greece at this point? Do you think the Persian King is aware of such undercurrents or cross purposes among his subordinates? If so, does he or should he care? What sort of irony is there from the Greek point of view?
6. [4.8-5.1] Athens, Sparta, and the “King’s Peace” (390-387 B.C.)
Xenophon’s narration of events leading up to the “King’s Peace” are summed up well: “The Athenians saw that the enemy’s ships were numerous, and they began to fear that they would be conquered as completely as they had been before; they also saw that the King [of Persia] was now an ally of the Spartans, and they were still being harassed by plundering raids from Aegina” (5.1.29) (p. 183). Looking at these three elements that Xenophon considered so essential in bringing Athens to the bargaining table, were these the result of a deliberate Spartan strategy? If so, what other aspects of making peace could Sparta have tried if these did not work? If not, what ways of defeating the rebellious Greek city-states should Sparta have tried?
7. [5.1-5.4] Spartan Hegemony and the King’s Peace (386-375 B.C.)
What are the effects on Greek city-states after the King’s Peace is ratified? What does Persia get out of it? What does Sparta get out of it? Does any other Greek city-state get anything significant out of this treaty? How does the King’s Peace limit or expand Sparta
n hegemony in Greece?
8. [5.2-5.4] Four Examples of Spartan Policy (385-375 B.C.)
In Book V, Xenophon weaves Spartan intervention in four distinct examples: Mantineia, Phleious, Chalcidice and Thebes. Two locations represent more domestic related interventions (Mantineia and Phleious), while the other two might be considered more foreign territory (i.e. outside the Peloponnese). The events mainly connected to these four areas under Spartan control span the course of about ten years. How does Spartan policy reflect in each of these locations? How does Spartan policy in these areas affect neighboring Greek city-states? Persia? Spartan allies? What is the role of oligarchical versus democratic government in Greece during this time?