Officer classes were usually trained in horsemanship for very good reason. It's one of the few transformative experiences that can be taught and practised. Before cars, horses were probably one of the few sources of what we now call "peak experiences" available.
Today we can fly and jump out of planes, ride motorcycles, surf, and achieve the transcendent "self-actualization" required for leadership through a variety of other peak experiences, so horsemanship has become a kind of esoteric pursuit. But the underlying need for self-actualized leaders hasn't changed. Or maybe it has, but a few people still see the gap but don't have the words to describe it.
Looking forward to reading Anabasis.
Spot on, in every interview I ask the hiring manager if they have ever jumped out of a plane, and if they say "no" my respect for them drops to zero (sorry, it's a fundamental subconscious response I can't help it). I call their boss, tell them that their subordinate forgot to self-actualize, and I get made their manager on the spot. It's how I got my last two jobs.
I have seriously thought of operating a horse camp for executives. Most of what's out there is touchy feely healing lodge crap, where historically, cavalry was where leaders were minted, and their core training was sometimes as short as a few weeks.
People in offices spend most of their time around unstable neurotic personalities, and it means they have no gravitas to bring to their teams. That instability breaks creative flow and prevents people from committing, and that dissonance is what creates stress and suffering that staff take home.
It's no accident that one the most famous charisma trainers, Olivia Fox-Cabane, was/is also a horsewoman as well.
It's funny to say remedial horse camp for crap execs, but if you have ever been on one of those infantalizing management retreats, treating people like adults would be orders of magnitude better.
I highly recommend. it's one of the few classic texts I've been able to read almost as if it were a modern novel.
if you're interested, it's also a great "first text" to try and read in greek. Xenophon writes in a straightforward manner that's much easier to translate than contemporary plays and philosophical works.
it really depends on your goals. if you are just reading for pleasure, it can be lovely to just read a good translation as written. if you are approaching the text more seriously, you need to be aware that the translation of many key words can be quite controversial in these texts. to make matters worse, there are instances where the only copies of the text have been damaged and scholars have inferred letters or entire words. these reconstructions can also be controversial.
you don't necessarily have to become a fluent reader to get the most out of a particular text, but I would at least recommend reading the translation side-by-side with the greek, preferably with a good commentary to consult. sometimes the arguments in the commentary can be as interesting as the text itself!
Often you have to have an understanding of the language to know how well it’s translated. It’s a bit circular.
But when you read such a tremendous translation effort it does indeed raise those thoughts.
The major thing that's missing here is that his writings were actually very
influential among ancient philosophers, especially ones of the Stoic school.
For example, Zeno of Citium, who had found the Stoic school, decided to become
a philosopher after reading Xenophon's Memorabilia. Epictetus, a prominent
philosopher of Roman era, references Xenophon's writing as much as Plato.
I wonder since when philosophy became all about Plato.
Philokaloumen te gar met ' euteleias
kai philosophoumen aneu malakias.
Plato was probably the first to use the term in a technical sense, to refer to someone who spends his life as a 'professional' philosopher.
Considering my user name I guess I should have led with that reference.
It is wonderful that we have writings from a lost world, it is frustrating however that so little has survived.
/r/askhistorians has a great thread on this, will try and find it.
- Xenophon began as a member of Cyrus' army who carried out an ill-fated assault on Artaxerxes II, king of Persia
- He survived, returned to Athens (took two years) and started writing on a wide variety of subjects, including the nature of leadership, and accounts of Socrates that are of a more personal nature than Plato's
- "Plato had a serious philosophical agenda of his own... Xenophon’s interests are at once more worldly and more realistic"
It was the horse that I was most taken with. You can see the attention to
detail that went into it- the skin is wrinkling around the joints, the muscles
ripple under it, the tendons and the veins bulge out - nothing was left to
chance. It was more than a thousand years before the figure of a living thing was studied
again with such detail and represented as faithfuly, in the Rennaissance, and later by the Dutch Masters.
We forget, I think, that art is a form of technology. Indeed, the word
"technology" itself is a composite of the Greek words for art, "techne" and
discourse, "logos". It may be more accurate then to say that technology itself
is a form of art- the art of making things. We call our technological devices
"artifacts" after all, don't we? That is - "works of art"!
Greek sculptural technology reached unprecedented heights during the
Hellenistic period, where the jockey hails from, as well as that other
masterpiece from the same, Artemision wreck, the Artemision Bronze . Nothing
comes close, noone had been able to create such works before, and then for a
very long time after. This is no fluffy emotional judgement. Greek bronzes are
now mostly lost, their metal recycled away, and they primarily survive as
Roman era copies, in stone. But the Roman copies can always be distinguished
by their "third leg"- a prop added to human figures to, well, prop them
upright. You see, the Greeks knew how to make a sculpted human form (in
bronze or stone, cast or carved) that could stand on its own, unaided. This
skill was lost almost immediately after the Hellenistic time. The Romans
didn't have it. So their statues needed props to stand.
In a very real sense then, making those sculptures required knowledge,
technology. The knowledge to make beautiful things.
 I could talk for hours about the Artemision Bronze and sound like a mushy
old fool. But if you're ever in the Museum in Athens, take a look at the pose of its feet. The back foot has its heel
raised, so that its toes are pushing down and twisting the leg around, to put
the strength of the whole body behind the force of the throw. At the same
time, the front leg is firmly planted- except for its toes, that are pulled
back by the tension of its own muscles as they counter the back leg's motion. It is a depiction of momentum. That was the
artist's target- to carve motion into the rigid metal. And it is a wisely
chosen pose indeed. A split second when the body is moving of its own will; a
few moments later, the man will have to rebalance himself in a way that only a
living human can. But at that second, in that pose, it is not easy to tell the
The Warriors is a 1979 American crime film directed by Walter Hill and based on Sol Yurick's 1965 novel of the same name. This novel was, in turn, based on Xenophon's Anabasis. The story centers on a New York City gang who must make an urban journey of 30 miles (48 km), from the north end of The Bronx to their home turf in Coney Island in southern Brooklyn, after they are framed for the murder of a respected gang leader. It was released in the United States on February 9, 1979.
A cult classic. The central theme is, indeed, similar- the guy who has summoned the Warriors is killed and they must make their way back home through hostile territory. It never occurred to me.