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The Case for GreatnessHonorable Ambition and Its Critics$
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Robert Faulkner

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780300123937

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300123937.001.0001

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Imperial Grandeur and Imperial Hollowness: Xenophon's Cyrus the Great

Imperial Grandeur and Imperial Hollowness: Xenophon's Cyrus the Great

(p.127) Chapter Five Imperial Grandeur and Imperial Hollowness: Xenophon's Cyrus the Great
The Case for Greatness

Robert Faulkner

Yale University Press

This chapter examines Xenophon's Education of Cyrus, particularly the character of Cyrus the Great, who founded the Persian empire in the middle of sixth century bc. Xenophon's account of Cyrus, however, is more mode-based than history-based, treating Cyrus's achievements as politically paradigmatic. Xenophon doubted the ability of one superior man to enduringly rule over many people, cities, and nations. It's not clear from Xenophon's beginning, however, whether this greatness and this art is good, either for the community or for the individual. The chapter thus aims to argue that Education of Cyrus is not a history, but rather an investigation of great political ambition at its most rational. The chapter then attempts to clarify Cyrus's genuine superiority of soul and the deterioration of some of his best qualities due to his overarching ambition.

Keywords:   Education of Cyrus, Cyrus the Great, Xenophon, Persian empire, political ambition

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