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Xenophon Quotes


An Athenian author, historian and mercenary.
(c. 431 BC - c. 355 BC)

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A horse is a thing of beauty... none will tire of looking at him as long as he displays himself in his splendor.
[Horses]
 

A man's praises have very musical and charming accents in the mouth of another, but sound very flat and untunable in his own.
 

Agriculture for an honorable and high-minded man, is the best of all occupations or arts by which men procure the means of living.
[Agriculture]
 

As to what happened next, it is possible to maintain that the hand of heaven was involved, and also possible to say that when men are desperate no one can stand up to them.
 

But if any other course, in any one's opinion, be better than this, let him, even though he be a private soldier, boldly give us his sentiments; for the safety, which we all seek, is a general concern.
 

Every one of you is the leader.
 

Excess of grief for the dead is madness; for it is an injury to the living, and the dead know it not.
[Grief]
 

Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.
 

For drink, there was beer which was very strong when not mingled with water, but was agreeable to those who were used to it. They drank this with a reed, out of the vessel that held the beer, upon which they saw the barley swim.
 

For what the horse does under compulsion, as Simon also observes, is done without understanding; and there is no beauty in it either, any more than if one should whip and spur a dancer.
 

He who eats with most pleasure is he who least requires sauce.
 

If the campaign is in summer the general must show himself greedy for his share of the sun and the heat, and in winter for the cold and the frost, and in all labors for toil and fatigue. This will help to make him beloved of his followers.
 

It is only for those to employ force who possess strength without judgment; but the well advised will have recourse to other means. Besides, he who pretends to carry his point by force hath need of many associates; but the man who can persuade knows that he is himself sufficient for the purpose; neither can such a one be supposed forward to shed blood; for, who is there would choose to destroy a fellow citizen rather than make a friend of him by mildness and persuasion?
 

On making prisoners of our generals, they expected that we should perish from want of direction and order. It is incumbent, therefore, on our present commanders to be far more vigilant than our former ones, and on those under command to be far more orderly, and more obedient to their officers, at present than they were before...On the very day that such resolution is passed, they will see before them ten thousand Clearchuses instead of one.
 

Policy goes beyond strength, and contrivance before action; hence it is that direction is left to the commander, and execution to the soldier, who is not to ask Why? but to do what he is commanded.
[Soldier]
 

Pray to God, at the beginning of all thy works, that so thou mayest bring them all to a good ending.
[Prayer]
 

That...is the road to the obedience of compulsion. But there is a shorter way to a nobler goal, the obedience of the will. When the interests of mankind are at stake, they will obey with joy the man whom they believe to be wiser than themselves. You may prove this on all sides: you may see how the sick man will beg the doctor to tell him what he ought to do, how a whole ship's company will listen to the pilot.
 

The most delightful of all music, that of your own praises.
 

The sweetest of all sounds is praise.
[Applause]
 

The true test of a leader is whether his followers will adhere to his cause from their own volition, enduring the most arduous hardships without being forced to do so, and remaining steadfast in the moments of greatest peril.
 


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